Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Acceptance Of Self

Somewhere, somehow in this journey I lost sight of my okay-ness.  I became less, I pushed my self, my needs, my heart down and expected myself to thrive.  I thought if only I could be better, do more, be something, then I would have value.  I have searched desperate to find a deeper meaning in my own existence.  Only to find that at this point I have resigned myself to my nothingness, my lack.  I am more filled with my failures than my successes.  I look back and think, if only.  I could have been something!

I'm not sure how long I have quietly succumbed to these lies.  To the broken half truths that fill my mind and keep me, head down, doggedly going around this mountain.  Maybe someday I'll reach the summit, but in order to do that I must believe I am worthy to step foot on the trail.

Our worth.  What is it that qualifies us, that sets us apart?  Is it the approval of others, success, a healthy family?  Is it simply that we are?  We are equipped in our mere existence?  This tosses the accolades of man and makes a sham of the highest regards.

If in my lowliness, a wife, a mother, a friend, if in this I am faithful, I am known - have I not found the greatest level of value?  

There is joy in our personal glories, our creations that outside of ourselves are esteemed, but who can call forth the quality of a man - another man, who themselves also reach and strive with the same ferocity and hunger that drives each of us to go further?

It must come from within our beings.  We must come to the place of deep acceptance, love, and value of ourselves - only from this place of peace can we strive to climb the mountain, swing from the heights, and reach the goals that we have laid out for ourselves.

It is in our resting place of self love.  If we strive forward and see our value in our plaques, then we will always hunger.  It is the same for the person who seeks to reinvent themselves.  If they cannot accept their worst, they will never be able to enjoy their best.

Perhaps this is a wandering of an over tired mind.  The losing of myself to a momentarily quiet house and the reflection of my youth in pictures.  I look at the me that was so desperate to be loved that she strived to earn what she could not see.  It has been in the resting and trust of myself and safety that I have found my place.  It is here, that I can see I have created my own stumbling blocks as I glare at my body, despise my face, and hate my wrinkles.  If we cannot see our glowing years of triumph in our lines of comfort, our softening skin, then we make a mockery of all that life sees as victory.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thoughts Of A Wanderer

In the quiet of life when joy is surrendered rest and peace is a hot cup of tea in tired hands we sit close and dream a moment.  We have lived a million places, have no idea what stability is, let alone looks like.  We laugh gleefully as we pack our bags and journey to whatever destination lies on our crinkled map.  We have experienced more, discovered treasures, and loved more amazing friends than I can count.  Our lives have been full and blessed.  The little people explore with wild abandon and travel this life with the same gypsy hearts their parents live by.

I don't know what it feels like to live in one house.  I don't know what life is like in the blissful comfort that comes from familiarity.  I don't know what it's like to see the same people every day and enjoy the strength of relationship from lives lived well together throughout the years.

I do know what it's like to sip a hot cup of coffee while we drive away from our last home, the lights fade in the distance, all of our belongings piled in the back.  I do know what it's like to leave my heart open, that friends I adore have full access, even if we haven't talked in a year.  I do know what it's like to be thrust in a situation where everyone has known each other since childhood and I am the outsider, trying desperate to build connections that my children might have friends.  I know what it's like to stuff my quiet, shy heart in the depths of me and talk to any mother whose child plays well with mine.

I have been so deeply blessed.  Our lives are not like any other.  In the shifting and travel, while we take what becomes the most stressful situations imaginable and turn them in to wild adventure, our family grows together.  Cords of unity surround us.  There is something beautiful in having nothing but this great world and a circle of love.  We don't have the physical stability of most, we don't have roots that go deep; yet we exist as a solid family unit, we discover hand in hand, we are the strength in numbers we lack alone.

Life.  May it come in it's beautiful gales and may we live blissfully ignorant of the raindrops on our face.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Serving My Marriage

                                                                                                                          *Photo by the amazing Kara Stewart

I do not want to be a part of the disintegration of my marriage.

I want to build what I could easily destroy.  Love what I could hate.  Serve when my expectations would want to be served.  Be present when I want to avoid. 

This man I married, may I always love him, encourage, protect, speak well of, give wholeheartedly, demand less, thank more, and always delight and arouse him.

This is my heart as a wife. 

They say it takes two to break a marriage.  I don't want any part in it.  I don't want a list of reasons or excuses.  When he fails me, may I remember his destiny.  Let my words always see ten steps ahead.  I don't want to be a woman pointing at what is before me, but one who reminds him of where he is going.  I don't want a list of reasons or excuses, why I deserve different.  There is no better than what I have.  I promised my life to this union and each day I want to live fully committed to this man.

So when we lie in bed and I remember we haven't taken the kids to the bathroom, I jump up and take them, without pushing the equally exhausted man out to do it for me.  His joy that it's taken care of, is more than reward enough.  Even when it's a close cuddle, kiss in the hair, and half asleep whispered thank you.  He is important and every way I can, I want to show him.

