I was reminded recently that Brokenness isn’t always bad.
If you are anything like me, you need to be reminded, especially in these times of uncertainty.
Sometimes the brokenness is a catalyst to lead us to better things.
It pushes us forward.
What we sometimes see as the end can actually be the beginning.
Redeeming the pain, the brokenness.
Working it for our good. Romans 8:28
I broke this beautiful plate the day it was given to me.
As the plate shattered on the floor so did a piece of my heart.
I was horrified and so sad that I’d ruined something so special.
I looked at the giver expecting a reprimand.
What I received instead was Grace.
She smiled and said, “It’s just a plate. Things are just things, we still have each other and that matters way more than a thing.”
Just a few hours later, my husband took the shattered pieces and put them back together.
I have a new plate that was once broken, now reassembled, and more beautiful than ever-because it tells a story.
It doesn’t look the same as before, it’s been made new.
A redemption story.
It is the perfect reflection of my own story.
If your dreams have been shattered, if life hasn’t turned out the way you thought it would, don’t lose heart.
Jesus is our Redeemer.
He writes the best stories over the top of our shattered pieces.
He makes Beautiful!
We can believe the enemy or we can believe God.
The thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect-life in its fullness until you overflow! John 10:10
Holy Spirit laid this song on my heart the other day. Here are the words, I’ll also share the link below.
Something beautiful, something good. All my confusion He understood. All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife. But he made something beautiful of my life. If there ever were dreams. That were lofty and noble. They were my dreams at the start. And hope for life’s best were the hopes that I harbor down deep in my heart. But my dreams turned to ashes. And my castles all crumbled, my fortune turned to loss. So I wrapped it all in the rags of life And laid it at the cross.
So many are struggling with things we’ve never experienced, things we can’t understand. Still, their experience is valid and important to consider, their voice matters just as much as ours. I want to share the voice of a brave woman that wanted to share her reality. I’m so honored she asked me to share, her courage is beautiful, her story important.
“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” -Steve Maraboli
No one knows what’s it like to be masked when you’ve suffered trauma in your life! Forced to be masked; a victim of a trauma. It’s real!! You judge me because for a few minutes in my own safe space I take my mask off-all while social distancing by far more than 6 feet. You judge me without asking, without trying to understand. Let me take a moment to describe the feelings! The anxiety the mask stirs inside of me is unreal. The trauma resurfaces every time. . .every minute that I have the mask on-and my anxiety rises the longer the mask is on. It’s like reliving the hand over my mouth. The hand telling me “Be quiet. Shhhhh…just do it. Relax. It’s ok. “ That’s my real truth. That feeling is real; yet I’m judged. Told on. Ratted out. All because for a few minutes, I unmask. I unmask to allow myself some deep breaths, to calm myself. Why do you judge without asking? All because of fear from a virus-politics-the governor?? What is it? The “rules” that have been placed on people are unreasonable and disregard those of us with traumatic pasts. I’ve been quiet my entire life. I can be quiet no longer. I will lend my voice to the feelings so many others feel. I will use my awful experience to help say what needs to be said. This mask mandate has resurfaced all of these feelings I’ve suppressed for years! … Told I deserved it. I was being flirty. My outfit was too cute. But imagine being awakened with a hand over my mouth telling me to be quiet as he had his way with me. I won’t apologize when I need to take a break from the mask that reminds me. When I need to care for myself so I can then care for my students.
You happen to see me when I needed a breath … to release that anxiety I’m feeling so I can be focused on my students. And continue to help them. My students. My classroom. They are so important to me. So I press on. The next time you rush to judgment and scream that I’m not being safe, I hope you will remember that I’m not the only one with a story. Seeking judgement without understanding is cruel. You don’t know the battle I’m fighting. You are not me. Please don’t judge me. Don’t tell on me. Let’s be adults. Let’s have compassion. I will not mask the past any longer. I’m simply telling a truth. A hard truth. A hidden truth. And honestly, if I’m not careful the mask mandate could break me. Remember it’s more than “just a mask” to me. It’s a man taking me without my permission. The next time you see someone struggling with a mask or maybe not even wearing one, take a moment to remember my words. There are so many that struggle, so many with reasons you may not understand. They don’t need your permission, they need your compassion.
