remember

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we spoke on the phone yesterday. do you remember ?

i said that i’m coming out to visit and that i’d like to take you to lunch. do you remember?

i’m suspended in the warm California air as i write this.  coming in for a landing soon , the captain says.  my heart is heavy suddenly at the thought of you not being at the airport, whizzing in to pick me up curbside like you have for so many decades.

times have changed these past few years and you don’t drive anymore…or even own a car.  let’s be honest though, the freeways are safer that way.  but i miss it just now.  alot.

i’m sentimental like you mom.  and i think about those days gone by, especially when i come back to my home town. childhood was good here , filled to the brim with bright and wonderful memories…most of which are lost to you now. and all of us have grown up and moved on.  now i’m older.  much older.  and this adult life gets hard sometimes.  honestly, some days i want to be a little girl again and know that you will be there to take care of me.

but now it’s my turn.  now i’m the one who takes care of you. and reminds you of the warm, lovely memories of what was. it’s almost like a game we play as i try to jog your decaying mind.
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do you remember how much you loved the beach and taking long walks ?

do you remember your favorite color and what lipstick you wear?

do you remember what it felt like to travel to far away places, and how much you loved that ?

do you remember holding your grandbabies for the first time or laughing about your bad cooking ?

i want you to.  i want it all for you so badly.  i want the wholeness of life to wash over you.  but i fear you’re not really in there anymore. you’re eyes don’t sparkle like they used to. instead they stare confused.  i notice.

that is why i try to remember for you and choose to play this game.
i tell stories.  i repeat things.  again and again and again.
i choose to repeat without scolding, so you won’t notice that you’ve asked the same question 10 times.

and i hide my breaking heart from you.

i guess i don’t want to make you scared or let on that you’re not the same.  but you’re not the same.  i’ve lost you.

i’ve grieved little by little and bit by bit.  i miss you so much it hurts on some days- even though you’re still here.  i tell you i love you often, and i hope you remember that.  and i hope somehow it’s enough to keep your fragile mind from slipping away completely.

but, i’m bracing my heart for the day you don’t remember me anymore.
164this is the part of being an adult that nobody ever tells you about…that life is a long string of collecting moments, holding them closely and then releasing them back.
there’s so much letting go. and most of the time we’re not really ready for it.  we are either being pushed from the nest or pushing others from it.

ready or not, whether we want to or not.  nothing stays stagnant in this strange and beautiful dance of adulting. ( yes, i made up that word)
i want to hold you tightly mom and i don’t want you to forget the rich, full life you’ve lived.  but i can’t fix this brokenness, hard as i might try.

for now, my hand can hold your hand-aging and soft.  and my heart can hold the memory of you-complete and whole.  and i can do my best at this adult thing.

knowing that adults usually live somewhere between braveness and frailty on most days.  and that’s ok.
today is just one of the frail days.

i’ll love you forever,
xxoo jamie

 

 

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mercy

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i have my mug of hot coffee in hand and my face is warmed by the morning winter sun.

lately i’ve been so aware of my need to just sit in the warmth and comfort of God’s presence.  to receive- with nothing in hand-not even the capacity to muster or pretend having it together.  it’s been the strangest few months…nothing has made sense and i have felt irreparably flawed and more confused than usual.  i started writing this in january and now it’s april. how !?

this past year has been a tough one regarding relationships. one of my darkest on record. ( thankfully, i don’t keep records.) but that’s how it all started.
this darkness.
and when it’s dark,  it’s so easy to believe that the darkness defines me, especially when i have felt like a flawed failure.

old lies along with a few fresh ones have haunted my days and nights.
pulling hard at my tattered soul and causing me to question….everything.

i’ve described my state of being as that of a dismantled car strewn out on a driveway.  parts here and there haphazardly as if a teenage boy whose wannabe mechanic skills have gotten him in way over his head.  now there is just chaos and dismay.  and a strange sense of helplessness.

