Tag Archives: growing

But Mostly, for Help.

brit&ausfeb1013

Tonight i journaled for the first time in what feels like months. And it was with a rawness that has been avoided for even longer. I processed a hard conversation I had tonight and got embarrassingly ugly on the pages of my new, pretty, gold and white hard-covered journal.

My immediate thought after journalling tonight was regarding my Ugly. I wish we could decide on the degree of Ugly we wrestle with. I’m not talking about the Ugly we all love to hate and occasionally brag about; the crooked smile, being a clean-freak, being too loyal of a friend, etc.

Crooked smiles and cleaning habits are pretend uglies that we use to try to disguise our deeper issues. Either that, or they’re our lame attempts at small talk. There is Ugly in us that we don’t even want to admit in our own quiet thoughts. Jealousy, anger, incredible impatience, insecurities, comparison, a lack of care for the needy, etc. These are the Uglies that keep us up at night. Maybe I’m only one of a few, so I’ll speak for myself.

Tonight I let some of my Ugly come out as I processed this hard conversation. I’ve always feared admitting such deep Ugly, even inside a private journal because somehow I felt giving it shape would also give it breath to come alive and start taking over my every thought and word and sooner or later it would be some self-fulfilling prophesy that I unleashed. So, I’ve usually only penned the essence of it, never truly letting it out of its dark cage. It’s been more like holding vomit in my mouth, just waiting for the urge to subside until I decide to swallow it again, ignoring the fact that it will burn and rage internally, causing deeper sickness and destruction, prolonging the inevitable purge that comes before peace while attempting to convince myself I never had the vomit so close to the edge of my lips in the first place.

But tonight I thought about shining light on the dark Ugly. Holding it inside has only gotten me stuck and stressed and it tastes bad, so why not try the exact opposite. Before I could change my mind, I admitted all of it. Ugly thoughts, Ugly feelings, Ugly admissions and Ugly accusations. I felt incredibly raw and frighteningly vulnerable. Like, walking-down-a-dark-alley-yelling-loudly-to-scare-away-potential-threats-and-running-faster-than-I-thought-possible vulnerable. But I made it through unscathed. And not only did the honesty NOT give breath to this Ugly, it actually seemed to suffocate it.

I prayed it all out, really. I trust the God who says to cast all my cares upon Him. So casting I did. In my written prayer I yelled, I didn’t hold back the emotional cocktail of anger and sadness, of disappointment and surrender. I wept and I left nothing unsaid. I opened the vaults and went down the list of scary things I always thought were not okay to admit. I remembered the saying,

if you can’t say it out loud, it owns you.

I will not be owned anymore. I laid every bit of it at the feet of Jesus and asked for His wisdom. I asked hard questions. I voiced disappointments and fears, and I acknowledged his goodness, more as a declaration of faith, if I’m keeping things honest.

My brother has clung to the hope: Beauty for the Ugly. And tonight I am clinging to it as well. I asked God to show me the beauty for all this ugly. Asking, in part, to fuel my faith that there actually will be beauty in exchange. I asked for redemption and restoration. I asked for peace in the midst of chaos, confusion and brokenness. I asked for humility where I’m prideful. I asked for breakthrough, for promises, for joy, for triumph and mostly, for help.

So, tonight I lay bare. Slightly embarrassed of the Ugly I unleashed. It’s not the brag-worthy kind of ugly people love to hate about themselves. It’s a train-wreck-why haven’t-you-gone-to-counseling-yet Ugly. But, I’m very ready to sift through it all for the sake of Beauty. My heart feels a mixture of relief and anticipation. Relief for the freedom this admission has granted, knowing I am in trustworthy and productive, kind hands, and anticipation for God to respond.

He can handle my Ugly. He isn’t shocked by it, He isn’t surprised by it and He isn’t shaken by it. I am so thankful that I, too, am not shaken like I thought I’d be. Turns out, this rock on which I stand is very solid.

Cheers to unleashing the Ugly and not letting it own us. To the beauty and hope that lies ahead, and to all the crooked smiles and clean freaks.

-Bee

“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matt. 11:28

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” 
Romans 8:26

“Cast your cares on on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22

“He will give 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…” Isaiah 61:3

“Call to me and I will answer you, showing you great and mighty things which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

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I used a Word document instead.

 

Austin&Britnie-22

I love to write. I know I can’t be the only one who discovers how I actually feel only after reading what I write. I pour out my messy heart to my journal or my, in this case, Word document. Then I read it. Then I hear myself. Then I understand a little bit more whats been making all that racket inside. I don’t start with it all figured out. But I don’t finish with it figured out either. But I do, in the process figure something out. Even if its how to get some relief. Writing is a kind of unique balm that soothes wounds until they can get some proper attention. It even helps show me where the proper attention should come from. It helps me make sense of my mess. It helps me understand how to label my emotions instead of letting them run wild, nameless and unguided. And I can’t say I’m alone in my writing. It’s always been the clearest way I’ve heard God speak to me. I think that’s why I adore keeping journals. Its like a getaway with me and God.

