bare white

bare white


Beauty for Ashes and Bloody Toes

I have watched her for years in the studio meticulously taping her toes day after day trying to find the right way or at least just a way that helps. Some ways have worked for a few minutes, some not at all, some for an hour, but never completely. There is nothing more I have wanted to do than to tell her to stop. "You gave it a long go. It's okay, just be done and save your feet for the rest of your life." Because, to me, that seems wisest and safest. But I can't. I can't say it because I see what it does to her when she gets what she has worked so hard for.  I can't say it because when she dances, there is a fire that ignites in her eyes. I can't say it because I know, for this moment right now, she was made for this.

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but I also believe God made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure." (Eric Liddell)
Every painful dance, every equally grace filled dance - it does something to her.
I see it.
I hear it.
I watch it.
And I am left in awe.
From the pain arises a beauty that words can never fully describe.

I watched her again the other night, trying out a new taping method and I was so tempted to tell her to throw in the towel. As I watched her intently, still after years of not understanding fully how she does what she does, because I was never a dancer, it hit me with an absolute wonderment. I don't know how or why it didn't hit me before this night.
No beautiful thing comes without a trail of ashes behind it.
No ounce of loveliness is made without a hard, sometimes ugly story.
No prepossessing thing exists without muscle being torn, then built up and pain being had, then healed.

As I looked at her, I commented,
"I know this is hard, I know you are in pain, but from it is coming a beautiful dance! And you know what? When you dance it is obvious you feel His pleasure. So dance for him Addi - don't leave anything in the dressing room or studio floor. When you leave that stage, no matter how it turns out, may you know without a shadow or doubt, you gave it everything you had...for HIS glory!"

After she left for another night of class, I smirked to myself and thought...isn't this similar when you become a mom? By birth, by adoption, by just pouring your heart completely out into the life of another. There is an indescribable pain you will feel, a deep hurt you will know, a fear that will leave you breathless at times, and scarred...oh the scars! Wether you gave birth to that child or they were placed in your arms by know what I mean. And yet, we move forward one brave step at a time. Though those heavy steps don't always feel brave. In fact, dare I say it, most of my steps seem to be filled with questioning and fears and sometimes, in all REALness...I feel like I can't go on.

"Then I think that maybe courage is not all about the absence of fear but about obedience EVEN when we are afraid. Maybe courage is trusting when we don't know what is next, leaning into the hard and knowing that it will be hard, but more, God will be near." (Kate Majors, Daring to Hope)

Maybe scars aren't bad. Maybe they are just a part of my story, her dance. Maybe those pains are what make us exactly who we are created to be. Maybe in the pain is when we see our deep need. Maybe if we share our stories, and our dance with each other in a REAL-life way, maybe then true bravery comes because we realize that beauty really does come from burned up by fire ashes. Maybe this is when comparisons will fade, judgements shatter, and words will finally bring life because this is when we see stories unfold and grace beheld and love become so much stronger.

Is it possible to live a beautiful life, a life that is really beauty FULL without ashes?
I say no.
Maybe what we think is beautiful might actually be fake. Because here it is, I only see beauty in REAL life lived which is full of taped toes, blistered and bloody heals, sharp pains, and disappearing toenails. I see beauty in stories of real, scarred life. I see beauty in brokenhearts - mended, prisoners - set free, scars - healed. So unique. Never two the same. Never. And this, THIS is real beauty.

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon me..He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting, so they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD that He may be glorified." (Isaiah 61:1-3)


How did I Became an Idol Builder?

I have fallen for them like a bad relationship.
I have caved to their attractive front.
I have lived them and kept up the facade, caring for it meticulously.
I have built them up, brick by heavy brick.

And now (finally), I am tired of them and their chains and the weight they add to my life and only want REAL.
A real grace-filled life not a perfect one. Real, gracious love by a real grace-FULL Savior. Real forgiveness that is not dependent on me or my works or lack there of.

The trends and ideas (and there are too many to count) that communicate being a good, right, holy parent by choosing the good, right, holy things that will produce good, right holy kids... it is not true. It is a false idea! But I bought that idea...hook, line and sinker. And what it did was produce little idols that stand in the dusty corners of my mind. Never, did I think 'parenting' would build idols or that the 'having children' would become an idol. It wasn't intentional, but it happened.

