That Ugly Vulnerability Word

There isn't really anything that is exciting about confessing your sin to other people. Well, no, I take that back, it might be exciting for them because yes, there is a chance it serves as a juicy piece of gossip from a slice of your life that is hardly revealed to the outside world. 

I was (and honestly still sometimes am) a little apprehensive of joining/being involved/ with a small group of women I had met at church. There are lots of reasons I wanted to join this group but was scared of it all at the same time. I fight constantly against the desire to take the easy route and to pull out my nice Christian mask. I am more prone to not want to get real with people when things in life are hitting the fan and I am struggling not to spin out of control hard enough for my mask to come flying off. 

It can be pretty ugly.

Basically, I am scared of the grossness that comes from being a vulnerable and broken woman. And if I'm horrified by my own junk, you can bet that the idea of even revealing a smidgen of it to other people makes me want to run off in the opposite direction and barf.

I can't speak for the dudes out there, but I sometimes think that because us women are wired to be emotional, all the challenges of life and all our junk can weigh down on us in a way that's not easy to just "get over" because it's so strongly connected to the mushy, feely stuff and isn't just a physical wound that goes away with some Neosporin and a Band-Aid.

I find it freakin' hard and freakin' great to wrestle with God, to learn more about Jesus, to follow Him. And when I say "follow Him" I don't mean, hey, I got this walk down cold, it's easy now, ya'll wanna try it? More like, I follow Him, wrestle with Him, reject Him, come back to Him, grow, follow, wrestle, reject, come back to Him, repeat, repeat, repeat. Every time, in every season, He meets me with grace and love. It's pretty nuts because I don't have much patience for people like me, so I can't even imagine how many times He could have thrown in the towel with my ways. 

I am excited and still scared and still can be lame about this whole vulnerability thing with others, but at the same time am excited and looking forward to being challenged in this new small group. 

Hope your're encouraged to not be afraid to reveal your junk to God. He's seen me hide and barf a gazillion times and yet, His love remains the same for me even when I struggle - unwavering. 



Happy Thursday, folks. 

When It's Not A Happy Mother's Day

Every year I stand in front of the Mother's Day card section of my local Target, I find myself looking for the most light-hearted, humorous card. The one least weighed down with wordy sentiments related to a mother being a daughter's best friend or anything of that sort. A card that was funny enough, passes the test enough to fulfill what often feels like an obligatory card-giving holiday of the year.

Though my own mother and I get along just fine in recent years, my childhood and even into young adulthood memories were not the greatest and quite honestly, were rooted from a very strained relationship with my mom. And Mother's Day sometimes brings up old memories of a past hurt and even a sense of grieving for a childhood that has long been gone and can not be re-done or changed.

It's so hard to honestly state this when you are practically drowning in a sea of  messages graced with pink flowers, mother-daughter stories pouring generously through your Facebook feed, and a card section of Target that only sell cards with "my mother is my BFF" kind of messages. The moment I stepped into church on Sunday, I braced myself for what I was expecting to be a cheesy message of Jesus' mother or stories of other women who had served as mothers. I mentally made a note to dash out quickly after service had ended just so I wouldn't have to push through the crowds of "Happy Mother's Day" greetings surrounding me and having to answer what special Mother's Day plans I had for the day with my own mom when really, I just wanted to safely hide in my cynicism and pain.

But instead of allowing me the comfort of my hiding place, I was greeted with a surprise that I didn't even know my heart needed so badly. As much as I shrank back wanting to cry, God instead reached through the huge crowd on Mother's Day, took my hurt with a hand that was so understanding of my struggle, and lovingly invited me to give Him my pain. All of it. The pain inflicted from a childhood I wished I never experienced. The pain of hurtful words. The pain of the loneliest and darkest times where I wished I never experienced as a child, a teenager, a young adult.

He knew what I needed and instead of faking an obligatory happiness on Mother's Day, He gave me love and what I needed the most on a day that is difficult for me.

God allowed me to grieve, to cry for a childhood lost.

