And then BOOM! A Mack truck flies through the room.

I’ve never mentioned it here. And, the truth is, I don’t mention it often. I try not to think of it, quite frankly, if I don’t have to.

 

But I was doing some cleaning yesterday and found my journal from last year.

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Lots of people journal. My Mom has kept one for years. She writes her ups and downs, her dreams and thoughts, answers to prayer and the ways God moves in her life.

I’ve never read it. But, I think of it often and wonder what it will be like when I read it. How will it feel to look into her head and her heart. To peruse through her life from her perspective, to see myself through her eyes.

And so, I don’t talk it about it much, that my oldest daughter has Multiple Sclerosis. Diagnosed at age sixteen, after suffering through it for at least two years, she battles like a champ. She has always been a champ. At everything.

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That’s why it was such a shock. A sucker punch. Yes, God, have my oldest daughter–the National Champion Gymnast. The one with I.Q. of 143 at age eleven. Take her brain, her body, use it how you will for your glory.

Did you ever have to say that? Has it ever occurred to you what it takes to say that? Do you know how...hard, it is to say that?

And so, maybe, letting you peruse my head–and my heart–from the private words I wrote in my journal last year, maybe that will help you see how it feels to say that. At least how it felt for me.

June 14, 2013

I do not want Erin to die.

And I hope no one reads this.

And I wonder why I have to step over throw pillows to find the couch. And where is the switch for the lamp???

And, as much as everything in my life is a story, I do not want this to be my story–my daughter is sick. My perfect, amazing, super-cala-fragil-istic over-achieving ninja daughter is sick.

And I understand what it means to be mad at God. But I wonder how long a person can stay mad at God? And is it really a sin not to trust God with all the bad stuff? When the bad stuff is gone, over and done with, maybe it’s easier to let go of it. When it’s going on, maybe it’s harder?

Does everyone’s life feel like a soap opera, or a bad mellow-drama?! It’s like, “What will happen next? Tune in tomorrow when Pam will say…’Oh, No!’…”

For real.

And even as bad as it seems, sometimes it seems not that bad.

And some days, I even forget the bad things.

And then BOOM! It’s like a Mack truck flies through the room.

 

Words can take us back. But they can also bring us forward. And a lot can happen in a year.

My daughter still has MS. And I am still trusting God. And some days it is easy. And some days…it’s not as easy.

But, I am still doing it. I’m holding His hand as I walk through this life. And, in that, there is life.

 

What are you walking through?

How is He holding your hand?

Leave me a comment so we can walk together.

 

Get real or go home.

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Music has always moved me. There’s not a day that goes by that music is not part of my life. And although I’m mostly a sing-in-the-shower, and sing-in-the car, and you know, sing-where-ever-else kind of girl, I have also sung in public. Not professionally or anything that crazy, but I used to sing solos in church and at funerals for hire. So, more than just for myself or my husband, kids, and dogs.

 

It’s one thing to have a desire to perform, and something entirely different to actually do it.

 

The more I blog, and grow in my own skin, the more I realize that singing is a lot like writing. Of course they’re both creative endeavors that require you to stand up and speak your own brand of truth. But, even more than that, I’m finding similarities that go further and deeper into what it means to let your heart out in notes, or, well…notes.

 

You have to open your mouth.

 

Although it seems obvious, this really isn’t. And as I’ve aged I’ve had to practice this more and more. Last Christmas I mentioned to our children’s pastor that I might be able to sing a solo in the Christmas Pageant. (Okay, never, ever, say you might be able to do something unless you are fully willing to do it. That’s just the way it is.) Once I got over the “Oh Lord I haven’t sang publicly in years” drama I downloaded an accompaniment track and went to work.

