Monday, November 28, 2011

The REAL Fairytale

The band begins to play.

"Shall we?" he says as he offers her his hand.

She gently places hers in his.

He leads her to the dance floor.

The budding of unspoken love is palpable as the song continues, and they dance on.

One can almost feel the hearts racing with the surprise of the discovery

as the room seems to swirl around them and then slowly fade away.

And there, in that moment,

That beautiful moment when he looks into her eyes and softly, so that only she can hear, he sings,

As he pulls her close to his heart.

Okay. I will admit it.
I am a hopeless romantic. Pretty much to the core.
And I make no apologies for that.

I have watched Enchanted more times than I can count, much to my husband's chagrin at times, and yet there are scenes that have yet to NOT make me want to laugh or sing or dance or even cry. My emotions are provoked every time.

I sat today wondering why that is.
Why THIS movie?
With all the beautifully written love stories out there {many of which I also love and adore}, why does this fanciful tale inspire & delight my senses time and time again?

And then I realized.

She doesn't choose the prince.

She doesn't pick the "Happily Ever After," according to the story books, that is.

She had a taste of REAL life, with all of its frailties and woes, and she said YES to that.

YES to the imperfections.
YES to the daily grind of working at love.
YES to the knowledge that I would rather TRY HARD with you,
then REST EASY with anyone else.

Gizelle was not simply in love with the idea of love.
The fantasy that her mind told her was reality.

She changed.

She was transformed beyond imagination and beyond make-believe into a world that was far beyond what her dream could have conjured.

And is that not the essence and beauty of true love?

That moment when you realize that love is more than just a feeling, a crescendo in a song, a one-liner that changes everything.

True love is giving up one's culture for the sake of his love.
True love is showing grace when the object of his affection has none to give.
True love is believing the best even when despair seems imminent.
True love is wading through the hard, icky, stuff that threatens to drown you both.
True love is knowing....this IS not the end....that happily ever after is a choice -- a beautiful, gut-wrenching, powerful, knock-your-socks-off, toe-curling, rest-of-your-life choice.
True love is saying, "It's you-and-me, Baby!" until it becomes so real you cannot help but believe it because the love has become a part of you.

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse.

'It's a thing that happens to you.

When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with,

but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.

'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'

It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.

But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”

― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

REAL is MY Fairytale.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"I'm Fine" with "My Many Things"

"I was used to you being the one who always reached out, so when you didn't, I just thought that you needed space."

One of my very best friends told me this recently as we were discussing the changes in each of our lives and the subsequent time lapses in our connection.

I had felt that from people, that disconnect. I realized that I had even pulled away in the shadows after leaving full time ministry, battling through infertility, and struggling with daily chronic pain, I removed myself from "the world." And I even felt sorry for myself that people were not reaching out to me in my moments of greatest need when I felt like I had always made the effort to be there for them in their trials.

But her words made me pause and reflect.

And as I have been reading Emily's Grace for the Good Girl, I thought about the "fake fine."

I have heard people talk about that, how we often just say "fine" and smile, and I hated that so I really tried not to do it at all or at least rarely. But then I read a little deeper....

"We praise people who never let on they are suffering....
We praise people who remain strong, no matter their pain."

and then....

"We insult the beauty of intimacy and sometimes even risk our own health for the sake of keeping everything fine."

Wow! Like a slap in the face of my own justifications, I was being so "fine" that I refused to even acknowledge the falseness there in my semantics.

Like Sara in the book, I felt like with all of the aches and pains and hurts, I couldn't talk about them. I felt that I couldn't share them with others, so I would say what I thought people wanted to hear, and when that did not work for me, I simply started avoiding people altogether.

But as I mentioned, I was lonely, and I wanted more.

"I want someone to care. I want someone to call me and ask how I am, but what will be my answer, I'm not sure. I feel like I'm whining if I tell the truth, but I need someone to be my support....but I don't know if they are really interested."

And this was not a new reaction for me. In college, my roommate would tell me, "Lindsey no one has any idea how they deeply they hurt you because in front of them you brush it aside or laugh it off."

