grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

You Have Permission

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Sweet Soul,

After all you’ve been through,
You have permission to recharge…completely, without shame.

After all the work you’ve done,
You have permission to rest…fully, without guilt.

After all you’ve learned,
You have permission to readjust…positively, without apprehension.

After all the losses you’ve endured,
You have permission to reclaim…absolutely, without exception.

After all you’ve overcome,
You have permission to rejoice…truly, without fear.

Because…

After all, you’ve weathered, worked, learned, stood, and overcome.
Those are not small things.
They are Real Life Stuff.
Those things you’ve faced down.
Those things you’ve survived.

So…

You have permission.
To be just where you are.
To feel just what you feel.
To know just what you know.

And…

I hope you know how very precious you are.
I hope you know how very good you are.
I hope you know how very loved you are.

{Joining again with Holley Gerth and Jennifer Dukes Lee this week. There is so much good to be found when you click through. May your sweet soul be refreshed by their words – and the words of the amazing writers linked up on both of their sites.}

Coffee for Your Heart 
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We Are Broken Seashells

The Middles + I

The Middles + I @ The Beach

I went on my very first trip to the ocean several days ago.

Growing up – and living – in a land-locked state doesn’t afford opportunities to experience the beach on any kind of regular…or ever…basis.

And so a few days ago, while visiting The Middles (my two middle girls) in their new state, the three of us decided that a Coastal Day Trip was in order. We packed water bottles, lunch, snacks, sodas, sunscreen, and a quilt for sitting on the sand. We drove on roads new to the girls, with the Google Maps Lady gently bossing us toward our destination. (It was one of the few times in my life when being bossed around – even gently so – didn’t bother me a bit.)

We were going to the beach!
The Real Atlantic Ocean Beach!
(It didn’t matter that the high temperature was forecast at only 68 degrees!)

Once we parked and gathered up all our Waterfront Paraphernalia, we walked the block and a half to The Beach.

It took my breath away.
Really…
The sand.
So. Much. Sand.
The blue sky.
So. Much. Sky.
The water.
So. Much. Water.

The first thing we did, after setting up our little staging area, was roll up our jeans and take off for the water’s edge.
My thinking was that we’d wade a bit…maybe get the bottom folds of our rolled-up jeans wet and call it good.
The girls had a different idea.
They wanted to go in as far as they could without going under…and they wanted me to join them.

I didn’t even balk.
We brazenly faced the early-spring cold of the ocean, grabbed each other’s hands and ran in!
{That’s kind of how we roll in this family…Go Big or Go Home.}
I was up to my armpits in water that started to feel like icy needles, the oldest Middle actually fell in up to her chin, and Middle #2 was up to her armpits, too, just then remembering that she hadn’t brought her asthma inhaler on the trip.
And we were laughing hysterically.
Maybe from how c-o-l-d that water was…but also from the joy of it all.
The three of us spent the rest of the day trying to dry off in the sun and wind (after having gone back in one more time), drinking sandy water bottles, eating sandy snacks, laying on that sandy quilt.

And we walked.
We walked in the sand, among the waves, searching for shells and other treasures delivered by the water.

I was picking up one of the many pieces of broken shell that littered the beach when I thought…
’We are the seashells.’

So many times, we are broken.
In places we never could have imagined.
In ways that leave us almost unrecognizable.
In pieces that cause us to feel good-for-nothing.
And what breaks us may be something we think we know.
Someone we think we know.
And still, we break…
Like the living things that called those shells home…
They know the ocean.
They know the waves, the tides, the rhythm.
And still, they break.

As I was stooping and gathering, gently brushing off the sand to find the beauty, I thought…
’This is what God does.’

God stoops.
God gathers.
He sees the beauty in the broken.
He knows where the break occurs.
He recognizes us even when we’re fractured.
He visualizes the good-for-SOMEthing we are.
He collects the shards…the pieces…the tide-tumbled bits.
He gently brushes off the sand and brine and dried sea grass and deems us beautiful.

I am a seashell.
You are a seashell.
We are all seashells.

Today, I am grateful for the stooping, gathering Grace that found me.
I am grateful that, despite the breaking, God sees my value.
I am grateful that He knows, He really knows, about the breaking.
And I believe He calls it ALL good.

{I stooped and gathered almost a shoebox-full of broken shells that I am going to take back to that land-locked state I call home. I am going to buy a pretty {big} jar and put those beautiful broken shells on a shelf where they will remind me that we are all broken, we are all beautiful, and we are all seashells.}

(I have the lovely honor of linking up with Holley Gerth and Jennifer Dukes Lee today. Each of their sites have so much beauty and hope to offer…click on through and find just the thing your heart needs.)

Coffee for Your Heart 
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Maybe

Maybe.

Maybe you have a dream.
Maybe your dream appears too big…too lofty…crazy, even.
Maybe this dream feels like ages…even eons…in the making.

Maybe you saw something today that reminded you just how long you’ve been dreaming it.
Maybe that thing you saw caused a pit…or a boulder?…to form in your stomach.
Maybe looking back at all the days spent not walking toward your dream made your eyes water.
Maybe wondering if it’s too late now makes your throat close up, a fist-sized lump lodged there.

Maybe when you think of it, you recognize that you’ve subconsciously been living out a generational thing you heard once that sounds something like ‘You’ll never amount to anything.’

Maybe, on this very day, even though it feels beyond overwhelming and seems totally illogical, you notice a timid, new, cautious excitement bubbling up…because…

Maybe.

Maybe you look again and see that the clock hasn’t run out.
Maybe upon closer scrutiny, you grasp that the ages, eons, days have actually been preparing you for this time, for this moment.
Maybe, if you lean in, you can hear the whisper of promises being fulfilled and hopes being restored and dreams being realized.

