Beauty in the Broken

Last week was a rough one for me. Not only was I physically ill, but when I was at my lowest, someone innocuously opened an old wound from my past. It wasn’t their fault. They didn’t and still don’t have any idea. But, for me, it is very raw, and I’m still working through it with God. Because of that wound being opened and another situation that developed at the end of the week, I was very glad to see Saturday come.

You might wonder why I write all of this. In the midst of my prayers for healing and grace, I came across something I wanted to share. It was a phrase I saw online. The phrase is the title of this post–Beauty in the Broken. It resonated with me because we are all broken. There are things that won’t be completely healed until we are with our Lord and Savior. But, God is wanting to work a healing in our hearts now. He wants to be let into the deepest parts of us so He can do His work of healing. That’s where I am now–letting God’s love soothe my soul and ease my pain. For me, this is the easy part, easy being a relative term. I fully trust in my Lord and Savior’s love and what that love can accomplish.

No, the hard thing for me is sharing my pain with the community around me. Don’t get me wrong. I live life with a wonderful community of believers, and we have shared a lot of life together. I consider them to be just as much family as my own husband and children. But, when I feel as broken as I do now, it’s hard to share my brokenness with others. I think that’s something we’re all afraid of. We’re afraid to let down our shields and show our true selves. I don’t know about the rest of you, but sometimes I’m fearful of sharing with my faith community because I’m afraid I’ll lose them if I show my true self.

Now, you’re probably thinking she’s irrational, right? If she has such a wonderful faith community, why would she be afraid to share with them?  Yes, I will admit fear does play a part; a big part, but I think it’s more that I’m still coming to terms with the beauty in my brokenness. Coming to terms with showing it. God means for us to live in community where showing brokenness should be okay. But from what I’ve read and what I know from other people and my own feelings, it’s not. At least it’s not for certain types of brokenness.

Is there a way to sort through all of this? A way to become comfortable with showing brokenness? The first way, of course, is through prayer. Talking to God and asking Him to lead you to a supportive faith community is a good start to defeating the lies of Satan. Second, realize there is beauty in whatever brokenness you have. You are saved by God’s grace, and He will never let go. And finally, do your best to trust the people around you and share your brokenness. That last one is the hardest one for me, and I’m not sure when I’ll get there. But, I know with God’s help, it will happen!

God’s blessings on you today!

Exploring Our Fears

This might not seem to be a good topic for a writing blog, but bear with me for a minute. All of us have fears. Some of them are more extreme than others and more noticeable, and some of them are private and in our own hearts. We make fun of some fears like when people play pranks on other people by throwing a fake snake or placing a fake spider in the way of people who are afraid of the real thing. It’s not a nice thing to do, and I try to respect others who have those kind of fears because I want to be respected myself when I give voice to any of my fears.

One might ask why it is so hard to give voice to a fear. I would think one of the reasons would be the one I just mentioned. We do not want others to make fun of our fear. It’s very hard to have a fear and not be taken seriously. Another reason might be because we all have a hard time letting down our shields. We have a persona we show to the world, and if we admit to a weakness like having a particular fear, holes are made in that persona, and the real person is exposed. Most people don’t want their real selves exposed, and if they expose them at all, it’s to a very select group of people. And finally, there is a possibility that if we give voice to our fears, they might come true. For some people, that would be the scariest thing of all.

But, if we can voice or write down our fears, it might take us one step towards lessening them or even eliminating them. For me, as a writer and as a woman of faith, this can happen in one of three ways. First, I can use the particular fear as a fear for a character in a story I am writing. By writing about that fear, I can take the character through mastering it and not letting it impact their life. This can helpful as a cheap form of therapy. Second, I can write about the fears as myself and as I’m experiencing them. This can be a way of giving voice to the deepest parts of me and can help with what I’m most afraid of. Third, and somewhat related to the second, I can pray, pray with my voice and write down my prayers in my journal. God wants to hear about all the details in our lives including the things we don’t want to admit even to ourselves. 1 John 4:18-19 says, “There is no fear in love; instead perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loved us.” I can’t add anything else to that so I won’t.

