Monday, July 30, 2012

finding the tempo of a God breathed life

This is my final post on "Grace for the Good Girl"...

This book has been nothing like I expected…in a very good way.  I cringed early on as Emily’s words seared my soul with their honesty.  It was hard to realize how much of my identity was wrapped up in doing.  Along the way I am learning to recognize when I want to grab the good girl mask and put it back on.  So much easier to do that instead of to process what is going on…what buttons are being pushed to make me want to hide rather than face pain or truth, be it good, bad or other. 

I am learning to live at the “tempo of a God breathed life”…being gentle when I turn around and find that mask covering my eyes, celebrating when I choose to not pick it up, and experiencing grace in a whole new way.  Remembering that no two days will be the day I may do well, the next not so much.

One would think that a person in ministry would get this stuff.  I am learning along the way that it is sooooo much easier to talk about grace than to live it at times.  Somehow this was not something I learned in seminary…this accepting without question that I am loved, forgiven, and free.  There were no classes, no books, no field education, or CPE that I checked off the list that allowed a sudden epiphany that I have already received grace.

Perhaps the greatest tool this book gave me were these questions to ask myself when I find myself looking for the mask to hide behind…

What is the truth? (Spirit)

What will I choose to believe? (Mind)

What will I choose to do? (Will)

Will I give up the right to feel as if the truth is true? (Emotions)

At some point my hope is these questions become habit rather than written down on the back of my shopping list which I furtively look to while feeling overwhelmed by hurtful words and actions, mine and others. 

These may not work for everyone, but they DO work for me.  In the midst of this hard and holy work I have learned my lens for truth has been very, very warped.  I want so badly to see a hint of what others, especially God, sees in me.  That Julie?  She seems like someone I would like to get to know better. 

Doing this work has helped me to find my voice again…it is still a bit soft and fades frequently, but it is there again.  And yesterday, with no masks at all, I shared from my heart as I preached about miracles.  Two women I look up to as role models let me know how good it was to hear my voice again.  

One even offered to keep kicking my tail when I hide my voice.  That is love!  One willing to hold me accountable, one willing to challenge me to be the woman God is calling me to be.  I thank God for women like that in my life and on this journey with me.

This book also led me to do something I have never, ever done before.  I wrote a review for it on Amazon.  That is how good I think this book is.  The exciting thing is "graceful" a version for 14-18 years old will be published soon.  I think women of all ages should read either book…more than once.

And Emily?  Can you do one for the boys next?  Or perhaps talk your hubby into it?  I’m finding there are a whole lot of good boys out there too.

Want to talk about it, let me know!  Would love to sit with you and chat over coffee.  

Remember to go visit emily at chatting at the will be time well spent, promise.

multitudes on monday - july 30th

it is monday...

time to see again gifts

given by the gift maker.

these are mine,

what are yours?

680  tomatoes still warm from the garden

681 feeling like a blog star sharing God’s word

682 time with God that leaves me in tears…not all happy, but all good

683 remembering my life is meant to be interrupted

685 being broken open yet again

685 truth found in the Psalms… “you press upon me behind and before me and lay your hand upon me.”  139.4

686 darkness shattered by light

687 playing chase and giggling with a wee one

688 new dreams

689 moving past superficiality in friendship

690 new work unfolding in pieces

691 returning to the pool

692 seeing faces I have missed

693 cool mornings following hot days

694 bare feet in the mud

695 feathers from a friend

696 chilled water melon

697 re-remembering a relationship takes two

698 finding my voice in the pulpit (again)

699 sharing stories with a new friend

visit ann & her friends to take a peek at their gift lists

Friday, July 27, 2012

sneak peek friday - july 27

fridays are for peeking into the studio

mine, yours, and our friends found

over at studio jru.

this week i finished a few 

found homes for one or two

and started anew.

i also worked on the art of loving others...

what have you created this week?

would love to hear what you did...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who make this earthly pilgrimage with us.

So, be swift to love, make haste to do kindness, shower abundant hospitality on friend and stranger, walk in justice, that you may follow the path of mercy and love.

And the blessing of God, who comes to us unbidden, who for our lives was broken, and in whose Spirit we are guided into wholeness and holiness of life, be upon you and those whom you love, this day and forevermore.  Amen.

