And Then There Were Eight

Over the last two years and two and a half months the word “normal” has lost all real meaning to me. Oh, I use to think I was enlightened as I would tout the saying, “Normal is a setting on your dryer”, as if I had any idea of what a life looked like that wasn’t normal. However, now I know that normal is overrated.

Two years and two and a half months ago my brother got sick. That is when our normal changed, but that story has already been told. What hasn’t been told is what took place in our family four weeks and two days ago. New Year’s Day to be exact.

So settle in, grab some popcorn, and welcome to my life as a Lifetime movie.

The starring role is played by my sister, Rebecca. She is the heroine of this story and me, well, I’m just a supporting role whose name would appear about twenty names down when they rolled the credits.

One day I’ll write the story from our heroine’s perspective. I’ll have a real interview with her with a tape recorder and everything. I’ll ask tons of questions she won’t think are important and she will roll her eyes at me at least half a dozen times. It will be great!

One day you’ll hear her story.

Today you will just have to settle for mine.

New Year’s Eve I went to a party. I played Nertz with new friends, roasted marshmallows with old friends, and rang in 2012 with my new community in Nashville without a care in the world and with so much hope for everything I believed God moved me to Nashville for.

I fell asleep that night content.

Six hours and forty-seven minutes later my phone woke me up, only it wasn’t my alarm. It was my moma.

In the milliseconds it took me to answer the phone I thought a bunch of things.

Really? 7:47am on New Year’s Day when she knew was at a party all night?!? She must feel guilty for not calling me back last night when I called to tell her “Happy New Year”, but seriously, did she have to call me on her way to church?

“Did I wake you up”, she asked.

“Uhh, yea,” I replied with my voice thick with sleep.

“I’m sorry, honey, but I need you to wake up.”

Well that did it.

What happened? Who died? What happened to Daddy? He did just have a very serious health scare several weeks ago.

“Are you laying down?”

Okay, seriously? Now she was starting to freak me out.

“Yes.”

“Okay, there is someone here who needs to share something with you.”

Then my sister got on the phone. I followed her every word as intently as Alice followed the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. Down the twists and turns of her sentences, trying to figure them out before she got to the end to decipher what she was trying to tell me only to end up flat on my rear end in a dark hole.

“Last night I started to get really sharp pains that made me think I had another kidney stone like I had last year. I tried to deal with the pain but then I told Moma that I couldn’t take it anymore and I asked her to take me to the hospital. We got to the hospital around midnight and after a series of tests it was determined that I did not have a kidney stone, but I was in labor, and at 4:31 this morning I had a baby boy…..”

I wish you could hear the sound of tires squealing on concrete as the brakes shut my brain off at this moment. I vaguely remember hearing her share stats with me and something about him being in the NICU and maybe she said something else but all I remember is an obvious disappearance of oxygen from the room as I began to hyperventilate.

“What? WHAT?!? Who? How? WHAT?!?”

You see, I had just seen her at Christmas. I shared a bathroom with her until November 4th when I moved to Nashville. I didn’t even know she was seeing someone. I had a brief moment of feeling like I was being Punk’d and that the whole lot of my family was going to come bursting through my bedroom door any second. Like I said, that moment was brief. Because in the coolest and calmest voice I have ever heard in my sister, she responded to my questions.

“The how you know. The who is for another conversation. And the what, all you need to know is I have a healthy six pound, six-ounce baby boy.”

The hyperventilation continued.

“What can I do? Do I need to come home? I NEED TO COME HOME! What do you need me to do?”

Again, cool as a cucumber…”You can help me pick out a name.”

“Okay, I can do that.” Names are right up my alley. I love them. I love what they mean about a person’s destiny in the Lord. THAT I could do.

Something happened and my moma was back on the line and again, I was asking if I needed to come home and then alternating between asking and then declaring that I was coming home. Then I asked my moma how she was doing, hoping desperately that she would know what I meant so I wouldn’t have to speak the words to a question I didn’t even know myself.

“How are YOU?!?”

I’ll never forget her words. They were freedom for me. They released me.

“Your Daddy and I are choosing to celebrate his life.”

I can count on one hand how many times in my life I have cried as hard as I did after that statement.

That statement made him real. I had another nephew. My sister was a moma. My sister had a son and he was in the NICU. I was an aunt again. There was life…and then there were eight.

Lately, I’ve been trying to put a name to the emotion that made me begin to cry. I think I’ve settled on shock, and while that may not be an emotion by definition, it was for me that day.

After I got off the phone I walked around on auto pilot. I knew I was going to church so I went into the kitchen to make myself some breakfast. I needed to seek the Lord’s face so I took my breakfast and sat down with my bible and journal in my bedroom. As I was reading, every name I saw was a potential for my new nephew so I looked them up on the internet. I needed to shower so I did.

With every new task there were two things that were constant. My weeping and the Holy Spirit’s presence.

As I was looking up names, I wrote the ones I liked down in my journal along with their meaning. Josiah; God will save. Jesse; Gift. Noah; Rest and comfort.

After wasting about ten minutes putting on my makeup I drove to church. I talked to my brother and sister-in-law on the way.

“Did you have any idea she was pregnant, Kathryn?”

“Are you kidding? No!”

It was beginning to dawn on me that neither had Rebecca. Remember, I shared a bathroom with her until she was seven and a half months pregnant.

She never got sick. She had a cycle every month. She would never have forgone prenatal care had she known she was pregnant. She would never have let our moma take her to the closest hospital to their house, knowing good and well they don’t deliver babies at that hospital.

Still not convinced? Well, I really don’t care because I believed her simply because she told me she didn’t know…even still, the number one reason I know she didn’t know she was pregnant is she would never have let the doctors pump her full of drugs to treat her for a kidney stone, therefore drugging up that sweet baby boy of hers.

Never would she have been that selfish.

I’m not entirely sure how I made it to church that morning but I did and to say I was a mess would be a gross understatement. I was coming a part at the seams. I can’t think of a better place to fall a part though.

During that morning’s time of worship a sweet, godly woman shared a word the Lord had given her. She said that during prayer that morning the Lord had given her a picture of complete and utter chaos; end times chaos. However, in the midst of that chaos the Lord said that the year of 2012 was going to be a year of His unexplainable peace and a year where He would give us His good gift of rest.

Did I mention she was looking directly at me as she said this? Maybe it was because I was a mess or maybe it was because the Lord specifically told her that word was for me, either way, I couldn’t breathe and a whole new wave of tears crashed over me.

