A Bruised Heart

Throughout life, we experience all sorts of unexpected change and broken dreams and hearts. Sometimes those changes and broken dreams and hearts are expected. And other times they seem to come out of nowhere…bruising our tender hearts.

It’s like when we bruise our body and wonder what we hit to cause the black and blue mark to appear. Life too is full of those times when we are hit straight in the gut. Our tender hearts left black and blue from the reality of life.

Yet like the black and blue marks on our bodies, they heal. Our hearts heal too. We are more cautious about who we let in. We are more wary about taking chances. We know that God gives us the strength to overcome all that happens in life. God works together for the good of all people especially in the midst of jagged grace.

With a tender heart, bruised by the realities of life and jagged grace, God has given me the courage and bravery that allows me to trust. To trust that I can overcome anything that is placed in my way. Knowing that my tender heart will be made whole again but still bearing the scars of Jagged Grace.


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When You Realize What You’ve Overcome…

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. This is also Day 27 of the Write 31 Days challenge. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “overcome.” We would love to have you join us.

When you’re standing here and realize how far you’ve come; how much you’ve overcome.

I overcame systematic theology. Two times and an independent study. And a professor who realizes you are an auditory learner so he creates an independent study for you.

I overcame climbing a mountain in the Colorado Rockies. Pushing myself beyond what I thought my limits were.

I am continuing to overcome the Write 31 Days challenge. Overcoming a love-hate relatyionship. Overcoming interludes. Overcoming fog. Overcoming the summit of a mountain. Overcoming the changing seasons of fall. Overcoming a lot!

I have overcome so much–an unexpected job change, wondering what was next, then a new job and a new home. But I’m standing here; changed and renewed.

God has this way of standing with us and helping us overcome Jagged Grace. God works together for the good of all people. God gives us the strength and redeems us so we can overcome the next hard thing. It doesn’t mean the hard won’t come, but that God will continually give us the strength to overcome.


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The Changing Leaves of Fall

Green yields to red
Red to orange

The sunburst colors of a sunset
Now set out in the changing and falling
of the leaves.


I love watching the colors of the trees change this time of the year. The deep greens yielding to the brightest colors of reds, yellows, and oranges. The trees changing and transforming before our eyes.

It often literally takes my breath away as I drive down the highway. Coming over the hill, deep in the valley, the shades of red, orange, and yellow spread out across the land. It is yet another sign of the changing of the seasons.

Soon the colors begin to fall to the ground and we are left with barren trees. Fall yielding to Winter; Winter then yielding to Spring; Spring to Summer; and then Summer back to Fall again. It is a continuous cycle of the beauty of God’s amazing creation. It reminds me of how God changes and transforms all of us.

In this Fall season, I am thankful for how far I have come over the last six months. I see the ways God has been moving in my life; how the Holy Spirit has been moving and breathing in my own life. I see where my cracks are now covered in gold lacquer like in the Japanese art form of kintsugi. I stand here knowing that I have been transformed in new and amazing ways. I had to be broken down in order to be built back up. And now I am whole again; but just a little bit more wary and fragile because of where I have been.

Our God is a God of renewal and transformation that walks with us and continually transforms us in the midst of jagged grace. For it is in those seasons of jagged grace, that we are blessed again and again through the waiting, renewal and resurrection of our own stories. It is in this very same place where we are again and again also reminded of who and whose we are. In other words, we carry our own beautiful colors of the changing leaves of Fall.


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Our Gold Lacquer

The colored sand spilled out on the floor to create a beautiful cross. I remember this moment as if it was yesterday. It was a hot summer day when my co-counselor and myself found ourselves in the craft shack with our campers. One of our more difficult campers picked up the jar of colored sand to work on her piece of sand art. But in her carelessness, the jar spilled out onto the floor. Frustrated with our camper, we began to grab items to clean up the floor. But in moments, we were stopped dead in our tracks. I looked down and laying on the floor was this beautiful cross.

