I use to think church people had their lives together.
So I stayed away from the church.
They few times I accidentally ended up in one I just smiled and kept my eyes from making real contact with anyone. I thought my clothes weren’t right and my kids weren’t lined up perfectly the way they were supposed to be.
I never spoke to anyone because I didn’t want them to find out what a mess my family was or that my marriage was a little out of whack…scratch that, a LOT out of whack.
I thought I needed to tame my hair, hide my tattoos, and buy nice church clothes in order to fit in.
I didn’t want to learn about Jesus because I thought he was for the good people, the ones that dressed right, acted right, lived clean lives, and knew all the verses in the bible. I didn’t want to be rejected by Jesus because I couldn’t get my life together.
Then I met a “church lady” and she was real with me. She sat me down one day and told me what a mess her house was, physically and emotionally. She was real and honest and showed me that you can be broken and Jesus still sees you. I love you for that, Barbara. You saved me.
So I took off my mask.
I realized I wasn’t made to fit in and that’s okay.
I often get asked why I tell my story, good and bad. I get asked if I worry about what people are going to think when they learn about where I’ve been and what I’ve done.
Nope. I sure don’t.
God already knows what I’ve done and what I’ve been through and he loves me anyways. He forgives me and adores me and that’s the beauty about following Jesus.
You can come to him frayed and stained and he opens his arms wide open.
I’ve learned how important it is to not pretend to be something that I’m not.
My kids will never be dressed in church clothes, whatever those are. On that note, I’ll always be the girl in church who makes people wonder what the hell I was thinking when I got dressed that morning.
I’ll always have a tattoo peeking out somewhere.
My house will never be clean, like never ever.
There will always be a wrinkle in my marriage.
I’ll always need forgiveness for something.
I’ll always need to forgive something.
But here’s the beauty of church.
It’s filled with messy church people.
It’s a place for the broken to gather.
If you’re showing up to church feeling like you need to fit in or put on your best face, let that lie go!.
The people on the outside looking in need to know how messy we are.
We need to set an example of brokenness.
We need to show that we are the hurting and Jesus is the healer.
We need to take our masks off for the sake of those who don’t know Jesus but are desperate for what he has to offer.
If you’re on the outside looking in let me tell you about the people inside.
The pastor is a sinner.
The youth leader sometimes wants to throat chop the teenagers.
The Sunday school teachers loves the little kids but doesn’t always like them.
The marriage counselor sometimes wonders why the hell they, themselves, ever got married in the first place.
The lady preaching to the women’s group cusses a little too much and enjoys adult beverages with dinner (sorry, that one’s me.)
Every person in the building has something they need to stop clinging to and hand over to Jesus.
To the people inside the church,
There’s a lady hiding in the back pew. She’s desperate for truth and honesty. Her marriage is a mess and she spanked her kids in the parking lot for not acting like humans. She needs you. She needs you to kneel next to her and say “We’re all jacked up in here. Sorry for pretending like we aren’t. You belong here. Our sweet Jesus loves you just the way you are. Welcome home.”
He takes a deep breath and grips the ball tightly.
His face is serious; his lips are straight.
He repeats the lecture his dad gave him before taking the pitcher’s mound, the stern and demanding words still echoing in his head.
There are many waiting to bump him from the mound and take his place.
Scouts line the stands, watching to see if he’s good enough for their future team.
His coach yells from the sideline, and his palms start to sweat. He refuses to meet his coach’s eyes.
Everything he is rides on this moment.
For a split second he remembers when the game used to be fun, before he let the pressure consume him.
If he doesn’t play a perfect game, then he’ll be lost in failure.
If he fails, then all the hard work was for nothing.
He prays for the ball to speed across the plate and land safely in the catcher’s mitt.
He prays for the batter to fail.
What he has at stake overrides anything that’s important to his opponent.
The batter’s failure means his glory, and that’s the way he wants it.
He can’t focus on anything else; he’s zeroed in on the catcher’s fingers, signaling behind the batter.
He winds up, releases the ball, and hears the crack of the bat.
He panics over a line drive or a pop-up fly.
He feels his worth lies solely in whether there’s an out or a base run.
He thinks this very moment defines his entire life.
He takes a deep breath and taps his shoes with the tip of his bat.
