In the depth of human suffering…

In the depth of human suffering
In the depth of human suffering we discover the reality of God.  It’s here we learn to cry Abba Father.  It’s the cry we make when we can make no other cry.  I’ve felt a little like this lately, okay, a lot like this.  Not so long ago I struggled with things.  Things that are hard to put into words.  Day in and day out I try to meld my internal struggles, eternal truth, and hopefully the product of that will be a life that is honoring to God.  Recently my thoughts became overwhelming.  Crushing.  They stole my happiness.

My to-do list became more than I could bear.  My morning sickness didn’t let up no matter what I tried.  I was tired.  Emotionally and physically exhausted.  The emails and calls of people who were counting on me for this or that slowly drowned in the background of a huge white static.  I don’t know where this static came from but it overpowered my thoughts and replaced them with a feeling that I can only describe as a numb feeling.  I distanced myself from my blogs, from email, and from most phone calls.  I lost a ridiculous amount of money because I didn’t follow through on several campaigns I had said that I would complete.  I wasn’t myself.  I wasn’t faithfully serving God.  I was barely providing food for my family.

I prayed, and prayed, and prayed.  I didn’t even cry because I was numb.  I think professionals might say that I was experiencing “burnout.”  I’ve been stressed out before but I’ve never been burntout at all.  Before experiencing it I thought burnout was just something someone said when they were over committed and decided to quit several things at once.

I went to the She Speaks conference just as I had planned to go even though my heart wasn’t in it.  My husband’s high school reunion was the same weekend so I tried to get out of it the conference and give my ticket to my pastor’s wife but my husband insisted that I go.  I packed my bags to meet a roommate I didn’t know, mentally prepared myself to kindly force myself in dozens of conversations because I didn’t know another lady there (except a few hosting the event which I thought were surely too busy for me this weekend), and braced myself to walk much more than my pregnant body wanted to.

The conference was lovely, well decorated, ran smoother than any conference I’ve ever been to, and had incredibly friendly staff to help out at every turn.  Before the conference was over God broke my heart and gave me my happiness back.  I don’t know what it was that changed my heart.  It was probably a combination of things that God perfectly orchestrated to bring me back to Him.  I’m thankful for God’s love and that He lifted the fog from around me.  I don’t know why God allowed me to go through that and maybe I’ll never know on this side of eternity.

Truthfully, I feel pretty foolish sharing this with you and pouring my heart out as tears stream down my face.  I’m not even sure this makes sense really but I was challenged at the conference to share with my readers the “real” side of me.  I don’t exactly put up a facade on any of my blogs, at least I try not too but I do avoid sharing the embarrassing, not so fabulous moments of my life.  I’ve always thought that if I could share happy things things then I would be uplifting you and encouraging you.  Almost as if I could protect you from the bad things in life.  Saying that now I can see how foolish that way of thinking was.  I don’t want to follow someone who is perfect or pretends to have it all together.  I would much rather follow someone who goes through tragedies and comes out on the other side more in love with their God than before.

I’ve thought a lot about sharing this post with you since the conference and the other day it dawned on me…How can I identify with those who are suffering when I want to put my best face on and pretend that I’m not suffering?  To do so is to violate what we find in the NT.  Multiple times Paul talked about how we can have joy in our trials.  Joy can exist contemporaneously with tears and with sadness.  It’s not a joy that says I’m so joyful that I don’t cry but  it’s the strange paradox that says even though tears are streaming down my face I know there is a joy that transcends what I’m experiencing.

I think one of the challenges we face, as those who profess to be followers of Jesus, is the challenge to show the world how to be sad.  At least I know I struggle with this.  I’ve never given this much thought until this until my recent circumstances and conversations with godly women who shared their struggles with me at the conference.  Christians seem to have it backwards when we think the way to be spiritual is to say that “Everything is okay, I’m not sad.”  If someone’s mom just died and they said that they weren’t sad but joyful because of where she is I would think they were either crazy or lying.  While joy may still be present, sadness is there too.  Sorrowing in the reality of joy isn’t a marginalized suffering.  Grief is grief.  Sadness is sadness.  Nicholas Wolterstorff once said, “Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved.  That worth abides.”  Grief, sorrow, and tears are all things that we have to experience on this earth but I find it very comforting to know that The Comforter has experienced them too.  He loves me and can give me indescribable peace.  He loves you too!

Every Knee Shall Bow

He left His throne in paradise to meet man’s greatest need,
Yet the Savior was rejected and led to Calvary,
With their eyes they saw, with their ears they heard,
But their hearts could not believe,
That a simple man, a carpenter, could be the King of kings.
By a sinful race full of unbelief He was nailed upon a tree,
Yet the day will come when the clouds will part,
And every doubt will flee.

Still today the world rejects Him and mocks His precious name,
But the day is quickly coming when evil will not reign,
All our tears will be forgotten,
All our wrong at last made right,
When He comes to call His chosen ones to everlasting light.

The trump will sound, the dead be raised,
The truth will be made known
Every eye will see, every ear will hear,
When we kneel before His throne.

