Confession: Church people freak me out a little bit.

candice-18

Photo credit: Lisa Snell Photography.

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.”

Lovely Little Chaos

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My husband took all of our girls on a mini vacation this weekend. They left me all alone for four whole days and three whole nights.

I loved the part when I packed them into the car and they tried to hurry me along so they could get their special time with daddy started. They had huge smiles, snacks in hand and daddy at the wheel. They were all set.

I was actually looking forward to some me time. I have never, in 8 years, spent the night in my house by myself.

My husband designed the weekend to give me time to refresh, revive, rejuvenate and rest. He’s said I work hard and deserve it. Please, no one call him and tell him the truth!

What in the heck was I going to do with all of that free time?

One thing I knew that I was definitely not going to do was watch my normal Friday night Ghost Adventures show. Why? Because I’m a chicken.

Our house is old and crickety (new word, go with it). The halls are long with wood floors that like to make noises and convince me that there is a mass murderer in the house. So, no spooky shows.

I decided to redo the girls bathrooms, paint the triplets room, wash anything and everything that could go in the washing machine, organize the garage and finally knock out all those Pinterest crafts I’ve been wanting to do.

I didn’t do a single thing on that list.

I spent the majority of the weekend in front of the fireplace in our bedroom, wrapped up in a blanket on the recliner watching TV. I had to catch up on a show that I watch and am not ashamed to admit that I watch 40 something episodes of it this weekend.

Calculate how many hours that is but don’t tell me. I refuse to know how much time I wasted.

The one thing I can say about this weekend that was totally the best… the house stayed clean.

No dirty dishes.
No dirty clothes.
No overflowing trash can.
No shoes thrown randomly throughout the house.
No toys in the tub.
No toys on the floor.

It was also extremely quiet.

No yelling for mom.
No screaming for dad.
No hollering across the house.
No music blaring from a certain teenagers room.
No Veggie Tales blaring from the triplets room.

Quiet and clean.

On Monday evening the storm blew in.

They pulled into the driveway and it was all over. Or had it just begun?

My family was home. All those little arms wrapped around my neck. Several stories spilling out at one time. My handsome husbands tight hug and gentle kiss.

The chaos was back.

Within minutes, and I do mean minutes, there was dirty dishes, dirty clothes, food on the counters, trash cans filled, music blaring and several little people talking my ear off.

It was perfect.

I thrive on the chaos of my home. I love the mess. I love the dirty clothes. I love the loud kids. I love the goofy husband. I love having toys on the floor, in the tub and on the beds. I love hearing Toby Mac jamming out in my daughter’s room. I love having my husband kicked back in the recliner relaxing.

I love cleaning up the mess, washing the clothes, cooking the meals and checking the homework.

I love our mess.

God loves us and all the mess we come with.

He loves us with all the baggage we carry.

He loves to wipe the tears from our cheeks.
He loves rock us to sleep when we lay awake with worry.
He loves to hold our hand when we are trembling in fear.
He loves to pat our back when we are facing a test.
He loves to nudge us forward when we can’t seem to move our feet.

We are his messy children, the ones who run to Him and through our hands around His neck. We are his dirty dishes, messy floors, pile of dirty laundry and sticky counter tops.

He loves us just the same.

Our heavenly Father doesn’t sit on His thrown wasting his time catching up on 40 something episodes of his favorite show. He is knee-deep in our lives.

He is our Healer and our Savior, our Bill Payer and Problem Fixer. He is our Goodnight Kiss and our Tear Dryer.

Nothing can separate you from His love, NOTHING. No matter how much mess you come with or how heavy your cross is, He loves you the same way he loves his own son.

Wrap your hands around his neck, tell him all of your stories, lay your burdens and mess at his feet.

He loves it.
He loves you.
Accept it, own it and cherish it.

Let’s Pray

Loving Father thank you for taking us just the way we are. Help us to accept each other the way that you accept us. We are a broken piece of chaos and a mess that only you can fully love. Lay your hands on us and remind us that nothing can separate us from your love. Teach us how to have hearts that look more like yours and less like ours. In Jesus name, amen.

On Saturday I went to a craft store with plans to conquer all of my projects. I walked around for an hour and filled my cart with nonsense. I went down the last aisle, left the cart and left the store without a single purchase. I’m lame but my comfy room was calling my name and it couldn’t be silenced by the crafts in the cart.