His good gift of rest?

Noah; Rest and comfort.

In that moment, I kind of already named him Noah in my heart but there was only one thing…my sister had to like it. Well, she did and later that day, the baby who no one but the Holy Spirit knew about for forty-two weeks was named Noah Riley. Our little man of Brave Rest, since Riley means brave.

I began to pray into his name later that night and God reminded me that the Noah of old believed God when no one else did. He believed God when there was no circumstantial evidence to help him trust. He believed God and because he believed God he saved his family’s life. Because he believed God he provided a conduit where God brought redemption to this world in the form of Jesus.

What an incredible thing, to trust the Lord not because what He says makes sense but simply because it was He who said it.

And then I remembered that is one of the things the Lord wanted to teach me through my move to Nashville. I don’t have to have all of the answers or every little nuance of the timeline of my life figured out before I do something. God’s got it all.

In the days to follow I would catch myself trying to figure things out. “Okay, Becca will need this, and I wonder if she has thought about that, and…..”

Do you know what I heard from the Lord when my thoughts would send me into this tailspin?

“I don’t, all of a sudden, need your help on this. I’ve got this and I’ve had it.”

In that moment I knew that this lesson was so much bigger than Rebecca and Noah.

How often do I find out about something that the Lord has known about from eternity past and since I all of a sudden know about it I have to find a way to fix it? All. The. Time.

When He decides to let me know He has been working in the background of my life and He lifts the veil of knowledge He doesn’t need me to all of a sudden do anything except trust Him. To rest in the knowledge that He has everything and to move when He says move.

I went home to Columbus to see Rebecca and Noah four days after he was born and when I say those were the longest four days of my life I am not exaggerating. They were excruciating and most of those days included me walking around in a zombie-like trance.

On my return trip to Nashville I was talking to a sweet mentor of mine who said, “Kathryn, I don’t know how you are doing it; going back and leaving them.”

I told her I was sure I was where I was supposed to be. That if I was any less certain then I would take my crazy self back to Columbus and live across the hall from Noah and his moma.

Has it been hard to be away? Hard doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Do I feel a little sore towards the Lord for requiring me to move before he was born because He didn’t want me there when it happened? A little.

But here is what I know.

I was sitting in the church I now call home in April of 2011. My sister and moma and I had gone to Nashville for my cousin’s wedding and we visited New Song while we were there. I sat right next to my sister as I began to sense the Lord lay out a strategy for me to move to Nashville in the fall.

I was sitting right next to my sister when the Lord made plain my way to move and she was already pregnant. Noah was already among us and God called me away.

Does that sting a little bit? Yes, but I can’t be sorry.

Is it a sacrifice? Absolutely, but God’s word is clear that we are to die to ourselves so that we may live in Christ Jesus.

Does it seem counter productive to be here taking care of someone else’s babies when I could be there helping to take care of my sister’s? To my checking account, no, but to my heart, yes!

But then God reminds me of the Promise. He reminds me that the Promise is here and I know that it will all be worth it in the end. When I choose to remember this I stay encouraged. I don’t care who you are, you can’t hear a story like this and not be encouraged.

Where there was nothing, all of a sudden there was everything?!? Isn’t that the entire creation story?

Genesis 1:2 says,”Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” There was nothing until God spoke and then there was everything.

“Let there be light,” verse three.

“Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water,” verse six.

“Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear,” verse nine.

“Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds,” verse eleven.

“Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth,” verses fourteen and fifteen.

“Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky,” verse twenty.

“Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind,” verse twenty-four.

“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground,” verse twenty-six.

The earth was formless, God spoke, and then all of a sudden…

What are you hoping for? What are you believing for? What is impossible for God?

The day after Rebecca gave birth to Noah her ankles and feet started to swell. The day AFTER he was born. She asked the nurse why they were swelling now and not before. The nurse looked at her and said, “Your body didn’t have enough time to get use to the fact that it was pregnant so now it is trying to get use to not being pregnant.”

I’m sorry, what? She was pregnant for forty-two weeks! How on earth did it not have time to get use to the fact that it was pregnant? And then it hit me…God hid Noah from her body as well as her mind.

What is impossible for God?

That loved one whose salvation you are praying for, aching for; they are just one decision away. That disease in your body is subject to the King of Kings, believe that! That husband you are waiting for, that wife you are waiting for, they are closer than you think. That womb that is barren and that baby you have prayed for, you believe God! The earth was formless, there was nothing and then all of a sudden!

He is constantly working behind the scenes of our lives and while it is His good pleasure to surprise us with the joys of life, the miracles of life, He works to make His name famous among the earth.

He works in such a way that a young woman would walk through her entire pregnancy, save the final hours, without knowing anything about it so that no shame would rest on her and thus rest on that baby.

Noah was wanted from the moment the knowledge of him was given.

But for forty-two weeks it was just Noah and the Holy Spirit hanging out in Rebecca’s womb. Noah growing and the Holy Spirit protecting, preserving, and sustaining his life as his moma didn’t know to be careful. Noah stretching out in the long torso of my sister and the Holy Spirit loving and ministering to this new little life that was not planned by his earthly parents but set apart and called forth by his Heavenly Father.

Psalm 139 tells us all about this sort of thing, but I admit I had heard it so much it had lost all of it’s magic. Well, no more.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Beautiful Mystery

“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place”…it was so secret that his moma didn’t even know. Tell me, what is impossible for our God?!?

I am more than a little excited to see what kind of Kingdom-Building relationship Noah has with the Holy Spirit as he grows older. His very entrance into the world has brought fame and glory to the Lord already. His Aunt Kathryn has fallen more deeply in love with the Lord than ever before, more enthralled with God’s majesty.

As I was feeding him his bottle this weekend during one of the middle of the night shifts I was overcome.

The room was dark but I could still make out those incredible, big brown eyes staring right into mine and as he sucked on that bottle and made his sweet little baby noises I just began to weep. How great is our God to give our family and this earth such a miracle? And even more than that, how much He must love and trust my sister to have entrusted such a miracle to her? Was there sin involved? Sure, but like I Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I’m fairly certain that the Lord loves her A LOT and so do I. So when I look at her at don’t see what she did but who she is and who she is is a great moma to her boy.