Monday, July 23, 2012

multitudes on mondays - july 23

700 hearing little voices in church after vacation

701 fresh figs

702 sharing stories with sisters

703 spinach artichoke dip that made someone late

704 glorious gladiolas

705 encouraging words amidst the tears

706 exciting news about da baby

707 ice packs after hard work

708 a sister’s song that makes my eyes water

709 epiphanies about identity

710 hearing how you are speaks to another

711 Slurpees (couldn’t resist)

712 good test results for a cancer THRIVER

713 seeing an old friend on television doing something she loves

714 unexpected time with a loved one over tea

715 applying for first ever passport with a sister who shares a dream

716 finding sisters in scripture

717 new toys for the studio

718 words on a sign that speak to my soul

719 dreaming of stepping out of the box in a new way 

be sure to visit ann & friends at a holy experience and see their gifts as well.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Grace for the Good Girl - Chapters 15 & 16

“They may have hurt you,
but don’t let them define you.
Because the truth is,
Jesus came to stand
between you and that hurt.(1)

This book continues to tear me open in ways I did not expect.  Its title gives no hint at how dangerous it is to those myths I believe about myself and my brokenness. 

“To admit that the offense hurts is necessary to our healing. To feel the pain caused by the failure of others is honest and human and okay. I do not know the extent to which someone else has hurt you. I do not know how deeply their failure has affected you. But I do know this: you will never be more free than when you let go of your right to be the good one. (2)”

So much of my story has to do with not feeling loved in word or deed by those children expect to love them.  I learned early and often that no matter how hard I tried I would still be “the” reason for an adult’s bad day, bad behavior, or bad choices.  I heard and saw evidence of it so often that it I came to believe it was me who was bad.  So I tried, oh how I tried, to be so very, very good.  So good that I slowly died on the inside and squashed down the little girl who loved to sing, dance, paint, and run. 

I learned to walk on eggs shells and let my “feelings” be determined by those around me.  And yet it never quite worked.  No matter how hard I tried it was never enough.  I lost sight of who I was and that I was beloved. 

Emily shared these words of Presten Gillham’s:   

“Worry and fear are simply the belief that I have gotten myself into a place where God is not. And so that brings us to the truth, that God, through his determination to share his heart with me, was willing to go to my ungracious place to be with me. He would rather die than live without me, even if it means ungracious places.”(3)

Whether my brokenness was because of me or the result of what those around me were doing that I let define me, I truly felt God was not, could not, be where I was.  This truth that God is in that ungracious place with me…it is frightening.  I let my identity and all I thought about myself be determined by the truth I heard and saw as a girl who never felt she was good enough.  It is scary to set that aside and truly, truly believe God would rather die than be without me.  How could God love me when the ones that were supposed to love me were so broken by life their love didn’t feel like love? 

And so as this book draws close to the end it feels as though this work is just beginning.  I want to believe the truth that I am beloved…unconditionally.  I catch glimpses of it more frequently now.  I am still learning to paint, know I hate to run, and perhaps someday will sing.  I hold no anger toward those in the old dance yet I can no longer move in those ways. I am dancing a new dance and my partner has changed.  I have had to make choices that were hard and often still hurt.  I also pray for the day we dance in praise of healing and wholeness, together.

Group Discussion from Emily's blog:

The last four chapters of the book focus on the freedom of being found, how we are safe even in the midst of fear, failure, and feelings. The title of chapter 15 is Safe, Even When it Hurts. I was surprised that something as seemingly small as an unresolved high school relationship could follow me around for so long. Can you think of a time when you were unexpectedly forced to confront your own frail humanity? 

One of the good girl’s most basic fears is failure. It takes different shapes and forms and may have varying degrees of consequence, but failure is part of our human condition. Do you recognize your own ungracious places and how is Jesus showing himself to you in the midst of them?

(1)   Freeman, Emily P. (2011-09-01). Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life (Kindle Locations 3099-3100). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition.
(2)   Kindle Locations 3044-3046.
(3)   Kindle Locations 2957-2960

slow down

May your weekend
find you slowing down
and turning off your engine 

photo by Mark Bozzuti-Jones

Be still, and know that I am God!

   I am exalted among the nations,

   I am exalted in the earth.’ 

Psalm 46.10

Friday, July 20, 2012

sneak peek friday - july 20

it is friday

time to peek 

into studios

mine and others

yet today my heart is heavy

words won't come

prayers rise like incense 

beauty found in those

i love

held close

reminded that they matter

to me and to God

make loving others your art today

make a difference every day

smile at a stranger

look in the eyes of others

and love even when it hurts

Remember to visit Jennifer and friends at Studio JRU

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

a prayer for today

We confess 
that we have been so busy 
with the mending nets 

that we have forgotten to go to fish.
Make us today fishermen 
so that even if 

we come back home 
without fish 
we will be happy 


we have fed a lot of them. 
For Christ sake.  
(Diocese of South Western Brazil)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

 ‘My grace is sufficient for you, 

for power is made perfect in weakness.’ 

