Pain Redemeed



Life fascinates me. It's this treacherously cruel world highlighted with too-good-to-be-true events. We find ourselves struggling to breath through the agony only to find ourselves on fast forward to a new year and suddenly we're in a moment of grand celebration.

See that photograph? He was dying and the doctors couldn't figure it out until it was almost too late.  She lost her two best friends in one year because life took a tragic turn and sent them all on separate journeys. He got fired from a company where he worked overtime to be a good employee simply because they where downsizing.

See that photograph? He graduated high school at sixteen because he is that brilliant and determined. She was promoted to a directorship at a multi-million dollar organization before the age of 25 because sometimes crazy stuff happens. He found his life dream before finishing high school and has made more progress towards achieving it than some people will make in their entire lifetime.

How? Why? And can't we just have the good without the bad? I don't think so. That would be like eating chocolate minus the bitter coca bean and then all we would have is sugar mixed with fat and no one would call that chocolate.

"What's the point of having blood with no veins?
What's the point of having love with no pain?"
-NF

I would never condone all the evil in the world as secretly good. I would say in the words of Jonathan Brush that, "All the pain will be redeemed." I would say that somehow the bitter of life seems to brighten the sweetness that is mixed in. I would say it is a curious thing to think that in the agony of the cross, redemption for all mankind was born.  Perhaps, somehow, that truth is reflected in the debilitating pain of our lives that so harmoniously mingles itself into the beautiful melody of our reality.

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How to Live with Unmet Expectations



I never yell. I was yelling. I hated to cry. I was sobbing. I felt so hurt and angry. I felt trapped by circumstances. I wanted my mom to step in with some incredibly supportive sentiments and instead she had some concerns to share. I felt so alone. It wasn't my mom or I's best moment. My first year at college coupled with constantly working plus dealing with an awkward guy relationship were taking its toll. Two years earlier though, I probably would have given a lot to be in that tense moment.

I walked around the corner and I knew. I knew that when the nurse looked up at me one shake of his head would be the answer to whether my whole world had just changed in one moment. "She's dead," I thought. In a matter of seconds, the long-term illness my mother was diagnosed with eight years earlier had rendered her deaf and blind. Did it have to take her life too? He looked up and started talking about her pulse. "She's not dead," I realized. Relief hit me but not a satisfying relief. It was more like the crack of a whip that told you the race was still going - the long days filled with worry were still stretching out in front of you. Her vision and hearing came back but it would be months before my mother came back.

Perspective and expectations can wage an ugly war. I've never forgotten the years before we found a new doctor. The years where my mother almost died six times before my eighteenth birthday. Despite living with an usual awareness of the nearness of death, I still had expectations. When she began to recover, I was growing up and moving on. I had expectations of the advice she would (and wouldn't) give. Sometimes expectations need to be tamed by perspective.

Every expectation feels reasonable to the person who has it. Lots of expectations are legitimate. Not all expectations are realistic. How do we live in a world of unmet expectations? Grace.

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? 
Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 
You desire but do not have." 
James 4:1-2

Grace is the perspective that tames the war of expectations. Humility is the perspective that quiets the battle of expectations. I don't know what your unmet expectations are. Maybe your father left you feeling perpetually "not quite good enough". Maybe your friends where never really "that into you" like you had hoped. Maybe that guy just "won't commit" despite what you know you deserve. I've been there. I still like to hangout there more often than I'd like to admit. Can we join hands on a journey though, to dropping expectations in an effort to live free? Free from the war of our own desires. Free to love unconditionally. Free to let others be themselves without it dictating who we are.

My mother and I aren't perfect. Our relationship isn't perfect. It's better though. Better because I said I was sorry and she was far more understanding about everything than I originally gave her credit for. It's better because we've adjusted our expectations. It will continue to get better because despite the perspective I've always had that life is short, I am now learning that the most influential perspective is a grace filled one.


