Thirteen

 

Griffin,

It’s hard to believe you are thirteen years old. It literally seems like yesterday that I held you for the first time. You made me a mother, even when I was still a baby myself. In that very moment I learned what love actually was, I never knew before that day. But my heart became whole the moment I heard you take your first breath, Griffin. You were wide eyed, and full of wonder from the start. I remember Stuart saying, “He is going to be so smart, look how he is just taking everything in.” and Granddaddy drove 4 hours to the hospital, in the middle of the night, to meet you the day you were born. You were his first great-great grandchild, and he was busting at the seams with joy to hold you. I remember that day, like it was yesterday. But here you are, a teen. I blinked and you grew up on me. To say that I love you just doesn’t seem enough.

The other day as we were playing football in the yard, I struggled to keep the tears in. I watched you turning from a boy to a man. The days of tucking you in, praying and reading bedtime stories, holding your hand as we crossed the street.. those days are only memories now. I know life hasn’t been easy. You have had more hurt and confusion than most kids your age. You have suffered tremendous loss. But you, Griffin have been so strong, and brave, and you have pushed on in spite of a lot of crap. And I need you to know today, Bill and I are so proud of you. We are so blessed to be the ones by your side each and every day. I love your smile, your heart, and your wit.

 

As you embark on this next phase of your life, we promise to give you room to find your way, but guidelines to keep you safe. I pray you realize HOW fast the next seven years will go, and you will choose to make a mark on those around you each day. I pray you move forward with respect to your future and make decisions that reflect the man you hope to be. I have to admit, I am fearful of your independence, and prayful you choose the right path, I have such immense pride knowing how strong you have been these last five years, and am certain you are on the cusp of the most amazing years of your life.

I hope you remember, you are loved ferociously. Not only by Bill and I, but by God. You are capable of the VERY best, so never settle for less than that. I pray you remember your brother and sister love you more than life itself, and you are their example. Lead them well. I pray you pick your friends wisely. Being popular isn’t important, but make selective friendships with people that carry your same morals and values IS. Your friends and your future girlfriend(s) should be people with character. People that push you to be your very best you, and people that you in turn do the same. I pray you always know Bill and I are here to talk, to listen, to pray. We always have your back. If your Uncle Stuart were here today, I believe he would tell you to have a firm handshake, and introduce yourself with confidence. He was known for his handshake. People remember him for the way that moment with him made them feel. Make people feel that same way in that moment with you. Make them better in that 30 seconds, than they were before having met you. Always believe in yourself. What you believe about you, others will too. Make sure they see your greatness. Because you are so worthy of a beautiful life. Be grateful for what you have and say thank you.  Be careful what you put in writing, because you will never be able to take it back. And on that note, in a world of social media: be careful what you post online. It will affect your future jobs, friendships, marriage, children. The internet and social media are permanent. REMEMBER THAT. Lastly, I pray as you continue to mature into the man God called you to be, You will watch Bill. He is a wonderful man – full of love, integrity, compassion, and strength.  He is wise and can offer insight on all things “guy”. He is a role model that only comes once in a lifetime. Be a sponge and absorb as much as you can from him in these next seven years as a teen . Be grateful to God, that he has chosen to be your father, as we are so grateful that you are our son. Never forget, no matter how great the success, or how mighty the failure, WE WILL ALWAYS BE THERE FOR YOU. ALWAYS.

I will close by saying, I know these words may not be significant to you today, But we pray when those days of doubt come, and you question who you are, or what is important, you can open this and remember you are OUR SON. You are a gift from God. You are loved immeasurably, and you are chosen ALWAYS. You are smart, handsome, big hearted and full of potential. You are destined for greatness Griffin Joseph.

We love you ALL there is,

Mommy & Bill

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Storms 


There will always be storms. Like crazy can’t see the car in front of you kind of storms. Literal and hypothetical. Storms are a part of this life. But the hope is in the promise of the rainbow. And in the reminder of a tomorrow. Storms don’t last forever. Eventually they stop. And the sun will shine again. 

Chasing Sunlight

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It seems we are always chasing light. We are always looking for more time. Just one more conversation. One more hug. One more I love you. One more acknowledgement, one more nod of pride. One more smile. One more everything. We are chasing fleeting moments. The sun always fades into night, but we plead for a bit more light anyway. Just a little bit longer. “I’m almost ready”, we say. Though, we never are. No one ever is.

