One Little Word

My husband with his beautiful heart reminded me yesterday of the story of the adulteress that Jesus stood up for…and wrote in the sand for…and forgave.

I wrote this piece with her in mind, and for someone else that I know needs to hear this today, even though I don’t know her yet.  

I wrote it for my best friend who is brave and touched His cloak and has never looked back.

And I wrote it for me too.

Because sometimes we need to be reminded of who we were,

who we are, and who we are not.

~

There it is, that one little word.

That one little word, and here comes a flood of shame.

Sorrow.

Darkness.

Anger.

And it’s funny – but really it’s sad –  how slow we are to learn but how fast we are to run, and how easy is it to hide our past so deeply that even we forget it; – tucking it all into the suitcase of Once Was – while, with our hopeful smiles we cover the label there on the front that says SHAME.

How we can hide for a long time the load our heart once carried.

Until one little word reminds us.

One little glimpse at a girl who might look like one of my girls, or your girls…or any of our girls, but who definitely looks like a younger me…

and if I didn’t love that younger me then, how could anyone?

If I didn’t stick up for her and show her how to care for herself and be strong…

why would anyone else?

How could she do that to herself?

How could she allow those things to happen?

How could she stoop so low?

How could God ever love her?

Oh!

But there He is…

beautiful and bent over in front of your stooped over self…

and He’s scribbling in the sand…and what is it that He’s writing?

Maybe a word…maybe just a few letters…there He goes writing it out there for the whole world to see…right there in front of all of them…those who would love to let you know how low you are.

And you know what you’ve done. You live with what you’ve done. Your voice joins them, maybe even the loudest of all, while they keep reminding you of how stooped down and degraded you look.

The whole group of them saying it.

That’s all your ears hear anymore.

But He doesn’t join them. He’s not saying their words.

These words He puts down…He wrote these words just for you.

Maybe His scribbles were bigger than the ones your ears and heart and self-confidence have been hearing for so long.

Maybe that word from His hand was heavier than the weight of shame you’ve been carrying,

and then when they all walked away because His one little word exposed the ugly truth of it all,

maybe their voices and their echoes trailed off with them…

and now you can start to stand up a bit taller…

because then…

only Jesus was left.

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You split the sea so I could walk right through it

My fears were drowned in perfect love

You rescued me so I could stand and sing

I am a child of God.

And as you started to stand…started to look up…maybe that’s when He reached down on high and took hold of you and drew you out of the deep waters…and maybe that’s when  you put your hand in the hand that stilled the waters, and when you did He calmed your shame and He didn’t condemn you but instead He told you to leave your life of sin and He gently took hold of you and He said Follow me.

Maybe it hasn’t happened just yet, but it will because He stands at your door and knocks, and He’s standing there now…but it’s a gentle knock, not loud and demanding or kicking down the door of our heart like the others do.

He’s won’t demean you.

He won’t play games with you.

He won’t use you.

He won’t hurt you.

He doesn’t want you for His selfish purposes.

He won’t leave you laying there vulnerable, yearning, hoping this time for something that isn’t there.

He won’t ask you to harden your heart and put a shell of sarcasm and jokes around it to help protect from the pain…the want…the rejection…the lonliness.

He won’t.

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He’ll embrace you like you’ve never ever been embraced before and He won’t ever let go and He will wipe those tears that will finally come as He softens you and He will lift you off the bed of filth and sin and He will make you never want to be in that place again and He will cradle your heart and He will be tender with that delicate side you’ve been hiding and He will show you exactly how beautiful and treasured and valuable you are because you are His child and He made you and He loves you and wants you to be free.

He will give you pictures of the things He wants to do in your life and He will show you  how you can change the world for good when you let Him shine through you.

He will walk with you through the hard times instead of walking away and causing hard times.

He will talk kindly and straight to you – through you – instead of whispering behind your back to others about all the things you’ve done.

He will show you goodness.

He will show you your goodness.

He will show you His goodness.

He will show you true goodness and you won’t ever want to let it go even though sometimes it may feel scary and unfamiliar.

He won’t leave when He’s done.

