Beautiful Scars- And Then The Morning Comes

I’m in awe of the strength and stories of the women who have submitted pieces for the beautiful scars series and Jennifer Little is no exception.  I’m humbled and honored to be a part of sharing her story with you and to be a small piece of her healing.  There is no story that God won’t redeem, but this one is especially dear to my heart.

~Leanne

And Then The Morning Comes

It’s easy for me to say I was molested for the first time as a nine-year old. It’s not, however, easy to sift through and relive all those years (27 to be exact), since I was visited in the darkness. That was when the safety of my pale pink bedroom shattered into millions of tiny pieces that would later cut deep like glass.

When I first began writing this, I fooled myself into thinking I could whip up an account that has, by the way, blossomed into one of hope and love and forgiveness. The truth is, though, there is no way for me to share the light without first revisiting the dark—the secret, the fear, the loneliness and wild anger. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, thank God.

Thank you, God. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there.

One might think my childhood was a dark stain on my life. After all, the secret of sexual abuse is so devastating, it can set children up for a future of rejection and failure in every possible way. But I know my parents and step-parents loved me as much as they were able, and there were plenty of happy times and fun memories. Continue reading

Shouting Hope with Green Bean Faithfulness

This week we’re garden sitting for my neighbor Libby, who has an extensive organic garden and bakery across the street from our house.  I water and tend to the plants in exchange for the produce that ripens while they’re away.  It’s a pretty sweet deal for someone who can’t seem to figure out gardening in Oklahoma beyond basil and rosemary.

Yesterday morning I picked green beans as my daughter chased kittens and my son was tried to eat out of the compost pile.  It wasn’t even 10 AM but it was wickedly hot and I had sweat dripping off the tip of my nose.

I felt a deep connection to the soil and the plants as I gingerly pulled back the leaves hunting for the long, slender green beans.  I couldn’t help reflecting on the encompassing worship of creating, how in the act of sprouting and growing, these green beans were worshipping our mutual father.  They were being faithful to their call to bloom as they were planted.

Last night over cupcakes and tapas I had a chat with a dear friend about life, love and

photo compliments of http://www.pinkitzel.com/

direction.  I’m the older, “wiser” one in our relationship and all I could think to say about the purpose and direction of her life was this: she was really only called to impart herself to the world she found herself in.

God created us all with an inner spirit and if we infuse that beauty to the people and places we find ourselves in, then that’s being faithful.  I never saw myself as a writer and full time Mom when I was on the cusp of college graduation, but I endeavor to share my inner spirit with you and my children as best I can.

And somewhere in-between the green beans and the cupcakes I realized that why I write about my painful story, my little at home moments, because I want to give you a taste of my hope.

My insides can’t contain the need to shout from the rooftops the good news that whatever you’re going through, wherever you find yourself, that you can find full hope in a God who will bring you through the other side of every situation to a new, joy filled day.

Somehow writing about suicide nights and french toast mornings is my way of imparting my inner spirit into your world.  Because if we could sit down and have a fancy cupcake, at some point I would tell you not to lose hope, because with a loving God we can come through the other end of any day or struggle.

God’s redeeming my story, he is using me to show hope and whatever you have, wherever you’ve been if you hold it up to him, with weak and shaky arms, he will redeem it and make something beautiful.

I can promise you with every confidence that I feel this, and I can’t contain it.

The longest journey- the week I lost my mom

 I’m positively in love with my home state and try to make it back as often as I can, especially in the summer when I long to escape the Oklahoma heat. The summer before my mother died was no different, Kel was unable to get away from work so it was just Noelle and I who boarded that early morning flight. Braving the trip without Kel would turn out to be a mistake, I needed his strength to survive a two week stay with my Mother. It was beyond painful to stay in that house which died the same day my father did. Every second spent there was a reminder of how much we’d lost and continued to hemorrhage with the passing of time.

Our visit wasn’t going well, the depression was absolutely consuming her, but I was too close to see the disease. All I could see was shell of the woman who raised me, yet no longer knew me. All of my confusion and anger shot out like steam from a kettle and I spewed out dozens of unfair questions and accusations. As I went through the transformation into motherhood I had to decide what kind mother I would be in light of the example I’d been given. I longed to have a relationship with the woman who’d given me life, bathed me in the sink and read me a thousand books. Yet, I knew in my heart she was no longer available to me, even though she was sitting right across the room. If I’d known this was the last time we’d ever speak face to face, I would have done everything different, hindsight is a clear, cruel gift at times.

