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Do fat lives matter?

19 Feb


In a candid discussion on my Facebook wall about Black Panther, I was wondering something….why is it still ok to make fun of fat people?

There’s an assumption fat people deserve it, can change it, and that how we look is “less than.”

Especially for women.

We champion gay rights, black lives matter, and the transgender community but still mock fat people.

Don’t think it’s as serious as that?

Fat people may suffer from serious medical issues not because they’re fat but as a side effect of the condition or medication side effects.

As a fat person, I’ve considered suicide many times because of my fatness and have engaged in self-injury.

People like to constantly remind me I’m fat and try to regulate (control) my lifestyle. Oh, I haven’t forgotten I’m fat. I live it every day.

It’s ok for men to NOT date me because “men like women based on their physical appearance.” And I “have such a pretty face.” Uhhh, thanks?!

I’m not trying to trample all over other groups fighting for equality, respect, and meaning. We ALL deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. We should celebrate our difference, not let them divide us.

I’m just saying—stop with the fat jokes, the caricatures of the fat people who stuff their faces with an entire cake or provide the comic relief, and guys, I think you’re missing out on a pretty awesome person who kills it at karaoke and game nights!

Plus, I’ve been told by children that my fat makes me super cuddly. But the way they said it wasn’t offensive at all. It was like the kids got it; we’re all different.

That is, until someone teaches them otherwise.


Silenced Press Equals Fractured Freedom

25 Feb


“I’m not teaching you what to think; I’m teaching you how to think,” emphatically stated my professor in class after class. We got it—not what to think, how to think. His assignments—papers mostly—asked us to draw deep from the well of knowledge we gained and discover our own conclusions.

In retrospect, it was one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned—teach people how to think, not what to think.

It carried over into my years of ministry. By teaching the Bible, I asked open-ended questions, presented historical data, and put some “what if’s” into the mix. God offered humanity free will—to choose or not to choose a relationship with Him. He gave us all the information, though we may not understand it, but didn’t force us to believe it.

As I survey the political landscape, I see our right to freely think being slowly taken away. See, it’s not that we can’t think what we want; it’s just that we’re are being told WHAT to think, not HOW to think.

Whenever someone disagrees with our new volatile President Trump, they are called out by the biggest bully in the world. For example, CNN has been repeatedly called “fake news” and The New York Times as “failing” on the Twitter account of the President of the United States. As a former middle school youth leader, I can honestly say I’ve seen more mature language on Instagram between feuding middle school girls.

Most recently, on February 24, “Fake News” and “Failing” along with other media outlets including Politico and BuzzFeed were excluded from Sean Spicer’s press gaggle, while other right wing news outlets were allowed to attend. When I was a college journalism student, CNN and The New York Times were THE STANDARD for televised and print media, yet now they are demonized for printing so-called lies and “making up sources.”

Trump’s repeated criticism of the media sets up a dangerous platform for him to become a dictator-in-chief. One of the first tactics used by dictators is to discredit and silence the opposition. The most troubling part is that many believe Trump as he tells people what to think, not how to think. If someone disagrees with Trump, they are removed or “reassigned” from his staff for “not supporting his agenda.”

But what if CNN, the NY Times, Politico, Fox News, and all the rest of the media are telling the truth? What if we do have a compromised relationship with Russia? What if things are chaotic in the White House? What is there’s a bigger problem in America that Trump just doesn’t what us to see? Smoke and mirrors work just as well for politicians are they do for magicians.

As you read my thoughts, I’m not telling you what to think, I’m asking you to just think. Look at the facts from all the different news organizations, the headlines and stories vary, but the news isn’t all that different. Trump’s Tweets are out there. Read them and think about them. I hear his supporters say that he just tells it like it is. I appreciate honesty, but I also value words and language. They can pull us up or drag us down.

