Get Real…

 

803D61DA-A202-42D8-9F09-C90DE3D9166EI’m a hairstylist, and although I know it shouldn’t be this way there are times (I’ll admit) that I live under a ridiculous falsehood:

‘that when my hair is fixed and looking nice I’m gonna feel and appear like a total put together mama, and I’ll be able to handle any challenge that may come about that day…I’m gonna feel good about myself…no matter what…all day long.’

On my “very” best days my hair is colored, which means grays are covered and I start the day out with a female version of James Bond’s can-do attitude…My husband is going to read this and be like, “do you even have any idea who James Bond is?” and I’ll simply reply, “…not really.”

…I’m 34 years old and I have more than a fair amount of gray hair. I experienced a lot of childhood trauma, therefore I blame it on that. Nevertheless, I feel my age is far too young to parade gray hair around so I color it and it drives my husband absolutely crazy. Nathan believes I should embrace this premature graying and accept it for what it is, but I can’t bring myself to do it at this point. Maybe when I’m in my 40s, but in my 30s it’s just not gonna happen.

I realize there are some who would agree with my husband, BUT I also know there are a lot of people out there who are covering up “gray areas” of their lives…

Whether it’s depression, an eating disorder, a spending habit, perhaps a lump on their body, an addiction, a broken heart…you see, some of us are covering up “gray hairs” also, so to speak.

As I spoke with one of my best friends on the phone the other day I explained to her how ‘even though I’m so, far-removed from my past mistakes, there are still times I allow my insecurities (the shame from my past) to fester and sometimes even surface. It gets uncomfortable. This is especially true when I’m around certain individuals. I feel insignificant or insecure of myself while in their presence, like I’m not good enough.’

I’ll never forget her simple and reasonable response, “most likely you feel that way around those people because they don’t share their true feelings.”

They’re a closed book, very private, refusing to share or show feelings and emotions.

Perhaps hesitant to open up at the risk of becoming vulnerable themselves.

…Allowing only the rich vibrant color to show, covering over the dull, dreary shades of gray.

The truth is: everyone has or is dealing with something. We’ve all faced or are facing a struggle.

The danger is: many refuse to admit it or open up about it.

Another best friend and I share the darkest, deepest areas of our mishaps with one another. Once we’ve equally vented, we jokingly mock the ever popular phrase, “#thestruggleisreal.” 

BUT it’s true!!, the struggle is real, we just don’t always show it. We put up this facade; posting the happiest pictures and updates on social media, meanwhile true inner feelings (those gray hairs and struggles) are covered over.

I’ve been there, I’ve done that. For years I was a closed book. Shame ran rampant in my heart and self, but my face and words spoke otherwise. I was as unreal as imitation vanilla or imitation crabmeat—neither of which are as good as the real thing, right? (sidenote: both of which I buy because I’m cheap) …When asked by someone how I was doing, I’d bottle my thoughts and bend the truth; never wanting anyone to know my hurt and self-pity. I was a wrecking ball damaging my integrity, losing sight of who I needed to be…Surely “observant people” noticed.

When I finally allowed Jesus to grab my attention He purposefully highlighted the gray, showing me how it could be a light in a dark world.

What Satan intended for evil, God has used for His glory.

I’ve now shared my testimony with many people, who after hearing my story seek me out, thanking me for just being real. They’re able to see the radiant color over what was once a dark, concealed undertone.

When we open up and spill the story of our life, our troubles, our worries we become relatable. We suddenly find out we’re not alone. We live in a broken, messed up world, and when we get real and push down the walls of pride sharing our weaknesses with one another that’s when relationships are built, standing firm and strong.

So even though my hair color may not be real, you can bet my story is. I’ve learned to uncover my struggles in a way that others may see the vibrant beauty of God’s big picture. Know this, it’s not okay to approach just anyone or at anytime revealing all of what might be a messy past, but when we listen to God’s prodding on our heart we learn to recognize just when, how, and where to open up and share our stories, always remaining honest while doing so. May we work to uncover our real thoughts, feelings, and emotions connecting with one another in a way that points to Jesus.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Good Good Father

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Photo taken in Ouray, CO

Chris Tomlin (a Christian musician) sings Good Good Father, a song regarding and recognizing God’s immense love for us.

