Friday, April 1, 2016

Chosen

I found myself just feeling tired today. Physically tired.

It wasn't abnormal or debilitating, but I could feel my patience wearing thin and I remember taking a breath and saying, "Lord, I need a little rest to finish this day". I could feel His arms gather me up as He reassured me that He knew I was tired.

Like He always does, He provided that rest. I took an amazing nap during my break today and returned feeling refreshed. He provided some emotional rest and refreshment when a parent brought me donuts as a "thank you" happy and I had another stop to tell me how grateful they were that their son loved coming to see Mrs. Staci in the mornings. He provided rest and confirmation in the smiling and laughing faces of precious children late this afternoon as we danced to the Hokey Pokey and got all of our "sillies" out.

It may not seem like much and these small little miracles can be easily overlooked and they daily go unnoticed. I'm so guilty of getting so caught up in a pity party that these beautiful little moments flow right on by and I lose out on the immense joy that they carry.

Reflecting back on the day and how God provided rest for me in every single way that I needed it, it was a bit overwhelming. The God of everything, who created heaven and earth; the God of all the universe, cares about me enough to orchestrate all of that to provide for me. 

God doesn't need me for anything. He chooses me.

How refreshing to know 
You don't need me
How amazing to find
that You want me
- "In Me" by Casting Crowns

He loves me; not because of who I am or anything I have done or ever could do, but because He chooses to. He calls me beloved. I have done nothing to earn that. I could never earn that.

In His gracious and merciful character, He chooses to call me His beloved daughter.

If He can hold the world,
He can hold this moment
Not a field or flower
Escapes His notice
Even the sparrow knows,
He holds tomorrow
-"Sparrows" by Jason Gray

Even the sparrow knows that He holds tomorrow.

He knows your hurt, your pain, your happiness, and your joy; He knows your stress and your exhaustion. He knows your cares and your worries.

He's with you. But He doesn't want to just be beside you in life; He wants to be involved in every detail of your life. He wants to be caught up in every aspect and living in the midst of your life. Let Him. When we involve Him in all of those small details every day, we are often surprised how He sends and provides for us, and when we are aware and notice these moments because we are tuned into Him and ready to listen, we experience the joy that comes from walking in His presence.

He loves you. He chooses to call you His beloved child. 


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Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Dining Room Chair and other Thoughts

God's been pressing on my heart for a few weeks now to pull out my computer and write, but I've put it off because I just haven't known where to start or exactly what He wanted me to write.
I've had lots of thoughts that jolted me awake at night or raced through my head as I fell asleep, but they've felt distanced and disorganized and I just could not figure out how they all connected. I've felt like I had bits and pieces of about four different novels circulating through my mind and somehow the tie that binds them had been severed.
My husband and I went "thrifting" yesterday. In other words, we perused a few thrift stores trying to find some chairs for our new dining room table. We had fun stopping to play some pianos that were way out of tune and rifling through old records stashed in plastic tubs.
At thrift store number three, we found tons of chairs, but none that were in a set of four, which is what we needed for our family. We weren't even being picky. I wanted to find some old chairs that I could paint so I didn't care about the color, only that they were sturdy.
Finally, we found two pairs of chairs that we liked at thrift store number three. They looked nothing alike, but something about each pair appealed to my husband and I so we decided to mismatch and call it a day.
We ventured to Hobby Lobby (which my husband secretly loves; don't let him tell you otherwise) and  through the process of elimination, settled on a neutral coloring pairing that would contrast our dark table.
 