Watching the sun fade on the lives of those we love is never easy. And no matter how many times we experience it, it never gets easier. It always hurts. We always plead for more minutes. For more I love you’s. For more laughter. For more life. We always chase the light hoping to outrun the setting sun. #thebeautyingrace

Hands

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Hands. They are a beautiful thing. This particular pair is that of my grandaddy. They were strong. Soft. Hardworking. Loving. Callused. Gentle. Steady. Beautiful. I always had a fondness for holding my grandaddy’s hand. I don’t know if it’s because my small hands always felt safe in his, or if they just always seemed loving… But whatever the case, I loved these hands and the man that was attached to them. I will no longer hold his hand this side of eternity, but I look forward to the day when I get to embrace his hands again. #thebeautyingrace

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Let it be Jesus

Let it be

Let it be Jesus.

Forgiveness has a name, it’s Jesus.
Mercy has a name, it’s Jesus.
Grace has a name, it’s Jesus.
Hope has a name, it’s Jesus.
Justice has a name, it’s Jesus.
Love has a name, it’s Jesus.
Friendship has a name, it’s Jesus.
Acceptance has a name, it’s Jesus.
Restitution has a name, it’s Jesus.
Affirmation has a name, it’s Jesus.
Generosity has a name, it’s Jesus.
Restoration has a name, it’s Jesus.
Healing has a name, it’s Jesus.
Second chance has a name, it’s Jesus.

Let it be Jesus.

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Perseverance vs. Persistance vs. Obstinance

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Within these words lie some very large differences, though we often use them interchangeably. For so long I have been the girl that would hold on WAYYY past the expiration date. No matter what it was, Be it a character trait/flaw, a friendship, relationship, job. I am terrible at letting go. So, I push forward. Errr…..  or is it that I push back?

Wait, now Im just confused.

Maybe all this time I thought I was doing the right thing, but it was REALLY the wrong thing. I DO NOT GIVE UP. I like to be right, and I do not like to lose; but on the other hand, I’ll cower in submission, and I’ll take blame for anything. I’m constantly at war with myself. I push way past the breaking point for things, expecting the outcome to change. Expecting to make others see what I see, or feel what I feel, regardless of the amount of damage or the time that has passed. Is it because I’m persevering? or because I’m persistent? Or is it because I’m just plain stubborn? Is it because I hate the thought of losing? Or is because I know in my heart, that there is something worth fighting for?!

I think we as people, judge those that give up too quickly. We urge people to push forward and endure, we rally for those that continue despite EVERY.OBSTACLE. We have secret disdain for those that quit, and murmur words of disappointment when we believe others should continue trekking down a mindless path of persistence. And to what? Is there a means to the end? Does the outcome change? Is there always triumph and victory for those who don’t throw in the towel? Let’s be real y’all: NO! There isn’t always victory. There isn’t always a win. Things won’t finally work out just the way you envisioned, and there will be times when it just will not work. Regardless of how hard you try.

Sometimes, there is that small voice inside of you, that says: “I NEED YOU TO NOT QUIT.” Something that won’t let you let go. And you continue persevering. You continue persisting. And you continue waiting.

Persevering is looking forward with one goal, LEARNING from the failure, and then not making the same mistake over and over.

Persistence is going on regardless of opposition, remaining unchanged. So, usually the same obstacle repeats itself, since no lesson was learned and there was no resolution to change.

Obstinacy is the shear determination to not let go. To be stubborn and hold on, for the sake of holding on.

It was once said that:

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is one comes from a strong will, while the other comes from a strong won’t.”

I have to be honest, there have been MANY MANY MANY situations I’ve found myself in that I’ve held on just because I refused to let go. I had a very strong won’t! I WONT LOSE. I WONT FAIL. I WONT MOVE ON. I WONT LEARN THIS LESSON. I WONT CHANGE MY WAYS. y’all, my strong WONT, kept me prisoner.

My wont, has kept me from Gods will.

Sometimes the outcome isn’t going to be picture perfect. It’s not going to be rosey, and happy, or just the way you had envisioned. Sometimes it’s messy, it’s painful, it’s hard, and it looks a lot like letting go. Sometimes, it resembles surrendering, walking away, and frankly it looks like heartache. Sometimes the persistence will not ever pay off, and you may never get your yes. Sometimes you have to be willing to throw in the towel, waive your white flag, and face the music. Persistence has a time limit. Eventually it runs out, and you are no further along than you were when you started.

Perseverance on the other hand, is limitless. It always pushes forward, through every set back, it continues to inch closer to victory. It doesn’t seize, and is relentless in its pursuit. Perseverance is the strength in mind, body, and spirit to accept the hardships gracefully, be willing to bend and learn as you trek, and to never lose sight of the prize. Be it big or small, a job, a relationship, an endeavor.. There is that constant whisper saying: “I need you to NOT quit.”