Let me ask you—are Trump’s words elevating our nation or dragging us into civil chaos? Moreover, is Trump telling us what to think by silencing and discrediting the media or is he allowing us to look all all the sources and decide for ourselves?

A nation that cannot think for itself, where free press and free thought are stomped upon, is a nation that is not truly free. It’s a nation of fractured liberty where liberty and justice for all is a slogan of the past, not a right for the future.

When I’m Wordless

19 Jan

writing_zpsrl2zcwbgAs a child, I remember stapling together notebook paper with simple ink drawings, probably of animals, doing some sort of merry little thing together.

My sixth grade language arts teaching told me I had a gift. I thought orchestrating soap opera quality plots with my Barbie dolls and playing, “Let’s pretend…” was just what we kids did. I didn’t know it was a gift.

As I read and wrote, I didn’t know I was developing as a writer. I was just enjoying life—and the the beauty of words. The ebb and flow, the emotion, the meaning, the contrasts. Words had power to evoke emotion, to communicate information, to tell great stories.

I didn’t want to actually BE a writer. I wanted to be a marine biologist, but despite my fascination with the natural world, I’m not scientifically-minded. I thought about being a teacher like my mother or a social worker or even a youth director at a church.

All my paths led me back to writing, even snagging freelance writing gigs at now-defunct Christian music magazine seemed like a divine appointment.

But now… There are no freelance gigs. Print media is becoming obsolete (thought I will always love the feel of paper in my hands) and everyone has a blog. There are so many voices, so many words, so much being communicated and I wonder, did I miss my golden opportunity?

Because I can scribble a few words in my personal journal, but the words don’t come easy. It could be that I’m out of practice. Maybe I’m just lazy. Sometimes I wonder if I just don’t have any more words. Am I REALLY supposed to be a writer?

It was so much easier to be a writer when I had assignments and deadlines and topics, where there was a think tank. Now I feel like I write in isolation.

And something in me screams—THIS ISN’T HOW IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE!

Not because I expected other things (I did, but that’s not the point), but because I NEED to write, even if I can’t find the words.

So bear with me as I stumble over atrophied muscles and dusty pages. I can always becomes who I was meant to be…and I trust the words will come.

Me versus Mental Illness

10 Oct

Today is World Mental Health Day-a day to raise awareness for the monsters of mental illness we who suffer battle every single day.

It doesn’t make me less than.

Or crazy. (Most of the time.)

It makes me cleave to God all the more because I desperately need Him to function with the appearance of a somewhat normal person.

But I also think living with anxiety and depression makes me more compassionate, more thoughtful, and maybe a little more interesting than I would be without it.

Oh, I’ve railed at God for creating me like this, begged Him for healing, and groaned prayers that only the Spirit could understand.

I’ve been ashamed to talk about it because I don’t want to face scorn. I don’t want people to see me as incapable, yet I desperately want to be understood in spite of it.

I am me, not in spite of my mental illness, but because of it. It’s a gift that keeps me in the folds of God’s love. I don’t understand it; I accept it.

Like the aspostle Paul wrote, I choose to see it as a gift to cause me to constantly and wholly rely on God. It’s not a gift I would’ve picked, but it has and is shaping me, molding me, changing me.

Maybe there will be a day without daily medications, therapists, panic attacks, and days I just can’t make it out my front door. Maybe not.

I just trust God to shine through all the broken places so people can see His love in my eyes.

I choose to live because of it, not in spite of it.

No Hugs Please

23 Feb

I don’t like being hugged.

Maybe I should clarify that statement a bit.  I don’t like being hugged by strangers and most acquaintances with who I have no real relationship or bond.  When you come at me with outstretched arms, I might obligingly sort of hug you back, but I hate it.  Really, really hate it.

See, I’ve never been one to enjoy being touched.  Sometimes it makes me uncomfortable.  It’s not as if I wasn’t hugged as a child, but we were not overly touchy.  The Pennsylvania German culture—my people—are like that as a community.