Writing is also a place where I can be brave. I’m learning to be brave, really. I’m not fully there yet. Here’s some background on that…

I used to keep negative things out of my journal and go straight to the hope and a prayer. If I was blaming anyone in my journaling it was probably myself. But even then, I knew that how I was seeing myself in that low moment was not in alignment with the perfect love my God had and still has for me and that my identity was in Him and not in my mistakes and falling short. So self-hatred never had a chance to shine for too long before my Defender came to my rescue and reminded me who I was and even still, who I am. This fear of writing negativity down didn’t come from a fear you may assume…I didn’t fear that someone would find the gossip between my pages and me, read it and be offended or mad at me…I feared that if I let a negative comment be confessed even in the privacy of my locked pages, that I would start to believe it and give a nasty life and power to its existence. And existence that I allowed. Lies are woven in and out of negativity. Lies about people’s worth, about their strengths and gifts.  Lies about their own hurt and their motives behind their actions that cause me pain. Those are lies I am not willing to believe. About myself or others I do life with. At least, I try not to believe. Sometimes I am deceived.

I have known the power of the tongue since a young age. I have clung tightly to writing kindness and truth and declaring God’s promises that are true instead of hashing out gossip and hatred in my secret written confessions. I’ve not done this perfectly, but since I was young I have been convicted to be cautious with what I write down. I have certainly spoken negatively about others….I will be the first to plead guilty of not thinking before I speak and hurting others in the process. But to me, as irrational as it may seem, there has been something more forever about documenting harshness in a journal. It seems more decided. Like an engraving on a stone. I don’t want to record any kind of bashing of another person whom I should be uplifting and praying for. What if archeologists find my journal hundreds of years from now and all I offer them about the identity of so-and-so is how they always failed me and were incompetent and immature and mean or ________?? I see the double-standard here. I see the inconsistency. Writing vs. Speaking…whats the difference. really? I still don’t have it figured out.

But about bravery. I see that in my habit of not writing negatively, I’ve confused it with not writing honestly. And when I don’t write honestly, I don’t get better. And I want to get better at handling hardship and struggle. I’m talking about the hard stuff. Not just the hard stuff within myself, but with others. I am starting to confess the emotions I’ve always been scared to admit in fear that I’d become some kind of anger-monster that only survives off of entitlement and bitterness. But the ironic thing is that I still have the negative things in my head and they have been eating me alive! They are still working to destroy me. I’m still somehow feeding them and they are growing. They’ve gatta go.

I’ve started to be more raw and real in my writing. They outcome is odd. I don’t always feel better about it; whatever the it is at the time. But I do feel like I take steps forward. I start realizing which aches are from which hurts and the pride I have inside wreaking chaos. And in writing honestly about the hurts caused by other people, I’m challenged with loving them in spite of their behavior…I’m confronted with loving them in the midst of their own chaos and it’s manifestations. Yikes. That gets hard. This is my starting point to healing and to abundant relationships. It’s my starting point to understanding more deeply how the Love of the Father stretched out to me when I too was guilty and offensive and in great need of grace. I need grace everyday. I need to realize these things in order to get better. In order to really love someone else from the purest, healthiest place I can. Being brave and admitting the ugly stuff is hard sometimes. I have to submit my emotions to my God and allow Him to discipline me to not dive into a rant-session, but to surrender my aches and frustrations so I don’t have to be weighed down by them anymore. It’s a fine line in journaling between being upset about something and still move towards health and crushing somebody for their responsibility or involvement in an offense which would be a big step backwards. Crushing people is never a step forward. For anyone.

In all of this I am finding more and more that I am in desperate need of my Jesus. He proves himself faithful again and again and again and again and dares me to draw nearer. I can’t figure out life in the big or the small without his guidance and patience and kindness that pulls me into a safe place; without His mighty love that turns my ashes into beauty and my defeated heart into a something strong and courageous. And whole.

 

Perhaps this post is just as messy as my at times nameless and unguided emotions, but perhaps that’s the appropriate layout.

Messy.

  Austin&Britnie-81{{photos via}}

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28, NIV

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” -James 1:2-5, NIV

bee

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When being wrong is better

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I thought today was Thursday instead of Wednesday. Literally all day. I based my decisions off of the “fact” that it was Thursday and yesterday was Wednesday and tomorrow is Friday. But this worked out in my favor, HA! Now, I am well-prepared for Friday’s events AND I still have Real Thursday to finish what I couldn’t finish in Fake Thursday! Bonus!