Instead of a message filled with what I thought was going to be an overdose of Mother's Day cheesiness I would need to grit my teeth and survive through, Sunday's sermon was filled with the heart-wrenching truth that for some of us, Mother's Day is hard.

Some because they've lost their moms, have lost a child, or have lost a childhood to a parent that has hurt us. Hearing this message was a like a much-needed salve to a bad cut in my heart that I am sometimes ashamed to admit is there.

I was given the freedom to hurt. I was reminded that though I was hurt emotionally by mother, she is imperfect and was bound to make mistakes, as will I if and when I ever become a mom myself. I was reminded that I am imperfect. And the beautiful hope I rest my struggles on is the fact that God redeems for imperfect people like my mom and me. That the finality of my story isn't determined from a rough childhood or the darkest moments littered throughout my upbringing, but from a perfect and loving God who continues to breathe life into the moments in my life that seem the most painful and dead.

I write this post with a bit of a tear in my eye because I just know that I am not the only one who struggles with holidays that ask us to honor our imperfect parents. And I hope that you find encouragement in knowing that it is ok to hurt and to wrestle with this hurt.

He knows your pain, anger, and sadness, just as much as he knew mine walking into a Sunday service. And as He reached through a crowd for me, I know for a fact He is reaching through a crowd for you, too.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is
There is freedom
Where the Spirit of the Lord is 
Chains are broken
Eyes are open
Christ is with us

 - Hillsong

Happy Monday - here's to hope.

Thoughts on Having Kids and Drooling Chocolate

A part of me hesitated to write this next blog entry primarily because I like to think I’m cool and collected all the time, that I never have issues and that I am not, indeed, a member of the Imperfect Human Club. You know, like I’ve NEVER clumsily tripped in front of a school crush (running in P.E., sixth grade, Hello, ground!), NEVER accidentally drool food on myself while eating in public (Snickers chocolate bar, just this morning, here at the office and I KNOW someone saw), and NEVER threw up on a plane in front of EVERYONE (5 years old, first trip overseas, all over stewardess uniform. I hiccupped-cried and everything because I was the kid that made the plane stink for 16 hours.)

Because you see, as much as I like to think I’ve got it all together the truth of the matter is is that I don’t and never, ever will have it all together, no matter how many layers of cool-kid masks I try on. And those imperfections are also very much a part of my heartprint, the stuff that makes me who I am. And since I’ve based Heartbox Photography on the philosophy that everyone has a unique heartprint that is wonderful and beautiful, and yes, even flawed, I figured…heck. I will write this next post and hope it encourages you to celebrate your own heartprint and the stuff and life experiences that make you unique and cool. Even if you drool chocolate on yourself in public, like me. (ohhhh, that Snicker bar was so good)

My husband and I don’t have any children…yet. One day we will, and it will be wonderful. But when you’re someone like me who struggles with the feelings of trying to be like everyone else, measure up, don’t be a nerd and hiccup cry in front of people when you’re hurt, etc., it can be something hard to accept and not wig out about. A few good friends of mine are currently expecting babies and while it’s a wonderful and miraculous thing, a part of me is having a bit of a hard time lowering the volume on that voice in my head that says “Well???? How about you?”.

It’s enough to make me stop munching away at my Snickers bar and start doubting. Doubting all the wonderful blessings I already have - the wonderful marriage I come home to, the love and support of friends and family, this dream to become a full-time photographer, and just LIFE. I even start doubting God’s promise that He’s got a wonderful plan for me, even after I’ve seen His loving hand many, many times through life difficulties. That His timing is perfect and that no, it's not wrong to dream big of other things before having kids.

Why do I share this? Because little by little as I become  more and more secure with sharing insecurities like this, with telling the world that yes, I am a card-carrying member of the Imperfect Human Club, it opens the doors for God to replace it with a level of real-ness and comfort that will allow me to share with others my own imperfect, but kinda-cool-in-it's-own-way heartprint....and maybe even help them be ok with sharing theirs.

And really, if you drool chocolate in public like I do, don't worry about it...that's what napkins are for.