That’s not to say I NEVER want to be touched.  As always there are exceptions to this rule—like with children, teenagers, old people, and dogs.  I don’t feel threatened by any of them and therefore, touch is welcome.  Besides, try explaining to a baby why they can’t fall asleep in your arms or a teenager why a game of surprise poking isn’t funny or an old lady who misses the embrace of her deceased husband why a hug isn’t permissible.  My compassion overcomes my discomfort.  I seek opportunities to touch those who most need it.

To me, a hug is an intimate act between two people, which I take seriously.   I may spontaneously hug someone in excitement or because of genuine care or love.  But if you ask me for a hug, I say no, and you hug me anyway—that makes me mad, uncomfortable, and puts distance in our relationship.  You have violated me and my personal space.

It’s not that I can’t offer grace to those huggy types, because I do.  I see the intention of a hug wasn’t to harm, but rather to share a great gift.  I am trying to become more comfortable with hugs because I need physical touch, especially as a single woman.

There are huggers, semi-huggers, and non-huggers.  I’m a semi-hugger, which means I hug with discretion.  Non-huggers would rather not be touched at all and huggers, well, hug everyone and everything.  Here’s what huggers need to understand—not everyone wants to be hugged.

You should never force a hug on a semi- or non- hugger. No means no!

It doesn’t make us frigid people—maybe slightly controlling—but not lacking the full real of human emotion.  Whether it’s how we were raised or personal preference, we need to be respected for the discerning huggers that we are.

And maybe, just maybe, when you enter our inner circle, you’ll get a hug, too.

Until then, don’t force it.  Hugs should be given in love with the feelings of both people in mind.

The Day I Almost Died

23 Apr

On April 23, 14 years ago, I almost died on a gurney in the emergency room.  Doctors would later discover that I had a blood clot in the artery of my brain, which caused a series of grand mal seizures—one lasting over 10 minutes causing loss of precious oxygen to my brain.  My mother stood outside the room and she could hear my body thrashing as medical personnel raced to and fro.  She had no idea what was going on.  Neither did I.

Somewhere in that vivid memory, I hear my voice, nasally—from the blue breathing tube crammed down my throat—and whimpering repeatedly ask, “Am I going to die?”  I repeated the question over and over and I don’t remember anyone ever answering it—just one doctor marveling over the fact I was alert, functioning, and in such good mental condition after what happened in that room.

I’ve marveled very little at the pseudo tumor cerebri, which almost took my eyesight two weeks earlier.  That, I tell God, I could survive.  But after that, then this, too?  At 21 years-old, it seemed like too much.  And I’m still trying to make sense of it 14 years later.

Sometimes I go through all the pages of my life looking for the place where things went terribly wrong and what made me end up at the place where I am, which isn’t at all where I planned for my life.  I paused at this moment and wonder, “What if I never got sick my junior year of college?  How would that have altered my life?”  My mind spins thinking about what it would be like to live without hypochondria and trauma and crippling anxiety.  Sometimes I tell people if I didn’t have anxiety, I’d be really brave.  Then again, perhaps there’s something really brave about living with anxiety.

Being the anniversary of my near-death, I’ve been on edge today, daring my body to convulse and hoping I don’t end up in the emergency room.  In these silent moments, I recall falling to the floor in the E.R. waiting room, being pulled onto a gurney, my voice twisted and strange, bright lights, and a sense of urgency.  If I think about it too long, I start to panic, almost like I’m there again.

It occurred to me that perhaps April 23, 2011 isn’t the day I almost died, but rather the day I lived.  Telling the story about the day I lived is a much more positive story to tell, don’t you think?  Instead of fearing “it,” I can celebrate what God did through me.

Suddenly, the power of April 23 doesn’t seem so powerful.  Yes, God spared my life that day.  Those severe seizures should have killed me or at least left me brain damaged…but I lived.   Every day God gives us the chance to live.  Sometimes through extraordinary situations that would have killed others or broken others or caused others just to give up, yet we live.

