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A Holy Whisper

Posted on February 20, 2015 by Sarah Stevens | 4 Comments

"A writer should write with his eyes and a painter paint with his ears"
Gertrude Stein


I grew up thinking that I wasn't smart.
 
The history textbooks were overwhelming.  The science terms might as well have been a foreign language for all I was concerned.  The actual foreign language, Spanish, got lost in translation.  I was told by an English teacher that I couldn't write well. And I certainly couldn't quite grasp what the woman in the black and white nun's habit was explaining on the green chalkboard.

Until she added music. 

Sister Rosa, a pint-sized nun, taught high school geometry in room 104.  I can still remember the hard wood floors and the view from the tall windows of a large lawn, filled with trees.  {Yeah, yeah, yeah...I was supposed to be focusing on learning but...I spent lots of time gazing out them!}  We were in the triangle unit and she sang a song as a method of teaching us the different kinds.  I can still hear the tune but needed my sister's help to remember the exact words. It was all gibberish to me until this song.

{It was to the Oscar Mayer song.  You know the one... cue the cute kid fishing  commercial}

If you have two sides the same, it is e..qui..lat...er..AL.
If you have not any sides the same, it's always called Scalene.  (pause.....)
But the one that ends up hard to spellllll....two sides the same, you know... it.. welllllll......
(Long pause)
Its I-S-O-S-C-E-L -E-S....and its isosceles.

I GOT IT!  I understood math.  Well, triangles...and for that chapter only.  But I got it.  It was like the gates of heaven opened and angels were singing...not just one nun. ;)  I saw the drawings on the board AND heard a 
rhythmic song that clarified it.  My brain's gears that usually were clanging against each other were, finally, smoothly fitting together in their movement!  I needed both my eyes and ears...in a different way that others... to learn.  

I didn't realize it at the time, but this was the first time I felt truly smart.  But that feeling passed quickly.  I talked myself out of it.  I couldn't be smart. I struggled in all other classes. I got so-so grades. I didn't like the academic part of school. I had lots of very smart {National Honor Society} friends who I felt dumb in comparison to. I let myself.... my insecurities...get in the way.
And I have done it again lately.

Years ago my brother told me that I should start a blog.  "It will help your business.  People like to 'know an artist', not just buy their art" he said.  Inside my head I thought "He is nuts!  I can't write.  I always stunk at writing.  I am not a writer."  But I found a small seed of courage within me and tried it.  And loved it.
 
Was it amazing writing?  Nope.  
Was it novel worthy?  Not at all.  
Were thousands of people reading it?  Oh, HELL no!!  
But was it introspective?  From the heart?  Inspired and inspiring?  I think so.

I wrote 1-2 times/month for a few years.  I only wrote when inspired.  But I was always looking for moments that would trigger a new entry.  My mind was always looking at things and considering what deeper meaning they had.  It happened quite often.  

Until recently.

I have felt a bit lost.
I have been thinking that not many people read it so why bother.
I have been telling myself I am not a good writer.
I have been letting myself...my insecurities... get in the way.  

Until today.

Today is a day when people I love dearly celebrate the life of their daughter... sister... friend who passed away WAY too young, when she was a bright, sunny teenage girl.  Every year, in February, they ask that everyone join them in the celebration of her life by wearing purple.  Today was the day!  I took our family's "Purple for Nat" photo this morning and posted it on Instagram and Facebook.  In one of the comments I gave a link to a previous blog post that I wrote along with Natalie's oldest sister, Ashley, a few years ago.  Not long after I received a sweet message from another bright, sunny teenage girl. She wanted to thank me for writing it.  It had helped her make sense, for the first time, of a recent loss in her own life.  She said she was "grateful for how God uses me".

It was like a holy whisper."


It was saying "See? You are smart.".
It was saying "Your words don't need to reach many, just one.".
It was saying "Get out of your own way...and write.".