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even as i write this post,  i have the sense of sitting cross-legged by the edge of this driveway with deep self-awareness at how i have spiritualized this process of being dismantled in the past.  i feel the sharp elbow stab to the side as the Spirit is reminding me how i’ve been careless with my words of comfort when it comes to the process of transformation.  the truth is, i’ve been told and admittedly have told others that being dismantled is a good thing , even a sacred thing.  but i confess, it feels  more terrifying than holy in this season.

it feels confusing and dark.

the darkness usually hits in the night.  like a bony finger tapping me on the shoulder with accusing and suffocating shame. i see it for what it is.  and even when i know it isn’t the truest thing about me, i feel utterly broken and carry a strong sense that i’m too difficult to love and not worth fighting for.  i can’t seem to wriggle out from under this weight and can’t help wondering if i’ve opened a Pandora’s box in all my soul probing. or maybe i fell down a rabbit hole of sorts and can’t find my way back up to daylight. my heart wonders, is God anywhere in this darkness ?  i don’t have answers but i’ve been desperately looking.

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my side table by the bed holds stacks of books that i’d hoped would stir my soul toward truth. but nothing did.  finally in january i heard some words from author Brene Brown explaining  the second step of looking at and owning our story as “the dark middle”.  it’s that place we come to in our journey where we’re too far in to turn back but not far enough in to see the light.  in military terms, it’s called the point of no return.  wow, when i first heard those words, i felt like i wasn’t alone or crazy.  in fact,  this idea brought some context and validation to the mess i was feeling.  but something in me still couldn’t muster or move toward God.  and even in my whispered prayers He seemed silent.

the only word He gave me during this long year was… mercy.

it means lavish, generous compassion.
kindness that God himself extends to us out of His affection and benevolence toward us. i had forgotten how much i ached for it.

i first became acquainted with the longing for mercy many years ago in the midst of deep grief. during that time i had the real sense that something deep inside me had gotten severed and i was bleeding out. part of me had wanted to find the quickest cure and part of me couldn’t move. but no matter how much i wanted relief from the gutting pain, i had an awareness that my soul just needed tending to.  and that’s what the mercy of God does. it takes us to the place where our most fragile human parts meet up with His most healing touch. and it covers us, like a cleft in the rock.

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since those days of grief and sorrow,  i see more clearly how pain and loss can be God’s kindest provision for the soul.  i have learned to see the invitation to come empty and needy to the streams’ edge as a beautiful invitation, not a terrifying one.   i see how this dismantling has roused my longing for God.  i see now that He was covering me, even in the dark middle of my story as i wrestled through the transformation process.  i see how all my broken, shameful and dismantled parts were, and are covered by the safety of His grace and love…no matter how far strewn they have become.

my words here in no way minimize the overwhelming sadness and despair i felt during this past year, but God has reminded me in the sweetest way again and again that the emptiness and anguish we feel are His most tender gifts.  because when comfort or relief can’t be found in ordinary things, our soul-roots grow deeper for what God alone can offer. nothing else satisfies.

so here is what i know of sweet and beautiful mercy.

it finds us when we have nothing to offer.  no ability to muster or perform or earn kindness , but we know it’s suddenly all we desperately need.

we cannot arrange for it.  we cannot earn it and we certainly cannot pay it back.    self- sufficiency and control have no seat at the mercy banquet.  it’s only for the broken and needy.  for those of us who are out of options, out of good books and out of strategies for living a spiritually good life. (check, check ,check)

mercy doesn’t ever rush us to get better either.  it sits with us like Shiva grace that has no time line.  it’s the invitation for us to come curl up by the streams of Living water- the place where the kindness of God tends to the brokenness in us for as long as necessary-all the while asking nothing in return but just to surrender and soak in the flood of mercy.

taking in every drop with every new day.

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so Father come. come find me and find us when we feel gut-punch broken and flawed. when we feel unworthy. when we feel restless and taken apart at the seams.

mend us. cover us and pour out Your vast kindness on us that is new every morning.

we need mercy today and every day in this broken world we live in.  it’s the only thing that stirs hope and lets a hushed hallelujah leave our lips amidst the darkness of night.

we are desperate for it, just like craving the warm winter sun on our face…
bringing with it fresh Life to our dry and weary (and sometimes scattered) bones.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends !
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness.
His mercies begin afresh each morning.
Lamentations 3:22,23