This afternoon, after church and that mandatory Sunday afternoon nap, I sat down in my art corner to put the first coat of paint on two of the chairs before I had to leave for choir practice. 
As I was painting the first chair, I started chipping away at the layers of paint on it. Currently, it was a navy blue and before that it had been a farmhouse red. Below that was white, which was as far as I got. I found myself wondering how old the chairs were and how many families had sat down in them for a meal. I pictured them sitting around a small table in their original days while a family proudly enjoyed a new meal in them. I pictured them being loaded up to go to a new family when the one that they had sat with for so long had grown old or moved away. I imagined many different things that they might have seen on their journey to my apartment where they are undergoing a makeover.
I wondered if the first family that owned them ever thought that these chairs would one day have such a big job to do. You see, for me, painting these chairs for our new table in our new home is a really big deal. Family meals were never a concern of mine because I struggled with anorexia since my teen years. My goal was always to avoid meals, not create them and celebrate the fellowship. The new home, the new city, new jobs, new table, new (to us) chairs, are all symbolic of this new chapter. The makeover of the chairs is, in a way, symbolic as well. 
As I painted the chairs and had some praise and worship music going on my Pandora station and my husband was sitting at the table working on his current project, I couldn't help but smile. These chairs and this table and this home, are ready for new memories. They are ready for the task of housing a family and serving as the gathering spot for fellowship of our family and friends. They are ready to be used by a family that has been broken, but restored by Calvary. They are ready to absorb conversations between a husband a wife, a mother and father, mother and daughter, father and daughter, sisters; conversations between a family and the Jesus that they were saved to serve.
Like the chair I was painting, people don't always know where we've been. Sometimes, we aren't even quite sure of where we have been. Maybe when the place you are serving is no longer where God wants you and you're unsure where your next "home" will be, you're afraid and hesitant. You get cracked and your paint chips along the way, but every home you land in is the right fit for that time. Sometimes, God will allow you to be broken down so that He can build you back up. He allows you to be broken, so that your need for Him and only Him becomes so strong that you can't help but chase after Him with a desire that only He can quench; until our only desire is to be used by Him to glorify Him and to further His kingdom. Until our only desire is to know Jesus and to make Him known.


Sometimes, God has you go through that journey so that you can see that you need Him and that you need the support He graciously gives us through our friends and family and fellow believers. In that journey, we discover who we are, not as a personality or a career or title, but as a fearfully and wonderfully made, exponentially loved, child of God. 
Sometimes, He uses a beat up wooden chair with chipped paint from a thrift store to speak to you and organize the thoughts He has given you. Sometimes, there is a miracle to be found in a dining room chair.
Praise God that get a new coat of paint. We get a makeover. 
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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Whatever it Takes

Tonight, I did like every night (when I'm not recovering from abdominal surgery and living on the couch) and went to my room, snuggled under some warm blankets, got my Jesus music on lightly in the background, put the phone away, and pulled out my Bible and all of its current friends.

But tonight was a little different. God broke up my routine a bit (which is always a marvelously good thing, even--scratch that--especially when it's hard). I was reading a little book by Max Lucado called Everyday Blessings and playing a little catch up from being completely out of commission the last two weeks. The verse is Psalm 136:1 and the small little tidbit below it was like, well I said "smack in the face" but really it was more of a Father's loving, guiding touch; and I heard "I'm waiting for you to fully let me be your Father". 

It said:

If I know that one of the privileges of fatherhood is to comfort a child, then why am I so reluctant to let my Heavenly Father comfort me? Why do I think He is too busy for me?

And I had to set the book and my Bible to the side and fall facedown before a Father who loves me beyond my comprehension, and has been longing to extend that comfort to a receptive daughter. And I cried a gushing waterfall on the floor that no dam could contain, but they weren't filled with sadness or defeat. They were filled with understanding, and gratitude, and regret, and peace.

Understanding that He's been extending comfort to me from Himself as my Father and also through godly people He has surrounded me with. Understanding that being afraid of being hurt, I've shoved it away, as I cowered waiting for it to be snatched away like some past experiences. Understanding that God is showing me another area of my life that I need to surrender control and go to Him for comfort and be receptive of that comfort in every avenue that He sends it my way. Understanding that it's time to start calling out the lies that I'm not good enough or that I'm not worthy of it and putting everyone else in my life, whether relationally or in passing, on a higher level that I think I will never be good enough reach to stand beside anyone. 

