Grace: Mom Grace…

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That kid…she’s pretty cool…most days (we all have our moments, right?!)

She calls me mom.
We call her Olivia, Livi, Liv, Livi Grace, and “The Giggler.”

She’s almost always smiling.
Everyone comments about her giggle (hence the nickname “The Giggler”)

She loves school.
She loves to read.
She loves that she can tie her shoes.
She loves her teacher.
She loves getting on purple (the best behavior color).
She LOVES art.

She loves to color, draw, paint, craft, use scissors, make messes, and not clean up!

She loves her brothers (aka “Stinky” and “Smelly”) sometimes.
She loves her friends.
She loves soccer.

She has her own “style.”
She loves bags, paper, pens, stickers (she gets that from me!).

That kid is full of energy, joy, and fun. She makes me laugh daily. And best of all, she calls me mom.

But some days, I let myself go there…you know the place…that ugly place where I feel sorry for her that she *has* to call me mom. That place where I think she got “the short end of the stick,” “the raw end of the deal,” etc.

Why do I do that?
Why do we, as moms, do that?
Why do we beat ourselves up when we don’t feel we are up to par?

That picture up there…that was from last week. The kids had silly hat day and together, Olivia and I came up with a crown, covered in shiny owls, shamrocks, gold washi tape, and more. She loved it! She called herself the “Cloverleaf Queen.” And of course, we captured the moment with a photo. I was the best mom ever!

For weeks now, all I have heard her talk about is Letterland day. She had this grand plan to be “Golden Girl.” She was excited, I was excited…but being me, human that is, I completely forgot about Letterland day. I even had a reminder from a friend just a few days ago, and still, this morning my little sunshine, my “Golden Girl,” headed off to school in her normal “style” without a pretty “G” or anything fancy and “golden” going on.

It was a mom fail.
Fail #2,345,678 or something like that.
The two boys ahead of her racked in most of those mom fails.

Being blessing #3 has it’s ups and downs. The fact that she is THE GIRL, gets her bonus points…especially after two boys. I never cared much for pink and purple until I was sooooooo tired of blue and red. That girl…yep, her room is PINK AND PURPLE (and I love it)!

And being THE GIRL who also loves art and crafty stuff gets her more bonus points with me because I love those things too! We work on our planners together. We color together. She crafts while I draw or read. It’s a wonderful life. Ahh, bliss!

Then there’s the part where I’m so over the whole mom thing, like PTO/PTA, classroom helper, snack provider, etc. See the boys got the best of it. Actually blessing #1 got the most because way back then, I was even on the PTA with a title and all (don’t remember my title now…I’ve blocked those memories…or they were just that long ago, LOL!). Blessing #2 got a few classroom party visits from mom, a couple of birthday lunches here and there, and the occasional cool points for dress up days. Blessing #3…well, I thought that because she’s THE GIRL and the fact there’s no babies on her heels, I’d be the coolest mom with her…you know, the one that’s always around, always helping, always seen, always available, always perfect?!

Well, guess what…that perfect mom DOES NOT EXIST!

You can argue with me on that, but I am 99.9% sure that mom is nowhere to be found. If you are her, then come give me lessons! Otherwise, stand back, smile, and give me grace! I’ll do the same for you!

Grace is a hot topic in this house lately. See I’m teaching a Bible study on Grace…but you know what? I think it’s really the other way around. It’s teaching me…God’s teaching me. God knows I’m stubborn…so stubborn. And He has to drill things home for me to get them. He knows I’m much more likely to teach others than to teach myself but by teaching others, He teaches me way more than I ever imagined I needed to know. So, He’s teaching me grace.

And today, I’m giving myself “Mom Grace.”

My girl was not “Golden Girl.”
I slept in (and enjoyed it).
It didn’t even cross my mind.
She will survive.
I’ll tell her, “You’ll always be my golden girl.”

And I’ll tell her, “I’m sorry.”
I’ll tell her, “I love you!”
I’ll ask her to extend grace.

And when I see other mom fails, I’ll remember this day…and I’ll extend “Mom Grace” to them!

Take it easy on you…this whole being a mom thing is tough. Don’t compare because there’s not a single other mother out there doing a better job than you! Just ask your kiddos! (but catch them on a good day and preferably not during puberty or the teenage years…because their brains don’t function properly at that point and you most likely will not get the right answer. Catch them before they’re a tween or after they’ve got their own kids!).

