A Grit & Grace Collection: Reflections From the Heart of a Rebel, Tender and Wild

Hi, reader! If you didn’t follow me over to my new blog last year (2013), you haven’t heard from me in a while. I hope you are doing well.

I have self-published a book that is now available to purchase. Here is an excerpt from “Figure it Out or Trust it,” page 56

“And I think about the Mystery that loves me and holds me and saves me. And I think on all the ways I have been challenged – in my life and relationships and finances and resentments and unforgivenesses and fake love, which is so much easier than real love. And I think about my fear if I don’t get it all figured out this side of the other side, that God will be disappointed in me. Under my surface is very often a whispered commandment that drives and shames and condemns me: You-gotta-figure-it-out! You-really-gotta-figure-this-out! When-are-you-gonna-get-this-figured-out!

And then I think about Jesus and how He trusted His Father and how maybe that is good enough for me, too. Maybe I can let Him fill in the empty spaces of my trust. Maybe in the meantime or for the rest of time I can lean into that and know that I, like all of us, wherever we are in our journey of knowing or questioning or trusting, are loved and held and saved. Yes. Amen.”

If you are interested and in need of some new reading material, you can click here.

Thank you!

In love and grace, Becky J.


Time To Say Goodbye

It was almost three years ago I started this blog. I was in a wilderness, of sorts, no one around for I’d turned and ran Home. Okay, I limped. Apprehensively. I had so much to process and work through and regurgitate and bleed. So that’s what I did here. Under the guise of wanting to share my story of course. Ahem. Then over the course of these years it changed because things got processed (though I am still going through one and always will be) and worked through (see previous comment) and regurgitated and bled out. My words started to change to offer hope in and through the story of God’s redemption in my rebel story, which will stun me to my core until the day I see Him face to Face. But then present day is here and I feel like the Wind is blowing with a brand new blog idea. I believe it’s time to put this one to bed. This new place isn’t about me – I think. I hope. It’s about my writing having taken a change for the deeper and the larger and the reality of God in the everyday things and I want to share and be a partner with Him in bringing His reality to us all – weary, worn, captive and seeking.

My heart and passion will always be for the rebel, the prodigal, the one so deeply wounded and frustrated and bound by religion that they turned from God to find reprieve, freedom, or to just run like hell until they wear down. He knows this and honors this holy desire with the people He brings me, through no effort of my own.

Please consider coming over to my new blog and becoming part of the tribe. Just click on the right-hand side and you will receive new posts to your inbox.

I hope to hear from you soon…….

http://gritandgracejournal.wordpress.com/


Surging With Hope

 

I’m decompressing from lots of things this morning, coming here after waking and pouring my coffee to get more off my chest; writing has become a way I process the big and emotional things in life. I also want to bring clarity to my post as my heart was filled with so many words I missed some nuggets and got one totally wrong. There is a knowledge and a genesis of trust happening deep in my soul that we really can “be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good,” (Romans 8:28, the Message.) I sense this invisible God and He is alive and active and present. Even with the things that happen or was chosen from a defiant (or ignorant) life that not only doesn’t love God, but could have cared less. Truly, readers, I am stunned. For all the shame I have felt over much of my life’s choices and anger at how some things were handed to me, uninvited, He is filling it with His purpose and His love and His beautiful and mysterious way of redeeming.

This changes my heart and how I view my past as well as the lives of those who surround me or cross my path. I have a favorite Oswald Chambers quote:  “I am so amazed that God has altered me that I can never despair of anybody.” Or to change one word to mirror this particular season of my life: “I am so amazed that God has (or is) redeemed(ing) my past that I can never despair of anyone’s.” Do you know what this does? It leaves me surging with hope.

Now for some clarification.

“The boyfriend and I were young. We tried. It isn’t easy. Ever. Life pulls all of us at the seams. We broke up. Got back together. And broke up again. During this unstable time, which would not be my first,”

I read and re-read my post before publishing and never caught the mistake in that sentence. That unstable time would not be my LAST. I seemed to live for the ups and downs, birthed from a place of unworthiness and distrust.

“When it came time to leave the hospital the woman from the adoption agency came in my room, had me sign a paper and then took the baby from me and walked away.”

Before this took place there was a day where I was in my hospital room alone, lying in bed, trying to soak up the reality of things and my brother, Doug (who had been dating the girl with the toddler and had loaned us all the baby things), he came in to visit me, his little sister. I can see it in my minds eye right now – he was standing over by the large picture window that looked out onto the parking lot on that blazing hot July day and he spoke words into my world no one had up to that very moment: “I don’t want you to do this.”

My heart heaved. My lungs let out a deep sigh. My life forever shifted.

