Beautiful Things

Broken Girl. It’s pretty much how I’ve defined my life for the last several years. I’ve been broken a lot longer than that, but didn’t give myself the title “broken girl” until a few years ago. And it wasn’t just me that I called a broken girl. Everywhere I went I was crossing paths with other broken girls. I couldn’t get away from them. I knew God didn’t want me to be broken, but I didn’t know how to repair all of the cracked, missing places in me.

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That’s when I met Jennifer. She was a broken girl too. She was also desperate to be fixed. We started praying together and digging into God’s Word together. We started to find healing. And as we found healing other broken girls found us. It was a year or so later that we decided to start blogging at Broken Girl. We wanted a place where we could hash out this idea of brokenness and try to figure out together what to do with all of the pieces of us.

Things were going well. I was learning to walk in freedom, we were ministering to other women and seeing them find freedom in Christ. Jennifer and I even started to refer to ourselves as “former” broken girls. Life was on the mend.

There’s a Christian platitude I heard about the cracks in our life being what God uses to shine His light through. I was content to be a cracked pot, shining for Jesus.

Then life shattered.

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Two years ago my husband walked out and my life crashed around me. And it didn’t just break me, it demolished me. In the weeks following the death of my marriage I felt as if all of the broken pieces of me were ground to dust and ashes. I kept trying to figure out how to put myself back together, but how can you make anything out of dust?

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I didn’t know what to do. There wasn’t enough glue on the earth that could repair my heart. I read about beauty from ashes and wondered… how on earth can anything beautiful ever come from this?

Still, I clung to Jesus. He was all I had, and I knew that the only place I was safe was in His hands. It hurt. I wanted to run away. I wanted to run from the pain and just move on with life and pretend that everything was okay. But I couldn’t. I knew that the only hope of healing meant staying; even if staying meant living on the potter’s wheel, and in the blazing furnace.

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said,

“Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.”

So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel.

But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped,

so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

(Jeremiah 18:1-4 NLT)

 

It doesn’t make sense. How a loving God would crush me into a lump of clay and start over. But then again, isn’t it the most loving thing He can do? To take the mess of me… the dust of me…  and create beauty from that? A 5 year old with Elmer’s glue can piece back together a broken vase, but I don’t know anyone who can take ashes and create new life.

So I stayed on the potter’s wheel. I let him put me in the fire. Friends started telling me how brave and strong I was. I wasn’t brave. Or strong. Just desperate. And convinced that Jesus was my only hope. So I stayed in His hands, and He made something beautiful start to form and take shape in my life.

A few months ago I was at dinner with some girlfriends and one of them asked me “So who are you now? Now that you’re no longer a broken girl, who are you?”

For months I’ve been asking myself that same question. Who am I now? I’ll be honest and tell you that there’s been nothing but silence on the other end of that question. I had no idea how to define myself anymore, until today.

I am not a broken girl. Nor am I a cracked pot. I am a vessel of honor. Sanctified and useful to my Master. I have been crushed and remade according to His purpose.

Therefore,

if anyone cleanses himself from these things,

he will be a vessel for honor,

sanctified,

useful to the Master,

prepared for every good work.

(2 Timothy 2:21 NASB)

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A vessel of honor. A one of a kind, hand crafted display of His splendor. Something beautiful from ashes. Something beautiful from dust.

We don’t have to settle for broken or cracked, or even mended, or fixed. We can be new.

When we stay in His hand beauty comes to us. Maybe not quickly. Maybe not pain-free. We may need to be ground to dust a few times. We may be stretched and pulled. We may question the Master’s design and think that our idea of what we should be is better than His. We may have to face the purifying flames of the kiln more often than we would like. But if we stay… If we stay we’re prepared. Prepared for every good work that He has for us. Prepared to be useful to His kingdom. Prepared to display His splendor. Not through our cracks, but through our wholeness.

A vessel of honor.

~Keri

P.S. You can be His vessel of honor too. No matter how shattered you feel right now. Trust the potter to remake you.

Monsters in the Closet

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As a little girl I was scared of monsters hiding in my closet. Then I got older and learned that six eyed, clawed, sharp teethed monsters aren’t real. Then life turned cruel and I learned that monsters are real, and they’re deadly. Real monsters don’t have sharp teeth and claws, but they do hide in closets. Not because that’s their natural habitat, but because that’s where we put them.

At least that’s where I put my monsters of shame, and anger and hurt. That’s where I hid the whispering monster that said I wasn’t good enough. That’s where I placed the loud monster that told me to be afraid. That’s where I hid the ugly monster that convinced me that I deserved to be angry and bitter and unforgiving.

The monsters we’re too big and too scary to face, so I did all I knew to do… I tucked them away behind closed doors and locked them up tight.

It was much better that way. As long as my monsters were in the closet I could pretend like I was okay. I could smile and act like my life was “just fine, thank you”. Until it was dark and quiet. Then I could hear them scratching on the door to get out. I could hear their muffled voices, smell their rancid breath. Or if you were getting too close to me, if you were pressing in and truly interested in my heart and not just my image. Then I would hear them again, beating and pounding against the door. Frantic to get out. In the dark night and in the intimate conversation my heart would race and panic would grip me. I was desperate to keep those monsters locked away.

It was exhausting.

But it was the only way I knew to coexist with my monsters. Keep them locked away, hidden, out of sight. What I didn’t realize was that as long as I kept my monsters in the closet I was the one trapped.  That as long as they were concealed behind closed doors I was bound to them, bound to hide them, bound to fear them, bound to check on them.