 

And it was work. I hadn’t used my voice in so long it had grown older, deeper, and less attractive. I also lacked the lung capacity to give me the vocal range I’d once had. As disheartening as this was, it also taught me a lesson. As I practiced, singing the song over and over, I realized that the wider I opened my mouth the better I sounded. In fact, with my mouth open really wide, in a strange kind of expression where my eyes were closed tight and my cheeks pulled back, I could reach a higher, more clear second soprano.

 

It felt real and it felt raw. It felt natural to sing that way. It wouldn’t look cute, calm, or reserved, but it would allow me to sing my heart out. In private I belted the song to my bathroom walls, and I’d like to say when the time came I nailed it. But, I didn’t. Unable to get past how I might look, nervousness got the best of me and I was barely able to stay on key.

 

I failed to rock the world, and glorify God fully, because I wouldn’t open my mouth enough.

 

It’s the same way in writing. As a novelist I can feel when I’m and rocking the story, and when I’m not. What’s the difference? Opening my heart and opening my mouth. When I let the words out from a wide open place inside I always score, I always touch others. If I’m too guarded to let you in I won’t ever reach you. I have to risk.

 

You can’t expect to reach deep places of others with the shallow parts of yourself. (Tweet that!)

 

Music, like writing, is about belief. Belief in your story, belief in your song, belief in your art. But mostly, belief in yourself. I’ve found that creating and releasing is both the most terrifying and the most  liberating experience in the universe. It’s so many conflicting emotions all at once. It’s being insanely brave and accepting death. It’s surrender. And it has to be.

 

Because without surrender I won’t buy what you’re selling. (Tweet that!)

 

Let me say that again. If you aren’t sold out I won’t be buying. If you don’t believe it, neither will I. And neither will they—the millions of everyday people out there who are being bombarded constantly with ideas, images, and art. Let me tell you this: don’t throw your art at the world until you are prepared to take it all the way.

 

You can’t kind of like it. You can’t just be messing around. You can’t whisper, or banter, you have to shout. You have to be willing to shout it from the rooftops. You have to be so sold out on it that no one, no where, no how, will ever be able to pry it from your cold dead fingers.

 

Yes. You have to believe in that much. And you have to want it that bad. And more.

 

Because here’s the deal, someone else does. And the world can tell the difference. The good thing about the new freedom of the internet is that we get real now. We get it full-time. All day, every day, every hour, minute-by-minute. Real is crawling all over us and oozing through our fingertips. We eat real for breakfast. Don’t come at us with your half-hearted wanna-be crap. We don’t have time for that. Sorry, but we are getting real shoved down our throats 24-7. You better have something even better.

 

So how do you do that?

 

Easy. Believe it. Write it. Paint it. Sing it. Create from the part of you that can’t be tamed. Tell the world to step off and stop being afraid.

 

Stop being afraid we won’t like you enough and do your thing. Because really, it’s the only thing you’ve got baby. (Tweet That)

 

That part of you. That real part. The part that you can’t put down, or shut up. That part that sings. Yes, that part!Thats what we want. It’s what we need. For crying out loud!

 

Let us see you!

 

Open up your mouth and Tell.Us.The.Truth!!!!

We are waiting. So you better hurry. Do it.

Sing to us.

NOW!

 

And while you’re at it, go check out one of my new favorite groups who is selling us real and giving it away for free! PAPER LIGHTS

 

Trust me. They’re the real thing.

Your art sucks.

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Alrighty then, let’s just get it out in the open why don’t we?

 

Your art sucks.

 

Your writing sucks, your singing, your poetry, your portraits and perspective are off. They’re just…bad. Anything creative you’ve done is worthless. You have no talent. No one, but no one, will ever appreciate your work.

 

All that time you’ve spent pursuing your dream? Wasted.

 

You should probably face facts now—you’re never going to make it in this world.

 

Give up.

Go home.

Quit.

 

Did I miss anything? Because I think we should cover all the bases. Let’s just make sure we’ve done all we can to kill your dream. Leave no stone unturned, no insult left unsaid. I don’t want to give you any hope. None.

