Come to the table- an honest confession about my homosexual sister

A few days ago I sat across from the table with one of my most enduring friends. We have only been friends for a few years but the way we communicate you would have thought it’s been forever. She is the type of person your soul is drawn to expose itself to. A safe place where grace covers the door. Our two youngest are the best of friends. So while they were busy building a fortress for the ants they had found outside and disturbing anyone there to get any work done at the outdoor coffee shop, we sat across from each other and let the conversation take us to hearing/

We talked about the upcoming summer schedule and what that brought for both of us. We talked about Jesus and church and how we both understand they are not the same. We sat and we laughed and we talked and we heard each other. I crave these moments. Both being introverts we both felt like this time we had was sacred and protected. I began to talk to her about my frustrations with the church. How I am feeling the organic part of it never was and never will be. That I am programed to believe that we worship follows a program. That raising my hands can only be ok if everyone else in the room doesn’t feel uncomfortable. How I feel that if others could see behind my eyes and what I am raising my arms to they may see King Jesus on the throne with angels all around. That they could see the King of Glory with my face at his feet. That they could see my raising my hands has nothing to do with them and everything to do with how their own insecurities beckon them to believe that it does. I then opened my mouth and began to cry about how I have been feeling so lonely in a room of so many. Many who have walked our adoption journey. Our marriage roller coaster. And without a doubt these are my people. But how I don’t know how I fit into anymore. I don’t know how I got to the place where I am questioning things. Things that I had never thought about before when I was a new Christian and just eager to be around others who I thought had the same passions as I did. As I grew and learned and listened and asked questions I began to hear. Hear the same unsettled questions in those that were pulling away. And here we sat the two of us with coffee getting colder hearing what I needed to be heard.

I then started talking about my sister and I . A subject I don’t, I haven’t talked about with many.

My sister and I grew up in a home where eight years apart creates memories the other never got to experience. As we grew older though she and I were two peas in a pod. I adored my sister. She was brave and beautiful and said things that I was never brave enough to utter. She stood in the gap for the underdog and was more interested in becoming who she was then like I ,who was running from who I  didn’t want to be. In high school she “came out” and I fully supported her. I rallied around her and was her biggest cheerleader. I was still a baby myself having just left college with a new baby and no degree. I had no idea what I believed or didn’t believe. I just knew that I loved my sister more than anything and wanted her to be set free. As the years went by and I grew in my faith and then became engrossed in the church I started to develop a sense of pride about my faith and thus grew an ignorance wall. A wall around myself where nothing could shake what I believed. Not even love. So my self-righteousness was more important than maintaining my relationship with my sister. Painful years ensued. Things said and not said. Words thrown to keep the walls secure without noticing who they were tearing down.

I sat across from my friend with tears running down my face. I hadn’t realized how raw this memory still was. I asked her if we could still be friends. If I had ruined our relationship because I had just shown her a really ugly part of my heart.

She then said,

“No, you came to the table. You came to the table and brought who you are.”

That is what this is going to take. For all of us. To come to the table with truth. To admit what we believe and don’t believe. And to listen. Not to sit on our self-righteousness and call out the sin of others without looking in the mirror at ourselves. I am admitting that my anger and pride are sins that festered and grew into years of words unsaid. I wasn’t willing to come to the table. I wasn’t willing to hear only to be heard. That is such a lonely place to be. I needed to come to the table.

At the table there is love.

At the table there is grace.

At the table there is listening.

At the table there is peace.

At the table there is healing.

At the table there is forgiveness.

At the table, there I am.

I am at the table with my sister now. I am trying to hear her. I am asking forgiveness for years I should have drawn closer. I am at the table with a heart that is broken with shame. I am wading through the process of truth and hope. I am soaking in the laughter and memories in the moments we are given.

My sister. She is leaving next week. Moving thousands of miles away with her wife. My heart is so sad and tender about the goodbyes to people I love. I keep thinking if I wish it away the moving truck will never show up.

Yet again I know. She and I. We are still at the table. We are figuring it all out. How to rebuild what we fearfully tore apart.

The table is just needs to stretch to Colorado now.

Ring the Cowbell.