Grace, people. Grace! Today, extend mom grace!

 

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Update and book suggestions…

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Hey y’all! Today’s post is a nice laid back update :)  Here’s answers to a few questions…

What have you been up to?

Well, I’m in school full-time. I’m hoping to graduate in May with my Associates in Arts degree and then transfer and pursue a Bachelors in English. As if that isn’t enough, I’m heading into week three of teaching a new study on Grace at church. I’m also involved in a Tuesday morning Bible study with some amazing and dear women. I couldn’t do life without them and am so grateful God brought them into my life…just when I needed them! And of course I have the normal every day stuff…husband, kids, dog, and life. But ya know what…that last one, life…it’s good to be able to say I have life! Praise God. Last year this time, I couldn’t say that.

What’s up with the new things coming?

Well, I’m glad you asked! I posted back at the new year that big things were coming…they still are. I’m a little slow on that mostly because I’m focusing on school to make sure I graduate! I haven’t forgotten and ideas are being born and tweaked! Things are coming! For now, I can tell you there are plans for more regular posts on here. I have a very looooonnnnnngggg list of topics and hope to get those written and scheduled so they go out regularly. I’m looking at probably 2 to 3 posts a week for my goal. Also, other social media outlets are coming. If you don’t know about Periscope, check it out. I plan to start a 5-minute morning soon. Periscope is similar to YouTube, only it’s live. Basically, you would see me and be able to comment as I talk. I can’t plan anything with too much pressure right now so these 5-minute mornings seem like the best way to go. Topics will range from everyday life, parenting, Bible study, planner and journaling related things, and more. Basically a hodge podge of topics but the point is, I’ll be there. What I’ve realized from watching others on Periscope is that they become family. They become part of your life. You see them and you get to know them. It’s hard when you don’t see them for days and you wonder about them. Because I want to shine His light, I hope my 5-minute mornings will bring joy to your day! So, that’s in the works. I’m also on Twitter and YouTube. My YouTube videos are mostly planner related for now. (Did you know there’s a whole world of women obsessed with planners, paper, pens, stickers, and all that fun stuff?)

What are your book suggestions?

Right now, I’m reading a pile of books…and most of them have a shared theme. Grace & Identity. I’ve been reading these for the Bible study I’m teaching. The study is called, “Finding Your Place by Knowing His Grace.” Right now, it’s only available to the class I’m currently involved with but at some point I may take all my research and notes and write it up to share. It’s so worth digging into and one of the most crucial parts of this life to understand.

Books:

I Know His Name by Wendy Blight
Because He Loves me by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick
You’re Already Amazing by Holley Gerth
Lord, I Need Grace to Make It Today by Kay Arthur
Victory Over the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson
In My Father’s House by Mary A. Kassian

If you’re looking for a good book, any of these would be a great one to grab. Grace is the foundation of God’s love for us. It’s His unwavering, unending love and acceptance…of You and me! It’s His precious gift to us. Understanding His grace opens the door to a life meant for living. If you aren’t sure about grace, have questions about it, or just want to know more, pick up any one of these books and start there. And I’d love to hear from you. If you have questions or thoughts you want to chat about, email me!

So, that’s it for now! Don’t worry…I’ll be back soon.

Want to help me? A couple things I’d really appreciate…your prayers. Prayers for what’s to come here and through other social media…that God would keep me humble and grounded, obedient and consistent, fully relying on Him. And also, share this out…my blog, Periscope, Twitter, Facebook page and so on. It’s not about the numbers but every life that has a chance to hear is the possibility of another life changed. Help me extend that grace. Let’s shine His light!

Love & Blessings,

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Free to be free…

2016_FebFreedom

Freedom is defined as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Voluntary.
Without restraint.
Without cost.
To set at liberty.
(NIV Life Application Study Bible)

One year ago today, I was seeking freedom. Desperate to escape from a lifetime of hurts, I attempted to take my own life. If you haven’t read my story about that February day, please take the time to read it here and then come back.

Now that you’re all caught up, let’s talk about freedom.

Last year, I thought ending my life would bring me the freedom I desired. The depression I have suffered my whole life, the nightmares that still plague my sleep, the memories and flashbacks of pain and abuse, would all be gone. I had no doubt that God would understand and welcome me home. I would finally be free.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

When my plans failed, I faced a cruel reality that any freedom I had would soon be gone as well. I ended up spending three days in a mental hospital, for my own safety of course. Having never been in an actual prison, I can only imagine I had less freedoms than those behind bars. Everything, and I mean everything, was taken away from me. Physically, I had nothing. I also had no rights. All of the freedoms we enjoy daily, were stripped away. I had to ask permission to do anything and even those things were very limited.