The next morning I boarded a plane and flew home, happy to leave that house behind once again, determined never to stay there again. A few days later, on Father’s Day my brother called and told me that Mom had attempted suicide by overdose. When I talked to her later that day she blamed it all on me, on my words, my lack of support. We cancelled our Father’s Day Dinner and spent the evening at a low end rib joint here in town. I poked at my smoked turkey and canned beans, trying to muster up the energy to celebrate Kel in spite of the nauseating emotions of grief, fear and anger.

As my pregnancy progressed, so did her depression and in spite of the events of Father’s Day I continued to hope, begging God to break through her crust and heal her. One night in October my husband twisted my arm to stay up late and watch a movie. We laid on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and against all pregnancy odds I stayed awake until the closing credits. Just before we climbed into bed I heard phone from the other room. I mumbled at Kel to grab it, and just before he did he called out “It’s your brother!”
I glanced at the clock, it was too late for a routine phone call, my throat tightened, something, someone wasn’t right. I saw Kel lean against the dresser for his brief exchange with my brother. When he hung up, he looked at me with a heavy gaze. I couldn’t tell you his exact words, but it went something like this: “Your mom died, she killed herself, she walked out in front of a train… at the same tracks as your sister’s accident.”

I climbed onto the bathroom counter and curled into a ball, no small feat in my third trimester. I didn’t cry and I didn’t scream, I just stared at Kel as we looked at each other with a mutual, “Oh God, Now what?” We knew that we needed prayer and so we called our friends Jenni and Tiffany, who cried before I was able to. They started prayer chains and helped us through travel plans. Plane tickets were astronomical and bereavement discounts were a joke. The most practical choice would be to load up our mini van and drive through the night. We ran laundry and drifted around the house in shocked trances. Around 1 AM there was a soft knock at the door and it was friends from church delivering a travel basket with healthy snacks and gift cards. I remember being so strangely calm that I gave them a few grocery bags of fresh food, so it wouldn’t go to waste in our absence. I know that I couldn’t rest until a thousand things were set in motion and so instead of crumble, I focused on meaningless minutia.

 

When I allowed me mind to feel all I would think was: “How could she do that?” I had no

Her rocking chair, in her empty bedroom

idea she was that determined, that ballsy. I was terrified they would make me identify her remains and that my mind would never recover from it. Finally at 3 AM we carried our 1 year old Noelle to the van and started down the longest and darkest journey of my life. Our baby girl bounced in her car seat for the first 5 hours, thrilled about the surprise late night car party.

Our phones constantly lit up with blessings, assurance and text messages, bringing a steady stream of light to our darkness. So many people stayed awake that night simply to remind us that they were on this journey with us. That road trip lasted a grueling 21 hours and I can’t say I’ve ever been as tired as I was when we finally arrived at my Aunt and Uncle’s House.

We awoke, still in our nightmare and headed to the funeral home to arrange all the details that accompany death. We were greeted with the aroma of chocolate chip cookies instead of the usual lilly and chemical smell funeral homes typically provide. My family waited for me in the parlor and parking lot. I melted into the arms of all those who I’d longed to embrace from the moment the phone call had arrived.

Ron, the most amazing funeral director in the world, guided us through the details. He was young and compassionate and although we were planning a terribly unexpected funeral, the planning flowed from us easily. We chose the white casket, “The Old Rugged Cross” and James 1:12: “Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” The one detail I couldn’t figure out was the flower arrangements. I wanted her funeral to feel like fall, perhaps mums or sunflowers? Fall had been her favorite season, in better days she raved about the vibrant leaves and fresh apples. I couldn’t escape the questions, how could she take her life in her favorite season, with a grandson on the way and a wedding to plan? How could I have missed it? I was wracked with guilt, why was I so hard on her? Always placing healthy mom expectations on a woman who was so clearly sick and hurting.

I coerced myself into a trip the mall to buy something appropriate for all the formalities. Who plans for a funeral dress when buying maternity clothes? I also needed to grab something for my daughter to wear. You have no idea how macabre it is to select a funeral dress for a 1 year old whose grandma just killed herself. There was something about having a perfect plan for our clothes that provided a retail therapy, a false element of control.