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Because when He’s done is only after you’ve walked with Him and talked with Him all your years, and you’ve clung to that old rugged cross all your days, and you’ve praised with all your breath that up from the grave He arose…

until one day you’re with Him in person and He’ll hug you long and tell you how glad He is that you’re home and He’ll say you did good girl. Now stay with me forever.

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So you grab that hand with the holes, that hand that stilled the water,

and don’t you let anyone tell you not to, not even your scared self who might want to mock and scoff.

He can take your laughter and your fears and He’ll still be there so go on and let Him take hold and calm your seas and take your shame and let Him grow you.

And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:22

You are redeemed. He already bought you honey.

You’re HIS girl.

Let Him build you into who He made you to be.

Listen to HIS words. Read them as often as you can. Put them in your pocket and up in your heart and when your ears want to hear the nasty words, remember His letters in the sand and sing and make music in your heart to the Lord or if all you’ve got is a deep cry and groaning of your soul, He understands that too.

Remember the words He wrote for you.

Hold onto them like they are your life itself because they are.

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And then…

when you’re a little stronger and you’ve learned to stand straight, and you’re learning this thing He calls victory and you hear Him say

Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering…

you might see someone who is still stooped low.

So you will be able to tell her.

That she is worthy.

That she is loved.

That she is valuable.

That she can leave her life of sin.

That she is forgiven.

That she can stand up straight now.

That she can be healed.

That she is free.

You’ll be able to show her the words He wrote for her.

And you’ll be able to point her to Him.

~

 

Author’s Note:

If you are the girl that needed this piece today, I love you and I want you to reach for the light of the Lord who bought your freedom and who will break your chains.  If you carry shame, please know He took that shame upon Himself so that you can live life free from sin and full of His spirit.

Fight your way out. Let Him fight for you too. Because He will. I promise you. He did for me and I fight every day to remember that He fought for me and fights for me still, and that I belong to Him.

That fight is worth it. With every breath in me, I promise you the fight is worth it.

Written into this piece are many scriptures, song, and lyrics. I list them below because I know sometimes we need something positive to focus on while we pull ourselves up, but the best thing for you to do is to get with Jesus Himself through prayer, confess your sins to Him, put it all on His cross and ask Him to help you give and live your life to Him and to turn it around. Then find a loving brother or sister in Christ and let them show you how to put your hand in His and how to keep it there all your days. 

If it’s you that I wrote this piece for, I love you so much.

Jesus loves you even more. Don’t spend one more day of your precious life without Him.

Love, Cassy

Into marvelous light I’m running, Out of darkness, out of shame. By the cross you are the truth, You are the life, you are the way

My dead heart now is beating, My deepest stains now clean. Your breath fills up my lungs. Now I’m free. Now I’m free!  

~Marvelous Light, Charlie Hall

~

References within “One Little Word”:

Scriptures:

-Jesus Forgives an Adulteress Woman: John 8:1-11

-2 Samuel 22:17 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.

-Luke 18:22 “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow me.”

-Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

-Matthew 25:21 His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

-Romans 8:26 For we do not know what to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

-Mark 5:34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Songs & Hymns:

-No Longer Slaves, Bethel Music

-Put Your Hand in the Hand, Anne Murray

-In the Garden, written by C. Austin Miles

-The Old Rugged Cross, written by George Bennard

-Christ Arose, written by Robert Lowry

-Wonderful Words of Life, written by Phillip Bliss

-Marvelous Light, Charlie Hall

~

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

 

Sounds of Silence

    My boy sent me this piece that he wrote last month as a sample for the online writing course he is taking for 10th grade Composition this year. I hadn’t read it before today. 

I gasped when today, for the first time I read it.   

Sometimes we get glimpses of who our children really are…the person God designed when He formed them…and today, in my Inbox, I got a glimpse.

I got an oil painting/photograph/portrait/photocopy/lithograph/everyday YES of who my boy is, and who I see when I think of him as a grown man…

…and it took my breath away.

He said I could share it on my blog.

I passed off their writing instruction this year to an online coach and when they show their hearts…their minds…their writing…I beam, and I nod, and I sigh.

And sometimes…times like today…I cry quietly a little while my breath catches in my throat and I put it up in my heart and add it to the picture I see when I see them grown.

And just like my husband said when he read this…it is so beautiful.

