August 17, 2011

Hope for a Better Day

"What is it?" I heard my GED instructor ask a student.

"I just can't seem to understand it all," he replied in his monotone voice. "I keep reading and it just makes less and less sense. I am just stupid. I can't do it."

The instructor asked probing questions to find out what was behind this statement.

Sitting with my office door ajar I overheard all of this conversation and my heart sank when he said, "My dad, he always told me I was stupid. I just know I will never do it."

He wears this statement day after day. His head hangs down, he rarely looks you in the eye, and his voice is monotone. He looks like a personified Eeyore.

Despite the fact that he has improved four math levels and that his comprehension scores have increased, he feels stupid. No matter what we say to him, his belief about himself is forever bruised by his childhood.

"Well, I guess I will come back tomorrow," he said as he left, with his head hanging low.

I sat for awhile thinking of him. Sad that his view of himself is so tainted, most likely damaged, and he continues to self inflict more sorrow.

My day was filled with depressing moments- a conversation with an employee in which I lacked optimism, a miscommunication with someone else that resulted in becoming guarded, sharing in the death of another employee's family member, budget cuts, and an endless list of needs.

I was glad when the day was over.

And like my client, I will come back tomorrow. Clinging to the hope of a better day--For me, for him, for my staff, for all those that we serve.

August 10, 2011


I have three large blisters, a jammed thumb, skin ripped off my big toe, and my muscles ache. The truth is that I can't remember when the last time was that I was this sore, but felt so good.

In reality much of life is like this. Many times to get where we are suppose to be we must go through so pretty sore moments before emerging.

Change is hard. There is not a ten-step plan that we can check off as we progress. And we fight it. Rationalize it. Resist it. Ignore it. Try to flee.

Until one day we end up broken.

I know of a lady who, in her despair, took her beautiful new Pottery Barn porcelain pitcher and smashed it on the floor. Sounds crazy right? Angry and crying she then proceeded to glue it back together, piece by piece. Cutting her fingers on the broken pieces, getting her fingers stuck in the glue. She kept going until the pieces resembled a pitcher again.

Letting go of pain, forgiving others, forgiving herself, clinging to the grace of our Creator.

We can be broken. Shattered. Scattered. Yet, piece by piece, we are often picked up by others and held back together again. Slowly they help us regain the strength we need until what we are left with are hairline scars of what used to be.


The blisters heal, you regain control, the skin grows back, and the soreness subsides. And you realize that you can't remember the last time you ever felt so good.

August 3, 2011

It is Well, It is Well With My Soul

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul."

So begins my favorite hymn.

I love to sing and will often sing along to whatever is on the radio. Yet several years ago I started to become really conflicted in worship while singing. So much that I would often not be able to sing certain songs without crying or even to the point where I could not sing the words. How can I stand there and sing "It is well with my soul," when it was not.

Sometimes singing turned into prayers--"Please, make it well with my soul."

Of course I was embarrassed to share this, so I often tried to hide it. Accepting the inner prompting of "what would others think?" as a negative. Hiding me.

What I have come to realize though is that often this is not exclusive to worship. Settling for accepting "what would others think," often leads to false happiness and dead dreams. Accepting the world we live in defined by self imposed boundaries often at the expense of ourselves.

God has designed each of us so intricately unique, so why should we become a cookie cutter image of someone else?

"One of the greatest joys in life is finding out who God made you to be, with all your personality quirks and loving it. Often when we arrive at adulthood, get married or settle into a career, we abandon parts of who we are. You might be a high-heeled girl or a flip-flop woman. Too often as we grow, we conform too much. Part of conformity is necessary to meet job requirements. Where we lose the wonder of who we are, though, is when we conform to be just like others because we are afraid to be different." (Shelia Walsh)

It is not about be bold or daring, self absorbed or vain, but finding true peace in seeing yourself as you are. Loving yourself so that you can in turn love others. Letting go of what you think the world needs and embracing your God given passions and desires and becoming alive.

It is a journey and I am choosing to grab on for the ride of my life. Moving closer and closer to the me that God made me to be. Accepting the bumps along the way, seeking forgiveness, crying out in despair, letting go, loving, discovering truth. Constantly resting in the peace that comes from understanding whatever my lot, it is undoubtedly well with my soul.

August 2, 2011

Finding My Norm

“Norm!” everyone at the bar would exclaim, when he walked into Cheers. I remember watching this show as a kid thinking how cool it was that everyone always greeted Norm. Announcing his arrival; validating his existence.

I have searched for this similar belonging, wanting to “go where everybody knows my name,” only to but up my own boundaries when others got too close.

I have adapted myself to meet the expectations of others, or my own perceived expectations they had, only to realize that I still could not measure up.

I have thrown myself into countless good deeds, because it was the right thing to do.

I have given what I thought was needed; realizing I never truly listened to the need.

I have loved conditionally.

I have…. And my list could go on and on.

The truth is I have done some great things, but not always with the right heart motive. Only until I started to love myself as God does, albeit a fraction of how He does, was I able to truly grasp the belonging. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Designed in His image. My quirks, my imperfections, often magnified as faults, were merely how I chose to view myself and my response to those often belittled who I was.

Embracing the journey of becoming me has resulted in recognizing the simple joy moments of each day. Finding that blessings abound and open to receiving the love that comes from seeing that there really are others who are truly “always glad you came.”