Gratitude, that He never leaves me. Gratitude that He is opening my eyes a little bit at the time to areas of my life where that total surrender isn't quite total. Gratitude that He gives me everything that I need even though I don't deserve it. Opening my eyes that being undeserving of His grace, and compassion, and love, makes me human, but not worthless and not less.

Regret, for pushing away what He has sent my way; for retreating in fear and still carrying that stone of the wall that is my life that He is currently dismantling to rebuild on a foundation in which, He is Lord of ALL and the total surrender is daily and in every aspect of my life.

Peace that only He can give. Peace that He is always there and I can always go to Him. Peace because He is a Good, good, Father and a faithful Father who openly extends forgiveness, mercy, grace, love, and much more beyond the comprehension of man. Peace that He's walking beside me, carrying me as needed, providing Fatherly discipline and redirecting as needed, and a peace in knowing that that truth will never change.

No matter where I go. No matter what I do. No matter what the world throws at me, He is constant; a sure and sturdy foundation. No matter if I stray, I have peace knowing that my Father, my Jesus, will do whatever it takes to bring His wayward sheep home. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hello 2016

Another year is here (I actually stayed up to ring it in this year) and I couldn't be more excited to see what it holds, but at the same time, I am grateful for all of the gifts that 2015 had to offer.

Honestly, it would be so easy for me to talk about how awful 2015 was. Very easy. But yesterday I was challenged to only look back at 2015 in a positive way and I realized that the things I could easily complain about from 2015 also gave me some incredible gifts.

I was challenged to think of 12 gifts from 2015 and 12 words to take with me into 2016. These were the 12 gifts from 2015 that came to mind:

1). Reconciliation: Broken relationships mended and reliefs that come with that.

2). Family Memories: All of the memories with my husband and daughters this year are more than I can name. Every moment of every day of every year is an incredible blessing because of the gift from God of their existence and presence in my life.

3). Brokenness: People tend to associate this word with such negativity, and rightfully so as being truly broken is hard and uncomfortable. But most people also tend to forget the beauty that emerges from being broken. 2015 found me shattered into a million tiny pieces that seemed impossible to find, like a porcelain doll that had been smashed by a hammer over the ocean shore as the tide moved in and out. It was panic inducing and I was afraid as I realized that no matter how hard I tried, all of the pieces wouldn't be found. Some of them were washed out to sea for eternity, never to be found again. I was afraid and angry and resistant because I didn't know what to do without those pieces.

Finally, I resigned myself to gather what I could. I didn't find many pieces; only the ones that made up the basic components of myself. All of the details were gone. Hopelessness and desperation suddenly consumed me. I fought the situation until I had no more energy to fight and I was just...still. I gave the pieces I had to God and prayed for direction on how to move forward.

Gradually, God began to place new pieces in my path. Some of them were scarred pieces of shell that had been worn down by the ocean tides. I was hesitant to pick them up, but God showed me that the scars were healed physically. I picked them up with the doubt still strong and began to add them to the pieces I had. Some of the pieces were beautiful shells and incredibly strong ones. Some looked like they belonged to an artist of the sea with patterns of blues and purples and oranges among the familiar white and gray. 

At the end of 2015, I find myself looking at the pile of pieces I've gathered and noticing that some of them have been glued together by strength, faith, courage, relationships, love, grace, and so much more. I can't see the whole piece yet, but I can tell that it's beautiful. Beauty from the broken. I had to completely fall apart in order for healing to take place.

4). 2nd Chances: More than I can count. Second chances at life. Second chances at health. Second chances at happiness and true joy. The grace God grants every time I falter. I have more gratitude than I can express.

5). Good Football Season: Okay, I had to throw in a shout out to my Bama boys! Ha! 

6). New friendships: This is a huge one. My months in Birmingham have consisted of so many new connections and friendships that God has placed in my path. They are each such a blessing and bring so much joy to my life.

