Month: February 2015

Between the Sun and the Storm

Recently, the four year-old and I were fortunate to unthaw from the Midwest winter and spend a week under the Bahamian palm trees and sunshine. While there, I was reminded again that sunrises are worth waking up for, that staring at the ocean never gets old and that there is something unique and fascinating about every single seashell that I add to my collection.

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The beach is my place. It’s where I go to clear my head. It’s where I go for perspective and peace. It’s where I feel alive and where I feel grounded. It is mysterious and powerful and vast. It reminds me of how small I am and how big God is. And all it takes is stepping one foot into the sand for me to remember again how good it is for me to be in my place. Let’s be honest, warm rays on my face and fruity drinks help, too. Fruity drinks brought to my beach chair while I wait with my toes in the sand, even better.

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You have your place. Where is it? Where do you go to dream and decompress? Where do you feel most alive? After a week at my place, I am convinced we should go to our places…often.

One afternoon, a storm rolled in. You could see the rain across the water. And as the sky darkened, it made the already beautiful turquoise waters become absolutely breath-taking. I had been admiring the crystal-clear water all week, but I have never seen water this shade of blue in all my life. The contrast between the sky and the water and the sand was striking. All because of the storm.

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As I gathered up beach toys, wrapped with a beach towel, I was reminded again that there is beauty in the storms. They can be so uncomfortable. Somtimes, so damaging. Often, so painful to endure and even unfair. They can change our plans and wreck our day and make us mad as eh-hem, heck. I get it. I’ve been through one or two I’d rather not go through again. I’m sure you have, too.

But storms can shape our character, they take us to the edge of comfortable to show us just who we are and what we stand for. They reveal what boils over when the pressure is on. They reflect who we are in a completely different light and often, show us that we have strength, determination, and perseverance we didn’t even know we had.

Storms can make the most beautiful characteristics about us shine even brighter.

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So, throughout the sunny days and the stormy one, I realized again, that there are things to be thankful for in all circumstances. All. Circumstances. There is a promise in the storm – it will pass. There is a promise in the sunshine – it won’t last forever, but when it’s gone, it will come again. The combination of both the sun and the storm reveal a shoreline that is balanced and beautiful in the midst of both.

The sunny days and stormy ones can do the same in our lives. The combination of both makes us balanced and beautiful and whole in a way that we wouldn’t otherwise be. We can be grateful for both.

Wishing you some time at your place soon …with the beverage of your choice in-hand.

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What I Learned Becoming The Me I Never Wanted to Be

I don’t remember who she was or even what the meeting was about. But I do remember exactly where I was sitting and what I thought when she rattled off her statistics. Children of divorced parents were so many times more likely to do this. Children of single parent households were less likely to do that.IMG_4429

“I will prove her wrong. I will prove them all wrong,” I thought to my 13 year-old self. “I will never become that person, and I will never let this be an issue for my children.”

Fast forward 19 years. The perfectionist in me rose to the challenge and proved the statistics wrong. I said no to drugs and yes to education. I worked hard and checked off the boxes one by one. High school education. Check. College education. Check. Check. Husband. Check. Job. Check. House with a picket fence. Check.

As I was busy checking off the boxes, I was also getting closer to the day where I’d have to make one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my life, still to this day. Faced with the choice of raising my daughter in an unhealthy home or doing to her the one thing that I abhorred that had been done to me, I wept at the options.

How have I ended up in this place? Why did I let it go this far? What will my life look like if I become the one thing I swore I would never be?

And now, a few steps past the rawness of that season, I’ve realized a few things about ending up as the person I never wanted to be.

We will all do or say or think or experience things that we never want to do or say or think or experience. It’s called life. And knee-jerk reactions and weaknesses and fear and anger and unpredictable turns of events are real and life changing. So, we can hold ourselves to a standard of perfection or we can hold ourselves to a standard of grace. After years of choosing the former, I’ve now chosen the latter.

Because as much as I’d like to be without fault and always get it right the first time, I don’t. And sometimes, I think we learn valuable lessons the second time or the third time around as we wrestle with life being life.

What happens in our life describes what we have been through, it doesn’t define who we are or where we are going.

We are not defined by our past. We are defined by truth. Really accepting this…and I mean really.accepting.this has changed my whole perspective on my life. So many times, we have needed a lesson or a person or a skill that we’ve gleaned from something in our past to prepare us for our future. It may feel like it was time wasted, or a season of one continuous mistake after another, but then one day or one conversation and it all becomes clear. And then we can approach the same obstacle or issue or situation with more wisdom, more compassion, more empathy and awareness as we keep moving forward.

Forgiving and accepting ourselves is a non-negotiable. This one is zinger for me. I have become a lot more compassionate as I’ve lived through some life…for everyone else but me. And sometimes I have to tell gremlin Kelli to sit down and zip it. Because here’s what I know: self-deprecation isn’t the journey to living with influence and intentionality. It will hold you paralyzed. So we have to accept that we are human beings, created in the image of a loving God, but not equally as perfect. The best part is, He doesn’t need us to be perfect, friends. He just needs us to be willing to extend ourselves the same grace and forgiveness we extend to others, the same grace and forgiveness that he extends to us.

So in becoming the me I never wanted to be, what I’ve realized is, I’m becoming the person I’ve been intended to be all along. This is the journey I was meant to have.

What you’ve been through and what you’re going through don’t define you. They’re shaping you to be exactly who you’re meant to be, too. I hope that brings you freedom and peace.