The next few days flashed by in a haze, I was soley sustained on adrenaline, a sense of duty and cans of V8 V-Fusion. It took all my strength to honor my mother and get her body into the ground, to tie up details and be strong. I knew there was a house to sell and a lifetime of “stuff” to sort through. I could do anything, and go anywhere but her house, the place she ran from to end it all. I hated that house and had dreams of standing in the front yard in my pajamas while it burned to the ground.

We had planned two visitation shifts at my parents church and I walked through the doors knowing I would be viewing her body for the first time. More than anything I wanted to jump into my car and drive home to the safety of our home. Perhaps this was just an awful dream I would soon wake up from, or more accurately, a nightmare. Maybe I would jolt awake any minute, sweaty and shocked in our bed back home in Oklahoma. Denial is the first stage of grief, and it was all so unbelievable, that denial was a sweet companion.

The woman in the casket looked like my Mother, but only barely. Her body had suffered from impact, and everything was all wrong. It’s a picture I don’t like calling into memory. I didn’t linger there in front of her casket didn’t touch or caress her cold hands more than once. I fingered her wedding ring and then prepared to receive mourners and friends a good length away from the casket. I endured 4 hours of visitation and stood on aching feet to greet visitors and receiving condolences and confusion with all who knew and mourned my mother.

The morning of her funeral arose grey and threatened rain. We gathered at the church to share our common pain, to give an outlet for the mangled mess of our emotions. Just before the service they closed the casket and we said goodbye to her face for the last time. The music started and we followed her body into the church, I wept through her favorite hymns and managed to sing “The old Rugged Cross” through the tears — when I was 9 she made me promise I would sing this hymn at her funeral. Mom’s friend Kathy spoke the perfect words on her behalf: “I love you, forgive me, move on with your lives”. 

Pastor Tom read Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” This brought comfort because we deeply believed God was keeping that promise to my Mother that very moment. He urged us not to feel guilty or responsible, that we couldn’t have prevented her end. He assured my family and I that it was alright to feel a dark sense of relief that her suffering and our worry was over. I’m forever grateful to Pastor Tom for honoring my mother with the perfect balance of wisdom and love. His task that day was not an easy one.

My husband, brother and uncles bore her body to the hearse which would take her to her final resting place, in the earth beside my Father. Family and old friends gathered for lunch and Noelle flitted from table to table bringing fresh life to a hard funeral. My mother’s tiny granddaughter was a sweet reminder, that on the darkest days, God gives new hope.

We drove to Georgetown Cemetery and laid her body into the ground on that cold autumn day which never delivered the forecasted rain. After they lowered her into the ground, I walked away, still shrouded in a fog of shock. I rubbed my cold knees as Kel wound our van through the cemetery maze. Driving away, all formalities behind us, brought a paralyzing fear. I would have to return to my normal life with so much pain to sift through. How on earth would I navigate through this new life, heart and sanity in tact? I was now one of those people children of suicide, this new chapter was forever a part of my story.

I longed to do an “I dream of Jeannie” blink and bring our family instantly back to the safety of our home. Far away from the cold reality of this cemetery plot. It was late in October and the holiday season, normally my favorite, loomed ominously on the calendar. There would be Halloween Costumes and Turkey, Christmas shopping and New Year’s toasts just before our son made his arrival. To be honest I had no idea how I would get through any of it, I just allowed my spirit to groan to God in faith that he would lead me day by painful, grace-filled day.

The Big Sis I wished I’d had – Review and Giveaway of Stress Point

Today I’m beyond geeked to introduce you to my dear friend Sarah Francis Martin and her brand new book “Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties In A Decade Of Drama.”  

Sarah is my big sister in the book writing world.  She’d an absolute Godsend to me as I stumble upon all the questions and insecurities that come up in the writing process.

Sarah exudes a friendly, big sister quality and it is her core passion to use this approach to encourage women in their twenties to live our God’s call in their lives.

My twenties were a tough decade that I wasn’t too sad to leave behind.  I got dumped over email, went through tragic family struggles, fumbled my budget, moved into my first ghetto apartment and landed my first big girl job.  None of us can deny that our twenties are a crazy ride and the more Godly guidance we have in our lives, the better.

I read through this book with a pencil and a highlighter, responding with  an “uh-huh” or “amen” as I highlighted sentence after sentence.  Every gal in their tumultuous twenties needs a woman like Sarah to sit down with them over a caramel latte and share life, drama and God’s truth.  In Stress Point Sarah gives each reader that coffee shop, big sister experience.