Today {Wednesday}, I picked up Oz from work early because he has been feeling sick the past couple of days. Sick enough to feel like he can’t teach his class. This is not the norm. The flu is double-gnarly this season so when he said he felt achy I cancelled my afternoon agenda, headed straight for the store and stocked up on anything fresh, filled with vitamin C, green, red and orange, along with some ginger, meds and Airborne. No flu for this house, nuh-uh!

Something I’m learning in all of this? I love taking care of my husband. Not just because it feels good to take care of someone else, its deeper than that. There has been something in me today that has a drive to care for him and tend to his needs. I’ve been working in a gear I didn’t know I had access to. There has been a new layer of thinking to plan out what he needs tomorrow, to think to draw him a bath filled with Epsom salt, to watch what he eats, to remember when I last gave him his cold & flu pills, his airborne, to make sure he doesn’t take his NyQuil to late. And I am not exhausted from it.

I am energized and refreshed. And no, my husband is not incapable of taking care of himself. And I know I’m not the controlling type to have to do everything for him…trust me. No, today I sensed the grace of God to give me a compassion beyond my depths and ability to nurture my husband in the way he needed me today. Beyond my natural selfish ways, something clicked in me and my goal was to be available to him and go out of my way, although it was no inconvenience, to love him.  Now, my heart is full. Not as in a pat on my own back, but in the giving today, I received the blessing. I got to invest in his life in the unique way it called for today. It was also the grace of God that allowed Oz to receive it. And because of that, there has been a great, intimate and fulfilling exchange. Sometimes its hard to receive help, or care from people. But really that’s just our pride. It’s also our pride that keeps us from sacrificing for others. But we miss out. Pride cheats us of blessing. From intimacy. Relationship. Experience**. It is a stagnant and stinky place to be.

Today I thought about what it must be like to care for my children one day. How much more they need to be nurtured… And although I won’t understand the exhaustion that I hear comes with motherhood until I myself am there, I bet that same motivation and without-question kind of response to care for them will kick in by the grace of God.

Today is a great day to appreciate my husband. Without him and without our marriage, albeit difficult at times, I would definitely be missing out on some amazing revelations and blessings. God is amazing the way he works in all things. He is ever-present and always active in our lives. I suppose this post is my way of pausing to recognize Him and the sweet way he weaves through my daily little happenings in quite profound ways. His love is great, mighty and unfathomably deep.

I am so grateful for where we are in life. It is nowhere near perfect, but that is not our goal. We are where He wants us to be and He is with us. In Him there is peace, refuge and rest.

Heres to another day, my second Thursday. May it be as lively and satisfying as the first.

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Zulu.

*Oz wasn’t smoking while sick…that would be a giant no-no. Nor was I knitting tonight…although that would be acceptable. Both photos were taken at an earlier time.

**Please check out Beth Moore’s poem My Name is Pride, It has been ministering to me for years. Here is a link for you to read it for yourself.

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In no particular order

So thankful for these things today

Late night/early morning singing session till someone falls asleep first

Morning Refreshment in the W o r d

E-notes from so many friends

Favorite pens and not leaving the house without them

learning new card games

Duo Duo, the pup we may sneak back to the States

Lunch dates with new friends

Live music at a cafe {I miss the melodies of SD}

A Chinese man playing Spanish guitar {right?!}

Our VPN

Our dumpling dinner together

The gorgeous sky with fluffy clouds

Little Chinese babies…need I say more?

Wannabe ‘Tart Deco’ Nail polish color

The song “Amazing One” by Rocky Green ❤ Love you friend.

Conversations about Love.

My husband. I find new reasons to be thankful for him everyday.

It feels better to fall asleep remembering all the reasons today was a great day. And it really was. I’m excited for tomorrow, but first I am going to spend quite a few hours sleeping soundly next to my Oz.

What are you thankful for today? I’d love to know.

-Bee

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Between Yesterday and Today

Its 0:01 on my clock. The day has hardly unfolded. Today holds a loose agenda and I’m sure we’ll fill the empty time slots with dining, playing cards, walking around old town, reading or Skyping. Perhaps all of the above.

However, my mind hasn’t yet crossed over to the actual today. I still lag in yesterday, which still feels like today. We slice time into days and minutes and seconds, but our minds have never really cared to figure out when you stop thinking about today – or yesterday – and begin thinking about tomorrow, which is today. I guess I’m rambling about this because its late (or early, depending on which day you’re thinking in) and I wish I was tired enough to fall asleep. I still haven’t reflected on all that has happened today (I will stubbornly remain in this day until I notify you otherwise).