Maybe the way things are unfolding is perfect…the timing, the lessons, the opportunities…all of it that had to come together in order for your heart to be ready.
Maybe the truth isn’t based on what you picked up in that thing you heard once, that generational thing that wasn’t even directed at you or based on anything but someone else’s bitterness and wounding, but in the sweet, uplifting things that are presenting themselves to you now.
Maybe there are so many reasons that you don’t know…can’t know…for ‘Why now?’ and ‘Why not back then?’
Maybe you can find some precious rest in allowing yourself to not know…to not have all the answers.

Maybe, in all of this, there is trusting and waiting and learning and believing and growing and opening and letting go and replacing and hoping and knowing.
Maybe the fact that all of those things are practices…and that you’ve been faithful in the practicing…is what all this time has been about.
Maybe you can finally release the expectations of How It Was Supposed To Happen that have been weighing down your heart…stifling your joy…stealing your hope.

Maybe you can give yourself credit for walking through all that you have.
Maybe it’s possible to honor your soul in a celebration of surviving all that you have.
Maybe there can be flowers and balloons and love songs…for youand for your dream coming true.
Maybe a big, fuzzy blanket of Grace will wrap itself around whatever regrets are buried deep…and even the ones threatening to break the surface…so that Peace radiates in and out, like breathing.

Maybe, as you sit and smile and relax and feel your heart begin to heal, you’ll feel the presence of beloved ones who cheer you on as you gather the lessons you’ve learned and begin to walk in Faith toward that dream.
Maybe those dear souls have been able to see your sparkling potential…have even seen your dream coming true…before you could even begin to imagine it.
Maybe people like that have been gently calling you and your unique light out all along…only now, now you can hear them.
Maybe the sweet refrain of their voices sounds like Truth…like Hope…like Joy.

Maybe.

{Linking up again – how blessed am I?! – with Holley Gerth and Jennifer Dukes Lee. So many treasures and riches to be discovered in all the lovely posts at both amazing sites. Maybe you’ll click through? You won’t be sorry. Promise.}

Coffee for Your Heart 
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The Theology of Glitter

Glitter.
Shiny, iridescent, bright, reflective.
Gosh, I love the stuff…
…the rainbow of colors, the textures, how it gleams when the light hits it…

And I’ve found that glitter is an Either-Or Kind of Thing.
EITHER you love it OR you hate it.
EITHER its Siren Song of Glitz calls to your every cell OR its Devil Ditty of Repulsion makes your very skin crawl.
EITHER it brings you great joy, adding a dose of Happy to all it lands on OR it drives you batty, creating a measure of Crazy as it clings to things not meant to sparkle. (Wait. What?! There are things NOT MEANT TO SPARKLE?!)

There is, apparently, no in-between when it comes to the stuff.
But no matter which camp you find yourself – no matter upon which end of the spectrum you find yourself – you can’t argue the fact that glitter makes a big difference, wherever (and on whatever) you find it.

I, myself, live in a House Divided when it comes to glitter.
I won’t name names, but there are those I have given birth to…actually carried in my womb and lovingly nursed at my breast…whose feet are firmly planted on the soil of GlitterHate Land.
And {thankfully} there are those who live under this roof who are gaga for glitter. (Ok, full disclosure, I may be the only one GAGA for it…but there are a couple other People Who Share My Last Name who at least like it, so I am not {totally} alone.)

In church on Sunday, as the early morning sun streaked through the windows during worship, my Mister pointed at something on the seat of the chair in front of us.
We were mid-chorus so, even though I had no idea what he had seen that had caused such an uncharacteristic break in protocol for him, I glanced quickly to where I thought he was pointing and, seeing nothing, looked back up to the screen for the next verse.

Worship led into the sermon which led into the offering, and then it was time for the closing worship songs and, finally, the benediction.

And, again, my Mister wordlessly pointed to – then reached for – the seat of that next-row-up chair.

This time, the light must have been just right.
Because I saw it.
It was shining in all its bright red glory.
A tiny beacon of Happy and Joy and Love.
Glitter.

I smiled…and my heart flip-flopped.
It made my day.
{I told you, I love the stuff.}
My Mister knows how much I adore glitter.
(Actually, most who know me are well aware of my Pro-Glitter Stance.)

And, as I type these words, it strikes me just how much I may have in common with that little piece of red glitter…

Glitter has quite a history.
Me, too.
Glitter is produced by a complex, and somewhat disquieting, process.
Me, too.
Glitter brings Happy to some and Crazy to others.
Me, too.
Glitter can only reflect (not create) the light.
Me, too.
Glitter sometimes clings to things it’s not meant to.
Me, too.
(Ouch, that last one stung just a little.)

All that said, I am deciding just now I want to be even more like that little piece of glitter…

I want there to be no in-between with me.
(And, that can only be true of me…of my life…when I allow myself to be found fully committed to the purpose for which He created me.)

I want to be seen…to be noticed…ONLY when the Light hits my life is just right.
(And, the Light can only hit it ‘just right’ when I allow myself to be in the right place at the right time so that He can make of me a beacon of Happy and Joy and Love.)

I want to gleam, sparkle, shine, and be iridescent in reflecting His Love to those I come in contact with every day.
(And, I can only reflect that Love when I allow myself to be used wherever He sees fit to place me.)

I want to be a small thing that makes a big difference…
Glitter.

{Loving that I have the privilege again of linking up with Holley Gerth and Jennifer Dukes Lee today. In the middle of this busy week, I hope you’ll make the time to find encouragement and some ‘You, too?’ in the links to their awesome sites.}

Coffee for Your Heart 
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