Father, thank you for teaching me what the gift of mercy feels like. even if the path to get there is messy, dark and crushing . i believe You are up to good in the dismantling always…even when i don’t understand or see how i will be put back together.
thank you for reminding me that You do Your best work in the dark where the sparks are often hidden.
after all, a holy collision
is never a tidy affair.
xo, jamie

source: Rising Strong by Brene Brown

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belonging

173

belong [bi-long] verb
1. to be part of,  be in proper place  2. to be affiliated with or be a member of

 

the holidays are looming.
so, naturally it’s that time of year again when we start thinking more about family.

and families are quirky things.

they are usually marked by habits, traditions, opinions and insider humor.  mine is no different.  i grew up as one of five kids and we have no shortage of good stories, memories, and shenanigans that shaped our childhood.  the craziest part is that we all remember stuff a little differently…as kids of the same family often do.  and we all at times could feel a bit lost in the crowd or left out.  even so, there was still a sense that we “had each other” on our worst days.  and that our family was a sanctuary… with its faults and all.

my parents had a king-size bed that seemed enormous to us.  and one of my very favorite memories was climbing into that bed on saturday mornings.
us kids would wander in sleepy-eyed, one at a time, and jump under the covers between my mom and dad.  i remember feeling found and safe there.  i think we all did.

space would inevitably get a little cramped as we all wiggled and squished in.

177my younger brother michael was always the last one in for some reason and his words of dismay have become one of our favorite family sayings- “there’s no pwace” (place) he would whimper while standing at the foot of the bed with mounded up people and covers.

in response, my daddy would always pat the place next to him on the bed and exclaim-“yes there is” !!  then we’d all squish some more and plead him to jump in.
i can still remember his little expression turning from sadness to joy.
from disbelief to belief.
from a sense of exclusion to inclusion.

and don’t we all want that ?  to belong.  really belong.

when we know that we belong somewhere or to someone it does something to our souls.  it grounds us with a sense that we have a “pwace”.
a spot just for us where we are known and invited into… without hesitation.

for some of us, our families offered a taste of this.  but for others of us there remains a hole.
either way, the truth is , the longing to belong is one of the most beautiful ways we bear God’s image.

our heart connections always speak of our worth and weight in this world,  and that somehow our little frail existence matters and is noticed.  and more amazingly, that God Himself designed us with a need to connect to others.

basically, we need each other because God is, at His core, a relational God.  He lives in trinitarian community and shared love -always.  so our very image has a beautiful basis and sacred design for neediness.  yay. (said sarcastically under my breath)

i don’t know about you, but if i’m honest, this feels slightly terrifying and unnerving.  not exciting or expectant.  i feel a bit like my little brother standing at the foot of that huge king-size bed. wondering if there is room for me.

118i much prefer to not be needy.
i much prefer self-reliance and no risk of exclusion.

in fact, most of my earliest “heart wounds” as a little girl stemmed from being left out or uninvited with groups of neighbor girls and friends.
as the years have passed,  hoping to belong has often felt too painful and way too risky.  my middle aged heart can so quickly feel like my five year old heart.

but the truth is without taking the risk of relationship, part of me dies off.  and part of my heart becomes numb and detached, choked off by self protection.

it’s a downright ugly place to be. and it’s riddled through with disbelief in God’s good heart for me. it keeps me stuck in believing i am alone and that there’s no “pwace” for me.  so i choose to keep wrestling when i’m tempted to quit.  knowing that it’s a daily risk to live expectantly and to walk fully in my God given image and to offer my sacred need for relationship to the others around me.  to invite them in and trust that God is the One who sees, even if they miss or reject me.  and this reminds my heart that life with God is more about risk than safety.  as author Jan Meyers so beautifully words this invitation

“Life with God conspires to bring us back, over and over again, to a childlike place where we are breathlessly caught off guard by Love and reminded of all that we were created for and desire.  And then we are brought back to a place where we must lean in and ask for those things the way a child does, depending fully on someone bigger than ourselves.”
-Listening to Love

when i consider my sense of  neediness and dependence to be childlike, it doesn’t seem nearly as counter-intuitive. because that is the essence and beauty of being a child. children ask with exposed and unapologetic hearts.
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so, why don’t i ?  how did my childlike heart get lost and covered up along the way in this life ?

i desperately want to live that way. to feel with a childlike heart and to believe my Papa has good in store, and that i belong to Him.   i’m becoming braver bit by bit.  but it’s hard to go backwards…from being a grown-up, back to a child.  to let my heart soar with expectancy like when i was a little girl. cynicsm can so quickly creep in and cut off hope at the knees.   yuck.