In it’s brokenness, it was not a perfect cross. In fact, it was far from perfect; spreading from one side to the other the sand created a new image on the floor. And in our own brokenness, God makes us whole again too; makes us new. In fact, it is the gold lacquer of our own stories that tell again and again who and whose we are as beloved children of God.

My gold lacquer shines forth as I share the words “I am the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness.” My gold lacquer glistens as I share the stories of my own faith journey. My gold lacquer is still a little wet from living through unexpected change and coming to the other side of the mountain; to the next best thing. And, my friends, your gold lacquer shines and glistens as you tell your own stories of kintsugi; of brokenness.

And Jesus himself holds his own stories of brokenness. Jesus bears the scars of the nails in his hands and feet and the crown of thorns on his head. Jesus bled as he uttered his last breath. Yet Jesus overcame death and the grave because of God’s power–the one who ultimately has the power to overcome death and the grave. God resurrected his son from the grave. God redeems all that is broken. In fact, our God is a God of redemption and hope.

Redemption and hope that carries through our own cracks; our own broken lines that are covered in gold lacquer. Gold lacquer that continually reminds us that we are never alone; that God promises to never leave us or forsake us. It also continually reminds us of the promise that we are God’s beloved children. The gold lacquer tells us again and again who and whose we are especially when we can’t seem to remember who and whose we are.


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I am also linking up with Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Porch Stories. 
 

 

Just Too Much

Fear is a crazy thing. It can so easily paralyze us in the midst of life;especially in the midst of changes and jagged grace. In fact, fear sneaks in so quickly that it can stop us dead in our tracks and prevent us from trying the next new thing. Yet the words “Do not be afraid” appear many times in Scripture; 365 times to be exact—one for each day of the year. I believe Jesus said those words that many times because God wants to remind us that God will never leave us or forsake us. God will be with us every second, every minute, every second, every hour, every day.

Yet in the midst of life’s challenges though, it can be so easy to forget that promise. We get caught up in too much fear, just too much of it all. Yet the truth is that God has plans for each and every one of us.

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.”–Jeremiah 29:11-12

There have been times when I have had a hard time trusting that God is with me every step of the way. I have found myself curling up in a ball and wanting to shut the entire world out. There have been times when I have fallen deep into the depths of fear, sadness, and lost hope.

Yet the reality is that our God is a God of hope! God overcame death and the grave. God is the light that shines in the midst of the darkness. God is a God who gives us the strength and courage to get through the next hard thing…and for that I am eternally grateful.


In relation to today’s post, I have to share about Annie F. Down’s new book 100 Days to Brave which releases TODAY! I loved “Looking for Lovely” and “Let’s All Be Brave.” And I am so excited to read her new book. Annie has this way of conveying God’s love in a gentle loving manner that continually reminds me of who and whose I am.


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God’s Beloved Kintsugi

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”
And then Jesus breathed his last.

A man in his humanity
Dies on the cross
for our sins.

Jesus, in both his divinity and especially humanity, feels the power of jagged grace; of brokenness. Jesus hung on a cross for our sins. From the manger in Bethlehem, to the cross of calvary, Jesus feels, hears, experiences all that humanity has to offer. As an infant, Jesus wet his diaper. He cried out when he was tired, or hungry or both. Mary held him in her arms and together Mary and Joseph did everything they could to protect their son from harm.

Jesus is the ultimate example of kintsugi (as my friend Lesley said), Jesus knows what it means to be broken and then to be made whole again. It is a hope-filled promise that reminds me, reminds us all that we are not on this journey alone. Jesus too suffered. Jesus was broken and beaten…but then Jesus was made whole by overcoming death and the grave.

As we trust in this promise, we know that we are not alone. Jesus understands and promises to never leave us or forsake us. Jesus pieces us back together and reminds us that we are whole but a little bit more fragile than before. Jesus applies gold laquer over our own cracks to remind us that we are who we are because of our own broken experiences that shape us into who and whose we are.

Because I am one of God’s own kintsugi, and like you are too, we can place ourselves out on the shelf and share our own stories of brokenness. Remembering that in the midst of brokenness, in the midst of jagged grace, we are beautiful precious beloved children of God who calls each and every one of us by name. We are God’s own kintsugi.


