Category Archives: grace

A Girl Lost In Smoke and Mirrors {What Does God Say About Beauty?}

{There are many things on my heart to say this morning, many things I long to convey, to pour out, but God has placed this on my heart for now and has surprised me by opening the door for me to share something that has laid dormant for so long, that I am really baffled as to how best to share it….Please bring some grace along with you, friends, as you read…I will need it….much love…}

I don’t like this woman that stares back at me in the mirror. This once-young body has been ravaged by the throes of motherhood–all those babies I grew and breastfed–and left a shell of skin that I don’t recognize.

The once glowing, young face has been replaced by wrinkly skin that doesn’t snap back into place when I smile or frown–the lines stay. The glow of youth now just ashen and sagging, my green having seen some pain through the years, peeking out. They’ve learned to not sparkle so much, their fierceness quieted by the hard lessons and harsh words.

My skin constantly breaks out, seemingly with no cure, and the scars bear the evidence that where beauty once so brilliant shown, now time has obviously marched right across my face and staked territory.

“Honey, time marches on, and eventually you realize it’s marchin’ across your face.”
                                                                 -Truvy–Steel Magnolias

I feel like I’m having a mid-life crisis and back in highschool all at the same time.

I’ve found it hard to come to grips with this, to like the skin I’m in, to be comfortable in it, and more than that, to believe what God says about me–that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.

I remember Husband’s words that women in today’s culture seek to be sexy, but the most beautiful woman is a confident woman–a woman who can wear old jeans, pull her hair back in a pony-tail and laugh, and be happy with herself and her God.

I know he’s right–I do, but I don’t feel confident and I don’t feel so wonderfully made when this body is decaying and falling apart.


Old habits die hard.

Growing up, I was always, always complimented on my outward beauty. It was the only thing I got noticed for, and was completely unaware why. I tried hard to fit in, to be apart, took a stab at jokes, tried to find a tight space in conversation to slip in a clever remark.

But I was made fun of and laughed at–this girl who looked out windows, closed eyes in blinding sun and day-dreamed too much and didn’t get the dirty jokes–told that I was a dumb-blonde, that I was so out of it and air-headed.

I knew that they were joking, just having fun, but I was the butt of the joke, and it didn’t feel like fun to me–I was the one who was paying the price for their fun. I felt deflated–worthless–nothing of value in my heart and mind. I’d look back out the window again and drift off some place where it didn’t hurt as bad to be me.

As I grew taller and began to take shape–my face becoming that of a woman, my beauty was all anyone was interested in–I had nothing else to offer. I felt stupidly clumsy, falling all over myself in front of people, not knowing what to say. It was just easier to shut off and not be interested in meeting new people. I didn’t understand this extreme social status game, me this bookish girl all in my own dream world, shyly preferring characters in stories to real people and the pain they inflicted.

Books were my closest friends. I would come home and run to the comfort of my bed where I would fling myself down and read for hours. I would look out the window at the dogwood and think of the nails that Jesus took for me, but unfortunately I did not know the grace that man came to give.

I was so empty.

This is where I took a turn down a long, dark path. This was just the beginning….

Dear, kind friends, this is only the beginning of the story–I apologize for leaving you hanging, but Emily {of Imperfect Prose} has asked me to share my anorexia story and I will be sharing that over at her eating disorder site next Monday. Please come back and read of my journey? It would be such an extravagant grace to have you back here then and if you would like, to follow me to her place to get the full story….

A little glimpse of the beauty to come and some encouragement for you today: …..

 This is what God says about my beauty, about this frail, human body:

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days you have ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.” Psalms 139:13-18

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction in on her tongue. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”–Proverbs 31:25,26,30 

 Prayer: 

God, I want real beauty. I want to be a servant with the worn spots of motherhood on me. Let me wear the work apron in place of fine jewels and instead of being obsessed with lashes lavished with makeup and with curling, let me have eyes that are a place of found grace when my kids have fallen into sin, not lingerie-store pushed up and out, but a soft breast for little ones to fall asleep on, and not a perfect hour-glass figure, but a wife and mother that prays on the hour for You to come love them through me, and not a mother who checks herself in the mirror, mumbling insults in front of little ears….

{please come back for the rest next Mon? I will share details from my eating-disorder journey and encouragement on what God says about a woman’s body vs. what our culture says–I promise it is freeing! He gives more grace, friends! Always more grace!}

Sharing with a trembling heart…hitting publish with shaky hands, and as Emily says, letting Jesus write through me…and counting, this week again, through all the hard times, with Ann…..