The other morning I listened to this very song and noticed I can finally get all the way through without choking up as I sing along to the words. I wasn’t always able to do so before…And I’m thankful beyond measure.

I’ve intentionally and passionately pursued Christ for the past five years, not perfectly but with great effort. I’ve read and memorized scripture. I’ve counteracted and demolished negative thoughts by applying God’s faithful word where fear and worry long to thrive.

But in all that, can I just be honest and admit that for a long time I failed to see that God loves, loves, loves me deeply and without limitations…He LOVES me with unconditional genuine love. Keep in mind I’ve believed in Him since I was a young girl, and was taught of His love from a young age but the idea and reality of His love never struck me until more recently.

God absolutely loves me even though I mess up everyday and I don’t deserve His love. I simply didn’t understand and couldn’t grasp that concept until I allowed the words of this song to sweep in and settle throughout me.

It’s like this: We can read the same verse three or four times and it may just come across as words and nothing more. It may not be until reading that same verse for the 100th time that we finally realize the power and hope found in those very words. And then it hits us like a ton of bricks and we have that “ah-ha” moment.

Sometimes God uses His people to amplify the meaning of His words, whether it’s through a song, a devotion, a church message, a fellow believer…fill in the blank.

For me, I was just taking for granted the raw truth of God’s love for me. I was missing an important key ingredient to my faith..functioning and believing in Him—but not absorbing the fullness of His words. I was reading scripture and applying it to my life, but not always in a heart-pounding, adrenaline-rushing way.

If you’d have asked me if God loved me I would’ve been quick to respond with, “yes, absolutely!”…because I knew the answer in my head from reading scripture, but my heart didn’t know and feel it.

The first time I heard Good Good Father was nearly a year ago. I was driving alone and as the music spilled from the car’s radio those words melted over my heart overwhelmingly. Tears ran down my cheeks as I soaked in the lyrics—

You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.

Those words brought me to tears over and over every time I’d hear that song because it became this revelation of finally understanding and realizing that I am loved by God.

I AM LOVED BY GOD!!

(It kind of makes me want to head to Colorado and shout it from the mountaintops).

There’s something about knowing who you are, more importantly knowing who you identify as (as a follower of Christ) and knowing who He is.

Being able to declare that you are loved by God…there’s just simply nothing like it.

It’s when you feel lost, hurt, broken, or lonely but knowing and saying, “everything is going to be alright because I AM LOVED BY GOD regardless of my circumstances or feelings.”

I don’t know anything or anyone else in the world that can provide that kind of grace, mercy, and truth. When you’re in those moments of despair all you want is to feel love, because relationships are all that really matter and Jesus’ love offers the ultimate healing and restoration.

It causes me to consider those who don’t know God as Lord and Savior, where do they draw hope and comfort? I’ve said it before: “I’m still kind of a mess some days, but without God I’d be a bigger mess.” I’m so thankful for a life with Him as my Good Good Father. I’ve tried it the other way (with me in control) and it’s always left me empty and disappointed.

You aren’t living, until you’re believing and living IN HIM—immersed in all He has to give as truth.

Do you know and trust that God loves you unconditionally?

Check out Good Good Father for yourself by clicking on the photo link.

Part 3: Remembering My Dad (lessons and spiritual growth)

That was nearly twenty years ago; I can still feel the sting of the pain even now…Goodness I miss my dad…

*This is part 3 of a 3 part series- links to parts 1 and 2 are located at the bottom of this post

Growing up I took for granted the idea of family time and commitment. We had many fun times, but I failed to place much value on our years together while they were occurring.

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Winter of 1999-a few months after my dad’s motorcycle accident

I’ve managed to mentally revisit and collect the moments we spent together and I hold on to those precious memories now.

I can also identify our number one struggle as well. We believed in God, but we were far from a relationship with Jesus, therefore our family-dynamic suffered in following Christian morals, which led to lenient parenting. Often times I was absent—drinking and partying with friends. House rules and expectations were shallow for me; late nights and a selfish mentality were abundant. Mistakes and poor choices were high as I ran wild.

It wasn’t until I was married with three young children and in my mid-twenties that I recognized the hurt and brokenness in me. I thought I could fix it on my own and I tried for the next five years.

