I Danced

dancing

Last Saturday morning, I walked with a family as they said goodbye to their baby. My heart ached for them as we created some tangible memories. I carried them with me…pieces of their pain, forever woven into the fabric of my heart. Every time I wash a tiny baby foot, the humbling privilege of washing feet, as mentioned in scripture, washes over me. How our Jesus values every single life.

As I left in the van, the tears I carefully held back dripped down my face. I watched them holding hands, entering a world without their baby. I felt the ripping raw pain as I drove. Their pain. My pain. The pain of thousands of other parents who once walked out that door into a completely different world.

Life was waiting for me at home.

My son’s band was playing at the Corn City Festival, and our house would be filled with guests. Soon the combination of music and being surrounded by people I love, lifted my heart a bit. I thought of Angie Smith’s famous words, “Life is a sacred dance of grief and joy.” Yes. Yes it is. There’s so much grief carried in this tattered heart of mine.

But…there is also joy. And, sometimes, these tired feet just have to dance.

I danced most of the night, thanks to friends and my darling kitchen boys. I danced with every one of them. At first, I felt a little self-conscious. I’ve never been heavier or older than I am right now. Curvy girls jiggle when they dance. For just a wee moment, I was uncomfortable, silently focusing on my flaws. And, then this fabulous freedom swept over me, as one of the kitchen boys twirled me around in the middle of the street, in front of the stage, at our tiny railroad town festival. This life is short, and I may never have the chance to dance in the middle of the street with my beloved, beautiful kitchen boys and half the town…and eventually in the arms of my husband…again. (Even he can’t resist that kind of contagious joy.) We don’t know what tomorrow holds. So, I danced, with complete abandon. For hours.

And, once I stopped worrying about the things that just don’t matter this side of heaven, I began to feel beautiful. And, loved.

I felt loved by my friends, my kitchen boys, my Tim…and most of all… loved by God.

I felt Him whisper as I laughed and spun…

You are cherished. You are beautiful. You are dearly loved. You are Mine. And, I see you, dear daughter of my heart.

Oh, how grateful I am that I did not allow a few extra pounds and some grey hair to keep me from dancing freely. The kind of dancing that heals the soul-ache of a weary heart. Dear women everywhere, there is nothing more beautiful than a confident, joy-filled, free woman. No matter how she is packaged.

You are cherished. You are beautiful. You are dearly loved. You are His. He sees you, dear daughter of his heart.

So, dance. Dance freely, covered in His grace and love for you. And, remember…radiant joy covers a multitude of jiggles (and other flaws).

 

Photo credit

Grace Rebel

grace rebel

I’m wondering how to speak these words tumbling and churning inside, begging for release. The trouble is, the conveying…the truly nailing it on the head with explanation. Lately, I’m feeling rebellious. And, by lately, I mean for several years now.

These molds we try to force ourselves into. They aren’t fitting. Just like when we try to force our very big God into a box. He will never fit.

Do you feel sometimes that the closer you get to understanding who Jesus really is, the further you drift from fitting into molds, or identities, or expectations, or even friendships? I think it’s a challenge, to try to fit in places we were meant for. But, oh…the sweet freedom when we stop trying. Even if my freedom is a rock of offense to some, I can’t go back.

I’m surprised by how alone we sometimes can feel when we delve further into knowing the One who shed blood for us, while we spit in His face. How separated…even from those who sit beside us in the church pew, professing His name. Or those we’ve known as family all of our lives. Or those we call friends. The connections change. The path narrows. The numbers dwindle to a close few, real friendships. The ones who know all your broken and love you anyway…the ones who get it…who get you.

When my oldest son was young, I felt fiercely protective of every nuance of his being…physically, spiritually, emotionally. The weight of that responsibility on my young momma shoulders drove me to many prayer sessions on my knees. I never wanted him to taste a drop of sin, or harm, or disappointment in this broken world. The thought left me undone.

I had buried three children before I was 24 years old. So, I knew that there were no guarantees in this broken place.

I never wanted him to have unsaved friends, to hear or speak a curse word, to drink, or lie, or drive too fast. I wanted him safe.

A friend who’s currently trying to make sense of our desperation for safety in a very unsafe place spoke truthfully about that wrestling we do prior to surrender. There is a frightening freedom and the strangest sense of peace in surrendering. In knowing that there is no safe place from loss, from death, from sin.(In case you’re wondering, I’m not offended or frightened by her wandering in this wilderness, or by her questions. And, I don’t believe our very big God is either. I believe He is wooing her to find him, even in the wandering.)

