Monday, November 12, 2012

Pain & Skunk Wrestlers

It's November 12th and I've missed an entire week of being thankful. (Thanks, Facebook, I feel like an ungrateful jerk.) I literally slept most of it away nursing a concussion inflicted by playfulness and my refusal to believe that I couldn't be Angelina Jolie. Not because she's gorgeous, never had adult acne like yours truly, and has the best lips I've ever seen. Nah, not for that. I find outer beauty nice to look at with a timer. But, I’m one of the weird ones who finds myself annoyed with vanity, even my own. And yet, what appeals to me when the director calls “Action” is the strength she exudes. Yes, I get that every move is scripted methodically. But, thanks to my over-active imagination, I think she could throw Brad Pitt and actually break his arm or his pretty face.

I've always felt stronger than my size and stature let on. Perhaps heartache and choosing laughter and grace over hatred and bitterness has helped. When I believe Gods word is true, all of it, I have to believe it's meant for me. It’s the layers of time, blank space mingled with marvelous grace that made me. The time and fiery darts from the enemy that tried to sift and cripple me. The times where I sinned so loud and grieved with heaving sounds alone with the God who never once left me. Never. His grace covered me making a way for me to attain something unattainable in my own strength.

I missed an entire week of being productive and being joyful in my home. My pain became my focus. Truth be told, my heart was hurting before I received the blow to my head and my pride. I couldn't be strong enough to make it not hurt. Four months of bad news and a failed adoption. Time has revealed all the red flags and honored our step of obedience to care selflessly for a child that came with unbelievable baggage. I would do it again in a heartbeat, just for him. That boy was my reason for wanting to adopt for ten years. That desire and calling faded when I knew he wasn’t mine for keeps. Wading through hurtful changes in our ministry and other red flags and road flares didn't stop a head-on collision.

The dust cleared and every heart is still beating, still loving Jesus and doing their best. It's just life and the status update you are NOT to post for entire world, that hasn't a clue, to see. Friday these words spilled out just four days after the ER trip and it was whiplash to my soul hearing this, out of my mouth, the joyful half full girl...

"Life is not all peaches and roses," I said, with a Southern, sassy tone that sounded bitter.

I felt it and I rejected it. Bitterness? No. Not this girl.

Who doesn't like peaches and roses? Someone has to clean the fruit and cut off the bruised parts if by chance it falls to the ground instead of being plucked and picked before bruising. Someone has to tend to the roses, right? Carefully knowing how to handle something so beautiful, yet with thorns that prick and draw blood.

I choose the fruit of the Spirit. I choose to be vines and branches, Christ as my gentle Gardener. I throw off those things that so easily entangle me, I run. (Hebrews 12:1) No, I limp. But, I take strides away from the ugly and the trap of the enemy.

What made the harsh tones spill out of woman who feels naturally sweet in disposition?

Pain did.

All I could do for a week was point to where it hurts, trying my best to wait it out and let things go back into its rightful place. I did everything I was supposed to do, everything the forms said to do from the ER. Aren't we all trying so hard to be "somebody"? This world is tired of fakers, they see straight through the polished image blinded by the words coming out of our mouths. Jesus, give us a polished heart over a polished image. Please, even if it hurts.

My head still hurts. And now I think that nice doctor's optimism of a shorter recovery was a little over the top. And when he said, "Be careful," with tender compassion and wrote me a prescription for something to help with the pain and the nausea while I healed. I felt hopeful and like he understood me. And then when he gave my husband a dirty look and said, "You too." I smirked on the inside and then I felt bad that he felt bad. But, he was not the one with the head injury.

In the southlands they say if you wrestle with a skunk you're going to wish you hadn't have.

I'm not going to lie to you, I'm the skunk and I got my tail kicked hypothetically speaking. OK. I lost that round. But, I'm pretty sure no one is going to try to wrestle with me again. Ever. Being the runt of the family I learned little tricks when my sisters and I fought. No one could wrestle and be tougher than my little sister. I could always tell that look on her face when playful became serious.

Those eyes told you so much. That pretty face, big brown eyes, and seriously the most gorgeous lips ever, said one thing..."You better stop now because I'm about to finish this."