And every eye shall see Him in His awesome majesty,
Every nation shall worship at His feet,
And every tongue at last confess Him,
When He comes to claim His own,
And every knee shall bow before His throne.

Bridget Shevvy

Fully Invested in Friendship



As soon as I knew I would be writing here at Embracing Grace, I knew I wanted to write this post.

Well… I don’t know that I WANTED to – but I knew that I needed to.

You see, I strongly believe in the power of friendship; in being fully invested. I believe in the sisterhood of compassion… in a community of like-minded people living real life, honestly and side by side. I remember reading a quote from LeAnn Rimes recently where she said, “Honesty is a key to living an authentic life… I found that a lot of people walk through life rather than truly living – I’ve been there.”  Ah yes… I have been there too!

For years now, I have determined to truly live..  I have a sneaking suspicion that some friends are becoming  uncomfortable with me, as I become more and more comfortable in my own skin!  I have been on a journey to live out loud – to be real… to be consistent in who I am – wherever I am.  Some people embrace that, and some people hold you at arms length – unsure of how to react.  But this should not detour us from living who we are; from stepping into all that we feel called to be!  I believe with all of my heart that we are called to Be Love and that God, in all His awesomeness, gave us family and friends so that we could learn how to be that.  Family was His idea… and friends… well – the Apostle John would tell you He had a few of those as well… or – at least one, right? (John – the one whom Jesus loved… yeah – John was pretty secure in their friendship!)

I live in a small town.  The same small town I was born and raised in. I have been blessed with friendships over the years that have stood the test of time (and the tests of the enemy!).  Some have been but for a season and we either grew apart, parted ways, or simply got busy with new hobbies and new people.  However, it’s those forever friends that test you the most… that see you at your best and at your worst… and that often require the most Grace from you!


To be completely honest, I was hoping to be writing this piece under different circumstances.  I had hoped that before I sat down to write, I’d have the chance to sit down to chat with one of my forever friends.  Life is busy and wounds are healing and sometimes… well, sometimes we have to extend grace and just be OK with not having all the answers… with not knowing all the why’s or understanding the what-really-happened’s.  Sometimes we don’t get the happy ending, all tied up in ribbons and bows!

Oh – we WANT that! Of course we do! We WANT the happily ever after and the movie script ending… we want our friendships to run deep and stay trouble-free at the same time…. we want our kids to live on easy street – always making perfect choices, never having to deal with pain… but this is not reality now, is it?

No – this is not what grows us up, makes us stronger, and tests our faith.  Jesus said Himself that in this world we would have trouble… but He overcame the world!  Here’s the thing: we can too… when we remember to Be Love and to put our Grace On!

I have lived my life with this precious friend… we have raised children and taken vacations, we have changed churches and addresses and hair styles (and hair colors)… we have laughed until we cried and cried until there were no words… together.

While our relationship has a tendency to ebb and flow… routines change, and priorities shift, hobbies grab hold, and circles enlarge.  However – whether we talked weekly or monthly, I always felt secure in the fact that if she needed me – she’d know I would be there… and vice versa.   We had fallen into an unhealthy flow over the years, where there would be several months of silence, never knowing why. Grace always covered and Love drew us back… and we would pick up where we left off.

However, something happened… an event that we didn’t plan for and couldn’t see coming.  It knocked me off balance and broke my heart… my world was spinning and there were some days that I struggled to just keep breathing.  Assumptions were made (on both of our parts); grace was lacking, walls went up.  For both of us I think we felt justified in building protection and needing space – and oh how I wish I would have reached out right then and there – with grace in one hand, and boldness in the other. But instead… I smoldered.

I could not believe what was happening – both in my life and in our friendship.  I can only speak for myself in how I felt – but I went from being a Mama Bear to extending grace in admitting I would probably have reacted the same way in the beginning.  But then time passed and it was no longer the ‘beginning’ and I began to feel abandoned… all alone, carrying a burden too heavy… and I wondered where was the grace? Where was the grace that I needed… that others needed… that we all needed?  I began to entertain whispers of the enemy, justifying my hurts.  I was wounded… but I am sure she was too and if I am in this thing long term – which I am – then I needed to find enough grace for me – that would overflow and cover her.

The only place that I know of that is abundant in Grace is at the foot of the Cross.  As I bowed down under the flow, He did an amazing thing.  He did what Ann with no ‘e’ says in her book, ‘one thousand gifts’ – He took a Hard Eucharisteo and showed me some Ugly Beautiful.  He showed me a lesson that I wouldn’t have learned had I not walked through this situation with my friend.  He actually made me thankful!

A year… it was nearly a year to the day that we didn’t talk.

Remember, we live in the same small town.  We go to the same large church.  We have kids the same age and our husbands are friends.  It was one long awkward, sad, messy year.

I’d love to tell you that I found it in my heart to bridge the gap and reach out… I did not. I was stubborn and only ever so slowly allowing Grace to work it’s healing in me.  No – ironically it was yet another event that brought us both to our knees, in prayer, in agreement, together! One heart, one purpose… and God is just oh so smart!

