the time no one showed up

This picture showed up on my facebook time hop recently: 

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Eight years ago on a Sunday morning, Jason was teaching 4 children in a middle school band room. This particular Sunday in August, right before the official launch of our church, is known as ‘the time no one showed up.’

We had selected a few Sundays during the summer to have preview services leading up to our launch date in September. We had been holding Sunday evening services at a different location and had been gathering with a few families during the week at our Bible Study. The June and July preview services went great – we had some guests visit as well as the families that we had already connected with over the past year we had been in Washington.

Our anticipation was building as we looked forward to the fall and the official launch of the Commons. We set up the church one Sunday morning in August of 2008. We unloaded a trailer, set up pipe and drape to turn a middle school hallway into a foyer and a library into a preschool and a gym/lunchroom into a sanctuary. We made coffee and we waited.

No one showed up.

We were discouraged, to say the least.

We had been ready. We had been obedient to do what the Lord had called us to do.

But no one showed up.

A month later, several families came to our launch. They came back and they brought their friends. In time, the Lord filled that middle school gym with people and the band room with elementary kids and we eventually outgrew the library because we had so many preschoolers.

I happened to be reading through the book of Joshua last week and this verse lept out at me:

Think back and you will know without a doubt that not one single good thing that the Eternal One, your God, promised you has been left undone. Not a single one. Joshua 23:14, The Voice Bible

I thought about that picture from eight years ago. And I was also reminded of when I couldn’t get pregnant with a second child and the Lord said to me, “You and Jason will raise spiritual children.” And then He called Jason to children’s ministry and me to preschool ministry.

And now, all these years later in Austin, Texas, alongside an amazing team of volunteers, we are able to lead and teach over a hundred children each Sunday morning.

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I still think about that Sunday – the one where no one showed up. I believe God was teaching us to trust Him more. He was stretching our faith and developing our character.

Maybe we were the only ones who were supposed to show up.

That Sunday prepared us for our move to Seattle where we would try to plant another church and spend two years waiting for someone to show up. Honestly, there were days we wondered if God Himself were still around. I learned that my obedience and my faith would not always immediately yield fruit, but they would dig roots.

I am still learning to wait on God.

But now, I can look back and know without a doubt that not one single good thing that the Eternal One, my God, promised me has been left undone. Not a single one.

I write this to remind myself and maybe anyone else that needs to hear – He is faithful. While some of the things the Lord has promised have come to fruition, others have not. There are still dreams in the making and visions yet to be revealed.

Let’s keep going, you and me. Don’t worry whether or not anyone else will show up.

You show up, and I’ll show up. Even on days when our feet seem heavy or the path before us is dark and we can only see enough light to take the next step. Let’s do the thing The Eternal One, our God, has called us to do.

Because one day, when we are on the other side of eternity, we will look back and see that not a single good thing He promised us will be left undone.

Not a single one.

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a little slice of heaven

 

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Amy and I have been friends for almost twenty years! We first met at Texas A&M (she is Jason’s cousin!) and now live just a few miles apart!

Last month my friend, Amy, and I went to a live taping of the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey!

 

Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey is one of my favorite podcasts because each week Jamie interviews inspiring women who are doing amazing things. Jamie is not only a podcaster, she is a mom (she and her husband, Aaron have 4 kids), adoption advocate (three of her four kiddos are adopted!), pastor’s wife (Aaron is on staff at The Austin Stone), speaker, writer and soon-to-be author (Jamie recently signed with a literary agency and is writing her first book!).

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Amy, Jamie & me. Jamie’s sweet daughter, Story, took our picture!

 

I think all of her listeners feel the same way I do – like you know her  and are just one of her girlfriends. It was so fun to finally meet her in person!

 

She walked right up and introduced herself as soon as we got there! We hung out on her gorgeous property and met lots of her other listeners and friends.

 

 

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just hanging out with Jen Hatmaker. #nbd

Jamie’s good friend, Jen Hatmaker, was there hanging out on the back deck hugging and taking pictures with everyone!