7). Broken Boundaries for Self: The chains that bound me into the small little world inside my head are no longer holding strong around me. The main link has broken and the others are falling apart in time. The world is a big place in which God has so many opportunities for each of us. My eyes are opening to all that is out there.

8). Renewal: In every way that the word applies.

9). Vulnerability: One of my biggest fears; letting others see my fears. Letting others see my pain and my scars and the baggage I've carried for so long. The walls that I had spent so much time building to hide all of it had to come down. It was one of the most hard and terrifying things I've ever done; to allow people to truly see every part of me. But, without this vulnerability, none of the amazing things that have grown within my life would have had the room to grow. 

10). Freedom From Fears: They're not gone. They're still here. But they no longer control everything I do.

11). Broken Chains: One by one. They're coming undone.

12). A New Reflection: I no longer cringe every single time I look in the mirror. My eating disorder still tries to pick me apart, but I'm learning to call out its lies and cover them with truths, even if I don't quite believe all of them wholeheartedly yet. I don't see the same person anymore. I'm not the same person. 

The next challenge was to come up with the 12 words to carry into 2016:

1). Connections: Continuing to foster current healthy connections with others and openness to new ones. 

2). Peace: Peace that can only come from Jesus. Peace with life. Peace that comes with trusting Him with whatever comes. 

3). Freedom: Seeking complete freedom from fears and this eating disorder so that nothing in my life is controlled by them.

4). Empowerment: Finding inner strength in myself and Christ within me.

5). Joy: Continuing to carry this joy with me that comes only from Him. Seeking joyful moments in every day and every situation.

6). Acceptance: Of myself as I am now, and of my past, and wherever I am in life.

7). Undone: Being comfortable in being completely undone so that God can put it all back together again.

8). Hope: Hope for full recovery, hope for what is to come, hope for a life no longer bound by chains.

9). Courage: Courage to recover and give up unhealthy coping skills that have been my normal for so long. Courage to break out of the comfort zone that my eating disorder has become. Courage to seek Christ first in everything. Courage to trust myself and others. Courage to trust the recovery process. Courage to seek acceptance.

10). Strength: Inner strength in Christ within me. Grabbing hold of it. Believing in it. Holding on to it. Applying it.

11). Faith: In God, myself, and others.

12). Passion: Constant pursuit of the passions that God has placed within me. Boldly seeking the things that set my soul on fire.

I've seen so many posts about being so glad 2015 is over and how awful it was. I get it. I've done that so many times, especially in 2012. I could easily say that about 2015. I've worked harder the last few months than I ever have. It's been an insane roller coaster ride. But, being challenged to only look at the positive completely changed my perspective and increased the joy within me.

My challenge to you is to look at 2016 in a different way. Find only positive things about 2015. That doesn't mean you don't honor the bad things; it just means that you aren't letting them pack the good things in a box. Take 2016 as an opportunity to love yourself; physically, emotionally, spiritually. 

Picture yourself as a well. Every time you give to others, whether it be time or love or support, you empty a bucket of water from the well. Eventually, the well will run dry and you have nothing left to put in your bucket. You're just empty.

Be open to receiving love and time and support from others. Be open to receiving what God has for you. Let Him refill your well. When the world tells you aren't worthy of receiving, call out those lies and cover them in truth. When the world tells you that you aren't good enough or that your body isn't good enough or thin enough or that nothing you have to offer is good enough, tell those lies to shut up. Tell them the truth, even if you don't wholeheartedly believe it yourself. 

Take time to get to know yourself and fall in love with the unique person that God created you to be. Allow yourself to receive the abundant life that He has always intended for you to live. Find what sets your soul on fire and passionately pursue it. Find what helps you to feel connected to God, yourself, and others and make time to engage in it and practice self care. Be you(tiful). Seek joy. And by seeking joy, and finding joy, you will spread joy all over 2016.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Undone


Oh man...today. Today is my favorite day of the year.

I walked around today with a smile on my face while inwardly I kind of felt like I was in a fog.

