Friday, March 29, 2013


We are all so easily broken. We are fragile. We are weak. We are shattered. We are sinners. We are failures. We slip and fall so easily. We walk away from God. We turn our backs on grace. We cling tightly to the very things that hold us back and weigh us down. We are all a mess. God wants us - all of us - but all we have to offer Him is brokenness. It's such an imperfect gift to offer a perfect God.

That's why Jesus offered us a broken gift in return - His own broken body, hanging on a cross, paying the penalty we deserved. He allowed Himself to be broken so that we could be made whole. All He asks for is our heart. He doesn't want our heart because its perfect. He wants it because its broken, and He's the only One who can make it whole.

He can take our broken gift and make it beautiful. He can can give us beauty for ashes. He loves us in spite of our brokenness - because of our brokenness - and He waits with open arms to give us the gifts He gave His life for.

Monday, March 25, 2013

When You Want To Lay Down Your Dreams

Some days, I just want to quit. Give up, lay down my dreams, and walk away. It's too hard. It's too much. I'm not even sure I want this anymore. I'm shattered and exhausted and I just want the struggle to be over. I'm weary to the bone. If I had known chasing my dreams would leave me so worn and sometimes even heartbroken, I don't think I would have started.

But I did start, with a leap of faith.  I had high hopes, a little bit of confidence, and a whole lot of fear. I set out on this path of crazy dreams because I knew, deep down in my soul, that this was what God wanted. He opened too many doors for this to be the wrong way. He worked too many details out for this be coincidence. He answered too many prayers for this to be anything but his will.

It wasn't long before the battles started, though, and doubt started creeping in. This was not an easy road. The harder things got, the more my confidence slipped. If this was what He wanted, then why was it so hard? Shouldn't it be easier to follow His plan? Shouldn't He pave the way and make things easier for me here?

As I wondered if I made a mistake, God gently reminded me that His will is never followed without a fight. Abraham hoped in God until it looked like all hope was lost - then God came through and fulfilled His promises. Noah was mocked and scorned as he spent years following God while no one else understood. David ran from Saul and faced many attempts on his life before he became king. Following God's plan left them shattered and broken - but that just made their stories all the more amazing. We look up to them as heroes, not just because they followed God, but because they followed Him when it was hard. They followed Him when they didn't understand. They followed Him when they doubted.  They followed Him when they were scared to death.

I don't understand why this road had been so much harder than I imagined. I've cried so many tears. I've faced times when all hope seemed to fade away. I've failed more times than I can count. I've come to the end of my strength and realized that God is my only hope of seeing this through, so I cling to Him with all that I have left.

Maybe that's the point - when we're ready to quit, ready to lay down our dreams and walk away, God stands by, ready to pick them up and carry them for us. He stands ready to show us that our dreams will only be accomplished through Him. He is our strength. He is our hope. He is the One who gave us our dreams in the first place, and He is the One who will carry us through to the finish line.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why I Love This Journey

Last week I wrote one of "those" posts - the one that makes you feel a little bit dizzy and a whole lot terrified when you hit publish. Broken Gifts ( was very raw and emotional. It was hard to share, because it came from my own brokenness, but God wouldn't let go of me until I posted it. Apparently a lot of other people feel broken, too, because in just a few days, that has become my all-time top blog post. When I hear feedback from others thanking me for my honesty because they needed that message, it makes the absolute terror I felt worth it.

Writing itself has always brought me joy. There's something very cathartic about pouring out what's on my heart, getting it all on paper, putting my feelings into words, and now, thanks to blogging, sharing it. It usually doesn't take long to realize I'm not the only one feeling this way. I think that's one of the best parts of writing - realizing that I'm not alone.

When I get a comment or a tweet saying, "That was exactly what I needed to hear today," I know my voice matters. I may be a pretty small fish in a sea of writers and bloggers, but if my words can encourage one person or make a difference in one person's day, then I've accomplished something.

As much as I love it, though, I still struggle to call myself a writer. I started getting more serious with my writing a little over a year ago. I write two blogs and contribute monthly to another. I have book ideas waiting in the wings for me once I finish the first one, the one I've been plotting in my mind for years but was too afraid to put on paper. I know this is where God wants to take me because in all honesty, I would never have started this journey without His gentle nudging. But it's still hard for this shy introvert to claim the title and say "I'm a writer." Even though writing makes me feel whole and happy, it's hard to say it when I don't yet have a book in print or even an article in a magazine (although that may be about to change - I'll know in a few weeks).

One thing I've learned, though, is that God gives us dreams and gifts for a reason. He wants us to use them for His glory. And He wants us to enjoy them. I love chasing my God-sized dream. I love meeting people who share my dream and walking that road together. The whole journey really brings me joy. I can't wait to see where God takes me!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Rest

Rest. I don't know the meaning of the word anymore. Even as I try to write, video games blare, the dog barks, something else clamors for my attention. There's no peace, no time to rest in my life now.

The demands are constant. They press on me from every side. I battle panic attacks and emotional meltdowns as graduation draws near and I struggle to fit in all the requirements so I can walk across that stage in my cap and gown.

Sometimes, even now at the very end, I wonder of its worth it. Did I make the right decision? Will it pay off? Will I regret it?

All I can do is turn to God and beg for strength. I can't do this on my own. I need His grace and the rest only He can give. I can't make it through this without Him.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Broken Gifts

We sing it often, but that night, during worship service, the song reached out and grabbed me. One line stabbed my heart: "So what can I say, what can I do, but offer this heart, oh God, completely to you?"