I do not recall the conversation that followed. But my brother was courageous enough to say what he was feeling in a hard and dark place. I have mentioned it to him numerous times over the years. I didn’t know if he was going to make it to her wedding or not until the night before. I didn’t tell her so it would be a surprise. The venue for the wedding/reception had a small room at the back of the log lakehouse for changing, she was in there when her Uncle Doug turned the corner to surprise her and she cried for the first time that day. A beautiful moment between an uncle and his niece who have a connection that runs deep.

“We started dating immediately. I was eighteen going on forty. I wanted a husband and a house and a white picket fence. I think I scared him, but not for long.”

There was a time I had to run an errand and left this new boyfriend with my little girl, she was about 15 months old. When I came home I saw her asleep on his bare chest in the old faux leather a.k.a. plastic recliner in my first apartment. Right then and there I knew I would marry him. He took us both in without flinching. He was twenty.

There have been some painful water that has flowed under the bridge of our lives since we became a family:

166017_296016390496600_849833888_n

Just over twenty-five years later, to see the man I love walk his daughter down the aisle, it took my breath away and leaves me surging with hope:

935853_450503475047890_331852209_n

 

 

 


A Weaving Of Love & Redemption

This will be lengthy and personal. There is twenty eight years of force behind what I’m about to write and can’t possibly fit it all in. Be kind. Cover me with your grace, thank you.

Her birth came 3 months after I turned seventeen – July 3, 1986. The story and the pain before, during and after changed me. Forever. The boy I was dating stuck around but made it clear that he wasn’t sure how ready he was for fatherhood, ‘how many jobs would he need to hold just to provide’ kind of thing. I don’t remember who mentioned it first since my mom wasn’t keen on my news, which came at four months along because I was scared and in denial. But adoption was the obvious choice. I was an angry and rebellious girl who couldn’t stay in school because she kept ditching class and had never held a job. So the journey began, I would relinquish the baby to a couple who knew how to be grown-ups.

I remember his red Monte Carlo that drove us to the city and back after meeting with the folks from the adoption agency. Two kids in a car on a highway making adult decisions.

When it came time to leave the hospital the woman from the adoption agency came in my room, had me sign a paper and then took the baby from me and walked away.  I went into convulsions, my emotions wreaking havoc on me physically. I had held her and named her - Tiffany Marie. I know that goes against the rules, but if you have just met me I’ll tell you…..I don’t follow rules. Afterwards I walked down the corridor, stopping at the nursery window. The adoption lady had her back to me, baby in her arms, feeding her; I could see the little feet. I wept on the glass.

That night my mom let my boyfriend stay the night. We were all feeling a mix of everything. He had stolen the pacifier the hospital gave her to use; a memento of a life we would never know. When he pulled it out of his cowboy boot that was sitting on the floor of my teenage bedroom and showed me, I cried. The soundtrack of my days was this, the lyrics, “we’ll live forever knowing together that we did it all for the glory of love,” reached into my world and soothed me for the choice we made, even though it hurt like hell.

My mom and I stayed up until 5 am talking. The legal papers I had signed gave me two weeks to decide, for sure, what I was going to do. That first week following her birth I would wake up to a note from my mom laid out flat and bare and full of grace on the old brown and ratty carpet just outside my bedroom door. My brother, Doug, who at the time was dating a girl with a toddler, said she was offering to loan us all the things we needed that she had in storage - cloth diapers, footie pajamas, crib sheets, etc. WHAT??? Is my mom actually saying I get to keep the baby? After preparing what most people get nine months but we had a week, we would drive to the adoption agency in the city and pick her up – July 18, 1986 (If memory serves). My mom. My boyfriend. And I.

*              *               *                *                *                  *

I met him before any of this took place. I liked him. A lot. A bad boy. Perfect. We dated while I was on a ‘break’ from my other boyfriend before we called it off and I went back to my boyfriend. Hence the story above. But through it all there was always something about Bryan, deep in the crevices of this rebel’s heart.

*              *               *                *                *                  *

The boyfriend and I were young. We tried. It isn’t easy. Ever. Life pulls all of us at the seams. We broke up. Got back together. And broke up again. During this unstable time, which would not be my first, I got a job with my dad’s then girlfriend at an apartment community; it offered a salary which included an apartment of my own. I was eighteen. I jumped at the chance. I think the thing I loved the most was being able to smoke indoors and not hide it from my mom. (side note: it wasn’t until I was in my 30′s where I could smoke in front of her. And now I’ve been smoke free for three and a half years. Crazy life.)

I’ll never forget the day I was on a smoke break at work, on the patio of the office (the clubhouse was under construction) and I see this guy working on another building. It was October 1987. Could it be? Nah. Well, try. Okay.