 

Surrendered yet? You sure?

 

Good. Now we can move on. Now you have no excuse to fear failure. Because you just had it. Right there. You failed to impress me. I saw you, saw what you had to offer, and I turned it down flat.

 

And guess what? You survived. It didn’t kill you. Your world didn’t end because I didn’t LIKE what you do. That art you made? That little piece of your soul that you somehow managed to let outside your body, out of your hands, into this big wide world all by itself—it survived.

 

Your art didn’t spontaneously combust when it faced rejection.

And do you know what? Neither will you. (Tweet that)

 

Oh, I know it feels like it will. And I know you think you might just die from the pain of not pleasing Every. Single. Person. But the truth is, you won’t. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

 

See, here’s the thing about failure that no one else will tell you—are you ready? It’s important. Essential. You need it. Not just need—want! Trust me, you do! You may not see it yet, but oh do you ever need some rejection.

 

Because rejection teaches you something that a thousand adoring voices will not.

 

Trust.

 

Listen to me, rejection teaches you to believe the good. It helps you have faith in the one the reason you really did this in the first place; because you loved it.

 

That’s right. You didn’t think I knew that did you? You thought you could be coy. As if you could just take this art, or leave it. As if it doesn’t matter. You’re cool. You’re fine. Whatever. Accolades? Who needs em’. Cheers? Applause? That stuff’s trivial. You just did it to pass the time. Yeah…Right.

 

Don’t feed me that line of Bull. (And stop rolling your eyes. No ones buying that either.)

 

The truth is, you’re dying for this art. Aren’t you? You’re down right bleeding it out. And some days, it feels as if everything inside of you might just be sitting out on that page, or that canvas, and man does that hurt. And at the same time, it feels so good. In fact, I bet if you’re really doing the art you were made to do, it feels like Heaven. As if God himself is smiling on you. Holding your hand. It’s divine, isn’t it?

 

And that’s where the fear comes in.

 

Fear will lie to you. It will tell you that you need the fans. You need the followers. But the truth is—you need the art. (Tweet that!)

 

You need the art because that’s where you find the sweet spot. Doing the art is where you feel alive. Who cares if ANYONE likes it? EVER?

The question is, do you? Do you love the art you you’re doing? Is it the best you’ve got? Are you really showing us the truth? The truth about you and the truth about your beauty. The real beauty deep, deep inside you, the beauty that’s dying to come out.

 

Because if you’re showing us that, how can we not love it.

 

But you’ve got to go there. You’ve got to get to the good stuff. That lost part of you, that place you keep covered so no one can see. Yes, that. We need to see that. We are waiting. We are waiting and hoping you will let us see you, the real you, the true you. And man, are we praying that you figure out who the heck that is. Soon.

 

This pandering, and playing around, that’s not who you are. Stop that. Just stop it. Right now. Let us in.

 

Let us see you. Show us your art.

 

Show us your heART.

 

Stop hiding. The world is waiting.

 

Now that you’ve faced rejection, you have no excuse. Go make your art and let us love it, or not. But please, by all means, make the art.

 

Live the art.

Be the art.

We need it.

 

 

Starbucks must not think this painting of mine sucks…they let me hang it in their shop.

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What do you think?

Right here. Right now. Ash Wednesday.

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We are a dirty, filthy, wretched, broken—but beautiful—mess. It’s true. We live in fear and secrets, isolated in our brokenness and shame. At times, we try to stand only to find we have fallen back down again. It is a desperate existence we work hard to hide. We take great pains to cover up our failings and shortfalls, at times, extinguishing every bit of hope the Spirit is offering.

And while some of us (if not all of us, at one time or another) prefer the prisons we’ve fashioned, there exists also a desire to be open, to be unbound from our sin and shame. What we need most, is Permission to Speak Freely.

