I want to raise a Hosea not a David in this world.

 

I watched you today.

I watched you, with your day off of school, wandering around the house looking for someone to talk to something to do. I watched you walk into the kitchen and start making lunch.

Laying out your bread. Turkey. Cheese. Sorting the pretzels and starting to count them out.

This used to drive me crazy. You with your counting and sorting and neatness. And then I took a breath and realized this was God’s fingerprint on your heart. You need order and crave sameness.

Your mama hears you. I see you.

I watched as you reached to take your plate from above and noticed that your hands held on to two. Two sandwiches laid out before you with equal amounts of cheese, bread, turkey and pretzels.

You showing me what thinking of others looks like. You making lunch for the sister that made you feel less than just hours before. And in your quiet eleven year old way you poured mercy over her.

Setting the two plates on the table to begin to eat waiting for her to join you. Not leaving it on the counter but placed right beside you. Two plates where they should be side by side showing me where grace should be placed.

Next to us. Inviting those to the table to join us who have hurt us. Who have bruised our hearts. Inviting them to the table to hear who they are. Where they are. To forgive and rebuild.

I capture my breath and realize that this moment is to be breathed in. This is a Hosea moment.

Again on the couch. Watching you watch a movie that your younger sister has watched a thousand times. Laying your head on your dads shoulder who is sleeping off a cold caught this weekend. I see you reach for your dads hand and quietly hold on. You think no one is watching so you continue to hold close. I snap a photo knowing that this moment is fleeting and needs to be remembered. This is a Hosea moment.

I was scared when I found that there was a boy in my swelling belly. You coming after two of your sisters, who were just a ball of hormones wrapped in a bow, I had no idea how to handle what you would bring my way. You brought soccer balls and scuffed knees. Frogs in the pockets and angel kissed cheeks. Your torn overalls and dinosaur songs. You brought life that I was missing.

The emotions that you stirred in me all I could do was fall in love. I fell in love with your sun kissed cheeks that carry angel kisses every summer. Eyes with lashes that brush the sky. And a heart that sees deeply what others miss.

I pray to raise you not as a man who gets what he wants. But man who leads with forgiveness. I don’t want you to grow thinking that if you work hard you will get what you deserve. But a man who leads with confidence filtered only through the lens of grace. I want to teach you to show mercy to everyone you meet. And those that you don’t even more. I want to learn to be a servant to your wife, your children your community. And serve them even abundantly when they don’t deserve it. I pray you to stand up for justice in your actions and not your prideful words. I want you to know the face of God because you have served the least of these. And if the least of these happens to be your wife I want you to lavishly pour grace over her like your father has done to me

. I want you to be a Hosea and not a David.

We have enough David’s in this world.

Sweet boy be brave enough to be a Hosea.

Eggs and Rice- living the truth of who you are

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When I was younger I remember my mom making scrambled eggs and rice with cinnamon on it a few times a month. It was usually when my dad was late at work or out of town. At least that is what I told myself. Yet as I have gotten older and become a mom to five hungry mouths every night I realize that may have not been the truth. The truth of which I believed is not the truth at that dinner table. The truth was more likely that these items were all that was left in the cupboards by the end of the pay period. The truth was is that it was easy to make and quite filling for a table full of athletes. The truth was is that she may have been so exhausted from working third shift as a nurse, driving all of us to school, sleeping a few hours every day and then picking us all up from school and to our events later that this was the best she could do. The truth was is that we were excited when it was “eggs and rice night” because we thought it was a treat.

Lately I have had this memory in my head and continually poking at my heart. What is my eggs and rice? What is my truth?

When is the moment when we decide to live truth filled lives? To embrace and stand in who or what we are?

I can count many times that I was asked out for coffee or a meal with someone and the whole time there my stomach would be turning because I couldn’t afford to be there. I had no right to even except the invitation. I knew that I would have to make the last fifty dollars in our bank account last until the end of the week not knowing how that was going to happen. Yet I was more concerned about saying no and looking foolish then living the truth of where I was financially.

This is an issue that comes up many times for me. I have friends who are let’s say a “bit better off in their bank accounts” than we are. My pride seems to creep in when I see them asking how they should decorate their houses on Facebook when all I can think about it how we are ever going to pay the heating bill or put food on the table next week. Yet when I choose to live and claim my “eggs and rice” and am honest with God. He shows up. In countless stories of “this could only be God” in our lives.

My “eggs and rice” weaves its way into every area of my life. For example my kids conferences at school were not Facebook worthy. In fact they were hard. To sit across from the teacher trying to figure out how we can intervene and help my sweet girls. I left in tears and called my best friend feeling defeated. My truth is that my child is not perfect and will never measure up to yours. My “ eggs and rice “ is that my teenagers are hard. I mess up with them all the time. I have given them more reasons to go to therapy than not to. My truth is that marriage is more than I can handle most days. I like to be alone and hate to be touched. My truth is that I made the mistake of loving my friends more and better than my husband for years. My truth is that I have an ugly jealous heart that needs to apologize regularly for not leading with grace. My truth is that I feared my father more than God in my life. My truth is that I went for years not apologizing to my sister and lost so many moments of memories because of my justified self- righteous attitude. My truth is that asking for forgiveness is so hard for me. My truth is that my PTSD kept me in bondage of fears that I could never utter out loud. My truth is that I feel overwhelmed with my daughter’s future. My truth is that I have a difficult time forgiving myself for my past that plays in my head all the time. My truth is that I sometimes hide when my kids come home from school because it’s just so hard. My truth is that I live in fear of my eating disorder rearing its ugly head again. My truth is that I don’t talk about international adoption because of the horrible things that I saw. My truth is I grieve daily that I can’t have any more kids because of my post-partum depression.

My truth is that my “eggs and rice” are messy. Yet I know this. God can take my “eggs and rice” and weave them into something beautiful and redemptive. He always does.

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.

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

Charcoal stained lips.

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

I  lay on the bathroom floor.

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

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

 Not sure if my roommate could hear me crying.

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

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

Maybe she hears me.

Maybe she hears my emptiness.

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

 I can’t move.

 My heart is going too fast.

Help.

Someone see me.

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

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

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

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

 Tubes shoved down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet this morning.

When night was leaving me there on the tiled floor.

When the secret was made public.

Here is where He found me.

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

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

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

#shereadstruth

Sheets twisted in sin.

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

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

Instead, they knelt before us and washed our feet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The most beautiful act of love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wash more feet this Lent, sweet girl.

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