So, welcome to the world Noah Riley. Thank you for existing. Thank you for teaching us all how utterly dependent we are on such an awesome and sovereign God. Thank you for already making God’s name famous. I scarcely feel worthy to be called your aunt.

O Great God, Give Us Rest

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A Ferocious Beauty

Today marks one year since I was given a promise.

It isn’t in my nature to be patient and so, over the last year as I have journeyed through every soveriegn trial the Lord has allowed I am glad He remains patient with me.

There have been moments over the last 365 days when I didn’t think I’d heard right; moments where doubt was so loud and my enemy so persistent I felt stupid for even thinking I had heard from the Lord. Other moments I didn’t even know if I wanted the promise.

Those moments are the ones I’m most ashamed of. To allow bitterness in my heart to the point I didn’t know if I wanted what the Lord had promised? How could I not want that?

Then there have been moments where I have ached for the promise; believed it to be true; resolved to see this out to the end the way the Lord sees fit.

I met the sweet moma and sister of Heath today.

I had wanted to have those moments with them since he died but I wasn’t going to force it. It needed to be about them and not about me. That is an incredible lesson I have learned through this year of learning what the closet of pain actually looks like.

His mother hugged me harder than I have been hugged in a long time and as we cried and talked about Heath I was taken aback at the beauty of their grief. It was a ferocious beauty that was painful to behold but it was beautiful nonetheless.

I walked away from that conversation missing him. Remembering the soveriegnty of everything that took place that last Monday night of his life and again, feeling incredibly blessed to have been a part of it all. I was especially blessed by his moma and sister today.

And then I remember that today marks one year since I was given a promise. I have grieved over the promise and in grieving over the promise I have grieved the One Who gave it to me.

This makes me sad. He gave because He trusted and I have grieved Him. 

It isn’t in my nature to be patient, so over the next year, whether or not the promise is fulfilled within the next 365 days, it is my prayer that more of my nature would begin to disappear and I would be more longsuffering not only in my patience but also my love.

But above all, I want whatever grief I encounter in my life to be as beautiful on me as it was on the moma who hugged me today and the sister who smiled so big as she remembered her brother. A ferocious beauty that is painful to behold  but beautiful nonetheless.

The more I think about it the more I realize it was the hope in their eyes that made their grief beautiful. Hope after a son and brother was murdered? Only God could be the giver of such a hope.

I want that hope to define the next 365 days of my life.

Promise fulfilled or not, hope will define my life.

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Briar’s Bag

InPieces presents Briar’s Bag…with Amy Butler Fabric. Use as a shoulder bag for $75 or a diaper bag with a matching changing pad for $95. A percentage of the proceeds of every bag sold goes to help my sweet friends, Brooke and Brandon to help them raise money to adopt a sweet baby boy from Ethiopia.

With EIGHT pockets and a stable base this bag is durable and great for organization! We take custom orders so contact me at kathrynmeans@yahoo.com and we can design your very own Briar’s Bag.

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Because He Loves Us

A few weeks ago I stepped out of my house to an early Fall chill and it made my heart smile. After a week like I’d had, making my heart smile was quite a coup.  That it was only a chill in the air, made me pause and wonder why.

I love Fall. The promise of the holiday season this year is so sweet since last year our family didn’t celebrate much of one. That could be the reason I smiled, but it wasn’t really.

There is a picture in my head of Fall and Winter that I have never had in reality but have always dreamed of…me and him snuggled up in front of a camp fire, roasting marshmallows, with friends all around. There is just something about Fall that makes me think of love and maybe, just maybe this will be the Fall he comes to me and says he can’t live another day without me. That could be the reason I smiled, but it wasn’t really.

I love Fall. The leaves and the colors. The death.

Call me morbid, but Spring could not exist with all its brilliance of colors and new life without the death of the Fall.

And then I remembered how Fall reminds me of love and my heart smiled.

I guess you have to be in my head for this to instantly make sense. Fortunately you aren’t, because man, wouldn’t that be embarrassing!

Let me expound…

He knows that Spring isn’t possible without Fall. So He prunes. The dead falls away to make room for new life. We have to endure Winter for the glory of Spring. He loves us and he knows what is to come in the Spring so He knows that the death of Fall and Winter is worth it in the end.

Sometimes life is like that too.

We have to endure the trials of life and the death it brings in order to see the Glory of His face.

There has been a lot about this past month I don’t understand.

Why would God allow a 25 year-old man, who loved Jesus with his whole heart, to be killed in such a violent way?

Why would God allow a young couple, who loves Jesus with their whole hearts, lose their sweet baby boy on the same day he was born?

Because He loves us.

My flesh rejects that as an answer because in my flesh the question, “Why would a loving God allow such things?” screams at me.

However, over the last 11 months my spirit has learned to cling to that answer with all of its might. Reason may scream otherwise but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound  the wise and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty (I Corinthians 1:27).

It seems foolish to the world that the murder of a young man would bring about so much life change in those affected by the loss of him and yet, it has.

It seems foolish to the world that a sweet baby boy who never breathed outside of his mother’s womb would affect people so deeply and yet, he has.

It will be a very long time before I worship the Lord without thinking of Heath Jackson. Monday night, September 6, 2010 I was standing alongside of him as we rehearsed for the very first Eminent Worship. Tuesday night, September 7, 2010 I stood beside someone different as I led because Heath was looking at Jesus’ face.

The veil to eternity is so very thin.

It will be a very long time before I see a baby or a pregnant woman without thinking about Briar Allen and his sweet moma and daddy. All three are my heroes in so many ways. Brooke and Brandon would balk at that word but they are nonetheless.  And little Briar kicking his moma ’til the very end, well he is one of my heroes too.

The veil to eternity is so very thin.

Recently I was thinking about where I was with the Lord three long years ago in the Summer of 2007. There was an instant ache of longing wishing I could go back to that girl and then I thought about all I know of the Lord now that I didn’t know then. What I saw was a girl who loved the Lord in her naiveté.

What I have learned in the last 11 months is that when you get to know the Lord in the fellowship of His sufferings all that naiveté falls away. Now when I say I love the Lord, my eyes smart because I love Him despite the wounding He has allowed to touch my life and the lives of the people I love. I love Him more because I know Him more and I’ve gotten to know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings.

And then I remember why I love Fall…

Philippians 3:7-11 says, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Tomorrow I unveil a new bag for InPieces. I wanted to attach a picture tonight but I broke my first needle and then ran out of thread. Anyway, come back tomorrow to see it.