I had to share it.

Sometimes they write our story.

And it is so beautiful. 

The Sounds of Silence

by Colton Rankin    

     Looking down the trail with the pack heavy on my back, I set off into the forest. The birds singing, and sound of small critters rustling around in the undergrowth are all familiar to my ears. As I go deeper and deeper in, the noises seem to get louder, but I start to relax knowing that with each step I am being carried away from the hustle and bustle of civilization. I reach a small creek and listen to the water flowing over the rocks. I pick up a smooth flat stone and run my fingers over it. And I wonder how long it took for the constant flow of water to wear down roughness of its surface.

     I did not bring my watch, or phone, but I guess it is noonish. I pause to look at my map. I am aiming to camp by a small lake. As I rest I hear the sounds of geese passing over me. Winter is coming, the animals are moving away from the cold harshness of it. Only the strong stay. I may not be migrating to get away from winter, but to get away from the same thing day in, day out. To live and experience something new. Let my senses take control, taste, see, feel, smell, and hear everything more vividly than before.

     I make to the lake with daylight to spare. I set camp, my tent, and sleeping bag. I gather wood for a fire. The view of the lake with forests and clearings set against a background of sky scraping mountains is breath taking. As I watch, trout start to rise on the lake, sucking in the insects that sit on the water. I grab my fishing pole and head down to the shore. I cast out and when the lure touches the water a fish inhales it. I set the hook, the fish leaps out of the water. It fights as hard as it can, but since it is only eight inches its struggle was short. I hold the small trout as it gulps for air. Easing the hook out of its mouth, I place it back in the water. As it swims out of my hand I feel the muscles along its body moving thought the water. And just like that, he is gone. Ever since I started fishing I released the first one I caught. Sometimes I released them all, but even if I was after fish to eat, I release the first one.

     I fish for a little more and catch a few more fish for my dinner. Fishing has a way of stopping time. Because when I looked up from my third fish, it was getting dark quickly. I got my fire started and the fish cooking. It was getting cold, so I put on coat, as the smell of cooking fish seemed to fill the woods.

     I sat outside my tent and ate the trout which just a little bit ago were swimming in the lake. And as I ate, a pair of loons started to call back and forth. An owl joined in hooting every so often. A pack of wolves somewhere on a faraway ridge howled at the full moon that was rising above the mountains. My campfire cracked and popped as it casted it light around. Not a single car horn, loud speaker, or persons voice could be heard. All the sounds of the wild are normally drowned out by the noise we create. We never hear them, they are silent while we fill the air noise and more noise. So, I sat, and I listened to the sounds that few can and are willing to hear, the sounds of silence.

He came close and kissed him and Isaac smelled the smell of his clothes. Finally, he blessed him,

“Ahhh. The smell of my son
    is like the smell of the open country
    blessed by God.”

Genesis 27:27, The Message

 

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By His wounds…

Seven hundred years before Jesus, this was written.
And whatever version of the original you read, it says it still, the truth remains, they esteemed, -and we esteem- him not.
I have literally sheared sheep. I have literally led a lamb to slaughter.
 
They trust. They are quiet. They follow.
They just surrender and they go.  
 
The STRENGTH it took GOD’S SON to LET that happen to Him…
to allow it…
 
Can you even imagine? 
 
Bridled strength.
Obedient strength.
 
Trusting strength.
And the whole story seemed like too much. Until I read it. And studied it.
 
Then I believed it.
And I have believed it every day since.
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I am one of the black sheep.
He took up my cause.
He died for my sins.
By His stripes I am healed.
 
Is that you, too?
 
“Have courage, daughter,” He said. “Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that moment. Matthew 9:22.
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
 
Isaiah 53
Who believes what we’ve heard and seen?
    Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?
The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
    a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
    nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
    a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
    We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
    our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
    that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
    that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
    Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
    We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
    on him, on him.
He was beaten, he was tortured,
    but he didn’t say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
    and like a sheep being sheared,
    he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
    and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
    beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
    threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he’d never hurt a soul
    or said one word that wasn’t true.
Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
    to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
    so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
    And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.
Out of that terrible travail of soul,
    he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
    will make many “righteous ones,”
    as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—
    the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch,
    because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
    he took up the cause of all the black sheep.
He is risen. He is indeed risen.
 