So what are you doing? Are you persevering, are your persisting, or are you just plain obstinate? No one can determine which of these you are doing but you. But take a moment to consider the journey.. Are you any farther for having been on it? Have you been willing to learn painful lessons, and then apply them? Have you whined and stomped your feet and screamed NO!!? Have you been gracious and understanding? Or have you just been too scared to face the unknown? Have you been too prideful to admit defeat, and too stubborn to let that which is gone, go?

For me, I’ve been a lot of each of these. Too scared to let go, because I fear being alone. Too afraid to take the next giant step, because what if I fail?! Too prideful to walk away and accept failure, because does that mean I AM A FAILURE? BUT, and there IS a BUT: I’ve also held on and fought for what was important. I’ve made mistake after mistake after mistake, but somehow I’ve gotten farther having gone through the pain. I’ve endured hell (Usually my own consequence to my own action), and I’m still standing. I’ve seen beauty from ashes, and I’ve experienced restoration. I’ve truly felt the reward of perseverance.

Its taken me a lot of pain, a lot of holding on too long, and my share of letting go too early; to truly understand the fine, yet GINORMOUS differences between these three words. There are times when I hear that voice LOUDLY urging me to just NOT Quit, and then there are others that remind me to walk away gracefully.

Every circumstance is different. Every person isn’t the same. What one can endure and persevere and be victorious in, may not be the same outcome for another. And that is ok. Its ok to surrender. Sometimes, that’s the victory in and of itself. It takes courage to admit defeat, and it takes courage to wade through opposition. Be still, and listen to that small voice inside. Choose to have a strong will when necessary, and a gracious relinquishment when and if its time.

There are circumstances that I  will choose to persevere and press forward, knowing in my heart God is uttering “I need you to not quit.” There are some that I even have been persistent in at times, and that persistence turned into perseverance. I began opening my eyes to reality, and became willing to learn some really hard lessons, and then change my path and my direction accordingly. There are certain areas in my life, where I am going to remain steadfast and hold on, trusting in God’s will.

and there are others today, that I will bow out of. I will acknowledge defeat, and I will choose to face the fears of the unknown. With the confidence that God’s will is ALWAYS stronger than my wont.

the above image is from the instagram of: @andrearhowey

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The Majesty of the Hawk

 

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As I saw this Hawk today close enough to touch, I couldn’t help but think of how majestic he was. I was reminded of Gods marvelous creation. How effortlessly the hawk soars and how he spreads his wings towards the sun. To see a hawk in flight is a beautiful spectacle. Their wings are truly radiant, and they fly with such ease and grace.

 In Job 39:26 it says: “Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, and spread it’s wings toward the south?” (This is God challenging Job, reminding Job of just who He is, and that Job is not God, that Job himself isn’t capable of such creation and infinite rule over this Earth and all of its creation)

 Clearly in this passage of scripture there is some significance in the hawks wings toward the south. So, as I did some research, I found out that when a bird is going to shed it’s feathers, as it has to do from time to time, to be capable of flying so marvelously, it has to stay toward the sun. ( Hence their need to fly south for the winter) It will shed thousands of feathers at one time, and will need to be toward the sun to stay warm. During this process, the bird loses the same weight of feathers on each side of his body, so that his weight remains evenly disbursed. (YALL! HOW COOL IS THAT??? God is so incredible that He makes sure that the bird isn’t lopsided and can still fly??) If a bird were to forgo this process of turning toward the sun, it would lose its heat source and become earthbound, eventually dying.

 I believe the significance in this, is our own shedding of feathers. When we turn towards the Son, and shed our sin, shame, guilt, lies, pain, heartache, betrayal, etc. we too become new, and are then able to take flight. If we were to keep our old feathers, and become of this world, it too, will eventually kill us.

 I’m thankful for Gods infinite wisdom. That He gives me the courage and the ability to figuratively spread my wings, and let go of all the feathers that have kept me earthbound. I’m thankful for a Heavenly Father who not only allows me to shed those feathers of my sinful past, but places the wind beneath me to soar high and gracefully. There truly is beauty in grace.

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Shattered Glass

photoI so often feel, as I look at my life, that all I am is broken pieces of something that once was; a life that’s been in disarray and anything but put together. When I look at myself, through a worldly lens, I see only shards of glass. I see someone damaged and broken -Someone unworthy of being put back together. I see a heap of tiny fragments. I once was whole; I was pieced together without a crack, without a broken heart, without deep wounds, and without a life of poor choices that took pieces of me away at every turn. Over the last 18 years of my life, I have truly left little pieces of myself along the journey to where I am today.