This bag is special. Has been since I started cutting out the pattern. It is my first diaper bag and all I could think about was Brooke and Briar and how she should have been able to buy and carry a diaper bag for him. I cried as I cut those pieces out and then I named it.

Briar’s Bag will be available for purchase starting tomorrow. It’s $75 without a portable changing pad and $95 with. I know it’s a little pricey but you should see this thing! I’m pretty proud!

Another thing I’m proud of is that 15% of the proceeds of this bag are going to Briar’s parents. They are raising money to adopt Briar’s brother from Ethiopia and all I’ve been thinking about lately is how can I help bring him home faster. Well, this is how.

Death brings new life over and over and I continue to be amazed by it.

The foolish confounding the wise. The weak confounding the mighty.

Because He loves us.

***To learn more about Briar’s story go to his Moma’s blog. She’ll blow you away with her faith.***

One Section Away

In January I mentioned that I was hoping to be finished with my book by April and here it is August.

I make myself laugh so often that I know I must leave the Lord in stitches with what I think the calendar of my life should look like.

Writing this book has been such a journey for me and I am continuing to learn that it is not up to me to decide when the journey is over.

It’s a daughter’s journey to take, not to dictate.

The journey has taken me places I never would have volunteered for but for the first time in nine months I can honestly say I’m glad He made me go.

I’m one section away from the end of the book. It’s about how He loves us…somehow it’s been the hardest part to write. I’m not going to force it. It will come as organically as the rest but it’s been bubbling up in me for about 3 weeks and I feel it coming to the surface…

…which leaves me terrified. A good terrified, but terrified nonetheless.

I’ve honestly never been able to see anything more than I can see where this finished book will take me. But then I remind myself what I have written and something in me screams, “You don’t want the whole world to know all of those things!”

I may not, but the Lord does and if, nine months after my brother got sick I can say, I’m glad He took me there, then I have to believe that no matter where this journey takes me, I’ll be glad. Even if the world hates me and no on calls with a “Yes, we’d be glad to publish your book”, even then, at some point, I’ll be glad.

I’ve been thinking about What and Who the Lord is to me lately and I think that this quote from Donald Miller pretty much sums it up for me.

“‘I AM.’ Climbing inside letters, God explains, I encompass, I am beyond existence, I am nothing you will understand, I have no beginning and no end, I am not like you, and yet I AM.

It says it all.

But how can that be?

It tells us nothing.

It tells us everything.

What I love about His I AMness is that it meets us on levels that are intimate to our hearts and our brokenness. His I AMness is so complete and full that it fills every unique void a person ever has.

I AM, the Faithful One who remains faithful even as I am as faithless in my sin and unbelief as Gomer. Instead of pointing out my faithlessness at every turn, He forgives and restores me at the place of my brokenness.

I AM, the God who allows still scares me a little. He is so all encompassing; far reaching. The God who allows doesn’t have to explain Himself to anyone. He doesn’t have to answer questions of “Why”. He allows His Will to be worked out in our lives and that Will might bring joy or it might bring pain and still, He allows.

I AM, the Love Who will never let me go has been huge for me as of late. I picture in my head one of the little boys I nannied who would constantly run away from me. I would be holding his hand at the park and he would let go of my hand and just run. Pretty soon I stopped relying on his holding my hand and I started holding his. Even when he let go of my hand I had a hold of his and he wasn’t going anywhere without tearing his shoulder out of its socket. I AM, the Love Who will never let me go holds onto me like that too. I may let go of His hand but He never lets go of mine.

I AM, the Creator who has made no mistakes in His creation. Even the things that do not make sense to me are created and allowed intentionally because He knows what I need in order to become who He always meant for me to be.

I AM, the One who waits with and for me. As I wait to be wanted by the man He has for me. I do not wait alone, because as I wait to be wanted He also waits to be wanted…by me, by you. As we have waited together over the last several years I have found that my waiting now has a meaning it never did before.

I AM, the One who makes all things new. Even the dingy, dark, filthy areas of my life I wish He knew nothing about.

I AM, the One who woos and wins me every day, pursuing me when I don’t even want to be sought after. When I long to hide from the beautiful terror that is His face, still He woos.

He climbs into three letters, two words and somehow, in His infinite I AMness, He is all things to all people.

He is…and I am made new because of it.

I have hope because He is.

I have a future because He is.

I am…because He is.

Who is He to you?

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In Pieces

Every once in a while there is an invention that strikes me as perfection.

What constitutes perfection in my opinion? If it improves the quality of my life or if the conception of it is truly genius.

iTunes is that for me, as well as an eyelash curler and a backspace button. I’m really not that hard to please or impress.

More recently the sewing machine has been the invention of perfection in my life.

There is something about it for me…just sitting down to the sewing machine with pieces of fabric, stitching them together to make something that wasn’t come to be.

In fact I love everything about the tedious process of creating something with fabric.

Very recently I gave a sweet friend a quilt I made for her even sweeter unborn baby.

God, in His sovereignty, has allowed this little boy’s skull not to form. He is not expected to live long, if at all, after he is born.

As I was making his quilt I was intentional to make every stitch perfectly straight. I was intentional about every step of the process, really.

Fabric stores are some of my favorite stores as of late. I remember being in a store with my cart loaded down with bolts of fabric swapping them out to see which ones went best with each other, which ones would make the others pop, and talking out loud to myself the whole time.

“No, not that one. That one works but I don’t LOVE it. Oh, okay, here we go.”

“You are a quilter, aren’t you,” a woman I didn’t realize was beside me, asked.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I knew it. You can tell them from a mile away.”

I didn’t know whether that was a good thing or not but I went about trying out colors, patterns, and textures together. When I’m in the zone there is no distracting me.

Once the decisions, cuts, and purchases have been made I cannot wait to get home and start cutting some more. But before I can do that I have to do my least favorite thing.

Wash and dry them.

All these beautiful fabrics I have painstakingly chosen have to be hidden away from me for an hour so they can essentially shrink before I begin piecing them together.

That hour is very long.

Next, it’s time to get all the wrinkles out. As I begin to iron yards and yards of fabric I have time to think and dream.

Will it be as beautiful as I see it in my head? Whether it is a quilt I am making or a purse, that is always the question that passes through my mind. What if this is the pattern that stumps me and I can’t figure it out?

The cutting tools and measuring tape comes next. You’d think this would be a little sad but really it is one of the most exciting parts.