And by His wounds we are healed.
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When I Get Where I’m Going

Our world lost an amazing woman yesterday.

And today a blizzard came to Alaska.

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The blizzard would be pretty unremarkable -this is Alaska- unless it wasn’t March and we weren’t all feeling the pull of spring.

And the world losing an amazing woman could be pretty unremarkable too except that it’s not, and cancer comes and shocks us with the surprise of death every time.

Just when we’re all feeling the pull of life.

We’re supposed to LIVE and this cancer is a scourge and it takes too many, and even losing one is too many so when the blizzard comes and we see cars in the ditch, -so many we stop counting- my teen driver says as only teen boys can…

WHOAH.

The car in the other lane slid like a Matchbox up the little plastic flexi-ramp of our 70s track and it just left the road and came down in the ditch, -the kind of ditch Alaska is so famous for; deep, steep, and hidden- and it lands like a cotton ball on a powder puff, complete with the powder cloud of snow puffing up all around it.

DUDE.

And we can almost get so busy we forget when the world loses a precious soul, but when I hopped out to make sure the car’s occupants were okay, she is still on my mind.

The car’s occupants were precious souls too, and it turns out they knew me (I so love a small town). I have my man-boy pull our truck off the dangerous curve and get us going on the way to Algebra class while I call the next-door fire department to come check on them as they wait for the tow truck I tracked down, and I call the road department for sand all before we’re five miles down the road.

So when it comes on the radio and I think of her again -so many times in these past twenty-four hours…

what’s it like when we get to where we’re going?

When we see our Maker’s face?

When we shed the sins and struggles?

When we cry only happy tears?

When we stand forever in the light of His amazing grace?

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And last week we said good-bye to Billy and the world still rocks from our loss and Heaven’s gain. He was such a big name behind that big heart and big legacy, but on my little messy road, on the path through my blizzard…

…how many times has my little-name self landed in the ditch?

And how many times has someone stopped to pull me out?

She did.

When I was young, a pup yet, she took me under her arm, -her arm that was small but willed by her strong drive and strong love to make it work even when it was born not wanting to- and she saw who I was to become and she loved me like I already was where I was going.

And because she did, I got there.

So many others did too.

Love like that, laughter like that -even in the messy- it pushes us and grows us and fuels us even when the road is sloppy and the ditches are deep.

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After Brad and Dolly sang, I had a minute to think while my boy drove us on, and I had a smile at the thought of her laughing her way right on up to the One who gave her that laugh, that sound of pure joy.

And then I marveled at how life works because how, on this very same day, could another friend celebrate healing after finishing her last treatment? How could joy and praise mingle up with loss, all at the same time, all from the same disease?

I didn’t get to marvel too long because then Alan came on and it wasn’t Chattahoochee -that song that will forever and always bring her and the old jukebox in the break room to my mind and my heart- but it was Neon Rainbow or Itty Bitty or one of his lesser-known-but equally-beloved songs and I can hear her say

I’m restless. Let’s take a break.

And I see her toe tap and her pant leg sways over the curve of her dressy flats, and then she’s throwing her head back and laughing at something the guys on the forklifts say while Alan gives way to Randy and then Trisha and they come on all tinny and familiar and fill all the minutes and all these years.

I haven’t heard that laugh in over a decade, but I will never forget it all my days because there are so many who will miss it all their days.

She taught me so much and she formed me so much and this world won’t ever be the same.

And later that night, I text the driver of the car in the ditch to see if they made it home. We talked and talked and she wouldn’t have been able to get up out of that ditch had we not come by.

Sometimes a ditch can be so steep.

Sometimes we just need a friend to come along and help us up.

And sometimes those friends line the curved and twisted road of our heart and we won’t ever forget them because if it weren’t for them, we would never have gotten to where we were going.

The blizzard slowed and our new friends got home safely and the day calmed and I still can’t imagine a world without her in it.

But I can hear her say I’m restless. Let’s take a break…

then throw her head back and laugh while she taps her toe.

That sound of pure love and warmth…

Peace.

Joy.

And I can’t wait to see her when I get where I’m going.