A smile sneaks up the corners of his mouth, out of his control.
He remembers his dad telling him to do his best and enjoy being a player.
He knows not everyone gets to stand where he stands now, and many dream of being where he is today.
He feels blessed.
Scouts line the stands, watching to see if his heart is truly in the game.
His coach yells from the sideline, and he gives him an understanding grin accompanied by a wink.
He’s excited for this moment.
If he fails he’s still thankful to play the game.
All the hard work was worth it just to stand with the bat in his hands.
He prays for the pitcher to throw the perfect ball.
He knows the pitcher has a lot riding on this game, and he wants him to succeed.
Even if one’s success means the other’s failure, he still has the courage to cheer on his opponent.
He’ll do his best, but if the pitcher wins it won’t define him.
The pitcher releases the ball, and immediately his bat connects.
He takes a second to watch the ball sail across the sky, into a perfect arc.
For just a brief moment he soaks it all in: the smell, the sounds, the cheers.
He knows that this moment will pass quickly, and he wants to remember every detail.
He feels a surge of pride for connecting with the perfect pitch, and even though he knows the ball will be caught before it hits the ground, he relishes the moment and looks forward to his next chance at bat.
We have a choice.
We can bring the attitude of the pitcher or the heart of the batter.
We can let the smallest moments steal from the big picture or unfold into amazing beauty.
We can let the moment break us, or we can build upon it.
We can let a split second dictate how we act and feel, or we can simply live in that second and move on.
We can cheer on others while fighting for ourselves.
We can be brave with grace.
No single moment defines us.
No single moment determines our worth.
We have a choice.
We can bring the attitude of the pitcher or the heart of the batter.
Your Blended Family Is Going To Fail.
Being a spouse can be difficult.
Being a parent can be hard.
Finding balance in family life and doing your best to get it right is rough and takes mountains of patience.
Even trickier than all of that is trying to pull it off in a blended family.
I tried to look up statistics on blended families and it became overwhelming. What it boils down to is that about 50% of American families are blended, meaning the adults in the family have children from previous relationships.
My family is blended. Well, my family is chopped, minced, and then blended. Even though we don’t use the terms step or half, the reality is that we have step parents, step kids, step siblings, half siblings and we even have my sister who we’re raising as our daughter.
We’re the poster family for blended families.
Being a blended family is tough work. You don’t just have to figure out how to make life inside your home work, you also have to figure out a way to make life between two or more homes work. Navigating co-parenting with another family is not for the faint of heart and is another post all together.
I’d like to say we get it right all the time and that love always trumps the hard times but I’d be lying.
I’d like to say grace is always given when we tread on bumpy terrain but I’d be lying.
I’d like to say that we never doubt the choices we’ve made but sometimes none of our choice make any sense at all and I wonder how the heck we got here in the first place.
Blending families takes more than most of us are equipped with and because of that the failure rate is through the roof.
The brutal reality of it all is that your blended family is going to fail and over and over again you’ll fail at trying to make it work.
You’ll fail at never having feelings of resentment.
You’ll fail at swallowing your pride.
You’ll fail at relinquishing some control and allowing another person discipline your child.
You’ll fail at showing compassion and grace.
You’ll fail at keeping jealousy under wraps.
You’re family will fail at not being territorial inside your own home.
You’re family will fail at making love completely equal between all its members.
You’re family will fail at pretending it’s easy.
You’re family will fail at wanting to make it work.
But through all the rough spots you’ll find immense beauty.
There will be the moments where the light shines through the cracks.
There will be the moments when the broken pieces will come together to make a stained glass window where others will look through and see nothing but beauty. They’ll see all the different colors, shapes and sizes and stare in awe at how it all came together so perfectly.
There will be the times when you watch your spouse love on and parent your child as their own and it will bring up a love so deep you can’t even imagine how it contains itself inside your heart.
There will be a time when your spouse’s child kisses you and tells you that they love you and you’ll wonder how you ever lived your life without them.
There will be times when your children walk hand in hand with your spouse’s children and you’ll know that you are teaching them to love far beyond any boundaries.
Your blending family is going to fail.
They’re going to fail over and over but they’re also going to prove that love and grace can outshine any darkness.