It can’t be what it is meant to be without cutting off the excess I don’t need.

After all the cuts have been made and all the pieces are lined up waiting to be pieced together the straight pins come out and the invention of perfection is fired up.

For this quilt in particular I started with a 9 ½ by 12 ½ inch rectangle in the center and then added strips of coordinating fabric all around it until it was 46 inches by 48 inches. That made for a lot of pieces and I set in at my machine for the long haul.

Pin. Sew. Press the seam. Pin. Sew. Press the seam. On and on until it starts to take shape.

I have a tendency to giggle when I create.

There is a joy for me in the process and as something I have invested so much time, sweat, money, and blood into comes together, it just bubbles out in the form of a giggle. And sometimes I even clap, I’m so excited.

I say blood because let’s face it. Someone with my track record at being accident prone using needles and cutting tools? Yea, there has been blood.

Before I know it the quilt is finished and all that’s left is hand stitching the binding on. Things quiet down once this step is in process. Normally I’ll curl up on the couch and watch a good movie while I blind stitch away until the last stitch is made and there on my lap is a finished quilt.

Every step in making a quilt is tedious but every step is necessary. If you mess up on one little step it effects the outcome of the finished product and believe me, having made a perfectly perfect quilt, the steps are all worth doing right.

A couple of quilts back I was struck with the beauty of the process and then I was struck with something I never thought I would encounter in this new found love of sewing.

I create because I was created by a Creator whose creation, all of it, every bit of it, creates.

For example, He created a man named Truitt Cathy who created a chicken sandwich that created a demand for a restaurant that would be centered on said chicken sandwich. After years of creating new recipes the restaurant created one called the Cookies and Cream Milkshake which creates in me such happiness every single time I partake.

His creation is meant to create.

I think I would have liked to see the God of the universe in the fabric store of my life with all of the things that make me me draped over an enormous God-Sized cart as He decided who I would be. Painstakingly choosing what would be best with what. I need to remember this more when I don’t like certain things about myself.

I mean, really, do I need to be so naturally loud?

Well, yes, obviously I do. He chose it and while I have had to learn about the when and the where to let my natural volume go, He obviously sees a need for it.

As He washed and dried me in my salvation and baptism the ironing could begin. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I’m still being pressed years later but then I don’t think that ever goes away this side of Glory.

Now comes the Holy scissors. Wow, this part hurts and it seriously never ends. When the Creator cuts away the excess because He knows I can’t be what He means for me to be without the process of the cutting.

At this point in the process I’m in pieces. Intentional pieces but pieces just the same.

Sometimes the being in pieces looks like a break up that threatens to define you. Or a move to a different state that didn’t turn out quite how you imagined it. Or perhaps when you wander through your life longer than you anticipated. Sometimes the being in pieces is an illness that attacks someone you love more than life.

For my sweet friend the being in pieces is carrying a baby boy who is not expected to live.

It’s when we are in the pieces of our lives we have to trust that He, as Creator God, knows exactly how He is going to piece us back together. As He sits down to the sewing machine of our lives never doubt that He sets in for the long haul.

Pin. Sew. Press the seam. Pin. Sew. Press the seam. On and on until we start to take shape.

I imagine He giggles a little along the way as well.

As what He has invested so much time, sweat, treasures, and blood, oh that precious blood, into comes together. And I’m sure He claps. I’ve felt His claps and pleasure as I operate as I should.

Before we know it we’re old, at least that’s how it should be when our life in this world is almost over. All that remains unfinished is the binding. Things get quiet and our Creator sits with needle and thread in hand and begins the hand stitching.

Can you see Him?

On His throne with the whole world in His hands but solely focused on you? On me? He is almost finished. At the corners of His mouth, that mouth that spoke the world into existence, a smile pulls up at what He sees.

He is blind stitching away until the last stitch is made and there on His lap is a finished me. A finished you.

When life on this earth is done, I’m convinced that we will find ourselves on the lap of the One who Created us because it’s only there that we won’t miss anything this life had to offer and the being in pieces parts, well, I have a feeling they’ll all be worth it.

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What if We Forget?

How many of us truly know what we are to do on this earth?

For Christ-followers the ultimate goal is to bring Jesus glory in and through our lives, but let’s go beyond that.

How has he uniquely called the individual that you are to do that?

I love that there are so many beautifully broken ways in which to do the same thing.

For me, the answer can be summed up into one word…a word I don’t hold a degree for but a word that is etched into my very DNA.

Teacher.

As I have mentioned before, teachers must first be taught…this is the messy part for me. I love the light bulb moments when what I am trying to communicate latches onto someone and they get it, but all the stuff I have to learn, the processes I have to go through for me to get to the point that I can teach it; not so much!

All I have to say is that there had better be a lot of those light bulb moments in the future for me to witness after the last seven months.

I wish you could have heard me say that last sentence because as I reread it, it almost sounds as though I’m defiant and a little angry but I said it with an exhausted chuckle. I know this season has been unto something but I am anxious and ready for the something.

These days most of my teaching moments come from one-on-one relationships. No workshops for me to get ready for anymore, no classrooms of people who have come to listen to me speak, just sweet ladies I have the privilege of walking with who look at me with admiration in their eyes.

There has been more than one occasion I have wondered what they see when they look at me. Surely not the messed up, scared little girl who is a little terrified of relationships now because anyone of them could be the next to get a headache in my life. A headache that could threaten to take them away from me.

Some people may think it is weak of me to admit that…but I finally said it out loud to myself and there is no going back. The more I say it out loud the less power the enemy has to steal anymore than he has already stolen.

So what if I am weak? Jesus said that when I am weak He is strong and I need Him to be strong right now because I am tired. So incredibly tired.

So tired that I almost forgot.

There is very little that I want more in my life than to write and to make a living doing it. To be able to trudge through the classroom of my life, write down what I learn, and move people; inspire them.

It’s a word that has been spoken over me time and time again and it’s a dream the Lord gave me long ago.

The last 7 months have threatened to make me forget.

And to make matters worse, because we have an enemy who hates with an extreme passion that it always takes me aback, once I remembered I didn’t know if I still wanted it.

That’s how I know how important this dream is because if it wasn’t he wouldn’t be as scared of me as he is.

That makes me smile a little bit.

So in order to remind myself of how I am meant to bring my Jesus glory I knew I needed something tangible I can see and hold and then I found it. I didn’t even know what I was looking for and then it was there in the form of a necklace.

