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Posted by on Dec 11, 2017 in Devotions, Everyday Life, Reflections | 0 comments

skunk the fear.

I read somewhere that everything you’ve ever wanted in life is on the other side of fear.

So that got me thinking. Why does fear play such a vital role in our loves?

Take my two dachshunds for instance. One evening, I let them both out to go potty before bed time, and not even five minutes later, Lucy came scurrying in. She looked like she had seen a ghost. She kept scrambling up to me, and then back out the door, poking her head around the corner to see if I was following her. Lucy kept the charade up until I followed her outside.

And goodness. What a scene to behold outside. Annie was standing about a foot away from the fence, tail raised, ears back, barking with everything she had. And on the other side of that fence, about the same distance away, was her new friend. A skunk.

All at once, visions of Peppy Le Pew eu de par-fum danced in my sense of smell. And yet there was little I could do in the situation because if I stepped closer, I would more than likely wear the skunk’s revenge as well.

Annie didn’t let up. Peppy Le Pew didn’t let up either. As sixty seconds of Battle fell to the ground, the skunk sprayed the tar out of Annie, and sauntered away. Annie, on the other hand, shook off what she could and came flying in my direction, confused and disoriented with what had just taken place.

I bathed in her tomato juice with baking soda, and it tinted her pink. It was nearly 11:00 on a school night, so we stayed pink until the next afternoon when I bathed her in her oatmeal puppy shampoo that washed out the pink.

The funny thing is, if Annie could have a hashtag after that incident, I swear it would read, #noregrets.

Let’s look at how both of my dachshunds approached the same situation. One could argue that Lucy was smart enough to actually have fear. She knew trouble when she saw it and tried to stop the inevitable. I’m sure she tried to get Annie away but Annie wouldn’t have it. Lucy also knew that her mama needed to intervene.

So then there’s Annie. Sweet, brainless, little Annie, who stood her ground against the enemy, and protected her territory at the expense of her smellalicious state of affairs. She certainly took home the trophy for last man standing, but she also didn’t have the fortitude her sister had in recognizing danger. Even if she had, she figured she could bark it away.

When Jesus was crucified, His disciples stowed away in a house. They refused to come out. In a word or a few, they were terrified that something like that could happen to them. In the coming days, Fear controlled them so deeply that even when Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples three separate occasions, His disciples were clueless. They were Lucy. Skeptical. Fearful. Alertful. Afraid to do what needed to be done in fear of real life consequences to themselves.

I’ve always imagined the scene of the Holy Spirit beckoning to these men, as a warm summer breeze would beckon us out to our porches and our backyards. I imagine a voice so tender, so comforting, so undeniable, that their fear collided with resolution and in that collision, faith was born.

On the other side of fear, Peter became the rock of the church. On the other side of fear, Paul wrote such passionate letters to the church that their relevance has outlasted time. And on the other side of fear, these men kept Jesus alive and sought a will greater than their own.

It’s powerful stuff, no question.

And I think that fear is an okay mechanism to keep at bay, no question. But are we truly obeying and reciprocating and proclaiming if we don’t jump over that line in the sand and take the risk? Are we truly living if we shut ourselves away from all of the skunks and persecutors and modern day Pharisees of the world? Are we?

Seems to me faith can’t exist without fear because faith conquers fear.

Seems to me that fear can’t exist without faith because faith is on the other side of that line.

I pray wholeheartedly that you are able to get past the Lucy in you and tap in to just a smudge of Little Annie’s boldness. Whatever it is, however much the moment weighs, I can tell you this: it is nothing compared to the sheer joy of letting it go.

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Posted by on Oct 23, 2017 in Everyday Life, Reflections | 0 comments

The Journey of Empathy

People say I’m loud but my voice was taken and I took it back.

I might be clumsy but that’s probably because of all of the hard steps forward I found the gumption to take.

I have a habit of being so anxious I forget to breathe, but I’ve had to learn to question motives and adjust my turtle shell.

My views definitely take the road less traveled as a result of what I’ve endured through my own version of body positivity discovery. Now it’s take me or leave me because I’m done punishing myself.

I’m told daily I’m stubborn since I’ve learned to take up for myself.

So. I might be different, loud, stubborn, and say too much of what should be kept on a hook on my tongue. But I am who I am because of what I’ve made of my brokenness and that makes me smile.