 

We met ladies from all over Texas and I sat right next to a sweet pastor/church planter’s wife from western Washington! We bonded over our love for the Pacific Northwest and swapped church planting stories. I connected with her on social media so I can keep in touch – you never know when you are going to make a new friend!

 

We all gathered around the beautifully decorated tables as Rachel Hollis (author, lifestyle blogger and founder of The Chic Site), Jessica Honegger (entrepreneur and founder of Noonday Collection, one of Tribeza Magazine’s 2015 people of the year), Jen Hatmaker (NY Times bestselling author, speaker, reality TV show star, trusted fashion advisor) and Jamie talked about everything from losing control of our bladders to room moms (all good things!) to what it means to be successful.

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You can listen to a clip of the Live Happy Hour Podcast here and download the entire audio from the Live taping for $1.00 here. I pre-ordered it myself so I can relive it all over again!

After the live taping, we enjoyed the most delicious tacos ever in the history of tacos. (I only wish that Guinness World Records could have been there to make this officially official). Jamie’s husband, Aaron, has mastered the art of the pork taco. He cooked the pork himself and topped it with things like mint and pumpkin seeds – I might be making these ingredients up but that is what happens when you are not a master in the culinary arts and only familiar with non-fancy taco ingredients. Also I was too busy shoving the tacos in my mouth to ask questions! Jamie’s friend, Tara Royer Steele was also there serving up slices of her world famous pie from Royer’s Pie Haven. (They are world-famous, aren’t they? WELL THEY SHOULD BE! Their pies are amazing!!!)

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As the evening came to a close, we went home with a bundle of goodies: A super cute koozie from Jamie with her new Happy Hour logo, books! (7 by Jen Hatmaker, Party Girl by Rachel Hollis, and Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler), a beautiful necklace from Noonday, a journal by May Designs, delicious coffee from Two Sparrows Roasting Co., samples from Beautycounter, gorgeous prints from Paint and Prose and Maker + Ink, paper from PaperWorks and coupons for fun stuff like Prep Dish and Milk & Honey Tees.

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The entire evening was incredible – a little slice of heaven: enjoying the presence of God and all of his beloved, spending time with old friends and making new ones, sharing stories of where you are from and what God did while you were there. I think that is a little bit of what heaven is going to be like. And if we’re lucky, maybe Aaron can cook us all some more pork tacos while we’re there.  

more #happyhourwithjamieivey :

Listen to a clip of the live taping

$1.00 Download of the Happy Hour Live

Jamie’s blog and Happy Hour Live Recap 

 

the one where I’m like Pharaoh

I found myself reading through Exodus recently and got excited about Moses leading the Israelites out of bondage. I love that story! I always want to identify with Moses. I want to be the guide showing people the way to freedom! I prayed and asked the Lord to show me who was in bondage saying “Here I am Lord, send me.”

The LORD said to me, “Well, that’s nice, but you are like Pharaoh.”

And I was like, “whaaaaattt?”

“You are like Pharaoh.” He didn’t hesitate. No, He was totally calling me out.

He said, “I have been asking you to let go of perfectionism but you keep refusing.”

It was true.

You’d think that I would have repented from my sin and turned from my wicked ways after this conversation, but I did not. I told the LORD that I would think about it. That is a classic Pharaoh move right there.

Brene Brown says, “When perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun.” I thought perfectionism might let go of the wheel when I sent shame packing but she has been driving for too long. And the thing is, perfectionism is actually a pretty good driver – she always knows where she is going and never has to ask for directions.

What finally got my attention was the study notes in my Bible. I am reading The Voice Bible right now and in the notes for Exodus 11 it says: Perhaps the best way to look at the confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh is a contest to see who truly is God. In Egypt Pharaoh is considered a god.

That was when I realized I wanted to be the god of my own life. My perfectionism was me and my bar-set-so-high standards for myself and my home and my writing and my friendships and my job and my ministry and if I didn’t meet them all then they won’t be good enough. And then I realized – the root of it all is the fear that I am not enough.

Jesus, take the wheel.