The thought process I have manicured :
I thought I could be "Jesus" to my kids by putting them in the right places at the right times filled with the right friends. IDOL
I thought I could be "Jesus" to my kids by keeping them safe, free from certain kinds of storms, free from ugly pain, free from unneeded hurt. IDOL
I thought I could be "Jesus" to my kids by showing them their faults - even gently and graciously at times, helping them choose better next time and showing them how to be disciplined enough to make the rights decisions most of the time. IDOL
I thought I could be "Jesus" by giving them the best education, involving them in the best things and teaching them to obey. IDOL
I thought I could be "Jesus" to the world by having obedient kids, helpful kids, kind kids who spoke kind words, loving words and opened doors for anyone. IDOL
I thought I could be "Jesus" to the world showing them what a put-together family looks like, talks like, eats like, dresses like, plays like. IDOL
I thought I could be "Jesus" to anyone by building a beautiful facade, free of weeds and yuck only to find we are steeped in those weeds and yuck. IDOL

What I failed to see in my web I carefully crafted was I cannot "be" Jesus to anyone, let alone my own kids. I can only NEED Jesus and be real enough to allow that desperate need to not be hidden from them, pretending it doesn't exist or I have somehow figured "it" out.
When I need Him the most is in storms, in hurt, in pain, in desperation (even in the mundane). Instead of fearing the storms and avoiding the hurt and turning this direction and that to keep them or me away from the pain and desperation, when those things come (and they will) what if I walked right into it and let them see me drop to my knees. On cue. Without another thought. Drop. Pray to the One I need in my weakness. Ugh! This is so hard. It laughs in the face of strength.
And yet, what if in my weakness, that is when I am really strong? It may be a catchy and even overused phrase, but what if it is really, actually, wholly true? What if on my knees IS where I am really meant to be? What if in the middle of the pain and broken and desperation and hurt - that is where I see Jesus, kneeling, comforting, holding, praying, healing, loving. Such real life. What if all of those perfect scenarios and perfectly learned lessons and perfectly scripted answers I gave my kids really just gave them nothing more that complacency and a need to perform for men? Because, you know what? That is exactlywhat it did for me. I lost my First Love. And yet I had the right things to say at the right time and as I did say those right things, it just built in my complacent idols. (Revelation 2:1-5)
What if showing them their agonizing need for Jesus starts by letting them see my agonizing need for Jesus EVERY. SINGLE. MOMENT. OF. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And that it is impossible to be self sufficient when we realize our need is so great? There is pain and hurt in this broken world that we live in and they will never get away from it. But should they? Should I? 

It is interesting...the word Christian - "little Christ". So many Believers use those words, me included. Really though, I don't know the half of what they really mean. "Little Christ"...He didn't run from broken and weak. He ran into the nucleus of it and lived there and taught there and broke bread there and then, after His short life, died there. For me, for you and that is perfect Love. And that perfect love is what casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

It has been there since almost the beginning...pain, sin. Cain and Abel, Moses, Abraham, Samsom, Jonah, Job, Daniel, David, the 12 disciples, Rahab, Esther - I could go on and on. I read about Rahab this morning and as soon as I started reading I felt the ugly, pride-filled rub of those idols, thinking I would have done it differently and for certain would not have used a harlot in my grand plans of attack. Do you see, though, the same pattern that slammed into my sight? All of those real life stories are full of weakness, hurt, pain, deceit, depression, doubt, anxiety, murder, sexual sins, anger, broken families, fear. And yet, their NEED for God, their dependance on God, and their Faith in God is what made their weakness - strong, their hurt - healed, their doubt - belief, their fear - brave -brave enough to follow...Most importantly - their Sin - completely Forgiven!

I think I have thought too much of myself thinking it all depended on me. Who do I think I am in light of my Savior's Grace...I mean really? I have been wondering what freedom in parenting really looked like. I have been so curious about grace-FILLED parenting. Now I am beginning to see, it has less to do with me being right and everything to do with me being fully on my knees, or even flat on my face before God. It has nothing to do with me being right rather me becoming Holy like my Savior. It has nothing to do with me being right and producing certain behaviors but rather me being obedient and brave enough to let my kids see I don't have it all together, or all the answers BUT I do have God and He is in all of the answers! It has nothing to do with ME being right and everything to do with HIS glory and sweet forgiveness. Undo me, Jesus!

I recently read a book by Leslie Leyland Fields. Her penned words have opened my eyes and done a work in my life that God began two years ago. She writes,
"We have made far too much of ourselves and far too little of God. We have adopted our culture's belief that we are the primary shapers of our children. And that we have control over who they are and who they become." (Leslie Leyland Fields)
Hook, Line and Sinker...yes! I fell for it the ideas instead of falling into my Savior.
And so I write this not just for anyone, I write this for me; to give freedom to ME, my kids...We aren't that good kids, we NEED Jesus. We cannot BE Jesus to anyone - we can just show that we have Hope. A Hope that is found on nothing less than Jesus blood and HIS righteousness. (Edward Mote - 1797-1874)


From my Heart's Brokenness to Yours and Theirs

A Letter to my kids:

I want you to know and experience grace. A grace so deep and so wide that it changes you at the core of who you are. A grace so intimate that when you see, hear and watch horrors that unfold in the news what you really see is brokenness, a sin-full world filled with hurting people not politics. AND yes, please, please see the heroes that arise to help.  I want that to MOVE you so deeply that you can't help but move toward the the brokenness, suffering, and pain. Don't be afraid of it!
There will also be a time, I am confident, when you will be accused of label(s) that are incorrect. When that "label" is placed on you it might possibly stir something inside of you that you don't expect...maybe anger, maybe hurt, maybe confusions, maybe just sadness and what I want to tell you is to still walk in grace, deep, abounding grace.
All of this is a part of the life we live in a world filled with sin and in need of a Savior.
Graciously and redemptively, God uses these things to make you more like Him...yes, even the barbarity you see on that screen in our living room. 