I wanted to protect myself from other people -- their words, their indifference, their distraction.

"A lot of my own heartache and struggles with the fake fine mask could be overcome if I simply allowed myself to be honest with God and trust him to lead me in being vulnerable with people....Hiding behind fine in the midst of God and everyone is insulting to the cosmic swing that God set in motion....Trying not to experience the whole spectrum of emotions is like trying to be inhuman....Our fluctuating humanness is there on purpose, to remind us of our need and draw us to the One who can meet it."

I also learned that I have a desire to do "many things" to reach, to achieve, to touch God's heart. Emily refers to this as the conflict between wanting to PLEASE God or choosing to TRUST God. This is what Jesus told Martha about her focus on the busyness of DOING,

"You are worried and bothered about so many things;
but only one thing is necessary,
for Mary has chosen the good part,
which shall not be taken away from her."
{Luke 10:41-42}

"If I am trying to please God, it is difficult to trust God. But when I trust God, pleasing him is automatic. Anything we do to get life and identity outside of Christ is an idol, even service to Christ. He doesn't want my service. He wants me."

As a good girl, my heart started out in the right place -- loving Jesus and wanting to serve Him but after awhile, I added more and more to my plate, people began to rely on me, and suddenly, I was serving from a place of ME and not a place of HIM.

A year off, time away from my old patterns and routines, and A LOT of soul searching and prayer is daily helping me, but I know that I will never quite get it right. And I am okay with that now. Each day I have to remind myself that all of THIS is about Him, loving Him, knowing Him, needing Him.

"So serve. By all means serve. But don't do it from behind a martyr's mask of duty or self-righteous obligation. By faith, believe that you are free to do it from a place of total and complete acceptance by the only One who is extraordinary."

Momma Day By Day

I am reading and writing through
Emily P. Freeman's book Grace For the Good Girl with Momma Day by Day and some other brave recovering good girls as we delve into our "good girl" tendencies and share our journeys in {RE}discovering His grace, His heart. This post is a reflection of chapters 4 and 5.

Read more about my journey through Grace for the Good Girl....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

And The Winner Is.....

Congrats to Nancy Franson!!
Winner of the $20 DaySpring gift card....just in time for holiday shopping!!
{Chosen by}

  • That's just so pretty! I counted to 1000 with Ann, and the practice changed my life. So thankful God loves this gray-haired old woman enough to continue to invite me into deeper knowledge of and love for him. Just started a women's Sunday School class and talked about my experience in counting the gifts. Hoping others will take the dare. Thanks for the invite to enter the giveaway. Blessings to you.
Don't be sad if you did not win. DaySpring is running an amazing special with dozens of items marked down PLUS an extra 30% off with the code SUPER30 through the end of November. Don't miss these great saving on AH-MA-ZING gifts for your whole family!!

I already got my order in, and I am SO excited for the items...over half of my presents have already been purchased! Yay!! Plus a few things just for me! Hehehee...!!

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend! Praying His grace and blessing are so real to you today!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Five Minute Friday: The Raw Gratitude


A day where we stop to focus on the giving of thanks.

I wrote those words yesterday as I stayed home, stuck in bed from the chronic pain that has been such a part of my skin for these past few years.

I do not talk about it much.
I do not want it to define me.
But it has changed my life.
Changed how I view the world.
And even how the world views least those who knew me "before."
Before life was complicated and yet simpler.

Complicated because I am not sure who or what I am supposed to be anymore.
Simple because I am starting to make decisions more for the right reasons.

"Be true to yourself and to the Lord."

And yet, I felt lonely.
I was supposed to be thankful, grateful, but I found myself wanting, longing for things from the past -- my health, old relationships restored, clear direction for my future.

And today, to be honest, those feelings are still there.
Strong and beating hard inside of me.

And yet, somewhere deep, deep, deep in my soul.
I AM grateful.

Grateful that His grace has found me just where I am.
Grateful that His joy abounds even in my questions.
Grateful that His mercies overflow in the persons of husband, mother, sister.

He is not slack concerning His promises for me...and my life....and my future.

So I am grateful....
for HIM!