They’re going to show others how broken things can be mended, maybe not back to the way they were but to a way that lets the light shine through the cracks and heal the hurts.
I’m a Hooters girl!
Okay, I WAS a Hooters girl but we’re lifers, man.
I wore the panty hose, shorts, tank tops (that had to be tied up in the 90’s so your tummy would show) and tied a bandana around my waist (yes, it fit way back then). I was there for two years. I supported myself well, had a ton of fun and met amazing people. My customers there were far less inappropriate towards me than some of the customers I had at the “normal” chain restaurant where I worked for years. The men I worked with were more respectful than some of the men I worked with at my corporate sales job. My best and all time favorite customer was my 80 year old grandma who visited me once a week, always brought me a gift and had a plate full of mild wings. The managers were kind and caring and made sure we were always comfortable and respected.
I made solid friendships with some pretty amazing women who, at the time, were putting themselves through school, dating or married to super awesome men, mothers to the sweetest children and honest, loving friends to me which can be hard to find. Those same women are still my friends and are nurses (yes, they’re caring for you and your family members), teachers (yep, they’re out there educating your children),engineers,taxidermist (I know but she’s still cool), restaurant general managers, kick booty stay at home moms, business owners and so much more. They all have hearts of gold and always have. They’re all amazing women and always have been.
Parents/people are free to be offended by, well, everything these days and this post isn’t about them.
To the company and people who donated money and their time to an organization in an effort to do good and provide a great experience for a bunch of kids, a tip of the hat to you. To the women who spent their day off cheerfully doing projects with the kids (while wearing appropriate shorts, t-shirts, hoodies and hats), thank you for volunteering in your community and doing good in a time when we are seeing and hearing about so much hate and evil in the world. I’ll gladly read about your generosity over news about the lack of humanity and kindness that is spreading like wildfire around the world. Can’t we applaud the good for once. Hooters, you did a good thing and if I could squeeze my booty back into my uniform and cheer you on I would but come on, the shorts probably don’t fit over my ankle anymore. Good on you, Hooters, good on you.
The surprise was who was nominated to be her mom for the 50 Most Beautiful Mothers 2016. I believe we all hold a special beauty and what makes us truly beautiful comes from within. I’m under no illusion that what I have to offer the world is more beautiful than any other person but this is a true honor. Along with 49 other moms, I will be in the 50 Most Beautiful Mothers 2016 edition of Revived Beauty. I’m kind of giddy.
The real work here was done by Amanda and her amazing talent behind the camera. Having Dora there to do my makeup was very special and made me feel like the real deal. Thank you for making me feel beautiful. To those who nominated me for this honor, thank you for seeing the good in me, I hope I make you proud.
You can order the Mother’s Day edition magazine here in print or digitally here. Thanks for all the support.
We decided on a breakfast date before our appointment and headed to the best pancake house in our city (shout out to Magnolia pancake Haus!). While we patiently waited for our table, we told each other the most immature jokes we knew and giggled like we were both 16. Toilet humor is our favorite and we each told our best potty jokes. I may or may not have spoken in a British accent half of the time.
Her phone buzzed, letting us know that our table was ready, and we both shot off the waiting bench and almost knocked each other down trying to get to the table the quickest. I won because I outweigh her by a million pounds and she’s easy to push out of my way.
By the time we settled in our seats the conversation had somehow made a dramatic flip and we found ourselves sitting with serious faces. We talked about depression, addiction and how suicide totally sucks for those left behind. We couldn’t decide if we were sad or mad that our dad hadn’t taken us into consideration before taking his own life but we could both agree that it’s wrecked our worlds. Her world was wrecked at the sweet young age of 12, mine at 36.
The waitress approach in the middle of the thick and asked for our drink order.
Black coffee for me.
My sister asked for coffee and a chocolate milk.
That’s when my heart was torn in two, much like her drink order.
The kid in her craved an ice-cold glass of chocolate milk, the kind we all cherished as kids. I remember dumping heaping spoon full of Nestles Quick into my milk and stirring as fast I could, trying to get it all down before the remaining undissolved powder settled to the bottom.