I stopped singing, overwhelmed, heart heavy. Why would He want that? My heart is quick to forget His promises and quick to turn to sin. My heart turns from His Word and runs to the lies of the enemy. My heart has belonged to Him since I was just a little girl, but it knows so little and trusts even less. I fail Him every day. I let Him down. Why would He want such an imperfect gift as my broken, scarred, and fearful heart?

I stood condemning myself as the service went on around me. Unrelenting stress has been a constant lately, pushing me to my breaking point, and sometimes even beyond. I've melted down and lashed out at those I love. I've pushed away from friends, hiding in solitude so they can't see how close I am to breaking. I've even pushed away from God - the One who made me, the only One who can truly help me. Why would He want my heart?

Yet that's exactly what He asks for. It's really all He asks for. He stands, hands outstretched, asking me to bring Him my broken gifts - my emptiness, my failures, my scars. He wants my heart, full of sin and fear and pain. He reaches out for my gift of perfect imperfection. And the gifts He returns to me are so much sweeter.

He calms my fears. He fills the empty places with more of Himself. He shows me the purpose for the scars. He forgives my sins. He picks up the pieces of my broken heart and life, and He makes them whole. He whispers peace to my frantic soul. And He doesn't give up. He does it over and over and over again. Like a daddy when his little girl is learning to ride a bike - when I fall down, He gently picks me, brushes off the dirt, and gives me a gentle nudge to try again. When I come to Him with my failings, feeling so unworthy, He forgives my sins, lifts my head, and gives me strength for another day, another battle, another step.

I was praying and journaling recently, and I got brutally honest with God about where I am. I admitted to Him, "I'm kind of a mess right now." His reply was immediate: "Do you think I love you any less?" No, He doesn't love me less. In my brokenness, He holds me even closer and shows me more of His grace. He pours out His love and mercy, showing me just how much He treasures my broken gifts.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Side Effects?

I shared a couple of weeks ago about my wake up call regarding my health. I knew it was time to do something, but I also know myself well enough not to dive in head-first. I knew that I needed to work my way in slowly. So I started with a couple of simple changes.

I got a great book on Kindle a few weeks ago called 42 Days to Fit and decided to start the challenge.  Honestly, when I read the first food challenge, I thought, "No way - I can't do this." (In case you're wondering, the first challenge was giving up extra sugar, including desserts and sugary coffee creamer, and even - gasp - diet drinks.) I was terrified as I bought only sweets that I don't like (for my husband and kids) and picked up ingredients for paleo coffee creamer from Pinterest. Around that same time, @TufMotherRunner posted a Twitter challenge to #DumpDietCoke. I knew I'd need the extra encouragement, so I joined in.

It hasn't been perfect. The first day, I hated the paleo creamer because I was used to such sugary coffee. I added a little bit of sweet cream to make it bearable. The next day, I actually loved it. I'm still adding a little cream, but I'm working my way down to just the paleo creamer. I've had Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper four days in the last week and a half - not perfect, but better than my 2-3 a day habit just a couple of weeks ago. Saturday I had a piece of cake at a birthday party, and yesterday I had a small piece of pie. I'm doing better and making progress, though, and as I shared on Monday, being imperfect shouldn't keep me from being better.

This week, I'm finally starting the fitness challenge, thanks to an extra nudge from Run Like a Mother and their 5K Finish It plan. I'm not sure what my final fitness routine will look like. I have to balance finishing school with the specific fitness needs my soon-to-be career as a dental hygienist requires. (I did a research paper on the effects of repetitive stress in the field and the workouts RDH's should do - fascinating stuff, but I digress.)

I'm already noticing side effects from this challenge. I'm sleeping better. I feel better. My blood pressure is better. I could get used to these side effects. I really like the way I feel. What's really exciting is knowing that as the book builds on itself, I'll feel even better. More small changes will have more positive side effects.   I can't wait to find out what the rest of the side effects are!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Finding Balance

I can't tell you how many times I've read blogs or articles about home, family, motherhood, health, or work and come away feeling guilty. You know the type - "You can be a mom who leads a major company, volunteers with the PTA, sends hand-made invitations for parties, and trains for marathons - it's easy!" (It makes me think of the new Five Hour Energy commercials, where the guy is knitting a sweater while running just before he writes a novel and records his debut album.) I know these writers are trying to encourage women, but honestly, I usually come away feeling like a failure.  After all, I'm not Supermom or Wonder Woman, although sometimes I think I'm trying to get there.

Let's face it: After a long day at work and school, I often come home exhausted, frustrated, and just ready to put my feet up for a while. But my family wants to eat, my kids need help with their homework, the house needs to be cleaned, and the laundry won't do itself - mot to mention the fact that I still need to work out and write. So how do you do it? How do you find balance? How you juggle family, home, work, exercise, errands, kids activities, and the thousand other things a mom has to balance?

I'm learning that balance doesn't equal perfect. Balance doesn't mean that every day is perfectly proportioned. Each day looks different, with its own rhythm and flow. Some days I might write 2,000 words when inspiration strikes, but skip my workout because I don't feel good. Other days I might get in a great run, but never open my laptop. Some days the laundry gets done...okay, so that usually happens when everyone is down to their last clean pair of underwear, but that's beside the point.

I'm trying to strike more of a weekly balance in my life right now. I have a loose daily schedule that I'm trying to stick to for housework, exercise, quiet time, writing, and studying. Some days it all gets done. Some days nothing gets done. I'm also making slow changes to my diet as I work toward a healthier lifestyle. It's a learning curve, and a pretty big one. The key is giving myself grace. There's no such thing as perfect - but being imperfect shouldn't keep me from being better. Each day, I'm going to strive to do a little better than the day before. When things don't go as planned, I'm going to brush myself off and try again. Week by week, with gradual changes, I know I'll see improvement. That's my goal. My life and my schedule will never be perfect, but they can be better.