Do you know that there are people that collect shards of glass? For real, they are called shard hunters (not the coolest name, but it’ll do).  These men and women go digging through desolate spots looking for fragments of colored glass. Within each pile of rubbish, overgrowth of shrubbery and weeds, they find tiny pieces of history. Of a life that once was.  They scour through roots and deep Earth in search of the remnants of yesterday. Each fraction of glass represents a story of something greater, something that was once whole, and now, be as it may, its only a piece of what it used to be.

Some of these S H A R D H U N T E R S spend much of their time in the Northeast where debris and heaps of vanished factories once thrived. In the 19th century, this area was filled with window manufacturers and architectural ornament. Some of the beautiful panes and works of art are displayed in the Trinity Church in Boston and on the campus of Harvard. These now remnants speak stories of a deep history.

After their collection of beautiful scrap, they make breathtaking mosaics. They create majestic works of art that reflect the Light of God in church windows, in wind chimes, in vases, and many more forms of art.

I believe that this is the same way God views us. He sees all of our broken pieces; all of our “S H A R D”, and at the work of His masterful hand, He crafts something beautiful. In order to have a relationship with the Savior, you have to admit that you are a broken person. That you are less than what He desires you to become. You have to acknowledge all the debris, the broken pieces, and the fragments of heartache. Jesus longs for that day for each one of us. He pursues us, scours through overgrowth, through murky, dark, and desolate land to save all of our broken pieces. And He so diligently places us back together. Better than we would’ve been had we not endured all the cracks, the fragments, the heartaches, and the painful journey.

I am thankful for the sweet reminder today, that I am so much more than shattered glass. I am a beautiful Mosaic. I am the creation of the Master,  His masterpiece. Each particle of glass, in His palm, becomes an invaluable piece of art. Im thankful I no longer have to look at all the brokenness and be ashamed. I can look at the sea of S H A R D, and know, I went through all of that, so that I too, could reflect the Light of God, the hope in Jesus, and THE BEAUTY IN GRACE.

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TRY or Better yet, DONT

If you haven’t heard this song, take a moment and truly listen to the lyrics. It speaks volumes into the depths of insecurity for me, and even further into the depths that the insecurity took me. I struggled for FAR too long to change who I was in an order to be “loved”. I became anything but myself. I would wake up every day hoping to be liked, wanted, and desired. I found myself in a faithless marriage, seeking the attention of any man that would look my direction, and worst of all, I WAS A MOTHER. I was setting the example to look into the mirror. To find your value in only what you can see. Each night, I would find myself sleepless, hating who I was. I didn’t like who I had become. I didn’t even know myself anymore. I kept thinking that someone else could love me enough for me and for them. I was so wrong.

It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom that I realized there was only one love that would fulfill the gaping hole in my heart- one love that would wash away the insecurity and reveal the confidence I had long searched for. It wasn’t until I found Jesus, (And some amazing counselors and a very supportive boyfriend) that I was able to piece my life back together, the way it was meant to be. I realize now, I don’t have to try to be someone I’m not. I don’t have to show every piece of skin on my body to be beautiful, I don’t have to have perfectly teased hair to be accepted, I don’t need to weigh less than my 11 year old to be healthy, I don’t have to be bankrupt to be fulfilled, I don’t have to be sexy to be loved. I don’t have to try anymore, not for that anyway.

These days, I try to wake up every morning and Thank God for another day (unless its a really wet Monday, and then I ask for more sleep), I try to have patience throughout my work day and do my job to the very best of my abilities, I try to be the most present mother when I am with my children… pouring into their needs and lives instead of my social media accounts or the mirror, I try to show my children that their worth is in the kind of people they are instead of what the mirror reflects, I try to give grace as I have received it so overwhelmingly from my Savior, I try to offer forgiveness even when its not asked of me, I try to show my love to the people that matter most each day and in new ways, I try to shine Jesus in all that I do, and I try to share the shame, and the pit of insecurity that I walked through so that someone else walking through it can see there is Light, there is hope!!! And You don’t have to try to earn His love. Jesus extends it freely. You friend, are SO WORTH LOVING! Just as you are. Don’t settle for insecurity and the lies that Satan feeds you of your worth. Remember, you are uniquely you, and bring something incredible to the table, regardless of where you’ve been! Don’t TRY to earn love, you’ll always come up emptier than you went down!

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