I had to ask to use the restroom or take a shower.
I had to wait for someone to unlock the restroom door.
I had to ask for a pen and paper.
I was given the guts of a pen.
I had to ask to make a phone call.

I had to eat when they said eat.
I had to eat even if I didn’t want to.
I had to sleep when they said sleep, even if I couldn’t sleep.

There was no internet (no quick answers on Google, no Facebook, no emails…okay, maybe there was freedom with that, LOL!), no freedom to watch whatever I wanted on the one small television in the group room, no freedom to listen to the radio or any music, no freedom to call whomever I wanted, whenever I wanted, no freedom to wear what clothes I wanted, no freedom to read what I wanted, no freedom to view outside of those walls. It would be days before I would see the sun again.

Freedom as I knew it was no longer. Freedom as I had desired did not come. But that night, February 21st, 2015, I found a new kind of freedom…freedom like nothing I’d ever imagined.

Through the most difficult night of my life, I felt more alone than ever, and yet, I was never alone. I have never felt a greater embrace of comfort and peace than I felt that night. It was like God himself was sitting there next to me with His arms wrapped gently around me as I poured my heart out to Him. I cried for hours that night. I thought of my family at home. I thought of what mattered to me – God, my church family, my husband and children, writing, and teaching. It became undeniably clear that night, those were the things I needed to focus on. Those were the things that could bring life back into my empty heart.

As I sat there in that little room of four walls and a cot, I held tight to the words God had placed in my heart just days before…

“I will not die but live, and proclaim what the Lord has done.” Psalm 118:17

And the words from the song “Shoulders” by For King and Country played over and over in my mind…

“…My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders…”

God had planted those words in my heart and mind in the weeks leading up to my suicide attempt. I feel sure it was His was of preparing me for that night. That verse and those lyrics were exactly what I needed. When nothing else mattered, when everything else was gone, taken away. When freedom no longer made sense, He provided everything I needed.

This past year has been nothing less than amazing. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some incredibly difficult times and I imagine there always will be.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

The difference since that night is assurance. I have no doubt God met me there. I have no doubt God is with me. I have no fear of anything this world can throw my way because I know that no matter how dark my world gets, no matter what is taken from me, no matter what is done to me, God will carry me through. All I have to do is let Him.

“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6

That night, God set me free. I have been His for as long as I can remember but there have been times, I have ran from Him, feeling so broken and so unworthy. The truth is, I am worthy because I am His.

The freedom I found was…
The freedom to trust Him and others.

The freedom to let go of myself and let God lead the way.
The freedom to believe in tomorrow.
The freedom to let my heart heal.
The freedom to understand and accept God’s grace.
The freedom to allow others to love me.
The freedom to move forward, unashamed.
The freedom to see the beauty in the broken.
The freedom to rejoice in my sufferings.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5:1-5

You see, I do rejoice. I would not trade the choice I made for anything. That choice led me straight into a prison, more trapped than I’d ever felt and yet that choice led me to a freedom greater than anything I could have ever imagined.

“You have freed me from my chains.” Psalm 116:16b

For months, I thought out, planned, and prepared to say goodbye. For months, I waited patiently for the right time. The truth is, there was never a right time for my plan, but what played out was His perfect plan. Through my own chaos and darkness, He met me. He held me. He comforted me. He poured His grace over me. He accepted me. He loved me.

I admit, before that night, I still doubted and wondered if He could truly love me. That night, He freed me from those doubts. He left me with full assurance that I am His and nothing can ever take that away.

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:28

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Life isn’t magically okay.

I am still just an imperfect girl living in a broken world. I still suffer with depression. I still have moments where those thoughts of suicide creep into my mind. I still have days when I don’t want to get out of bed. I still worry that I am too much trouble for those who love me. I still feel so very inadequate to be a child of God and to be loved by Him. And that’s okay…because through it all, He constantly reminds me that He’s not going to abandon me. He’s teaching me His truth. He’s shown me that He will prepare me, that He will make a way, that He is using me because He chooses me. I think I’m good with that! (…more like very grateful and honored that He’d choose a mess like me!)