When our children are bickering, let me be the first to put my book or email away and stand to parent.  Despite how easy it feels in a moment to call from the other room.  Even when it feels like what I am doing is more important.  Let me not live fully dependent on him to fix every broken thing, but enjoy that when he is there he is quick to rush to fill any need.

When he acts in a way I don't agree, may I be found silent.  When I need to speak let it be privately with gentleness, love, and encouragement.  Remembering that 'a soft word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger'.

May I always believe the best.  When I start to worry or doubt, let my heart trust what I cannot prove.  May I push my fear aside, knowing that he is all he claims to be and let my heart rest, believing he is even better.

I want to see the man he is called to be and let him work out his journey while I stand beside cheering him on.  May I never point out his flaws or weaknesses.  Simply call out his strengths, reminding him of his great destiny. 

When he is tired, may I be a place of rest.

When he is hungry, let the work of my hands nourish him.

When he needs me, may I satisfy him.

I have found that the more I pour into our marriage, the more I am blessed with in return.  He is quick to surround and encourage me.  As we strive for the other’s best we each reap so great a reward.  It is not in the desperation of personal need that achieves gain, but the delight in serving what is not asked or expected.  We each are the others best defense and greatest support.

It takes two, but you won't find my hands pulling this apart.  I want to give my life to be the best choice he has ever made.  He is the best decision of my life.  So, when you see me building and strengthening, it is because I'm shoring us up for all the storms that life brings.  That when they come we are safe in a house built on a solid foundation.

Let grace sustain, faith lead, hope direct, and trust surround this tender journey of two becoming one.

Looking Forward

 *Photo by the amazing Erica Bartel

In my life I am being challenged in so many ways to develop my trust in God and understand the fullness of my identity.  As I process all that comes in various waves, I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you.  I hope you are encouraged and that if you find yourself in a similar place you choose to take the leap and live heartfelt in God's hand.  I have learned it is the only true place of safety, though it tends to present as the most terrifying choice.

As I have lost my identity in Christ I have lost my ability to trust my role in every other area of life.  My failures have stacked against me and I have had no where to turn because if I am not rooted and grounded in love then I am bent under the weight of ever guilt and condemnation.  When I am gripped with Christ and all that he has spoken over me - then I KNOW that I am more than a conqueror, I am precisely where I am supposed to be when I am held in his hand.  As I come to this and open to the the ruthless sense of trust I am broken by my fear of the unknown - what if God fails, what if he chooses to break me.

It is this terrible, trembling beauty of unsurpassed openness to both the wonderful and painful aspects of life, that gives me pause.  To accept and receive this allows for all that terrifies me to have place in my life and when I first glimpse the idea, only the evil of fear grips me.  To say yes to blessing and abundance is to say yes to pain and grief.  They walk hand in hand.  Openness to God is not an insurance plan, but a deep fountain of trust that receives everything his hand provides.  It is here I am fully humbled and here that I must completely surrender - not my will, but yours.  He requires all - of the rich young ruler - sell all you have and give to the poor.  He has set a stumbling block before each of us, what we love most and what we fear most.  It is the acceptance and action that propel us forward, this is why it is different and unique to each.  The way to Christ, accepts all he demands and holds openly all that once built like walls around our fragile, desperate treasures.

These themes have shaken me to my core as my fears have presented in harsh realities.  I have been cut to my knees in my brokenness and wanted to give everything up.  Turn, run, hide from what beats in my heart.  My greatest joys are also my deepest sorrows.  The places I have to push through to realize and experience my dreams are like the thorns hiding Sleeping Beauties castle.  They rip and tear me apart, but there is a prize waiting on the other side.  Choosing to step forward in bravery and trust, hoping that what lies ahead is worth all that is stripped away in the pursuit.

I may be fragile right now, but I am walking through a process of strengthening that cannot be undone.  God's goodness sustains me!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

When I Am Not Enough.

                                                                                                                                         *Photo by the amazing Erica Bartel

One of the surest ways to cut off your source of strength is to discredit yourself before you even start. 

My life I have known what it is to be shut down, told I’m not good enough, that I should stop.  

I strive to do well.  

And inadequacy haunts my every move.  It’s not that I’m afraid to fall, I’m waiting to plummet.  Movement and failure are inevitably entwined in my life.

I long considered myself a perfectionist.  As that was pointed out to me on a daily basis.  If my house were too clean, it was because I was obsessive.  If I worked hard it was because I was trying to prove something.  

It is only recently that I have fully understood the weight of these words and harsh criticisms.  It’s not because I am trying to be perfect, or even live a life of excellence.  I have become an absolute underachiever.  I am afraid to do anything.  I live in terror of not being good enough and because that’s not something I can change.  I live as less.