I snicker when I see the "I'm serious" look when she's keeping her adorable children, whom I think are perfect, in check. I straighten up too, kind of, because now is a time when I respect her more than ever. I understand her so much more now and treasure her more than a thousand fair-weather friends. I would trade them all in just have her. She's my sister. I would fight for her, not with her. We've outgrown our wrestling matches and catfights. Thank the good Lord.

We are thirty-something’s who now joke that we've both had CT scans on our brains. I assumed I would have my scan first because clearly, I'm the oldest and I've always been the “crazy” sister. But together we are better than we are alone. We have more gifts to offer, more creative ideas that flow and things that make us laugh. Four hands to clean up and arms for hugs. Trust me, we were so shady as kids but as long as we weren't fighting or screaming our heads off we could try about anything. Today when my Sissy calls on a day off, I want to drop everything just to see her and be her kid’s favorite aunt.

Being forced to slow down this past week did me more good than it did harm. I threw out the list and schedule. I listened to my body and my head screaming at me to lay it all down and rest. And I did. I listened.

Dear Jacked-Up Me,
You're not sixteen and you could care less now about being Miss Popular and chasing boys and dreams. Remember when you cared so much about what people thought of you? How somehow you thought the whispers defined you?

Remember how you cried when the mean girls were mean and good at it...and you didn't realize that is what people do when they are confused and just as insecure as you?

That's what people do when they are hurting and they just want it to stop.

They are mean.

So, don't you be a mean girl. Ever. There is never a good excuse or reason for it. No amount of physical pain or emotional pain is a license to be a jerk-face.

So cry and pray and forgive and repeat as often as necessary until the hurt fades out and joy comes back. Because it always does, joy always comes in the morning.

I wasted a week complaining about my stupid concussion. This week I am fasting all complaining. Period. I found it unhelpful and it just annoyed the "skunk wrestlers". Wink. Wink.

It's weird how much I love you, even if I don't know you. I'm praying God's best for you today. Don't be a skunk wrestler. And to quote a famous skunk, Flower, "If you can't say nothing nice, don't say nothing at all." Profound, don't you think?

Much Love,


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Leftovers and Hands to Hold

I have always been captivated by the story of Ruth and Naomi. I have watched tragedy turn wounded hearts sour changing them inside out. I've cried those bitter tears grasping to get it, to accept it, and grow deeper because of it. The question 'why' wrecks you. Yet we verbalize our questions as it echoes back at us mockingly.

"Who is going to rescue me now?"

God will. He always does.

In Ruth 1:19 the wounded widow returns home without sons, without her love, and without hope for provision. Naomi's pain left her almost recognizable, yet her people saw traces of the woman they used to know. She went out full and came home empty. (v. 21) But, she did not return alone. Clinging to her side and the God she served; stood the devoted daughter-in-law who refused to leave her stranded in her sorrow.

Ruth made a vow to the broken mother, "Where you die, I will die. And there I will be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me." (Vs. 17)

Home was wherever they stood. Together. Broken. In need. Hungry. Clinging to a thread of hope and each other. You see, we were never meant to do this thing called life on our own. Love doesn't walk out on you when all of life gives way and crumbles; it stands with you even though you tell it to go away. You may feel like you have nothing to offer in a state of brokenness, but with all my heart I believe letting people love you and loving them back means a complete willingness to show them our "ugly" and our mess. We shouldn't have to jump through invisible hoops in hopes of earning unconditional love, but we do. We jump through hoops. We go through the motions. We fake it trying to mask the pain.

When Naomi spilled out her bitter complaint blaming the very God who gave her a determined daughter, I see no reply of reproach just a hand to hold as they return to a land at beginning of the harvest season. A quiet presence walking with her through the hurt, Ruth steps in to nurture her and work another mans land to provide for her. Ruth works hard, gleaning, sweating, and reaping a harvest as she finds herself content with leftovers. Proving herself a virtuous woman, the people take notice. The Kinsmen Redeemer takes notice of her, rewarding her. Her gleaning for leftovers turns into prosperity, wedding bells, sounds of babies crying, and second chances.

