Reaching Out.

I am sickened by the perception of our culture (myself included) that people harbor different emotions because they live with different circumstances. As if they don’t care as much or process as long or hurt as deep.

I am sitting in church, watching families, who get to church with their clothes sticking to their skin because they have walked so long in the sun, and they’re still on time. When they pray it is not because it’s ‘right’, but because it is out of the great anguish in their hearts, and to the truly only option of refuge that they know as “Jezi”.

Have you ever seen a grown man cry? Well it looks the same in Haiti.

One of the teachers at Hope for Haiti was robbed and beaten last week.

The community was shocked because he was drug out of his home, in front of his children, kidnapped, beaten and dropped off on the road.

Two days later he died of internal bleeding.

I watched as Pastor Richard choked back his tears, fidgeted with his keys and paused to try and find the words, delivering the news to Mami Karris that this teacher, his friend, this role model in the village has passed away. He has two young children who attend the school as well and my heart and prayers are going out to this man’s family tonight, who are now forced to learn a life without their dad and their husband.

The community here is without words, no one expected it, the students would even stop by the hospital to see him on their walk home from school. All reactions that are no different than it would be at home, and I am longing for the perception of people to become more clear across cultural lines. That we would see across racial and economic status and look at the hurting heart of people. A heart that will always be hurting as long as a void exists and one that will always be tender, through experience or reaction, as we reach out to one another.

P.S. Speaking of reaching out, I want to throw a HUGE shout-out to Angie Webb (also known as, “Angie from work”… she has worked with my Dad for forever) who reached out with great generosity, simply from the compassion in her heart. Thank You – it means more than you know!

 

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Church.

Wanna talk about someone stole your seat at church?

Nothing to wear?

Just couldn’t get the kids out the door in time?

Too hot? Too cold?

Service is too long? Too short?

How about walking miles with 5 kids, three of whom are toddler triplets in 90-something degree weather?

That’s who I sat by at church today.

 

 In an open air cafeteria with 300 other people and six fans circulating the outside heat. Plastic chairs (like the ones outside on your back porch) filled the room and those with no chairs spilled out onto the patio, listening and watching through the doorways. Maybe that’s why they aren’t late.

I sat in the back and watched as people came into service, and tried to not make cultural comparisons. But what I saw wasn’t necessarily culturally different, but a difference in desire. I was taken back at how eager people were to be in the house of God. Regardless of their morning, or their clothes, or if they had a Bible or not. Upon entering, everyone went straight to the front, trying to squeeze into any available seat before taking a row behind.  A little boy came in, with girls tennis shoes on, christmas socks, pants too short, and a plaid, short sleeved, button down shirt – and so proud about it.

I was almost ashamed of myself, at how little it takes to get shaken up on a Sunday morning if even my hair isn’t looking great, and I was watching a couple hundred people, wearing the best outfit that they own, and so proud that they were able to come before their God and honor him with their best.

I sat with one of the triplets on my lap, falling asleep on my arm, while the mother breast fed the other two. At the same time. In front of everyone.

Now there’s a cultural difference for ya.

(Figured I shouldn’t include a photo… although I thought about it.)

The offering count team.

God is moved by sacrifice and He was definitely in the house this morning. Regardless of all other things, this sanctuary of people came to worship their God and He showed up in the midsts of them.

Pastor Sam was so gracious (I had no idea what he was saying, let alone that he was talking about me until one of the other missionaries told me he was addressing me) to welcome me to the service and pray blessing over those who come to Haiti to serve.

... just like Free Life - load in/ load out team getting to work! 🙂

He spoke about Jonah and the Whale – after an hour of worship – and every person sat intently in their seats, beads of sweat dripping, hot air stagnating, until the moment he prayed and released. Not that they had big things to do – only get started on their walk home with all their kids in their dress clothes (every man wore slacks and long sleeve dress shirts and every woman wore a dress and panty hose if they had them) and not one family was out the door.