it somehow feels really big that i “get” this idea, that we “get” this idea… because God keeps bringing me back here.

we belong to Him.

and belonging to Him goes far beyond family or friends, because even at their best, these kinds of belonging can fall short.

the truth is, the kind of belonging that God offers is not just some far-off, flowery or religious promise.  we are , in fact, part of the trinitarian dance . this grounds us and reminds us that we are the beloved children of a relentless , good God.
His Fathers heart is always inviting us into relationship with generous grace and kindness.
i love picturing God as a Father with arms outstretched, patting the spot next to Him , saying… you are chosen
               you are seen
               you are wanted
               you are found in every way.  and you belong to Me, so jump in.

 

my resistance to feeling needy melts off when i let myself be taken in by this sacred affection.  it makes way for my little girl-heart to come out and be willing to enter into relationships…and be the arms of God to the people i love.

michael's 50th birthday 016reminding them, that they belong too.

so, if you find yourself among dear friends or quirky family in the coming months, don’t forget to take each other in.  put your arms around each other and hold tight to your “people”, whoever they may be.  make your heart a safe and kind place. tell each other “you matter” and that there will always be a “pwace” for their weary soul.

wishing you joy and blessings from my family to yours  xxoo jamie

 

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delivered

107i’ve lost some things and i’ve found some things since i’ve last written.
i realize it’s been nearly 3 months but i’ve been away awhile and i’ve been processing. wondering if i could find the words to tell a bit of my journey. here goes.

for 8 days in August i walked the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain  (also called The Way of St. James).  it’s epic and ancient and has been drawing seekers for centuries for all sorts of reasons.  it’s a “bucket list” kind of experience.   most who come to walk are looking for something or to become something…different or reformed or at the very least cleansed !!  deep down i wanted all of that too.

so, there i was on that misty , cool morning in late summer ready to begin.  i had brought with me a longing for adventure, a sense of reverence and a backpack far too heavy.

241i had prepared physically but it didn’t take very  long to understand that this was far more about a journey of the soul and the civil war that wages on inside-between the heart and head.

as i walked, part of me felt like a stranger and part of me felt grounded and familiar.  i had grown more certain about some things and confused about a great many more things.
which is a good thing.
not an easy thing though.
it left me feeling a bit lost.  yet somehow-in the end- delivered.

feeling stretched in thought and soul and body left me weary and grateful and delivered-all at the same time.

so here is what the miles taught me…

i learned that merely walking 100 miles doesn’t change a person.  but the miles do strip away the insulation that acts like a buffer between our best and worst selves.
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basically, it’s just really hard to keep your shit together after 13-18 mile-long days of hiking. day after day.

by day 2 , i felt plain old.  i was in fact the oldest one in our group of 32.  my age had never really bothered me…until then.  i longed to throw my hair up into an effortless”messy bun” and look beautiful.  i wanted ease instead of struggle. i wanted to wriggle out of my imperfect, aging body.

the truth is, everyone was tired, whether young or old.  our feet were blistered and knees ached.  as we rose each day before the sunrise, we all had to reach down into the strongest and most resilient parts of us.  for me, those parts felt anything but beautiful.

all of this made me aware of what really mattered.  at first, my make-upless and slightly beaten up appearance wasn’t a big deal , but i struggled to feel like “myself” as the days went on.  my skin felt saggy and my hair looked like that of a homeless man.  the grey hairs were especially unruly and it pained me to gaze at my reflection in the mirror.  so i didn’t.  i felt downright ugly.  inside and out. ( i’m keeping it real here)

each day i felt more unraveled and stripped and stuck with myself.

yet somehow, amidst the angst i heard the invitation from God…”can you make peace with yourself in this life ?”
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i know we all grow old, we age and we have a choice about what we cling to amidst this sacred tension. the truth is…it is NOT an easy thing to sort out…in fact, the words aging gracefully couldn’t be in more contrast. as i walked i had only of sliver of dignity to hold onto…and i had The Camino.  the ancient path that had held so many other pilgrims before me-all in search of something.  all fellow wrestlers.

and so, i began to see The Camino as a sort of midwife as i walked.  moving me toward a deliverance.  not a deliverance away from what i didn’t love about myself, but a deliverance unto a deeper level of self-acceptance as i age.

it pushed me out of self-consuming thoughts and into a broader capacity to come to terms with my humanity.  after all, the entire role of a midwife is to assist in a birth.  and the birth is inevitable…so she merely assists in bringing about- a sort of “giving into”-as the new life is delivered.  the whole way through, the midwife holds the laboring mother with firmness and tenderness and affirmation.