Truth is…He gave me the best gift that night. He gave me the freedom to believe I am His. I am His imperfect princess…perfectly imperfect.

Don’t be sad for me.
Don’t pray away my depression or those thoughts.

Rejoice with me in the freedom I have been given. Those things that hurt and sting…they keep me close to Him. If we didn’t face trials, hurt, pain, sorrows, grief, loss, and more, we wouldn’t need Him. I want to need Him with every breath I take and if that means walking through a fire the rest of my life, then so be it. I’ll walk through the fire, just to be with Him.

People said I should have at least gotten sick when I attempted to take my own life. I didn’t. Not dizzy, not nauseous, not confused, not sick…nothing. NOTHING. What I got…was FREEDOM! To God be the Glory!

Above, I shared Psalm 118:17. I will proclaim what He has done! He has set me free!

I pray you don’t have to meet Him in the darkest, lowest, most desperate place…but even if that’s where He meets you, rejoice that you are His!

You are worthy.
You are loved.
You are enough.
You are His.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

Choose life.
Choose joy.
Choose freedom.
It is well…with my soul.

“It Is Well With My Soul” – Matt Redman

Our scars are a sign of grace in our lives,
And Father how you brought us through
When deep were the wounds and dark was the
Night the promise of Your love You proved.
Now every battle still to come let this be our song.

It is well, (it is well)
with my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul…”

 

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Word of the Year…

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Word of the year…

Perhaps the word of the year has become the new hype instead of resolutions we often fail at. I hear a lot of people these days choosing a word and focusing on that word throughout the year. Focus and Intentional seem to be what I’ve heard the most lately.

I’d never really chosen a word of the year…until last year. Even then, I didn’t choose the word; it chose me.

Hope.

I’m a part of a beautiful group of ladies along with a dear friend, Suzie Eller. In this group, we were asked to share a word. Honestly, at the time I didn’t even put much thought to it. I just knew the word I was supposed to use was hope. I shared a little story about what hope meant to me at the time and this picture…

2015_April (3)

I wouldn’t know at that point just how much the word hope would come to mean. By February of last year, I had lost all hope…Not hope in a God that loved me or would save me, but in a life on this earth filled with peace. I was ready to be with God. I had been for a while. On the night of February 20th, after an evening of laughs with our closest friends, I attempted to take my own life (check posts from February and March 2015 to go back and read about that time). When my attempt failed, admittedly, I was quite disappointed.

Rather than losing hope, I was suddenly forced to find hope. I was still here. I was alive. I didn’t really feel alive, but by definition, I was alive. That wasn’t a part of my plan but that’s where I was.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

I had to find something to help me get through each day. This required effort. It hasn’t been easy by any means.

Hope.

It began with just having enough hope to open my eyes in the morning, eventually leading to hoping I could wake up and get out of bed. Slowly other things came…

Hoping I could look at my kids again.
Hoping I could put together a rational thought.
Hoping I could make it through an hour without wanting to die.
Hoping I could make it through a day, a week.

Little by little over the next year, those thoughts of hope have grown. I won’t say my thoughts have completely changed from the plan to end my life. I still struggle to find hope and peace with life here on this earth but I think one thing I learned was I was searching for something that can’t be found.

I will never be the person I was before that night. It didn’t change my thoughts but it did change me.

It’s strange how the darkest, scariest, loneliest, and most painful place can somehow become the greatest. My memories from that time are some of the worst and best of my life. I was searching for peace that can only come through knowing to Whom and where I belong. I now know the answer to both of those. Knowing that is peace.

Peace.

I still struggle to find hope and peace with life here on this earth but I think one thing I learned was I was searching for something that can’t be found.  While in this life, I won’t find peace from suffering, I have found the peace I was meant to find. This journey has not been without reward.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

With that said, peace was added to my word list. By the end of 2015, one more word had been added.

Joy.

Through the darkness of my depression and somehow stumbling back into His light, I learned what true joy is.

True joy.

It’s not happiness.

Happiness is eating a Big Mac without worrying that it will add pounds or a stomach ache.
Happiness is pouring water over your head on a hot summer day.
Happiness is having a few hours to myself when the kids are in school.

Happiness is based on circumstances and things.

Joy goes much deeper into the core of who we are. You have to search for it (again requiring an active part from us) and when you find it, there’s no denying it. You know you’ve found it. Joy is possible in both the best of circumstances and the worst.

