Monthly Archives: September 2018

Yes, It Matters

My friend and I had a conversation today that I have had numerous times, with various friends, since becoming a parent.

Does it matter?

Sometimes it all seems so trivial.

The bottoms you wipe. The diapers you change. The hours spent awake at night rocking your infant to sleep.

The piles of laundry you clean, fold and put away. The meals you make. The dishes you wash.

The trips to various doctors offices. The car rides to and from sporting events and extra-curricular activities.

The countless number of Cheerios you pick up off the floor. The number of sippy cups you fill.

The appointments you make. The playdates you plan – and those you cancel because your child is now sick.

The coats and boots you put on. The diaper bags you pack. The numerous times you have to run back inside the house to grab just “one more thing.”

The hair you hold back when your child is sick in the middle of the night. The temperatures you take. The trips to the pharmacy – and sometimes the emergency room.

The tears you wipe. The boo-boos you kiss, clean and cover with a band-aid (regardless if a band-aid is really needed or not.)

The homework you help with. The lunches you pack. The field trips you attend.

The stories you read. The Legos you build and toys you play with – even with that pile of laundry that needs folded.

The time you spend picking up and putting away things. Again. And again. And again.

The times you rush home from work to feed the kids a quick meal before heading to the ballpark (for the third time that week.)

The conversations you have about responsibility and making wise choices and what it means to be a good friend, and on and on and on until you are blue in the face.

The times you have to discipline your child. And the time you spend second-guessing whether that was the right form of discipline.

The class parties you help with. The school concerts and carnivals you attend.

The trips to the grocery and Costco and Target.

The time you spend worrying about your teenage child and praying they will make good choices. The time you spend praying they will make it home okay.

The vacations you plan. The bags you pack. And then unpack.

The electronics you monitor. The apps you check. The texts you read. The time you spend wondering when it’s okay to say yes to phones and social media and the internet and whatever new thing popped up this week in the ever expanding and constantly changing world of devices.

The trips to visit colleges. The hours you ride in the passenger seat with knuckles tightly clutching whatever you can grab on to while your teenager is learning to drive.

The list goes on and on.

Sometimes it may feel like you are stuck in the movie Ground Hog Day – doing the same things over and over and over again. Sometimes it may feel like you are doing all of this and nobody really notices. Sometimes you may wonder if anyone really cares.

As you pick up your 30th Cheerio and clean dishes for the third time that day you may wonder; Does it matter?

Yes. Yes, it matters.

Very much.

It matters.

Each tear you wipe. Each boo-boo you clean. Each appointment you schedule. Each of these is a moment spent doing something for someone you love. For someone who depends on you. It is for your child, your spouse, your family – and the value of this is priceless.

Each of these acts, as trivial as they may sometimes seem, are investments of your time and energy to help care for those you love.

These acts say, “I see you and I care about you.” They say, “I am here for you.”

They are acts of love. Some big. Some small.

And they matter.

You may not hear thank yous or receive accolades, but that does not take away from the importance, or the impact, of what you are doing.

What you are doing matters.

Yes, it matters.

Very, very much.

I hope you always know that in your heart to be true. I hope you carry that with you today and the next day and the next.

What you are doing matters.

Yes, it matters.

 

*A version of this originally appeared on the Truly Yours, Jen – Jennifer Thompson, writer Facebook page

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Easy Peasy Chicken Burritos (and other stuff) That Will Make Your Tummy Happy

Ok, blog readers. First off, thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts and ramblings on life. It means a lot to me that you’re here.

Second, part of this blog is Truly Creating, which is something I LOVE to do. I love to decorate, organize, paint, draw, write, craft. If I can sit down and use my hands to make something pretty, oh boy am I ever in my happy place (and if there’s music I like playing in the background – even better.)

Another thing I have grown to enjoy is cooking (which has definitely not always been the case – funny how time changes things.) I believe cooking definitely falls in the Create category. (But I would be totally lying if I said I could just whip up something out of nothing. Nope. Totally don’t do that. I’m a recipe gal through and through.)