~

In memory of Chuck (Sharla) Mitchell. The best boss I ever had; cherished wife, mother, grandmother, sister. Friend to many. And to me. 

3/7/18

 

Taking the Sickness South

This piece is dedicated to the people of Lousiville. From Chef, who made the thick and hearty chicken broth on my first day of sickness…to Ms. Vickie who loves me and all my babies, and gave them all sweet nicknames and taught us how to shine our boots the southern way…to my sweet cousin I hadn’t seen in decades and who drove and gave up her weeknight just to spend an hour with us… and all the folks in between: you have all taught this band of northerners what the phrase “Southern Hospitality” means. Even though most of my time was spent in my hotel room, it was a beautiful trip because of you. Thank you. 

So I took my kids -my own kids and my 4-H kids- South for their big competition and it was all they ever wanted and all they had been looking forward to, and two days after we got there, I got sick.

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Now, you have to understand somethin’ bout this Mama. If I ever tell you I got sick, I got sick. Having a mind that tends toward worst-case-scenarios, I’m in the business of intentally down playing any illness that may strike me. I constantly talk myself out of being sick so that I don’t end up seeming sicker that I really am. Plus, other than the wonky thyroid, I’m very seldom sick. I had to go back and look up the last time I was sick, because that was the time I was so sick I had to write a blog piece about it.

I was SICK y’all.

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And now, this time, I was that sick again. Except this time, I was 5,000 miles from home, I was trip coach to my team and chaperones who were on their dream journey to a national competition, I didn’t have a car, I was bunking up with my two teenagers, and I was stuck in a hotel room with windows that DON’T OPEN.

It was sheer pain, hell, and knarliness for six straight days and the worst of it was, I wanted to TALK! I got to be coach for the first Alaska team of our type to EVER grace these competitions and I had coaches to meet and new friends to make! Nope, by Day 3, once the fevers, chills, and body aches had subsided, so had my voice.

By the time my second kiddo fell, I was tired and feeble enough from the long days of illness to have several quiet spells of crying at the unfairness of traveling all this way just for my big boy to not be able to attend the banquet that would tell him how he and his team did, or to only get to do half of the fun tours we had planned that would show us around this huge city most of my team had never seen.

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By the time I had the hotel shuttle man, Eddie the Awesome hustle our hineys over to the Kroger -did you know you can see a nurse at the Kroger now?- where I spent $400 for a nice man in scrubs to tickle our nostrils and tell me the kids were still showing for Influenza while my boogies were clean and that really the best thing for us was just to rest up in our hotel room, (if I’d had a voice I would have laughed hysterically, as it was, he just got a deadpan stare.) I was a mad mess of mama coach mixed in with irritation, surrender, and resolve when we left. No more tears, we just needed to get through the rest of the trip and infect the least amount of people we could and try not to take any souvenirs of the Influenza Type A type home.

My team moms took the reins and 3/4 of the team still got to see the sights. My kids all rocked it and worked through the sickness (one started to fall on the day of the last competition, bringing the team sickness ratio to 2:3) and they celebrated that, as the contest’s obvious Underdog, they succeeded in NOT taking the title of last place. We all laughed at the differences between livestock people and chicken people. We made a group decision to skip out on the official dinner in order to go gather round the tables that had become so familiar at the hotel restaurant so we could be homey and enjoy our last meal in Kentucky together just us, as a team. They leaned in to my whisper voice and I smiled at their accomplishments and the good that comes even when things go much much differently than you’d anticipated.

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And then, on the way home, our week flown much, much too fast and yet dreadfully slow at the same time, my team girls were strewn all about the airport chairs, legs akimbo and having conversations teens have when they talk as if they are the only ones in the whole world, and one said to the other as they laughed over junk food….

man that’s so sick.

And they just laughed and laughed and glowed the glow of youth when they’re just happy and perfect and content and everything is perfect and cool -sick- in their world. 

We took our sickness south. 

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We didn’t win by any means. Not even close. Heck, out of 19 teams, we didn’t even place in the top ten. Second-to-last is farrr from winning.

And on a scale of one to ten, with one being Small Fry Farms and ten being Big Ag, we learned that here in Alaska, we’re barely on the paper. 