“Bryan!”

And he turns and looks.

Wow.

We started dating immediately. I was eighteen going on forty. I wanted a husband and a house and a white picket fence. I think I scared him, but not for long. We would marry the summer of 1988 – five days after my little girl turned two. I was five months pregnant. We looked into adoption for my girl, but the law said we had to be married for six months before we could start the process and it was expensive. It never happened.

At her birth I gave her my maiden name and she still had it until we were preparing to move to another city, her teen years looming, and I wanted her to have our name. So that required a couple of things. 1.) We would have to tell her Bryan isn’t her biological dad and 2.) Jumping through hoops of legal name changes.

The day came to tell her. We gathered both girls and climbed onto our bed and told her. She cried. “But I want you to be my daddy.” I get weepy thinking about it now.

I had to contact him to have him sign the paper saying he was okay with her name change. The initial phone call, after years of not speaking, took over two hours. He had come in and out of our lives on birthday’s and Christmas’s with gifts wrapped in paper, as well as the gift of his presence. But then. Suddenly, nothing. It was on that lengthy phone call when he explained why. It was a loving and kind thing to do. Though I probably didn’t recognize it as such until much later when I wasn’t so angry at the world.

Her name was changed. Our family moved. Life, as they say, happened.

Last Thursday, August 1st, she married a man with three kids of his own and no his last name isn’t Brady. One child’s mom is trying to get him to sign over rights so she can move away. A month ago my girl called me, we talked of her biological dad, she expressed things to me she never had before, we cried.  Wedding plans took over and we didn’t speak any more on the subject. Until she text me Monday evening asking me his name. An hour later she called me on her way home from work. She had searched for him, found his daughter on Facebook. I looked, peeked at a family picture and confirmed. That was, in fact, him.

Wow.

She didn’t know if this girl (21 years old) knew of her and had no intentions of creating any turmoil in their family. But then her heart must have moved her to do the scary and courageous thing and she sent this girl a message last night via Facebook. She knew of her, had even seen pictures of my girl when she was little, he had kept them. I cried. This girl called her dad, woke him up, told him who had just contacted him. He had tried to search my girl, but never found her. He gave the okay to give his number and said she could call. This girl was excited to be contacted and they messaged back and forth for some time. They’re similar in the way they look and even what I’ve gathered from their personalities. Life is so crazy and beautiful and unpredictable.

This week I have felt the rush of emotions with the force of the last twenty eight years pulsing through my body.  I haven’t pretended to know much in my life. And I sure have been afraid of a lot; letting shame and anger be my guide. But God weaves His love and redemption throughout our lives, our hearts and our stories. Even when it takes decades.  Of this I have no doubt. I can’t wait to see what He does next.

Stay tuned.


How Did I Get Here?

A cool and cloudy day, such a welcome change for the month of August. I can hear the children’s playful voices dancing across the street from the daycare; both are reminiscent of autumns gone by. My mind finds its way back through a few lifetimes ago when I was that child with a playful voice and starting school. I think back to the time not so long ago when my own children were small, the air filled with excitement and nerves, along with the smell of new pencils and notebooks and shoes.

I am sitting on the floor of my now grown daughter’s living room, her son, my grandson, crawling around and over me (Grandma a.k.a. a human jungle gym, which I’m more than okay with) making his nine month old noises, “ah-da-ba-da-ba-da.”  The three-year old yellow lab so gentle, kind and patient towards the noisy little human who keeps crawling into his space bubble, wanting to look out the same glass door that’s been the dogs and the dogs alone all these years. The six-year old tabby cat is having a love-hate relationship with all of us down on his floor, his domain; he’s happy but with an attitude, just like a cat.

I am surrounded by life.

I have no idea how I got here to this place in my life and yet I do know: every step taken backwards in fear and forward in faith; every tear that has fallen in joy, lightly, as well as heavy in sadness. I know every loud fight that found  words from my sad and angry heart being thrown, like daggers, and can never take back, as well as my apologies spoken once the mirror of my life cleared. I know the laughter that came from the walls of my teenage girls’ room that was like heavens thunder. I recall the packing up of boxes of hope and moving out to find freedom – both theirs and mine. And the packing up of boxes of regret and coming home to find healing – both theirs and mine.

This floor I find myself on doesn’t call itself a business or a corporation. The lives that surround me do not give me performance reviews that involve my five and ten year goals or come with a raise. I don’t call this a job and it doesn’t offer health benefits. What it does offer (in abundance) is heart and life benefits; filling them both with things money never could buy, but believe me when I tell you I tried.

Saying I’m grateful seems cliché and trite and understated. So I may tell you that I have no clue how I got here but at the same time I know full well…..