Have a great day everyone!

The Names of Jesus

During my devotion time on Mondays, I usually read any devotions I missed from the weekend as well as the one for Monday. One of the ones I read talked about what I’m going to talk about today–the names of Jesus.

While several names are listed in Scripture, there can be no argument about what they represent which is life changing power. Wow! Life changing power for just a name? Yes, it’s the truth.

Let me list some of the names and see if you might agree. Lord. Immanuel. The Living Word. The Prince of Peace. The God of Our Salvation. The Promised One. Jesus is the One who saves us from our sins; the One who heals us; the One who is everything regardless of how deep a pit we are in. That resonates with me because I have been in the pit so many times. Jesus is always with me though and always helps me to climb out no matter how badly I’ve messed up.

I would encourage you to look at each of these names and reflect on what they mean. Reflect on how each one is part of God’s promise that He will never let go of any of us, no matter how dark it may seem, and that we who believe will be with Him in eternity.

God’s blessings on you today!

Keeping a Journal

I’ve seen many quotes about writing, but two have always stood out to me. “Please do not annoy the writer. She may put you in a book and kill you.” or “Careful or you’ll end up in my novel.” I’m sure those of you who are writers and have seen these quotes get a chuckle out of them. There is a point though in writing down your life experiences or keeping a journal. A few points actually.

First, the experiences themselves can be fodder for writing fiction you would like to write. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had something happen to me in real life, and my first thought was, “I should take notes so I can write this in a future story.” This is what having a journal does for me. I write about particular situations in my life, and they are there for me to remember when I need writing inspiration.

Second, having a journal helps me to process the world around me. I started being consistent with keeping a journal just over two years ago when someone I consider a mentor encouraged me to do so. Now, when I tell him about various things that happen in my life, the first question he always asks me is, “Have you written it down?” I think I am up to seven finished journals now, and I know I look at life in a different and more healthy way because I’ve kept journals.

Finally, keeping a journal has made me a better writer. Being able to put my thoughts and feelings down on paper has helped me to understand the process of writing and how to make things clear and understandable. At times, my journal entries have been story starters, and whenever, I haven’t been able to think of anything else to write, my journal has been my mainstay. I’m grateful I’ve taken the time to keep a journal, and I would encourage anyone who writes to do the same.

Have a great day!

Seeking and Finding God

Jeremiah 29:13

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

It’s been almost three years since I’ve come back to faith. Almost three years since my older son asked the question that changed my life. So, you would think I would have this seeking and finding God thing down. Some days I think I do, but then there are others…when life just overwhelms me, and I think, “What now, God?” Those are the days when I think of how nice it would be to be done, to be in my heavenly home, and not have to wonder why prayers for one person worked and why they didn’t for another.  Not have to wonder how I’m going to pay for something or even if I should because I’m not sure it’s in God’s will for me. Not have to wonder if my prayers are even reaching God’s ears.

There is an answer to these questions and wonderings though, and it has to do with the Bible verse at the beginning of this post. It says that we will find God when we seek Him with all our hearts. When bad things happen, it’s hard to keep seeking Him with “all our hearts”. Yes, we might keep seeking Him with some of our hearts, but the verse says we need to seek God with “all our hearts”.

How do we do that when our attention is diverted by the storms of life? It almost seems to me there needs to be a specific shift in our mindset. We need to consciously say to ourselves–“God, I’m going to keep seeking you even in this storm, and I know I will find you.” When we can do that, I believe we will find God even in the storms, even in the pit, even when there is nothing left.

God’s blessings on you today!

Putting My Writing Out There

The last few years have been a journey for me as far as my writing is concerned. I’ve started and maintained two blogs though I’m sure I could have been more consistent with my writing schedule. I’ve written and published posts about the things I’m passionate about–my faith, my family, the novels and stories I like. There are more options than there used to be for making words readable by people you don’t know. But, what I haven’t done is to put my writing in a place where it might be rejected. Yes, I know I could get negative comments on my blogs, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about submitting something to a publisher and having said publisher tell me that my piece is not what they’re looking for. Essentially, a rejection. I’m not sure why I haven’t done this. Wait a minute, yes I am. Who among us likes to be rejected? Don’t we want to think that anything we have to say would be valuable enough to say to an audience? If we are telling the truth, at least to ourselves, we don’t like to be rejected, and we don’t want to take the chance we will be rejected.