In Stress Point you will:

Find interactive chapters covering ten stress points for the 20-something woman

Dig through Scripture to apply truth to each stress point

Engage with real, raw, and relevant stories from girlfriends just like you

Journal through each chapter to engage with God in a meaningful way

Interact with Sarah through her video blogs for each chapter

Connect with your girlfriends in a Stress Point Survival Group; leader guide included

I’m thrilled to be giving away a brand new copy of Stress Point over the weekend!

I would love to see this book in the hands of every gal in their twenties, so if that’s you be SURE you enter to win.  If you’re past this decade of drama, I’m sure that you have a twenty-something on your heart whom you’d love to give this book to.

To win, leave a comment or question about your twenties and you will be entered to win!

The giveaway will run through midnight CST on June 25 and I  will contact the winner on Tuesday morning, June 26.

If you’re already sold, go ahead and buy the book here  it is available in both paper and digital formats.

While you’re at it go ahead and keep up with Sarah on twitter or Facebook for more on her spirit led ministry to the twenty-something generation.

Swanky Cupboard Office Tour & Contest Announcement

Why hello there, I assume you’ve come for a tour of my new office.  Let me put my tour guide hat on and show you around.

If you’ll step this way, I’ll open the doors so you can have a look see.

Welcome to my new cupboard office, located on the border between our galley kitchen and bay window dining room.  This office was purchased by Kel and I in 2012 off of craigslist, largely due to this post by Lisa Jo Baker, whose blog I love!  The original colors were a honey oak, but due to personal preference it was recently painted with a dove white exterior and a tropical turquoise interior.

On the top of the office you’ll see my collection of cookbooks, conveniently located out of reach of my children.  Serving as a bookend is my daughter’s Noelle’s piggy bank, which is typically kept out of reach due to her tendency to scatter coins throughout the house for my son to eat.

Moving on to the left door I’ve scattered some notes on the bulletin board which feature quotes from you guys, from our chalkboard contest, the winner of which will be announced at the end of this post.  Beneath the bulletin board is a small nook where I keep mechanical pencils, NOT PENS, because my heart is best expressed with graphite, not ink.

Moving to our right, in the back of the main desk space is my old school, Franklin Covey paper planner.  I prefer paper because it’s more open than digital planning and I don’t get distracted by twitter or instagram when I go to make a note.

Near the planner you will notice a very necessary mug of coffee, I’m currently drinking a whole bean Rwandan but I like to mix it up.  Coffee selection in the Casa de Penny is based heavily on our weekly budget allowances, as is the availability and selection of red wines.

Near the Mug you will see a brand new copy of my dear friend Sarah Martin’s book “Stress Point: Thriving Through Your 20’s In A Decade Of Drama,”  Which I’m currently reading for a review and giveaway this Saturday.  It’s an amazing study and resource for women in their 20’s so stay tuned for more on this honest and amazing read.

Moving on to our Right you’ll see my MacBook, where the majority of the writing magic happens.  The desktop is currently featuring a beautiful vista of “Big Red” a lighthouse in Holland, Michigan near my hometown.  The reason for this selection is because, well, I’m a tad homesick for Michigan, especially beachfront sunsets and family.

Beneath my laptop is a ring bound copy of Mary DeMuth’s Non Fiction Book Proposal Guide, which can be downloaded here if you’re interested.  It’s a valuable resource if you ever find yourself in need of guidance and expertise on the non-fiction book prop front.

Moving downward you will see my old, green college backpack.  It’s a North Face bag with a padded laptop slot purchased in 2004, I highly recommend this bags as mine shows little to no wear after at least a thousand uses over a dozen flights and road trips.

Our tour concludes on the right hand door where you will find my favorite new poetry quote by Mary Oliver taken from her book “Red Bird.”  I recommend you stop what you’re doing and buy this book post haste.  Beneath the white board quote are the two most recent copies of Better Homes and Gardens, crisp and unopened because I can’t seem to find time for them.

Finally, the yellow chair on the floor is a 100 year old restored and reupholstered ladder back chair in butter yellow with an undertone of granny smith red.

Thank you so much for visiting, this concludes our tour.  Please exit at your leisure and don’t mind the hundred ankle hugs you’ll receive from Noelle and Caedmon on your way out, consider the hugs our gift to you.