I am joining my friend, Lisa-Jo, at The Gypsy Mama with Five Minute Friday -- a place where we just Stop. Drop. and Write. for 5 minutes without editing or revising. It isn't easy, but it is my favorite writing challenge of this week. If you have never joined in, maybe today is YOUR day!! Either way, please hop over and check out the other brave mavericks who dare to put heart on paper in 5 minutes, no holes barred. Scary to do....beautiful to behold!

Happy Friday, all!!

P.S. In the interest of FULL disclosure,
I went "a bit" over 5 minutes today as I wrote out my heart.
Thank you for grace.

**All pictures are from Pinterest.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Conscience :: The Curse of Being A Good Girl

"You are my conscience."

The voice of my cousin, who also happened to be my childhood and teenage best friend, echoes in my mind from years gone by.

And I guess I was.
Her conscience, that is.

Although I did not really mean to or want to be. I just seemed to always have this innate sense of right and wrong. And I would feel VERY uncomfortable in situations where someone around me planned to tip toe EVEN close to the line. So soon enough, friends counted on me to let them know when they were going to far. Adults expected me to keep those close to me from crossing over. And I wore that mantle with pride.

You see....I AM a Good Girl.

A Recovering Good Girl, that is.

Yeah. I guess it is kind of like being an addict, but not like you would expect.

Emily Freeman in her book, Grace for the Good Girl, walks the reader through the expectations that she put on herself to not only be a good girl, but a good Christian, a good wife, a good mom.

And I felt like she was reading my mail, as they say.
But even more than that, like she had opened up my secret, private diary and exposed the lies that I have bought into for so many years.

"I never seriously considered being a rebel....
I wondered why I couldn't simply lighten up
and have some fun.
But I just didn't have it in me."

"I hated going to street witness.
It was awkward, uncomfortable....
I didn't know any real, relevant answers
to questions people were actually asking.....
I worried because I thought good Christians
enjoyed sharing Jesus with people.
But I didn't.
I felt like I was supposed to share it {the gospel},
but the truth was I didn't really know what it was."

"My insatiable desire to be the perfect wife weighed heavy,
but I was dangerously unaware....
Expectation began to speak:
'Good wives keep a clean house
and don't cry about paint.
Good wives make good food for their hungry men
and anticipate their needs before they have them'
.....Good Wife stood in the corner of my living room put-together,
so strikingly perfect,
and so very ashamed of me."

"As a girl who accepted Jesus at a young age,
I couldn't relate
{to those with testimonies who went from bad to Jesus}.
In fact, I admit to sometimes wishing
I had a few years of rebellion under my belt.
Then my story would be interesting and dramatic too."

I have known for a long time that I am a perfectionist.
I constantly work to overcome that
Or more accurately I constantly try to simply let go.
It is often a daily battle.

When I realized that, even more than the perfectionistic voice in my head, the desire to be good, to be pleasing, to be acceptable ruled my very essence, I thought,

"Well, yeah, but I have overcome that...or mostly anyway.....Right?"

However as I read through Emily's transparent words, my mind drifted back to moments and memories where the good girl was solidified inside of me....sometimes through things that were GREAT.

The pastor's award at my Christian school
when I was 8 years old,
when normally only teenagers got that award.

The slightest inflection or inntonation of disappointment
from my parents or any respected authority
could put me into the throws of despair.

In the 4th grade I secretly decided to read a Psalm a day,
and when I got behind,
I felt like a failure, a disappointment to God.
I could barely choke out my confession to my mother,
who had no idea of the pressure I had placed upon myself.

Revelations of His grace in college helped in many beautiful ways
but have never quite curbed the duress that I experience
in my relationships to be THE BEST {insert relationship}
that I can be to that person.

And I think I succeeded in fooling everyone, including myself for years after that, until I got married.

And then Emily's explanation above was me.
I mean REALLY me.

Add to that a bit of psycho personal crazy, random sickness, being in full time ministry, and I thought I had seriously lost my mind. I mean good girls who have prayed for THE ONE, and actually get it {Hello!! God even brought him from Africa to this little town in Pittsville, America, where I was working} DO NOT go into depression.