244in this same way, the Camino held me.
this road of dirt and rocks had held centuries worth of seekers.  now it held a strand of pilgrims that i was amongst – all looking and hoping to come out on the other end- somehow changed.  so there i was felling ugly and worn and the road held the mess that i was.  it wooed me with its beauty and whispered with its winding tendrils-filled with delight and discovery.  it undid my fleshly strength with each kilometer i walked…yet with each step i felt more and more delivered unto my truest self.  ( the amazing spainish coffee along the way helped greatly in this process too)

at journeys end,  i had walked 150 kilometers but knew i was really at a beginning.
i stood on the sacred ground…having been delivered from my own ugliness.  i had wrestled with it and owned it and laid it down… oh, and i almost forgot to mention the tears! i cried a good many cleansing tears over it. as i look back, i’m still certain that i would have paid 100 euros for a hairdryer, round brush and a hot bath.  but i also understand that discomfort is part of the pilgrimage, in fact it’s the very thing that brings the soul to the end of itself. i also finally get that this IS the very reason people have been coming to walk for centuries.

i had begun this journey believing i would walk away from the parts of myself i didn’t like.  but here- at the end- i finally understood that it was far more about receiving those parts with radical self-compassion.

so it was on that well-worn and holy Way…the birth of deep grace became my truest deliverance.

Father, sometimes i don’t know how to pray.  i am once again brought to my knees in utter dependence and humility.  it is a good place to be but not easy.  meet me here and keep peeling away the shame and ugly parts so i can be fully alive to Your healing grace.
leaning into You, xxoo jamie

 

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leaving

018she sat by the door- waiting to go on a journey somewhere she’d never been.
there wasn’t much need for suitcases, because she couldn’t take much with her.

she didn’t really want to leave, but at the same time, was ready to go.

and so she held on to the only things she could.  her faith, the beauty of her thoughts, and the sacredness of her years on this earth.  she held every moment that had been ordained and given her by the One who bends low with tender whispers of grace and comfort and goodness.

she had fought hard for her life.

the past years had been spent waiting.  fighting and waiting.  back and forth.
waiting for tests.  for scans.  for results.

waiting for phone calls.  for news.  good news.   clean scans.

and all the while fighting for hope.  to believe that God was in this and up to good.
she had spent hours at doctors appointments and endless trips to hospitals…and she had been a brave warrior.  even choosing to laugh sometimes at the ridiculousness of it all. the humbling and sometimes humiliating battle with this fierce foe called cancer.

009but even the strongest, bravest warrior gets weary of the battle.  because waiting and hoping take a toll on the inside…where no one else sees or lives,but you.  and somehow the inside has turned against itself.  and there is nothing to be done in protest of this self destruction. the medicine and doctors have had their say, even faith and prayers called upon in lavish amounts.   but in the end , all have fallen short of healing on this side of living.  so, in the most tender way, this makes the soul ready.

the eyes begin to adjust to another reality.  another realm.

one that lies beyond what can be recognized right away.  because it’s covered by haze and chaos- and hidden in the depths of the human soul.  it is the glory that spills out from the eternity that is deposited in us.  placed there by God Himself.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.  He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.   Ecclesiastes 3:11

and eternity calls to us like a homing beacon- becoming clearer and louder- the closer we get.  and Jesus face becomes clearer and clearer too as all else slips into the background.

all the allure and wonder of living begin to unravel as the eyes of the heart are set on eternity.  God designed it to go this way.  to pull us forward to our truest home and prepare us to let go.

and He had been preparing her too…with His unwavering presence.

letting go feels strange and unnatural at first because from life’s first cry, we cling to this world.  the oxygen fills our lungs and our hearts beat with a rhythm all our own.  unique and beautiful.
strong.
ready to find our way.
eager and hopeful.
she had so many years filled with goodness, growing, loving and offering her beauty to the world around her.  giving herself away to so ,so many.  leaving her mark on the lives she touched with her gentle , deep and piercing presence.

and she has left her mark on my soul too…in the most profound and comforting way.