Every time I wrote the date, I kept thinking "I should be so excited today!", and I was, but it I still felt like I was trapped in this cloud of confusion. All day, I felt like I was "full" of something, but I didn't know what. Tears threatened to exit my eyes all day and I had no idea why.

Finally, some after dinner prompting brought forth those tears and I found the courage to navigate through the fog as I washed dishes and sang along with Adele on the radio. 

Suddenly, it hit me. I was just really happy. And it's still so strange and uncomfortable that I was afraid of it. So, instead of accepting it today, I pushed it and pushed it away until it hung around as that heavy fog within me, waiting for me to embrace it.

Now I find myself in my room; in my happy place with some crayons and an adult coloring book calendar a sweet friend gave me today as I listen to the wind whistling outside of my windows. I'm embracing the happy; embracing the joy of what this day means to me.

On this day in 2004, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and my life was radically changed forever. I went from being the kid who dreaded going to church at Easter and Christmas, to being a teenager who wanted to be there as often as I could. 

Through the years, even as I strayed and pushed Him away, He was always there waiting for me to come running back into His arms. 

Today, as I reflected on years back, I realized that's where I am now. My grip finally began to loosen the last few months. I had to swallow my pride and admit that I needed help. But when I truly, truly, reached that point, He was there. For eleven years, He has always been by my side. 

With every step I took towards Him, I felt a weight lifted. Not that everything is just peachy now, but He was helping me carry them every step and He still is. Like a child, I crawled in His lap and breathed a sigh of relief as His loving arms wrapped around His hurting daughter and my tears no longer felt meaningless, but instead felt understood. Each tear carried a piece of the loneliness I had felt for so long and I felt assured that I would never be alone.

He has strategically placed people in my life and orchestrated everything to work together for healing to finally begin. He's given me the courage and the strength to really dig deep and be honest with myself. He's given me beautiful glimpses of life outside of an eating disorder that are so joyful that they have left me desperate for more. Freedom.

There's a MercyMe song called "Undone" and the chorus says:

To the cross I run,
Holding high my chains undone.
Now I am finally free,
Free to be what I've become
Undone

And when I heard this song on Saturday for the first time in years as I was driving down the interstate, the floodgates of gratitude opened. I had no words, but my tears said everything. I thought, "That's me. That's me!". 

Some days my life just feels like a jumbled mess. Only now, it's a jumbled mess because it's all becoming undone. He is calling me out of my comfort zones to experience the true joy He gives. The chains are undone and beginning to unravel their intricate links. I feel glimpses of freedom from this eating disorder. I feel glimpses of not being afraid all the time. I hear Him whisper, "You are always safe with Me" and I believe it. Wholeheartedly.

He's beginning to show me purpose in my past and it's life changing. He's allowed me to experience true joy that comes with authentic connections with other people and I've embraced how important that is in my life. 

My world is coming undone. But it's not a tragic undoing. It's miraculous. It's unraveling so that a fresh start can be made and an abundant life can begin.

I'm undone. I'm broken. And it's beautiful.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

When Joy Finds You

Today, my heart is overwhelmed. My mind envisions the scene on How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original cartoon version) when the heart of the Grinch swells so big that the box it was contained in at the beginning can no longer hold all the joy that is within it when the Grinch discovers life and connections outside of his mountain top cave.

Two words have defined my life this week: But God.

I'm struggling with this today, but God intimately knows my struggles.
I'm not sure I can do this, but God tells me in Philippians 4:13 that with Him, I can.
I'm so tired of fighting this battle, but God promises that He will fight for me.
I am so afraid, but God assures that He grants strength and courage.
I don't like myself today, but God says I am fearfully and wonderfully made in His image.
I can't take anymore today, but God promises shelter like no other
I don't understand why I have to deal with this, but God promises to work all things together for good for those who love Him.

The list goes on and on. Last week during my quiet time one morning, I felt so broken. Treatment for my eating disorder has been, is, and will continue to be hard work. It's emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. But it's exactly where I'm supposed to be and I have no doubt that it has all been God orchestrated.