Finally, I got so sick of the monsters that I decided to do something brave, and perhaps a little crazy. I opened the door and let them out. Not all at once. One or two at a time I released them. And never alone. Always there was a brave companion by my side. A counselor, or trusted friend, or spiritual mentor. Together we would stand and face that beast.

A funny thing happened when we opened the closet door… when those monsters stepped into the light of day they became a lot less intimidating. When they stood before me, with the Sword of the Spirit in my hand and the King of Kings standing beside me and a trusted friend praying on my behalf, they lost their power.

I know they would have overtaken me and killed me had I faced them on my own. I’ve seen it happen before to people I love. When they faced their monsters without Christ they were the ones who lost. I also know that they would have killed me if I’d have left them in the closet. Slowly but surly they would have drained the life from me. I’ve seen that too. Seen friends slowly shrivel up and die because they’re too afraid to face their monsters. But when we stand empowered with the Word of God and the victory of the cross, the only things that die are the monsters that haunt us.

“The pain is real

You can’t erase it

Sooner or later

You have to face it down”

JJ Heller (song is below, so worth 3 minutes of your time)

Monsters can’t be tamed and they can’t be silenced. They can kill you or they can be killed, but they cannot be ignored. They are real. The pain is real. The hurt is real. But as long as you ignore it, it has power over you. You can lock it up, but it will not die. And eventually, it will get out of that closet and come after you. The only way to not live in constant fear of that day is to finally, once and for all, face the monster and put it to death.

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And you can! Yes, really! You can face the monster. You can defeat the monster. It might be a long hard battle, you’ll need to be vulnerable and ask for help. It will require you to know and stand on the Word of God. It will demand that you pray and trust Jesus like you’ve never done before. But the silence that comes after the battle… it’s worth enduring the fight.

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” Eph. 5:11

“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Eph. 6:10&11

Over and over and over again the Word of God commands us to be strong and courageous (see Joshua 1:9). Following Jesus isn’t easy or safe or sweet. It’s a battle. It requires courage and strength and sometimes blood and tears. But girls, we have to fight. It’s when we run from the battle that the enemy runs over us. When we turn and face the enemy, when we stand our ground with Jesus, our enemy cowers in fear.

It’s time to pick up our swords and fight. It’s time to kill the monsters.

When Mother’s Day Hurts

flickr flower I remember what it’s like wishing I could sleep through Mother’s Day. I remember what it felt like to know that I was a mother deep in my heart and yet I did not have the children to prove it. Bareness and dreams miscarried, a heavy heart with empty arms, I was doing my best to fake a smile.

The safest place within me to carry a baby was my war-zone. Doctor’s visits and testing dates littered my calendar instead of playdates and first haircuts. I remember the ache when I saw flowers in every shade of pink and paper cards with sloppy handwriting in crayon. They were masterpieces in my mind and of more value than a five-dollar card. I longed for sloppy kisses and a baby on my hip.

Dear sister, I remember…so I whisper prayers and know that they will reach heaven for you. You are not forgotten, the love of God will cradle you during your loss.

Gone are the days where I dread this day set aside, yet my heart hurts for those with broken relationships making it hard to pick out cards because the mother/child relationship limps and is fractured. My heart hurts for those with an empty seat around the family table from death that took their precious child away from them much too soon.

My heart hurts for the friend who just lost her mother and this is her first Mother’s Day without her best-friend. Even though I celebrate and rejoice for ten years of being a mother, I cannot forget my sisters who ache deeply and would rather skip this weekend entirely. I’ve been there. God met with me there. My arms were empty but His arms were strong enough to carry me through it.

My strength and faith deepened during that time where my body was so frail. I’m grateful for the heartache I have felt because I love deeper and feel like every day, even the messy ones, is a gift.

“He raise the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that He may seat him with the princes- with the princes of His people. He grants the barren woman a home, like the joyful mother of children. Praise The Lord.” (Ps 113: 7-9)

You are not forgotten, I remember what it’s like when Mother’s Day hurts. I’m praying for you to be lifted out of the ashes of grief as God mends your broken heart. May joy be restored to you. You are loved.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Ps 30:5)

Much love, Jennifer

Motherhood and Roadmaps

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I’m thinking about you today, you women who wrestle wondering if what you are doing is making a difference in the lives of the ones you love and serve. You feel like what you are doing is small, but it’s not. Beautiful thing, you are leaving roadmaps on the hearts of your children. It’s not small; it’s glorious. You who feel like everyday looks the same with never-ending piles of clothes and dishes to wash. You’re so very tired at the end of the day and yet still give into one more request for a hug and another kiss as those smart, little ones smile buying more time before they slumber.

You wrestle wondering if you’re beautiful and frown as you notice that unwelcome gray hair, but to the little one who calls you “Mommy” you are more beautiful than a thousand airbrushed twenty-something’s who have graced the covers of a magazine. You are their leading lady and the one they run to when they just need to be held. Your teenager might roll their eyes at you, but they know you are always going to be there for them, loving them despite the hormonal hurricane that has just become their new normal. They don’t need a perfect mother; they just need you. What you have to offer is exactly what they need.

So much time is wasted on unrealistic comparisons and jumping through invisible hoops. That way of life leaves you spent and running on empty. Comparing ourselves to others causes a deficit in our souls wilting what God designed to shine and stand out. There is not one perfect mold for all women, but there is this one woman who took the time to simply “become”. She’s the Proverbs 31 woman and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t in her thirties.

Sweet thing, stop worrying that you’ll never measure up and start owning the fact that you do. God has an unending supply of grace to cover us when we fall short. He is the God that we can run to when we are the ones who need to be held. What you do is not small or insignificant. This world needs what you have to offer.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” (Prov 31:25)

Much love,

Jennifer