It is grace that brought me thus far and it is grace that leads me still.


Listen & Love

Everyone else had gone on to their campers and tents, leaving just him and I around the campfire. We looked up to the dark night sky and were wowed with the number of stars hanging, twinkling, where no city lights could detract from their beauty. Unbeknownst to both of us the conversation turned to God.

He just isn’t sure if he believes or not. I tell him it’s hard because if you choose to believe then there’s a boatload of questions you’re gonna have and He won’t come down to sit with you and answer them. “Exactly. Exactly,” he said.

I know. (sigh) I know.

He has a lot of guilt. Doesn’t want to talk about it. He gets really, really angry. Understandable. I give him my short story. I tell him about a time in my life where guilt and shame were really killing my insides and how freedom comes from sharing. I tell him that I know how people aren’t all that great about being kind and accepting when we bare our shit, but how I strive to be that person to others based solely on how God met me where I was. Etc.

I want to say he’s just a kid but he’s only a few years younger than I am. An ex-meth addict, lived a hard life, piercings, tattoos, the whole nine yards. Hates his dad, the guy never followed through with anything he ever said. Yeah. Dad’s have a way of messing with our faith. I loved every minute of our talk and would do it again in a heartbeat even though we walked away with no resolution. It’s like I was born for conversations with people like him.

After the camping weekend with our friends and family I sent him a message that simply said, “Thanks for your honesty. And thanks for existing in this world.”

Within 48 hours I’m meeting an old co-worker for lunch. The conversation turns to Jesus because, as she explains, ‘her husband is Jesusy,’ and she goes on to discuss her struggle with the people she has known in her life who have claimed to be Christians. The church she attended in Georgia. The pastor of the church her husband attended for awhile who tried to break up their marriage because she isn’t a Christian.

I know. (sigh) I know.

We must have sat and talked for three hours. I have no qualms nor am I offended hearing people spew their anger or struggle over God or church or Christians. I get it – get it down to my bones. These are my people for I was them and still am some days. It’s like I was born to have conversations with people like her.

I don’t have to help them make sense of it all. I don’t have to save them. I just have to listen and love. Yeah. That’s it. Listen and love. Because as I read earlier, “God saves us single-handedly.”


Shattered Illusions

“Do we really want to give up our illusions about life, our deceits about the kind of people we are, all those false images about the past and fantasies concerning the future? They may be our sins, in that they have kept us from living our lives fully, but they are comfortable and familiar, and in our internal establishment, they hold together our concept of who we are.

Take out even one little piece and there is a trembling in the whole structure; such is the interconnectedness of all our inward workings. We cannot change in one little corner of our lives without feeling the reverberations in other corners. The question – “Do you want to recover?” (John 5:1-9) – might even go to the root of things where the foundations would shake and the whole of us would be in danger of collapse.”

Elizabeth O’Conner/”Search For Silence”

Oh, how I’ve missed writing! Life has been hectic and full as of late. I’m glad to have the time to be here today.

It happened shortly after I gave my life back to Christ – this shattering of long-held illusions. I still cannot believe how many lies I believed, nor the density of the mask I was pretending to live behind.

I am still a work in progress, as we all are. I am still on this journey of illusions being shattered, where layers of the real and true me are revealed. Sometimes I act like a spoiled rotten brat who can’t believe she doesn’t get her own way anymore. The other day I heard of an old co-worker who always had things work out for her and whom I carried (and still carry) a lot of envy, had quit her job and got another.  Like I tried to do to no avail and have asked God a few times since hearing of her, “Why not me, Lord?” Okay, maybe not asking, more like whining. On Friday I drove passed a house in my old and weathered neighborhood who was getting their yard completely re-done, with a sprinkler system no doubt. And I literally – LITERALLY – stuck my tongue out and made that ppphhhttt sound. You know, like a real grown up would do. Time and time again I am faced with the reality that I am unable to live out of an illusion. Please, do not misunderstand me. I am not saying quitting one job and getting another is an illusion. Nor am I saying re-doing your yard or house is an illusion. But, for me, I was capable for many years to pretend that those things were where my identity was held; where others could find me to be something I was not. And I felt comfortable in those illusions until……

Jesus.

And let me be frank here – I felt my foundations shake and the whole of me was not only in danger of collapsing, but it DID. There were times I thought I would die. Being stripped of all that you once held up to hide what you thought was the real and true you is painful with a capital P.

But there’s a flip side to all this. And that’s my experience last week of not only my embodying the Christ-like peace down to my bones, but also feeling alive and unchained; like a lightning bolt of life, love and freedom were pulsing through my veins.

I’ll take shattered illusions any time for this Great Exchange.

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 81 other followers