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How to "Get the Guy"



I was curious to hear their conversation. We were women of all ages and the discussion was on guys and relationships. The youngest of us was in our twenties and the eldest in her fifties. As I listened, they covered the usual bases and swapped guy tales when out of the blue one of them looked right at me and said, "Now you, Moriah, need to be careful that you don't pass a good guy by." I was taken back a bit. She did not know me that well. She knew I had standards. She knew I did not date much but where was this coming from?

~~~

"He is your perfect opportunity to settle," my friend was shooting straight with me that night. I knew she was right. Mr. Charming had made an appearance with some vague gestures of interest. I was intrigued. It was a classic case of liking the cute guy but knowing he wasn't good for you.

~~~

Have standards but not too many standards. Give him a chance but not too much of a chance. Be the nice girl but not too nice. Don't play hard to get but don't play cheap. . . the rules never end and if they do the opinions of others certainly don't. How in the world is a girl to navigate the endless advice? We want to know what out of it all is actually good advice. Scratch that, we really only have time to try and remember the best advice. Maybe in the end though we do not need more advice on how to "get the guy".

I've spent far too much time worrying about how to make the perfect impression on this or that guy who didn't even notice there was an impression he was supposed to be picking up on. I've seen far too many girls completely morph into different creatures just to be with a guy who said they were pretty and that he wanted to be with them. Maybe sometimes we get the whole thing wrong. We worry and we plan and in the meantime, we completely forget that life is a beautiful thing that is meant to be lived. We forget that God doesn't need our help to make His dreams for us come true. We forget that life is so much bigger than whether or not our relationship status is accurately reflected in one of Facebook's eleven options. We forget that life isn't about finding the perfect combination of rules that will set us on the path to success. Life is about living and the only real living that ever gets done is when each moment is seen as a gift from God to be given back to Him.

Your life isn't about that guy or following Aunt Whoever's advice to get that guy. Your life is about Jesus.

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When We Brake



"I'm honored to be the one that hurts when they're gone." 

The words came to me from the past. Written in my journal they were now facing me in the present. I remembered the pain so well, that gentle ache hidden deep within while I worked hard at life and smiled brightly at people. I'll never forget the moment when I whispered a prayer on my way to work, "God this hurts SO much. I miss them SO much." Just as soon as I said it I was startled with the thought that I had to miss them this much if I were to have loved them that much. And isn't loving others the point?

"I want to know all my giving makes a difference." 

They were more words from another old journal entry. Maybe I had not realized it then but as I read these words now I smiled to know that difference making is something we cannot measure. Some of us will spend our whole lives planting seeds that other people will reap. We will plant a crop that we will never get to see. We will ache over dry ground hiding life beneath it.

Some of us are called to a life of aching for a broken world. Some of us are called to a season of hurting for others. Some of us will face a moment of pain on behalf of another. Wherever you are, take comfort in the fact that Jesus himself gave his very life because of a brokenness too great to be healed by any other means. If we break even a little bit, we are just beginning to catch a glimpse of the Gospel's glory.
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Tired of "Pretty"



I must have been less than ten years old when it first hurt me - being called pretty. People where always commenting about my eyes and my complexion. To me, they where just the eyes and skin of any other Latin-American girl but then they started feeling like the only good thing I possessed.

I remember crying with hurt and anger. I never let anyone see me cry as a child but my mother saw these tears. "I want people to say something about who I am! I feel like all I am is pretty. I don't want to be pretty!" Did anyone know or appreciate my values? Did anyone care about my sense of humor? Did any of it matter to them or was I simply valued as a nice thing to see as they passed me on the sidewalk? I even remember hiding behind a friend once when a lady made a bold remark about how unique my eyes where. I did not want to be noticed.

I am not writing this post so we can vote on whether or not I was actually worth getting complimented. I am writing this post for every girl who has ever been where I was. I am writing it because I know I am not the only girl who has been terrified that the only thing people will ever see is whether or not she is pretty.