Gratitude:

#720 daughters and me doing exercise together everyday

#721 that they ask to do things with me

#722 Bella’s pleading 4-yr-old-lisp request: “Pleasth, Mama, can I go with you? Pleasth??” and how even though I want time alone, I can’t resist.

#723 me and Bella smelling the flowers together in the garden center at her prompting

#724 me taking girls out for the day to get my hair done–first time in a year {!} and to take the girls to a skating party–surviving social anxiety

#725 our whole family serving at our church this week–way out of our comfort zonethe beauty of giving versus receiving

#726 an unspoken hard eucharisteo

#727 sun in face, looking up at trees above, light dappled through leaves, tears brimming over, heart heavy and conversation just between my Father and me

#728 an impromtu supper picnic at the lake with friends–conversation, laughter, love, support

#729 my friend’s wisdom and loving encouragement…how she grounds me

#730 our family making. it. early. for Sunday service!!

#731 a dear woman at church asking me to sit with her and discuss homeschooling–her husband divulging his concerns for his 12 yr old daughter–the wild grace that I could have anything to offer this family–only God, only God
#732 that with all my shortcomings, that maybe God can still use me

#733 the opportunity to share my story–something I wasn’t even aware that I needed to do until I was asked–that it will be healing for me and hopefully for others…

Friends, I would LOVE for you to leave your thoughts–your comments are so precious, and minister to my soul–I am probably in a corner of my home somewhere cleaning up potty-training baby girl’s messes, sorting through laundry, helping my second grader sound out words, or talking with wonderful Husband over wine….I am sorry that I cannot answer every comment, but please let me know you were here, so I can stop by your place and leave some encouragement for you!

Shared with Ann in community at…

Emily…

L.L…
On In Around button

and Laura…




Jen…

Jennifer….

Michelle…

and Shanda…

Resurrecting A Marriage {Ponderings of Easter}

The kids are at the grandparents for the weekend and we are getting ready to leave and Husband tells me matter-of-factly that it’s not a date, asks me why I’m wearing heels. Heels click loudly on hardwood and ring through the house and I am embarrassed at my obviousness. My heart is crushed, because in my little-girl-grown-up-heart, I had so hoped he would notice, say I was pretty, look at me longingly, put his hand just there on the small of my back as he led me to the car.

Instead, an hour later, it all comes out of me hot and rushed and a little too loud how that I don’t feel loved.

Why is it that God made me that way–with a particular love-language that my husband doesn’t understand?

I look up to Father, to the One who can fill this deep, vast void in me, this canyon of waters that rushes wild and snares anything that comes along in it’s thrashing.

I look to the One who knows the ache and understands the pain of rejection.

I look to the One who gets me, who points my sin out to me gently one by one, so I’m not overwhelmed, and seeing my ugly, loves me anyway–unconditionally.

I look up and I say to Him, “Father, you know my heart. You know my heart, Father. You know my heart.”

And He does. He knows that I love my husband passionately, that I would go to hell and back for that man, that my children are my crown of glory, that I would go down to the depths before I would let one blonde hair on their halo-heads be touched by evil. God understands, because His Son is His crown, whom He loves, in whom He is pleased, and I am a co-heir with him, and I am God’s beloved, His beautiful jeweled crown.

He knows that I spend hours reading, thinking, trying to learn new ways to make home happy and peaceful and safe and a place that everyone wants to be. He knows that I search frantically for the way. He knows that on my own I am helpless in the ways of homemaking and the ways of God.

He knows that I am a screw-up. He knows that just the moment that I write a beautiful story about mothering, and hit publish, then I grind my teeth and yell at my children, and their happy chin botches up and their lip turns down and quivers and the eyes look at me, deep pools of hurt.

He knows that I forget to be grateful, I forget to do the simple act of telling Him thanks, that this home has more harsh words–words that break– than I want it to.

He knows that I run in a vicious cycle of try hard, fail, give up and try hard again, as the Pastor said on Easter Sunday. He knows I try hard at Lent and celebrating Easter and I am deficient.

He knows that Easter draws close, I close up and want to withdraw, because as his death becomes more and more real, as the thing draws heavy upon me, my human emotions and expressions simply cannot do Him justice. And I’m rendered useless in His presence.