I spent the remainder of the morning in a bit of a fog.  I couldn't concentrate.  I needed air.  I got in my car and went to run errands.  Something sacred happened on that drive.  I saw a construction project and instead of seeing ugly steel beams I saw evidence of something modern being constructed around a historic building.  I saw the converging of antique and contemporary.  I saw a beautiful image that MADE ME WANT TO WRITE!
I had gotten out of my own way. 

I am painter who LISTENS to peoples stories and makes them come alive with typography.
I am a writer to SEES moments in the mundane day that are imagery of life's soulful lessons.
I am a woman who is allowing God to use her, humbly and imperfectly.

I grew up thinking I wasn't smart.
I spent much of my young adulthood thinking I wasn't smart.
I used to assume that I wasn't smart enough to be a good writer.

Until now. 

May you find your own Sister Rosa to sing you a song to help you understand the things that are difficult.
May you SEE and HEAR her and realize that you are smart {or able, or beautiful, or just plain ole' ENOUGH}.
May you get out of your own way.



The Game With No winner

Posted on January 02, 2015 by Sarah Stevens | 0 Comments

I rarely use this blog as a soapbox to stand upon.  But today, I am.  

Something is very, very wrong today with what we, as a society and culture, are teaching our youth about how to handle themselves in life's events...good or bad.  Last night's NCAA football playoff game between Oregon and Florida State was the best proof of this.

These are 18-22 year old young men who have worked very hard.  They leave their families early in the summer to head to their respective universities and train, workout, eat the meal plans, learn plays, watch film, and practice, practice, practice.  They have a slew of coaches, managers and trainers working just as hard to help them be the best team they can.  They have a huge nation of diehard fans who love their team and want to see them win.  All this effort, work, passion and perseverance came to a tipping point at one game... last night.  Win, they go on to the new college football championship game.... or lose and they go home.

This is one of those times where you get to make a statement about who you are.
One that is representative of the hard work you have put in.
One that would make your families that supported you for years would have you make.
One that the fans can be beam with pride because of.  
Win...or lose.

Last night was Oregon and FSU's chance to make that statement.
What kind of men would they be.
One team would win and one would lose.
Both disappointed me deeply.

Oregon won the game...handily.  Sure, it was probably a very tough pill to swallow for the FSU students and they were absolutely, understandably heartbroken.  But 3/4 of their players left the field without shaking hands with Oregon's team.  They walked off.  They ran away.  They pouted.  They were not men.  They were boys.  Seriously disappointing.

But that isn't the end of it.  You would think that the winners of the game would be able to ride in and save the sportsmanship day.  BUT NO!  Some of their players chose to mock the FSU quarterback and chant "No means no!" to the tune of FSU's war chant.  Really?  

{Side bar: most of you don't know this but I feel pretty strongly about rape.  I volunteered for over a year at a rape crisis center in Pensacola, FL in my early 20s.  I spent many hours in the middle of the night talking to women who were still dealing with the emotional trauma of past rapes or abuse.  Hours.  I am passionate about this subject. You can't even imagine how passionate.             Can. NOT. Even.}

I understand that Jameis Winston was accused of rape 2 years ago.  I understand that many feel like he got away with something.  Does the idea of a young college student raping a young woman make me angry? YES!  Firing angry. But...I also know that he was not convicted.  AND... more importantly... the chanting of "no means no" with $&*%-eating grins does NOTHING to help or stand up for victims of rape.  It does nothing to seek justice for women (or men) who have been forced to do anything when they say no.  It does nothing to lift up and support those who have been harmed.  

It does nothing but MOCK rape, TRIVIALIZE victims and make a JOKE of something very serious.

Sad.  Very sad.

This is not how men, who have been given great opportunities, should behave.  This is not what the actions of student athletes who have worked so very diligently should look like.  

So what are we to do?  I know what I am doing.  I am talking to the 2 children still living 12 months out of the year in this house.  I will share with them the sad truth of last night.