As our family has moved recently and we are needing to become a two income family, I have had to find ways to work while still maintaining my role as a full time mama.  This has involved cleaning homes, taking care of extra children, and recently applying for jobs in the restaurant industry.  

Last night as I bent under the weight of my husband’s very mild criticism of my writing, I shook in grief.  Why wasn’t I able to do anything well?  I am striving to work hard, to let go of the voices in my head.  And one repeated itself over and over.  “Who are you Cherylyn, what are you good at?”

As I erupted in broken grief.  I realized that all of my life, I have been less.  I have been wrong at every turn.  And now as my options are work in a servant role or put my children in daycare, I find that this has been my broken self image.  This has been the role I’ve claimed.  

It’s not my identity, who I am.  Serving is a beautiful grace.  Loving my family and giving outside of what I long to do, is a heartfelt sacrifice.  It is not wrong, ugly, or less.  It is only what I make of it.  

I woke this morning, still weary from my emotional meltdown.  Eyes swollen from endless wells of sorrow.

And I lay my head on the chest of papa God.  Who am I, Jesus?

And words like oil run over my head and seep into my bones.  You are beloved, you are destined, called.  Do not be ashamed or afraid.  Move forward and rest in my presence, come into my excellence.  Let me train your hands, strengthen your arms.  You are my daughter.  Do not look at today or tomorrow, keep your eyes on mine and I will take you forward in peace.

Our identity is constantly attacked.  Who we are is shaped and defined by the careless words of those around.  Arrows can get through even the strongest armor.

When you find yourself repeating a phrase, a heartless word, strip it down.  Find the source, what it connected too.  Then repent for allowing yourself to believe lies.  Forgive those who cast words like stones, unaware of how they break against you.  Then ask Jesus what he says.  

Let truth be your guide.  Walk in what you know, not what you feel.  

You are worthy, you are good enough.  You are exactly who you are supposed to be.  The painful lies and shame that have come against you are not who you are.  They do not define you.  Papa God has your identity, your role, your existence written in his hand.  When you forget he whispers it over you.  Just listen to His words and walk faithfully in his presence.  Break off the chains and broken illusions.  

This has been incredibly raw for me.  I hope it encourages you.  Strengthens you.  And pushes you to the excellence that is in you.  You are so much more than what has shaped or defined you.

Grace in the journey, peace in the storm, and hope in the morning.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Anchored Trust

                                                   *Photo by the amazing Erica Bartel

Let my life be found in the hand of trust.  May my heart wait, hungry, beating, for your glory to appear.  Hold my hope in your ever present goodness and let me stare with the eyes of a child at your truth.

There are no promises of ease or perfection.  We live, some are sick, deformed, others broken at a whim, suffer from mental atrocities, we die.  There is only the guarantee of pain that we know to be so close in this world.  With trembling hands we build our walls of protection, we are afraid to hope for an easy life, too aware of how possible it is to be taken at a moment.  In our prosperity we wait for our loss.  At every good we tremble at what lurks around the corner.  We have learned that trust is a loose ideal and hope a foolish dream of those unacquainted with the suffering of this world.

We take back our trust at a moments indiscretion or foolishness.  You are not worthy of my trust, you are not good.  How can I ever trust again.  We don't.  We hide in our walls of fear and anxiety, our hope a twisted vortex of waiting for the worst.

Storms will rage and as we wait for them, we miss the days of beauty.  We forget to live, too lost in our hearts obsessions or the dreams of someday.

This is your time.  To watch the glory of a changing world.  To hold close the growing lives that for this moment need your hand.  Enjoy what you have today, because we are not guaranteed our tomorrows.  Love freely, give wholeheartedly, do not get to the end of this life surrounded by your walls of deception.  There is no safety in fear, no protection in our battalions. The more we strive to guard and shore up our lives, the greater the misery that grips our hearts.

Fear will take you far from the path of life.  It will present your death while you stare at all that breaks around you.  It will grip your mind in the broken record of pain and failings.

Trust is like a budding tree, you know will one day blossom in the weight of heady blooms.  It is the foundation of hope that looks to the end of life and blesses its existence. It is not broken by the frosts or the waves that rise, it looks beyond to the cleansing air that breathes warmth and the changing tides.

Trust breaks me every time and hope laughs in the face of my fears.  It places me before the cross with the anguish of my brokenness and the reality of death that restores me.  Good is often found in great pain.  We find his presence in our brokenness.  It is the act of absolute desperation that pushes us into his goodness.  Do not despise the hard places that shape you or the darkness that sharpens your ability to hear.

Let us know God is good.  In the midst of life, let us believe in his mighty love and value for each of us.  May we believe that despite our hurts, the pain that surrounds - his mercy heals, restores, strengthens, loves.

As we live held in the grip of trust, train us to listen to the voice of wisdom, to laugh with the frivolity of childlike wonder.  To be a people given to peace, strengthened by hope, and protected by the shield of faith.