The God we serve does not give us leftovers. He goes all out with the full spread, He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. He fills our cups until they overflow as goodness and mercy follows us. Not just on certain days, but all of our days. (Ps 23:5-6)

There are no sloppy seconds with our God. Baby, it's the full-course meal that satisfies and goes down easily. He is the hand we want to hold and the friend who walks with us through the mess. So work the land, cry your tears, but give God your today’s and tomorrows. Let the bitterness spill out in salty form, pray until it's emptied out. Bitterness is never a good option. It only taints what was meant to be an oasis of peace deep within, even in the mess. Never once have I felt disappointed with the God who rescues and redeems with His royal bloodline.

"Then the women said to Naomi, "Blessed be The Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him." (Ruth 4:14-15)

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the hands I get to hold along this journey, I feel like that devoted daughter that says till death do we part. I want to be better than seven sons, diligently working with these soft hands and soft heart while my God takes notice. To be soft is not a sign of weakness. It is strength wrapped up in gentleness and doing what we do best, nurture. We take turns nurturing the generations, loving them, tending to them, and listening when our Naomi's offers instructions on how to snag a man. (Ruth 3) Or better yet, they instruct us on how to live and grieve, returning back to a place of hopefulness and trust in God saying, "I used to feel so bitter, but because of you, I just feel blessed because you are here in my ugly and in my beauty. I'm with you, whatever this crazy ride looks like."

If I could hold your hand I would, but I offer this prayer over you as you read. May you find your heart satisfied when life feels like soggy leftovers and there is no friend on the other end of the line. May find yourself clinging to a God who restores, redeems, and rescues. May His name be famous!

Much love,

Friday, September 28, 2012


You know those train wrecks that cause you to turn your head and look? You know you shouldn't stare so you peek through covered eyes trying to turn away yet your eyes fixate on the wreckage.

Maybe you feel like you are the train wreck.

Accidents happen while the world keeps spinning. Life tries its best to move right along when all you want to do is scream "stop." I think we fix our eyes on the devastation because the hope is to see signs of life among the wreckage. We gasp holding our breath for a small glimmer of hope that says, "Yes, I'm broken and bruised...yet my heart is still beating."

Where there is breath there is hope because love doesn't leave you stranded. Love comes to you. It always does. Love refuses to leave you alone even when your heart needs a break and your attitude needs a spanking. We have a God who loves without limits and runs to us even when we are the train wreck. Truth be told, we've all been wrecked by something.

After surgery the doctor will often say, "You'll feel much worse before you get better." Yet after the pain medication fades to nothingness, you trace the scars that remain and remember his words wondering why he didn't use a few more descriptive words. Because "worse" just doesn't cut it.

You linger in a state infinitely greater than "worse" with scars that you feel will never fade.

I was one of those who tried to rush the healing process and often that landed me right back in the emergency room. My strength in spirit didn't always reflect the way I felt physically and my body took a beating until I learned the fine art of waiting during the process of healing. I've learned to do the same thing with my heart.

You can't rush the healing stages. The pain takes you back layer-by-layer to the scene where it all began. Your personal tragedy. The dust settles slowly and everything within fades out in slow motion. And God is the hand pulling you out of the wreckage placing you gently on the gurney. He straps you down, not to trap you but to protect you. For he knows exactly what you need and how to cushion you from further sustaining injuries.

Where there is breath hope remains because love doesn't leave you stranded so don't rush this thing called healing. Relax into it and put your feet up. Even if you've made a mess of everything and feel like you are not worthy of a life free from the wreckage. God has made a way for you to find Him and step into a place of blessing.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." (Luke 15:20)

When God sees you He doesn't see a train wreck, or a prodigal. The Father sees His child coming home from the wreckage. All God really wants is you empty-handed. He runs to you so that your hands are no longer empty but wrapped up in the sweetest embrace that says, "You've made it home. Let's have a party."

You are not a mess; you are a masterpiece in the making!

Much love to you,


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Fishbowl and My Twirl

Do you ever have those moments where you say too much? Where you didn’t have to go there, but you felt safe and that your words wouldn’t be wasted or used against you? So you lay your heart out on the table and wonder if they will take a bite or try to do open heart surgery by telling you all the things that need to be extracted out. If they love you, allow them permission to sharpen you with the words of truth. You can cry later.