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When Your Faith is Shaken….

The other day, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I came across an image from last June. It was an image that simply stated “I will worship while waiting.” Those words came at a time when I was struggling to worship God and to trust that something new would come my way. But it was something that I knew I needed in this time of liminal space; in the midst of jagged grace.

The day that image was posted I found myself worshiping with one of my favorite communities; the community of the Lutheran Academy of the Rockies. A community that has blessed me in more ways than I could have ever imagined or even counted on. As I sat worshiping with this community, with dear friends, a sense of peace and healing began to enter into my very being. It was the beginning of worshiping in the midst of waiting. But it also was a time of lament for me which was deeply needed in this time and place.

The truth is that there will always be times when our faith is shaken–whether it be through a cancer diagnoses, or through unexpected change, or through deep aching loss. Yet our God is a God who we are to place our trust and faith in. Our God is a God who has big plans for us even when those plans are hard to see in the midst of the fog.

During these times, it is extremely difficult to trust God or to even worship. Yet God calls us to come to him; to touch the hem of his cloak and to know that healing will come. It might come slowly over time. Or it might come a little more gradually. The truth is the healing will always come.

And it is during those times of waiting and healing, that worship is even more vital. There were many days this summer when I had a hard time getting out of bed on a Sunday morning to worship with other believers. But when I did, I was blessed time and time again. It was in those times of worship that I began, not to feel like my faith was shaken, but rather to feel a more solid foundation under my feet. A foundation of God’s love that brought me back to a place where I could worship freely and with arms wide open; proclaiming in the power of God’s love for all the world–a love that calls each and every one of us by name.


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Rediscovering

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. This is also Day 20 of the Write 31 Days challenge. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “discover.” We would love to have you join us.

In the midst of liminal space; jagged grace, it can be so hard to remember who we are. We forget a lot about who and whose we are. We have to rediscover the gifts God has given us. For in baptism, God calls each one of us beloved children of God.

There have been many times in my life when I’ve questioned who I was. Am I smart enough? Pretty enough etc? That is the reality for many of us. And when we find ourselves experiencing Jagged Grace, it’s easy to forget who we are; what defines our uniqueness.

But God tells us never to forget the promise of who and whose we are. It’s a full on promise! God will never take it back. It’s always there. A beautiful reminder and proclamation we never have to rediscover. God discovered it for us.

You are a beloved child of God! Do you know who and whose you are?


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Breaking Down and Building Up

Many days, my television is often turned to HGTV. I love watching shows like House Hunters, Fixer Upper and so many others. When I watch Fixer Upper, I am aware of the many obstacles Chip and Joanna find themselves in when they are remodeling a home. One must first tear down and break down walls in order to rebuild a new wall. There must first be a breaking down before there is a building up.

Oh how often is this true in our own lives. We would much rather not experience the pain of being broken down. But often times, like when a house is remodeled, the finished product looks even more beautiful than before.

Now I am not saying that we look more beautiful after we have been broken down. But what I am saying is that our brokenness tells the history and story of who and whose we are. I am a daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness. I am a woman who is called to Word and Service ministry. I am a woman who struggled with systematic theology in seminary. I am a woman who loves words and writing. These each tell the story of who I am as a beloved child of God–the good and the bad.

Like a wall is built up nail by nail, we are built up by encouraging words, amazing people and numerous blessings. And through each of these acts, we are able to feel whole again; whole but just a little bit more fragile than we were before.

One of my favorite things about Fixer Upper and other shows like it is to watch as the old becomes new; as the broken becomes whole and as a family finds a new home suited just for them. In our brokenness, God still welcomes us to come to him; to trust that God will walk with us and will also make us whole again. God is a God who admires our brokenness and uses it to redeem us; to tell the story of God’s love for all the world. And it is because of God’s story of love for the world, that I know that my brokenness doesn’t ultimately define who I am, but rather glorifies a God of new life and resurrection.


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