When I was younger I played softball. Geared out in the tight spandex and hot pink aluminum bat. I was more concerned with how my hair looked in the god awful hat I had to wear than my ERA. (Don’t be impressed that I know what that stands for, I grew up in a family that lived and breathed baseball. I even wanted to marry Mark Grace, but that is a whole other story). So there I was, an awkward preteen too tall for her spandex and too young for contacts trying to “fit in” with the athletes. Needless to say my athletic career as a softball player did not go far. Yet the memory I carry most vividly from those days on the dusty field are who was in the stands. My grandfather came to every game (that is the memory I want to keep) with his cowbell. Yes a cowbell. He was infamous at the local high school for bringing that same bell to the football games. He would ring it loud so everyone would know whose back he had. I knew without a doubt whether I caught the ball or struck out every time up at ba.t that bell would ring. People would stare in annoyance while others would cheer along with him. Either way I knew I mattered. That I was enough.

These past two years have been gut wrenching in the parenting department. When you find out from school officials that your beautiful girl has been mutilating her thighs under your own roof it opens a door of anguish you never knew you could feel. We later found it was because she was being bullied day in and day out. She didn’t want to bother us with it because we were also dealing with a newfound diagnosis of our youngest daughter. She took it upon herself to “feel” what she needed to feel. Knowing that we her parents were overwhelmed with doctors appointments all over the city and medication that never seemed to work, she in her middle school way thought she was “handling it”. And I as a mother knew in that moment sitting across from the school dean watching her show me my daughters deep wounds I knew that I had failed her. I had not been paying attention and listening to the cues she was giving.

That winter we decided after attempts at counselors who told her this was “normal” that perhaps we would take another angle at this. (Side note, do not EVER tell a grieving parent that their child carving themselves is NORMAL. If I would not have gotten in trouble or perhaps arrested I would have leapt across the therapist’s office and kicked her in the gut. I didn’t. But the mama bear in me wanted to). As parents we decided to call upon “our people”. The women in our lives that have stood in the gap for us on numerous occasions, because we all know it takes a village, and asked them for feedback and how to help her best. One of my very best friends SHOWED UP. She became her mentor. Pouring into her, listening to her, hearing her. She discovered that she had a talent for basketball and encouraged her to try playing. She met her where she was at and opened her eyes to more that was lying within. She took her to basketball games, fed her (cause we all know that is the key to a middle schoolers soul), and showed up. She showed up for her games, her injuries, her life. She showed up.

I think we are all called to be a people who SHOW UP.  To stand at the top of the bleaches and ring that cowbell the loudest. To be that teacher that shows up. To pour into that student that continues to act out. They are acting out because they need someone to show up. To be that student pastor that shows up to kids events. To cheer them on outside of the church walls. To enter into their mess of a life and say “ I am not leaving”. To be the friend that forgives lavishly and pours mercy over others like it’s the only way to live. To be the coach that shows up. To set aside your frustrations and expectations and believe that each child on your team deserves to know they are somebody. To be the parent that shows up when everything in you wants to hide and not listen to another “recorder” concert in your living room. To be the spouse that shows up and says no matter what I believe in “us”.

I think this is what Jesus taught us. To be people who show up. To be the ones who see the mess and still enter in. To know that we will probably get wounded and hurt but in the end it was worth it. It’s worth it knowing that the ones we are cheering for need it more than we need to be comfortable.

Because the world is loud and full of lies. It is full of bullies. Telling us we are not enough. Telling us that we can do things on our own. That we don’t need anyone else. That if we hide and handle it ourselves that somehow that makes us stronger. When in reality we are strongest when we show our mess to those we trust the most.

But you see, this is Jesus. He is a God of second chances. He is a God of hope and healing. He brought others in to our lives, so we could hear the cowbells again.

 

As a mom. As a wife. As a friend. Do not think I take for granted those of you in our lives that have “shown up”. You have shown up for my marriage. For my children. For our faith. And we are so grateful.

Yes, I will marry you….but first I need therapy. #FreedomFriday

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For a while now I have thought about giving guest bloggers and authors a chance to share their voice here. There is nothing more empowering than to know that you are not alone in this journey. That you are not the only one in the struggle and fighting for freedom. As many of you that have followed my journey know that I have wrestled with my fair share of demons. You also know though that I have done hard work and found freedom in entering into the pain, I still have so much work to do. But I know that I continue to fight every day. When you are in the trenches or walking around them (as I did for years) you are drawn to others who are actually authentic and truthful in their struggles. Who call you out and want nothing more than to help you break the chains you continue to carry around.