And now to announce the winner of our Chalkboard Contest:

Congratulations Amanda!  I will be in touch with you today to work out shipping details!  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for sharing your quotes with me.  Many of them have become new favorites and are posted around our home.

And thanks for putting up with my silly, whimsical office tour.

My Son’s Voice

my Caedmon at the splash park in downtown OKC. I wasn’t prepared for splash play so my kids were the ones running through fully clothed in bulky regular diapers, ah well, Que Sera)

My 17 month old, Caedmon, has started talking, wowing us with new words daily. As I write he’s bebopping around the kitchen pretending to greet someone with a hearty “hello!” into his play phone.

He’s now named his stuffed elephantMamake” and his main two word string is “my eat!” He yells this often as he is always keen to eat whatever is available to him, including chalk and Q-tips. (which i try very hard to make UNavailable to him)

I’ve been waiting for that little voice, so sweet and still dripping with baby softness. Before I know it he’ll be walking in the door with his buddies, showing off his deep man voice and armpit hair. I’ll love him tremendously then too, but I’m guessing I won’t get as many kisses.

One of my favorite parts of parenting is unwrapping all the unique and lovely bits that God packed into their souls, the inner voice. Such as my daughter’s energy and tender heart, my sons determination help and be “part of the group.”

I want to love those around in a way that empowers them to be the person God created, not the vision I have in mind. This is universal for every relationship we engage in. Love is sacrificing what we want for what is best for our dear ones and this is always God’s lovely, perfect will for them.

It’s not always easy, we’re all so prone to want to jam people into our molds. But it’s our call to love people freely, especially when it’s inconvenient. Our natural drive is to focus on what we are getting out of every relationship we’ve engaged in, including parenting.

Yet if we all spend our time in a state of self focus, community would die and our world would become an even lonelier place than it already is.

So the trick is to hear the voice underneath the bad choices, the acting out, the hurtful words and peer through to discover the intentions underneath. Very few if any of us are walking around the world intending to hurt people for fun, it all comes out of something broken or buried deep.

We are all accountable for our actions and have to make amends, yet to correctly understand the actions, we have to reflect on the heart behind them. We have to learn to listen for the true voice in spite of the din and noise.

We all need this grace, to be loved and seen for who we really are in spite of all our faulty choices and painful words.

One of my deepest prayers is that God will grow me in humility, teach me to die to myself so that I can have eyes to see the deep voices and true needs of those that I love. I pray he makes my own true voice louder as the Spirit speaks to more of the moments I’m blessed with.

So I pray Grace for today, ears to listen for the deep voice in the strained moments.

Abba love, my Daddys

Earlier this week I got an email from a friend requesting prayers for her daughters who were dreading father’s day because with their daddy gone they had nothing to celebrate.

My heart ached for them because I spent many father’s day weekends like that.  It’s so beautiful to celebrate fathers and mothers on these holidays but it always brings accentuates the voids for those of us who have an ache for our parents, or ache to be parents.

Kel has redeemed Father’s day for me, because I have a purpose and a target for all the traditional celebration.  Someone to cook for and painstakingly select greeting cards for, his fatherhood journey absolutely worth celebrating.

Part of my heart will forever miss my Daddy on this Sunday in June.  I reflect on all the Father’s Days we shared together over cinnamon rolls and gifts from Sears.  He was witty and wise and above all one of the most faithful and loyal men I know.  His unconditional love for my Mother still amazes me today.

I ache for my father and my Grandpa Mac who have left this world.  Yet if loss has taught me anything it is to focus on what is here in spite of what is fallen and lost.  These men are in heaven, they have been restored feel no pain.  My father will meet his grandchildren and share his heart with them forever, just not today.

Yet, I am surrounded by earthly, Daddy Love, Abba love that is breathtakingly beautiful and worthy of celebration.

There is my grandfather Arie, who is 86 and reads this blog faithfully, always full of encouragement for my writing.  He is the grandfather of 14 and the great grandfather of 10.  He takes fatherhood seriously and intentionally cultivates relationships with all of us.  He and my grandmother set out to build a close family of cousins and siblings, and this plan shaped my childhood.

There is our adoptive Grandpa Dave who takes time to play with our kids and chat with me on the back deck.  He knows what kind of beer I like and is always ready to share life over a double lined beer koozie or coffee and the morning paper.