You’ll have to forgive me…I’m a writer not a photographer and on top of that my camera phone isn’t the best. In case you can’t read it it says, “dream. teach. inspire.” When I saw it on Beki’s website at The Rusted Chain I knew I had to have it.

I am not a big jewelry person. I like the costume kind but I don’t have a piece of jewelry that I wear all the time except for a claddagh ring that has sentimental value, but I have found myself putting this necklace on everyday since the day it came in the mail.

Every time I see it I am reminded. I find myself taking it between my fingers when I’m deep in thought, worrying the little pearl and I’m thankful I didn’t forget.

One of my favorite things is a dictionary. I love thinking I know what a word means only to find out that there is a beautiful way of defining it I never would have known about had I not looked it up.

A dream. We all know what it is.

It is “a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep.” However, it is also “an aspiration; goal; aim; a wild or vain fancy.”

Admittedly, I don’t like the last definition very much but then there was another after that and, well it is my favorite.

A dream is “something of an unreal beauty, charm, or excellence.”

I want to be the kind of person that doesn’t let any amount of pain, fear, or tragedy keep me from something of an unreal beauty.

I want the dream. I want to teach. I want to inspire.

What happens if I forget?

Honestly, I’m not worried about what happens to the people I would have taught. God doesn’t need me to teach them. He’ll just get somebody else.

Somebody better and wiser.

But what happens to me? I don’t like the answer to that question.

I miss it. I miss all of it. Every little way in which the Lord didn’t need to use me but, better, wanted to use me.

Thankfully I don’t have to forget. With the Holy Spirit’s whispered reminders and now the reminder that hangs daily from my neck. A piece of jewelry that is intensely personal and has helped heal a place in my spirit that was left ravaged by the terror of the Fall.

Don’t forget. What ever it is the Lord called you to do, whether it was yesterday or 20 years ago, don’t forget.

Will it be hard at times to remember?

I can answer that with an emphatic “Yes”, but think of all you’ll miss.

Remember, and let Him do amazing things among you!

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The Rabbi Thinks You Can Be Like Him

Donald Miller wrote, “It is true that it is a powerful occurrence to have somebody look you in the eye and say you are worth something.”

But what if that “somebody” was Jesus, and what if you were a pariah of society, a tax collector named Zacchaeus? What if He not only looked you in the eye but called you by name and volunteered to stay in your home, all the while a crowd stood by filled with judgment?

Zacchaeus’ life changed unalterably that day.

Operating under the assumption that Jesus is still that “somebody”, pretend you find yourself standing before Him, partially clothed having just been caught in the act of adultery, waiting for judgment to find you. After the Pharisees dropped their stones and walked away you are finally able to breathe, only for it to be taken away again. Is it possible that this man they claim is the Messiah just told you He didn’t condemn you?

Her life changed unalterably that day.

How incredible the power of Jesus looking into their eyes, seeing their filth, and still believing in them.

Perhaps though, the greatest picture of Jesus’ belief in another came in his choosing of disciples.

In Jesus’ day rabbis would choose their disciples based on who they thought could be like them. Which student, over the process of many years could become like the teacher. The disciple’s task was simple; become as much like the rabbi as possible.

Walking along the Sea of Galilee one day Jesus called His first disciples, brothers, Peter and Andrew.

They were not in the synagogue. They were fishing.

There is something incredibly beautiful to be discovered in these two sentences. They were fisherman by trade which means they had been passed over by other rabbis. No other rabbi had found them to be good enough to become like them. While they were uneducated in the Law, surely even they knew the significance of such a call from Jesus.

The Rabbi thought they could be like Him? No wonder Matthew describes their response to that invitation as “At once they left their nets and followed Him.”

After calling the first two there was another set of brothers, James and John to receive the call.

Also fishermen. Also passed over. And again the Bible says, “Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.”

I think it is safe to say that these men’s lives change unalterably that day. For the next three and a half years these men along with eight others spent their lives with Jesus and after Jesus’ death and resurrection eleven of them would spend the rest of their lives for Him. Sometimes they got it right and were like Him and other times they failed miserably.

Knowing that they failed gives me incredible hope. Remembering that they were uneducated when Christ called them encourages me too but then I wonder if I use my trusty Bible College degree as a crutch.

In those three and a half years they didn’t have theological debates with Jesus. They listened to every word that came out of Jesus’ mouth. When they didn’t understand something they asked questions even asking the same questions over and over, risking exasperation from their Rabbi.

I’m ashamed to admit I use what knowledge and understanding I have as a crutch many times. I know what I know and for most of my life I took what I knew at face value, not going further into the knowledge to find the heart of my Savior.

He doesn’t want me to have a library’s worth of knowledge without the heart of a child who is just in love with her Father.

He wants to find me on the shore of the Sea of Galilee of my life, having been passed over for more “important, intelligent, disciplined” people, so that as soon as He issues the call on my life I immediately stop what I am doing and follow Him.

He wants to find you there as well.

Peter was many things but passionate is the thing I relate to the most. If there was emotion to be felt, Peter felt it intensely. At times this helped him but at others it hindered him.

The night Jesus was betrayed He predicted that every one of the twelve would fall away from Him. Peter being Peter said, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

I wonder what the Lord was thinking in these moments, what the look on His face communicated.

A deep sadness? A small smile communicating Peter’s naiveté?

Jesus answered, “Don’t be so sure. This very night, before the rooster crows up the dawn, you will deny me three times.”

Emphatically Peter denies this possibility. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”

It was in the high priest’s courtyard where the first denial came, just outside the gate of the courtyard for the second, and then again in the courtyard for the third.

Then the rooster crowed.

Jesus looked up from the questioning that bombarded Him and looked straight at Peter.

It was in that moment, that moment when the Son of God looked into his eyes that Peter remembered what He had said earlier that night.

He left the courtyard weeping bitterly.

Peter had failed the only one who believed in him. The feeling of failure was sure to smother him. I wonder if this is why he didn’t go to Calvary with Mary, John, and Mary Magdalene. Maybe he didn’t feel worthy to be a part of Christ’s life after such a betrayal.

This is why I love the Lord…because even when we mess up in the worst ways He tailors our redemption in such an intimate way it can not possibly be meant for anyone else.

Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Salome brought spices to Jesus’ grave in order to anoint the body only to find that He had risen. There was a man in His tomb who told the women to “go, tell His disciples and Peter…”

Peter may have failed the Lord but He wanted Peter to know there was still time to make it right. Three and a half years of following this Man called God was not over yet. It would not all end with a denial.

There was more…there is always more than our failures.

While Jesus appeared to His disciples several times the first account of Jesus speaking again with Peter occurs on the familiar shore of a familiar lake.

Peter is fishing again. He walked with Jesus for years but since that was over he went back to what he knew, what was comfortable, what was secure. How many times have I, after walking with God in profound ways and then experience a failure, go back to what I knew before?

It never satisfies for long, though. When you have seen God move in way unexplainable and then go back…something in your soul threatens to die.

I wonder how many times during that night of fishing when he caught nothing he thought of the night his Jesus walked on that very water; that he had walked on that very water.

This life he was living since Jesus died was not the one he thought he would be living just two weeks before.

But then the sun crept its way up to the horizon and with it a renewed hope.

Jesus came to them again and again Peter dropped what he was doing and ran to Him.

Restoring him at the point of his brokenness Jesus asked him three times if he loved Him and three times Peter replied with a passionate, “Lord you know that I love you.”

What I love most about this story is the tenacity of Christ. He didn’t just call Peter once but twice. He didn’t just stop at the initial calling but after Peter failed and had forgotten who he was and what he was to do Jesus came back and called him again. He believed in him that much.

The same is true for us.

Did you know that the Rabbi thinks you can be like Him? Let that settle in you heart. The Rabbi thinks you can be like Him!

Has a failure caused you to forget?

After I stopped working with Exodus International I forgot. I went back to work as a nanny.

Sound familiar?

I told you I could relate to Peter.

Thankfully, like Peter, the Lord knew where I go fishing as well. Because it was there, in the kitchen of the family I was nannying for, that the Lord breathed the dream I had long forgotten about in my heart.

Even after my failure He wanted to use me.

The Rabbi thinks I can be like Him and so I dropped what I was doing to run after Him.

What is He calling you to? How does He want you to grow?

Chances are you already know. You’ve been feeling a tugging on your heart that could only be from Him.

What is holding you back from dropping your nets and following Him?

Is it fear of the unknown? Or perhaps you know how hard it will be so you choose not to follow again because you know how fallible you are.

I have good news…Jesus doesn’t believe in us as much as He believes in Himself in us.

The fact that Jesus would believe in someone apart from Himself is laughable. The belief comes when someone is grounded and rooted in the Love of God.

The kind of belief that makes mountains move.

He knows you well enough to know that apart from Him you can do nothing of eternal value and worth. Yet, he still chose you to do the things he has called you to.

Knowing that He goes with you, the disciple’s task is simple; become as much like the Rabbi as possible.

Because the Rabbi thinks you can be like Him.

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Wrestling with the “God Who Allows”

I have been afforded several opportunities to come into a family’s home and care for their infant children, enough that the idea of becoming a mother does not frighten me as it would had I not already had those middle of the night experiences with a fever-ridden child who wants only to be held and rocked for three hours straight.

There are so many things I have a heads up on.

Like potty-training. I’ve done it. Successfully.

Like weaning a child off the bottle. I’ve done it. Successfully.

I’ve learned a lot of practical things that will definitely be part of my arsenal when I embark on the adventure of motherhood. I’ve also learned a lot of spiritual things about how God the Father sees and loves me; sees and cares for me.

My most recent charge is family. Kayleigh belongs to my cousin and her husband and when she was still in her moma’s womb I felt the Lord say, “Clear your schedule. You need to take care of that little one.” She was already enrolled in daycare but I could tell the very thought of taking her six week old baby girl to daycare was breaking her moma’s heart. So, when her moma was about three weeks away from returning to work I offered and they accepted.

Taking care of her has been a different experience for me. Never before had I gone into a home already loving the little one I would be caring for. I grew to love everyone of them, some of them so much so I would have given my life for them without a thought but I had to get there. Not so with Kayleigh.

No, I loved her before I even met her. I loved her because of who she belonged to and I loved her because in a small way she belonged to me. She is my family.

While I loved her she wasn’t too sure about me in the beginning. I think she had to grow to love me. Or at least I think that is what those inconsolable fits were about.

That little girl has some lungs on her! She would just cry and cry and nothing I did would make it better. I was starting to feel inept. Then I discovered that if I just put her down she was fine.

As the weeks have passed we have become friends but then one day last week she lapsed and this fit she threw was worse than any of the others.

She had been fed. She was dry. Nothing was sticking into her skin or poking her. She was fine but she was screaming.

I went into soothing mode, wondering if it was her tummy that was giving her fits. I did everything that had ever worked in the past to calm her down. None of it worked.

Fifteen minutes later she was still screaming and I was about at my wits end. Finally I swaddled her up and with pacifier in hand we went to the rocking chair. Holding her tightly I rocked and rocked and sang and sang. She screamed.

That is when I heard Him.

“Does she look familiar?”

“I’m sorry?”

“She looks familiar to me. She looks like you have looked for the last several months. Since Jeremiah got sick, really. I want you to notice everything you do for her in the next several minutes and I want you to really pay attention to the motivation behind why you do what you do.”

A different kind of cry interrupted me from the unwanted and unrequested assignment. It was a cry of frustration and anger and I brought her tighter to my chest.

By this point I had ascertained that she was fighting sleep and so the rocking intensified. Without realizing what I was doing I pinpointed the motivation behind my actions. I brought her tighter to my chest and intensified the rocking to let her know that I wasn’t just going to put her down because she wanted me to. She needed to sleep and I was going to get her there.

She just kept on screaming.

As the minutes ticked by I thought about giving up. Just putting her down in the crib to cry it out by herself, but my spirit wouldn’t let me.

“I will never leave or forsake you.”

“But You let him get sick. He loves You. Our family loves You and You allowed him to get sick.”

“I will never leave or forsake you.”

The cries began to subside as she finally latched onto the pacifier. She still made little whimpers around it insisting that I know she was still not happy with me. I continued in the same manner as before. Rocking and singing.

“Lord, I see the parallel You are trying to make but Kayleigh was just fighting going to sleep. Jeremiah almost died. I know the “almost” should be enough to make it better for me but irrational as it may be I still feel like you betrayed us by allowing this to happen.”

“I will never leave or forsake you.”