The truth is that you are beautiful but when you are tired of being noticed for your smile, or your hair, or your eyes remember this - man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart. The truth that you are beautiful does not change the truth that you are also funny, smart, kind, and full of passion and conviction. When people take time to express what they appreciate about you (even if it is not what you wanted them to appreciate), be grateful. Be so brave that what they say does not change you. Remember that the One whose opinion does matter absolutely values every aspect of who you are and let that be enough because in the end, it is.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Photo credit: Stephanie Faith Photography: http://stephaniehanni.wixsite.com/stephaniefaith
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Speak Life



It took two extra seconds for me to say it - something kind. It meant more to her than I could have imagined. Her overwhelming gratitude reminded me of how important it is to speak words of life and kindness.

I forgot how important it was to say thank you for the little things. I forgot how powerful it was to point out the strength of another. I forgot how meaningful it was to cheer one another on in our dreams. I was busy with MY life, chasing MY dreams. I was exhausted from working MY jobs and earning MY degree. I was overwhelmed by MY problems. I had forgotten just how badly that one person I always passed in the hallway of my daily living needed me to speak life into their soul.

Maybe we cannot all be headline heroes
but we can all be foxhole cheerleaders.

We can be the one person who says they can when everyone else says they can't. We can be the one person who sees strength in their weakness and beauty in their mess. I want to be that person - the one who sees what others don't. More importantly, I want to be the person who does something about it. I want to be the one to remind them of who they are in Christ and what that means for them.

To the girl who reminded me how important it was to speak life into one another's souls, thank you. Maybe you needed my appreciation but your gratitude was a wake-up call I did not know I needed.


*photo from the lovely Amy K
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Comfort


My website has this nifty little gadget where I can view what posts are most popular with you my readers. I have been blogging for four years now but it is this post from February that has landed amongst your favorites.

Today I am sharing it again. It is comfort for the days when hard truths are hard.

http://www.moriahmari.com/2017/02/when-hard-truths-are-hard.



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Life Is Not "Perfect"


I wanted to say something but I did not know how. If I scrolled through my Facebook timeline, I looked like a beacon of practically perfect idealism in the flesh. I knew my life was not as smooth sailing and joy filled as social media made it appear. I did not want to be the girl who thought the internet was her personal therapy session either though. That is when I stumbled across words I had penned a year earlier. "I believe in tears," the paragraph began. These were the words I had been looking for. I do believe in tears. I believe in exhaustion that fights through bad to find better. I believe in grief that shakes the soul because it knows something truly beautiful has been lost. I believe in bad days and the good that is waiting for us in them. I believe that sometimes in the pain we forget about the mercy hiding in it for us. We start to feel ourselves drowning. I believe that sometimes we have to feel the burn that comes from a lack of air before we will fight to stay above the water. I believe that despite the tears, grief, pain, and stress that we face there will always be hope. That is what the brave words and smiling photographs are about.

My life is not perfect and no one needs to believe that it is. I do not have it all together and I probably never will. Words and photographs though, they are my way of preaching hope and capturing joy for myself and others. We do life in a truly beautiful world governed by a good and merciful God and that is a truth worth proclaiming. Never think you are the only one with bad days. Do know you can have the same hope that others possess in the midst of their own personal tragedies.

Yes, I believe in pain but I also bear witness to brave smiles, courageous faith, and determined hope.
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What She Taught Me About Friendship


We are crazy together. Unapologetically crazy (which is saying a lot because I have never been the crazy girl). We call ourselves wonder twins. She has taught me so much about embracing every aspect of the personality God  has given me. She has taught me that I do not need to hid my quirks. We are both dreamers. We love to scheme together, weather it be about writing a devotional or playing a prank. We might both bring tissues to a conversation (because it has just been that kind of day) but without fail we will end up laughing. She is the kind of friend you can do a tough workout with where you sweat like crazy or call for fashion advice before meeting up to attend a wedding together. She is the kind of friend you can call anytime with what is on your heart and she will want to be there for you. She is the kind of friend who makes you understand what having a friend is. We need more of that.