Every day I wake up God gives me the same thing He gave me on April 23—life, precious life to be lived for Him.  In the living, I will choose to be brave in the midst of fear and go forward even when I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Fourteen years ago, on this very day, I didn’t almost die…I lived.

The Desolate Woman: A Biblical Perspective on Rape

8 Jan

“Desolaton of Tamar” by James Tissot

A huge kingdom in a faraway land, a beloved king with a beautiful daughter, and a handsome prince who is heir to the throne—the story has all the makings of a lovely fairy tale, yet it is a horror story. The kingdom was Israel under the rule of King David and the handsome prince was David’s oldest son, Amnon, who just so happened to be in love with his half-sister, Tamar. Found in 2 Samuel 13, smack dab between David’s affair with Bathsheba and the revolt of David’s sons against their father is the passage about the rape of Princess Tamar.Nathan the prophet told David that “the sword will never leave your household” only a few chapters earlier and spoke of the turmoil that would erupt in the king’s family as a consequence of his sin. The unraveling of the kingdom began with this rape.

It all started when Amnon became lovesick over his sister, Tamar. He lamented to his cousin, Jonadab, that he couldn’t do anything to her because she was a virgin. Jonadab concocted a terrible plan, which Amnon carried out. Jonadab advised Amnon to feign illness and request Tamar’s presence from the king. King David did not deny his firstborn anything, so naturally Amnon’s request was granted.

Tamar, being the dutiful daughter, came to her brother’s house to prepare him a meal, which he refused to eat. Instead he told all his servants to leave and then said, “Tamar, why don’t you bring the food here to me in my bedroom? I’m too weak to eat on my own so I need your help.” Tamar brought the food into his bedroom. All of a sudden, Amnon grabbed Tamar and demanded that she join him in bed.

Aghast, Tamar refused his offer begging, “Don’t force me, my brother! Such a thing is not done in Israel. Don’t do this wicked thing. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you, you would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king: he will not keep me from being married to you” (13:12-13, NIV.) Tamar’s plea fell on deaf ears. And because Amnon was “stronger than she”, he raped her (18:14.)

There are a few interesting things that can be pulled from Tamar’s emotional statement. When Tamar said that things like this are not done in Israel, she was speaking of the law which forbade a man to have sexual relations with his sister. (Lev. 18: 9, 11) Disgraced, she could have been either put to death for having such a relationship or considered “unmarriageable” because she was no longer a virgin. However, Tamar then said that the king would allow Amnon to marry her, which was also forbidden by law (Lev. 20:17; Deut. 27:22.) Perhaps Tamar hoped this would dissuade Amnon for the moment so she could escape or she thought David would bend the law for his children. Whatever the reason, Tamar’s statement was ignored.

Tamar’s plea cuts to the heart of any girl or woman who has been sexually assaulted. Please don’t do this to me; do not take this from me. Yet often because a man is stronger than a woman, he takes violently what is not his to take. The woman is often left alone and confused, picking up the pieces of what she thought would be a good life.

After Amnon raped his sister, he sent her out of his house and said, “Get this out of here!” Again, Tamar pled for justice on her behalf and begged, “No! Sending me away would be a greater wrong that what you have already done to me” (13:16.) Modern women recoil at this passage wondering why Tamar would want to keep the company of her rapist. However, in the Jewish culture at that time, a woman who had been raped was deemed unmarriageable. Young girls and teenagers who were victims of rape were not only robbed of their innocence but their hope of marriage as well. The Jewish law made a provision for these women—if a man raped a virgin, he was required to take the girl as his wife (Deut. 22:28-29.)