As I was handing out folders for our graveside this morning some of the children had questions.
With their mother’s permission, I answered them.
We looked at the grave and talked about it.
These children and their questions are where my heart is-as I remember having so many questions as a child.
Questions my future husband would answer, but only in God’s perfect timing.
After we’d finished talking, one of the children ran to my side and gave me flowers.
Some weather-worn and faded flowers, likely found blowing across the cemetery from an old silk arrangement.
She was unphased by their tired appearance, exclaiming, “Beautiful!”
She then placed them in my hand with a smile.
It was a full circle moment.
Just a few moments later, she stood at the grave with the other children and her mother to sing Jesus loves me.
I knew the gift came from both she and Jesus because He knew how much it would touch me in this moment.
He sees me.
He also sees you.
2 Corinthians 1:4-6 He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. And just as we experience the abundance of Christ’s own sufferings, even more of God’s comfort will cascade upon us through our union with Christ. If troubles weigh us down, that just means that we will receive even more comfort to pass on to you for your deliverance! For the comfort pouring into us empowers us to bring comfort to you. And with this comfort upholding you, you can endure victoriously the same suffering that we experience.
Sometimes God takes us on a journey we don’t understand.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8
And the journey is rocky, uphill, uncertain-a true battle.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
We aren’t sure where we are going, but we just feel his mighty hand holding ours.
For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13
So we go-maybe afraid-but certain that He goes before us.
I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. Isaiah 45:2
And as we travel the path He’s laid before us, we are met with unspeakable battles; yet we can feel certain of the victory.
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4
And as we continue we will be bruised and battered. Words might be said about us or to us, people may question our sanity or motives. But we know He has told us that this is the way and the direction we are to go.
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21
As I sat in line at the coffee shop drive-thru the other day I glanced at my phone, scrolled through my feed and stumbled upon this video.
The amazing thing is I wasn’t a follower of the page and I had never even heard of it; still it was at the top of my feed.
It was there-just for me. Not a mistake, not a coincidence-a God send.
I had plenty of time with the stretch of cars in front of me, so I clicked on the video. Before I knew it, I was sobbing.
It was like the video was a summation of the past year of my life. A culmination of all of the trials and battles I’ve been through for the past six years on a journey to heal a heart I didn’t realize was so broken. I needed to save the little girl in me and help her walk to freedom.
This past year has been dark, uncertain, and scary. I don’t normally share much about these things, but now that I’m on the other side of most of that and I know it is my responsibility to now reach for you.
Maybe you find yourself in the spot I was in a year ago.
God broke me open one fall afternoon. And it hurt, it hurt like hell. But the breaking me open was necessary to finish the work he’d begun.
It began with a message from a relative that thought it her job to put me in my place. To tell me that I’d really messed up and failed miserably. That I’d better get it figured out or I’d really regret it. She showed no grace and never extended her love. She never asked if I was okay. I only received judgement. Her judgement about a situation she has thankfully never walked through. Her diagnosis was guilt. Looking back now, I don’t fault her, she did me a favor that day.
Not long after the encounter was that fall day when driving alone in my car and I realized I just didn’t want or care to fight anymore. It was too much, I was done.
I surrendered. I had no strength and I could finally let Him be strength in me.
With my surrender I immediately felt His answers come, slowly at first and then with each step of obedience more of the unveiling of what He had for me and who He had made me to be. His prescription for my ailment.
The first step was therapy. For the first time in my life I began therapy. This was not something I wanted, but something I knew was necessary.
I thought I might die at first. To tell a stranger things I’d never before shared. But growing sometimes feels like breaking. So I continued.
And I grew. I walked through the rubble left in my heart and we decided what to make of it.
Together He and I picked up the pieces necessary to rebuild and move forward.
He was making me new. Stronger than ever before.
During this same time of therapy He did even more. He sent two of the most beautiful people into my life to heal one of those childhood wounds, probably the biggest one that still bled. They too are a God send. They have loved me like their child and I love them like parents. They know I’m not perfect and yet they still love me anyway. What a gift they have given me. What a healing for my heart.
One other important step for me was self care. Somewhere in the healing I needed to remember to care for myself. So, I also began getting massages regularly. To unbind the muscles I needed to be strong.