He said to me – and if you are struggling with perfectionism or you are struggling with whether or not you are enough, then He says this to you as well, “That is a lie. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are the apple of my eye. You are enough. Perfection comes to steal from your soul. I can see how exhausting it is for you. It is hindering you from fulfilling your calling. You think it is getting you somewhere but it is going in the wrong direction –

Perfection is holding you back.

Perfection is exhausting you.

Perfection is killing your soul.”

 

I am enough – just because Jesus says so.

You are enough – because you are a child of God.

Perfection doesn’t want me to post this. She says it isn’t good enough. She says I know better than to post a blog without a picture. She says I have to say something witty and memorable at the end to wrap it up nicely.

But I’m trying not to listen to her.

 

waiting on God

After 15 months of praying for a child and trying to become pregnant, the Lord said to me on May 27, 2002, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son.” (Judges 13:3)

And He kept His Word.

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I named him Samuel because I asked the Lord for him (1 Samuel 1:20).

On March 2, 2003, Samuel David Cole was born.

And now he is thirteen.

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EEEEKKKK!

I was looking back through a prayer journal and I found this written on October 12, 2003:

Sam is the most precious gift. He is absolutely adorable, so handsome! He is so curious and smart. Already climbing up our stairs!

Clearly, I was smitten. Right underneath it I wrote:

The north campus (FBCC at American Indoor) – God has blessed our church. Our plans to build are on hold but we are growing. It is so exciting. . . .

The “soccer church” as we liked to call it, was the north campus of our church First Baptist Church Carrollton. We met at an indoor soccer field for a year and then those of us that gathered there went back to the main campus because our plans to build our own church building were on hold. The neat thing about finding this journal entry yesterday is that the FBCC north campus – now called the Church at The Fields – is opening in two weeks. The plans were on hold in 2003 and now they not only have their own building, but a sports complex that serves the community.

I’m in awe of God and His perfect timing.

His Word does not return void. When He says He is going to do something He does it. Lately He has been teaching me to wait on Him. He is mostly teaching me this because I was not doing it. I have to admit, it is hard to wait on God when I can order anything I need from Amazon and have it in two days.

Just last week I ordered a tall flat white from the produce section of the HEB and picked it up at Starbucks a few minutes later. I didn’t even have to stand in line – my drink was sitting on the counter when I walked in.

But sometimes God asks us to wait. And there’s not an app for that.

I am reminded of all those who went before us in Hebrews 11.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39-40)

We will not take hold of all of His promises here on this earth. Yet, He keeps His Word. We will see it fully when we enter into eternity. There we will see how He wove the thread of our lives together into a beautiful tapestry.

I know that does not make the waiting easier – maybe that is where the trusting comes in. I felt the Lord telling me I didn’t wait on Him because I didn’t trust Him. It’s true. Jason was losing his job and I didn’t trust the Lord to provide for our family. He told me to wait but I ran ahead. Ironically, my running didn’t get me anywhere – if anything, it slowed me down.

Jason got a job. I got exhausted.

I’m still learning to trust God and wait on Him. I’m trying to remember His promises and hold onto them even if it doesn’t seem like they are going to come into fruition in this lifetime.

How do you wait on God? Leave your comment below! I would also love to know – is there something specific you are waiting on?

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On May 11, 2003 we dedicated Sam to the Lord at that indoor soccer field. “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:27-28

 

the one talent

2016 is really here and I’m not quite sure I was ready. My son, Sam, just informed me that he is half way done with middle school. Gaaaahhhh! And Faith keeps reminding us that she is going to first grade THIS YEAR (like, as in August). Why are my kids getting older and also why do they keep telling me about it!?! They were JUST BABIES!!

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See – babies!!
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now here they are practically going off to college. or first grade, whatever.

As the new year approached, I couldn’t help but consider what my goals would be for 2016. I was thinking maybe 2016 could be the year that I make my bed. I never ever make my bed so this would be a huge accomplishment!

One of my sweet preschoolers from First Foundations gave me a cute Starbucks chalkboard mug and I was already making plans to write my goals or maybe some sort of motivational quote on there so that I would see it every morning when I drank my coffee. That way I could remember to make my bed.