We are lonely generation carving out connection in a cyber world. We have seven hundred friends showing up on our Facebook feed hoping one of them will create community with us. We swipe right one too many times trying to uncover love. We hope and hope only to spiral into depression and jump off of the bridge of friendship because we are sure it holds nothing for us.  We are lonely but it does not have to stay that way.

She did not ask me to be her friend she just acted like a friend. She told me about her life and let me tell her about mine. Is she a perfect friend? No, but neither am I. The thing is we are not waiting for each other to be perfect we are just grateful that the other person is there.

So be there. Be there for the million insignificant things. Be there, because in the end being there is the biggest thing.

"Two are better than one, Because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who calls and has no one to help them up."
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10


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Overcoming Change



It would have been a horrible moment if it had been a moment but it was not. It was a slow fade. You never can quite tell when it started or how it will end, you only see that it is changing and you do not quite like it.

We talked all the time and then we did not. We saw each other all the time and then we did not.
While everything was slowly changing, I was trying to anchor a moment in which I could decide. Decide if we were done. Decide if this was a new season. Decide if I loved it or hated it. I needed a start or a stop on this journey. While trying to figure out if our friendship was over, I failed to recognize that something was already over. What we had once had was over. Our friendship (if we still had that) had most definitely changed.

Change, it is a word I have never been fond of.  As a child, when we uprooted from our tiny suburban house to a 7 acre ranch, I cried because it was not home. That being said, the most uncomfortable changes I have experienced in life have undoubtedly brought some of the biggest blessings. However, they were still awfully uncomfortable in the making. In America, our drive thru society has taught us to pick our favorite menu item and drive thru for a quick delivery. It has not taught us how to adjust to disappointment. It does not allow us time to grieve, especially when it comes to the daily heartbreaks.

Sometimes relationships change. Sometimes friends fade away. Sometimes a relationship does not happen that you thought was going to happen. A lot of the time, it hurts. No, it does not leave you crying for months on end and it certainly does not warrant a gravestone memorial in your memory bank, but it does deserve your attention. It does deserve you acknowledging that something changed and maybe you do not quite like it. It deserves you having grace with yourself.

Sometimes life happens and it is painful but dear gal, that is okay.
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Beautiful and Bright


It’s not every night that’s as beautiful as this one.

It’s been a long day. I’m exhausted in all senses of the term, having worked all day while wrestling with issues concerning me, my future, my plans.

And it’s starting to feel like too much.

I crawl into bed and slip under my covers, pulling my fleece sheets to my chin and letting my soft white comforter envelop me. My head hits the pillow, Beethoven’s piano sonatas playing in my ears, and I finally have a chance to breathe.

Inhale.

Exhale.

My eyes lazily drift to the window next to my bed, and at once I see the stars glisten in the midnight sky, so clear, so breathtaking.

They’re beautiful and bright, and something hits me hard in this moment – something I can barely begin to put into the right words.

These stars were placed in the sky by the hand of God, creating an art so powerful I can’t fathom it – the very same God who placed me on this earth.

And today, as I stumbled through my day, studying, working, and struggling with the feelings of uncertainty, I just wanted to know that everything would be okay. I know how desperately I want assurance, hope, and peace in my turmoil of not knowing what the future holds.

And as I gaze at these stars, this art too vast and beautiful for words, I realize that I want God to write in me what He gifted to these stars –

I want my life to be beautiful and bright.

I’m not completely sure what that looks like for me, as I know my perception is so immeasurably different than God’s. When I look at my phone’s screen in the dark, I call it bright and powerful. When I see skyscrapers, I call them beautiful, breathtaking.

And slowly, slowly, I’m learning to trust that God’s vision of beautiful and bright for my life probably isn’t what I would imagine. When I think I know what I want, I must remember that my view is limited and finite.

He’s the One who made the bright stars, the sun, the moon, the universe. Galaxies upon galaxies did He breathe into place, commanding them into existence, and from eternity past He saw it all.

He existed for infinitely longer than I can fathom, and yet – He planned me.

He imagined me along with the stars, and decided to bring me into the universe with a purpose – a purpose much greater than myself, to know Him and make Him known. And when I say I want a future that’s bright, I don’t totally know what that means.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t have a five-year plan.

I don’t have a list of jobs I want to have, or characteristics I want in a location to live, nor do I have all my priorities as straightened out as they could be.

But I have complete faith that God will lead me. As much as I want a safe, secure, and successful future, bad things do happen to good people, and none of us can prevent that.

I don’t believe God causes us pain or confuses us. But in this sinful and broken world, these things are unavoidable – and the one thing we can do is turn to the stability and hope of God Himself.

He doesn’t promise a life free of hurt, but He does promise His presence every step of the way (Psalm 139:7-10).

He doesn’t promise the easy life, but He does promise His peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

We don’t know what’s coming. But as God promised to Israel thousands of years ago and promises us today – He has a good plan for our lives, even when we can’t always see it.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Even if my views of beautiful and bright differ greatly from His – I think I’m alright with that.

I look at the sky tonight, and all the words that remain are these:

If the vastness of the universe is in the palm of God’s hand, I can trust Him with my future.

And if He can hold these stars, He can hold my heart.

I am learning to truly trust.

And that’s beautiful.


Amanda Beguerie is a college student, a pastor’s kid, and a writer from Massachusetts. She’s a coffee connoisseur, a city enthusiast, and she loves to cook delicious meals, read fantastic books, and learn for the sake of learning. She loves people, loves to laugh, and thrives on the connections she makes in various aspects of her life, including the ones she forms on her blog. Read her writings and connect with Amanda at scatteredjournalpages.com.


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Imperfect Yet Beautiful


She wrapped her arms around me and said it was going to be okay. She had no idea why I was crying but she was determined to be with me in my moment of pain.

He told me to take care of myself and not work so hard. He told me to have fun. He would joke with me and make me laugh.

She sat across the table from me, our cups of coffee growing colder as we talked. She was honest with me and it helped me see the situation I was facing more clearly.

He told me I could do this thing called life. He always had the biggest smile for me and a kind word.

Facebook moments can look strong and determined. Blog posts can sound inspired and YouTube videos can appear to be filled with perfection but we are all human beings with cracks in our sidewalks. Sometimes our cracks get filled with pieces of broken glass from shattered bottles, crushed leaves from last fall, and bits of grass from the neighbor's freshly mowed yard. Other times our cracks are the recipients of tiny seeds that sprout beautiful flowers. I'm so grateful that my broken sidewalks have been beautified by friends who have taken the time to plant seeds.

You see, in the end, none of us get where we are on our own.
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What Is Your Label?



I do not know who posted the first hashtag but it revolutionized the world. In one moment a labeling system was discovered that I am sure will go down in the history books for our generation. Funny thing is, we lived with the reality of the hashtag long before it came around. That person was (#) funny, that restaurant was (#) amazing, and her life was (#) boring. While the labels we carelessly slap onto the lives and actions of others can be life changing, perhaps the most defining labels are the ones we place on ourselves.

I was THAT kid, the one with her nose in a book, the one who was sitting with the adults at the family get-together instead of playing with the kids. There was nothing sporty or outgoing about who I was. Fast forward and I landed a job at my college's sports center/local YMCA. I would learn to spend my days talking to people, my evenings working out, and my weekends coaching volleyball. I was excited to prove my labels wrong. I would learn that in the end, that is all they ever were - labels. The only power a label has is the power you give it.

What are the labels that you have placed yourself under the power of? Broken? Unworthy? Unloved? Unwanted? Helpless? Hopeless? No matter the severity of the label you can change it. Change starts with taking one step towards your goal. Find your goal and do not let go of it. Be the author of your hashtags not the product of them.
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When He Leaves and You Need to Know Why


We are so hopeful, excited to find someone that we can love without reservation like a waterfall pounding on rock. Two weeks in, or maybe it is a year or three or four, the beauty ends when that boy you wanted to drown in all your love walks away.

Your heart is broken so you eat too much chocolate and turn up every song on the radio, making your tears fall so fast your heart starts to hurt a little less. Your girl friends are there like good friends are and you start trying to answer all the questions. In all your answers, you start to see how horrible he was, what a villain he could be, how selfish and immature he acted. You  hate yourself for being blind and blame yourself for loving. Dear girl, what if you are wrong? What if he was not an awful jerk? What if he was just an insecure past beating out a poor rhythm on your banged up soul and his pounding mixed with your own tough story broke the good you had? What if he is a nice guy and he kinda just blew it this once? What if he does not know how to make good relationship decisions and this was like a kindergartner trying out high school? What if he does not know why he did what he did anymore than you do?

What if you were so strong in Jesus that who he is and what he did does not even matter? I know it is breaking you up and shattering all your ideas of love but do not let it. Do not tie him to your heart with a cord of insecurity and bitterness. Let him go like a balloon drawn to the clouds so you can both be free to live, learn, and love. Be brave darling, braver than who he may or may not be.

"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you."
Matthew 6:14
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The Souls That Captivate Me



I love people. Everywhere I go, I know people. I hug people. I laugh with people. I talk, smile and listen. I love most people but some people I fall in love with. It is as if all of the sudden my invisible radar picks up a spark of magic in their soul and I am in love. My heart aches with theirs, breaks with theirs, takes their life and makes it mine.

I remember this one soul I fell in love with. It was a soul aching and trembling under the pressure of a difficult past needing to prove a positive future while fighting a war against submitting to God. I knew I was there to share Jesus with that soul. I knew I was there to love fiercely with a selfless love. It was beautiful but then it ended, with one last PM it was over. I did not know why but I knew it was. Months later, I was driving home from work and with a sad aching pain, I told God that I missed them "SO much". Immediately, I was comforted with the reality that God knew and then it hit me from out of no where - I must miss them this much if I were to have loved them that much. Jesus must be shared with love and when the task of sharing is over and the person gone, sometimes the love still remains.

Dear Girl, maybe you know that feeling of having loved without the return you prayed for. Remember, the love you had was a gift from God to be used for his glory. Let's never let the loss of love plant seeds of bitterness that become a weapon we use against God. Let's not let it fill us with bitterness when it does not bring us what we wanted. Dear Girl, mostly do not lose that fierceness, because a fierce love is a beautiful love.

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My First DUI


We like our products neatly packaged and beautifully wrapped in America. We buy our chocolate wrapped in gold foil and our advertisements in the mail come with scratch off scents to help us know if we want to buy the product. Neat packaging took on a whole new meaning for me, however, when I encountered my first DUI.

PTSD, OCD, DUI, sometimes these letters just become a way of wrapping up the unknown pain of another and fitting it into our everyday vocabulary. I remember the first time I knew someone with PTSD. It meant any-time-of-the-day panic attacks. It meant tears and fear. It was not just a textbook diagnosis but an everyday heartbreak. I remember when I first met the three letters DUI. I had only known those three letters as representing someone who broke the law and risked the safety of others. For the first time in my life that faceless crime had a name and it was "hopeless", "afraid", "lost".  I saw that people who got DUI's did not do it for fun but that those three ugly letters were the neat title we had stamped on their pain and insecurity. I saw a successful friend embraced by a new identity.

I am not condoning drunk driving. I am confessing my own ignorance to the every day battle of those in our society who struggle with mental illness or addiction. Meeting these capitalized and sterilized letters in the faces of people has been more than educational, it has been humbling. It has taught me about grace. It has challenged the way I view others.

I am reminded about the importance of living life with eyes wide open. It is so easy for me to see my own pain. It is so easy for me to understand the complexities of my own struggle and its everyday hindrances. It is so easy for me to focus on myself but the problem is that I can only focus intently on one thing at a time. Let's try to focus on Jesus, that way your pain and my pain will become catalysis to love Him better and thus love one another better.
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To My 18 Year Old Self



Eighteen was the hardest year of my life. I lost someone I was very close to and grieved for the first time while hiding my pain from the world around me. Through all the pain and grief I was disappointed in myself. I just knew that I could be doing this whole thing better. This is the letter I would have written to the girl back then. P.S. Yes, that is a picture of me at 18.

Dear Moriah,

You will not look a day older at 20 but your world will be drastically different than it is now. It will scare you at first but in the end, you will find yourself soaring on wings you did not know existed. I see you know and realize that you do not know any other way of living than to open your heart to the whole world and let it in. That is beautiful, though you will also find out it is painful.

I know this has been a hard year. Maybe the hardest one you have lived through but it is going to be okay. You are okay. I am really proud of you for being such a fighter. I am proud of you for who you want to be. I know life is not easy and you are disappointed in yourself. You cannot figure out the why, when, and how. You are so young you have not yet realized how weak you are . . .  but you will. When you do, you will smile at yourself. You will even start giving yourself the grace that you so badly need right now. That is the word I want to give you - grace.

It is okay that you do not have all the answers. It is okay that you are sobbing your heart out. It is okay that this hurts so bad. It is okay that you are confused. It is okay that you cannot do this. Take a breath because it is okay. You were not meant to be perfect you were meant to be perfected. That is what this is - the work of being perfected. Yes, it is messy. Yes, it is ugly. Yes, you are imperfect but that is kind of the point.

You are surprised, though. We all are. We realize we are imperfect but we did not know we were this imperfect. Jesus is not surprised one bit, however, and He loves you more than you can imagine. I know you cannot feel it right now but one day I promise you that you will look back and see a love you did not know existed, a love much greater than the one you are grieving right now.
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When Hard Truths Are Hard


The other day I had the opportunity to speak to a group of young adults on heartbreak. One of the things I talked about is when hard truths are hard. We know God is good. We know there is a purpose to every season in life. We know, we know, we know . . .  but we are still feeling an aching loneliness creep in as we reach for an extra piece of chocolate. This letter is for those days, the days when hard truths are hard.


Dear Suffering Sister,

I know because I have been there too and it is okay. I know that you know God is good. I know you know that God is righteous. I am sure that you have heard the verse which says that our God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). I am sure you remember that God has a purpose for the pain and that in our weakness we can lean on His strength. If you talked to me and I had the chance to pipe in with my own advice, you have probably heard about discerning between truths and lies. I probably told you about recognizing the lies that you have been believing and combating them with truths. I am sure you have heard it all at this point. It is all good advice. Sometimes, though, it is hard. It is hard because while we are nodding vigorously at the truths we hear we can be secretly wondering why it still aches so bad. Maybe you are starting to feel a sense of guilt over the fact that all the good is not curing the ache in your heart. We wonder, "Is there a truth to combat that?"

I remember aching. I remember too much emotion to pray. Here is the one thing I wish someone would have told me: Jesus is weeping with you. He knows all the hard truths and He is still weeping with you. Minutes before He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:17-44) He asked Martha if she believed (John 11:25-26) and then He wept. Jesus knew they believed the truth. He knew he would perform a miracle and yet He still wept. It is that same Jesus that is walking through this mess with you.

Yes, the hard truths are true but they are clothed in the grace of a God who weeps with His hurting children.
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Living With "What-if?"



He was angry and he stormed out of the house. Twenty minutes later, a police officer knocked on the front door with news that this angry teenager was not ever coming home.

She sat on the edge of her bed. Her whole body was shaking as tears streamed down her face blurring the flippant text, "we're over. sorry, this isn't working for me," and she had thought there might be a diamond ring by Christmas.

It's stories like these that leave us asking "what-if". "What-if he'd never been provoked to anger?" "What-if she'd never carried her heart on her sleeve?" "What-if he hadn't?" "What-if she hadn't?" "What-if they hadn't?"

I have my own what-if. What-ifs can be a funny thing. They will be quiet for the longest time and then, at the worst moment, they are floating in front of you like a frightening ghost on an already terrifyingly dark night. What-ifs seem to show up with the express purpose of haunting the human soul until it's lost its joy.