And so you speak, sometimes guarded carefully because you have to. You form your words carefully, and other times you resort to emotional barfing. One or two things may happen. They might actually help clean you up or they might go home never knowing what you’ve been through or where God is taking you…cause you barfed on them and now they feel like they need a preverbal shower.

I have been preparing for the ministry since I was eleven, in some shape or fashion, leading this event and learning to follow at others. I’m a dancer, I’ve always known when it was my time to take the lead or lift my arms at just the right moment where I partner with another. Girl, it’s your time to twirl. So they twirl. And then when its my turn to twirl, I’ve felt arms telling me not to. Sometimes jealously. In my twenties I almost asked for permission. Is it my turn yet?

My turn?

Oh, you want me to twirl like that?

Well, if you want to know my opinion…

Oh, so you don’t really want to know what I have to say…or how my vision of the dance could be interpreted?

I’m polite. I say nothing. I just fade out and twirl away as I exit stage left. The lights fade to black and I promise myself to let the generation coming behind me to shine, dang it.

Instead of a dance, we become a puppet on a string. Honestly, the people jerking on your strings aren’t really qualified.

It’s easy for me because I’m soft. Although I have had many opportunities to be striped bare of softness becoming calloused like those I’ve watched in leadership. I’ve felt the angry tears running down my face and felt God asking me to dance with Him and for Him instead.

I place my trembling hands in His. I make eye contact. The tears begin to dry and I find myself doing things that I never dreamt possible. I dance the confidence dance, for I know who orders my steps in such a way that takes my breath away. I get my giggle back as joy is released. Because He created me this way, to remain soft yet still be careful when I find myself partnered with question marks.

I’m such a loyal person. It’s a stinking big deal to me. I find it funny that I always know the ones to be careful with. They always tell on themselves, so I never worry about it. It always comes back around. And with women…and a few loose-lipped men it will come back around in many different ways, yet none of them resembling the real story.

True confessions. I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but I attended the class on being a minister’s wife at college. (I want my money back.) I think I would have remembered if I flunked it or not. In that class I watched the sweetest soul caution us to not let others in the church get too close to us. I took that message inside of me, chewed on it for a while, and then spit it out. She was trying to protect us from the personal pain we would encounter from dealing with sheep that bite back at times. She was right. But, then again, it’s a different day and age. God didn’t call me to live a safe life; He called me to the risky one. The fun one. The painful one. The one where “Pastor Appreciation Day” is a total joke. The one where a hug and heartfelt card were your lifeline. The one where no one applauds. The one where only your wife applauds. The one where you sit alone. The one where you stand with many. In the end, it’s just us against the world trying to take on hell with a water pistol.

It’s life in the fishbowl; I swim around with all eyes watching. But something happened to me over the years, over time and lessons learned I allowed other fish to jump into my fishbowl. Sometimes I scoop out the deadness that brings and flush it, if you know what I’m saying.

This one time approval addict has been delivered. I scoop out the poop y’all and keep my little fishbowl sparkling. Because at the end of the day, it’s my bowl and keeping my heart and mind unclouded from this world is what matters most to the Lover of my soul. (James 1:22-27)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Friends and Fans

“Her mom never taught her how to cook, but she did teach her how to risk.”- Erwin McManus, Unleashed.

Sitting with my best friend of seventeen years this weekend, soaking in different snapshots of time. How we were then and how we are now. I’m so stinking proud I could burst. We traveled in ministry together for nine weeks of sheer torture during our college years. Three boys, one who kept his meds in his dirty socks that could rock a human video to Carmen like nobody’s business. One who could play the piano and wow everyone, one who could play the bass and make all of us wish we weren’t so white…and two petite broads calling all the shots and figuring out how we fit while coveting each other’s giftings. I guess you could say we became friends and fans at the same exact time.

At nineteen you don’t really know who you are or why you feel like such a weirdo. We are soaking in all the images of lovelies on the magazines, air brushed and just as insecure as we are. A snapshot is taken. Here is what you look like with some things shaved off and edited. Our eyes surveyed the women in our life while the younger version of ourselves felt inadequate, instead of inspired.