You won’t find it everywhere, but little by little, word by word, I think hearts are changing. In the beat-up and bruised place we call The Church, I see a glimmer of hope. The spark, though small, has the potential to spread like wild fire through a sea of dying hearts, dying lives, and a generation of dying faith.

So how do we kindle, instead of smother, what could be our Salvation?

I believe it’s with honesty; truth. By taking off our masks and letting the pieces of real fall where they may.

Oh, it may be ugly. And it will—most certainly—be hard. But at some point we have to decide if we want to continue to suffocate, or to take a fresh breath and breathe again, to live again. It’s been too long since we got to the heart of the matter, and the matter—or rather, what’s the matter—with our hearts. This denial has had us in a stranglehold for so long…

It’s fear. Plain and simple. Being real feels strange to us, it’s frightening. We are more comfortable stuck in our past regrets and failures than we are with any change, even for the better. But there is hope. There is, really. I promise. Although, it won’t come cheaply. It will cost you. I think if you’ll wager with me on this though, you’ll see it’s well worth the price required.

And today is a beginning. Today is a time for confession; truth. It’s a beginning of a fire that has the potential to burn down everything you were, are. It’s a chance for God to make Beauty from ashes in your life.

But that road to beauty is straight through death. There is no detour, no way around.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”       John 12:24

Unless—and until—we die to ourselves, we will never be fruitful. We will never live. We will never be able to reflect the glory of God who created us until we are able to leave behind those things that detour us, the sin that so easily entangles. We cannot run the race set before us in cement shoes. Those cinder-blocks that are keeping us mired will have to be broken.

So where do we find this freedom? This elusive tool to break our chains is what? Shall I dangle redemption in front of your thirsty soul and leave you parched? Or is there water somewhere to quench you? Is there Living water that will destroy your thirst forever? Is there…more?

Yes! YES! A thousand times YES! There is freedom! There is victory! There is Peace unending and Grace overflowing! And believe me it is for you, it is Him for you–His body broken and bruised for you, an offering for your offenses. Not a bandage but a cure, not distraction from the reality, but a healing, HELP. Help is on the way!

His Extravagant Love Pouring out on your soul. HELP!

Hurt Extinguished & Lives Purified—HELP!

His Eternal Light & Purpose. HELP!

It’s here and it’s real. Real with a capitol “R” REAL. Taste it, smell it, hear it, Feel it REAL. It’s like breaking through the Matrix and finding yourself Real. Climbing out of your tomb and seeing sunlight Real. It is open your eyes and smell the coffee Real. Real love, a Real life, a Real savior.

Freedom. Forgiveness. It’s real; HE IS REAL. Christ and Him raised. Knowing the Truth of all time—knowing Him—is your ticket to real; Real Freedom.

No matter what chains Tuesday held you in, today is new. Today is Wednesday. Today is the beginning of a walk towards Him. Today is Freedom. Speak the words. Right. Now.

There isn’t a minute to waste. Today is the day. Today, you start over. Today you move from darkness into light because you step over the fear of confession. Today we—you and I—together—we take out all our dirty, filthy rags, our wretched sin and shame, our lies—the ones we’ve told and the ones we’ve believed—and we say enough!

ENOUGH!!!

We refuse to let them bind us any longer! This, this is a proclamation. This, is our declaration of war. This—right here, right now—THIS IS OUR BATTLE CRY!

WE WILL BE QUIET NO MORE!

We are tired of wearing rags when our Father has adorned us with robes of righteousness. We are tired of false motives when our Father has given us deeds of Purity, good deeds He planned for us before the beginning of time. A pseudo life isn’t enough for us anymore. We are awake.

We are the body of Christ. The Body. The Church. Us dead in our sins and transgressions and RAISED with Him in newness.

WE WILL NOT BE SILENT ANY LONGER!

Today.

Right Here.

Right now.

Choose you this day—this day—life or death—the blessing or the curse.

Choose Life. Choose Him. Awaken Church and walk forward. Speak freely~