Kaelyn Benham is just that. She is what many would call a warrior. She continually enters into the pain of her past and present and is learning to not run. This beautiful woman has embraced her struggles with motherhood, love, marriage, pregnancy, truth and transformed it into power. She has left her pain at the feet of Jesus and trusted that He would use it for good. Through years of uncovering lies and experiencing freedom she helps others discover their true self through Life Coaching. She is a person that sees into your soul and calls out the love that so many of us bury under years of pain we become comfortable with. Her stories of freedom are inspiring and filled with hope.

So for our first ever #FreedomFriday I am grateful to share with you part of her courageous story……

Scott and I had been intentionally dating for about 3 months when we started to talk about getting married. Though neither of us had been in this kind of relationship before, we both sensed in our own ways that this relationship would be the one we would commit to forever. And though that sense was a part of me, every day it was a choice for me to act accordingly. My fear drove me to act in ways that were completely contradictory of this “sense” I had. I would avoid him. I would get easily irritated by him and things he would do. All in an effort to remain in control and keep my heart positioned safely.

 

At one point, Scott said something to me more seriously about getting married. Through our discussion we even loosely talked through timing of when this forever union would begin. Up to that point, unlike most girls, I had done zero planning in my mind about my wedding. All I knew was I had a love for October and so I imagined it would be a good time to walk down a leafy isle. I felt this race of excitement in my heart about the plans starting to be made, but also this impending heaviness about what those plans implied.

 

Although I had not put much time contemplating colors, flowers, dresses or cakes for my wedding, I had spent a HUGE amount of time thinking about my marriage. The problem was I had spent so much time thinking about what I did NOT want my marriage to look like, but not much time learning how to make it look like what I wanted. And so when Scott suggested that we get married that October, just 5 months later, my response was very romantically, “okay, but I have to go to therapy.” To this day I wonder what about that response did not make him run for the hills, but am thankful every day that he didn’t. Without even knowing it at the time he was showing me that whatever I brought to the table he was ready to accept.

 

That was the start of a new way of brave living for both of us. This blank slate that said, I am going to “show up” for you and I am going to trust that you are going to “show up” for me. Neither of us had been in any relationship that had that sort of bravery and commitment attached to it. Both of us knew that it was going to be hard to bridge all the gaps that past pains had caused, but we were willing to be all in with each other.

 

That day when I laid all my pain out on the table in front of me, I fully expected Scott to run. He didn’t. In fact he was patient and let me do my work from the inside out. He allowed me to bring him parts of my healing as they happened. As I would do that he would reveal his own wounds and how they were impacting the way he was thinking about things.

Unknowingly at this time we formed a silent pact that said, “We are FOR each other”. This is what we wanted our marriage to be about. Bravely living FOR each other through Christ. This was what we started planning and practicing.

 

How do I trust you that you are always “for” me no matter what?

 

How do I lay down my defenses to protect myself trusting you are going to have my best interest in mind?

 

How am I patient while you learn what my best interest even is?

 

How do I know what yours is?

 

How do we handle each other’s hearts when we have done something that might have broken it a bit?

 

What does it feel like to have God between us always pulling us towards Him and so towards each other?

 

What do I do when I want to run?

 

What do I do when I realize I want to stay?

 

What do I do when I don’t know how I feel? Or when I fear how you feel?

 

This process is hard and painful, but so worth it. It allows you access to a part of you and your spouse that people rarely experience. All under the umbrella of God’s love which you are able to experience in a new way as more of Him is revealed in each of you and in this sacred space of your marriage.

 

Brave living is choosing to move forward THROUGH the pain, the discomfort, or the uncertainty. It is saying I know that I can’t stay here, wherever “here” is, and taking steps to grow

Always, remembering, as a follower of Christ, the end has already been determined.

 

You are safe.

 

Christ wins!

 

When I live with this perspective then I know that my current circumstance will ultimately give way to a win if I choose brave living.

If you have a story about finding freedom and would like to share your story I would love to have you tell it here. Just submit your story to shelim9@gmail.com and with #FreedomFriday in the subject line. I will link it to your author page or your blog. Remember there is such freedom in telling your story and knowing you are not alone.

Dear Moms, Do you know what beautiful is?

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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.

 

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

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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

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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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.