The love that Amnon felt for Tamar before the rape turned to rage after the rape so Tamar was sent away disgraced and ashamed. The Bible says that she then put ashes on her head, tore the ornamental robe that the king’s virgin daughters wore, and wailed loudly—all signs of extreme mourning. As soon as Tamar’s full brother, Absalom, came upon her, he surmised what had happened. He told her to keep quiet about the incident, which she did. She was then taken into Absalom’s house and lived “a desolate woman” (13:20.) This is the last mention of Tamar in the Bible—that she lived the rest of her days as a desolate woman.

I imagine that Tamar, being beautiful and young and the daughter of King David, had a lot of promising prospects when it came to marriage. Like many teenage girls, she may have dreamed about her Prince Charming, her marriage, her children, and her future. Yet in an instant, her dreams came crashing down around her. It is not mentioned how old Tamar was in this passage, but she was probably in her early-to-mid teens–only a teenager. Full of hope, full of promise, full of life, and then desolate.

Unfortunately, in the time Tamar lived, rape against women was not a serious offense. Sure, God had laws against it, but since women were demeaned and treated as property, rape wasn’t seen as brutal and damaging in that culture. Yet the women who endured it felt the hot shame on their cheeks. They never felt safe again, some were even scorned publicly. Since Tamar’s rape was kept a secret, many may have assumed that Tamar willingly slept with Amnon or someone else. Her ornamental robe of virginity was gone—I’m sure the rumors ran rampant.

King David somehow received word of Tamar’s rape and was enraged just like any father should be when his daughter is violated. Instead of demanding justice for Tamar, David did nothing. It was Absalom who waited patiently for two years before he killed Amnon for raping his sister. It was Absalom who eventually turned against his father and slept with David’s concubines on palace porch for all Israel to see. Not only was Tamar affected by David’s inaction, Absalom, the next in line for the throne, was as well.

The story of Tamar is horrible and hard to read; especially when one considers the real and raw emotion Tamar must have felt. Yet this story is in the Bible, not only to show the downfall of David’s household, but to teach readers something about rape, to show women who have been sexually assaulted that they are not alone in feeling shamed, unloved, and desolate. Sadly, women you know have been or will be victims of rape or sexual assault. While you may not want to take a friend or who has been a victim of sexual assault to this passage right away, it is a helpful reminder that rape did exist and was mentioned in the Bible. Here are a few things you can pull out of the story of Tamar that is universal in a women’s experience of rape.

*Tamar’s virginity and purity are compromised. Anyone who is a virgin when she is raped is still a true virgin, though she may not be one physically. True virginity is a spiritual matter. No one can take that away.

*Tamar’s pain was emotional. She showed her deep distress by putting ashes on her head and wailing loudly—both signs of deep grief. She is called “a desolate and bitter woman” in the Message Bible. Desolate may mean she never had sex again or it may mean that she simply never recovered after being raped.

While there is no time limit on grief, and a rape survivor should be allowed to express her rage, sadness, fear, and other emotions freely, God wants to heal His Child. He does not desire His daughters to be desolate physically, emotionally, or spiritually. He wants to fill the empty void, cover His daughter’s shame, and fully restore her as only He can. What man has taken away, God can restore and He so desperately longs to comfort His children. Point your friend or teen to the God who weeps with His daughters.

*Tamar’s pain was also physical. Tamar’s tearing of ornamental robes is significant, because this speaks to how her life was torn apart, but also because her vagina may have been torn and bleeding from a potentially violent rape. When a female virgin has sex for the first time often her hymen (a thin layer of tissue around the opening of a woman’s vagina) is ripped. While the hymen can be ripped for other reasons, including molestation, throughout history a woman’s virginity was determined by whether or not her hymen remained intact.

Women, especially virgins, may bleed or become sore from sex, especially violent sex. A woman who is raped may also need to make regular trips to the gynecologist, which can be terrifying. Her health may be forever affected if she received a STD, severe vaginal trauma, or other brutal treatment.