And then there is our Kel, currently enjoying his favorite Father’s Day gift, sleeping in.  I’ll have to get him up soon and start the day lavishly him with Bacon, hugs and banana pudding.  Kel’s father love breaks boundaries and has amazed me from day one.  He will change any diaper, paint Noelle’s toenails hot pink, build any animal out of duplo blocks and he is abounding in grace and love for all three of us.

I truly have a partner in the parenting journey and although we are still learning our strengths and rhythms I rejoice that this is the man I share children with.

One things these three men have in common, besides a love of bacon, is that they are able to love profoundly because they spend time receiving the love of our heavenly Abba Father, and then they give it away.

Days like these can be so painful, and I will certainly spend part of my day honoring the space left my father, which I forever reserve for him.  Yet I am surrounding by so much Abba love, Daddy love that I can’t help but see the beauty and gratefully praise these men.

Abba love is relational, it is intimate, it is torrential and shaping.  Abba love is all around you, I pray that you are able to drink deeply of it today.

Beautiful Scars- The Year of my Drinking

I’m so excited to be sharing a real and lovely post from my friend Addie Zierman who does most of her writing over at her blog “How to Talk Evangelical.”

Addie has a way of taking your soul and putting it into words, so I implore you to follow her blog immediately if you know what’s good for you.  Addie is sharing her voice for my “Beautiful Scars” Series, and if you’re interested in doing the same I would love that, click here for more info.

Beautiful Scars- The Year of my Drinking by Addie Zierman

That was the year that I was very sad. The year that I was drinking to get happy. Drinking to forget and remember and feel something all at once.

Before that point, my relationship to alcohol had been downright ambivalent. As an on-fire-for-Jesus high school student, I had thought drinking was a sin. As a college student at a conservative Christian college, I adhered to a strict Lifestyle Statement that banned it altogether.

But in 2007, I discovered my own bottomless, inexplicable sadness. And I discovered Starling Castle Riesling…a sweet, mellow wine that I could drink in great gulps.

After the first glass, I felt happy and buoyant. After the second, honest and authentic. Somewhere in the middle of the third glass, I felt myself float away like a balloon, and all of the pain looked tiny and surreal so far beneath me like that.

The Depression, of course, had to do with biology and with old wounds, never really healed. In this place of darkness, you encounter something normal like loneliness, and you cannot handle it. In this place, some church person that you barely know says some well-intentioned something, and it breaks you in half because you have become so brittle in your pain.

And what I want to say is that yes. I have been wounded.

Many of the wounds came from the high-mobility, high-passion evangelical teen culture of my youth.  There was a high school boyfriend who, in his scrambling to be “passionate for God,” broke my heart brutally again and again. There was a fervent, teen missions organization that set impossible standards and then made me feel less-godly, less-beloved and less-chosen when I couldn’t meet them.

My wounds came from unexpected places, places that I thought were safe, people who I thought were speaking the Word of God, and they cut deep. I was wounded and it was cruel and unfair and painful. I was wounded, and it matters.

But the thing about wounds is that they will heal if you let them, if you tend them, if you take care of them. But we are terrible at this. I am terrible at this.

Ever since the Garden, we have had this compulsion for covering. We cover the pain with silence or with excuses or with simplified Christian answers or with Starling Castle Riesling.

We walk around this world infected with anger and bitterness that we do not understand, and we just keep throwing stuff on it, expecting that we eventually, we will bury it deep enough that it will just decompose like an old piece of bread.

But this is not how it works. By covering my wounds, I only compounded them. In my desperation to numb the pain, I made it worse.

I drank and drank and raged. I flirted with temptation and peered into the cavern of my own darkness, and then, one day, I reached the bottom of myself. I reached that desperate place where I had to change or fall into the abyss.

Here is why my scars are beautiful: because they represent the work I have done to become whole.

My scars are beautiful not because they are wounds but because one day, I stopped pouring the Riesling overtop them. Because I went once a week to a sweet, serious therapist who made me talk through the ache. A therapist who helped me find them, clean them, sew them back together one brutal stitch at a time.

Scarring is that beautiful thing that happens when you hold out the painful thing and let the healing in. Let God in.

It’s that thing that happens when we uncurl from around those tender places and expose them to that startling, searing, beautiful Light.

Addie Zierman (@addiezierman) is a writer, mom, and Diet Coke enthusiast. She blogs twice a week at How to Talk Evangelical, where she’s working to redefine faith one cliche at a time.

Chalkboard Love (tutorial and giveaway)

I don’t usually write tutorials but I’m including one in today’s post because this is an item I’m crazy passionate about.  If you’ve been around the blog long enough you know that I’m a big fan of my chalkboard, which is essentially an old 100 yr old cupboard door which I transformed.

One chalkboard, so many uses. Menu Planning, To-Do, Inspiration, Planning and Birthday Greetings for your 1 yr old’s rap party.

I’m going to show you how to make one yourself, and then I’m going to give away the chalkboard we make.

I’m going to start to do more giveaways and they will consist mostly of homemade items and books, my two go-to gifts.

I do handmade gifts for several reasons:
1- They mean a lot, people love them
2- creating and up-cycling are better for the environment
3- they’re better for our budget
4- the creative process is great for my spirit

You will Need
An old cupboard door
Sand Paper
Painters Tape
Spray Chalkboard Paint

Go to your local salvage yard, I prefer Architectural Salvage here in Ada, and procure an old cupboard door.  I like the ones with the inset middle, pay attention to the outer frame and find one with color that you love.  I always go with a beat up shabby chic white.

Wipe it off and dry it, aren’t you glad I took a picture of this part in case you got confused about what wiping looks like?

Sand it, especially the middle part, which will be your writing surface, although small imperfections are fun and give character.

I used a small handheld power sander, but you can just free hand it with a sheet of sandpaper too.  Sometimes you’ll find cool vintage layers of paint that will show through.  Don’t be too impressed, this is one of like 3 power tools I can manage.

Tape off the edges so you don’t get the spray paint on the frame part of your chalkboard, although it you do you can sand it off.  You don’t have to use an entire roll like I did here.

Take your chalk board paint, this is what I bought from the local box store.

Spray a first coat, then follow it up with two more coats, taking a break in-between coats.

Remove the Painter’s Tape and get someone to affix a picture hanger on the back of it.  I don’t do that part, I couldn’t begin to tell you how, I think you just nail it on, but it’s beyond me.

So I love my chalkboard, and I want you to have one too.  So in order to win this lovely board leave a comment below with a quote you love and deem chalkboard worthy.  It’s that easy, you’ll be entered!  If you start following me on twitter or like the Leanne Penny page on Facebook you’ll earn extra entries.

Giveaway will close next Wednesday, June 20 at midnight, CST

Can’t wait to send you a present.

Peace through Peach Jam

Lately I have been struggling with my story, my past and all the grisly details of suicide and funerals.

Some days, as you all well know, the devil gets the best of my inner monologue and I feel “less-than” and as my friends Hannah & Heather put it, “like a total hack.”

Today I can’t get through life without this antidepressant.
Today I am not a published author, I hardly made progress.
This morning I wept publicly at the coffee shop trying to write about my Mother’s death.
Over breakfast the kids screamed and I wondered if there would ever come a season of greater peace and less chaos.

It’s noon on an unexpectedly hard day and I’m going to focus on what is and all that I can do. I can’t publish today, I can’t get my daughter to pee in the potty or teach my son to wait for food without screaming and pulling my pants down with his impatient tugs.

but.

I can go let out my friends dog while they finish adoption paperwork in the city
I can make a bath of freezer jam and zucchini bread from beautiful local produce.
I can tell my husband that his support is everything
I can confess to God that I’m a mess and I need his grace
I can stop caring what the people in the coffee shop right now think as I cry over my laptop
I can read my daughter “Count on Donald” again, even though I hate it
I will leave 10 encouraging notes to friends, both online and local
I will write that friggin trash check so the truck continues to haul away our nasty diapers and coffee grounds.

I will see all of this as something real, though it is small, it is beautiful.  I can’t conquer mountains today, but I can take these little, life giving steps.

I refuse to be defined by what today is not, I will feel peace and purpose on all the beauty that today holds.

Peach Jam and children’s books are enough for me today, and this is a priceless thing.

Want to partner with me in sharing all that is and forgetting all that isn’t?

Slice off a piece of zucchini bread and smear it with peach jam as we believe that we can and tell the voices of “can’t” and “aren’t” to go to Hell where they belong.

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linking up with Joy in this Journey