I think back to when I first came to treatment, and I don't know where that person is anymore. She was cowering in the corner covering her face, trapped there by fear, insecurities, doubt, shame, and guilt. The chains that were so intricately linked together weighed more than she did. She knew she needed help, but to her that felt like admitting failure. She knew she needed help, because she finally realized that she didn't know how to help herself and she was suffocating in the small, dark corner that had become her entire world.

She tried to save herself by staying busy and trying to do "good" things by giving her time and her love away constantly by serving others. And she gave and she gave and she gave, but she never truly received anything sent back her way because she felt undeserving and unworthy. One day, she had no more to give. She realized that she was empty.

Humbled, she realized that she once again found herself in a situation where she had to release her stubborn grip from the control that she thought that she had, and she had to hand over all that she had left to God. All that she had to give Him was herself and the mess she had made of herself, and that was enough. God could work with that. She knew that logically, but she didn't truly believe it yet. She thought that she was too broken.

God took her and uprooted her. She was obedient, but not accepting. She knew that she needed help from the people that God placed in her path, but she resisted. This eating disorder, the pain and trauma, the guilt and shame and fear and doubts and insecurities were all she knew anymore. Who would she be without them? What would occupy her mind without them? Could she really loosen her grip in order to discover the key to the chains?

She decided to try, but she was stubborn. In order to loosen the grip she would have to experience emotions that she didn't want to feel. She would have to experience emotions that she had shoved away for years. She would have to explore them in depth. She would have to cry and truly feel everything she had been afraid of feeling. She would have to start unpacking all of it bit by bit from the safe in which she locked them deep inside. She would be challenged and have to face things about herself that she didn't want to face. It would be hard, and she was afraid. 

Gradually the grip did start to loosen and I started to emerge from within her. I began to learn how to admit when I needed help and how to ask for it. I started learning that my eating disorder isn't about food, but rather, that food is an unhealthy way of coping that was forced on me by things in my past combined with my inability to process it all on my own and my stubbornness that held it inside of me for so long. I had to learn to start separating my emotions from the food. I'm still learning these skills. I'm a work in progress. I have to continue to get to know who I really am.

But on that day during that quiet time, God was speaking to me and for once, I was quiet enough to hear. And I could feel God telling me: "Lay it down. I see that you are tired. I see that you're going to continue breaking if you keep trying to do this alone. Let me fight for you". But I argued: "God I have tried that so many times with this eating disorder and all of this other stuff, but it hasn't worked. It would only work for a short amount of time and then I was back in that downward spiral". 

God: Have you truly ever laid it down?
Me: Yes! So many times I have tried!
God: How did you try?
Me: Well I've...I've taken it to the cross and laid it at your feet. But then, I picked it up and took it back with me over and over again. There isn't a try. It's either left at Your feet or it isn't. 

And in that moment I did break, but I broke in the way that I have needed to break for so long. Suddenly, that girl in the corner lifted her head. And she stood. The chains fell to the ground. She had realized that truly laying it down doesn't mean that she would be instantly healed. She accepted that there was still a long road of hard work ahead, and that is ok. As she turned to look and take in the world around her that she had hid from for so long, a little sparkle shone from her eye and a little confidence entered her step. And in that moment, I realized that the entire time, I've been staring into a mirror. 

That sparkle was in my own eye. The bit of confidence was within my own steps, and I no longer saw a frightened and trapped girl, but rather a young woman who realized that the world outside of her eating disorder and disordered thoughts was a big, beautiful world full of joyful moments with herself and other people waiting to happen. And it was scary. But it wasn't the same fear that kept her trapped in the corner. This scary...it was exciting; it was an adrenaline rush. She craved more. She craved more Jesus. She craved more genuine connections with other people. She craved adventure and the chances to take in the beauty of this world and the people in it.

"God, what do I do next? How do I get there?"

