Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Learning to Love Life Abundant: Lessons I Have Learned From My Nieces

My life is at a place I NEVER dreamed it would be. Jesus loves me used to be a song that I sang, or a phrase that I occasionally saw on bumper stickers. But in my mind He didn't love me- He loved the face that I put on for everyone else. He didn't want to bless me because I was a mistake, an anomaly, something He pitied but didn't love. Depression, frustration and condemnation were my normal.  Ultimately, I gave Him nothing so He couldn't love me. But true love is unconditional, eternal and truthful. True love is real.  True love restores things you didn't even know you lost.

I was terrified to go back to Hardin-Simmons after Mercy because to me it symbolized failure, tears, and pain. When I step foot on campus now I am helping other struggling students find their voices, I am  confident in my ability to do my schoolwork, and do it well, and I am able to be happy because the joy of the Lord is my strength.

I was also afraid that since I was a mistake my nieces would never love me because they would see my CP and know Jesus didn't care. Now-I am utterly and completely repentant that I could have at any point doubted the love of my Jesus-regardless of CP. My nieces see me for me. And they love me CP and all.

I was praying about how overwhelmed I felt at all this love and told the Lord "I don't understand why you keep blessing me, I don't deserve it. I sin, I question You, in spite of all You have done for me sometimes I don't trust You-How can You love me? How can all this joy be my normal?

And He brought a picture to my mind,  a picture of two precious girls. Berkley and Ellie Kate. These girls have my whole heart, EVERY . SINGLE. PART. of it. And-they have done nothing to get it outside of being born. As soon as they were here, they had it. All of it! And I wanted to give them gifts and smile with them and cry with them and play with them and hold them solely because they were here-and they were themselves.

And I felt Jesus say "THAT is how I love you. You have My whole heart just because you're you. I want to play with you and hold you and cry with you and give you gifts solely because I love you with all that I AM-you cannot undo My love for you, nor do I have to have a reason to love you. I love you because you are Mine. I bless you because I AM love not because you do something to earn it.
Most of all remember this-this is your new normal because I am above all else for you. I am Good and you are Mine. I love you.

And I have never been more thankful for my nieces.

Monday, March 17, 2014

An Open Letter To Parents

1 Corinthians 13:11
"When I was a child I thought like a child, I spoke like a child I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways behind me."

To Parents,

Of Littles: I see all the diapers that you change, the noses that you blow, the stories that you tell and the tea parties that you have-drinking water and eating soggy goldfish and pretending it's the best stuff you have ever tasted. I see you fast forwarding through the scary parts of Disney movies and making your kid eat his vegetables even when he throws them at you. I just want to say I know it can be a thankless job but those moments shape your child in ways nothing else will. I'm not a parent yet. but I hope when I am, I'm like you-doing the jobs only love can do.

Of Elementary Schoolers: I see all the math homework you stay up late working on, all the labels you save up for science class and all the times you force your kid to read for AR. I see the way you want to protect them from the bullies in the playground, the insecurity they feel when they have to give a presentation in front of their peers, I see the battle of letting your kid go-and I just want you to know, secretly? They want to stay little forever too.

Of Teenagers: God bless you! This time of life is hard for EVERYONE. I see you enforcing a curfew for your kid even though they swear they don't need one. I see you telling your little girl her prom dress is too short, and your little boy that he actually has to pay for his own gas. I see you fighting for your child's identity in a way even they are unaware of. I see you struggling to know which battles are worth fighting and which ones to let go. I just want you to know that someday they will see that real love draws boundaries and they will love you for having the Love that did just that. Then all those "I hate you" moments will hurt them as much as they hurt you. I'm sorry for all the hormonal moments that they say things they will regret 10 minutes later. I thank you for being there for your kid when no one else wants to be-because you know they have millions of voices telling them who to be and your voice will be the loudest.

Of Adults: You did it! They live independently, go to school on their own, pay their own bills…and they couldn't have done any of it without you. You are still the voice in their head reminding them what standards are. You are still their constant cheerleader, and one of the most honest people in their lives. But most importantly, you are still needed. They need your "I love you's, I'm proud of you's, and your bragging to your friends. In many ways, you are still their yardstick. Thank you for always believing they were going to change the world.

To My Parents: Thank you doesn't even begin to cover it. We made it through 2 body casts, so many surgeries, and therapists and tears, and shoes with holes. I'm so sorry for all the times I wasn't grateful for the battles you were fighting for me, not against me like I thought. Thank you for all the times I forgot to say it. Thank you for letting me call you every day, for not making it scary to ask for advice, for never letting me forget that "I can do all things through Christ." Thank you for helping me choose life when death wouldn't leave me alone. Thank you for looking to your Father when you didn't have all the answers.

I stand for all of your children when I say:
We will become the men and women we were meant to be because you were there fighting and believing and loving even when we didn't deserve it. Thank you, for everything.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Eucatastrophe of Dependence

Isaiah 43L19

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

The word "Eucatastrophe" literally translated means "beautiful disaster."

My biggest struggle in life is the reality that I will always be dependent on someone else if I am going to live the life Jesus has called me to.

The little girl in me rebelled against this.
No help! Never! I wanted to do everything
All. By. Myself.
I resented my parents, family, and friends for trying to help me because I resented the weakness in me
that demanded help.
I despised my feet for leaving me
helpless, hurting
I hated the idea of marriage because it meant
someone would have to be there
for me
the rest of my life
when I didn't have anything to give back.
I could feel myself
melting down
Ending it all seemed like
the only choice.
Then I felt Jesus wooing me
and I thought as long as I have Him
I won't need anyone else.
But He said
"It is not good for you to be alone."
And I felt the stirrings
of disaster.
Because I didn't understand
what true Love meant.
Until my niece needed help crossing the street
and I knew
I would hold her hand
and never let go
it was an honor to
be needed.
I didn't know what it meant to be truly Loved
until one of my friends cut my meat
because I can't,
and another let me lean on him
because I am always on the verge of losing my balance,
and another gives me rides everywhere
because I don't drive
and she doesn't like to arrive anywhere alone.
Then I realized
it is an honor
to be needy
because in being needy
you discover what it is
to be loved.
And I finally knew
that maybe this dependence
was a Eucatastrophe
a beautiful disaster
meant to show
true love
doesn't see flaws
they see opportunities
to be there
for the loved.