I had folks tell me that all the big states had qualifiers to even go to their state competition and that by the time their kids got to Nationals, they’d been competing at the national skill level for years.

We had folks tell us that Alaska would lose.

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But we didn’t lose and do you know why?

Because we went.

We put our little Ag big state on the map of national livestock contests and we showed them that we want to be part of things too.

We met people over the course of our six days that’d we’ll remember forever and we gave out smiles and we gave out hugs to folks who won’t soon forget us.

We took all of the love of our community, and all the well wishes and financial support of our sponsors, and we put it in our pockets and we put it on our shirts and we put it in our hearts and my kids were brave and they went.

And everywhere we’d go, out of all the teams, it was Alaska that got the biggest applause.

Not because we won, but because we showed up.

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Because it’s pretty dang cool that a little band of everyday Joes from a land so far away that it’s barely on the map would drive three hours to take three different planes for a whole day of flying to go to a land to play on a playground with kids who are so used to the playground equipment it feels like their backyard tree fort, while the faraway kids are just seeing the playground for the first time.

That’s what the clapping said. That’s what the questions asked and what the smiles spoke. And everywhere we went in our new southern city, we were bombarded with questions like Alaskans always are when they go Outside, but at the end of it, after all the questions and all the learning, what my kids heard from their peers, these kids who grow up Ag, was

We’re glad you came. It’s good that you’re here.

Half of us missed the events and tours we had scheduled.

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I became more familiar with a hotel room that I ever want to be again.

I wish our group would’ve been able to spend more time together.

We weren’t 100%.

But as we came home, I realized that the magnitude and the excitement of what we had done hadn’t been changed just because we got influenza or even because we hadn’t won.

Nothing had changed at all.

We still put Alaska on the map.

We showed folks that we care enough to show up.

We saw so much.

We learned SO MUCH.

Team, you smiled at your accomplishments instead of seeing your lack of winning as losing.

You were the Underdog but you were brave.

You were brave.

And that, my kids, is SO sick.

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Me Too. Me Too.

Don’t you dare think that because you were hurt in the quiet you should ever stay quiet.

Don’t you dare think you’re alone.

Don’t you dare think that it’s your fault.

Don’t you dare.

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And I won’t even pretend to know what it’s like to be a super star, but I do know what it’s like to be hurt by someone you thought you could trust and I know what it’s like to feel like you can’t tell anyone.

You feel like don’t you dare, and there rings that word you hate.

Victim.

Your see your strong self splayed out, and the shame and the embarrassment and the self-doubt and the anger all splay out right next to the raw and naked redness that rises on your face and penetrates straight through your soul.

And you won’t ever look a man straight in the eye again all your days.

You’ll carry your hurt and you’ll carry your scars and when the scab heals…years, many years later…you’ll be strong in places where you once were weak, but there will always be a tender spot you hide from the world, and that spot on your heart and that bruise on your soul won’t ever be what it was before the hurting time.

Me too.

Days and years of good love from a good and tender man will soften your spirit and soften the sting and then Oh! When the one with the stripes on His back one day shows you His scars, you’ll fall at His feet, tremble with fear, and you’ll tell Him the whole truth and you’ll give up your scars in the hopes He’ll just soothe them with His, but then He’ll say Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering, and your ashes will slowly…sweetly…become beauty, and He’ll work it all for a purpose like He did so long ago with that first prisoner, way back when He showed us how He works His good straight on through all the bad.

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And then one day the scars will be as tough as you think they’re going to be and you’ll stand straight and you’ll stop feeling like a victim.

Because you’ve been given VICTORY.

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Me too.

So don’t you dare feel shamed to say it, – even if it’s just a whisper- don’t be afraid to say Me Too, because I need to hear it and your neighbor might need to hear it, and who cares if it’s trendy if it’s true?

At the end of the day we can clasp hands and comfort one another as we glance back briefly on the long path of evil that brought us to this victory.

It takes time.

But we’ll be reminded that we didn’t walk alone and we’ll strengthen one another for the battle to make it better for our daughters. For our sons.

We’ll be reminded that we were never really alone.

You don’t have to be quiet.

Tell your girls.

Tell our boys.