But I was.
And I did.
And I hated it.
But most of all, I hated myself.

About one year after we said, "I do," Arno's spiritual dad said something that helped opened the cage to the trapped good girl inside of me,

"Lindsey, you are not called to be everyone's wife. You are only called to be Arno's wife."

The words were simple and few. No great power or magnificence in their simplicity, yet that day, they transformed my life.

Arno & I at a car show
{doing something he loves to do}

It was a revelation to me not only in my marriage, but a reminder that I OFTEN give to myself in many relationships.

I do not always get it right
but I am trying,
better yet, I am learning to let go.

I mean, I am a recovering good girl after all.

What about you??

Momma Day By Day

I am linking up with Momma Day by Day and other brave recovering good girls as we journey through Emily P. Freeman's book Grace For the Good Girl and share our journey in {RE}discovering His grace, His heart. I am a bit behind as I had my dear best friend in town last week so my posts may be a slightly different reflection that the other lady linkups, but I have decided to GIVE grace to myself....don't you think that is a good idea??

Would love to hear from YOU!!
Have you read Grace For The Good Girl?
What in this post resonates with "the good girl" in you?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Beauty in The Dying

The ill-tempered wind whips through me leaving my body filled with chills in its wake. The fallen leaves crunches conspicuously beneath my feet reminding me that I walk among the dying.

The scene around me steals my breath again and again with its sighing sorrow.

And yet thrills continue to shoot throughout my being as I take shot after shot of this broken, aging maiden, giving her best before she breathes her last.

What is it that draws me into the death,
the brokenness,
the sorrow,
the pain?

This beauty
This passion
in the face of certain doom,
she yet gives her best, her very best,
seemingly thinking nothing of herself,
but only of the fragrance to the world that her life,
and yes,
even her death bring.

She is not like Spring, whose vibrance and luster for life is contagious and infectious, holding promise, newness, redemption. Her beauty is not simply from the desire for life; it is from the living of that life. The joys, the laughter, the wonder, and even the heart breaks and tragedies.

Autumn knows what is to come.
Her wisdom flows from her breezes, her branches, her heartsong singing ballads of days gone by.

But yet....
She faces it bravely, putting on her most royal robes as a sign, not of surrender, but of purpose, of destiny.

She has surrendered.
She has fought the good fight.
She has kept the faith.
She has finished the race.

For now....
Only for now...

She reminds me to walk bravely into the desert, the winter, the quiet places
She opens my eyes to the beauty unseen in the dying.
The beauty that one can only see when brokenness became your anthem, your mantra, your identify.

But you survive....

Her beauty brings peace.

Proverbs 31:25 says,
"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gratitude, A Review, and A Giveaway

When I got home and I saw this BIG box on my front step, I could hardly contain the excitement. I had been looking forward to my (in)spired deals review product for awhile, and I just knew that THIS was it!!

I couldn't wait to open it up. I mean, you know what you picked out online and how it looks, but it isn't quite the same as getting the package in your hands and discovering your new gift.

I slowly, with sheer the anticipation of a child, pulled out my special prize, and to my surprise it was heavier and taller than I expected, but in a totally I-love-this-and-can't-wait-to-find-out-where-in-the-house-this-would-look-best way!!

To live with joy is to see God's goodness

The quote circled on the rim seemed to speak simply and poetically of the dynamic of my life these past few years -- a travel-weary journey of {RE}discovery to find His heart, a well-worn path of {RE}newing the joy of my salvation, and a life-altering transformation to {RE}focus my eyes to be one with His grace.

We are moving soon {within our current town}, so I am not sure where in our home this latest treasure will come to reside. However, I do know that this strong & constant reminder to

LOOK for His joy,
SEEK His peace,
and FIND His grace

will continue to lead me on the path of KNOWing His heart.

