Unmarred

rose

Where is Fortune’s sweet surrender? Not in telling gaze afar

Working now for freedom’s mention, wrought in battles raging mar

Fighting for the right to live here, standing firm on hallowed ground

When all else falls into darkness, reach for loving light abound

Clasping tight to memories fondly, meeting grace within the stars

Fortune tells me in remembrance, there we find the truth unmarred

Throw the shackles from the compost, binding heat from shadow’s gloom

Rising from the ashes glowing, stands the Rose of Sharon’s bloom

See the reck’ning kingdom coming, Fortune knows not time nor place

Hasten now to touch the petals, find the golden truth effaced

 

Finding Freedom In Mental Illness

“Something is wrong with me” is a phrase I’ve often repeated for the past ten years. At first, I chalked it up to not trusting God enough. The other day, my Timehop app showed a quote from eight years ago that I had posted on Facebook. It read, “I’m anxious, and I just need to trust the Lord more.” I laughed out loud, shaking my head. The statement isn’t false, of course. It’s just incredibly demeaning, and indicative of the common response we often hear from others, and ourselves, when faced with something like…”

Finish reading at the original post here.

mental health

Recent Reads

Occasionally I like to post about recent books I’ve read and give my recommendations. It’s part of my effort to build up the indie author community, and make sure other writers are supported in their endeavors. If at all possible, check out these great titles.

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King. I thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy tale full of love, friendship, and good vs. evil. The magic system is unique, and the main character is engaging. I’m looking forward to the second in the series due out in September.

The End of All Things by Jill Williamson.  The third part in her Kinsman Chronicles Series, it was a nice wrap-up to the anticipated breakdown that has been building throughout the first two parts. Reads like a miniseries.

Do you have any other recommendations for me? Post in the comments! Extra points if its in my favorite genre.

book stack

What Happened When I Admitted I Hated Proverbs 31

Proverbs 31. That much-loved and much-hated passage of scripture that has been used countless times to both teach and encourage women. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be like King Lemuel’s mother? She had it all together, right? Even her husband had nothing bad to say about her. Which, considering the time-period she lived in, was quite a feat.

As I matured into adulthood, I was under the impression that I was required to love this passage of scripture. Along with all the other teenagers in my peer group, I aspired to be like her. After all, she was respected, worked diligently, raised well-adjusted children, spoke with wisdom, and feared the Lord.

I didn’t admit at the time that I was intimidated by her. By the time I became a wife and a mom, I pretty much hated that passage of scripture. I felt that I couldn’t live up to that sort of expectation, both from my husband and from the pulpit. The last thing I felt was “clothed with strength and dignity.” I was often weak, frustrated, and anything BUT dignified in my messy hair, pajamas, no-makeup state. Marriage was definitely not what I had thought it was, and neither was motherhood. So the more I read and heard about this amazing woman of God and strived to be like her, the more I seemed to fail. All I wanted was for my lamp to go out at night, to get a full eight hours of sleep (those were the days!) and to not have to wake up and do the unending, monotonous things that I had done every day for years.

Who am I kidding?  I still long for that!

Then I had knee surgery in August 2016, and found myself bed-bound for twelve weeks, with a three-year-old and a two-year-old. I had a lot of time to think and reflect on my uselessness, and one of the things I reflected on was this passage I had come to despise. It took on a new meaning for me. I came to realize that this crazy expectation I had wasn’t placed on me by my husband or the teachings I had heard, but I had assumed was God’s expectation. It was written in His book, by His divine authority, and so surely the root of the issue was that I didn’t like what He had placed there. Suddenly, I had my Maker to contend with, not man.

And contend I did. Besides the mounting frustrations with being immobile, I found myself angry at God for his unrealistic expectations that I should be somehow perfect and able to manage my household like the King’s mother did. That my husband would be held in high esteem because of me, that I should be consistently giving to the poor and needy…the list goes on.

I don’t know when it happened, but as I lay on my back staring at me ceiling for weeks on end, the passage turned itself inside out. And I wondered… “Was she always like that?  Day after day?  Month after month?  Year after year?  Or was this just how her son viewed her, because of her trust in the Lord?”

I’m no biblical scholar, so you would need to ask one of them. But what I do know is that if she was a woman (which she was) and if she was a wife and mother (which she was) then she must have been like the rest of us who are labelled that way, too. She must have struggled with her marriage and children. She must have struggled with weakness, exhaustion, and feeling overwhelmed. She must have been just as surprised by Lemuel’s observations of her as I would be if one of my sons were to write something like that about me.