Something stirred within me, in the depths of grief, when all had been stripped from me in the burying of babies…and in the surrendering…in the clinging to the hem of His dirty garment…the One full of muck from all the walking with broken people. Something life changing. In my letting go. In my learning that true faith is gritty and messy and dirty and full of way more questions than answers…way more believing without seeing…knowing, even in the desperate broken places when prayers can’t be uttered…that even in that, His grace would meet me and it would always be enough.

It began to fall way, the lie that faith is about my performance…that my Christian witness has more to do with a perfect picture with a checklist of rules than a real gathering around my kitchen table to listen to stories, offer good food, and cherish the gift of lives and friendship….being the hands and feet of Jesus, rather than merely speaking of Him with a bunch of shoulds and requirements attached. Letting His love ooze through and pour out in the sharing of laughter. In the shedding of tears. In the holding of hands. In the walking alongside. In the breaking of bread. In the telling of our stories. Letting that speak louder than eloquent prayers prayed just right. Not covering the cracks and mismatches in my “picture” which upon closer inspection reveals so much more beauty in the imperfections.

Ironically, I’ve learned the most about that freedom from the son I was once so desperate to protect. He brings a wide range of friends to my kitchen table. Some who maybe have never set foot in a church. He is one who loves his Savior, and shows it much more in the living than in the words he speaks. Not perfectly…in real life, messy fashion. The kind that leads to discussions on truth. During a recent conversation, he said, “If you really want to share your faith, you can’t only surround yourself with people who think like you. You have to live out among everyone. Share conversations. Get to know people. Listen and discuss differences with respect.”

And, do you know what happens? In the sharing. In the living. In the gathering and telling of stories. Naturally, easily…opportunities to share what you believe and why.

I love that.

That’s how our Jesus revealed Himself. Humbly, quietly…in the living amongst the people. No one…not a leper…or a drunk…or an adulterer…or the mentally ill…the poor….the sick…the broken….the dirtiest sinner…the thief on the cross….no one was too far gone…no one too dirty for Him to touch….no one worthless. Every life mattered to Him.

And, if we say every life matters to us, we really ought to live that way. Instead of spending so much time trying to keep our pictures looking perfect. Trying to measure our own performance, or that of those around us. We should be so busy in the loving and following the lover of our souls, that we don’t even notice that bologna. If I can boldly keep it real, I’m done with it. Disgusted by it. And, don’t have the time for it.

Anything that wreaks in the slightest of performance, I feel a rebellion rising within. I’m not talking about disobedience. Not rebelling against God and His ways. Rebelling against man’s…or in most cases, more accurately, women’s ways. Ladies, we can’t grow if we’re divisive and not encouraging and loving, if we’re so worried about our measuring sticks, we can’t see the hearts around us. Put them down, for the love of Pete. Put them down and just look at one another with love and grace. Can we do that? Can we walk worthy of this calling for a bit?

This grace rebel is longing for the grace to see the measuring sticks broken and tossed aside with the fervor that the feminists displayed when they were burning their bras. (I’m not advocating that, of course! But, if you did, I won’t judge you or quit speaking to you….just sayin’. )

If you’re wondering what I mean when I speak of a grace rebel…and if your heart is perhaps longing to be unleashed with the freedom with which we were meant to love…here is my best attempt at a definition:

grace rebel

 

 

 

Cling

I’m always late to the party.

And, this time is no exception.

When 2011 dawned, many people were writing about choosing a word that would encompass this year for them. Maybe it’s a word that God had whispered to their hearts…a word holding a promise of what was to come…or a word that held a special meaning, a message just for them.

I don’t know who started this practice, and truth be told, I just heard of it this year. As a lover of words, myself, I’m not sure how I’ve missed out on this for so long. Even after reading about other people’s inspiring words for 2011, I didn’t choose one for myself. Not right away. I’m a procrastinator like that. Hence…the always being late to the party…or where ever else I happen to be going.

Besides…there was a stirring in my heart that the word needed to choose me….