I watched as my mother, meanwhile, had found healing over my father’s death by seeking Christ. I remember relying heavily on her for wisdom during that trying period and she pointed me to Jesus every time.

And then one day I finally submitted… Continue reading “Part 3: Remembering My Dad (lessons and spiritual growth)”

Part 2: Remembering My Dad (story)

As the years move on, I slip further away from memories of my dad. In this crazy, busy world I must intentionally reminisce of our times together or I risk altogether losing the memory of the sweet time we had together…”

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October of 1983-mom, dad and I

*This is part 2 of a 3 part series- links to parts 1 and 3 are located at the bottom of this post

My father was not perfect, as no one is, but he was incredibly good to my mom, brothers, and me; hard-working and courageous and taking pride in caring for his family and looking after my epileptic mother. He struggled with drug and alcohol addictions for most of my younger years but eventually abandoned the two and in the mix found out who his true friends were. He began attending church regularly with my mom and us kids but soon afterward discovered an interest in an old-time hobby of his…

Dirt bike racing.

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Summer 1999-Photos from top left clockwise: mom, dad racing, brothers, me

Since the races were on Sunday mornings our church attendance as a family declined, while race attendance increased. The end of my dad’s first race season came in October of 1999 along with the abrupt end to his new hobby. Our lives were forever changed when a miscalculated double-jump left my father with a broken neck—paralyzed and ventilator dependent.

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Christmas of 2000-our last family photo

During that time my dad lived hours away in an assisted health facility for proper care. We visited him often, but tragedy would strike again not even two years after the motorcycle accident.

We brought my dad home to visit for the Fourth of July weekend, upon returning him back to his “rehab-home” I fell asleep behind the wheel. My father didn’t survive the car accident. I was just seventeen at the time, my dad only thirty-nine.

A life cut far too short.

In an uncanny way, that accident was a blessing in disguise—that morning my dad had told my mom he ‘didn’t like living this way, that he was thankful she was the one caring for him over the weekend, but he didn’t want to live this way anymore…’

Whew..deep breath..heavy heart..

That was nearly twenty years ago; I can still feel the sting of the pain even now…Goodness I miss my dad…

*Part 3 follows with the lessons and faith I’ve found since my dad’s passing

Part 1: Remembering My Dad (poetry)

*This is part 1 of a 3 part series- links to parts 2 and 3 are located at the bottom of this post

I must admit with all honesty, and with a guilty conscience, that poems are not always my favorite thing to read or write.

I sometimes think they sound a bit gushy or sappy. Maybe it’s because in my daily language I don’t use the kind of effusive talk which is typically involved with poetry.

However—I truly do appreciate and respect the effectiveness in expressing and communicating deep thoughts through a poem, thoughts that may not have been conveyed otherwise. It’s for that very reason, I take advantage of the power of poetic writing. The idea of  describing emotions in few words, in a simple yet meaningful way, is appealing to me, for sure. Regardless of how corny the words may sound at times, poems make for a great opportunity to share true passions, experiences, and feelings in a practical, heartfelt manner.

With the Father’s Day celebration among us, I took to honoring my dad (who passed away when I was seventeen) by writing a poem:

DAD

Hunting, fishing, camping, riding—
Things you loved to do;
Family and friends—
Loved being with you.

Thankful for the years together we spent, Blessed for how they went.

Home early you left to be with Jesus,
Some days I still search for reasons.

The Father of you and I—
Our Father in Heaven,
He knows our time here,
He knows when He’ll call us there.

It’s hard to understand,
Why He called you too soon—
But I have to trust what God had planned.

Those memories I have of you,
The Lord truly blessed.
Those memories I have of you,
Are no doubt some of my best.

Some days reflecting back on those years,
Leaves me in tears.

It’s hard to understand,
Why He called you too soon—
But I have to trust what God had planned.

His ways aren’t for me to question,
But His words are for me to rest in.

Our Father in Heaven had a plan
When he made you my dad;
He brought me to you
to share as a daughter.

The Lord knew of our fun to be had.
He knew all our family would do.
He knew you’d love us like crazy too.

So it’s hard to understand,
Why He called you too soon—
But I have to trust what God had planned.