BOTH teams lost.     

 

May you work so very hard for things in life.
May you carry yourself with dignity in both winning and losing situations.
May you retain the respect of others... but more importantly yourself.
.

The Awestruck Experience

Posted on January 01, 2015 by Sarah Stevens | 2 Comments

Last year I listened to the still, quiet Holy voice from within my soul and decided to focus on being more brave.  Last January I thought I would be facing certain kind of fears like riding roller coasters, zip-lining and standing up in front of big groups of people teaching.  That all sounded quite exciting....and scary.  But it ended up being quite different that I had thought.

In 2014 I learned that brave has a very different meaning and one that has changed me forever.  I learned that the bravest, hardest thing I can ever do is to be push past the fear and be courageous enough to be exactly who God made me to be.  No matter what other people think.  No matter what I think.  That last one....oh for the LOVE....was the most difficult.  I had to learn to get past my own negative self talk and believe that I was good enough.  More than enough. 

Did I perfect this during The Brave Project 2014?  Nope.  Not even close.  I think it will take years, and years to reverse decades full of a lack of confidence.  But God is doing a Holy work inside my heart and I am quite grateful for it. 

So, now I have been thinking about what I should focus on for 2015.  For the past month a certain line in one of my favorite worship songs has continued to strike a chord deep within my soul.  In Kari Jobe's The Revelation Song  she sings "filled with wonder....awestruck wonder...and the mention of Your name". That lyric hits me every time.  I am moved to tears. I am inspired.  I am blessed by the thought of being filled with awestruck wonder by the simple thing like mentioning a name.  

To be filled with wonder sounds fantastic.  But AWESTRUCK wonder?  Woah.  I looked up the meaning of awestruck and found several different definitions.  But this one stood out to me:

 

To be filled with feelings of fear and wonder.  Last year I worked on the fear portion.  This year the focus will be the wonder....the awe.  I want to experience being STRUCK by awe!!  We rarely are in awe of anything these days.  Our culture has taught us that doing things BIG is the norm.  Expected.  Common. We have lost the ability to be awestruck by the little things of life.  I want to tap into my inner child and be amazed by things.  Marvel at things.  Be fascinated and surprised by things.  Be filled with wonder...awestruck wonder.

Feel free to join me in The Awestruck Experience!  It is time to turn in your jaded, mature, fatigued self who is unable to see the wonder in every day life stuff!  Open your eyes, with me, and experience awestruck wonder!

 

May you recognize that we all have lost our ability to see
the little things in a new way.
May you become like a child and view life in a renewed way.
May you experience joy when you are filled with wonder....
awestruck wonder. 

8280 Days

Posted on August 03, 2014 by Sarah Stevens | 1 Comment

8280 days.   

 

That seems like a big ole' whopping number of days.  

That seems like an overwhelming amount of days.

That seems like an amount of time that would pass by achingly slow.

That seems.... like just yesterday.   

 

8280 days ago and yesterday were two very special days....but somehow, for us, they feel like they were one day right after the other. 

 

December 1, 1991 Craig and I had our first child, Zachary Patrick.

August 2, 2014 Zachary Patrick asked Emily Kathleen to be his wife.  

 

        

 

 

8280 days.

 

Many, many of those days I prayed.  Sometimes for his health.....sometimes for his safety.....sometimes for my sanity. ;)

And sometimes I prayed for his future wife.

 

I prayed....

that she would have a heart that was big, open and soft.

that she would be smart, independent and strong.

that she would care for others more than herself.

that she would be one who could laugh at herself.

that she would be one who could laugh at Zack.

that she would be a wonderful sister to our other children.

that she would be another daughter for us...not a daughter-in-law.

that she would be willing to always learn from others.

that she would stand up for herself.

that she would love our son.

and, most importantly, that she would love God with all her heart. 

 

These prayers were answered yesterday.  

