Made Pure

I used to be the girl who would do things she didn’t actually want to do just to be liked. Sometimes I would lay in the arms of a guy I was lukewarm about, or even barely knew, just for that split second of feeling like I mattered. I was also the girl who did things she wanted to do but knew she shouldn’t, and after years of ignoring that little voice, I became deaf to it and went about my merry way down a path of sin and self-indulgence that lead me to nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. I hated myself. My only value came in the way I looked, which I obsessed about to an unhealthy degree, eating only enough food to keep me alive and exercising like an actual athlete. And then one day before I could do the wise thing and walk away, I was pregnant with my first child. I had a choice, and for the first time since I was a sweet little girl, I chose someone other than myself. 

That was my first step toward God and I didn’t even know it yet. Through all the babies, all the ways out He gave me and all the times I stepped back in when I should have run screaming, He remained, and that little voice I had once ignored gained volume and called me home. Little by little I stepped off my path and on to the one He laid out for me. The steps were so small they seemed insignificant at the time. I was invited to go to church, so I went. It wasn’t the church God wanted for me, but it started a thinking process challenging me to consider how I wanted my children to be raised and spurred me on to find a church in which to raise my family. At the time that was the only consideration. It was purely a parental decision. But it was another step.

Suddenly my relationship with Christ, that I’d had since I accepted Him into my heart at age 7, became an actual relationship instead of a vague notion or a Sunday ritual. The people at this church didn’t judge me, or care about my past at all. They simply loved me. They took care of us, spiritually and physically.  In less than a year, my heart was so drastically different that my life would never be the same. Each day I surrendered to God’s will was another step toward all that He had for me. 

Fast-forward 20 years. I wish I could say it’s been easy; that I’ve never gone backwards or made mistakes. But once you enter into a relationship with Jesus, you really never are the same person. That’s a good thing, by the way. He allows us to be people it wouldn’t be possible to be without Him. So now, if people know me and think I’m good in any way, I give all the glory to God. When I am able to think beyond my immediate wants and sacrifice my desires for the benefit of others, it’s because of God. I’m nowhere near complete, but I’m certainly transformed beyond that WVU party girl in ways I would never have dreamed possible – every path I’ve taken, as misguided as some were, has led me directly to this moment. And let me tell you, it was worth. every. step.

There’s a lie out there that says you have to have it all together before you can come to God. The whole premise of that lie negates the very thesis of Christianity. Come now. Come in your mess. Come in your sin. Come angry. Come broken. Come skeptical. It’s ok. Because guess what? You won’t leave that way. It’s not my promise, it’s His. 

P.S. Babies are NEVER accidents. Never. No matter the circumstances. Someone needed to hear that. Every person is here because God created them for a purpose. 

Sister Sister

            Once upon a time there was a darling little girl whose daddy bought her a pony and whose mama read her stories; she was blissfully singular. Then along came Alyssa, a precious little usurper. When the firstborn realized this tiny, bald, wrinkled person was for keeps, she made it her life’s mission to form a unique, unbreakable bond with her and live happily ever after in sibling harmony. But first she had to be hazed.

            I really wasn’t that bad of a big sister. I may have occasionally broken something and blamed it on her. There could have been times I spit on her head from the top bunk, or told her she was impregnated with a watermelon after she ate a seed. There is a slight possibility I gave her a haircut that made her look like she was attacked by tiny lawnmowers. If she admits to an irrational fear of the Easter Bunny, it is definitely NOT because I hid outside the bathroom window and told her the Easter Bunny was actually an evil jackrabbit. (It made her cry and I got spanked – justice was served.) I’m sure I could go on with more heartwarming examples of sisterly love but suffice it to say it was a hit-and-miss relationship in its formative years.

            It was during those years that I attended Vacation Bible School and learned about Jesus. I decided to ask Him to be the Lord of my life (see John 3:16). From that time until this I sometimes feel like Jesus is hazing me. He wasn’t/isn’t. At least not with the “Let’s do this and see what happens” kind of attitude I had when I put my little brother in the dryer or locked him in the toy box. 

            It has been through these trials, many that are senseless, self-made disasters and some that are not, that God has attempted to raise me up. I have a desire to cooperate, but I fall short every day. I, too, have skeletons just like everyone else. But instead of hiding them, I am using them to build a ladder – every day I reach higher ground until building-sized pieces of the past look like ants as I survey life from the clouds. It’s amazing up here, and nothing short of Jesus Himself will make me step down the ladder, and since He Himself placed me here, I only go up from this point. 

            It’s no coincidence that Alyssa and I are sisters. God’s been knocking on the door of our hearts for years, urging us to tell our story. We have messed up, but that isn’t the end of the story; it’s the part that invites you in to experience the grace and forgiveness that’s waiting for you. Let’s all be sisters together. I promise I won’t come to your junior high school and demand you take off the shoes you stole from me. Hypothetically. (Sorry, Alyssa)

Broken Together

I used to spend a whole lot of time worrying about other people. What they thought, how they felt, what I could do to change and be what they wanted so everyone is happy. I think that’s called co-dependence, and I’m guilty to a certain degree. But as I grow I become less and less worried about that stuff and more focused on growing into the woman God has created me to be. I’m a work in progress, without a doubt. There are days when my choices and others’ choices have left me wondering if I’m good enough. Yesterday was one of those days. So if you’re offended by raw honesty, stop reading, because shit is about to get real.

Aubrey said some people in her class asked how many dads she was going to have. Ouch. I felt like someone had physically kicked my in the stomach. Teenagers are pointed. But it’s a natural question after your mom gets divorced for the 3rd time. I get it. I’d ask the same question. The answer, btw, is one. She has one dad. The sentiment is not lost on me though. What led me to make those decisions haunts me a little. Being free, however, makes the whole world a brighter place. And there’s no freedom without Christ. So if that offends you, stop reading. 

It’s time to bring authentic to a whole new level. Several months ago a stirring began in me that I couldn’t explain; as time went on it became clear the step I had to take and I took it. I had no idea where I would land, but it was clearly from God so I moved. If it hadn’t been for the past times I’ve heard and not moved, I don’t know that I would have been as obedient. Not knowing what’s next is one of the most difficult places to be, but am I ever glad I listened, because what was next I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams.

But it doesn’t come without its humiliation. There is no one on this planet who is has higher expectations from me than me. This was not the life I pictured, and I would change a whole lot of things if I could, but I can’t. There’s no hiding from reality, so here I am – here we ALL are. Everyone has made decisions, visible to the world or not, whose regret can cause us to get stuck in a trap laid out by Satan: codependence, promiscuity, domestic violence, excessive drinking, overeating, lying, cheating…to name a few. We all have a choice – keep moving forward or allow ourselves to stay imprisoned by regret. There’s only one way out, and His name is Jesus.

In every single place we lack, God fills us in and makes us whole. Trust me people, there are plenty of cracks in my armor. I’m not perfect. And I have made ridiculously stupid choices for reasons I don’t fully understand. But that beautiful day I fell to my knees and cried out to my God that I would submit my will to His, wholly and without reservation, my entire life changed. And as I move forward in this amazing grace, yesterday matters less and less. Through Christ ALL things are possible, but we have to start there. We have to let Him in. The Creator of the Universe wants to give us an abundant life, but we have to let him have access to the darkest corners of our heart, no strings attached. I allowed myself to submit to the King, be His princess and let Him to love me despite my shortcomings, and He is teaching me how to be the Queen I always knew I could be. 

After all, if God is for us, who could stand against us?