So, I decided today I would share with you one of my absolute favorite, go-to, easy peasy meals that is sure to please. This post will in no way shape or form be Pinterest worthy. (I don’t even have a picture of this dish – so no eye-appealing image to draw you in and make your mouth water.)

This is straight forward, to the point, and totally unemotional (which makes it completely different than almost everything I have been posting lately.)

The best thing about this dish? It’s a crockpot meal. Yep. I just said crockpot. Did we just become best friends? I think we did.

Here you go…….

Ingredients:

  • package of chicken breasts (Organic or not. Take your pick. This is a judgment free zone. How many pounds? I have no clue. However many pounds are in a package of chicken breasts, I guess?)
  • jar of your favorite salsa
  • package of taco seasoning
  • can of corn (not drained)
  • can of black beans (drained and rinsed)

Optional Ingredients:

  • shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever your favorite cheese mixture may be)
  • red or green enchilada sauce
  • sour cream
  • green onion
  • cilantro
  • guacamole or avocado
  • rice
  • flour or corn tortillas
  • tortilla chips
  • your favorite taco toppings: lettuce, tomato, onion, etc.

Make it (Sorry. That sounds a little bossy, doesn’t it?):

  • Place the chicken breasts, salsa, taco seasoning, corn (not drained), black beans (drained and rinsed) into crockpot. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through. About a half an hour prior to serving, shred chicken and leave in crockpot with black bean/corn mixture to let the chicken soak up more of the yummy flavor.
  • Ok, here is where it gets fun. This dish has options, baby. Oh yeah. You can eat it straight out of the crockpot as is, or……..

Option 1: Chicken burritos: Place chicken mixture into flour tortillas, roll and place in 13 by 9 baking dish. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until cheese is ooey, gooey, melty and bubbly. Serve with sour cream, guacamole  or avocado, cilantro, green onions (all optional.)

Option  2: Chicken enchiladas: Roll mixture into flour tortillas. Cover with your favorite red enchilada sauce. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and repeat the baking instructions listed above.

Option 3: Chicken tacos: Instead of using ground beef like a standard taco, use the chicken mixture in hard shell or soft shell tacos. Top with your favorite toppings: lettuce, tomato, olives, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, taco sauce, avocado….you get the idea.

Option 4: Chicken nachos (definitely a crowd pleaser in our house): Heap a giant pile of tortilla chips onto a baking dish (which now makes this a gluten free dish – oh yea.) Cover the chips with the chicken mixture and your favorite blend of cheeses. Broil until cheese is melted (Be sure to keep a really close eye while they are under the broiler. It doesn’t take long.) When they come out, top with your favorite toppings (see Option 3.)

Option 5: Rice bowl: Make your favorite rice according to directions. Place rice in a bowl and cover with chicken mixture. Top with your favorite toppings.

Option 6 (The final option. I bet you thought this would go on forever.): Chicken enchilada bake: I can’t have gluten, so this is one of my fave ways to prepare this dish. Grab a 13 by 9 dish. Spread a little enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish until it is covered (not a thick layer, just a small amount). Place corn tortillas on top of sauce. (If you want to get really fancy, place a small amount of chicken broth in a skillet – enough to cover bottom of skillet – and heat to simmer. Place corn tortillas in broth for a second before putting them in casserole dish) Cover tortillas with chicken mixture. Pour sauce on mixture. Cover with Cheese. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and bubbling – approximately 30 minutes.

Now you can see why I love this dish! Number one – the crockpot, so it cooks all day while I do other things. Number two – options, so it never gets old. It’s the Choose Your Own Adventure recipe. Number 3 – gluten free possibilities. Number 4 – all of the options involve cheese.

Enjoy, my friends!!

 

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Ladies, Let’s Do This

Ladies, it’s time to start building each other up.

What if instead of criticizing, comparing and judging, we got into the habit of complimenting, holding our heads high, owning who we are and lifting each other up?