As odd as it may sound, I found joy through my suicide attempt and because I have joy, true joy, I can share the good and the bad with you. I learned so much in the past year and in a lifetime of hurt and pain and honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything because it has taught me what hope means, how to have joy through anything life throws at me, and that peace is attainable when you search for the right kind.

So, that sums up last year. Hope, peace, and joy will always have a special place in my heart. I will embrace them and the joy I found through the lowest point of my life. And, I look forward to learning new things about them in the days, months, and years to come.

I can’t wait to see what words 2016 brings. For now, I already have two words.

Faith.

Faith is the word that I’ve chosen, but really, like hope, I think it actually chose me. I plan to focus a lot of faith, growing in faith, trusting the faithfulness of God and those He has placed by my side, and sharing the gift of faith. I’m sure there will be many posts on faith. Along with faith, is grace, extending grace because we all need it. Many stood by me last year in my darkest moment and showed me how to truly love someone. Part of that love was by extending grace. I want to offer the same to others.

Right now…

My faith is stronger than ever before.
My faith is in Him.

Lessons learned last year…

Find hope.
When all hope seems lost, His love still remains.
Joy is possible…in all circumstances.
Peace is found in knowing to Whom and where you belong.

And…

“Faith isn’t faith until Jesus is all you are holding on to!”

I don’t know where I heard the above quote but it has stuck with me. On the night of February 20th, 2015, nothing else mattered. Not my husband. Not my children. Not my friends. Nothing. I simply wanted to go and be with God. And that next night, as I sat alone in my bare, cold hospital room, striped of everything shy of the air in my lungs, He was all I needed and He was there.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Have you considered choosing a word for 2016? If you have, what’s your word? I’d love to hear from you all on your thoughts and stories!

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Hiatus is over. Changes are coming…

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I’m not sure who wrote the quote on the image above. I couldn’t find the source but when I read it, it made perfect sense. I’ve lived the change that comes with both of those scenarios. My heart has been broken more times than I could even attempt to count. Life is hard. Life hurts.

Change.

I resist change with nearly all of the strength I have. Perhaps it’s because every time things seem to settle into a comfortable place, something changes to shake things up. Maybe it’s the fact that as a little girl, every time I started to feel safe and secure, something bad happened, someone left, people hurt me. Change seems to be difficult for a lot of people.

I’ve learned change happens. It’s simply not something I can control. It comes when we least expect it and when we most fear it. Change means unfamiliar territory. Change means a disruption in routine. Change means everything is different…scary even.

God’s word never changes. God’s character never changes. God never changes. That is the only thing I am sure of when it comes to trusting that something is always the same.

Is it possible that change can be good?  We’re going to find out.  For me, it’s time for a change. It’s time for me to take the lessons I have learned and allow God to use them, fully.  For years, I’ve known I was supposed to write. This blog was my simple attempt at fulfilling that goal but lately, I’ve neglected it.

Why?

Because it meant change. It meant I would change. But honestly, I already had changed. And I’m still changing. I’m growing every day. Things are more confusing and more understandable all at the same time. Things that don’t make sense don’t seem to need to make sense anymore.

My point in all this is…

I’m a writer.

It’s what I do. Some people sing. Some people do math. Some people play sports.

I write.

When I’m lonely, I write.
When I’m bored, I write.
When I’m sad, I write.
When I’m filled with hope, I write.
I write on my phone.
I write in my journal.
I write in my Bible.
I write in my head…all the time…even in the shower.

I’m a writer. It’s about time I get serious about this writing thing, soooo…

With that said, there’s the side of the quote that says, “people change because their minds open…” and that’s where I’m at. God has laid many things on my heart lately, stories I need to share, heart felt words that need to be put into words shared with others. He has opened my mind and made me realize I have been avoiding this writing thing. Maybe it was out of fear of being rejected or not good enough. Maybe it was feeling inadequate. Maybe it was a fear of allowing others to know me too well. Whatever the reason, I’m just going to have to press on because it’s time for change!

Big changes are coming for this blog. I think these are the kind of changes that are good. Things are about to get regular around here. I’ve been on a hiatus for far too long. I’ve avoided writing for long enough. Don’t you agree?

So, I have lots of ideas and even some plans for new series coming. We’ll see where God takes this but I’m on board.