You know…if there was even going to be a word at all…

I put it aside like a faithful procrastinator…too busy to contemplate the perfect word. I’m the type of person who can’t choose a restaurant to have lunch, and I almost always regret what I choose to eat…wishing I would have chosen something else. It’s hard enough to make decisions and commitments that I have to make. I certainly wasn’t going to seek one out. And, especially not such a weighty decision as what word would encompass and define this entire year. No, thank you.

But, when something seeks you…

When God tugs at your heart, stirring in your depths, pursuing your wandering gaze, demanding your attention with a persistence that is both relentless and full of gentle speaking grace…

Well, now…that’s a different thing entirely….

A word began to form, deep inside my depths. Such a quiet whisper, I’m not sure how I even heard it. It resonated, barely a thought, but already part of me. Small and still, but clear and resolutely there all at the same time…

Cling

I tried to shake it away. Cling? That’s going to be the word…my word?? What does that even mean? Even as I asked, I knew. The word had already staked it’s claim. My spirit knew. Even in the knowing, I resisted.

But, when He pursues you…

With one word….

With one breath…one thought…one look of His eyes…

Sometime in January, my in real life friend, Lynette, called. My little prayer warrior friend, the tiny woman with four boys who prays mighty prayers. Lynette had heard a teaching on the radio about the concept of choosing a word to focus on for the year. Allowing God to speak to your heart and mull it over, chewing on what He has to say about that particular concept in your life.

I smiled knowingly….in awe of His pursuit, but not surprised. He is faithful like that…

Again, the word Cling sprang immediately to my heart…but I didn’t speak it with my lips. I heard myself say instead that some blogger friends had been talking about this very thing. She and I committed to pray about the word God would have us focus on for the coming year. We would then share the word with each other and encourage one another with what God had to show us.

I did pray…

But, each time I came to Him, the bold whisper….His answer…was there before I could make the request. Even as I prayed about other things, it was there…bubbling up…piercing through. How can a whisper be so certain, so full of authority, so unrelenting?

Really?

That’s the word?

Finally, as I drove in the car alone one day last week, listening to JJ Heller’s hauntingly beautiful, naked-hearted voice, pondering all the anxieties that plague our hearts…all the weighty things of this world that entangle us, stealing our joy, stifling and choking the very life from our lungs, all the broken places that keep us from being the people we were created to be…His word…the word He was offering to me…nay the word He had bestowed upon me…the word that had chosen me…pierced through my thoughts again, with it’s attention-demanding whisper.

Cling…

I yielded, allowing the word to claim me with it’s embrace, washing over me as I embraced it right back.

What would I cling to as I flail through the coming year with all my imperfections? For comfort, for peace, for joy, for wisdom….would I cling to my stinky onion layers, or would I reach for Him? Would I cling to the hem of His garment as if my life depended on it? There is a lot of letting go involved in the act of clinging to Him.

Not wanting my own thoughts to pollute the truth He wanted to speak into my life, I typed the word cling into the bible gateway search….

He spoke…

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (New King James Version)

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
(emphasis and italics mine)

If there were nothing else said, that would be enough. The above words are enough for my heart to ponder for a lifetime. Scripture to base not only this year on…but the length of my days…being led by those words.

Yet…there is more…

A loving warning should we choose to cling to something else…

Joshua 23:11-13 (New King James Version)
Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the LORD your God. Or else, if indeed you do go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations—these that remain among you—and make marriages with them, and go in to them and they to you, know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD your God has given you.

Instead, may this be the cry of my heart…

Psalm 101:3 (New King James Version)

I will set nothing wicked before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not cling to me.

And, may this be my daily prayer…


Psalm 63 (New International Version, ©2010)

You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.

I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.

If I’m not clinging to Him, what am I clinging to? One brings life, and the other death. Much to ponder in the coming year, and for the length of my days.

And, yet…such beautiful simplicity.

One, whispered word….