*Tamar was unmarriageable and may even have been suspected of being promiscuous. How often do we hear men say that a woman was “asking to be raped”? No means no—every time, all the time, no exceptions. After one girl in my former youth ministry was raped, she was called a “slut” by other students at school. While she may have been a bit of a flirt, she said no and was violated anyway.

Today girls who are raped do get married and lead fulfilling lives; they do not necessarily live as “desolate women.” Girls and women who are raped often feel “damaged and violated”. They feel unfit for relationships and even marriage. This is simply untrue, but girls need to work through these feelings, which can take years. Counseling is essential to achieving a semblance of emotional wholeness in a rape survivor’s life.

*Tamar wasn’t allowed to talk about the rape. Tamar was told by her brother, Absalom, “Be quiet…Don’t take this thing to heart” (18:20.) Perhaps he just didn’t want her to worry about the situation because he avenged her honor by killing Amnon, or maybe he just didn’t know how to react. While it is unknown if Tamar was ever allowed to talk about her rape to close confidants, it seems in this passage she was denied the opportunity to tell her story. She needed to tell her story and even receive support from others who may have been raped.

*Tamar was denied earthly justice. David, the king of Israel, could have punished Amnon for violating his daughter, but in refusing to do so he failed as a king and as a father. Even though Absalom killed Amnon, he may have seen Tamar’s rape as a slight against him and defended his honor, too. Survivors of rape should never be denied justice. Again and again, God refers to Himself as a God of justice, who hates injustice (Ps. 9:16, 11:17, 33:5; Is. 30:18, 61:8.)

Even though Tamar is never again mentioned in the Bible, a potential bright spark in her life can be found later in 2 Samuel. Verse 14:27 says that Absalom was the father of three sons and one daughter, who he named Tamar. Ironically, the names of Absalom’s sons are not mentioned, only his daughter, Tamar. While the passage does not say that Tamar was her niece’s namesake, I’d like to believe that. Despite all her hurt and heartache, I still want a happy ending for Tamar and perhaps it comes in the form of her beautiful little niece. While Tamar may not have lived happily ever after, she still lived, was taken care of by her brother (until his death anyway), and spent time with her nephews and niece.

Sometimes I wish every story was a fairy tale, yet far too often girlish dreams are shattered by harsh realities. Rape is like that–reaching across time, space, and culture to affect millions of women throughout history. It can happen to anyone—even to the daughter of a Powerful King who lives in a Kingdom that is not of this world. Yet that Father always wants justice for His Child and will never leave her to be a desolate woman.


If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault, please check out RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.)  They have great resources. Call them at National Sexual Assault Hotline | 1.800.656.HOPE | Free. Confidential. 24/7.

Feel free to leave a comment, if you like.  However, I have found when I post about sensitive topics, sometimes readers want to share their reaction with me privately, so feel free to email me. (You can always email me.)

You’d Better Be Good Enough!

17 Dec

Amy’s Note: I wrote this post several years ago, but this year I can’t shake the thought that you have to be good in order to earn gifts from Santa, and yet Jesus came because we couldn’t earn our way back to God, no matter how “good” we think we are.  Therefore, I’m reposting it because there’s probably a lot of you who never read it the first time around.  And, yes, this was when I had two dogs, not just Maddy.

“Maddy!  Stop jumping on the wrapping paper,” I yelled at my Shih Tzu, who thought it was playtime. I was attempting to wrap Christmas presents.  Undaunted, Maddy ran to and fro across my open roll of paper engaging her sister, Cassie the Peekapoo, in a rigorous game of “Catch Me If You Can.”

Half-amused and half-frustrated, I said, “You two better knock it off or Santa Paws won’t bring you any presents!”