He is the only One that really sees my heart, sees my tears, mourns with me, catches my tears and keeps each one in a bottle. He never forgets one tear that escapes the soul-windows, them leaking out pain.

Husband and I walk hand in hand into a local restaurant dating back to the 1840’s and when we sit down and after the waiter has left, he touches my knee, looks me in the eye, and he already has me.

Those soft blue eyes with such care in them, I just get lost and want to leap right in like a wild woman. He says he is sorry, and that’s all I really need to hear. And the conversation continues and we talk about the artists splayed on the brick wall, and we are a little taken with the place, and I convince him to share some World Famous Black Bottom Pie.

What I really have a hard time swallowing down, though, as we sit there and I look at him, is that I have been ungrateful. I know that I pushed until I got what I wanted–time, closeness, and it’s just the two of us in all the world if I can just get five uninterrupted moments to stare into those eyes.

But I long for the day when I serve him so well that I have abundant grace to pour out when he is in a dry season and he can’t readily give me those moments–I long to be this woman full of grace, wisdom on my lips.

God, burn me, Refiner’s fire, from the inside out–start with my mouth–and just take over and consume–love through me, serve through me.

Later when we are finally alone in the dark, and he reaches over and lays his hand on me as I lie still, lets it slide down, I feel the kindling of the moment, tiny sparks that take over and consume.

And I am this–bride waiting with candle burning brightly, always waiting for her bridegroom when he chooses to come for her.

I weep inside over who I’ve been, for when I have fallen asleep and let my wick go out, when I have missed the glory of God, quenched the Holy Spirit with the crushing words of my mouth.

I weep only on the inside and I open up completely to him, this man that has such power over me, let the grace pour over me as the love between us is made.

My heart, through my husband, is revealed to me and drawn back to God, who holds me and is the only One who can fill this scary, raving mad unquenchable void in me.

Gratitude:

#689 e-mails from beautiful sisters

#690 for mentors

#691 illness leaving our home finally, Satan’s lies defeated

#692 my best friend coming to my home for a spontaneous visit

#693 the grace of her sitting on my porch swing, pouring our hearts out

#694 the way she dotes on my girls–how she does this everytime she sees them–the thousand, countless ways she is thoughtful toward me

#695 how they call her Auntie April, because she is that to them

#696 our run through the trails later

#697 how we can say anything to one another, how we kackle silly and share unabashadly what God is showing us about our sinful hearts

#698 hours outside in the sun picnicing, Husband coming home and playing badmitton until twilight pushes us all inside

#699 how Bella runs up to her Daddy in the drive and asks him to come play–how he can’t say no

#700 Bella writing her ABC’s and her name

#701 her dimpled grin–how her whole face lights up like the heavens when she shows me so proud–how i could fall into those deep ravines of cuteness and get lost right there at the corner of her mouth

#702 how I wonder if the glory of God can be summed up in the face of this child

#703 Ivy’s loving hugs that make me feel wrapped up in a warm blanket

#704 Ivy coming and telling me she clasps her hands together and prays to Jesus in her head, and she hears Him talking to her

#705 Lorna’s “I Am From” poem–that she’s a poet at heart like her Mama

#706 that I was able after a two-year battle with illness, to take babies to doctor and store–still can’t believe I’m better–glory to Him

#707 After Bella’s shots, her concern when the nurse places Lilly on the table, and she says to my Granny upon stepping out of the room: “I bet Lilly is crying.”

#708 an incredible few weeks of Lent and how God has lavishly blessed our time together as a family

#709 how He took us from being lost in exhaustion and t.v. to re-focusing our efforts toward our family goals–His grace to be at the supper table, enjoying God together

#710 an amazing Easter service, indescribable worship to an even more indescribable God, communion and the confession of sins at the altar, loving prayer woman-to-woman and man-to-man, the gospel like i have never seen it presented

#711 how in my failures, God meets me and when my human emotions fall short of expressing and celebrating His beauty, how He is still glorified through me, not because of me, but because He is God

#712 that the story of the cross and His blood shed never gets old–a fresh revelation of His gospel and grace all over again

#713 that God almighty Himself would wrestle with me, would reveal Himself to me, over and over, in spite of myself

#714 that His blood speaks a better word than all the empty claims I’ve heard upon this Earth, speaks righteousness for me and stands in my defense–lines from a favorite song