It was on the last day of therapy that He connected the pieces for me to understand. I saw the big picture of the work we’d been doing behind the scenes. The puzzle pieces coming together to make a picture. Once again while alone in my car it all clicked. Driving down the street on my way to close this chapter and step into healing, I realized I was on Iron Street. A few seconds later, I realized each of these things He’d placed in my path for healing were also on Iron Street.
He truly was making me stronger.
He truly has made me stronger.
This was the message He gave me so long ago on the day I asked what He was doing.
Why so much hardship, why so much pain?
What is the purpose? What are you doing?
It was then I knew in my spirit, He was making me a warrior. And He used Iron to do it.
The other word He gave me was lovely. It’s how He saw me. It was hard to believe at first, after what I’d been through-I had a very hard time feeling loved. But I’d asked Him to show me how He saw me-so He did. Lovely-this word was repeatedly spoken over me for the next several weeks. In songs, by a friend, on a pair of jeans I’d just bought, in the heart necklace Todd gave me for our anniversary, in the hearts I find everywhere. I was constantly bumping into lovely.
An answer to my question and prayer.
So now you know, this video on my feed was truly heaven sent.
I know I’ll always have scars in my armor, but I will use those to remind myself how far we’ve come. They are part of the story, part of the making of a warrior for His kingdom.
Don’t give up, sweet friend. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
He’s making a way; you can trust Him.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
Last fall I had an asthma attack unlike any other I’d ever experienced.
The scariest part was that I never suspected anything that morning when I climbed out of bed.
I was breathing fine.
I remember feeling excited that I got to wear a sweatshirt on that beautifully sunny and crisp October morning; I had a smile on my face and a bounce in my step.
I had no warning.
Fall was in the air and I was on my way to bible study.
I arrived a few minutes early, grabbed some coffee, and took a seat in the front.
There were only a few ladies in their seats when I sat down, but before long the rest of the ladies arrived; it was only a few moments later I realized I might be in trouble.
The room filled with the smells of several different perfumes and my chest began to tighten.
I took out my rescue inhaler took a couple of puffs and began to cough, it was then I knew I was having an attack.
I quickly grabbed my things and went to my car. It was parked well across the parking lot, but I knew it would be a safer breathing space than that room. By the time I got to my car, I was in real trouble. My rescue inhaler had only given me minimal relief and I was still struggling.
I was scared and so upset. I tried to remain calm and called Todd to let him know. When he answered I burst into tears as I told him what was happening.
I actually thought that day I might die-alone in my car.
I spent the next week in bed with lungs too irritable to do much but rest.
If you aren’t asthmatic it is hard to understand just how scary one can be. But like I said, probably the scariest ones are the ones that are sudden and come out of nowhere.
On the days you are feeling just fine-until you aren’t.
You can be minding your own business and suddenly walk through a scent in a store, sitting at a table in a restaurant when someone sprays cleaner on the table behind you, walking out of a building and into someone’s cigarette smoke, or sitting at a football game at dusk when the air suddenly grows heavy with dust and you realize your inhaler is in the car-clear across the parking lot. These are just a few that I’ve experienced.
In those moments when your chest tightens and you can’t seem to get a breath, you are uncomfortably aware that the next few moments determine the outcome.
The thing about asthma is that most people are unaware I even have it.
It is invisible, but still very real.
I’m very careful and thankfully mostly healthy, but there are days and seasons I struggle.
I’m writing this because today has been one of those difficult asthma days.
I woke up feeling fine, but by noon I realized I was struggling. I checked my allergen app and noticed mold was high today. I was already in Salina running some errands when I started to feel the familiar feelings.
I’m sharing this because I want you to hear my perspective. I’m not looking for a fight or even an argument. I’m telling you my experience to help spread awareness that not everyone without a mask is being difficult.
I do not do well wearing a face mask. In fact, it impacts me negatively. It is a hindrance to me. It makes even good days a struggle for me; I know I’m not alone.
Having asthma in the midst of covid has not been easy.
I’ve personally experienced some terrible unkindness in the midst of this pandemic.
People that can’t see my invisible struggle.
I don’t have a limp or a crutch, they don’t see my ever present rescue inhaler, and constant self assessments of my breathing.
They don’t know how fiercely I have to protect my environment, especially on the bad days.