Now that’s honor in God’s house.

The Water Boy

I have been an intern for Free Life Chapel since January and have had the honor of walking with this team from it’s inception.

So many people enjoy the fabulousness that is know as the Free Life Chapel worship experience, but what many do not see is everything that there is to be done Monday through Saturday in order to make Sunday appear so fabulous. SO many faithful volunteers and leaders dedicate their time to execute the vision in different areas of ministry, and SO many staff members work effortlessly 25 hours a day.

My job is kind of lost somewhere in the middle.

 I am like the “whatever you need” girl.

You know like, “Hey Hope, could you help me with this?” and my reply is usually, “O sure, whatever you need.”

Or, “O you need help on that project? Ya, ask Hope, she can work on whatever you need.”

If that were a job title, it would be mine. Actually I am just gonna claim it as mine anyways.

Hope Dodson- Director of “Whatever You Need”

Nice to meet you.

So, my life as an intern is always changing. I answer to a few different people, depending on the job that day, but usually it’s these folks:

Dan Snider: He kind of gets things done, so Sunday Mornings are usually my day working under Mr. Dan (and his gorgeous wife, Alma).

Lindell Austin: Lindell is in charge of all videos, etc.. so on video announcement days (also known as Thursday) I work with Lindell.

Jon Sierra: Jon does all graphics and logos and website stuff (and like a million other things) for FLC and usually calls on me to research on behalf of his creative mind. So, just calling or googling, or laying out options.. you know, the things that I am best at.

Marisol: I pretty much do everything else with Marisol. Some of my favorite intern days have been spent working along side her. She is like all amazing with her 13 subject spiral notebook (maybe not 13, because I have never counted, but I bet it’s close). From ladies events to counting inventory, Marisol and I work hand in hand, very often.

 

Cindy Thomas: I am ultimately always working under Pastor Cindy, because, well, all the other people answer to her too.

 Each day I never know what it will look like, just wait for the text or call – I may be researching product information one day, driving to McDonald’s at 5 am the next day, sitting in front of a computer entering database for 9 hours one night (not even joking – good times), and then waking up to drive a jet ski to film Summer Slam the next day(not even joking again. swear.), and sitting in on meetings to plan upcoming events that night.

I have learned so much, just by watching a group of people do their thing, each in their own element, and interacting together. I realized that it’s not about finding “that career” that will make me happy forever, but more about finding that place of passion, that awakens my spirit and allows my heart to dream, and even challenges my potential.

It is in that place that I feel whole and available to change and flex. I have seen projects flourish and those that fall flat (falling flat at the spur of the moment is never good – note taken). I have realized what I love and what I don’t care for so much while getting my feet wet in a little bit of all of it.

And am looking back on my time thus far with such a respect for those who do what they do, and how they do it – all of it, juggling at once – with style.

let’s just say, if the Free Life Chapel staff was a football team, as an intern, I am the water boy.

He’s the guy with the best job anyways. Completely insignificant, but gets to be right in the action. No one watches the water boy to make sure he is wearing the right outfit while he works, but he is as close as they get to the heartbeat of the team. He gets to facilitate the needs of the players, can hear the plays and is part of the huddle.

There are even those cool guys who get to stand on the sidelines at the games, looking all official and snazzy. They may appear important or as if they are a really big part of the action, because after all, they are on the field. But just because they appear to be close to the team doesn’t mean that they attend practice, doesn’t mean that they are loyal to the coach or the team or that they even care about the game. They could have just gotten a free pass or enjoy the view.

That is exactly where my prayer has been to be. Not in the spotlight, but that significantly insignificant water boy, who feels honored to work along side just a few of those who make Free Life Chapel go ‘round, in the background, filling in gaps, and as close to the heartbeat of the house as I can reach.

Just, ya know, doing “whatever they need”.

And loving every minute of it!