So can I help you with your perspective before you leave our home? Not because my perspective is always right, but infact the opposite...because I have made many mistakes and God is using HIS refining fire to do just that, refine.  Dad and I aren't trying to raise you according to pop culture (Pop Culture : Cultural activities or commercial products reflecting, suited to, or aimed at the tastes of the general m./ masses of people. -Webster's Dictionary). Not because it is necessarily a bad thing. Sure, it could be. But so could the flip side of avoiding all culture. Nor are we trying to raise you in a safe bubble. Safe from pain, safe from hurt, safe from broke. No - not that either. Both could actually become idols in your life and serve only to puff you up and you become full of yourself.

We are, however, striving to train you to be in the world and yet not of the world; to see broken people and respond in grace and truth instead of running from it; to be light in darkness; to hear your Savior's voice in a  world full if distraction; to not be afraid to be broken if it means you grow closer to your Savior and more like Him.
Addison, as you are on the brink of high school (how can it be already?) this will make the most sense to you and the rub of what this really looks like. It is a rub that is sometimes uncomfortable, painful and just plain hard - Being in and yet not of the world. We desire so deeply for you to be who GOD uniquely created you to be which means beating to the drum your Creator put inside of you. This will look differently for each of you because you are all fearfully and wonderfully made for a specific purpose.  With nothing to prove to anyone, you are only living for One. There will always be someone to say you aren't doing the right activities because a different activity is better or more important. Some will say "this" or "that" is too dangerous. Some will say you are crazy to run to the hurt and brokenness of the world. Some will say you need to be more safe. Some will say you aren't involved enough, some will say too much. Others will have an opinion of how you dress, act, speak, what you wear, read and watch. Some will say you wear too much make- up or not enough, they'll say your hair is too long or too short, you don't wear the right shoes , your jeans are too trendy or not trendy enough and the list could go on and on... I know you know.
Let me be clear, I don't care about pop culture or where you fit into it.  What I do care about - is that you are who God made you to be with nothing to prove to anyone. You have nothing to prove because in light of what our Savior did on the cross, we have nothing to give. The price has been paid. We are broken, angry, unkind, liars, selfish, pride-filled and slanderers. We have nothing to prove because we, on our own, will always come up short. Infact, only a perfect Savior who died for us can make us whole . You have nothing to prove because Jesus is ALL and in HIM ALONE we are complete and He loves you exactly how you are with nothing to prove. I know I am repeating those words over and over, but very intentionally...may you never forget!

So, whether you or dad or me fall too close to pop culture, or not close enough to pop culture, honestly, I don't care. Why? Because, my loves, what I DO know is we are only saved by His grace. And grace is something we can always offer and give. Drop your judgements! Let them fall...fall hard and shatter and give grace! There is not one thing we can do or not do that will add to our Salvation making us "more saved".  Live in the freedom that it brings - it is a GIFT! And offer that gift to others because you never know what their story really is unless you dare to ask, unless you dare to draw near, unless you dare to not be afraid to be broken.

The graciously beautiful thing... Jesus' time here on earth was, in fact, not spent with just one type of person. He spent time on earth with all walks of life because He came to seek and save the lost. Did you hear that...the LOST! Not just the cool, not just the smart, not those who fit pop culture or don't, not just the nature lover, homeschooler, public schooler or private schooler. Not the just the athletes or dancers or musicians. Not just those who look like you or nothing like you at all. What cheap grace that would be! He came for the LOST and at one time we were all lost - completely lost, not partially lost. Wholly lost! It is NOT as if we can be good enough, righteous enough or smart enough! Thank you Jesus for your sweet, sweet grace that abounds deep within our souls and is not cheapened by any value we can possibly give it or attempt to give it! 

Rather than continuing our or your generation's fascination with labels and opinions may it be that you, my crazies, align yourself with the word of God alone and are not afraid to run to brokenness. And may it be that the only label that fits you is the one God already assigned to you - HIS. Renew yourself by His word every single day and walk confidently that we are all made in His image even when we look different. Let His light shine from you in a dark world because light shines so much brighter in darkness. Don't walk in fear, never fear. Be brave enough, by His strength, to be a follower - HIS. And know, that when you are a follower, He may lead you to the heart of utter depravity, or to the basketball court, or to your neighborhood or to your family, or across the country or world to be HIS light. Shine!

Love, Mom