Cling…

UPDATED: Baby Sawyer Update ~ Women of Faith ~ and other stuff on my mind…

TUESDAY NIGHT UPDATE: PLEASE KEEP PRAYING FOR SAWYER: Baby Sawyer has another hurdle, a condition called Chyle and there are also some concerns about infection. Doctors are working to give him double-dose diuretics to reduce fluid so that he can have surgery tomorrow to clean out his chest, and close his heart surgery opening. Please pray for all of the details and that God would protect from infection, further complications and that He would guide the hands of the surgeons. Thank you for your continued prayers for this sweet baby who has had to fight so hard…
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Original post:
Baby Sawyer’s chest remains open from his heart surgery performed last Thursday. He has been retaining excess fluid, which needs to dissipate before the doctors can proceed and close him back up. Then there are some other concerns (including a possible kidney blockage) they will work on. Doctors say that it will be Wednesday or maybe even later before they can consider closing his chest. Please keep Sawyer in prayer. (Sawyer was born on April 16, 2010 and had open heart surgery less than a week later to repair TGA (transposition of the great arteries), a heart condition that is fatal without treatment.) His mother, Nicki, is one of my best friends from high school. My heart is heavy for this family, and we covet your prayers for them….

Thank you to those of you who have been praying. I have no doubt that he and this family are being carried by those prayers and by the arms of our mighty God.

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Women of Faith is coming up this weekend…and I am so excited!!! Becki and I will be travelling to Columbus…and so will Holly and some other friends of ours. If you are going to be in the area, we would love to meet you for supper on Friday evening (or actually afternoon).

If you are going to Women of Faith in Columbus on April 30-May 1st, or if you are just going to be in the Columbus area and want to meet us for supper, please let us know! We’d love to meet you.

We will be at the Cheesecake Factory at Easton at 4:30pm for an early supper. Come to meet us…or come to meet Holly…or come for the cheesecake. We don’t care why…just come! And, let us know if you plan to attend, so we can ask for a table for the right amount of people!

I am planning on taking lots of pictures…and I’m sure Holly-girl will too. You know, hers are always better than mine! Maybe we can even blog from the hotel! Also…you never know, I might even bring home a souvenir to give away. So stay tuned!
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If you’ve been wondering how I’m doing with my peeling back the layers project (as if you have nothing else going on!), I’ll tell you. Big sigh….

Sadly, I’ve crawled back under my layers and retreated. I wish I could tell you I’ve claimed victory and cast off the layers (or shackles, if you will). But, it’s been a one step forward, two steps back kind of thing. I’m admitting this for the sake of honesty and accountability. You know, knowing the truth and being set free doesn’t mean that we don’t sometimes struggle. Sometimes, we don’t walk in the freedom we’ve been given. I’m no exception.

The thing about our gracious God, though, is that “His mercies are new every morning…His compassions fail not”…and “great is His faithfulness”. When I am faithless, He is faithful. When I reach for the Doritos, He remains steadfast. He doesn’t give up on me, even when I’m shrinking in the face of the struggle before me. He remains with outstretched arms, offering me strength and victory…if I will only take it. Like the prisoners whose prison walls have fallen down, whose shackles have been loosed…I only have to take the step…to walk out of the prison and embrace the freedom. Yet, I have retreated, feeling more comfortable in the prison…or beneath my layers, away from feelings that are painful to explore.

I have said many times that the only way out is through…whether it is grief from loss, illness, death, disappointments, unmet expectations, abandonment. Whatever the cause, the only way out from the pit or the layers, or the prison…is to walk through the pain and sorrow. To recognize it, experience it, and release it to the care of our loving God who is able to heal our pain and take the sorrow upon Himself. He longs to wipe our tears, if we let Him. He longs to comfort us in all our tribulation so that we may comfort others with the comfort He gives. He longs to make us into a new creation….to complete the good work that He begins in us…and to see us flying free from all that entangles us, keeping us from being the people He created us to be.

So…here I am again. Ready to let Him work, praying for strength to resist the desire to retreat under my layers, and trusting Him to complete the good work He has begun in me. It’s really not about the food anyway. It’s about going to something other than the Lord for comfort. He is my comforter…and He is all that I need.
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O.K…so there are some other things I’d like to share soon. I love watching the Lord work! And, He is definitely working. But, it’s getting late…so those posts will have to wait. (I know you’re just on pins and needles! ha-ha… =)

Peeling Back the Layers

It’s 4:00a.m. and I’m tired. I’m tired of me. I actually contemplated starting a whole new blog to share what I’m about to share. One of those anonymous (read “safe”) blogs. Even as I write this, I’m not so sure that I shouldn’t be writing somewhere a little safer. After all, people I know read this blog. People I see at work, at the grocery store, at church will read my words. Do I really need my thoughts all out there for the whole world to see? And who really wants to know this much about me anyway?