Behind the Scenes: FLC Creative Team Meeting

Welcome to a glimpse into the watering hole!

In the jungle also known as Free Life Chapel there are animals of all sorts and walks of life, each Sunday morning is like a safari ride – everyone is in the same house, but each department is kind of their own species. The greeters are the monkeys – carefree and friendly, while the security team are the kung fu pandas – that’s all I’m gonna say about that (don’t test them). We each have our own characteristics and traits that make Sunday go ‘round, and no Sunday would be made possible without the mix of them all.

Some more aggressive than others, and some goofy, while others quiet and observant – but there are a few who gather each week around a watering hole, to bring perspectives of the like and execute tasks according to his make-up of talents. Without the differences and never ending debate, we would never end a meeting or produce a service on a one accord.

From there, the single plan is delivered to departments and executed with passion, creating what we all know as the Free Life Chapel worship experience.

It’s a rare sighting when the mix of movers and shakers gather together, and I will never forget the first time I witnessed a creative team meeting at Free Life Chapel, which kind of resembled– or was an exact remake of something I must have flipped through recently. You know, the Discover Channel documentaries about Lion herds and how the “head honcho” kills their prey and brings it back for the herd to feast on. Feeling like a safari guide sneeking up on a rare glimpse into this society of a group of people who are all different, trying to come to one idea. I don’t think I spoke too much, because all I could think was how amazed I was at the process that was unfolding around this ‘watering hole’ of thoughts. Like I had just flipped channels and couldn’t peel my eyes from the action.

Yep, pretty much a swamp of creative juices.

It kind of goes something like this.

There is a list of topics – holidays, projects, series, ideas, new elements, etc..

There is a group of people.

There may or may not be food.

There are always lots of rabbit trails.

There are hilarious ideas being subtly shot down.

And other ideas being simultaneously praised and developed.

But at the end of it, there are at least three weeks worth of projects taking place in tandem, spread between about 15 people (definitely not evenly – shout out to Jon, Lindell and team) and my job consists of exactly four things: 1. take notes, 2. sit in amazement, 3. comment when/if I feel necessary (which is pretty much never) and 4. not get distracted and fall behind on my notes because I’m sitting in amazement.

It really is a fascinating sight for an administrative girl such as my self, in a room full of fully 100% creative minds – with no concept of price, time or agenda (figure all of those things out along the way) – and amazingly, it works that way. Go as far creative as possible, give the pieces to be researched to an administrative person, and then begin to cut, chop and rebuild.

I continually remind myself of the concept of the “CREATIVE meeting”. All of those things that I was dying to do (list and call and plan and map) take place after the meeting is over, so I have to consistently remind myself that this administrative girl is not on my turf, but in a herd full of creative thinkers, so I tread lightly, and wait for the tasks to be delivered for execution.

The process begins when Scott Thomas (senior pastor of Free Life Chapel) or someone else who has observed something in the world that should be pulled off as our own, throws out an idea, and it lays there, lifeless and void; and I kid you not, those around the watering hole begin to pace (in their heads, but I know it’s happening because I can see it as their eyes begin to shift and they fidget) I’m telling you, right out of the documentary:

At first, it’s subtle and everyone is questioning what the plan of attack is, or if the idea is ready for attack at all. Then one brave soul will begin to slowly circle the idea, observing the thought, and then throw a test comment out. Once that comment is received or rejected, everyone gets a feel for where the idea lies and all begin to pounce. Before you know it, words are flying, agree, disagree, debate, like-it-but-add-something, hate it, love it, check into that, never gonna happen, and then eventually once the group has let the last piece go, a simple idea is developed into one of two things: it has either been torn into shreds and lies just as lifeless as it was delivered – a carcus in pieces – or it is torn into shreds and underneath the initial form lies a distinguished masterpiece; probably more developed than it had ever been intended.