I’ve seen it all too often in my life and I’m not without blame. And, now that I have girls – I see it in their lives.

And it breaks my heart.

Why oh why?

What if, collectively, we decided to stop the shaming and start uplifting? What if all of our words were like high-fives for the soul? For friends and strangers a like. Wouldn’t that be powerful? Wouldn’t that be beautiful?

“I see you over there sister, rocking that outfit – own it, girl!”

“You are an amazing mom. Keep it up! You’ve totally got this!”

“I see you with your screaming child and I want you to know I’ve been there too. So many times. It’s hard, isn’t it? How can I help you?”

“I notice you’ve been working out and eating healthy. Keep it up! You are such an inspiration! Have any recipes to share?”

“I’m sorry your marriage ended. I care for you and want to be part of your support network. You will get through this. One day at a time. Want to come over for dinner?”

“I love when you got up and spoke today at the meeting. What you said really impacted me. Keep up the great work.”

What if our first, last and all of the in-between words we shared with each other were intended to build up and not tear down?

What if we stopped the whispering? And pointing? And eye-rolling?

Can you imagine the impact this would have on us? Our husbands? Our daughters? Our sons?

Because they hear us. They imitate us. Whether we want them to, or not. They do.

Our words hold power. How we treat each other matters.

The beautiful thing is, we have the power to stop the shaming and the judging. Stop judging ourselves. Our friends. Strangers.

I believe this change starts with how we speak to ourselves.

What does that little voice inside of your head say about you? Are you comfortable in our own skin? Do you recognize you are beautiful, unique, one-of-a-kind, a work of art made by God – never to be replicated, duplicated or remade? Do you know this?

Know it. Own it. Walk with your head held high. Be confident in who God created you to be. See your gifts and talents and begin to look around for the gifts and talents He placed in others.

Let’s stop competing – and start collaborating.

Let’s stop wanting to be someone else, and instead be are grateful for who we are – and grateful for who they are. Let’s learn from each other.

I’m trying to teach this valuable lesson to my daughters.

I am trying to teach them what a true friend is – and isn’t. I’m trying to teach them that when people are unkind, it usually comes from a place of insecurity or jealousy. I’m trying to teach them how to love others well. How to give grace. How to forgive. And that sometimes, even though you’ve forgiven, there are some relationships that just aren’t healthy. There are times when you have to walk away.

And in attempting to teach these lessons to my daughters, I’ve had to take a long, hard look at myself. My own words. My own actions. I’ve realized if I want better for them, then it starts with me. How do I speak about others? About myself? Are my words kind? Do they build-up? Do they tear down?

Ladies, it’s time. Time to start building each other up. Time to start loving ourselves. Loving our neighbors. Treating each other the way we want to be treated. No more silent, unapproving stares. No more snickering behind someone’s back. No more condescending remarks. No more comparisons. No more judgement. No more shame.

No more of the breast fed vs. bottle fed.

No more of the stay-at-home vs. working mom.

No more of the I’m right and you’re wrong , I’m better than you mentality. Because there is a whole lot of gray in this world. We have the freedom to make choices and just because I choose one way – doesn’t mean another person’s way isn’t right.  Because it’s right for them. And their family. And really? We are all just trying our best, right?

Let’s hold our heads high. Let’s share in each others joys and successes. Let’s encourage one another. Let’s compliment each other. Let’s recognize each other’s God-given gifts and talents. Let’s give high-fives to each other’s souls.

Ladies, it’s time.

Let’s do this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You Say

Today, I knelt down in front of the ottoman that sits at the end of my bed. I watched this video with my hands folded tightly in front of me. And I cried.

It wasn’t a sobbing, intense cry. It was a silent, tears falling slowly out of my eyes and rolling down my cheeks cry. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with the sobbing, no holds barred cry. In fact, I’m a huge fan. I believe it can be incredibly cleansing and, at times, extremely necessary.

I know some people, including myself, have called it the “ugly cry.” I guess from a superficial standpoint you can see why. When it’s happening, you may not sound the best you ever have, and by the time it’s over – your face may not look the best, either.