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store…

Periscope – fun chats, get to know you, Bible study, reviews
YouTube – Bible studies, reviews, & more
Blog – “Friday Favs” (songs, Scripture, things, people, & more), reviews, real life, Bible studies, etc.
Instagram – Lots of pictures!
Twitter – encouragement, hope, and more!

Facebook? Did you know The Imperfect Princess has a Facebook page? It’s been there for a while and it’s a great place to add your suggestions or ask questions. Is that something you like and would use? Or would you rather have a private group for fans of The Imperfect Princess? Or both?

The change is not just for the blog, but the blog itself is the central focus of all the other parts. Social media better hold on tight because this Imperfect Princess is ready to take advantage of all these resources. Most of them, you’re already able to get to from the links here on the blog. If anything’s missing, I’ll be adding it over the next couple weeks while I’m out of school on Christmas break. I hope to have everything going smoothly by the New Year or at least before I start classes back January 11.

Spread the word…The Imperfect Princess is back and ready to write! Glory to God for fanning this flame! This is change we can all look forward to!

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Anchored.

I love the beach but I’ve never been a big fan of the ocean.  It’s the home of many amazing creatures and while I thoroughly enjoy watching them and find ocean life quite interesting, I prefer to enjoy it through books, photos and a little distance :)

I love the smell of the ocean.
I love the cool breeze flowing through my hair.
I love the colors and the beauty of the sun rising and setting over the water.
I love the feel of my toes digging into the sand.
I love the warmth beating down on my skin, little beads of sweat glimmering.
I love the families gathered throwing a football or frisbee.
I love the giggles of small children building sandcastles and running along the waters edge.
I love watching people and wondering about their lives, their stories.
I love seeing couples, hands joined together as they walk barefoot along the shore.
I love the look of storm clouds as they draw near.
I love the smiles.
I love the sense of peace.

I love how strangers gather from all over the country or even the world and for a moment, life stops…

There are no strangers.
Everyone is there for the same thing…a get away, a time of joy, rest, relaxation.
It’s an opportunity for folks to spend time with their loved ones and enjoy new friends.
People from all over get to know one another.
It’s a chance to breathe.

For a moment.

My sweet friend, Suzie Eller, author or The Unburdened Heart and The Mended Heart (which happens to be the current online Bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries), offered a blog prompt this week that I knew would spark my desire to pour out my thoughts.  Her prompt for this week was:  Anchored.

I’ve never been a fan of all things nautical.  You know, the navy and white stripes, dabs of red tossed in.  Images of seashells, fish, lighthouses, ships, life preservers and anchors…they haven’t been something of importance to me.  Having lived a mere five hours from the beach my entire life, I’ve been to the ocean more than a handful of times but the nautical trend just never appealed to me.  Every beach house seemed over decorated with nautical lamps, wallpaper boarders, shower curtains, soap dispensers, light fixtures, bath rugs, bedding, dresser knobs and more.  You name it, they had it.

Last year on December 17th, a dear friend gave me a journal she had crafted especially for me.  She knows my love for writing and she knows how quickly I fill up my journals.  It was the perfect gift.  It was even more special because she decorated it with love and wrote a sweet note for me on the inside.  On the outside, was an anchor and a verse…

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This journal was just a plain and simple composition book that was turned into something beautiful, just for me.  She thought of me as she clipped images and words to cover the front and back.  She prayed for me as she thought of the perfect verse to place on the cover.  She had hope for me when I was struggling to find hope for myself.  She gave me hope in the shape of an anchor with these words from Hebrews…

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  Hebrews 6:19

Up to that point, the anchor never really meant anything to me.  When I first saw the journal, I loved it because of who it was from and the meaning behind it but it took a little time for me to grow to love the anchor.  Honestly, I think I just couldn’t understand yet, but God was teaching me.  Thankfully, He hasn’t stopped teaching me.

I had just finished up another journal so the day I received this one, I began filling it with my personal stories, words straight from my tattered and worn heart, letters formed from moments of desperation, pain, heartache, confusion, sadness, and a fading hope and zest for life.

I didn’t feel anchored. 

I felt like a shipwrecked girl lost, battered and bruised, beyond repair, praying for a way out.

As I’ve shared before, the months that would follow my days of filling that particular journal, were at best, difficult.  I faced many days of contemplating life, its meaning, purpose, hopelessness.  The depression I had lived with nearly all my life was at its lowest…but I wasn’t afraid.  Maybe that was not necessarily a good thing.  You see, I wasn’t afraid to die.  I was ready.  I spent so much time with God in those months.  I cried out to Him, prayed, read Scripture after Scripture.  I soaked in it.  I breathed it.  I embraced it.  And all that time, I longed to be free.  I ached for my ship to sail.  I begged for God to let me come home.  And one particular night in February, I tried to make that happen.