That first day I was like the scared animal watching from the back behind a tree, some other days I still find myself staring in amazement, and rarely I’m that first brave soul to take a test shot at the idea that could potentially be a revolution; but every Tuesday, assuredly, I can be found around the watering hole, taking my notes, trying to follow rule number four, and just waiting to be delivered my portion.

Rough Life

I really have to rough it sometimes as an intern at Free Life Chapel.

Today we filmed for our upcoming summer series.

I mean, I had to drive around a jet ski all over Tampa Bay with our camera man turned around backward on the seat behind me getting shots of the pastors on the other ski. We didn’t laugh at all, not even at the mess ups. It was very serious.

Then I had to drive super fast for the last shot, THEN I was forced to have lunch at Bahamas Breeze before we headed back to Lakeland.

I truly don’t know how I made it.

*I would just like to note that if you did not pick up on the sarcasm in the above statements, then I’m sorry. Actually I’m not sorry, because I felt it was pretty obvious, but maybe that will make you feel better and/or put us all on the same page. Good Day!

Easter 2011: The Big Sha-Bang

April 24, Sunday

This morning overwhelmed my heart.

I am often times found standing in my tracks, mesmerized as I experience the true faithfulness of God.

Today was another one of those days.

With a team of pure hearts to serve, who have been planning this for weeks and weeks, and knowing that execution needed to be flawless, the energy was super-charged. I actually had nerves, I was so excited.

5 AM seemed like nothing but Christmas morning as I gathered my luggage for the day and headed out (I learned my lesson from my first 5 am unload.. Sweats and no hair/make-up: there’s too much work to do to be done in all the Sunday morning get-up and it’s too humid to expect my hair to not be a fro the second i step out the door).

My usual office was blocked off so I had to shift to a different ledge opening. Dan was so gracious enough to share his office space with me, and i pretty immediately began taking breakfast orders. Alma went with me, which is such a help, and we returned to organize and deliver.

After my set-up duties (everything in place, set-up flowing, sound check checking, t-shirt tables good) I found a quiet little hole in the wall with a plug and a mirror and got to work.

By the time 10 AM hit I was so jittery. Just the thought of the many souls in the house this morning gave me butterflies for them. Because potentially, their life will be changed forever this morning.

The worship team opened with a U2 rendition of “Beautiful Day” and away we went.

The energy was hyped, the music was on que, and all was right in the world. I was super stoked when I saw the bowl around our sanctuary arena being filled like a chain. Just kept coming. And that brought tears to my eyes. All the work and no tax deductions and 5am at the mall, all so insignificant to that moment, when I looked around and saw a full house only getting more packed out.

God is so good and so faithful. And now, we rest.

Easter 2011: The Preparation Pt.II

Previously on Easter 2011: The Preparation…

….So after much debate about the dangers of a young girl at the Brandon mall at 6am by herself and many restrictions and laws laid down by the powers at be of Free Life Chapel, guess who gets to rock out to Carrie Underwood with some Dunkin Donuts at 5 am? Ya, that’s right. Your’s truly. …

Upon arrival to the Brandon Town Center, the “crew” as I call them, were already forming their line. I jumped right in (a little against the laws laid down, but don’t tell – the rule was don’t be there with less than two people, and I wasn’t. But the rule also was to wait for the daylight to come before i got out of the car, and i was.)

BUT IF I DIDN’T THEN I WOULD HAVE LOST MY SPOT IN LINE AND IT WOULD DEFEAT THE PURPOSE!

So lets get back to the story and just slide right by that last paragraph.

The long and short of it is that they gave me the run down of how it all worked and also that they had all been lining up everyday for a week and got nothing (do they have jobs? Do they not have jobs? We don’t know) so don’t get my hopes up.

I sat in my spot and put my make-up on, checked e-mails, read a little iBooks, and waited until 8 when the mall employee hearded us like cattle into the next waiting area – a roped off box in front of the apple store – longing and lusting after the big white logo above the doorway – while the employees were inside just pointing and mocking us. Ok, so I made that part up but “the crew” was really getting fussy that they were taking longer than usual to reveal the daily delivery.