If all we see is what is imperfect and flawed, then we will train our minds to focus on those minor things instead of all the things that take your breath away.

We place an idea of perfection, unattainable and lofty and lie to ourselves by saying it’s possible to be and achieve it all without an IV drip of caffeine and a body double. We are convinced she really exists. The perfect woman.

If “she” really did exist…would you want to pummel her or applaud her?

Would you be her biggest fan?

Or would you feel threatened and at risk?

I could wish away my insecure days that lingered for years, but I wouldn’t be me without all those years of striving to be someone else. I’m amazed at how much time we spend trying to blend in when we were made to stand out. Being who you truly are is risky, but being someone else is a trap.

Stand out, you beautiful thing!

By standing out, you give others the freedom to do the same.

And cheer on your sisters, both young and old, in this journey.

They need a friend and a fan.

Cheering loud for you,


"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies." (Phil 4:8-9 MSG)

Thursday, August 16, 2012


To say that my world has been turned upside down for the past three months would be the understatement of the century. (Cue the theatrical music.) I have sat across the table with friends trying to sip coffee like I’m okay, but have looked more like a deer in the headlights wondering if “my normal” will ever exist.

Tears stream down my face in gratitude as I welcome back my normal.

I have been given an opportunity to love with strings attached and by that I mean a little man has toddled into my life and ran away with my heart and I’m not sure that I will ever get it back. I have been kicking and screaming inwardly at the instability that has come into our lives from trying to give a young child stability. The truth is our adoption story is still a huge question mark. Bottom line, I don’t know if he’s mine forever. And because of that I have allowed myself to be guarded.

Over fourteen years ago a much taller man shuffled into my life. For days I have been whispering to myself, “I didn’t fall in love with him overnight.”

It was gradual.

There were no fireworks. Our eyes didn’t lock across the crowded room with “Dream Weaver” playing in background. No philharmonic symphony serenading us as his family questioned whether I was a suitable match and my dearest friends worried that my sensitive heart wouldn’t be able to stomach someone who wasn’t known for being “sensitive”. Our two weeks of entertaining the idea of dating ended up with tears and the parting of ways. That man of mine dropped me off at my best friend’s house, at my request.

The words shared as we parted ways left me feeling like I wasn’t good enough. It was something that cut me to the core. Sometimes brutal honesty stunts the growth of potential relationships, it certainly did for me. I walked into my best friends home welcomed like an adopted daughter. They assured me of my worth and value. They made the hurt sting a little less as they poured in love while he drove off.

Just like my son, I was dropped off needy on a doorstep. Needing a family. Needing someone to wipe my tears and tell me of my worth. Love took me in, baggage and all, unguarded.

Years ago, two very different hearts trying to find the will of God found each other. We had been given the opportunity to love with strings attached. I told him to run as I explained the family baggage he would be inheriting by marrying me. I tried to run when I felt unaccepted and misunderstood. But, love doesn’t run away. It runs to you, unguarded.

Three months ago, love took a little boy in. Wearing only a diaper and a button-down shirt with his head shaved, I took him in my arms scared to death.

What if he doesn’t love me?

Can I love him as we walk through attachment issues?

Can I give myself over to loving when it could end in heartache and disappointment just like the children that I had miscarried?

I could not love him guarded. Fear had to break in me.

Once again these words came to me, “You did not fall in love with him overnight.”

It was gradual.

As all the walls came down and the fear subsided, I realized that once again…a man had stolen my heart and I will never be the same.

I could quote you scripture and verse telling you that we are supposed to guard our hearts because it’s the wellspring of life. (Prov 4:23) And when our well has been tainted with bitter water, it spills out into the rest of our lives. So often we read this text and apply it to the toxic people and disappointments in our lives. But this is not talking about guarding our hearts from “people and pain” but from ourselves.

Clarkes Commentary of the Bible say it this way, “I know that the twenty-third verse is understood as principally referring to the evils which proceed from the heart, and which must be guarded against; and the good purposes that must be formed in it, from which life takes its colouring.”

By “guarding our heart” from others we mistakenly keep love out.
I’m reminded of a God who has loved me with a jealous and unguarded love even when I didn’t deserve it. Perfect love casts out fear.