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Dad and I..I was maybe 4 years old here

As the years move on, I slip further away from memories of my dad. In this crazy, busy world I must intentionally reminisce of our times together or I risk altogether losing the memory of the sweet time we had together…

*Part 2 follows with my dad’s story and part 3 with the lessons I’ve learned as a result

Why Do You Run?

This is a longer post, but I’ve tried to keep my posts at under a thousand words (many times) and well, I’ve decided I can’t do it! I only post once every week or two so it makes it seem justified I suppose. Blessings and hope you enjoy…

My favorite little fur-friend is covered in silver and tan color, weighs a whopping four pounds, mimics a bulldog stance with his front legs, possesses separation anxiety, and usually has a seizure once or twice a week. (We joke as a family that he inherited seizures from my mom and youngest brother who also have them.)

His name is Eli, but sometimes we call him Liza Jane, E Bug, E.B…

He’s our family dog—A three year old, purebred Yorkie who will never be used for breeding stock because of his many flaws; but in our eyes he’s perfect!

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Just look at his cuteness!

On a busy Monday morning, with joint effort, my kids and I packed their small luggage bags into the back of my “mom van.” They were going to be staying the week at grandma’s so they could participate in Vacation Bible School (VBS) at the church she attends. After what seemed like we had just loaded everything they own (except for bedroom furniture) we set out on our twenty-minute drive to my small hometown.

On the drive I ran through my mind my perfectly planned Monday morning…

  • Drop the kids off at church for VBS
  • drive to mom’s
  • unload handfuls of bags
  • unload more and more bags
  • Spend a few minutes sorting paperwork
  • Visit with my younger brother all the while
  • Take Eli for a walk on the nearby walking trail

Afterwards it would be time to pick up kids from church, head to afternoon dentist appointments, and thereafter the kids would land at my mom’s so they could enjoy a combination of Grandma, zero chores, and Vacation Bible School, all for a full week!

It was perfectly scheduled in my control-freak mind.

We soon made it to the church and I dropped the kids off. Then I headed to the little house I grew up in where I was greeted by my brother who helped me carry gobs of bags inside.

Everything was going just as I had planned.

But after a few minutes something seemed off…

Eli? Where was Eli?…If I was going to stick to my “perfectly planned” itinerary I would need my dog for my walk that was scheduled to happen shortly. Continue reading “Why Do You Run?”

Jesus in the Center

C954C19E-2714-4638-8D6E-B18DB7ABCBCDAround the Easter holiday I came across an article where the author wrote: “Sorry Christians, but there’s only one reason I get excited about Easter, and it has nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with those chocolate eggs filled with caramel in the center!”

…Hmmm, okay, those are pretty tasty, I’ll give you that, I thought to myself…

Not wanting to stir up any trouble, I quietly backed out of the website without making a “peep”…yes, I’ve included a few puns:/ lol.

But I couldn’t shake what I’d read, mainly because (forgive me while I challenge this mindset) mouth-watering, delicate chocolates can be bought year-round in any given grocery store—like there are whole isles devoted to sweet treats in a variety of chocolate smothered choices!! And Ghirardelli chocolates with the creamy caramel inside are available any day of the year and in my opinion they have it figured out just right, and they “beat” chocolate caramel Easter eggs anytime; so to get incredibly excited and hyped up over these “cheap” eggs I guess I don’t understand that. Further yet, to give more credit and recognition to chocolate eggs over Jesus during the Easter celebration or ANYTIME, I just can’t process that.

Realistically speaking, I just think it’s sad.

Obviously this person is far from Jesus, but it doesn’t mean he or she is unreachable. The truth is there are millions of others out there who are more excited over “chocolate” than Jesus, it may just be in a more subtle manner.

As a Christian I’m optimistic and realize everyone is capable of being saved if they’re willing. No one is too far from saving; it’s just some are looking for life to satisfy through a “chocolate-fix” rather than relishing in the everlasting sweetness that Jesus provides.

Where is the hope found when you function in a facade that way?

When I look back at my life before I came to Christ, I see a mess of “chocolate fixes.” As a teen and in my twenties I only knew and believed in Jesus as God’s son, but I was so far away from a genuine relationship with Him at that time. Continue reading “Jesus in the Center”