Michelle, you are so dearly loved.
loved beyond words and beyond explanation. i want you to know it. and carry it to the end.
because you are the reason i write.  you and i are two of a kind and that has anchored me in ways i cannot explain.

this is how i know – without a doubt- that the human soul is a sacred thing.  and an eternal thing.   it is beyond words.  beyond telling and beyond replacing.
jamie's photos 407

we NEVER forget those we know and love because they become indelibly part of us.

the impact of one life is immeasurable.
it’s magic in the deepest, most lovely way.

the human soul….
eternal.
inexplicable.
divine.
set apart.
the treasure chest that God deemed His very dwelling place.

so, my dear friend, always know that i will carry you wherever i go.  on every mountain top, on every ocean shore and in every beautiful breathtaking moment where words of explanation escape me…  knowing you would understand how i feel without the words anyway.

your leaving will leave holes and ache and unbelievable sorrow. it even feels weird writing this now, while i can still see you face to face.  but i know that you would want us all to be reminded of the glory to come.
and to be reminded to hold life loosely and embrace the chapters yet unwritten … where the real living will be just beginning. and as C.S. Lewis says ,  these are the chapters that go ever on and on.

“Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story no one on earth has ever read, which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before.”                       – C.S. Lewis  The Last Battle

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for Michelle, i won’t say good-bye but instead, see you on the other side.

by His immeasurable grace, xxoo jamie

 

 

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hooks

054i’ve been thinking a lot lately about forgiveness.
and what exactly it looks and feels like to forgive someone.   really forgive.

it’s a word that feels like a gut-punch to me.  and if i’m honest (which i always am)
i would probably rather go to the dentist than work through the act of forgiveness. and did i mention…how much i hate the dentist ?!  nuffsaid.

understanding forgiveness has left me confused and reeling in it’s tangle of meaning and mystery.  my heart has grappled hard with “how to forgive” because i know it’s weighty either way.  there’s a cost to granting forgiveness but there’s a curse that’s even costlier to our souls in the denying of forgiveness.

well, shit.
not a clean winner of the two options. (again, let’s keep it honest here)

as author Anne Lamott says..
“Left to my own devices I’m a forgiveness denier- I’ll start to think that there are hurts so deep that nothing can heal them.  Time alone won’t necessarily do the trick.  Our best thinking isn’t enough, or we would all be fine, instead of in our current condition.  A lack of forgiveness is like leprosy of the insides, and left untreated, it can take out tissue, equilibrium, soul and sense of self.”                                     -Small Victories

ouch.  those words stung as i read them a few years back.  they still poke at my pride.
i’m guilty as charged- with a bad case of being a forgiveness denier.

102for most of my life i just never understood how-amidst my hurt and indignation- to let someone off the hook.  it’s one thing to offer pardon to a friend who runs over your bicycle, but what if it’s a hit-and-run to your heart ? and what if there’s no resolve or amends ?  what’s to be done with slander, betrayal , misunderstandings or judgements against us…especially from those we trusted most fully.

those are tricky waters to navigate in the name of “christian love” and have left me gulping in water as i flounder in the wake.

Jesus meet me here.
Jesus meet us all here.  it just feels too hard to offer grace and kindness when our hearts feel beaten up and betrayed.

i still remember sitting in the counselor’s chair years ago with a tear-stained face, asking him to walk me through it and pray over my deep wounds and hurt.  i was tired of the fight and ready to forgive but that didn’t make it easier.  the process takes some serious soul-work,  but here is what i learned…

first, Jesus fully sees us-even when no one else does. He gets it, and He weeps over the pain in our personal stories with us. and there is so much permission to feel the sense of loss and hurt deeply.

but then, He asks us to let it go-and give it over to Him.  to take the offenders off our hook and visualize putting them on God’s.   this let’s Him be the judge and not us.  it’s a generous act that’s impossible for us to muster in our flesh.  067

because if we only forgive based on our own benevolence and capacity, we can’t help feeling depleted.
used up.
empty , jaded and slightly pissed off.