But then on December 29th I accidentally read Book Launch Blue Print by Tim Grahl. This quote jumped off the page “…launch your book, change the world, then keep writing.”

Great. 2015 was “tell your story” and now 2016 is “launch your book.” I was really hoping for something a little less put-yourself-out-there-to-face-rejection.

Jesus tells a story in Matthew 25 of a master who left his servants in charge of his estate while he was away. This parable keeps speaking to me as I go through the book writing, publishing and now marketing process. Jesus has left us in charge until He returns. He is saying to each of us, His followers, “take care of this world, keep making it a better place – until I come back.” He gave me this one talent – this book – and like the servant in the parable with one talent, I want to bury it in the sand because I am terrified.

Matthew 25: 31 – 34 says, When the Son of Man comes in all His majesty accompanied by throngs of heavenly messengers, His throne will be wondrous. All the nations will assemble before Him, and He will judge them, distinguishing them from one another as a shepherd isolates the sheep from the goats. He will put some, the sheep, at His right hand and some, the goats, at His left. Then the King will say to those to His right, “Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation.” (The Voice Bible)

He has given all of us “talents” while we are here and put us in charge of taking care of His estate until He returns. He has given us talents so we can love our neighbors, take care of orphans and widows and feed the poor – just to name a few.

What if you took your ‘talent’ – your giftings or things you are naturally talented at, your money, your job, your education, your influence, your story, your ministry, any or all of the things the Lord has blessed you with – and use them to make the world a better place until He comes back?

It doesn’t have to be “big”. I work as a teacher’s aide at a preschool Monday thru Friday so most days I use my talents to love children, prepare their craft and help them learn through art. I love it because God has given me a love for art and a love for children. Some days displaying patience when fifteen three-year-olds need to go to the bathroom at the same time or teaching a four-year-old how to use watercolors doesn’t seem “big” – but it is.

The enemy wants us to believe that the “little” things don’t matter and that if we aren’t displaying our gifts or ‘talents’ in front of a large crowd then it is pointless. But that is a lie. Often, the people doing the most important work are the ones we can not see.

So don’t compare your talent to anyone else. And don’t bury it in the sand. Take it and use it!

We may see a portion of the return of our investment here on earth but one day we will see fully. And on that day He says to us, “Come, beloved, and take your inheritance.”

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launch your book, change the world, then keep writing. -tim grahl

I wrote the quote from Tim’s book on my chalkboard mug so I would see it every morning. That way I will remember not to bury what the Lord has given me but use it to change the world.

I still haven’t made my bed though.

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when your pets don’t support your goals.

 

the time i had PSOBS (it’s a thing)

Jason found out this past May that he would be getting laid off from his job. He had been with the same company since he graduated from Texas A&M 18 years ago. We didn’t see it coming. The same job that allowed him to work remotely and move to the Pacific Northwest to help plant a church was now letting him go.

The company is in the midst of restructuring and made a decision to let go of all remote employees. They offered Jason an office job in San Jose and Colorado Springs but he declined. We had just relocated from Seattle less than a year before.

After the shock wore off I settled into anger and bitterness. I didn’t understand how God could let this happen – we had been following Him all this time.

And then I realized I had a classic case of PSOBS (Prodigal Son’s Older Brother Syndrome).

Sometimes you think that when you are being obedient to Christ everything is supposed to work out. Like following Jesus will equal job security and financial stability – but it isn’t so.

We struggle with PSOBS when we think God owes us something in return for our obedience.

“But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.” Luke 15”28-29

I was basically saying (much like the prodigal son’s older brother) “God, I’ve been following you all this time! Where’s MY party?!”

But He says, “you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Luke 15:31

Scripture doesn’t say what happens next. We don’t know if the older brother went into the party with his father, if he stayed outside sulking for a while or if he ran into his room and slammed the door.

I knew that I couldn’t turn away from Him. I repented of my PSOBS and am having to remind myself daily that God has a plan for us and He will never leave us or forsake us. I am resolving to stay close to Him enjoy all that is His instead of turning away in anger and bitterness.

I don’t want to miss the party.

 

you have a message that the world needs to hear.

