I’m Still Here. 💛

There are people who don’t believe I deserve to be here, or to be near them. There are those who blame me for bad treatment I receive. They tend to deny facts. I’m amazed at how prevalent this is.

If not for faith in Jesus, I would surrender to fear, and I would give up. But I have long been inspired to stand, never give in, and keep moving.

So. I’m still here. Whether or not someone wants me here is irrelevant to the fact that I have a right to be here.

And I’m here by God’s design and decree. 🙌🏻

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Free ✨

Others can refuse to hear the truth, acknowledge the truth, or address the truth, but I can still live into the truth, and that’s freeing.

People are free to be who they are. I am free to be who I am. Thanks to my support group for women of faith, for helping me to understand the Stephanie part of this idea better. It’s a process.

And thank You, Jesus. I’m a mess, but you love me. Your light still warms me, and your arms still hold me. I’m never alone, because of you, even though I’ve seriously doubted. And it’s brighter, now.

You gotta step into the daylight, and let it go. Just let it go. (Taylor Swift)

John 8:32 is my life verse, and has been since the year 2000. That’s when my sister died by suicide, and I faced myself. I met Jesus in the cemetery where she and others rest, and somehow, I walked out alive. I’m grateful.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32, ESV)

Once I stopped running, turned around, and faced things, the first truths I learned were about myself. Those were easier to accept. And I stayed there, working on myself, with tunnel vision, for a long time.

But then, beginning in January of 2018, I started seeing undeniable truths about others. I didn’t want to admit any of this, because all of it hurts. All of it is terrifying.

I began to realize I needed to share feedback. Knowing this was right, I did it rather unwillingly, and for the first time, I stood firm. Well, okay, if I’m honest, I stood firm-ish. And that’s when the sparks flew. That was the true beginning of the end. There was no going back, no coming back, from that explosion. There was no way to untangle what it became. Sadly, I moved on.

Now, although I still struggle at times, I am safe, and I am healing. It feels peaceful. And no matter how dark things look, it will be okay. I know this, because I’m trusting my creator, as his creation. And I’m resting in the only respite I’ve ever truly had: God’s love. And moving forward, I don’t want to look at anything else, but his golden light.

I know I’m made of clay that’s worn
Blighted by imperfect form
But I will trust the artist molding me.

I am creation, both haunted and holy
Made in glory
Even the depths of the night cannot blind me
When You guide me
Creature only… (Half Alive)

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One Piece at a Time

Yesterday, I moved some things out of my house. They were heavy, and I got it done all by myself. It was a big, ugly job, and the prep took almost two weeks. I wear literal wounds on my body as badges.

Several kind people offered to help, but it was important to me that I accomplish this dirty task on my own, with as little collateral suffering spread around as possible. There’s been enough of that, already.

As a human, I am far from perfect. I have said this before, and hopefully, I will own that until the day I die. I have lots of personal work to do. But one thing I want to keep leaning into is my longstanding call to authenticity. It’s taken most of a good, long life to start finding a voice. For decades, I feared the disapproval of others. I felt I must somehow justify myself and explain my opinions.

And for most of the last 18 years, I’ve wanted to push back against that call to be real. But I knew the right thing was to stay in there, despite discomfort. This has taken everything I have, at times. I felt a natural urge to talk about, show, believe and even project only the good, the picture perfect. And at times, I unknowingly gave in to that temptation. But who am I fooling? We all have pain. And I can’t face anything until I admit it.

In 2018, my life inexplicably cracked and exploded, and I stood dumbfounded, in a rubble. Everything I thought I knew or understood lay in razor-edged shards on the floor. Stunned and bleeding, I stumbled through, picking up pieces, one at a time, examining them, and not having a clue as to what would remain, or what I could build on the other side, if anything.

I still don’t know, but it’s okay. I’m putting one foot in front of the other, each day. And I’m just grateful.

Music has always been important to me. Lately, I’ve been squirming through an uncomfortable playlist, based on the suggestion of a support group I recently joined. This group is for women of faith, but in a way, we are a bunch of misfits. Strangely, I’m learning to rock that title, if others think it fits. I’m getting more and more comfortable with who I am.

This first song cycled around yesterday on the squeamish playlist, and it landed on repeat, as I worked. I’ve never heard it before, but it got me through the day, attitude, sass and all. I share the official version below.

The second song reminds me of the good news that I can still depend on the same thing I could always depend on, no matter what shatters: the endless, unbroken love Jesus has for me. A cherished, official version is also below.

I’m enjoying both expressions, these days. But the second one is my favorite.

💔 ❤️ 🙇‍♀️

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A Thousand Cuts 🔪

A draft I wrote last Memorial Day, May 25, 2020, is published below, in quotes.

From this vantage point, nearly to the other side of a painful parting, I want to add that living a protracted goodbye can feel like death by a thousand pin pricks.

My farewell started at hello, now that I think about it. I just didn’t possess the integrity to admit it, or the courage to face it.

I’m facing it, now.

🙇‍♀️

“Wow.

I’ve been miles and years and rough terrain since my last post. And I thought that it would kill me, but it didn’t. Thankfully, sunsets melted into sunrises, again and again.

This song is on repeat this weekend. It represents feelings and metaphors for loss. The poetry applies to relationships, as the writer meant it, but maybe even, as I’ve been pondering, to just about anything.

I share an official version below.”

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A Hidden Life

Sometimes the most courageous acts are done when nobody sees.

Franz Jägerstätter was an obscure Austrian farmer who died by guillotine knowing that the stand he took against Hitler in 1943 would not change the course of things. He also knew that probably no-one would ever know what happened to him.