My sister is a child. She was born when I was 23 yet my silliness and immaturity brings us to the same age. We overrule the fact that I’m old enough to be her mother and treat each other like sisters. She giggles like a kid, does crafts with her nieces and stays up late at night sharing secrets with my oldest daughter.
My sister is just a little girl. She likes her chocolate milk as cold as ice.
The adult in her likes her coffee hot with a side of cream. She needs the morning boost. It’s sometimes hard for her to face her day and she needs a cup of grace to get her through. She’s not like other kids her age. She’s seen more storms and treaded through taller weeds. She’s delicate when she pours her cream. It’s like sweet therapy. I like my coffee black. I prefer nothing come between me and the fresh brewed goodness.
My sister is an adult child. She was born when I was 23 yet her boldness and maturity brings us to the same age. We have to sometimes remind ourselves that I’m old enough to be her mother and help her make choices only an adult is capable of. She spends hours in her room alone, painting with methodical strokes. She meets once a day with adults who have faced life in a similar way that she has.
My sister is walking a fine line on a fast track to adulthood. She likes her coffee hot with a swirl of sweetness.
My heart is torn in two for her. I want her to be a child. I want her to have a milk mustache that I have to tell her to wipe off. I want to correct her homework, fold her clothes, cook her dinner and watch her play in the yard. I want her to just be a kid but she can’t, the world has messed that up for her. The world has stolen from her, beat her up and knocked her down. But she’s got a little fight in her. She’s got resistance and spunk. She’s a little bit of a princess and a whole lot of a warrior.
My sister like her chocolate milk cold and her coffee hot and that shatters my heart into a million pieces.
I’ll always fight to keep the little in our kids. We’ve become a society that expects them to grow up so quickly, turning our little girls into teenagers long before their time. Turning our teenagers into adults extremely prematurely. Giving miles where we should only give inches. Letting go when we should covet just a little longer.
There’s no rush.
Let’s let them be kids, play with dolls, have bare faces and natural hair, unadorned with jewels and covered in age appropriate clothes. Let’s let them stay small and allow them the joys of just being a kid.
Let’s pray that their drink order stays an ice-cold chocolate milk for as long as we can.
Let’s keep the little in our kids.
I truly believe that I’m in church every day. I spend time with God every morning and I talk to someone about Jesus far more than once a day. I stand firm in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” God is always with me. I am in constant “church” with people and spend many nights in fellowship with my friends each week. So daily church happens outside four walls of a building all the time.
But my church! My church feeds me. I crave the building and the people in it. I’m addicted to praising in the big room filled with my brothers and sisters. There’s nothing like standing with my people, arms raised high, my husband’s arm around my back and belting out praise to Jesus, no matter how off-key I am. I love to watch everyone scoot to the edge of their seats, preparing to soak up the message our pastor is about to deliver. Oh how I wish you could hear him deliver the Good News. It’s amazing!
You don’t have to go to church.
You can love God from where ever you are.
You can praise Jesus in your car, your home and even the shower.
You can gather with your friends and be the church in your back yard.
However, there can be great beauty in finding a church that you love and that loves you back. If you’re in San Antonio then meet me at Castle Hills Church, hold my hand and love on Jesus and others with me.Come meet my people. If you’re not then find a church that loves you. There can be so much that fills you up when you surround yourself with followers of Jesus. Wherever you church, do it big. Do it with abandonment. Do it with love. Just do it.
Here’s a little about how my church helped save my marriage and ultimately saved our lives. We almost surrendered ourselves to ending everything we had wished for, then God stepped in. He is the God of redemption and He is good.
Check it our here.
Opening up my life and sharing my story seems so easy to me. However, today I’m taking a step out of my comfort zone and sharing my mom body. Many brave women signed up to share themselves and how they became moms. Each mom, no matter how they arrived at motherhood, is beautiful and strong. Much respect for all of these women. In celebration of Mother’s Day, here’s Motherhood: More Than Skin Deep.
Photo credit: ARG Photographs
Today I’m over at Reveal Ministry talking about baby proofing and shattered glass.
“It could be so many different things that leave us shattered, believing we can never be whole again. Our cracks never look like anyone else’s and we feel alone. There’s a silence in thinking no one could possibly understand the pain you have from your own shattered glass. Their feet aren’t bleeding from walking on the sharp-edged shards.”