When the moment came everybody got all silent and a little awkward. I felt as if i were part if that old short story everyone read in grade school, “The Lottery”. You know where they all have to pick out of the black box and everyone is gossiping about the outcome. Fourth in line (big shout out to half way breaking rules) I got the fourth card for a 16G iPad 2, thank you very much! Only thing was that it didn’t have 3G access, and we we’re realllyy wanting our newcomer to have access to 3G, but I remained thankful, took the RSVP card and went about my business. I didn’t even say bye to the crew, they all hung around and showed each other their little tabs, as if they were about to get into the Chocolate Factory or something.

By the time Pastor Cindy hustled about, performing her many early morning tasks, and made her way to pay for the new prize, she just so asked in conversation for our sales rep to check the back one more time for an iPad 2 with 3G access and guess what – you’re not gonna believe it – yep, uh huh, he came out with a box in his hand.

So super pumped that that company never came to pick up their order, which allowed us the iPad 2, we were able to get the Mac daddy (no pun intended) – everything we asked for – with a special invitation for set-up so that the winner doesn’t have to randomly figure it all out.

Needless to say, Cindy Thomas and I walked out of that store doing the happy dance.

No seriously, we were. People were staring.

Easter 2011: The Preparation

April 19, Tuesday night

Tonight was just spent running around in search of iPads, bikes, Nintendo DS, etc.. only to find out that they were out or didn’t know when they were available (every Wal-mart, Target and Best Buy in the Central Florida area has heard my voice) or only had the most expensive version (convenient!). Then picking out two bikes, having them put up front, filling the buggy with 50 bubble sticks and 50 bags of play dough (which the kids are gonna love!) after the employee had to dig more out of the back – because what kid wants grey play dough – and of course was invited to experience FLC worship in the process, only to find out that it’s about a 10 year process for a tax ID number to be entered and couldn’t purchase any of it anyways.

Ok, maybe 10 years is a small exaggeration. But thats not the point.

All after midnight, i might add.

I love these kinds of nights.

At the end of Tuesday (I still say Tuesday even though it was after midnight.. I go by the “it isn’t the next day until you fall asleep” rule), we left with one iPad2.

BUT, a vital tip off that the apple store in Brandon gets a shipment of iPads in every morning and people line up outside of the store at 6am to see what came in that day – could be 20, could be 2 – and hopefully walk away with a new toy.

Therefore, after much debate about the dangers of a young girl at the Brandon mall at 6am by herself and many restrictions and laws laid down by the powers at be of Free Life Chapel, guess who gets to rock out to Carrie Underwood with some Dunkin Donuts at 5 am? Ya, that’s right. Your’s truly.

As you have read before, I LOVE driving early in the morning. I don’t love waking up early, but once I’m on the road and there is that eery calm, I couldn’t be better. Then it just gets hot and it’s not that great anymore. But for that “moment” it’s all worth it.

Behind the Scenes: FLC Staff Meeting

I love sitting here in staff meeting, being the stalker that I am.. I think it’s becoming a sickness really. There are actually times of my day that I experience in blog form. Like I am writing them as they play out.

I know, I know, I am a complete weirdo.

Literally, for a couple of hours I am listening to the staff gush – gush – over loving our volunteers and families and amazing experiences that have taken place from the previous service. Each staff member talks about their duties or what they oversee, who helped made it happen and how great they were.

Then went through each step of the service and gave stories – horror and hero – of what happened, who was involved, how it was great and how to make it better the next time.

Then the usual, things coming up and how each person can help.

What was truly awesome to hear was the conversation of those who were not able to make it or had something amazing happen in their lives that week. Like particular people, and what is going on in their lives, or if they need prayer. It isn’t often that a large and quickly growing church is able to still see the single sheep.