Not a single person in Jägerstätter’s life supported his stand. His local priest told him to think of his family. His bishop reminded him of his duty to country. His villagers called him a traitor. His own mother displayed anger over his decision. And not until he was already condemned to death in a Berlin prison did his wife finally tell him she was with him, no matter what he decided.

Franz Jägerstätter stood firm, and humanly-speaking, alone, to the bitter end. But he knew that God saw, and understood his heart. And what God thought was all that mattered to him.

According to one reviewer, Jägerstätter’s “tussle with Nazi ideology was bound to end in death,” one way or the other. Either his principles would perish, or he would.

This story inspires me. I’m glad someone eventually found letters, and wrote a book. I applaud the Catholic church for beautifying Jägerstätter as a saint in 2009. I smile knowing that his wife and daughters were able to attend that ceremony. I appreciate Terrence Malik’s perspective in the movie.

This beautiful film drew me in, and served as a balm. And although it’s difficult to watch at times, it represents an important story to tell. Some people get away with murder. And sometimes heroes rest in unvisited tombs.

…The hero is not fed on sweets, Daily his own heart he eats; Chambers of the great are jails, And head-winds right for royal sails.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson – “Heroism”)

“Sign this, and you’ll go free.” (German lawyer)

“But I am free.” (Jägerstätter)

(Dialog from “A Hidden Life”)

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What’s Your Superpower?

While I’m on the subject of superheroes, I might as well discuss my superpowers, which are a tender heart, a desire for healing, and inflatability.

Perhaps I should explain.

One of the biggest spiritual battles of my life was in the summer of 2018. While navigating that seeming impossibility, I attended an important meeting in a state that is difficult to describe, other than to say that I no longer felt human, I had few resources left, and I remember being an empty bag of skin. Strangely, it seemed that God puffed a few breaths of air into me, taped all the leaking holes, and shoved me into the ring.

And apparently He, the Man in the fire, was behind me all the way.

Today, the battle still rages. I believe God is present and able in my life, right now. And I remain, in and of myself, unheroic. If you need a visual, I supply one, below.

Now, what’s your superpower?

“He wanted to help a lot of people.” (Hero)

“Flying makes me a better health care companion.” (Baymax)

https://movies.disney.com/big-hero-6

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Letting the Bullets in.

There is pain and dying in the process of something new being born. I dislike suffering and death.

Discomfort is a good teacher, and I want rebirth, but I’ve been deflecting projectiles like Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman. I decided to lower my shield, and let the bullets in. I want them to do their work, because I trust God for the newness of life on the other side.

One wish I have for today is that I could wax poetic, know the answers, and be wise. I can’t; I don’t, and I’m not. But I did ask God for the wisdom I lack, just this morning.

I also like this song, and this movie ending. I share them, here.

“I used to want to save the world.”

💔

https://halfalive.co
https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/wonder-woman

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Hush.

Yesterday was the worst day in my life, because it was the first time in 60 years that I’ve knowingly doubted the word of the God of Christianity.

But I stumbled through that day, I slept, and I woke, in one piece, thanks to God’s grace and mercy. And I’m here this morning to speak.

One challenge I faced in life was that others expected me to be silent about certain things, and until the summer of 2018, I always complied. But in July of that summer, something happened to me that I had no control over, and it taught me the power of no. I began to find my voice.

People who were used to me not speaking told me to hush in a variety of ways. That hurt, but relationships are hard work, and I hung in there. I believe humans are worth painful effort. Jesus certainly thought so.

Today, I think I like Jackie Hill Perry’s version of hushing much better. Her hush represents a different perspective. This track made my playlist long ago, and I share it here.

Wait for it. The last part makes me smile.

“Some of y’all need to read Proverbs…”

http://www.jackiehillperry.com
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You Came.

I knew that You would come.

You sang. My heart, it woke up.

I’m not afraid; I see your face.

I am alive.

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New 🌅

This year is only one day old. Welcome to 2020, as a new decade begins.

The light from 2019, although illuminating to dark corners, was pure gold. I counted over one thousand things last year to be grateful for.

Months ago, I chose “new” as my word for 2020. It felt rather unoriginal, and I kept trying and praying and searching scripture for another word, but new wouldn’t stay away. It was a mysterious choice, at the time. Now, it makes a bit more sense, even though I still have no idea what it’s all about.

My scripture is Romans 6:4:

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

So, there you have it. I extend the happiest of New Year wishes to all. May you find something bright, and original, in your journey, beginning today.

https://halfalive.co

Breathe, what defines and describes your words
Climb, measure height by the winds, discern
Wait, for the tides of change will come
Reach, for the sight of being undone

Oh no, oh no, the beauty to hold
So close, so close, I’m recognizing
Culture unfold, and order restored
Oh Lord, oh Lord, I’m recognizing

Stop, when the waves take your name beneath
And move, with the grace of your value redeemed

Oh no, oh no, the beauty you hold
So close, so close, I’m recognizing
Culture unfold, and order restored
Oh Lord, oh Lord, I’m recognizing

Something’s got to be changed
When you hide a problem
Something’s got to give
Ohh, ohh
Ohh, ohh 
(Something’s got to give) ohh, ohh

Wrapped up in pure gold, tenfold
Oh Lord, I know it’s the beauty you hold
Wrapped up in pure gold, tenfold
Oh Lord, I know, now I’m recognizing

Oh no, oh no, the beauty you hold
So close, so close, I’m recognizing
Culture unfold, an order restored
Oh Lord, oh Lord, I’m recognizing

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