She finally fell asleep. As I gently placed her in her crib I realized I was exhausted. It had taken everything out of me to remain calm and in control of the situation. And then I wondered, if God was not God and inexhaustible, how often I would have left Him exhausted with my kicking and screaming.

I imagined myself wrapped up in His holy arms as Kayleigh had just been wrapped up in mine, kicking and screaming at the top of my lungs because He was allowing something to happen to me that I did not like. It was not an attractive picture I will tell you that!

Weeks later, after the picture had left my mind I wondered what my problem was. I just couldn’t shake off whatever funk had settled over me the second week Jeremiah was in the hospital. I was ironing the seams of my latest quilt project and as the steam rose around me I finally settled on what I had been doing for the last several months.

Wrestling with the “God Who Allows”.

My selfish nature is shown so clearly in response to the “God Who Allows”. When He allows me to be blessed I praise Him. I draw close to Him. I fall more in love with Him. But when He allows me to be persecuted or allows bad things to happen in my life, I rebel.

What I refuse to acknowledge in the moment is that I cannot have one without the other. I cannot have the God who allows the good without the God who allows the bad.

While this may not make sense to my finite brain His holiness makes it clear that He does not have to explain Himself to me.

He is Almighty God, the God Who Allows and when we wrestle with Him He wins. He always wins.

Over the course of my life I’ve wrestled with the Lord more than I am proud of and in the end he always wins but there was something very different about this victory. There was no relief on my part that the wrestle was over. There was no sweet, yet sovereign whisper that said, “Now that you’re done can we get on with it?”

There was something very solemn about this victory. Perhaps it was because we both knew He would give no answers. Perhaps it was because we both had to acknowledge that while I was not fighting Him anymore, He still allowed. Or perhaps it was because we both knew I should have known better. I should have known not to panic in the midst of our pain.

But I did.

I panicked.

And as I laid hold of the panic I let go of trust. That was my first mistake but then there were more. When I let go of trust, fear and anger crept in and it attacked my unguarded mind. After several weeks of that battle, having won, they moved to my heart.

Thankfully this is when my Savior intervened.

“I will never leave or forsake you.”

How undeserving I am of a Longsuffering Lord!

So, I’ve let go of the panic, of the fear and anger and I’ve crawled back into the lap of the “God Who Allows” knowing even as I climb that like the old hymn says, His Love never let me go. His joy sought me through the pain and even though I tried, my heart could not close to Him.

And so, it is with eyes filled with tears of gladness, peace even in the midst of unanswered questions, that I will rejoice because I have been made whole by a Love that will not let me go.

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If Ribs Could Talk

“Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”

Genesis 2:19-22

Growing up in church as I did I never heard the above passage mentioned without reference to the importance that woman was created from man’s side.

Not from his head to rule over him and not from his feet to be trampled upon, but from his side; to walk beside him and to be protected by him in the comfort of his arms.

This is great imagery and I assume very helpful to men but as a woman, what does this teach me about what it means to be a woman? When I am floundering in what and who I am supposed to be and how and why God created me a woman what does this picture tell me?

Nothing, really, except we need to be protected and covered. That I already know.

Maybe it would help to look more closely at what it was God used to create us.

A rib. Not very glamorous, but let’s look closer.

What does it do? What is its function? Could the body remain the same without it?

A rib shields the body’s vital organs from injury. The heart, lungs, and kidneys are all protected by the ribcage. A rib enables the lungs to expand with necessary oxygen by expanding the chest. Without the ribs our bodies would be exposed to fatal injury simply by walking around our homes. Bumping into walls would be catastrophic and a simple fender bender would land us in the morgue.

A rib allows itself to literally be crushed before it lets any harm come to the vital organs of the body.

What does this teach me about what it means to be a woman?

We were created to be a shield. To protect those around us, to expand as our sphere of influence increases, we were created to shield.

Specific to our men, what are the vital things that are important in their make up?

Character. Integrity. These are their hearts and lungs.

A woman who is operating fully as she was created will allow herself to literally be crushed before she lets any harm come to the character or integrity of her husband, her father, her brother.

I’m overcome with emotion at how incredibly beautiful this is.

There is no role on earth that I look forward to more than to be the Rib to the man God has for me. Knowing how taxing it will be makes me diligent in making sure I do not settle because if I am going to allow myself to be crushed he will be worthy of such a sacrifice.

Will he be perfect?

No, but he will be worthy.

This is one of those truths that so transformed my life that I remember exactly where I was and who I was with when I first heard it.

Up to that point the word submission sat in my stomach as well as Ipecac.

Not well.

How weak does a woman have to be to submit to her husband? I didn’t want to do anything of the sort. I was also really stupid and had no idea what God’s intention was when he gave such instruction.

However, when He dropped the picture of the rib into my heart I understood the strength it would take, I saw the beauty of sacrifice, and I wanted it. I wanted it bad.

I still want it. Because the man who is worthy of such sacrifice, also deserves all I am and that adventure is one I’m about to crawl out of my skin to embark upon…but I digress.

So what about those men who aren’t worthy of the sacrifice? What about the fathers who beat their daughters? What about the husbands who beat their wives?

What happens when a man breaks the Rib that was created to protect him, leaving her completely ineffectual in her function?

She must be removed and given time to heal.

She must be protected and shielded herself.

She must be given room to expand and grow.

I am by no means suggesting you make yourself a doormat. Many women with a flare for feminism would call this weakness in the highest degree but no weak rib can withstand the pressure to protect the heart and lungs, nor can a weak woman protect the character and integrity of an imperfect man.

Only a woman of incredible strength can do such a thing. And only a woman of incredible strength can discern between a man worthy of the sacrifice and a man who is not.

We cannot control what anyone does to us, but we can control our response to them and if every man you meet is paying the price for what was done to you by one, there is no strength in that either.

Are you protecting? Are you shielding your family from hits from the enemy? Or are you allowing the hits to come from within?

What would happen if the ribs shot fire at the very things they were created to protect?

The body would never survive.

Ladies, stop bad-mouthing your husbands. Even if they “deserve” it, just stop.

There is nothing uglier than someone acting in a manner that is contrary to how they were created to act and there is nothing more beautiful than a woman who shields and protects her man’s character and integrity from everything she can…including herself.

So, the next time the Ribs get together for “Ribs Night Out” and the conversation starts to veer towards the heart and the lungs, stand up under that pressure and make sure no harm comes.

Be beautiful.

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