And there is something to be said about a large and quickly growing church that still cares, very deeply, to do take the time to do so. Just saying.

l am honored to be a part of this house, talking with so many people who are so driven with pure hearts to serve – no matter where it is, who they are (pastor, graphics, intern, and everyone in between), or what the sacrifice is – to see the vision of the house come together.

Just thought i would throw that out there this Tuesday afternoon.

I ABSOLUTELY love this place! Be Blessed!

Grace, Gratitude and Punching People in the Nose.

“Be faithful in small lessons because it is in them that your true strength lies.”
– Mother Teresa

My heart is overwhelmed – truly overwhelmed – with gratitude today. Tears have filled my eyes because my soul is so stirred with gratitude – I feel grateful again – and I have nothing but a joyful heart, because that hasn’t been genuinely and truly felt in a long time.

I haven’t mixed tears with smiles in quite a few months, and the past two or so years have been the hardest and darkest place that God has walked with me through in all of my young years. Was I depressed? No, I don’t think so. But, just another chapter in a cycle of my story that has been in rotation for most of my life. I always hear that hind sight is 20/20, and I also always thought when I heard it, that I didn’t want to hear that cliche crap in the middle of my mess.

However, I guess I owe those people an apology, because each day in the after-math of this tornado, I am seeing effects of my decisions and purpose in the lessons (most of them anyways… they continue to come to pass, good days mixed with bad, as a situation struggles to take it’s last dying breaths; it brings such a new meaning to “where sin abounds, grace that much more abounds” and I am believing that God is sovereign and brings restoration to all things).

So, with that being said..

When I have one of these moments, I cry almost every time; and when I say almost every time, I mean absolutely every time.

I cry because I never thought it was possible.

I never truly believed that there would be a day when I was grateful for the pain of people walking away.

(Even when a certain person would tell me it would be different eventually.)

I didn’t think I would ever see the purpose in it, and

I didn’t understand why I had to experience this pain to such an extreme.

I don’t want to discuss the pain, because you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. You would think I was exaggerating, or that something so complex could happen to one person, at one time; but mostly because that’s not the juicy part of the story. The best part, what I want to talk about, is about God’s grace, and how He has allowed me to see with His eyes, just a little bit – to extend grace and forgiveness – and even more so, to actually feel it in my heart, and to actually want the best for a people who, to say the least, did not consider the best for me.

To be honest, for a long time I had to dig to a very deep place in my spirit to find grace… fake it ‘til you make it, I guess, because most days – I wanted to punch someone in the nose.

I never openly shared (see #7 – even only a month ago this blog post would have read VERY differently… isn’t it funny how God can truly turn the heart of kings like a river? Must work for young girls, too.) but finally I am to a place where my heart has some perspective.

And this is what I have learned:

1. People are people. They are made in the image of Christ, but they are not Christ. They are human and will always reflect human characteristics (aka will ALWAYS mess up) and fall short of the glory of God… just like me. That is humanity.

2. God loves them just as much as he loves me. (hard to believe, I know.)

3. Give people the benefit of the doubt… even when they use and abuse it… 7 x 70. Let them spell it out, and when they still do, allow God to do the fighting. He will certainly do so, AND he will bring people around to genuinely protect and cushion the blows, with no benefit to themselves. (hard to believe, I know.)

4. Never retaliate – When someone chooses to hurt (intentionally or un) turn the other cheek. Even when there are things to be said that are deserved to say, and have every right to be said, and would be justified, and no one would be mad if it were said, because they all want to say it too. These Biblical principles have never been so practical and/or real to me. Almost makes me laugh. Because how many times have I heard ‘turn the other cheek’, and when it comes to it, I have to remind myself (aka force myself) to walk it out.. call it spicy or just human, but it is definitely not in my nature… then read Genesis 38, and fall into line, because truth will ALWAYS be revealed, and where you fall within that is up to you.