this is the version of forgiveness we’ve been taught to offer…to simply overlook and quickly move on.  it never worked for me and i very much doubt it brings much healing or wholeness to anyone. i’ve met far too many people still carrying around wounds from a lifetime of wrongs against them.  you know people too. they wear their resignation and entitlement like a badge of honor, never relinquishing their right to stay mad.  but in reality their pain holds them prisoner. yikes.  i could see where i was headed.

i knew my hurt had kept me stuck and gripped and pinned down.  just like the leprosy Anne Lamott describes, it had already begun eating away days and years and was sending down some seriously ugly roots of self-righteousness.  my only hope was to open my fists and let my list of offenses and offenders…go.

to my surprise letting go wasn’t as painful as i had feared.  it felt more like letting go of the string of a kite caught up by the wind.  and the wind was grace- vast and deep and effortless- and not from anything i could give.  i felt liberated . because the grace came down over me too and rescued me right back.  this unlocks the mystery of forgiveness because that’s what grace does.

it let’s us all off the hook.

it offers us what we don’t deserve and then equips us to offer others what they don’t deserve.

that’s the whole shebang.maddie's photos 123

 

Jesus thank you for not giving me what i deserve, but grace instead.
make me brave where i am weak and prone to tightening the fist and remind me to call down grace readily and offer forgiveness generously and(okay,okay) …go to the dentist regularly.
xxoo jamie

 

 

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the better-tale

Patti_Formalthis is the story of a beauty-queen who became a real girl.
it’s kind of like a fairytale in reverse.

she wanted a life in the castle, but got the suburbs.
she wanted a charmed life, but got 5 wide-eyed children and one charming husband who fell very short of being a prince.

she dreamt of being swept up to a better life, all the while watching us contentedly make our sandcastles and mudpies.  and even though her longing was for safety and provision, God saw fit to write a different story.
a better story.

Patti_Jeffreyso she dug deep into the most beautiful and real parts of herself and decided to sprinkle glitter on her ordinary life.

she faced the hard stuff and didn’t give up.  and in doing that, this is what she gave us..
she gave her children the key to imagination.
she gave it to us – in the form of a perfectly unkept house.
in the form of play…lots of playing.
in the form of reading bedtime stories.
in the form of laughter.
in the form of being “game” for anything.
in the form of not controlling, or hovering or managing us-but letting us
have the space to just be children.
in the form of celebrating well…which made life feel bigger and brighter,
even for just that moment.
and the the most valuable key she gave us came in the form of her being an imperfect human.

she may not like me writing those words, but it was the single most beautiful thing she gave me.  because from this gift, i never thought i had to be perfect at anything.  i knew i was loved and delighted in-just for who i was.  i felt equipped and capable because of her holes.
jamie's iphone 226

 

 

 

 

 

 

she wasn’t a do-it-all domestic genius, in fact she hated cooking and housekeeping.  but she did her best.
our summer’s were filled with running barefoot and spending hours digging, exploring and making messes. the chaos never seemed to bother her.

and need i mention, we tortured our fair share of babysitters.

my mom knew she was in over her head most days while raising 5 rambunctious children, but she kept showing up.  making us oatmeal, packing sack lunches, mopping floors, driving carpool, tucking in, spanking… alot, doing mounds of laundry and cooking those damn dinners.  then, waking up and doing it all over again…for lots and lots of years.

and this was how the beauty queen became real.

she took off the crown and decided to receive with grace the life before her. and now many years have passed and her children have grown and left her care but they carry the gifts with them.  the imperfect, beautiful gifts of being raised by a mother who was flawed and human but was brave enough to not quit when life wasn’t a fairytale.

jamie's iphone 070and, as is often the case, the real tales of struggle and fought-for-goodness and grace are far more valuable then the cheap stuff anyhow and those tales need a heroine of real courage.
and those tales, turn the fairytale upside-down and right-side-up…into a better-tale.

and stories like that make us who we are.  thank you mom for making me who i am.

and most importantly, when the time came for me to become a mom, thank you for showing me i couldn’t fail if i just offered my imperfect self- fully and sacrificially and wildly to the task.

 

this is dedicated to Patti Joye and all those delightfully imperfect mothers who are just the kind of mothers their children need.
by grace, xxoo jamie

 

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