It didn’t.  And since then, life has been one lesson after another.  I am learning to live.  I am learning to face each day with hope and joy, in spite of my circumstance or my desire to find freedom from life and be with God.

There are verses that were dear to me in those months.  I continue to cling to them.

Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.  Yet what shall I choose?  I do not know!  I am torn between the two.  I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ will overflow on account of me.”

David wrote, “I will not die but live, and proclaim what the Lord has done.”  Psalm 118:17

While I spent months preparing to die, God was preparing me to live.  He was teaching me.  He was drawing me closer to Him.  I truly believe I had to experience those months of darkness, difficulty, pain, sorrow, grief, hopelessness, and loneliness in order to understand just how much I needed Him.  I knew I wanted Him, but I wanted Him as an escape, as an end to a life of suffering.  I wanted out.

He was preparing me for something more.  He’s still preparing me.

It’s only been in the past few weeks that I could truly appreciate how much that anchor would mean to me.  Now, I can’t stop myself from looking at anchors, trying to find things with an anchor on it.  In fact, the anchor anklet I purchased last week is also in the image above with the journal.  I’ve developed a new love for all things nautical because for me, they symbolize the stormy seas of life and even through the storm, the anchor holds.

You see, I had let go.  I had given up on life.  I had given up on allowing God to use me even though I knew my purpose.  I’ve known for years now that I’m supposed to write.  I’ve known most of my life that God was going to one day use me to help others who had been hurt, who felt alone, who needed a safe place to cry.  But I was willing to give up, perhaps out of fear or desperation or something else.  I still have days where I find myself unsure of whether I want to face the day.  I may always.  But I know there is purpose, His purpose.  I know part of that purpose is like Paul said, “…for your progress and joy in the faith.”

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When I had let go on life, God refused to let go of me.  An anchor holds.  An anchor keeps a ship in its place.  Until the anchor is detached, the ship is secure.

God is my anchor. 
He is my security. 
He is holding me.

When you have no understanding of the trials you face, when you question purpose and plans, when you find yourself doubting if God really cares or if He could love someone as broken as you, know these truths…

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  Isaiah 55:8

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

The things that have taught me the most, I have learned through the most difficult moments.  The times that have brought me the closest to God, have been the times when there was nothing else.  Through the pain and suffering, through nightmares, memories, flashbacks, excruciating pains deep in my chest, loss, abandonment, neglect, depression, hopelessness and more, I have learned that God is the One I need most in my life.  With Him, I am confident that everything will work out.  He is the One who holds me up.  He is the One who keeps me going.  He is the One that hasn’t let go of me.

In Philippians 1:6, Paul said, “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

And I believe that is the greatest thing I could have learned…that I am confident.  I’m not confident in myself but I am absolutely confident in Him, in the One who holds me, keeps me on shore, calms the storm, parted the sea.  I can face each day because…

He is my anchor. 
He is my refuge.
He is my strength.
He is my hope.
He is my comfort.
He is my peace.
He is my joy.

In Him, I am anchored.

It’s a daily choice.
It’s a daily battle.
It’s difficult.
I don’t know if it ever really gets easier. 

What I do know is that through all the ugliness I have seen in my life, God has softened my heart, given me compassion and understanding, a desire to help, support, and comfort others.  He’s given me the need to write and filled my heart and mind with words aching to be bound between covers.

Again, it’s a choice.  If you’re facing a storm and you can’t find your anchor, perhaps He is the one holding onto you.  I hope you will embrace and trust Him.  I hope you, too, can see that He is your anchor in the storm.

I purposely titled this…

Anchored.

Most of the time, I like to add … to my titles.  My reason for using the period with this title is because…

With Him, I have all I need.
With Him, there is hope.
With Him, I am who I need to be.
With Him, there is purpose.
With Him, all things are possible.
With Him, there is a plan, a perfect plan.
With Him, everything falls into place, even when I cannot see or understand.

In Him, I am anchored – and that is all I need.  Period.

And as a special treat, here’s a beautiful “Anchor” song for you…I hope you’ll listen to it and feel His embrace as He is holding you.

Hillsong – “Anchor”

 

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