It was a bold-faced lie.  BFF Sarah and I had already purchased doggie delights for the two little scamps on our mega-Black Friday shopping extravaganza. (Usually, we are the only two people running into PetSmart with unadulterated glee on Black Friday!  Half-priced candy cane bones!  Score!  Well, we weren’t the *only* two people this year because there was a hot deal on kitty litter.)  My dogs don’t know who Santa Paws is anyway.  If a bearded old man did somehow break into our house on Christmas Eve, Cassie would probably bite him and Maddy would give him a tour of the apartment.  (And I refuse to leave my chocolate chip cookies out for anyone, even Santa.)

See, they can’t even behave long enough to get a cute Christmas picture taken!  Maddy the Shih Tzu instigated an attack on Cassie the Peekapoo.

Then it struck me how often I’ve heard parents tell grouchy youngsters to behave or “Santa won’t come.” As if he really wouldn’t come!  I mean, there are a few cruel parents out there who may abide by this principle, but for the most part, it’s a lie.  No matter how terrible your kids are, like my dogs, they are going to get some awesome gifts come Christmas morning.

The “be good, get gifts” myth is further propagated by the emergence of “Elf on a Shelf.” For those of you who haven’t been acquainted with this marketing tool, let me explain.  For $30, a family can get a cheaply made freaky-looking elf that spies on kids and reports their misdeeds to Santa.  Oh, and he comes with a book. You can also buy a skirt to make “him” a “her.” But it really just looks like a boy elf wearing a skirt.  Personally, “Elf On a Shelf” freaks me out. (And it also disproves the myth that Santa is omnipresent.  I mean, “he sees you when you’re sleeping.  He knows when you’re awake”?  Is Santa stalking me?)

It’s no wonder that people think they have to earn their God-given salvation.  I mean, when everything we get is based on our behavior, how can the free gift of grace actually be free?  Surely, there is a cost for entrance into heaven!  What’s the catch to this whole “broken curse of mankind” thing?  In a culture obsessed with good works, earning potential, and extreme couponing, free only comes with hard work, smarts, time, and a bit of creativity.

Yet the gift of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is very costly indeed.  It costs everything—our minds, souls, bodies, and spirits.  But if you’re like me, you’re a mental mess, a failing body, and a spiritual disaster.  There’s not much to give a God who created everything and everyone, including me.  A renewed relationship with God, a broken curse, and spending eternity in a place where God’s glory lights the place in exchange for an earthly life given to God’s use and for His purpose?  There’s no comparison.

This awesome cake was created by Sugar Weave Custom Cakes.

And I can never, ever, ever be good enough to get that.  No matter how many dogs I rescue and return to their owners, how many times I help out my elderly neighbors, or how many Bible studies I lead, I’m still carrying the curse of Adam and Eve.  Or I would had I not accepted the hand God held out to me so very long ago.

I will never be good enough—not for Santa’s gifts or Christ’s salvation.  But, fortunately, even if I’m on Santa’s Naughty List, there will always be a heavenly scroll that bears my name and I will always be close to the heart of a God who has “Amy” written on His very palms.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who finds Santa’s Naughty List disturbing.  When looking for funny pictures of Santa, I came across Amy (doesn’t she have a lovely name?) Henry’s post, “The Flawed Theology of Naughty and Nice Lists.She says it beautifully, but doesn’t talk about shih tzus or Elf On A Shelf, so you’ll have to read mine, too.

Choosing to Heal

17 Oct

I’m tucked away in my writing nook on this beautiful fall morning.  My sinuses are rebelling against the rest of my face causing a throbbing effect, but my heart is full.  Well, maybe half-full if I’m going to be honest.

And it has been such a long time since my heart has felt anything but empty.

Recently I said goodbye to someone who is very dear to me. For almost 9 years, she’s walked with me through the darkest of times.  She helped me work through issues and fear and I’m a stronger person today because of how God used her in my life.  We said goodbye on September 29 and I sobbed for the rest of the day.  I randomly cried in the weeks leading up to those final moments together.  And now I feel the ache of her departure from my life.  I miss her warmth, her honesty, and how she encouraged spiritual growth in my life.  Very rarely do people touch in our lives in such a way and there is a hole when they leave.

