31 years ago today, on the day I got married, I was 21. There was a lot I didn’t know. A lot! I look back now and can see just how utterly clueless my 21-year-old self was about life, love, and marriage. I’ve heard it said that love is blind and that perhaps it’s good that it is for no one would ever marry.
My husband and I have attended countless marriage conferences and retreats. We have participated in, led, and even preached a slew of marriage studies and sermons over the years. I am also well-versed in the 5 Love Languages and I do appreciate them for their practical application of showing love to one another. I tell you all of this not to boast but to explain that while those were all good things, they weren’t enough. But when the bottom dropped out of my 30-year marriage and everything was measured with distrust, my heart longed for a deeper understanding of how I might know my husband loves me. I was reaching for a handle that could help me distinguish between the expression of love and what love actually is.
I want to share my nail-biting story with you. No, I NEED to share my nail-biting story with you. I know I’m not the only one out there who has felt the shame of having a bad habit that they just could not get a handle on no matter how hard they tried. I hope this story encourages you!
COURAGE is a much-needed quality of spirit for all of us as we face the challenges along the way on our journeys.
The very first thing God asked me to do soon after I was saved that required GREAT COURAGE was for me to go to my alcoholic and abusive father and ask for forgiveness for my responses to his actions. Whoa…I had only been a Christian for a short time when the Holy Spirit encountered me, asking me to go and ask his forgiveness. Looking back I can see that I would have gone no further without this being taken care of. God knew. So I obeyed. It was NOT easy.
One of the best things I’ve done in seasons of healing is to follow the path. If healing is my goal, which it is, I don’t want to leave any stone unturned. If it’s going to be painful, which it will be, I want to do everything in my power to learn what I need to learn in an effort to keep history from repeating itself.
“May you be given more and more of God’s kindness, peace, and love.” Jude 1:2 (TLB)
One year ago, today, March 1, 2018, for the unnecessary sake of redundant clarification, a dear friend of mine, Alyssa De Los Santos, began one of the most influential campaigns I’ve ever whole-heartedly believed in and half-heartedly participated in.
Allow me to explain.
Alyssa had been sharing about the big reveal of something amazing for weeks in advance. With eagerness and because I love her and trust her heart to be in the right place, I planned to offer my support and jump all in with all the gusto.
When March 1st came along and the curtain pulled back, I practiced writing #sowkind just as an engaged girl practices writing her soon-to-be married name. Okay, I really didn’t do that. But I did have every intention of going full speed ahead with all things #sowkind.
I have a picture that says, “Until further notice, celebrate everything.” With so much negative in our world and in our personal lives, I’m finding it more crucial than ever to focus on celebrating the positive. It’s always a good idea to celebrate love.
Valentine’s Day comes around each year. In recent years, with social media and our self-imposed freedom to talk a little louder, this holiday has become quite the hot topic. As pink and red everything and all the chocolate, candy word hearts, and flowers are made available, money is spent, opinions are shared, comparisons are made, hopes are dashed, tears are shed, joy is found, expectations are met or exceeded, and often, expectations are profoundly unsatisfied. And then, on February 15th, we find ourselves either basking in the glow or wallowing in the sorrow.
Sometimes, life has a way of dictating when we need to simplify things. Curveballs come that “help” us examine and redefine our priorities. In the spirit of “out with the old, in with the new”, or the newly trending Konmari method, clearing the clutter is important.
As I read my friend’s, Courtney Ellis, advance reader copy of UNCLUTTERED: Free Your Space. Free Your Schedule. Free Your Soul, I was surprised to find that although much in my life had already been reassessed (due to the dictation of an aforementioned curveball), one area was left unexamined. I’ll tell you more about that in a bit.
There are so many stories in the scripture that fit into the gospel of grace. It’s almost like God is trying to tell us something. (*sarcasm) We have stories of grace through the life of Noah, Joseph, Jonah, Job, Herod, Pharaoh, David, and Rahab. Then in the new testament, we have Paul, Timothy, Peter, Judas, and Pilate – just to name a few. Grace often looks completely different than what we might expect and even what we might want.
In learning about grace, what grace really is, what it actually looks like and that I needed to receive it just as much as anyone else does, the story of Jonah kept coming to mind. As I consider the story of Jonah, I realize that sometimes grace is messy. Sometimes God’s grace stinks. But it’s always good.