Gratitude - a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation, as for gifts or favours;
the state of feeling grateful

#286 - spending a whole week with my best friend
#287 - seeing Baltimore from the "top of the world"
#288 - floating around on our own dragon
#289 - having late night talks about the silly and serious
#290 - hanging out with my long time youth group friend at her home
#291 - taking pics with my new DSLR WITH my BFF
#292 - finding sorrow, resilience, & hope in the Holocaust Memorial
#293 - romping around DC - Lincoln, Georgetown, White House, Capital -- beautiful at night
#294 - finding AH-MA-ZING shopping deals
#295 - discovering THE boots that I have been looking for for 2 YEARS
{I kind have a boot obsession}
#296 - spending the day with my love watching one of our favorite movie series
#297 - {RE}discovering His heart in community at church today
#298 - seeing Fall again this year through new lenses
#299 - growing stronger in my body day-by-day
#300 - finding myself again and again through His grace

holy experience

I have joined The Gratitude Community -- a place to be inspired by others and what God is doing in their lives, a chance to share my own journey of gratitude, and an opportunity to REMEMBER to be grateful in ALL things. So on Mondays, I will add to my list of 1000 gifts of all the graces God has provided in my life. Would you consider joining me? Even if you don't blog, you can join the gratitude community by starting a gratitude journal, mentionning your gifts on Facebook, or sending e-mails to your friends. Let's work together to help in creating a more thankful, joyous world!!

And now to the giveaway!!

Did you think I forgot??

Want a $20 gift certificate to DaySpring Online?

You could use it towards a Wooden Pedestal like mine OR if you use it before November 30th you could apply it towards the beautiful canvases that are already marked down by 30% OR get a fun tote bag at the special deal of Buy ONE, Get ONE FREE {I ordered a couple of my own..and they are SO CUTE!!}

Leave a comment sharing things you are thankful for and/or where you have specifically chosen joy and seen God's goodness in return.

You can also tweet and/or share on Facebook for extra entries.

Just leave an extra comment for each to let me know you did!

You do not have to be a blogger to win so ALL are welcome to sign up!! Please just make sure that I have an e-mail address for you so that I can notify you if you win.

Oh and even if you don't win, you can use the code TABLE50 {during November only} at checkout to get 50% off of the above Pedestal or the beautiful Wooden Caddy {that I am seriously thinking of getting myself!!}

Giveaway ends Black Friday at Midnight EST!
Just in time to do some weekend shopping online!

DaySpring provided me with the wooden pedestal for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Growing Through Brokenness


I wonder how I can describe it.
This change.
This transformation in my soul.

The twists and turns of life have found me wanting and lacking and yet reaping and flourishing.

The discovery leaves me breathless in the unexpected ways at which I have grown in this process, in this terribly painful and stripping journey.

Finding broken pieces put together into a wholeness that is seemingly impossible speaks loudly of His grace, His mercy, His favor.

I have grown.
I am still yet growing
into this woman that He has called & intended for me to be.

"He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it," resounds in my mind, my heart, my spirit.

To find joy in the midst of the questions, peace in the center of uncertainty, grace in the heart of sorrow.....
I discover His heart.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Coming Home

Walking through the sea of faces in the crowded airport luggage claim, I search for that familiar face, one that reminds me of laughter and Gilmore Girls, deep talks and code names, late night antics and long distance phone conversations into the wee hours.

And suddenly there she is. I would know her anywhere. This friend of my heart, kindred spirit for many a year now.

We hug. We smile. We set off on our weekend of adventure and mirth.

We travel to the top of the world.

We set off on our own personal dragon.

We rely on our new chauffeur - GeePerS - to guide us through highways and city streets.

We re-live the atrocities of war, hate, & violence through the eyes of the 6 million souls silenced less than a century ago.

We meet Lincoln, Washington, and host of long ago quiet voices that shaped this great nation.

We sweeten our palate with delectable treats from the sisters.

We watch Raising Hope, Once Upon A Time, and The Imaginarum of Doctor Parnassus; eat peanut butter crackers, Fruit by the Foot, sweet and salty bars; and GeePerS our way to two different Wal*Marts two nights in a row.

But mostly, we laugh.

And laugh.

And laugh.

From the most mundane to the deepest secrets, nothing is off limits, nothing is left unspoken.
Being with a girlfriend, a best friend can make you feel -- safe, loved, accepted, understood.
Kind of like coming home.

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