I have a hole in my heart.

But God–two powerful words–is filling that hole with Himself.  He is calling me nearer to Him and I’m reluctant to bask in His comfort.  I’m angry that He took her away.  I want to live life with open hands, trusting that God will use absolutely everything for my good and for His glory.  I believe this!  Yet it’s hard to accept it.

The hole is slowly filling in because wounds usually heal–sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly and sometimes never at all.  With this type of wound, I have a choice.   I choose to heal.  I choose to care about others knowing that they could one day disappear from my life through death or circumstances.

When I started writing this post, I thought I would tell you about my new house, my new ministry (Share Beauty Project), or offer some scriptural insight.  However, that’s not what I needed to write and I suppose that’s not what you needed to hear.

Let’s give our hurts to God.  Let’s allow Him to heal those holes in our heart.  Through Him, let’s love others, even if it hurts.

A Deafening Silence

13 Aug

Silence can be deafening.

It can fill a whole room, a whole body, a whole heart.

It’s a lonely, depressing ache that goes on and on.  How I wish for the breath to say something, to find words, to hear my voice.

The silence is emptiness and emptiness is deadly, dark and meaningless.

Silence, for me, was a way of coping.  As long as I remained quiet, as long as I pretended I had it all together, then maybe I would be OK.  Or at least people would think I was OK.

But I wasn’t OK.  I was falling apart.

My secrets ripped me apart, caused me to hide in the shadows, and question my existence.  Did I deserve to take up space, resources, air?  The thoughts were loud and angry.  The train whistle cut through the silence several times a day.  There was life somewhere outside of my apartment.

It’s hard to imagine someone like Robin Williams, who has the resources to access the best doctors, best medicines, and best therapy could fall into the deafening silence.  There’s a cruel irony in entertaining the masses, yet dying inside.  Tears of a clown or something like that.

Those of us who have been there or are there or live with constant battle against the darkness know what it’s like.  The silence only makes the illness more pronounced because the angry thoughts swirl around, the clichés become tormenting (“Why don’t you…?” “Someone has it worse.” “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” “Trust in the Lord”), and it’s a sad, lonely place.

If someone like Robin Williams couldn’t make it through the pestilence of mental illness, specifically depression, what hope is there for the rest of us?  We swallow our pills, see our therapists, practice using our coping skills, and hope against hope we’ll make it.

We hope and pray that we won’t end up like Robin Williams all the while wondering if we will.

There’s a choice in suicide.  There’s always a choice.  It’s just hard to make sense of what’s up and what’s down in mental illness, which doesn’t make sense at all.  Yet everyone seems to have an opinion on depression, anxiety, PTSD, and so forth.  Just like week someone told me I couldn’t possibly have PTSD because I’ve never been in combat.  Oh, yes, I’ve seen combat, just not in the military.  The world is its own battlefield.

The reason why I’m alive, the reason why I didn’t tighten the noose around my neck or jump in front of that train was this—hope.  No matter how small, God placed that hope in my heart when I was a little girl.  Though I had run away, battered and bruised from the Church, His hope kept me alive.

It may sound overly simplistic, but maybe it is that simple.  Maybe hope really is an anchor to my soul—an anchor firmly rooted in Christ Himself.  Christ died every possible death so that I could live.  Through the brokenness of my life, He shines forth.  Into the deafening silence, His voice speaks.

Into the deafening silence, His voice speaks the words of hope I desperately need to hear.  His soft whisper drowns out the angry thoughts.  His truth slices through well-intentioned, but ill-timed clichés.

In a world that judges, God accepts me just as I am and uses me despite my weakness.  Because of God, I have meaning and I don’t have to be silent anymore.  I can speak out of my weakness because He has made me a display of splendor.

In the deafening silence, His sure whisper can be heard.  Perhaps it’s in silence, God can be best heard.

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