 

It seems like just yesterday we were holding Zack, in our arms, in the Pensacola Naval Hospital.... already hopelessly in love with this little guy who changed our lives forever.

                

It was actually just yesterday that we congratulated Zack..... and witnessed how hopelessly in love with this gal he was, who would change his life forever.  

 

            

Zack and Emily....
May you always be able to remember the joy of yesterday.
May you always be able to remember the promise and covenant of the ring given and received yesterday.
May you always be able to remember the prayers that have been said for you...and answered.  

Intentionally Ever After

Posted on June 24, 2014 by Sarah Stevens | 1 Comment

Long, long ago in a valley far away a girl married a boy.  They had a beautiful wedding, drove off into the sunset to a magical honeymoon and lived happily ever after.

Or.....

25 years ago TODAY in a Minnesota town not so far away a girl married a boy. They had a beautiful and meaningful wedding, drove off the next day after brunch to a honeymoon where the girl puked 92% of it with the flu.....
and lived intentionally ever after

 

Marriage is the most fantastic, challenging, encouraging, demanding, loving, troublesome, amazing, tough, magnificently worthwhile long distant event...ever. My husband and I have endured the good and the bad for 25 years and have our hopes set on at least 50 more!  But marriage is not a fairy tale like the first statement above.  It is a real life tale that needs to be lived intentionally or it won't go the distance.  

I can {with 100% certainty} say that when Craig came to the little blue house on Stanton Ave, in campus town at Iowa State University, on a Tuesday and sat on my bed with me and presented me with a little handmade coupon book where the last page said "Good for a life as my wife. Will you marry me?", that I was thinking fairy tale.  I was amazed at how pretty the ring was and started dreaming of my wedding dress within minutes of screaming "YES!!".  Oh no worries, I for sure knew what the commitment of marriage meant and understood what I was agreeing to.  I had seen my parents, grandparents, Craig's parents and grandparents model it for me very well!  But I was in happily ever after mode.

 

This is us on our first anniversary, in Ames, IA while attending Iowa State.  We were 19 and 20 years old.  SO YOUNG!  Oh, for the LOVE! 

 

 

Somewhere in the year or so after that, when Craig left for Pensacola for Naval Aviation Training and we were apart for almost a year, I changed from existing in Fairy Taleville to Real Life Taleville.  The wedding ceremony became more about what we were promising and our covenant we were making with God than the dress and the flowers.  The honeymoon became more about something that was affordable and practical for and Ensign's salary than a tropical island vacation that would put a young couple in debt.  And our marriage became more about being intentional in our love, forgiveness and grace that would be needed if we wanted to hang out together for the long haul than a cutesy image of an always happy, perfect couple.   

 

This marriage stuff is NOT FOR WIMPS!  It is hard.  We can annoy the crud out of each other.  We are two VERY imperfect people who have, at time, not been kind to each other.  This is work.  This takes effort.  This takes endurance... patience... humility... and more.  BUT.... this. is. worth. it.  BEST decision we ever made was to love each other. 

With God's help we have loved each other intentionally on the good and bad days.
And we are grateful.  

 

Today, in a town that is home, a woman celebrates a marriage with a man.   They have had 25 years of love and grace, will drive to the east coast in a few weeks with their children for the first true "just us" family vacation in 10 years, and live intentionally ever after.

 

That is my kind of real life tale. 

 

 

The Main Light Switch

Posted on June 20, 2014 by Sarah Stevens | 0 Comments

55 years.  

That is how long my mom's family has been lucky enough to have a house on a lake.  When making this sign a few weeks back I was thinking a ton about how lucky our family was to have LIVED OUR LIVES at the lake....

 

 

When my Grama and Papa bought it all those years ago it was to be a 2nd home.... a lake cottage.... only about 2.7 miles from their home to be used in the summer months to boat and fish.  Most people drive hours to "get away" from the hustle and bustle.  Nope. Not them... they escaped very close by.  

But little did they know, at the time, that 55 years later there would be so many amazing memories made at their cottage.  So many, that it was hard to say good bye to.....

Last week Gram and Papa's house was sold to an out of town buyer.  Gram passed away 5 1/2 years ago and it has been for sale all this time.  I know that it has been stressful for her children to have it sit on the market, but I {and pretty sure I am not the only one who feels this way} am grateful for those years.  It was like closure at a snail's pace.  Ripping off a band-aid super slow.  But....even at that it was brutal to walk out that door, with the stained glass window and lace curtains, for the last time.  As I opened the door I looked back at the huge floor to vaulted ceiling windows with an unforgettable view of Lake Mendota.  Then I walked out the door.... and away from the place that held so many memories.......... and bawled like a baby. 

 

Why was this house so special?  After all....
It is just a building.
It was just a little cottage, originally, with uneven floors that I have been told I learned to walk on.
It was just a 2 bedroom home with wall-to-wall-to-ceiling knotty pine.  

Why?  Because it was the place where everything happened in our family.  There was no "just a.." about this home. 

This home had years and years of....
laughter
tears
cheering 
wine drinking
cookouts
Christmas ham dinners
white elephant gift games
water skiing
fishing
boating
summer shorelines
ice skating & broom ball games
watching Cub games and Hogan's Heroes
grilled chicken with the special sauce
chocolate chip cookies

All of these things were the very life of this house.  They helped to provide an energy and tangible foundation for what our family was... and is.  I have met many people's families over the years.  All are wonderful in their own way.  But, I feel {and probably am incredibly biased in this feeling) that my mom's family is something quite extraordinary.  Ask anyone who comes to be a part of this family... whether by birth, marriage or friendship.... all our welcomed and loved.  We are all very different but we were taught.... and more importantly shown by example... to love others more than you love yourself.  It doesn't matter what our differences are.... if we are Cubs fans or Brewers fans, Democrats or Republicans, Christians or Atheists, Red Wine or Bloody Mary .....we are family.  The love runs deep in this brood.  

 

So, the sadness that is felt with the loss of this special place, is palpable.  I have done plenty of thinking in the past fews weeks as we enjoyed Gram and Papa's house for a few "last time"s.  I kept asking myself this question...

Now what?
What will our family do now without our hub for gathering?
Where will the next 55 years of memories be made?

 

My Gram liked to label things in her house... especially the light switches.  Taped to every switch were little pieces of paper with the description of what that specific switch was for...written in her own handwriting.  "Kitchen sink", "Hallway", "Ceiling fans", etc.
We used to make fun of her for this....but OH HOW GRATEFUL I am that she did.

 

As we left for the last time last week, these labels were still covering most switch plates.  I decided to peel one off and keep it.  It was at the door to her bedroom.  It was a bright green paper {very similar to her favorite color lime green}.  My sister also scraped one off to keep for herself.  We both have placed them on switches in our own homes now.  It is interesting which ones we got.....

 

 

"Leave this switch in 'on' position- always" and "MAIN LIGHT SWITCH"

 

The energy I talked about earlier that came from this house for our family.... was due to Grama and Papa showing us to keep the main thing the main thing and keep it "on" at all times.  What is that?  

 

LOVE.

 

The main switch is LOVE.  The Sweeneys have a crazy, extraordinary, holy moly kind of love!!  It's that same love I told you about earlier that doesn't see the differences in each other.... the same love that welcomes new people with open arms from the first minute they walk into a family gathering.  If we, the next generation of Sweeneys, can keep LOVE as our main thing and in the on position then I have no doubt that we will find a new set of memories for the next 55 years.  Because it isn't about the place...it is about the people.  And this family is full of loving people.  

 

Thanks Gram and Papa for turning on the main light switch... and keeping it in the on position for all those years.

We will do our best to keep it lit.... always.

 

May you be lucky enough to live at the lake (or wherever you live).
May you draw energy from the lights in your home.
May you recognize what your main light switch is.
May you keep it on..... always. 

 

 

 

The Heavy Barn Door - My Messy Beautiful

Posted on April 11, 2014 by Sarah Stevens | 4 Comments

****This essay and I are BLESSED to be a part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project at Momastery.com!   To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

  

 

Some people, when they see an old barn, think it is an eyesore.  The old siding is warped, the paint is chipping away, the roof looks saggy and is very sun damaged.  

Some people, when they see an old barn, think it is beautiful.  The old siding has a rich rustic feel, the paint flaking off is the desired look, the imperfect and wavy roof lines add interest and texture and the faded color is appealing.

Which person are you? Do you see the mess or the beautiful. I see both.

I adore barns.  I have never been a farmer, nor am I saying I want to be one!  Never.  EVER.  Oh my no!  But, I have always been drawn to old barns.  I plead with my husband to pull the car over on road trips just so I can take pictures of them...usually unsuccessfully because we have a destination and ETA folks!   I am “that person”  who wants to run up to the random farmhouse door and ask if I can RIP barn boards off of THEIR barns and take them home.  Seriously?  Oh, for the LOVE!  I am sure I would need to be bailed out after the farmer called the police on me.  I am a bit of a freak about barns.  They are gorgeous and I adore them.  I feel like they are ONLY beautiful BECAUSE they are messy.  And oh, how beautiful they are!! 

 

SO the question I have been asking myself lately is this...
Why can’t I see myself as an old barn?

When looking at a barn I see all the imperfections as beautiful.  But when I look at myself I see my imperfections as messy... and bad... and shameful... and unappealing... and unworthy of love and belonging.  I have struggled with this my whole life.  Don’t get me wrong. I love WHO I am.  I love WHAT I am.  I love WHERE I am.  I just don’t love what I LOOK like.  

Years of dieting, over-eating, going through drive-thrus and ordering for 2 (like the gal at McDonalds believed me?  Really?!), taking pills to suppress my appetite, comforting myself with food, hating the gym because I did not... in NO WAY... at all... look like the other women in their workout gear.  All of this just fed my dislike of my body... literally and figuratively. 


Soooo what’s a gal to do?

Well, recently I decided to start down the long road of changing this mindset.  It is not easy and, frankly, I would rather poke my eye out with a fork, watch episodes of Dora The Explorer, help my son with 7th grade math homework, or read the LONGEST bedtime story to my 9 year old before I try this hair-brained idea!!  I hate all these things...and I hate the hard work of trying to love myself truly.  But.... start I did.

Where to start though?  Do I start with looking at my skin folds (from large weight loss that I thought would make me love myself more...but didn’t.) in the mirror and chanting “I love my skin folds” like self help books tell me to do?  Ugh.  Do I gaze at my double (and sometimes depending on the angle, TRIPLE) chin and think “That chin is amazing!”?  Sheesh!  Like that is EVER going to help!

Since I can’t seem to look at my body and see the beauty that I see with an old barn I thought maybe I was looking at it from the wrong angle.  I decided to focus on the inside of the “barn”.  


When the farmer enters the barn, early in the morning, he puts his weathered, callused hand on the wooden handle he made himself, and pushes the hefty sliding barn door open easily.  The oversized door, that was made large to allow for livestock and big farm equipment to get it, glides smoothly on the track that it is housed on.

Once the farmer is on the inside he is hit by the morning light streaming through the cracks in the siding and can look around and see the structure of the building.  If he has one of those century old barns... that is falling down that I think are beautiful... he can see the trusses, beams and rafters that serve as the support system. 

 

 

 

 

 

These old trusses are usually created by piecing together, by hand, hand-hewn timbers that were locked together with hand-carved pegs while paying careful attention to detail and design for strength and longevity.

These old beams were hand carved with an ax out of trees from the farmer’s land and great consideration was given to the precise placement to help hold the structure up forever.

These rafters are connected to each other with thoughtfulness to what storms may lie ahead for this barn.

Without these things that old barn would fall.
Without these things that old barn would not last over a century.
Without these things that old barn would.......not exist.
And people... on the outside acting ALL CRAZY making their husband’s stop the car so they could try and get some good pictures... wouldn’t be able to see it.  
Because it wouldn’t be there.  

 

This is me folks...
I am the barn.

 

I need to place my painted stained, freckled hand on the handle and slide open the sliding door and look at what is on the inside.  I need to view what my heart & soul look like.  I need to be brave enough to look at the structure and support system of my body and learn to love it... just like I love an old barn.  I need to show myself the same grace I bestow on the falling down building in the middle of the gorgeous Midwestern field.

When I do this I am hit with the Light that streams in and is life-giving and I can see my own inner structure & support system.  I can see exactly what went into the building of myself.  I can close my eyes and see the images that tell the story of who I am.  I can calm my breathing and hear the voices of those who spoke into my life along the way.  

My trusses are crafted by the hand of God.  He made me with care and knowledge of who He wanted me to become.  They span from one side of my soul to the other with heavenly-hewn bones that are joined with my brain and heart in a way I will never understand but always marvel at.  The planks cross over each other to make the structure stronger... like the events and stories in my life that have reinforced who I am.

My beams are the people in my life that came alongside me and provided support, guidance and strength.  They are my parents, siblings, husband, friends, children, and more.  Each was placed in my story in the precise moment they needed to be for me to become the woman I am today.

My rafters are the beautiful “little things” that aren’t truly little at all.
They are the small moments like...
My childrens’ freckled noses.
My husband’s generous spirit.
My Gram’s double chin.  (I loved her and thought her to be beautiful...even with the chin!)
My studio, in the morning, with sunlight streaming in much like the farmer sees in his barn.
My life group of amazing high school students whom I LOVE and the co-leaders I am grateful for.
My warm bed.
My Mom’s kindness.
My Dad’s goofy jokes.
My God.

These things unite delightfully to frame me.  To shape me.  To become me. 

My old trusses are divinely created in an incomprehensible way that makes my body stand. 
My old beams are the community of people that sustain my heart.
My old rafters are the normally unnoticed soulful moments that are created by the Holy Spirit who dwells in me and prepares me for the storms ahead.

Without these things I would fall down.
Without these things I will not truly live a peaceful life for even a half of a century.
Without these things I do not significantly exist.
And people...on the outside wanting to see the real me...will not be able to see it.
Because I won’t truly be there.

But... I must admit my own barn door seems too big and impossible to open most days.  I don’t feel strong enough to push the massive weight of the door that is large enough to let the messy junk of my life in and be housed... or hid.  But thankfully, my door has a handcrafted handle where the Creator carved out 4 little holes that fit my fingers perfectly.  It was like I set my fingers on a piece of oak and someone chiseled the wood away around them till they laid down in the custom crevices perfectly.  All I need to do is be brave enough to insert my short, chubby, freckled Irish fingers into those holes and gently draw back the door.  When I use that handle it isn’t heavy anymore.  I don’t even need to be feeling my strongest.  The door just rolls open.  

You see... Seeing the beauty on the inside of myself COULD BE JUST LIKE seeing the beauty of the old barn.  

 

But....
I just struggle with choosing to open the door. 

 

 

May you see that old barn and recognize its beauty.
May you be willing to look at yourself with that same lens.
May you understand and BELIEVE you are worthy of love and belonging...from yourself.
May you take a peek inside of yourself to see the exquisite structure that makes up YOU.
May you glide open your door to see the messy & the beautiful....
The soul-centered beautiful mess that you are.

 

 

The photos above were taken by my own crazy talented Mom... and the incredible artistry of a generous friend, Julie Fix.  You can find out more about Julie here: www.jfixfotoworx.com.  

 

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