So, I will boast all the more gladly 

of my weaknesses, 

so that the power of 

Christ may dwell in me.

2 Corinthians 12.9

Monday, July 16, 2012

multitudes on mondays ~ july 16th

720 waking up to Celtic Thunder  Celtic Thunder - Heartland

721 no more safari band aids

722 reminders in the Word

723 the smell of clean towels

724 picking up nests because babies have flown away

725 joshua brayden beast feeling better

726 two rainy days in a row

727 communion at the bedside of a beloved

728 words from deep within that speak to others

729 pictures of warrior princess that bring tears to ama’s eyes

730 muscles aching from moving in healthy ways again

731 color palettes that make my heart sing

732 prayers of warriors holding me close

733 armor from the great protector

734 watching my bear do a hard thing when it would be easier to walk away

735 the voice of my baby getting comfortable in grown up shoes

736 losing myself in quiet time with my daddy

737 growing into the patina of marriage

738 giving away the work of my heart to ones who “get it”

739 goofy pictures that remind me to smile!

be sure to link up with ann & friends to see their lists

Friday, July 13, 2012

Grace for the Good Girl Chapters 13 and 14

“God never intended for us to refer to church as a building. And he never intended worship to be reduced to a church service. His church is his people, and worship is what they do.” (1)

These words resonate for me. Early in my journey I was introduced to Brother Lawrence and the book, Practicing the Presence of God.  The book helped me to learn early that to be healthy, I needed to put my fragmented self back together in Christ.  My faith, this life with Christ is not something I do, but rather my identity.  There is often pressure to put it into a box and take it out when needed.  

Sadly, I most often see this in my vocation.  My vocation has been a response of thanksgiving for what God has done in my life.  It is an extension of my identity as his daughter, not some piece of me I pick up when I feel holy.  My life is how I worship.  On Sundays I attend church but I live worship every moment.  When that changes I know I am out of balance and becoming fragmented again.  Those are the times I need to be still and listen for that voice that calls me home.  The doing needs to be set aside so the being becomes the focus again.

Emily states in chapter 14 that our greatest enemy is forgetfulness, forgetting what we have in Christ.  When I stop looking to Christ and instead look to external things for worth I get caught up in the need for my mask, because without it how can I measure up?  It is as I people please, meet the needs of those around me, give until nothing is left that the lie that I am not good enough gets quieted, but never silenced. 

I am re-remembering that the way I hold on to Truth is to spend time in Scripture and Bible study.  I have recently started a new study that I complete most mornings before I even climb out of bed.  It is conveniently on my tablet which I turn on and read before I even think about coffee.  The mornings I rush and don’t do my study first I am noticing a HUGE difference in how my day unfolds.

This study has helped me to fall in love with scripture memorization as well.  When the liar starts chattering at my heart I have begun silencing him with Truth.  It has amazed me to feel the power of those words re-focusing my heart and my mind on truth.  This is how I am living into the “biblical self-image” Emily speaks of.  I feel like a kid in a candy store and love it! 

The nugget from this section was,

The soul screams, but the Spirit whispers.
Fear shouts for me to run.
The Spirit beckons me, Come.
Fear pushes me to hide, take cover, and protect myself.
The Spirit whispers, I have already overcome.
Fear hurls insults, chaos, and anxiety.
 The Spirit lavishes love, steadfastness, and peace.”(2)

I hear the Spirit when I climb into the Word.  In climbing there my ears become unstopped and I can hear my Father’s voice clearly again. I am able to remember that I belong to Christ and I am beloved.

Remember to visit Emily at Chatting at the Sky to read her post and find others who are reading the book.  This week’s questions:

Chapter 13 highlights the truth that we are a whole people. We cannot diagram our lives into segments, not really. Worship covers the circle, full. Do you struggle with the concept of worship in everything? In what ways are you beginning to see your living as worship?

In Christ, our safety has already been decided. By faith, we believe it to be true. In that case, our greatest enemy is not losing our salvation, trying to become worthy of love, or disappointing God. Our greatest enemy isforgetfulness – forgetting what we already have in Christ. Forgetting that we have been placed into safety because of him. In Chapter 14 we talk about setting our minds on truth. What does this practically look like for you? 

(1)Freeman, Emily P. (2011-09-01). Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life (Kindle Locations 2463-2464). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition.
 (2)Freeman, (Kindle Locations 2593-2595).