#715 a beautiful day of Easter celebration with family, that I was able to pull off a gorgeous dinner, with all their help, in spite of my organization handicap–how we all worked together, talked, laughed

#716 the beautiful grace of my parents washing up the dishes side-by-side before they left

#717 my Husband, how even though I’m his help-meet, he is also my helper in life–how he is there for me always in every circumstance and we are a team

#718 Husband’s remark as we fall asleep, a beautiful day, a job well done, everyone was proud, he says–I don’t understand this, but accept the grace anyway

#719 this song that broke me during Easter service–one of my favorites… and here is the video–it is  not for the faint of heart, but is a real depiction of our Lord and the blood He spilled for us…the blood I praise Him for…

{I actually have two videos for you…if you only have time for one, definitely–choose the second–I watched this at church Sunday and have never heard the gospel presented quite like this–it will rock your world}

Friends, your comments mean so much to me–please leave your thoughts so that I can drop by at your place to leave some encouragement for you. I am not able to answer each comment–I am probably in some corner of my home sorting through laundry in danger of mildewing, and I hope to visit with you as soon as I get the chance! Thank you in advance for grace, friends! I love this community of grace-filled people!

Shared with Ann in community at…

and Laura…

L.L…
On In Around button

Emily…

Jennifer….

Michelle…

and Shanda…

Drowning


So much to be thankful for this week…while it’s been a rough past few weeks of illness and things seemed to be falling apart…I am always amazed that at those times God seems to answer the most prayers, and seems to be the most near.

I am overwhelmed with life right now, so I’m quiet and reflective, and there is not really a story in me today, just a desire to live out my story and not just to write about thanks and grace, but to bathe in the joy and to swim in the grace…to live the grace. Sometimes this may mean writing less, and having less to say, and listening more.

So this week, I’m not struggling to keep my head up out of the muck–I’m drowning in grace–in a way, it’s a choice, and in a way, it’s just an answering to the weight of God’s glory, like the bending of a tree in a hurricane.

“If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking…”
My gratitude:

#259 my hands being in dirt–fall flowers and a deep breath of change

#260 for the ability to take a moment to be calm and at peace–to just rest

#261 husband taking me to buy flowers to make my yard beautiful

#262 a lazy nap in the hammock with husband on Sunday and really doing Sabbath rest

#263 his response when i ask to make a request: “I’ll take care of it” and my relief…this shepharding that i need, and why did i ever buck it?

#264 a family day at Mr. Simmons’ work–more fun than four girls can imagine with rides and all the jumping and ice cream a kid could want–and how it’s different this time and my admission, “You have never been more attractive to me than right now, because you provide our family with all this.” and his “really?”

#265 working together as a team to make the day as enjoyable as possible in the heat before packing up and hiking back to the van for the long drive home

#266 knowing that things are easier because i am submissive out of respect and love for my family…not out of the need to follow a rule…this is grace


#267 God blessing us financially to be able to buy all we need for school

#268 the first day and no crying and we have actually been productive–maybe i can do this schooling thing after all

#269 a few books that are missing from our order…knowing that everything will work itself out and worrying will not help

#270 Lilly getting an infection and me having to stop and all of the resulting time spent rocking and soothing, cheek to cheek and feeling her go limp asleep, safe in my arms

#271 that she always prefers me–no greater feeling

#272 Lilly grinning up at me with those wide, red plump lips, that smile that seems to take up her whole face, gleaming angelic joy, her on her new little throne and training to be a big girl

#273 me coming out of the woods with a 3 ft tall Spider Lilly and bulbs to plant and husband, riding the mower, looking at me shocked, “where did YOU come from?”

#274 happy work, all of us together

#275 girls helping me place bulbs deep in the ground–me working hard to snatch a last bit of light and lush, bright lillies to go in the holes–so they can wave to the road from their post in front of the picket fence

#276 how Lorna comes and tells Ivy she can go take a break while she finishes up the watering

#277 planting and digging ’til i can’t see, raking dirt, seeing the grass comb back and fluff up green, lillies looking out from the dark, settled in their homes, a candle brought by daughter my only light

#278 sheets, blankets and toys coming out of washer smelling clean

#279 scrubbing dried banana out of rugs, soaking stains and making everything clean…lighting candles when everything is laid bare and peaceful

#280 thankful for the healthy body with which to serve and to make home a haven

#281friends who aren’t going anywhere, who forgive and let me forgive back, and the great solace i find in this

#282 how Lilly’s small, light voice keeps sing-song calling out in the afternoon to her eldest sister: “Lo—na” (Lorna)

#283 how Bella says very matter-of factly to her sisters when asked to do something, “Sorry, I gotta swing”

#284 a late night run with an old friend, talking into the wee hours of the morning like teenagers and knowing that she is more family than she is friend. that God keeps blessing me with good friends

#285 how he keeps pulling the bible off the shelf and bringing it to the table night after night, never giving up on us, even when we are unruly, irritable and tired. how this soothes me.