But the truth is…I am too tired to start another blog right now. And, quite frankly, I’m not sure I’m the type of girl who could maintain another blog. I have enough to maintain, which is why I’m here in the first place, all tired and bedraggled at 4:00a.m….because of my lack of maintaining ability.

And…it’s not just that. I’ve been thinking that I started this blog to share more about our ministry, and how God’s grace shines through our family. I want to encourage women through Sufficient Grace Ministries, and so far that has mainly included mothers who grieve the loss of their babies. But, my desire to minister to women goes deeper and further than that. If we are a ministry that wishes to reach out in Christian love and encouragement to women, why not share some of our struggles in other areas of our lives? Don’t all women battle certain weaknesses and temptations? Perhaps sharing honestly about some of these other issues indeed falls under the category of ministering.

It is heavy on my heart tonight to just peel back some of the layers I’ve been hiding under. They are getting heavy. And, I am tired of carrying this weight, literally and figuratively. Since this is my place to write, and I don’t wish to start a new blog to maintain (uggg!), I have decided to just peel back the layers right here. I hope you don’t mind. And, if you do…that’s O.K., too. Tonight, as I read the bible with James before bed, I was reminded of a verse that God spoke to my heart during a very tumultuous time in our family life.

John 2:23-25: Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

Another version (too tired/lazy to look it up right now) says, “He knew what was in the heart of man”. I remember the first time that verse pierced my heart, cutting through all the layers of my pride and issues and concerns with the opinions others may have of me. (And, believe me, that is a battle of mine. I hate to step on toes, or cause someone to dislike me or feel uncomfortable. I want to be nice, to be liked, to be respected. I care what other people think….so much so that I’m feeling a little panicky sharing some of my layers here.) I remember feeling so free when I read those verses. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of me…my value isn’t dependent on what is in the heart of a “man” or “woman” or anyone, except my Savior. And, He loved me enough to die for me…even when I was at my very worst.

Please don’t get me wrong. I think we have a responsibility to care about our reputation and the perception others may have of us to some degree. But, to what degree? How much should the opinions of others dictate who we are and what we share? I certainly don’t wish to cause anyone to have less respect for me or this ministry because I share a weakness I am battling. But, I also don’t want pride to keep me from sharing something that may encourage another woman who is struggling. So, I prayerfully press on, trusting that my integrity will not be compromised by the sharing of my heart…but instead will shine through more so. If not, I trust the Lord to be my guide, and will do my best not to concern myself too much what is in the heart or opinion of others.

Several years ago, I lost 25 pounds. It was the first time in my life that I attempted to face the fact that I have an unhealthy love affair with food. It was the first time I chose discipline and obedience in this area of my life. Prior to that time, I pridefully embraced “freedom” in that particular area…only it wasn’t freedom at all, but bondage rather. The first two weeks of the healthy eating plan I chose (Weight Watchers…if you’re curious), were quite painful and intense for me. There were many emotions. I felt like an onion with many layers.The layers were being pulled back, and I felt exposed. Giving up unhealthy food for me was like grieving a loss, and I realized on that journey that food had a place in my life it should not have. When I was stressed, tired, excited, feeling unloved, bored, lonely or any emotion at all, I wanted to eat. And, when I tried to stop, I realized how much I depended on food to fill me in more ways than just meeting my physical needs for nutrition.

It was about more than losing weight for me. I realized that my attitude toward food was actually sin, and I was not going to be able to change it on my own. I prayed through those emotional weeks of “junk food detox”…and quoted scripture. I felt the layers of my onion being peeled away. At first, the peeling was painful, but slowly I embraced the loss of each one, realizing true freedom for the first time in my life.

I also lost twenty-five pounds, and that brought a whole new set of issues. Physically, I looked better than I had in a long time. Suddenly, I could wear anything I wanted…and it looked cute! I wanted to try different outfits…stuff I never could wear before. Tim, who has never made my weight an issue and makes me feel beautiful no matter my size, reminded me a couple times about being modest. And I soon found the balance. (I won’t tell you about the time I walked out of the house in a bikini and he locked his keys in the truck because he was so distracted! Oops…I guess I just did.)