After the last tear has fallen, you are usually left with a lot of snot, red puffy eyes and there’s a really good chance your shirt may be a little wet and snot covered, too.

But once you remove all of that superficial stuff, the ugly cry is really pretty beautiful.

It’s a true, outward expression of the pain (and even joy) that someone is overcome with in that moment. It’s raw, uncontrolled, passionate and purely authentic.

I will never forget the moment when I felt the true power of the ugly cry. Years ago, I was attending a friend’s mom’s funeral. His mom was a Filipino woman and in the final moments of the service, as we stood by her gravesite, there was a collective wailing that took place. It started with one or two women and suddenly, it was everywhere. Women wailing. Women falling. Women outwardly expressing the depths of the pain they were feeling internally. It was hard to watch. I remember actually turning away at one point because the intensity was so great. But at the same time, it was so beautiful. It was so real. They didn’t care what anyone around them thought – their hearts were broken and because of their pain, a collective cry of anguish was released into the air.

It was incredibly sad. And incredibly beautiful. There was nothing ugly about it.

For me, that kind of cry doesn’t happen often. When it does happen, unlike the collective cry I heard at the gravesite – mine is rarely in the company of others. Nope. The sobbing, no holds barred, ugly cry is a rare, personal occurrence – only reserved for the moments of extreme loss and pain.

So no ugly cry for me today. Today, my tears fell slowly and silently as I listened to this beautiful song.

As you can probably tell from my writings lately, I am processing some stuff. Is it a mid-life crisis? Could be.  Is it one of those exciting times of reflection and introspection that result in positive change? Very possibly.

Whatever the cause, this song ministered to my heart in a powerful way this morning. It brought me to my knees and reminded me that regardless of my circumstances, regardless of what I am thinking or feeling at any given moment – it’s what God says, it’s His truth, that matters.

If you haven’t heard this song (or even if you have) please take a moment to listen and to let the words touch your heart and soul.

This post is a homage to my previous blog – mylifesettomusic. At the end of every post I would include a song that touched me – like this one did this morning.

I hope you enjoy it and if you find yourself with tears falling down your cheeks today (or maybe even in the middle of an ugly cry) know He is with you. He says you are loved. He says you are strong. He says you belong.

You are beautiful, my friend. Ugly cry and all.

Simply beautiful.

 

 

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We Will Never Forget

Yesterday, my oldest asked me if I remembered where I was when I heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center. She said a teacher had told her there are moments in history when most people can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.
 
September 11, 2001, is one of those moments in history. Yes, honey. Yes. I remember. I will always remember.
 
Like most, I remember where I was, what I was doing and even what I was wearing. I remember the fear I felt and the overwhelming desire to get home to be with, and to hug, the people I loved. 
 
We didn’t have televisions in our office, but we had a radio playing. I remember standing by the filing cabinet when I heard the news that the first tower had been hit.
For a brief period of time, it seemed like it was an accident. It had to be an accident. Right?
And then the second tower was hit, and the reality this was no accident struck. Hard. It seemed we were at war.
I remember walking dazed and scared to the cafeteria and seeing the footage play on the television. It was so much worse than I had imagined. 
 
I remember the shock. The horror.
 
I remember watching in dread as people jumped to their death from the smoky buildings. I remember watching the footage and hearing the sound as bodies hit the ground. Tears rolled down my cheeks. These were  loved ones. Moms. Dads. Grandparents. Children. These people. These poor people.
I remember watching as the second plane hit. I remember the images of people covered in ash running. Some walking. It was chaos. It was horrible. But I couldn’t stop listening. And watching. And wondering. And waiting. What would be next? The Pentagon. The crash in Pennsylvania. It felt like it would never end. What else would be hit? I had never felt so unsafe in my country.

That night, my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and I drove to a local church. At that time in our lives we hadn’t been attending church regularly, but we knew we wanted to be with others who believed in God. We wanted to be in prayer. It was dark when we walked up to the church. The Priest was getting ready to leave when we walked up. Others were walking up, too. We weren’t alone in our need to be somewhere with others. We didn’t know what to do, but we knew we wanted to do something. Anything. In that moment, gathering with strangers in front of a church seemed like the only something we could do. In retrospect, when I don’t know what to do – gathering with others to pray is always a good start. 
The Priest stood with us outside, held our hands and prayed.
 
Over the next weeks, the images played over and over and over again. And people were scared. So scared. I will never forget the eery silence outdoors when all flights were canceled and the fear I felt when they resumed. I remember hearing a plane fly overhead, looking up and thinking – things will never be the same, again. 

Life did return to normal, but it was a post 9/11 normal. 
We each carry memories and stories from that day. Some watching and listening from a radio or television. Some seeing the tragedy unfold before their eyes from a distance. And others who were there. Those who survived.
Whatever your story, the memories from that day will always be with us.
The images of heroes rushing back into the flaming, smoking buildings – sacrificing their lives for the lives of complete strangers. The images of the heroes lifting the flag to the sky on a mound of rubble. The images of family members crying as they held up signs showing faces and names of missing loved ones. The images of the buildings going down. Knowing precious lives were lost.
Thank you to the men and women who gave their lives for the lives of others. Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for your incredible sacrifice. Thank you to the heroes then, and the heroes now.
You will never be forgotten.
 
September 11, 2001. We will never forget!
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Today is a New Day

It’s Monday, folks!

How was the weekend?

Maybe you ate too much. Drank too much. Slept too much (Is there such a thing?). Spent too much.

Maybe you worked out. Went to bed on time. Ate healthy. Used your time wisely.

Maybe you made a giant list of things to do and did none of them. Or some of them. Or all of them.

Maybe you were the best version of you. Or the not so great version of you. Or somewhere in the middle.

Maybe you were faced with tragedy. And your heart was broken. Or something beautiful and miraculous happened. And your heart expanded.

Maybe you woke up today ready to conquer the week? Or wishing it was still the weekend.

Maybe you feel like you are exactly where you are meant to be in life. Or realizing changes are imminent. And necessary.

Wherever you may find yourself on this Monday morning, I wish you joy. I wish you peace. I wish you comfort. I wish you the strength, ability and courage to make any changes that are necessary. I wish you the perseverance to get through the demands of the week. I wish the broken hearts will mend. And that the joyful hearts will explode their joy into the lives of those they encounter.

Whatever you are facing. Whatever your past mistakes. Whatever this week holds – you’ve got this.

This week is filled with endless possibilities.

Possibilities for new relationships to form. Broken hearts to mend. Restoration and reconciliation to take place. Goals to be met. Dreams to be actualized.

Wherever your past has taken you. It does not define you. You are not bound to past choices. You can only move forward.

Today is a new day. Today is a fresh start.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

*A version of this was originally published on the Truly Yours, Jen – Jennifer Thompson, writer Facebook page

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When Your Nose Ring Goes Down the Drain (and Other Mishaps)

Last week was not the best week for me.

For starters, I dropped my nose ring down the drain. Not a super big deal. It was more of an inconvenience than anything. Thankfully, I had a backup hoop that did the trick for a couple of days (and made me look way more hardcore than my go-to itty bitty stud.)

Next up on the list of debacles, I spilled water on my MacBook. Ouch. The irony that I’m constantly reminding the kids to keep water away from electronics was not lost on me. I had to hang my head down low when they came home and asked why my computer was flipped upside down like a tent on the counter – my unsuccessful attempt to dry it out.

Thank goodness for AppleCare. Even though it was covered, I still had to pay $300 out of pocket. Although it could have been way worse (like over $1300 worse), that’s still a lot of money to pay for some spilled water.

What else went wrong? Let me tell you.

After taking in my MacBook and learning about the cost of the damage, I went to Macy’s to return an item. They asked for my license. I handed it over and, you guessed it, left it there.

When I realized I was licenseless, I was already 25 minutes away from the mall (which had already closed), and there was nothing I could do but wait until the next day. I was starting to get pretty frustrated with myself.

Come on. Get it together. All of these small mistakes were costing both time and money. Neither of which are in abundance right now.

At this point, I was thinking I must be at my mishap quota for the week. I mean how many mistakes can a girl make in 48 hours?

Turns out at least one more.

The next day, I was stripping the beds in preparation for our company who was set to arrive that afternoon. I threw the sheets in the washer, started it up and walked away. About 10 minutes later, I realized I had not seen my phone.

And then it hit me. My stomach flipped and flopped as I was I was hit with a sinking feeling. You know the one that leaves your insides churning because you have an idea of what might have happened (and desperately hope you are wrong.)

I walked to the washer, turned it off and waited for the water to drain. I lifted the sheets and looked down at the bottom of the machine. There it was. Still sitting in the remaining water that had yet to drain. My phone. Submerged.

I washed my phone.

My husband was on his way to pick up doughnuts with my daughter. I picked up the iPad (our only working device in the house because the computer is out of commission, too) and FaceTimed him.

“Hello,” he said.

“I washed my phone. In the washer. With the sheets.”

Silence. “You’re kidding. Right?”

“Nope.”

“Jennnn!!”

I know, right?! Ugh. He’s so sweet. He totally would have been justified in saying so much more than just “Jennnnn!”

With guests set to arrive and the house in need of cleaning, that meant my sweet hubby was now sent on the mission to retrieve my license and get me a new phone. With all four kids in tow, might I add. Not really how he wanted to spend his Saturday morning, I’m sure.

At this point, all of the “Get it together” and “What’s your problem?” thoughts I was having the day before were back in full effect. Like a siren wailing in my head.

At least I had AppleCare for my MacBook. What in the heck was the phone going to cost?

Why was I making all of these mistakes? What was going on with me?

Distraction with a capital ‘D.’ That’s what. Plain and simple.

Instead of being present and focused last week, my thoughts were drifting all over the place. I was definitely not living in the “now.”

The kids recently started school and this means there have lots of papers to sign, monies to hand over and a plethora of dates and deadlines to keep track of on the calendar. On top of it, all four of them have recently started activities which require more forms, more money, Sign-up Geniuses and lots more dates to keep track of on the calendar.

And, it seems that in a moment of my-baby-is-off-to-kindergarten weakness, I may have gotten a little overzealous with the sign-ups. Sure I will be Room Mom and Box Top Mom and join that committee and (wipe my tears) whatever other sign-up comes my way. Sure. I’ll do it.

Last week, after volunteering to help with an upcoming event, I received an email from the teacher asking if I was sure I wanted to help with this one? She had recently been notified that it may be good for the Room Moms to limit their involvement in some of the other activities because of the large commitment already made to helping in the classroom.

Wait. What? I signed up to be Room Mom for this class, too?

I’m pretty sure any self-help book I pick up on making healthy choices and minimizing stress would advise against putting your name on all sign-up sheets that make their way into your hands during Meet the Teacher Night – especially when you’re in a state of emotional distress.

All of the papers and what-nots had me distracted last week, but that’s not all. I think it was also learning how to operate within my new normal. I am used to having kids home with me, and now I don’t. And it’s different. I am learning how to make the best use of my time, and I am also quickly learning that just because they aren’t home with me – that doesn’t mean there are suddenly an extra 40 hours in the week. I need to pick and choose how to spend my days in the most beneficial way for both myself and my family. I’m learning.

I’m also learning it can feel lonely sometimes. And a bit isolating. But I know that will pass.

And to top it off, my mom and stepdad moved to our small town last Sunday. While this is very exciting, I haven’t lived by my mom and stepdad since college. The blessings will be many, but I do believe there will be a learning curve for all of us – including my sister and her family who live here as well.

And this is what had my head spinning. All of this change. While the change is all good, it’s still change. And it was taking up way too much space in my head.

This week has been better. I have put some systems into place that have helped me feel more organized and less spastic. I have made lists – lots and lots of lists. Instead of having all of those thoughts clogging my head, I have put them down on paper – which for me, is sometimes the best medicine. When I find myself drifting, I am trying to practice something a friend told me about last weekend. I am trying to practice being present in the “now.” Listening to the sounds, observing the sights – paying attention to my surroundings.

These things have helped. This week has been better for my electronics, and our bank account.

The big thing I learned is to not beat myself up. These things happen. Bad weeks happen. Sometimes water gets spilled and phones get washed. It’s all about moving forward and learning from mistakes, right?

This won’t be the last time I have a bad week, but hopefully the next time it happens – I will remember to stop and look before I throw my phone in the wash.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Work in Progress

In college, I spent a lot of time seeking meaning and purpose – in my life. In the world. 

I was curious. 

I had accepted Christ when I was younger, but hadn’t fully given my life to Him. 

I was unsure. 

I knew I had a big, gaping hole in my heart that nothing could satisfy. Nothing. Not personal relationships, material possessions, substances, food. Nothing. 

And believe me – I tried a lot of somethings to fill that hole.

Some of my attempts to fill the hole were healthy and some self-destructive. 

I went to a shaman and had a healing ritual performed. 

I went to an astrologist and had my chart created and read. 

I took college courses on religions around the world. 

I met with numerous counselors. 

I attended the occasional service at the Catholic Church. 

I did body detoxes and juice cleanses. 

I practiced yoga and intentional breathing. 

I numbed my mind and body with substances. 

I binged. I purged. 

I hooked up. 

I read self-help books. 

I followed bands. 

Seeking and searching. Searching and seeking. 

I don’t have time to get into my entire testimony here – and you probably don’t have the time to read it. 

The short of it is this, when I came to my lowest point – the point in time when I wanted it all to be over – the point in time when I was ready for my life to end because I had traveled down a rabbit hole of bad choices and didn’t know how to possibly climb out – at that point in time, I remembered the prayer I prayed at church camp in middle school. 

I clearly saw Jesus. 

I remembered Him. 

And I wanted to live. 

Slowly and surely over the course of the next few years, my life changed. The hole vanished. 

What drew me to Jesus? I knew no matter what I had done – He would love me. Nothing was too big or too awful for Him. He knew me. He saw me. He was with me in all of my seeking and searching. He knew about every bad choice I had made and would make. He was there. Patiently waiting for me to turn my eyes to Him. 

It was His love that drew me in. 

Not shame. Not condemnation. Not a checklist of things I needed to get right before He would accept me. 

I came to Him broken asking for His love to cover me. 

And I still come to Him broken. Every day. 

And do you know what? He still loves me. 

When I accepted Him, there wasn’t a contract I had to sign saying I would have it all together in x-amount of years or else our arrangement would be over. 

Nope. 

It was more along the lines of – I will forever mess up and He will forever love me. 

Do you know what else? I loved knowing God called His followers to love me and all of my imperfect mess. That gave me hope. 

And that’s the kind of Christ follower I want to be. Not one with a list of rules and obligations, but one who strives to love others well. Someone who another person can come to in their lowest moment and know they will be loved and accepted. Hugged and not rejected. 

All others. Not just those who are like me. Not just those who voted a certain way. Not just those who dress a certain way or have a certain amount of money in the bank. Not just those who believe just as I do. Not just those who live just as I do. 

ALL others. ALL. 

I will never, ever have it all together. And neither will you. Neither will anyone you encounter on this broken planet. 

Isn’t that comforting? 

Let’s strive to love each other well. Let’s embrace each other for our strengths. Our weaknesses. Our similarities. And our differences. 

Let’s be salt. 

Let’s be light. 

 Let’s show love to the broken-hearted. 

Let’s remember – we are all works in progress. We are all broken. 

Let’s meet each other in our brokenness.  

That is where we see beauty. That is where we see healing. That is where we see Jesus.

 

*This originally appeared on the Truly Yours Jen – Jennifer Thompson, writer Facebook page

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