The world lives in a shallow tupperware container with the lid so tight it can’t expand, grow, or even see the light of day. Those who choose to be in that box, well, I do pray for them everyday to emerge from that box and see a whole new light of day. The world is too small and life is too short strawed to live life unimagined and in a container made for storing leftovers, not your entire existence.

The journey of wearing myself inside out, as if a costume for someone to inspect and to fabricate, is very raw and full of loss-loss of friendships, loss of those that turn their backs, loss of your former ideas of how things should fit and how things should be. The journey however is the only way to come out on the other side realizing that you weren’t all the way outside of the box yet. Outside the box is where the journey begins. Hope reveals itself. Life blooms.

My father and I had a conversation the other day about gay people. He mentioned he felt that they were the best people he knows and that they understand empathy. I would say he’s right. But I’d also say he’s wrong. Respectfully. Anybody who has suffered to be who they are and was judged, ridiculed, and dealt with shame has learned what it is to know empathy. Empathy blooms where struggle is born. Empathy grows best where the scars run deep and open and wide and free. Empathy is learned because of those who have had to suffer to learn it. Once you begin a journey of being ashamed of who you are and wanting to be anybody but, you get it. Once you come out on the other side, the very Bible says that once you know better, you do better. You can’t be who you once were. You move forward.

And I realize not everyone would necessarily agree with me, or understand what I’m trying to say. But chew on this: find your truth, be your truth, and be brave enough to live your truth. My truth has just begun to be, and even though it took me a long time to reconcile with it and live inside of it, at the very least, it’s much more comfortable to be inside out than it is hidden inside of a tupperware container.

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Posted by on Oct 23, 2017 in Heart Clutter, Reflections | 0 comments

Let Our Words Be Few

Let Our Words Be Few

Let our words be few

Let our words be few

On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln rode in a carriage to the site of the Battle of Gettysburg to deliver a speech. He was invited as an afterthought to deliver appropriate words to consecrate the battlefield.

The speaker before him, Edward Everett, spoke for more than two hours before Lincoln ever took to the crowd’s attention. In a time of national chaos, for fifteen minutes and packaged in 272 words, Abraham Lincoln managed to deliver a message to act like a buffer, a memory lapse of anger, a remembrance of brotherhood that Americans had long forgotten in their selfishness. In fact, there’s only one blurry picture of Lincoln giving this speech because the photographer thought he had more time.

Nobody remembers a word Everett spoke. May our words be few, may our actions be a light, and may our hearts be a holder of that light.


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Posted by on Oct 23, 2017 in Devotions, Everyday Life, Reflections | 0 comments

The Whole Fire

The Whole Fire

Collette Werden

Collette Werden

In an interview, I was asked about my strengths. Sitting with two other women in the same interview, my brain was a flat tire; as useless and deflated as the rubber the tire was made of. I closed my eyes and centered my insides and after everything I’d put myself through to be at this interview, I knew I had to open up a storage container and start an American Pickers rerun.

So I told the interviewers that my strength was the hard years. The years that almost cost me more than I had to pay. The days that were so bad, I couldn’t even cry about them. The walks home from middle school when I’d carefully pack away the bullies, the friends that were simply for show and the shame in not having the strength to admit it, and manufacture the strength to say that my day was fine and pray to God I could shelf the rest of the conversation. The exploded friendship that had a detonator of needing someone to blame. The aftermath of the shrapnel that still affects me today.

The interviewer, probably expecting a robot response, stared and asked me why.

I answered simply that although I got knocked down, with the strength it took to get back up the reflection looking back at me is just a little bit truer than it was before. That I try and repurpose my hard days into strength for the kids that I teach. That they might feel a little less alone. A little less uncomfortable. A little more expensive. A little more courageous.

The room stood in suspension, sort of in a thick pause before the rainstorm rains. I could’ve taken scissors and cut ribbons with the silence.

And finally another interviewer smiled and wrote something down and went to say something and stopped.

As I left, I heard a muffled, I like her.

I cried the whole way back from that interview, mostly because I was exhausted and stressed and drained. That was okay. In that moment I took a piece of my power back from the thieves who stole my sparks and it felt like I rose like the whole damn fire.

And that, God tending my heart and giving me grace, that collision is where my fire flames.

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