Running Unafraid

Nothing like running through the woods during thunderstorm’s breeze, the winding trails, and wet pelts hitting my skin, feeling myself lift easily and lightly over roots raised up high from earth…and the smell of wet dirt, grass, salty moist air, and muscles working hard but not even realizing it…moving in strong rhythm. The only thing that makes it better is having my daughter there with me.

As we walk toward the trail to begin our run with a dear friend of mine, Lorna says, “Isn’t is going to rain, since the clouds are dark?”

“Well, if it does, then it will be okay.” I am a little worried about it thunderstorming, and getting drenched, but I don’t let her see or hear the fear in my voice.

The three of us walk and jog toward our trail. I encourage her to keep up with the pace. She says, “Maybe we shouldn’t have done tae-bo before we left the house!” I laugh.

We head down the trail, down a steep decline of rocky red clay. We are deep into the woods, weaving in and around trees, when the thunder begins to roll and the woods darken. The wind gently whips my face, and light flashes around me and I feel a startle of fear, but I hear her excited panting, and her leaping over roots behind me. We run together, unafraid. My friend close behind her, laughing at us, the laughing bouncing off the trees in the dark.

I say, “Isn’t this cool?”, so excited and happy to have this feeling nestled in my heart, that we are friends in this moment.

She replies, between breaths of exhileration and turning trail, ” Yes! You can see the animals and nature at the same time while you are running!

We get good and drenched and as we are leaving the woods, we hold hands, running together, and she says, “Mama, maybe one day when I’m 12 I can do a race with you.”

And she isn’t expecting the grace, just like I’m never expecting it from my Father, always thinking I need to work harder and for the rest of my life before I’m good enough. ” You can do the next race with me if you practice.”

She smiles.

He says I’m good enough right now…all I need to do is be me, and His grace is there for the covering. And there IS grace for this anxiety, this fear and depression that I carry. And we run together unafraid.

“The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20,21

‘And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” II Corinthians 9:8

Counting the grace, the ways He loves, the little moments I’m grateful for:

112. How Bella’s eyes get bright and she says, “Elvis (our cat)…there you are–I was looking all over to you!”

113. just hanging outside with my children and the freedom of that.

114. out of control girlish laughs and giggles, light spread wide across their face.

115. this is joy, here in this simple moment.

116. tiny delicate puffs floating to the bright sky.

117. big sisters and little sisters.

118. how Lilly grins and toddles over to her big sister as fast as she can to embrace her with a hug after not seeing her for a while.

119. little hands cupping gifts, held up in offering.

120. perfect golden ringlets in the sunlight.

121. tiny hearts cut out from construction paper with the inscription in child’s writing, “I love you”, brought and placed in Mama’s hand.

122. my children’s obedience and Husband’s patience–how Husband instructs Ivy to tell Bella that she can play with her horse and the hard words that finally come out one by one.

123. Bella learning to communicate– she cries and says, “Ivy has my horse, and I tell her PLEASE can I play with it?”

124. smell of earth and green grass with Heaven’s first sprinkling.

125. how Lorna passes me up on the trail, giggling and saying she wanted to beat me.

126. Ivy begging everytime Lorna and i leave for a run, to go too, and the love ripping through my heart when i have to tell her, “When you are older”.

127. knowing that being a parent is so excruciatingly painful at times, but also knowing that God’s grace covers ALL of me, not just parts of me, and His grace will abound for every good work.

128. yes, there is even grace for my fear, anxiety and depression. all i can do is receive the grace given for the moments–even the ones i mess up.

129. growing pains. hurt. rejection. fear.

130. the comfort of the knowledge that in these trials, i am suffering with my Jesus, for i face nothing that He did not face.

131. this passage: “…But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5

132. thunderstorms. being drenched and running in the rain. the grace to feel ALIVE.

You can join us in sharing your gratitude and counting the grace moments: