Beyond Borders

courage. faith. action.

jesus, dead people, church yard, cemetery, bench, dreams


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Here lies my grief :: Songbirds, dead people, and Jesus

It’s Sunday morning.
The blue sky muddles with the drifting clouds.
The sun warm against my cheek.
A songbird sings of the morning’s glory.

I sit on a black bench.
I sit under trees whose branches yield shade like an umbrella.

I sit with the dead people.

The church-yard is filled with headstones.
The headstones, some barely legible, are etched with stories and history and lives taken long before their time.

I read the words “Here lies…” over and over as my eyes scan the stones.
I feel the hand of grief and I believe the lie for a moment.
But here is the truth, the headstones speak of the empty vessels that once harbored souls.
No one lies here in the ground. They sit with Jesus.

Is there anything more scandalously glorious?
To sit with Jesus?

I can’t help but wonder about their lives here on earth.
Did they look upon life as a gift?
Did they know the love, peace, glory of God?

And did they dream?

I think about my life, my dreams, how often it has changed my dreams.

Have I lived into the dream of Jesus?

A songbird sings of the morning’s glory.

And I pray Jesus let my dream be for you.


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Learning to Pause

A little over a month ago I was scrolling through the “write31days” Facebook group when Jessica’s name caught my eye. Well, it wasn’t so much the name, but that she lived in my town. I clicked her profile and we had mutual friends y’all! Of course I sent her a friend request, because that is totally normal, right? Ok, maybe not, but I am so thankful I did. Jessica is the real deal. She has the heart of Jesus, and she pours out words of encouragement over on her blog, Grace Enough. I look forward to hugging her neck real soon!

Today I have the honored privilege of sharing my words on Jessica’s blog.

As I stepped onto the concrete of the driveway, it didn’t take long to realize it was a mirror of the gray sky bowing low. I felt if I stood real tall and outstretched my arms my fingertips might just skim the clouds. The trees had not felt the sun in days, their sadness shown in the drooping of branches and their leaves turned near upside down. I pulled my sweater tight in the dampness and meandered up the windy drive.

I couldn’t see the rain, but I could feel my hair laying down under the weight of water. My clothes beginning to cling as they quenched in the moisture and my glasses speckled with tiny droplets of water. But where was the rain?

When I took the last turn of the drive, I glanced back toward the trees just to see what I was missing, why I was so wetted down. There appeared nothing and I continued walking. Then as I stood at the mailbox, my eyes turn skyward and slowly they opened. I was no longer blind to the fine mist of rain falling. Those gray clouds dripping misty like eyes that weep in silent. Time was still. I was still. And I was silent. Click here to head over to Jessica’s blog for the rest of the story.

 

 

 

chasing grace, further up and further in, grace, legalism, faith, church


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When God Rains Grace a Guest Post

It’s been just a little more than a month since I cracked open the pages of Wild in The Hollow: On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home by Amber Haines, yet the words still haunt me today.

It’s not often that a book leaves such an imprint on me, but Amber pours out her story with her beautiful poetic storytelling prose, and God turns it straight into gospel. And it’s in that telling and the gospel where I find my story intertwined. Her story always pointing to the healing power of Jesus through the cross. This is where the beauty of her story lies.

Coming soon I will have a more thorough and formal review of Wild in the Hollow and a giveaway.

Today I have the humbled honor of sharing a bit of my story over at Amber’s place on the interwebs.

Here is a snippet from my story, you can read the rest of it over here.

I flung the doors fast and wide, the sunlight blinding eyes that were already stinging red with tears. Skin flush hot and heart racing. My hands fumbled useless in search of keys. The words still screaming through my head. Pregnant. Drugs. Alcohol.

Just moments before I sat on the front pew during choir practice too weak to stand and sing. A friend curled in close and whispered quiet. Had the doctors found anything? I chuckled at the thought. For months I lied in bed with nausea, unable to eat or drink, migraines that came like waves pounding the shore, I weighed all but 88 pounds. For months I saw doctor after doctor gone through test after test, but no. The doctors had not found anything. Click over for the rest of the story.

To read more about Wild in the Hollow go here. You can also read the first chapter free. If you ready to go ahead and buy the book you can go here, here and here. Oh and there is book club complete with videos! Amber has an introduction video that you can watch here.


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All About That Book

 

It has been months since I have visited this place. And it feels strange and wrong and right all at the same time to be here again. I know the reasons why I stayed away and I want to write them all out, in fact the words spin in my head so fast it’s hard to even string a sentence together. With every word I type, my thoughts run wild and chase down rabbit trails and before long I am spinning around trying to find the way back to where I started. It’s maddening, but it’s time to wrangle those thoughts, string together sentences and find my way back. So here goes…

It was all about that book.

It was a simple request from a well known publisher and with a slip of a finger I sat waiting for a book to arrive in my mailbox. An advance copy to read and review. I did not know the author. I knew nothing about the book. But with a cute cover and a description that seemed to tie up my life in a pretty little bow I thought, “why not?”

I thought why not when I should have been thinking why, because what followed next was not pretty. I didn’t expect to find the ugly that was me.

I was excited to crack open the book and begin reading. Within the first pages of this book I felt it, a tugging on my heart. I shut the book and walked away. But I had made a commitment.

To. A. Publisher.

And this felt huge, so I returned to the book a few days later. I tried reading, but with each turn of the page that tugging on my heart grew stronger. This was not a good tugging. No. It was the Holy spirit kind of tugging that tells you to walk away. That where this is headed is dangerous territory.

But one could argue that I am stubborn, I don’t always listen when I should. This was one of those times. Because here’s the thing, I wanted to read that book. I wanted to read it and love it and write a glowing review.

I wanted to fit in. Even though I did not know the author, I knew the circles this author was in and I wanted in too.

I did what any sane person would do, I dug in deep. I pulled out the big guns… my highlighters and journals, I emailed the publisher with my concerns and I may or may not have stalked the author on all the social media. Did I say a sane person? Yeah, I might have exaggerated that a little.

I feverishly read and highlighted and underlined and wrote in the margins. I dog eared pages and made notes in my journal. I was standing on the edge with this author.

Word after word, page after page, I was pleading with the author to change. Not for their sake, but for mine. I wanted them to turn this book around. You see this was not a theological book, but a light hearted writing. It was meant to be encouraging and humorous. Yet, in the attempt, it crossed the line. It seemed to use that grace covers all kind of faith, you know the it’s ok to do, say, be whatever because God forgives.

Because God forgives.

Does He? Does He say it’s okay to make references that could be considered blasphemous? Did He say it is ok to liken ourselves so much to the world, that those around us would never see the light of Jesus?

I was standing on that edge not far from jumping because again I wanted to write that review. Because honestly, I kind of love the author, who is bold and unafraid and supportive of things I am passionate about. And also because some other writers/authors I respect were all high fives and this book is awesome.

I questioned what I believed. Was I too strict or legalistic? Was I being self righteous and judgmental? I was frustrated and confused, this was a simple book review, why all of this madness? Then I did something really crazy. I prayed.

I did. Really. I prayed. I prayed for the courage to write an honest review. I prayed for wisdom in knowing what I believe. I prayed for the ability to not show judgment. I prayed for a way out.

And God did as God does. He showed me that plank in my eye.

I was making everything about that book. When everything should have been about the Book. Because if I had been reading the Book, you know God’s book, I would never have fallen so deep into this deluge of uncertainty.

 

He showed me that wanting to “fit in” is not what He wants from me. He wants my heart. He wants it whole and pure and willing to stand firm on what I believe even it it means walking a different path. I lost my courage to do just that. Stand firm when others were pushing the limits.

It is easy to justify the things we do, say, watch with grace. Because we are not covered by the law anymore, but by grace. But this does not give us permission to live our lives carelessly. We are called to live a life apart. We are called to love, but not to ignore.

As Casting Crowns so poetically say it, It’s a slow fade.

Be careful little eyes what you see
Its the second glance that ties your hands
As darkness pulls the strings

Be careful little feet where you go
For its the little feet behind you
That are sure to follow

Its a slow fade
When you give yourself away
Its a slow fade
When black and white are turned to gray

 

God showed me that wanting to “fit in” was placing the world as my audience. He is my audience. He gives me the words that I write in this space and they are for His glory. He orchestrates the stories and the words and those He brings to join the audience. It is all His.

 

 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

 

 

beyond, borders, courage, faith, action, sally clarkson, own your own life, book


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No Perfect Mamas Allowed! Trading in the Picture Perfect and Getting Real

I prayed it for years. Too many now that I have lost count and I wondered if God was ever going to answer, or if He was even listening. I felt invisible. I felt alone. I felt isolated. My prayer simply was this… to end the perpetual state of chaos that was my life, my family, my home.

The chaos was kind of inevitable.

Two special needs kids with multiple diagnoses, my chronic migraines and autoimmune disorders, it’s a race from the moment eyes are startled open. Most days the finish line is nowhere in sight. (You can read more of my story here)The more days that passed, the more the chaos took reign.

And let me tell you, I tried on every how to, every system, every parenting technique, but nothing worked. Well, maybe it did, for about a week. This only fueled my frustration. Why couldn’t I make this work? Why could I not be a better mother? Wife? Why could I not manage this house? My answer was simple. I . Was. A. Failure.

Then November 2014 happened. I received an email, or maybe it was a Facebook post, I really can’t quite remember how it happened (I blame the flu) but I saw a request by Sally Clarkson to assist in her new book launch. This year had been so busy I had not an inkling of what her new book was about, or how I would find time to help, I just knew I wanted to do this.

Being on the launch team, I got the privilege of reading the first few chapters, and did I ever ugly cry? You can read about that over here. And then there was the webcast, insert more tears here. But it wasn’t until the book was in my hands and flipped through the pages and knew this was the answer.

That prayer that had become so repetitious was answered. Sally’s life poured out onto the pages of her book, It was all the answers. But this one thing hit me the hardest, I have been running around trying to fit my life into someone else’s puzzle. And that will never work, because their puzzle pieces are not mine. Mine are unique to my family, my health, my gifts. My puzzle.

Yeah. There it is. God hears. God sees. And God loves.

And I am not a perfect mama. Not even close. And in these days when Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, all the social media outlets. They fill our lives with comparison. It is so easy to get lost in the everyday mess of our lives and begin to feel less than, because these women posting all the beautiful things you just know they have it right. Perfection. They have learned the art and you will never live up. I will never live up.

But here is the thing, in the middle of my mess and my chaos, in the middle of tantrums and toys, I need to own it. Not run from it. Own. It. Own this life.

Because I don’t want a home that is perfectly decorated, if it means these little ones God chose for me to tend to do not feel perfectly loved. And I promise on any given day, there will be scattered toys, dishes in the sink, laundry, well, everywhere, but there will also be love. And this is real life. And it’s a beautiful life.

Thank you Sally Clarkson, for pouring out your heart, for heeding God’s call, for loving all of us imperfect mamas as your own.

Now ladies, I say we blow the lid off of this idea of perfection and show the world and the mamas out there that feel less than today, that we are all the same. Show them what perfection really looks like, the only perfection that matters. Will you share your story today? Click the little froggy below and link your blog post, if you are not a blogger tell us in the comments.

In the words of my three year old “Let’s do this thing!”

To view stories of real mamas click the blue froggy link above!


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No Perfect Mamas Allowed! Trading in the picture perfect and getting real.

I prayed it for years. Too many now that I have lost count and I wondered if God was ever going to answer, or if He was even listening. I felt invisible. I felt alone. I felt isolated. My prayer simply was this… to end the perpetual state of chaos that was my life, my family, my home.

The chaos was kind of inevitable.

Two special needs kids with multiple diagnoses, my chronic migraines and autoimmune disorders, it’s a race from the moment eyes are startled open. Most days the finish line is nowhere in sight. (You can read more of my story here)The more days that passed, the more the chaos took reign.

And let me tell you, I tried on every how to, every system, every parenting technique, but nothing worked. Well, maybe it did, for about a week. This only fueled my frustration. Why couldn’t I make this work? Why could I not be a better mother? Wife? Why could I not manage this house? My answer was simple. I . Was. A. Failure.

Then November 2014 happened. I received an email, or maybe it was a Facebook post, I really can’t quite remember how it happened (I blame the flu) but I saw a request by Sally Clarkson to assist in her new book launch. This year had been so busy I had not an inkling of what her new book was about, or how I would find time to help, I just knew I wanted to do this.

Being on the launch team, I got the privilege of reading the first few chapters, and did I ever ugly cry? You can read about that over here. And then there was the webcast, insert more tears here. But it wasn’t until the book was in my hands and flipped through the pages and knew this was the answer.

That prayer that had become so repetitious was answered. Sally’s life poured out onto the pages of her book, It was all the answers. But this one thing hit me the hardest, I have been running around trying to fit my life into someone else’s puzzle. And that will never work, because their puzzle pieces are not mine. Mine are unique to my family, my health, my gifts. My puzzle.

Yeah. There it is. God hears. God sees. And God loves.

And I am not a perfect mama. Not even close. And in these days when Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, all the social media outlets. They fill our lives with comparison. It is so easy to get lost in the everyday mess of our lives and begin to feel less than, because these women posting all the beautiful things you just know they have it right. Perfection. They have learned the art and you will never live up. I will never live up.

But here is the thing, in the middle of my mess and my chaos, in the middle of tantrums and toys, I need to own it. Not run from it. Own. It. Own this life.

Because I don’t want a home that is perfectly decorated, if it means these little ones God chose for me to tend to do not feel perfectly loved. And I promise on any given day, there will be scattered toys, dishes in the sink, laundry, well, everywhere, but there will also be love. And this is real life. And it’s a beautiful life.

noperfectmamas

Thank you Sally Clarkson, for pouring out your heart, for heeding God’s call, for loving all of us imperfect mamas as your own.

Now ladies, I say we blow the lid off of this idea of perfection and show the world and the mamas out there that feel less than today, that we are all the same. Show them what perfection really looks like, the only perfection that matters. Will you share your story today? Click the little froggy below and link your blog post, if you are not a blogger tell us in the comments.

In the words of my three year old “Let’s do this thing!”

To view stories of real mamas click the blue froggy link above!


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When God Chooses You: An Adoption Story

We did not set out with adoption in our hearts, instead, God sought us. I know that each of us is chosen to parent the children that we birth into life, but to actually see the process of the choosing through adoption? It is, in a word, humbling.

 

It was through the prayer of our daughter and our joining in prayer with family that brought a tiny little human to our doorstep. This little one never knew the love of a mother. Not in the womb, not at birth, not when she left the hospital. At just three days old she was given to an alternate caregiver because her body tested positive for cocaine. She was passed from home to home, person to person, each one caring for her in the only ways they knew how.

At eight weeks old, she crossed the threshold into our home, and once she did, we knew there was no going back. She was ours. That day began a year of fighting for the life of a child that was chosen for us. It meant battling the enemy with every ounce of our being. It meant looking straight into the face of Satan, knowing that God had gone before, and putting all fear behind us.

Because a battle for a soul was about to be waged…

Please click to read the rest of When God chooses you: an adoption story over at Made To Mother, Stories by Moms About Motherhood. I was privileged to meet Wynter last year where she shared her heart with me about her website, The Made to Mother Project (M2M). Today, I am more than honored to be sharing at M2M.  I hope you join me over there.