Friends, whatever the case is with you, whether your sufferings and strivings are done with joy or with exhaustion and heartache, Proverbs 31 should encourage us. Because, if my rambling thoughts are anywhere even close to being true, behind the scenes of Provers 31 was a tired, overwhelmed wife and mom who clung to the grace of God with a fighter’s tenacity. Yet her son didn’t see the struggles as being worth mentioning, because what stuck out to him was all the ways she was getting it right. 

Now, I read that passage with a grin on my face. Her son’s words came from a man who respected and loved a woman who undoubtedly was flawed, yet unswervingly devoted herself to the things of the Lord. May it be so with us. Whatever season you find yourself in, and in whatever capacity, the expectation isn’t that you will be perfect. Christ already did that for you. The beauty of Proverbs 31 is that Christ will transform our half-hearted, weakened moments into something noble and strengthened by grace.

proverbs 31

What I Will Tell My White Sons

Garretts Easter 2017.3I was thinking today about my two sons.  They are 2 and 3 1/2 years old; they are also white.  I was thinking about how being white makes other’s perceptions of you different than if you are some other color.  I was thinking about some of the recent police shootings, and about the longstanding, systemic discrimination towards people who don’t look like my sons.  And I was thinking about what it is I want to teach them about their black friends.

I’m sure the (at least) two things I want to teach them aren’t perfect and certainly aren’t comprehensive.  I simply cannot relate to what it’s like to be black in today’s society (or any other society, for that matter).  In fact, I ran this post by several people of color to get their insights and perspectives in an attempt to make sure that I won’t be teaching my sons harmful things, or forgetting to teach them critical things.  The fact of the matter is that I won’t have to communicate certain things to my sons that every African-American that I know has been taught by their parents and has or will teach to their children.  Now, those who are white can doubt that such a talk is necessary in today’s society.  But of course we don’t actually know; we are, from our ivory tower, simply decreeing that our brothers and sisters in Christ are either liars or are fantastically fearful.  Either way, we are making judgments about things that we simply know very little about.

That being said and those bridges being built, I offer this post in an attempt to help us think through how to, in at least one way, teach our children to be empathetic as they attempt to be wise as serpants and innocent as doves.

First, I want to teach them that there really is no such thing as being “color blind.” It doesn’t exist in our society. Any risky behavior, goofing off, being loud and obnoxious, will be seen differently depending on who is present; therefore, inevitably, it will be seen differently if a black friend is with them.  In our society, unfortunately, that means it is more likely that the police will be called sooner.  Growing up, my brothers sometimes played with toy guns; unlike Tamir Rice, however, the police were never called on them.  So they need to stand up for their friend, as well as be aware that injustice should be met with truth and patience. If they witness racism, don’t be silent.  “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” If they see or hear prejudice, a well-spoken word will go much further than anger, or especially apathy. Shrugging it off as just “being how it is” doesn’t serve anyone, especially those who aren’t colorblind.

Second, I want to teach them that black lives matter. And by saying that black lives matter, this doesn’t mean we are denying that all lives matter, because of course they do. They need to know about white privilege. They need to know that inherently, life will likely just be easier for them, not because it’s their fault, but because we live in a fallen world full of people who have fears, and prejudices, and racism in their hearts without even knowing it. They themselves probably do, too. The only way to combat this is to fundamentally acknowledge it’s there, and deal with it. And fight it. And talk about it. And write about it. And confess it. And actively work to destroy it.

The fact is, every single one of us, male or female, black or white, have prejudices in our hearts. My sons do too. The answer is always going to be turning to Christ, getting our gaze off of ourselves and onto Him.  The answer will always be to turn to the One who made every race beautiful, to show us the inherent worth of every single life, born or unborn, male or female, black or white. Jesus showed no partiality in who He loved. In fact, he demonstrated His impartiality by dying for the sins of the world, of offering forgiveness to anyone who asks.

I want my sons to start there…at the gospel. THAT is what should inform them about how to treat others, and how to lay down their lives for their friends. THAT is what they should shout from the rooftops to anyone who will hear. Jesus saves. Jesus loves. Jesus will come back again, and he won’t look like them. He’s a dark skinned man, and it’s He and He alone who will make everything right again.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Originally posted here