A quick update on Tell Someone: I just completed the first round of revisions and redesigned the cover! To make the book a little more personal I wrote the title and subtitle with a sharpie on notebook paper and added a paperclip to make it feel as if I am handing someone a note. I wrote the book for my eight year old self, but my prayer, as I send Tell Someone out into the world, is that it would also touch someone else’s life. Maybe someone else out there needs to know that they are not alone. Here is a sneak peek of the cover:

screen shot of the cover of Tell Someone
screen shot of the cover of Tell Someone

In other book news, Jason also wrote a book about his childhood: Herb Slides Home. I joke that he wrote it in an hour but the truth is that Jason has actually been telling this story about playing pasture baseball with his brother and cousins for years and finally decided to write it down. He illustrated it on the weekends and I encouraged him to put it on Amazon’s Create Space. I am so proud of him. He didn’t struggle with fear or perfection the way that I did. He just did it.

Herb Slides Home illustrations
Herb Slides Home illustrations

Guess what? You can do it too. Don’t give in to the lie of scarcity that says “someone else already wrote a book about a school full of wizards battling evil or kids getting covered in cow poop while playing pasture baseball or whatever it is you want to write a book about.”

You have a message that the world needs to hear.

So write that book, record that album, start that business, take that class, buy those art supplies and get to it. It’s not too late. 

You have a message that the world needs to hear and there is beauty in your art that the world needs to see. We can’t get enough beauty. We don’t roll our eyes when that Adele song comes on again thinking “not again.”  No way! We turn up the volume and sing along with her!

We want to sing along with you.

We want to see the beauty in the things that you create. Maybe your creative outlet is the very avenue that you are supposed to use to share your message with the world.

Don’t believe the lie that you are not creative. We are all creatives.

Elizabeth Gilbert says in her latest book, Big Magic, If you’re alive, you’re a creative person. . . . The guardians of high culture will try to convince you that the arts belong only to a chosen few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying. We are all the chosen few. . . Now go make something.

Maybe you don’t make movies, compose music or write love stories about vampires, or maybe you do. We are not all going to be good at everything. Find out what you love to do and go do it. I have friends that take beautiful photographs, others that sew amazing quilts and clothes and window treatments. I have friends with keen eyes for design that can decorate and remodel a house like nobody’s business! I have friends that host parties, act in movies and decorate delicious cakes.

In fact, I am in still awe of this birthday cake that my friend Brandy made for her son back in May:

cake by Brandy Sexton
#brandycakes cake by Brandy Sexton

Yes, it is an actual cake that you eat!

Here is the cake I made my son for his eleventh birthday:

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They are almost exactly the same except mine was from a box and it is falling over and also the icing is sliding off. Do not even talk to me about fondant. I could not even bring myself to write “Happy Birthday Sam” on the cake because I am like a 2 year old scribbling with a crayon when it comes to squeezing icing out of a tube. I just stuck two Lego shaped candles in the top for the number eleven and that was literally the best I could do.

We are not all going to be good at everything.

Find the thing that you are good at, that thing that brings you joy, and share it with the world.

We’ll be waiting.

the time I went to Nashville and found Jon Acuff in the airport

I am so thankful to still have close relationships with friends that I spent my childhood growing up with in Louisiana. We spent this past weekend catching up in Nashville talking about everything from the time Jay Deville’s dog followed him, snuck in and ran around our elementary school – to parenting, marriage, and whether or not we could pull off a pair of culotte pants. These are the kind of friends that help you make decisions in life and also in Anthropologie!

These girls are entrepreneurs, partners at fancy accounting firms, actors and activists, nutritionists and fitness instructors, mamas and prayer warriors living lots of places in between Mississippi and Orange County.
These girls are entrepreneurs, partners at fancy accounting firms, actors and activists, nutritionists and fitness instructors, mamas and prayer warriors living lots of places in between Mississippi and Orange County.

Sunday, as our trip came to a close and I was waiting on my flight in the Nashville airport I noticed that I was in the same place at the same time as one of my favorite authors.