I’m sharing because I’ve seen so many judgments passed on either side of this issue.
People looking to fight and not looking to understand or be understood.
Defenses raised, everyone highly sensitive to their side.
I’m the last person to tell you what you should do. That isn’t my job and that isn’t what this post is about.
I simply ask for kindness and compassion and a little less judgment, not just for me-but for everyone.
Yesterday I had a young man treat me terribly because he rushed to judge something he didn’t try to understand.
I left hurt and angry.
Today, when running errands I simply called ahead and explained my situation. I was pleasantly surprised to be met with both kindness, compassion, and love.
It has always has been where I’ve connected with God.
From the moments of childhood running barefoot until my feet were calloused, to the hot summer days swimming in the stock tank we’d rolled into the backyard, to walking to the barn for morning chores, chatting with my grandma at my side.
Those days will forever be imprinted in my memory bank.
They made me who I am today.
I’m so thankful for the sun and dirt that made me, that shaped me.
I’m so thankful for my childhood on the farm. As I was weeding my garden last night, I realized I could be annoyed with the weeds.
They create more work for my hands and they fight with my growing vegetables; then He whispered in me.
“I use it all. The good and the bad. Nothing is wasted, nothing is in vain. Even the weeds serve a purpose in life. Don’t fight it, just give it to Me.”
Nineteen years ago tonight I was sure I would be pregnant forever.
I was only one day past my due date, but I just couldn’t wait to meet you.
Your dad and I walked the streets of Wakeeney in the heat-our futile attempt to hasten your arrival. I wore the only pants that still fit, but couldn’t manage to get my wedding ring on my pregnant fingers.
I was miserable, but our excitement was palpable.
We had no idea the amazing event the next morning would have in store.
We worked late at the funeral home, had a last meal of a subway sandwich (unbeknownst to me) and crawled into bed around ten.
Your dad had to be awake early the next morning to meet someone at work. I’d planned another day walking and praying you’d arrive soon.
But then, at 5:22 a.m. on the morning of June 9, 2001, I rolled over in bed and my water broke!
I was instantly up and screaming with excitement; your dad wasn’t quite sure what was happening, but he soon realized you were on your way.
Within a few minutes we were hurrying down I-70 on our way to Gove County Medical Center where you would be born. We giggled and talked as your dad drove us and I began feeling the contractions.
Just ten hours later we held you in our arms as we studied you, counting your fingers and toes.
You made us a family; you made us parents.
You’ve probably taught us more than we’ve taught you.
As I think back to the day you arrived, I smile as I think of the two young kids that brought a baby into this world. We weren’t much older than you are now.
It’s hard to imagine I had my first baby 19 years ago, I don’t think either of us are old enough for that to be possible; and yet here we are.
Happy Birthday. I love you more than I could ever say.
It’s the sun shining from behind the darkness of a cloud.
The clouds may try to block the light, but it is still there.
It begins by flooding first the edges until at last the light is all you see.
Light overcomes darkness-always.
This is His promise.
When it is dark look for His light.
Every cloud has a silver lining; and He who wove it knows when to turn it out. So, after every night, however long or dark, there shall yet come a golden morning. Your noblest powers are never developed in prosperity. Any bark may glide in smooth water, with a favoring gale; but that is a brave, skilful oarsman who rows up stream, against the current, with adverse winds, and no cheering voice to wish him “God speed.” Keep your head above the wave; let neither sullen despair nor weak vacillation drag you under. Heed not the poisoned arrow of sneaking treachery that whizzes past you from the shore. Judas sold himself when he sold his Master; and for him there dawned no resurrection morning! ‘T is glorious to battle on with a brave heart, while cowering pusillanimity turns trembling back. Dream not of the word “surrender!” When one frail human reed after another breaks, or bends beneath you, lean on the “Rock of Ages.” The Great Architect passes you through the furnace but to purify. The fire may scorch, but it shall never consume you. He will yet label you “fine gold.” The narrow path may be thorny to your tender feet; but the “promised land” lies beyond! The clusters of Hope may be seen with the eye of faith; your hand shall yet grasp them; your eyes revel, from the mountain top, over the green pastures and still waters of peace. You shall yet unbuckle your dusty armor, while soft breezes shall fan your victor temples. Nil desperandum! -Sarah Payton Parton