I’d love to say it is all magically better…  It is not.

It is better… we talk. We love each other… I know that she knows that if she needs me – I am there.

And even this week when we were unable to carve out time to sit and really talk about deeper things, and get to the heart of the matter… I am leaning in to God and embracing His grace…, extending it to her when I can. I am having to be OK with not knowing the whys… she doesn’t even know the whys.

But what I DO know is that I believe in the power of friendship and I believe in investing fully…  I don’t take for granted the history that I have with this friend and I intend to build upon it!

We are all in process and it does us well to remember that!  When we are fully invested in the relationships in our lives – we know that there are ups and downs, good times and trying times… but in ALL times – thank God – there is Grace!

What about you, friend?  Are you walking through a rough time with a friend? Do you need grace for yourself; for your friend?

How do you invest in the friendships that God has given you and what do you do when you can sense distance creeping in, and wounds festering deep?

May I invite you to join me – under the flow of grace, at the foot of the Cross!

I’d be honored to pray with you.

Speak Life. Be Love. Shine On.


Knowing vs. Believing

I have this little habit… a tick, if you will… a little ‘thing’ that I do – well, say – that I am mostly unaware that I am doing.  “Okay…”  I murmur it over and over, “Okay… okay…”  It’s as if, after finishing something, I am mentally checking it off my To Do List (which – if you know me at all… you know that I’m a Day Planner girl and I have a love for bossy lists of things to do!)



I say it while cooking dinner, following a recipe…

I say it when painting, or creating a scrapbook page…

I say it when I am getting ready in the mornings… (waiting for the glorious beep of the coffeemaker!)

I say it… and mostly I believe it… but it is so reassuring to hear the words… to feel a sense of accomplishment, even just a slight bit of forward motion.

And I believe from that little habit, came this little ritual:

“Everything is gonna be okay!”


This is a mantra.. something that is often said to myself in my head, or slipped out under breath as an assurance… It is thought of or spoken, sometimes boldly declared, both in times when I KNOW it to be true… and in times when I actually honestly BELIEVE it to be true!


I am a faith girl at heart! I have shared about how I was raised with Worry, Fear, and Doubt.  They were familiar friends of mine and it took a lot of work on God’s part and mine to rid the neighborhood of them and kick them out for good.  God has changed my natural bent and my fall back now is normally one of faith and life… instead of fear and death.


But I was chatting with a girlfriend over coffee the other day and we were encouraging one another in normal every day life things, when this slipped out:


“We can know things all of the time, but only believe them some of the time!”


Wait… what?


Yeah… can anyone else say, “Ouch!”


Because so often I can believe what I know to be true for YOU… but it’s when I am trying to believe it for me that I can get caught in the space in between knowing and believing!


Because even though we KNOW Truth… we still have the freedom of choice to decide if we will BELIEVE (and live) Truth out loud.
Same is true for Grace… Oh – I have Grace for you… but it’s when it is needed for me to extend Grace inward; that can get tricky and hard to come by!


This is why we NEED the Body… we need each other desperately to remind us that we are just knowing sometimes… when we really need to be believing!


We need each other to pray… for I can believe for your healing… but mine gets harder because my faith can get cloudy with the seeming reality of my pain or discomfort…


I was offering prayer to another friend and I told her what my own heart was hoping for… you see, I was encouraging her in her circumstance, but I was really preaching a message that I really needed to hear!


I told her I was believing that God is at work beneath the surface and that breakthrough IS happening – we just haven’t seen the ripple effect yet!  I reminded her, and myself, that we are not in this alone and THAT, my friends, is the grace and power of the Body!  Our arms get weary in the battle.  We all need someone(s) to come along side us and help hold up our arms from time to time!


Sometimes it’s not so much because we want to give up – or even because our arms get heavy… it’s just that knowing and feeling that someone is in it with you… standing beside you… feeling the warmth of another, facing in the same direction, believing for the same thing… it’s that that brings comfort and renewed hope for the victory ahead!


A different voice that can whisper what your heart is faintly beating away at…

“He’s got this! Everything is gonna be okay!”


So, ALL of the time, I know this is true! For God works all things together for good for those who are called according to His purpose. I know that in the big picture, He’s got me and all that concerns me in the palm of His hand. But I don’t always FEEL like that is true! No – often times, even still, I can be easily duped into falling for the lies of the enemy instead of believing in the Truth that I know!


So – when you are feeling weak-kneed and shaky at best… when you find yourself not so certain of what you know OR believe… when the soundtrack of your life is on replay and the narrator is snarky and mean… can I encourage you to be bold, even though you don’t feel it?


Be brave, instead of hiding…

May I ask you to lean IN, rather than bail out…

Just find one person… and (gasp) ask for help!

Ask for prayer.  It is our honor to stand side by side… as One Body, and hold each other up!  Ask me! I would love to pray with you!


Speak Life. Be Love. Shine On.



“You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly.  You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.”

(Eph 4:4-6 The Message)