But that is what love does.

It runs to you, not away from you.

It loves unguarded.

It loves even when it hurts.

Love takes you in making you sons and daughters, no longer orphans.

You are loved fiercely with an unguarded, unending love.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear...” (1 John 4:18)

Much love to you,


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I find myself in a season where everything is up in the air and nothing is certain. Trapped in the temporary, I find myself familiar with mascara stains and desperate prayers as I seek after the God that carries me. I want to know the end result after the rug has been jerked from underneath me. Even though the future looks like a question mark, He remains my constant source of stability. (Is 33:6 NET)

And yet here in this place I'm no longer the mother. I am the needy child with arms outstretched waiting to be picked up. I long to know the outcome to this waiting game and yet it's not for me to know right now. I simply have to wait, to rest, and allow myself to be carried. When I carry my children they never seem to worry that my footing will be unsure. They simply rest in my arms secure for the journey. With their legs wrapped around me and sweet head on my shoulder, their gaze remains on what is behind us as we move towards where we are headed. One day our yesterday will be a blur and only the faithfulness of the One who carried us will remain.

"Indeed I am composed and quiet, like a young child carried by its mother; I am content like the young child I carry. O Israel, hope in the Lord now and forever more." (Psalm 131: 2-3 NET)

I'm not sure where you are on your journey, but this much I do know. God desires to give you a composed confidence as He carries you. Your arms are probably tired from the load you are carrying. But, place your hope in the Lord, sweet child of God, and allow yourself to be carried.

"And she will have no more fear of change, being full of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge: the fear of the Lord is her wealth." (Is 33:6 BBE)

Much love,


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When The Words Run Dry

When the words run dry and there is nothing left to say, grasping for words that never come. The tears fall freely and He hears our hearts in the silence. Sometimes words aren't needed to the God that formed our hearts. He never changes and His goodness never runs dry. His mercy is never ceasing and His love unfailing.

He spoke the worlds into existence, so I pray tonight that He will speak to the wounded heart in you and hold you close.

Framed and fashioned by God, Dear One, you are not hidden from Him. You are hidden in Him, gathered up and protected. Wonderfully and fearfully made, a wonder He delights in. You are not a mistake. Every dreaded misstep and battle wound that lingers serves to remind you...yet, He came to free you. Taking the stripes on His back so that you may be free.

If all you can whisper or mutter before the Lord is, "I surrender." I promise that is enough.

We don't have to fake it and act like we have it all together. We don't have to know what the next step is, we just have to trust in the unseen.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

Maybe you can't see how God is working all things out for your good. Maybe your faith is shaken and you feel all alone. Here is a promise you can hold onto and recite until it changes the way you see things.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)

Much Love,


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Love Always Hopes

It was a girl. I knew it. I sat in my boss’s office and began to cry. She told me I needed to name her, that naming the baby would help the grieving process. Floods of emotions and names entered my head, but only one name I refused to part with. I wiped the tears and said, “It wasn’t Whitley. She is supposed to be with me.” Here on earth, not when we meet in heaven. Whitley was the promise that I would hold onto for three years and countless doctors visit later.

Whitley: White field

Jane: God’s grace

I shake my head and still can’t believe she is turning nine tomorrow. I kiss her head and tuck her into her “big girl” bed that used to swallow her. She tells me that soon she will be taller than me. And I say, ‘not yet’ pretending to be offended. I wink and she grins.

Her hot pink lamp is on, I see her squinting to read the tiny print in her Bible. I lie down next to her, take the Bible out of her tiny hands, and ask her if I can read to her as we snuggle.

“Can you read the one about love?”


“Yeah, that one.”

I begin to read 1 Corinthians 13. By verse four I soak her in my tears, yet continue reading.