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I was doing a quick Facebook scroll to see what everyone was up to when I noticed that he was flying Southwest and I was flying American out of the same terminal. I had to meet him.

I have been quietly following Jon’s work since he began the blog Stuff Christians Like. This is where Jon gives great and humorous advice like how to know which meals to pray before and increases your knowledge on subjects such as understanding how metrosexual your worship leader is. 

Not only does Jon make me laugh, he speaks truth into my life. So often, when I am discouraged I will come across a twitter or facebook post that encourages me to “just be brave.” It is like I have my very own motivational speaker that I get to carry around in my pocket! 

I had no idea where Jon was flying and how much longer he would be at the airport but I left my gate and made my way through the terminal until I saw him. I introduced myself and said “Thank you.” I thanked him for his work and his writing and told him that it inspired me. At least I think I said all of that – I was nervous and awkward and unable to answer simple questions like “What is the release date of your book?” but I knew that I may never have the opportunity to thank him in person ever again and I had to seize that moment God had given me.

Jon’s latest book, Do Over, is a New York Times Bestseller and is filled with amazing advice for your career and life. In a nutshell I would say that it will encourage you to “cross the threshold between dreaming and doing” (Do Over, page 94). This is a book that I will use and reference again and again. It came at the perfect time for me as I had just spent seven years church planting in the Pacific Northwest and was (and still am) trying to discern God’s call to a new thing.

I have to share with you one more reason I admire Jon. Not only is he is a husband, father, speaker and author, he is kind and genuine and he is using his influence to help others. Just click this link to learn about Thistle Farms, the amazing non-profit he is partnering with to help women who have been victims of addiction and sex trafficking.

Could you help light the way home?  

I started my Christmas shopping today by buying some candles.

love always,

becky

2 children’s books and 1 for the grown-ups

You never think that it will happen to someone you know. Until it does.

While my book is still in production, our reality is that children are being abused right now. I can’t wait to share these two books with you that I think are great resources for teaching kids about body safety. Click on the links to read more about them on Amazon.

I Said No! A Kid-to Kid Guide for Keeping Private Parts Private by Zack and Kimberly King

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I Said No! by Zack and Kimberly King. Illustrations by Sue Rama.
I Said No! by Zack and Kimberly King. Illustrations by Sue Rama.

and Lauren’s Kingdom by Lauren Book

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Lauren's Kingdom by Lauren Book. Illustrations by Marco Barreto.
Lauren’s Kingdom by Lauren Book. Illustrations by Marco Barreto.

For the grown-ups, I’ve been reading The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu.

I realized last weekend that I was still holding onto some things. I was holding onto anger and unforgiveness. I asked friends to pray for me last week that I would be able to forgive.

It felt impossible.

I felt like I would always be broken.

Tutu says, “Forgiveness is the journey we take toward healing the broken parts. It is how we become whole again.”

Thursday morning, as I started to pray, my heart forgave.

I know that unforgiveness will tempt me again and I will have to choose forgiveness again and again, but on Thursday a weight lifted and in exchange for the unforgiveness and anger that I had been carrying, I had peace and freedom.

I didn’t even get past the introduction of the Tutu’s book before I started underlining all kinds of wisdom like “Forgiveness is nothing less than the way we heal the world.” and “Forgiveness is the way we return what has been taken from us…”

Tutu says that the first step on the path to forgiving is to tell our story. This really resonated with me because that is exactly what I felt the Lord had spoken to me as I began working through my past.

“Telling the story is how we get our dignity back after we have been harmed. It is how we begin to take back what was taken from us, and how we begin to understand and make meaning out of our hurting.” -Desmond Tutu

“If I tuck my secrets and my stories away in shame or fear or silence, then I am bound to my victimhood and my trauma.” -Desmond Tutu

“When you tell your story, you no longer have to carry your burden alone.” -Desmond Tutu

I can not recommend this book enough for anyone who is struggling with forgiving. And also, do not underestimate the power of prayer. Ask friends, enemies and anyone you run into at the grocery store to pray for you! And, if you aren’t ready to forgive, ask God to help you. He wants you to be whole and He wants you to help heal the world.

The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu
The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu