Sunday, June 15, 2014

Watermarked




He missed everything.

Every single moment. Every single opportunity.

He missed every dance recital. Every birthday and every Christmas morning.

Never once so much as a phone call, a letter or a single card or gift.

Never one apology, or single attempt to make amends.

I have no idea if he was even there the day I was born. If he was happy or sad or disappointed.

There is not a single picture. No tokens from that day and barely anything from those years.

Those years that define you.

And those wounds cut deep when you are a daughter with a missing piece.

Each time I would see a Daddy with his daughter- it cut deeper.

There was no room for healing when the wounds sliced straight to the bone and marrow.

Daily. Hourly.

And the enemy would whisper my entire life.

See...you just aren't worth it.

Even your own Father could see that.

And so I would live my life without the posture of worth. For many years.

And because the enemy was so set against me ever discovering anything even close to worth and because he was so set against me ever discovering the one true Father- where I would unveil my true identity- he did not hold back in this area of attack.

Not by a long shot.

There were seven years of my childhood - stolen in part by a new man who would never come close to the role of a Father.

But who instead caused more suffering.

More pieces.

As if those things weren't enough.

There would be more.

And the enemy would whisper for years....

See...You just aren't worth it.

Anyone can see that.

By the time I was ten, there was a new Father figure.

By the time I was twelve, he had promised everything under the sun.

Including adoption.

There were words about being a Father to me and how we were going to be a family.

There were notices out in the paper, that an adoption would be taking place, giving my birth Father
a legal chance to claim me.

He did not respond.

There was a wedding, a court date, and a legal name change.

And the Father line on my birth certificate would be replaced with the name of a new Father.

A better one.

My saving grace.

My recompense.

My hope redeemed.

Or so I thought.

Every, single little girl dream inside me would come to a crashing halt.

I will spare the details because they are between my heavenly father and me.

But the enemy came in like a flood to destroy me through this man.

I finally relented at the tender age of fifteen with a suicide attempt.

My world was just too painful to breathe anymore.

The rejection and abandonment wounds as wide as the ocean is deep.

I'm sorry to share that I would also be completely rejected and abandoned by this new Father as well.

Wounds like that will threaten to kill a girl. A daddy leaving. A daddy harming. A daddy destroying.

And the enemy would whisper...

See....you just aren't worth it.

Even your adoptive Father can see that.


I wish I could say that the pain associated with the word Father ended there.

But the enemy was relentless.

I would go on to search for the love I so desperately needed and wanted and ended up a single mama at the age of eighteen years old and would continue that path for the next ten years.

By His grace He gave me an indescribable gift of a daughter that to this day, I will tell you I do not deserve.

And with that gift in my arms, I would go on to endure still, even more heartbreak.

Because nothing stirs the aching Father wound like having a child of your own.

And so I searched for him. The birth father that started twenty something years of heartache.

By His grace, I found him.

Shortly after, I would drive a long way to meet him in the state penitentiary.

I wondered how many daughters had gone before me, being searched and frisked and put through security to wait in a holding room for two prison doors to open to meet the man who missed it all.

To meet the man who decided they just weren't worth it.

I can't even begin to describe the emotion that gripped my heart that day.

It was fear and pain and wonder and hope and years of worthlessness.

It was dread and sorrow and suffering and unanswered questions that cut so deep it hurt to breathe.

I got my answers when one of the first things he said to me was this.

"What happened to your face?"

I remember fighting back tears and being so confused I could barely stand.

"My face?"

"You have so many scars and marks on your face."

"Your face is all marked up."

I remember feeling like I had been punched in the stomach a gazillion times, to put it lightly.

Years of acne with only being allowed to use soap and water had left their damage.

I died inside that day.

Down to my core, I died a thousand deaths.

I would go on to be abandoned all over again by the man who started it all.

And the enemy would whisper...

See, I told you that you just aren't worth it.

Even your own birth father doesn't want you- not even twenty years later.


No one does. 


There is so much more sorrow in this area of my life, but God, in all of His graciousness gave me a sweet husband, who is not perfect, but who longs to lay his life down for his family and from the first part of our courtship shared his heart with me about his dream of a big family of his own to love one day.

We are both humbled- daily.

That the God of the universe, the author of it all, would trust two very broken people, with the hearts of children of our own, is especially overwhelming to me.

That He would entrust me with the raising of sons.....

To call me to the enormous task of the raising of boys into amazing grown men who will be purposeful and intentional and lead their families with love in the admonition of the Lord is just enough to keep me on my knees for the rest of my life- in complete and total gratitude and humility.

Tears.

Today when the enemy tries to come in like a flood with memories of the past and tries to convince me that I'm simply damaged goods and that I'm too marked up to be of any real purpose in life...

I punch back with everything that I am with one powerful word.

"Watermarked"

Webster's definition is : "a faint design made in some paper during manufacture, which is visible when held against the light and typically identifies the maker."

I love this part- Which is visible when held against the light and typically identifies the maker.

After years of struggling with these things and trying to find Father God in the midst of such untold sorrow and suffering, as well as walking through years of inner healing and forgiveness....

I now speak the word.

The truth that is the living, breathing and sharper than any two edged sword - gospel.

I hold up my circumstances and situations to the light.

And I can clearly see the mark of my maker on my life.

Maybe you were abandoned or rejected as a child, teenager or even as an adult. Maybe you've never even met your birth father. Maybe your Father tried to destroy you in the most unthinkable and unimaginable ways. Maybe your Father has passed away and this day represents a tremendous loss for you. Maybe this day is painful because of how it highlights all of the good that you never received. All of the Father's that did show up and did pour out and did invest. The ones whose daughters were worth it. Maybe it represents and magnifies what you've never had.

Maybe this day is the rehearsing of a death of what should have been and never was.

You have a Heavenly Father who knows and who understands and who longs to fill every heartbreaking wound with His immeasurable love and healing power.

"For in me, you live and move and have your being." Acts 17:28

You are not your circumstances.

The unfortunate series of life events that you have survived, do not have to define you. What seems missing in our lives, is really a beautiful opportunity for the Father to step in and fill every place where there has been a void.

When there is loss or less or not enough, we simply have more room for Him.

He will restore.

He will give a recompense that there will not be room enough to receive.

He is no respecter of persons.

He did it for me, with years worth of Father wounds a mile deep.

He will do the same for you beautiful friend.

So today, if the enemy tries to whisper. Tries to stir up those painful things. Tries to convince you that you are worth nothing. Tries to make a mockery of who you are in Christ, even.

You tell him this....

I'm watermarked with the mark of my maker.

I'm marked and set apart and loved and cherished and adored by the author of it all.


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he'd made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.-  Eph. 1:3-14

From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. 
Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.  Gal. 6:17-18 

For those of you who struggle with this day, for any number of reasons. I pray that these words and this video are life-giving to your heart this morning.

I'll leave you with the amazing Priscilla Shirer and the most beautiful truths today.

The spoken word.

Brace yourself.




Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Birth Of A Baby And A Book





Morning Glories!

I wanted to pop in and write a quick update post this morning. I hope that you all are enjoying the start of summer with your beautiful families! I don't usually write posts like this about our family-but since it's been a while, I thought I would just write a quick update. 

I missed the month of May completely here due to the many end of the school year activities with this many children, as well as quite a few celebrations within our own family.

Our sweet baby is due very soon and I have officially hit the uncomfortable stage and have found it increasingly more difficult to sit for long periods of time at the computer to write.

But oh how I love to write. I think about it constantly and have notebooks in my purse and the car and all over the house so that I can jot down pieces of new posts and book chapters as He gives them to me.

I have some encouraging blog posts brewing and have been busy trying to work on the book proposal in the very few spare minutes of the day that I have to do so. 

My sweet husband built a giant dry erase board to hang in the laundry room so that I could just run in and write down pieces of the book as well as blog post ideas quickly before I forget them. It has helped so much! 

I have named this year the year of birthing a baby and a book! I'm still praying that every word would be His and that He would move and speak and encourage in every way imaginable.

We've been busy trying to prepare our home for a newborn and have moved our youngest out of his crib and into a big boy bed and moved kids around and tried to get everyone settled and happy before the arrival of our newest gift. It has been floor move city over here! 

We've potty trained yet another little one and have spent almost every afternoon at the pool. We have four really great swimmers now and one who's coming along nicely but who still wears "water muscles!" Also, no swim diapers this summer!! Freedom!

This is the first summer that we've had like this and it has made such a huge difference for our family! 

My dear friend Amy recently got married in the same church where we were married 14 years ago and it was the first time we had attended another wedding there since our own. It was so incredibly beautiful and also very moving for me as I never dreamed the next time I would stand at that same alter it would be to do a reading for the ceremony of a dear friend. 

God is just really amazing. 

This is a quick snapshot of baby and me before the ceremony. Hopefully it's technically not a selfie since I'm carrying our little one :) 

Happy summer to you sweet friends!!! I will post again soon. xo

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

If You Remain Silent





If we were to sit and have coffee together, I would listen. 

I would listen for ways to encourage you.

I would listen for giftings. Wisdom. Talent. Hidden treasure.

And I would do my best to encourage you not to remain silent any longer.

I would do my best to help support you and figure out a way to help you out of the 
silent, fear, frozen, denial, pick somebody else, mindset.

I would tell you this.

God didn't create you so that you would remain silent.

He created you with incredible creativity and wisdom and ideas and gifts and talent and abilities.

To speak.

As women, we can speak any number of ways.

For years, I thought I was supposed to be silent. The voice that God had given me was buried under years of pain and abuse and worthlessness.

And so I spoke through creativity without even realizing I was using my God given voice.

Through flowers and styling and event planning and photography and then through words... I spoke with exclamation marks by using beauty and making people feel loved.

Doubting every bit of it the entire time.

Even when my favorite magazine called to feature my work.

I still doubted.

And wanted to remain silent.

And so I gave those things to Him and focused on speaking through motherhood.

Learning years later, that we don't always have to choose. 

Sometimes, He gives us more than one way to speak. More than one voice. More than one platform.

You may have read the book of Esther. If you haven't. You must. You must. You must.

Esther will rock your world. 

There are at least 50 sermons in that book of the bible.

One of my favorite pieces of scripture of all time is found in the book of Esther, Chapter 4:14

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"

Did you know that God will speak through you? Through your words? Your art? Your parenting?

Your marriage?  Your music? Your landscaping business? Your catering business? 

Your platform and ministry? Your books? Your photography? 

He uses vessels to speak and teach and minister to the hearts of His people.

In my years of listening to the hearts of women, I've found the following to be true.

We remain silent because of guilt.

We remain silent because of fear.

We remain silent because of our own insecurities.

We remain silent because of an abusive or controlling person.

We remain silent because of self doubt and worthlessness.

We remain silent because of spiritual abuse.

We remain silent because of fear of failure.

We remain silent because of fear of rejection.

We remain silent because of limited resources.

We remain silent because of past criticism.

We remain silent because we are waiting on perfection.

We remain silent because we are waiting for permission.


Just to name a few.


So today I wanted to leave you with something to encourage you.

I wanted to leave you with a pretty, pink permission slip from your heavenly Father.

"Who knows but that you have come to your royal position but for such a time as this?"

God did not create you to remain silent beautiful friend.

He created you for such a time as this.....

If you are waiting on Him or waiting on perfect or waiting on everyone to cheer you on first....

You don't have to remain silent any longer.

Step out in faith today. Ask Him for courage.  He is faithful to send the confirmation.

Peoples lives will be changed and blessed and transformed because you chose to walk in your called, chosen, anointed and appointed royal position and speak....




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Love and Splendor





...and provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. ~ Isaiah 61:3 


We can spend much of our life creating our own plans and dreams and goals and many, many times, the Father simply has another way. He has a better way.

It doesn't always turn out like we thought or hoped or asked or prayed.

Sometimes there are years of pain and suffering and sorrow involved.

But He is purposeful. Intentional. Careful with His people and in the end He is faithful to display His love and splendor in the most beautiful ways.

One of the areas that I struggled with for many years was trying to grow my family.

We have three babies in heaven.

There was a season that I thought- it would never happen. 

My dream of a house full of baby boys and girls.

I wanted to wake up every day with a bed full of scrumptious babies and step on hot wheel cars and barbie shoes on my way to get my morning coffee.

I longed for tea parties and dance parties and bed time stories and flash light tag and apple bobbing and too many pictures to even mention.

I dreamed about finding R2D2 in my coffee cup and scooting dinosaurs and naked barbies out of the way in the shower.

I couldn't wait to carry and labor and deliver and nurse a precious life.

I wasn't sure what He would give us or how He would bless us or even if He would, I just knew that we wanted more children and a big family and our pastor prayed for that very thing during our wedding ceremony.

Motherhood had stolen my heart and captivated me at the tender age of 18 years old.

It was my calling.

Certainly not perfection.

Certainly not without falling short and plenty of mistakes and some really hard days.

And definitely not without clinging to Him on a daily basis for wisdom and guidance.

But motherhood....

With all of its love and splendor is what makes me weak in the knees and keeps me close to Him.

Our dream has never been to have a big and fancy life.

We dream in children and family and lots of tiny feet running through the house and sleepless nights.

By His grace, I am overjoyed and humbled and honored to share our news. 

We have been sweetly blessed again....









Our children are just a tiny bit excited.....

A blue million pictures and gender reveal coming soon!

All photography by my dear friend Meredith Teasley of Teasley Photography.