We had a good one. Started the morning with a podcast from APC, semi-pathetic time together in our Pr@yers for my Marriage book…I say pathetic not because we don’t like each other, but maybe more so because its difficult for me to genuinely participate in such a manicured book with topics so general that they wouldn’t even offend anybody. Also perhaps because today I didn’t discipline myself to not just go through the motions. When I really take to heart what the mini devos say previous to the pr@yers and discuss them with Oz, we both end up a little more transformed than we were in the minutes previous. Interesting.

After that we ventured out for lunch, which consisted of an egg tartlet thing for Oz and a French macaroon for me (dessert > lunch) then ate some Bao zi dumplings and noodles at our favorite Chicken Noodle Shop.

They know us now.

We’re so local.

And so obsessed with their noodle dishes.

We ran into a neighbor who is from Spain and the three of us waltzed around town for a bit window-shopping and Boba-tea-drinking. We made it back home in time to meet up with our friends, J & L, started a vicious game of Hearts, chatted about pinched nerves and Tiger Balm (shout out to Momma Bee!) and met up with another couple and their two kiddies for an early dinner.

The rest of our evening was…in all honesty, lazy. I browsed Pinterest and Youtubed new songs while Oz played more card games on the iPad. (Hearts is kind of our new thing. The reference to the game may appear frequently on this here blog.) By late evening we came back to reality (Ope! There goes gravity.) and ventured out to the good ol’ Gu Chong for some bing qi ling, aka: ice cream aka: our other [semi-] new thing.

I’d like to say we skipped-to-our-lous like darlings over to KFC (our bing qi ling dealer), but we both were a bit…irritable. Lets say we were having some flesh moments. No one is at their best when they operate from such a hostile place. And it was all to inconvenient that we had to wait in the front of the line for 15 minutes to even order our cones (plus the fries I couldn’t resist). Neither of us was letting go of our previous irritations. In fact, I myself had forgotten about the specifics of what had been so on my nerves for the moment but used the attitude from it to build more attitude for the new issue we now faced at KFC.

I think now, in the odd hour between yesterday and today, its clear that whenever I’m demanding my rights and coppin’ a ‘tude because I’m not the center of the world, I notice that every time I am in that state, in that moment I actually see myself working my way through the following steps:

First off, I’m age five.

I stomp my feet with a pout that starts deep in my brow.

I see I am not getting sympathy from anybody, so I stiffly cross my arms.

Pout still in full force.

I make no direct eye contact with those I love, but peer over at them when I know they aren’t looking at me.

I shift the weight of my head with my neck like I’m even bothered that no one is moving it for me.

I kind of move on when they finally hand over my ice cream. Gee, what took so long.

Now, I don’t think I actually am doing this in my 24-year-old body, but I think the image of me in my head is a way G0d is saying,

 

Seriously Bee? You are being ridiculous. Let me guide you.

And with what sounds like a faint voice, I’m provoked to think upon what better decisions in my mindset and thought-process I could have made if I hadn’t given in so easily to my flesh. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

First, I would have put my husband first.

I could have been compassionate to someone’s needs other than my own.

I would have recognized the opportunity to relinquish my rights – something I desire!

I would have stopped and been grateful for His grace.

For His discipline.

I would have asked Him how to respond.

I would have listened.

I would have surrendered my mind and heart so He could clear out my judgmental and selfish thoughts to make room for life-giving thoughts and patience.

I would have perhaps encouraged the KFC employees who were working their tails off.

I would have had a more sincere apology when I finally came around to one.

I know the list goes on. I am not writing this as an invitation to my pity-party. But I am reflecting on the situation. And in hindsight, I think Chr!st could have been more glorified. And that is what I want more of.

To glorify Him in everything.

To stop and take every thought captive.

To respond with love, patience, humility and kindness, even if  I can think of every reason not too.

I want to actively relinquish my rights. Not just talk about it.

I am grateful for the annoying image of me as a grumpy five year old when I give in to my flesh. Its almost comical how intimately the Father knows us and knows what will speak to us. I do not want to reflect such selfishness, immaturity and pride. No, on the contrary, I want to reflect Chr!st. I want to grow in being quick to listen, quick to obey, quick to forgive, quick to love and quick to encourage. I have such a long way to go. The deeper I venture into this process the more I realize my need for Father’s healing touch and grace. Thankfully, there is no obstacle too complex or too big for Him.

No wonder He has new mercy for us everyday. He knew we’d need it.

In moving forward,today has arrived (actual today). I drench myself in His showers of new mercy and thank Him for a new day. Another breath of life.

I have an incredible husband, an amazing adventure in front of us, wonderful new friends to invest in.

It is a whole new day to creatively worship Him.

There has never been life more abundant.

It is finally passed my bedtime.

The L0rd is my Shepard,

Bee

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