Then, there was the influence of having my always-very-thin-and-in-shape mother’s approval as well as my grandmother (who always notices such things). Mom never criticized my weight and she loved me unconditionally, but I knew she noticed. Especially when I felt her approval when I lost the weight. A mother’s approval is a powerful thing. And, it was a new layer to be mindful of. (Do not tie yourself to the opinions of others, Kelly….remember what is in the heart of man. We are fickle humans. Live your life before God alone.)

I won’t say that it didn’t feel good to have her approval and to be able to fit into cute, stylish outfits. It did. But, it didn’t compare to the feeling of freedom I felt and the healthy attitude I had toward food. I was having wonderful devotion/prayer times….going to Lord instead of food, casting all my cares upon Him. I ate for physical nutrition, not to fill the void in my heart and soul. It was such an amazing gift, and I was grateful for the freedom.

I was encouraged as the Lord whispered to my heart to let go of other things that held me back, to cast off my shackles…to stop sitting it out…to embrace the dance of life. He led me to start Sufficient Grace, to take time off work and just focus on being Tim’s wife and James and Timothy’s mama. I was blessed with the gift of time to attend bible studies for moms and take online classes. No longer an onion covered in layers, I blossomed. (Is it wrong that I’m thinking of a yummy, deep-fried Onion Blossom dipped in southwestern sauce….or maybe some honey-mustard? Sorry….I’m getting off track.)

I walked in my new freedom for a few years. Slowly, though, I have crawled back into my stinky onion cocoon, layer by layer. It’s interesting how painful the peeling off of the layers is at first, and then it starts to feel good as I realize with the passing of each layer I embrace new freedom. The putting back on of layers is the opposite. It feels good at first, harmless. It lures me in, wooing me with a sense of familiar comfort. It feels like a safe place to hide. Safe from the pain of cancer, safe from suffering, safe from grief, safe from my shortcomings, the piles of unfolded laundry, my increasing lack of organization. A numb, safe place. But, then as layer by layer is added on, I start to feel trapped and suffocated. I cannot move, and the more I try on my own, the more entangled I become. It becomes clear, this isn’t a safe place at all. Right now, I’m tired of carrying these heavy layers.

I hate getting all heavy and dramatic about this. I’d much rather just make a joke about how I’ve never met a Dorito that I didn’t like…and keep on eating my Doritos. In fact, I probably will keep on eating them…just now I’ll have the Baked kind! It really isn’t even about food. It’s about the place I’ve given to food in my life. And not just food, but other things. Reading blogs, wasting time on facebook, watching TV…none of these things in themselves are bad. What I’m struggling with is that some of it I’ve done, instead of going to the Lord. I’ve been running…escaping…not stopping enough to listen to His voice. Just going…way too much…out in my own strength.

Pastor James gave a message last week where he invited us to share something that we are struggling with… an area where we would like to remain accountable to one another. Something we could pray for and encourage each other in for the coming year. It’s funny. I felt too shy to share mine on Sunday, but I’m pouring it out here for anyone to read. I trust he will read it here, too. Along with strangers, friends, blog friends, acquaintances, people who love me, people who couldn’t care less about me, people who may judge me for sharing this, people I wish weren’t reading it. As I digest that thought, I will try to remember that my identity is in Jesus Christ and I am a new creation in Him. (Plus…there’s always the possibility that no one will read it. After all, it’s pretty long!) It is my hope to encourage someone else, and in doing so, if it makes me look less than perfect, so be it. I am…way less than perfect. But, you already know that! =)

If you have time, I hope you’ll pray for me as I seek the Lord and trust Him to peel back each layer. And, I’d love to pray for you, too. If you’re still reading this post, and you have your own layers you’d like to get rid of, please feel free to share them. You can also email me if you don’t want to share them here. I posted a new discussion in the forum on my sidebar, too if you’d like to join in. Our God is a gentle, patient teacher, you know. And He doesn’t give up on us. In the movie, Blindside, the very strong female character, Mrs. Tooley is talking to her husband about the boy they adopted. Her patient husband tells her Michael is like an onion with layers that need to be pulled back one at a time. She says…”Not if you use a knife”. (Love the character by the way…and I can relate. She just wants to cut to the chase, and get it done. And, she loves control. Aye, aye, aye…how I can relate!) Thankfully, our God doesn’t work that way. He patiently, gently works in us in His time, peeling away each layer, making beauty…even out of stinky onions like me. This time around, I look forward to the peeling…even the painful part…knowing that it will bring the sweet taste of freedom that waits for me beneath these layers.