"Trust. Trust in me. Trust the recovery process. Trust yourself. Just trust."

And as I begin to trust, I am finding joy everywhere. There is joy in seeing another person take a huge step forward. There is joy in the smiles at the nursing home while you sing unrehearsed Christmas carols. There is joy when I look at all of God's creation through a camera lens. There is joy when I sit down with a paintbrush or a pencil. There is joy in smashing plates against a wall. There is joy in serving Christ. There is joy in practicing self care. There is joy in serving and loving others. To love and give, you must also be willing to give God His time first, and take time for yourself also.

There is joy in discovering what really sets your soul on fire and being passionate in your pursuit of that. There is joy in feeling at peace with where you are and where you've come from, and where you still have to travel. There is joy in God orchestrated moments that result in having church with a complete stranger in an aisle at Target. There is joy in obedience when He calls you to serve, but then also gently reminds you to balance it with the right amount of self care; refilling so that you can come back and serve and experience the true joy of giving.

We focus so much on what is wrong in this world. But today I can say with confidence that there is so much joy to be found. You just have to seek it. For me, that is seeking God first and the joy comes automatically. 

I can't claim recovery yet. It's still the flag at the top of Mount Everest that sometimes seems farther away than others. But I'm still climbing. I'm not giving up. I am accepting that the climb will be hard and that there will be times that I stumble or feel like quitting. But I am trusting. 

For the first time I am truly experiencing the life that God has had planned for me all along and joy. True, undeniable, joy.
 
He is so good.


Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
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Friday, October 9, 2015

Beautiful Transformations

I recently began a journey that I didn't want to be on, and many moments, still don't want to be on. But, as hard and exhausting as it is, it is needed and I know I am in the right place.

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase" - Martin Luther King, Jr.

This journey is a rollercoaster. Thankfully, I am a child of a God who is steady and constant. When I'm questioning, He is sending reminders that I am exactly where He wants me to be.

I spent a few moments this afternoon gathering fallen leaves and bark for an art project and I found myself taking a seat on the ground in one place and just really taking in all of the leaves and how unique each of them are. 

The different shapes were the first thing I noticed and in that moment decided that I wanted my art project to represent each of them rather than the leaves from a single type of tree. As I started gathering leaves that were whole and placing them in my bag, I began to notice the colors.

I adore fall. The changing leaves are beautiful and there is nothing I love more than to be in nature and surrounded by them. Though I admire them every year when fall rolls around, I think today was the first time in awhile that I really took time to notice the unique colors and patterns on each leaf. Colors varied from green to brown and a gorgeous yellow and tones of red. 

Many have them were more than one color as they were from different trees and at different stages of the process of their transformation. Each of them was unique with different amounts of color combinations and the patterns of the colors as the leaves changed. 

I laid a few of them side by side and noticed the different patterns amongst the veins of each one, amazed at the handiwork behind these amazing aspects of nature that we know exist, but don't often take the time to appreciate.

Taking a moment to really take them in and notice their details reminded me of how each of us are created as unique individuals. There are no two people exactly alike.

Like the leaves, we often know that each of us are unique, but we don't really take time to appreciate the unique qualities of those we encounter. We don't stop to appreciate their immense value and the unique impact that each individual life has; impacts that ripple beyond anything we could ever imagine. The ripples may not cause an effect that is noticed and appreciated, but each ripple is important and carries incredible worth.

Staring at those leaves that I would normally walk over without a second glance made me stop and appreciate life a little more. It was a reminder that even the hard times, like falling from the tree that held you up, still results in beauty. You transform, but you don't disappear. The changes my hurt and it's ok to be afraid of them. It may take you longer to embrace the changes, but often others will see the beauty that the changes produce within you and are inspired by your strength to courageously push through them. 

Sometimes it may seem like you are alone as people just pass you by. You're not. They don't always tell you, but sometimes they pause just to admire your unique beauty and strength.

Change is hard, but it can be beautiful too. Don't be afraid to embrace it.



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