“It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…”

It doesn’t fail, it cannot. For God is love, the kind that doesn’t empty out or run dry when life gets too hard. He is there with us, wrapping us up in Him. That protecting, perfect, limitless love that I’ve known since I was a little girl...countless tears and whispered prayers learning to love and trust a God I couldn’t see, but felt. And in her room, I feel it still…limitless love protecting, trusting, hoping, persevering, and unfailing. And I can’t help but cry grateful tears remembering the happiest and scariest day of my life, Groundhog Day 2003. Her dad joked during the long, hard labor that he hoped Whitley didn’t see her shadow and decide to stay in there longer…I still don’t think that was very funny. Seventeen hours of pure torture (sorry honey) and an emergency cesarean later only to hear silence, no sound of cries coming from her tiny, perfect body.

But, I knew she would cry. I knew she was meant for me and that she would be okay because love always perseveres. Always hopes. You were worth the wait, baby girl. Happy Birthday Whitley Jane.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tough Girl

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this phrase: “You need to develop thicker skin.” But, I have yet to hear a Bible verse to back up that phrase. And so I look at them, most likely with a blank stare and nod knowing that every time to “try” to be tough I forfeit the sweetest part of me. My southern sweetness nods and then I shake it off and shake my head wondering what on earth these ladies have been through to put on such a tough-girl exterior.

The fact is, I am strong. I’ve had to be. I’m strong because I forgive even though I can’t always forget. I’m strong because I run to God and not away from Him. I’m strong because I’m not at all. I’m weak and His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

I’m not sure who told women that we needed to wear the pants in the family, serve it up hot in the kitchen (and the bedroom) and get over our natural, God-given, femininity by having thicker skin. But, I’m afraid for them and for their hearts.

We can be Proverbs 31 women in the making, consider the field (or minivan) and buy it. We can dress our children in fine clothing, or pick it up off the floor and hand it to them ten minutes before the school bus arrives and pray it doesn’t have stains on it. We can celebrate our respected husbands who provide for us well and come home to a somewhat clean house and happy wife who sometimes isn’t happy. We can paint the house, stain the cabinets, and use a staple gun to update the fabric on our chairs. No one loves a staple gun more than me and to be real honest, I would rather have a staple gun over a waffle iron any day.

We can do it all, or at least we try to. But, at the end of the day when we have worked like a man while trying to smell like a can bet your discount shoes that we are going to cry because we are tired. And calloused hands still hurt.

But what happens when you are unhappy and your soft skin feels tender, rubbed raw, and the ones around you are pouring lemon juice into your wounds instead of a healing salve?

You take in words straight from the heart of God telling you who you really are and what you are really worth.

You are far more precious than rubies, Proverbs 31 woman, but you do not have to be a cold, hard stone.

NLT says that the Proverbs 31 woman is energetic and strong, a hard worker. Her hands are busy (but, it doesn’t say anything about having a busy mouth. Hum, something to ponder.)

I wonder if she is energetic and strong because she knows when to rest, when to pull away, and regain her strength? Because if she is going to have anything worthwhile to offer her family, she must be well versed in saying no to everything else that distracts from her highest calling.

She is clothed in strength and dignity. But, I wonder if her skin was still soft and supple even though she had hands that are familiar with hard work? Heaven knows we all need some cream and lotions, and this girl is smart y'all...she probably whipped up her own batch of wonder under-eye cream!

She laughs, without fear of her future. Perhaps she cackles like me, from her gut with her head back, relentless because she’s taken a lifetime of fighting, crying, and putting on strength while remaining very much a woman. She makes a choice to be soft and strong all at the same time. Because after all, she knows what matters most and it’s not everyone else’s lousy advice and 10 Easy Steps to make your house, kids, and husband look fabulous while you smile and call Walgreens because your Zantac bottle is empty.

Can I tell you that being soft and sensitive is not a curse? It opens way to the gifts of helps and cheap and affordable therapy for your friends while giving you a shoulder for the toughest girl in the world to cry on.

Being tough is not the answer, realizing that you are not at all, nor do you have to be, is.

God didn’t make me to be tough; He made me to be soft. And everyone that tries to tell me otherwise doesn’t know me. At all. (And I mean that in the nicest possible way.) I’m not taking about being overly sensitive and so insecure that when the person next to me sneezes and makes a funny face…I assume it’s because of something I’ve done. I got over that after High School and I’m definitely not returning to those days. My ponytail and pom-pom days are over, so I can put on strength and not have to punch people in the face, or with my words, to do so.

A Not-So-Tough Girl,