5. Speaking of cushioning blows – it is in these dark moments that true character is revealed (personally and in others), true relationships are made, and people are qualified, as they see a very intimate and raw place. It is to these people, that I am so truly and beyond words grateful for; and can honestly say, without a doubt that it would be worth walking through the deepest depths if that means creating those relationships again in such an intimate place.

6. In every hard day – every night that I cried, every morning that I cried, every time I wanted to punch someone in the nose, every time someone gossiped about me, hurt me (intentionally or un), hurt people close to me, used me or blatantly took the sharpest jabs into my heart – there was a lesson for ME to learn about ME, about ministry, about people and about the world we live it. So, to but it simply, it is not about me at all (hard to believe, I know) It has been a series of heavy crash courses (to say the least) and, like much of my life, deserving or not, it just takes learning the steps of this new dance.

7. Qualify people – Be careful where you bleed. Even when things are good. It’s a small world. Allow your relationship with Christ to become your refuge. It will strengthen it, which may be a lesson in itself.

8. Be grateful for the trials. If there is always something to be learned, then that means – the bigger the trial, the bigger the necessity that the lesson is learned. There is a song we sing, “For every mountain, you brought me over.. for every trial, you’ve seen me through.. for this I give you praisssseeee!” and I would reach for every spec of thanks I felt (or didn’t feel) and force myself to say these words, crying or not, out loud.

9. No matter how bad it seems, His promises really are true.. yes and amen.. absolute.. all the rest of the ways you wanna put it – He really will give no more that what can be handled (His eye is on the sparrow type thing..), He truly has our best interests at heart, and it WILL all work out for the good of those WHO DILIGENTLY SEEK HIM. Because He promised.

10. Although you know what you have in people determined by the fruit in their lives, give them the grace that you consistently ask for. I saved this one for last, because I want it to be the last point you dwell on. And because it is when I truly grasped this, that my heart was set free. It will allow for restoration to take place (don’t determine what this will look like) and my mind is absolutely – absolutely – boggled at the fact that when I pass these people in the world, I smile, my heart is warm, I want good things for their lives, and I feel so grateful for being a part of a continuum of great days that I get to call my life.

I know what it’s like to not notice the brightness of the sun anymore, to not smell the sweetness of the flowers and to not marvel at the stars. to wake up each day to another battle with people who are supposed to love you. To feel hurt and betrayed and confused. I get it. And on those days when you want to punch someone in the nose – when you’re over it, you’re sick of fighting it, sick of holding it, sick of being the responsible one, sick of not replying back, sick of not calling people out, sick of not getting in your say so, sick of people lying, sick of watching people believe the lies, so sick and darn tired of having to hold it all together when you feel like your falling apart – go grab a treat from Starbucks and a pedicure (or whatever boys do to relax, watch ESPN or something?) and remember these things:

You want more from your life, and I’m telling you like I know my name – It gets better. Just hold on. With tears in your eyes every time you hear it and frustration in your heart because you don’t deserve it. Hold on. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but when it does, the sun is so much brighter, the flowers are so much sweeter and the stars are like a blazing glory. This I KNOW to be true; and from that day forward, the good always seems to out weigh the bad, and every other trial that comes after that first, just seems like softball.

AND

just for what it’s worth – not only will you have cute toes from all of “those” days, but you will be so much more grateful, even if just for the fact that when it’s all over you aren’t standing in the ruins with your foot in your mouth. Humble pie is not very good in that moment, and it’s served in large portions.

P.S. There is a handful of people (one in particular, you know who you are) that walked with me through these life lessons, pointed them out when I couldn’t see them, kept things in perspective, spent too much time allowing me to hurt, didn’t let me feel sorry for myself and stepped into the ring when my burden appeared too heavy. To them (and you in particular – you taught me so much about grace and what that does not have to look like), I would like to say thank you and what you mean to me will never remain the same.