What if we fought what-if's with our own what-if's? Why don't we ask, "what-if this was the best thing that ever happened to me?" "What-if this tragedy is my door to triumph?" "What-if this heartbreak is my chance to learn true wholeness?" What if all our doubts are smoke and mirrors that blind us from seeing the true beauty behind the pain? I'd like to say that last one a bit more strongly. All our fears and doubts ARE smoke and mirrors that blind us from seeing the true beauty and purpose behind the pain. It's not a question of "what-if this is bad" or "what-if this is good". It's a question of "do I believe God reigns". Will I be so bold as to stop asking what-if and start boldly living truth?

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28
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When Life Dissapoints


We had just gotten home from a funeral (the first of three for that week) and I was a mess. You couldn't tell I was a mess but I was. I closed my bedroom door, plopped down onto my bed and let the hot tears start falling. Something at the funeral had shaken me. A few minutes later, my mom knocked on the door to check on me (I guess I'm not so good at hiding my mess after all). As she sat there listening to me, I finally said what had been on my heart for so long but what I had failed to recognize.

"Life didn't turn out the way I wanted it to," I told her.

Life didn't and it hasn't turned out the way I wanted it to. I'm guessing that maybe it hasn't turned out how you wanted it to either. So, what do we do?

I have this friend who talks about recognizing the lies that are affecting us. I think one lie that I start believing in times like the one I just shared is that what I wanted is what was best. Here's the truth, "The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does." (Psalm 145:17). I have not been ripped off. I have not been cheated out of a good life. I am not living a less-than-plan. I am living a what's-good-and-right-for-me-plan. That is a truth I can cling to. That is a truth I can choose to take comfort in.
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When Your World Shakes but Your Heart Heals



I sat on my bed and my whole body was shaking. I never thought I would lose this friend. I never thought this person that I cared about would desert me but they had. I remember, one day, telling God something about being deserted AND betrayed. There was horror in my heart. Did anyone know what this felt like!? Then there came this whisper to my heart that Jesus knew what it felt like. Jesus was deserted by his disciples and betrayed by his friend. Knowing, in that moment, that my horrible pain was understood gave me a sense of peace. That was years ago and it was the first time I grieved. Since that day, I have had to say goodbye too soon far too many times. We live in a society of farewells and it's part of the ache that's breaking the heart of this world. But as much as we ache we never have to do it alone. Jesus wept with the weeping and then brought life where there looked to be only death. My whole world was shaking, but my heart was starting to heal. The good news? Yours can too.

Dear sister, I don't know where you are at today or how your hurting but I do know you don't have to do it alone.
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Grace Over Perfection


Okay folks, it's time for a little dose of reality in a much too polished world of perfection. Last summer, I needed some head shots for my website. My amazing photographer met me at a local park. We were there to capture joyful, feminine, and whimsical portraits. Then, an uninvited guest showed up. Actually, it was uninvited guests (plural).

I'm allergic to mosquito bites. So, the little beasts thought they'd tell the whole world about it. Yep. Huge red swollen bites decided to grace this session. You can't tell from the photos (because my photographer and stage artist are that cool) but I had a huge bite on my face. At the moment, it wasn't what I would have considered ideal but now I love it. I love how creating a perfect presentation ran smack dab into reality.

You know why I don't like perfection? It's fake. NO ONE on earth is perfect. NOTHING on earth is perfect. When we pull out the smoke and mirrors of perfection, we wash away the need for grace. My need for grace is a megaphone of my need for Jesus. My need for grace turns into evidence of just how gracious my God is. He doesn't ask me to be perfect, instead, he covers me in his perfect righteousness. He's given me a place in his kingdom and calls me his precious daughter.

What about you? Are you ready to toss out the smoke and mirrors of perfection to embrace a need for grace and a testimony of God's goodness? From me to you - it's the most liberating truth you'll embrace.
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