Raise strong daughters who are tender and raise tender sons who are strong,

and let us raise them all to do what is right, and to say what is right.

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We can make it better.

For them. For us.

We can give Him our tears…our pain…our hurts.

You can be healed.

And me too.

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The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
  and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.    ~Isaiah 61: 1-3

~

And nothing formed against me shall stand. You hold the whole world in your hands. I’m holding on to your promises…You are faithful. You are faithful.

I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side.

The one who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine, the God of angel armies is always by my side.

 

I Was Paddling

When a disease moves in, the whole household is rearranged.

And a tough girl will fight it and push it and kick at it and work hard to keep it outside on the front porch where she can keep the door closed and hit the deadbolt when the intruder gets too unruly.

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But diseases don’t have house manners, so Hashimoto’s has moved right in and brought her friend hypothyroidism with her, and they’ve taken up residence and settled into their own wing, and after almost a year of Delores the Thyroid paying her rent in mood swings and thinning hair, we might maybe just now be getting used to this new ugly roommate.

And do you know what happens when you have an unruly house guest who won’t go away and who doesn’t want to follow the rules?

You finally get tired of being polite and trying to figure out how to deal with their behaviors in a quiet and civilized manner, and you get assertive and you learn how to stick up for yourself and the people you live with and love with, and after enough time goes by and your guest is still being uncooperative, one day you take your life back and you tell her that you’re not going to put up with her shit any longer.

So all this summer I’ve worked hard at keeping Delores in her room until she learns to behave, and on those rare days she kicks down her door and comes to interrupt our days, I’ve learned that the best way to handle her is to sit around cozy and comfortable and curled up with my people while we laugh at her antics.

Ten months ago I could barely drag out of bed and couldn’t wait to get back to it at night.

Ten months ago I had so much anger in my heart I hardly knew myself.

Ten months ago my joints hurt so bad I could barely lift my arms or bend my fingers or my knees.

Ten months ago I had no joy, no care,  no understanding of what was the matter with me or any idea of how long it had been going on.

My houseguest had crept in without me even knowing, and all I could do was just keep pushing, keep doing what needed to be done, and keep focusing only on the absolute essentials.

Today, I can focus on the good.

I can see the the beautiful.

I can find the peace.

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Today, I still sometimes drag out of bed, but I can face the days. I am no longer slugging through, but actually beginning to EMBRACE the moments. I am starting to look forward to things again instead of just dreading.

Today, the anger is replaced by patience, and when irritation does rear its ugly head, it is short lived and doesn’t possess my whole being like it once did.

Today when my joints hurt I know it’s because it’s time for a med adjustment or because I’ve eaten something that does not agree with my disease. I don’t hurt all the time anymore.

I still  have hurts.

But every day they are less, and I’ve hiked three whole times this summer and I’ve been able to ditch the 3 pm thyroid nap and I’ve listened to my body, and as I keep working toward kicking Delores out for good –or at least banishing her to the outhouse–  I can see the beauty and the good and I can keep my focus on peace.

So today I hopped in a canoe and I paddled. And when the kids bickered from their own little boat I told them to quit ruining the moment and I picked a spot on the horizon that was beautiful and I hunkered down against the wind of the day and I prayed and I headed toward the peace…

and I was paddling.

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When my muscles warmed I was so happy that I was able to use them without feeling stabbing pain.

And when the wind blew me sideways I was so thankful to have the strength and the focus to put my canoe right.

And when my calves wanted to cramp, I was so tickled to realize my awkward body was in a position I had yearned to try in yoga class not too long ago.

Today, I realized that I’ve gained some things since battling hypothyroidism, and not just extra weight.

I’ve gained confidence.

Assertiveness.

Self-care skills.

The ability to laugh at myself.

Patience for others.

I realized that life…our faith…is just like my canoe ride today.

Choppy. Awkward. Full of cramps.

But so beautiful.

Worthwhile.

Intertwined with the Creator.

So I kept paddling.

And every day as I battle this new season of life…or you fight struggles or job loss or pain or a nasty new roommate of your own…remember we have the power to not let it ruin our moment here…and we’ll pick a spot on the horizon that is beautiful, and we’ll hunker down against the wind of our day…

And we’ll keep paddling toward peace.

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“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27