I’ve realized something though, and it has to do with the post I published last week about my word for 2015. For those of you who missed that post, my word for 2015 is refined. Last week, I wrote about what this word has to do with my Christian faith, but I believe it can apply to writing in general. I’m sure those of you who have written longer than I have, know this little truth, but putting it in relation to my faith has helped make it clearer to me. Submitting my writing and having it be rejected will refine me as a person. It will make me a better writer and, I believe, a better person. If writing is really my passion, I will keep going and keep submitting no matter how many rejections I might get. So, for 2015, I am going to start submitting pieces. I am going to go through the fire of rejection and come out the other side, living my passion along the way. I invite you to do the same.

Grievous Sacred Moments

The title of this blog post was used in the sermon I heard on Sunday. It was a sermon on prayer and fasting. I’ve heard some sermons on prayer, good sermons, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon on prayer and fasting.

This post is not specifically about prayer and fasting though, but about my title, “Grievous Sacred Moments,” which was used during the sermon and which my pastor said we should all pray and fast our way through.

All of what was said was poignant with possibilities for me, but the first thing I want to do is define what “grievous sacred moments” are. Some of these moments are fairly obvious–like death and illness. Others not so much–like sin, threats, or enormous tasks. And I had never heard of praying and fasting through any of them. I wonder why that is, but, then, as soon as the question entered my mind, the answer did too. For me, these are moments that are sometimes too deep for words. Moments of deep inadequacy. Moments that you feel awkward about or feel aren’t worth asking prayer for because others’ prayer requests are more important.

Why is it there are certain moments that we take to God more than others? Why is it that we resist letting God, or others for that matter, in to the deepest parts of us?  I believe it is because we have a profound resistance to letting God in. And, as a Western Christian, I have even more difficulty because of the emphasis on individualism in this area of the world. The concept of community is harder for Western Christians because they are inundated with messages, even from the pulpit, that say they are supposed to rely on themselves and not on God and the community He has provided for them.

As I think of praying and fasting through grievous sacred moments, I believe that God might use this to break down my profound resistance and grow me into the disciple He wants me to be.  So, I am looking forward to what God is going to teach me over the next few weeks  as I learn to pray and fast my way through grievous sacred moments.

God’s blessings on you today.

My Word for 2015

I’ve read where a lot of my friends have picked a word to reflect what they want to do with the new year, how they want it to represent them. The concept intrigued me, and after some thought, I’ve come upon my own word. That word is refined.

I was refined in many ways in 2014. Ways that might be considered as bad by some people, but ways that also stretched my faith in more ways than you could possibly imagine.

God has a point in refining us though. Malachi 3:2-3 says, “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when he appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye. He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.”

I look at these verses and understand that being refined should be my heartfelt desire as a woman seeking to grow in her faith. And would hope that being refined would also give breath to the words I want to say. So, for 2015, this poem by Jennifer Kennedy Dean represents what I want most for my life.

“Oh, Lord, who can stand when you appear?
The splendor of Your presence near
Then knee shall bow and tongue proclaim
The pow’r of Your majestic name.

My hungry heart cries out for You.
No earthly substitute will do.
Refiner’s Fire, come near to me
For unveiled glory, let me see.

A heart like Yours, my one desire.
Do Your work, Refiner’s Fire.

Your holy Fire now burns within
And purges every secret sin.
My life the bush, Your life the Flame
That leaves me nevermore the same.

Your life in me ignites the Fire
That now fulfills my heart’s desire.
The Spirit’s work, my life made new,
Transformed within, ablaze with You.

A heart like Yours, my one desire.
Do Your work, Refiner’s Fire.”

Happy New Year!