Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I've been organizing some old drawers and boxes, and I rediscovered this treasure.  While it's not dated, I would place my handwriting around middle school.  While I was reading it, Brad Paisley's song "Letter to Me" popped into my head.  But unlike Brad's example, this letter is from a young me to a present me.

Dear God,

Thank you for all the things I take for granted...a family that loves you and parents that raised me to love you, a sister that I can live with without going insane.  For friends that I have fun being around that love you too.  For people I can talk to when I need to that knock me in line when I mess up.

Thank you for dying and saving me.  Thank you for choosing me.  Thank you for all the times you direct my way and I'm not aware of it.  Thank you for your promises that will always be true.

Thank you for changing me from what I was.  Thank you for never giving up on me when almost everyone else did.  Thank you for bearing my burdens and giving me joy and peace that passes all understanding.  Thank you for my calling and what the future holds.  Even when I'm uncertain, I know you will always lead me where you want me to go.

Thank you for being my daddy, for holding me in your arms when I'm hurting and comforting me when I feel alone.  Thank you for rejoicing with me in the good times too.  Thank you for the times when you have to correct me and I become a better person through it.

Thank you for Heritage where there are men and women of God who seek your face without shame.  Thank you fro your spirit and anointing every Sunday that comes through our Pastor.  Thank you for allowing me to grow up seeing miracles and prophesies and healings.  Thank you for awakening me from my church-brat-ness so that I'm no longer a hindrance but a help. 

God I would write forever.  I'm so thankful for what you have done and continue to do for me.  I can't write it on paper, but Lord I know you can understand my heart.

I love you,

To have a thankful heart, to trust God through a period as rough and confusing as middle school, to be a help and not a hindrance, to simply love God as much as I know how -- Thank you, little me, for writing it down and hiding it away so I could find it again.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Devil's Snare

Ever try to hide hurt behind a smile?  "Fake it till you make it?"  I can remember a season in my life when I was determined to be happy.

I had experienced some profound disappointment and heartbreak, but I wanted to stubbornly cling to my silver linings.  I tried to be intellectual and count all the the things I had going for me.  I wanted to find the good in the bad and just make it a part of my experience going forward.  I tried throwing myself into my work, my passions, and my friendships.

I was terrified to acknowledge how much I was hurting and grieving.  I thought it made me ungrateful and a failure.  After all, I live in the land of plenty, my life is filled with relationships, and I have this faith that is supposed to buoy me up in rough times.  I didn't feel that I had any right to be as down as I was.  Admitting that I was depressed and discouraged was conceding defeat to a battle I didn't want to admit I was fighting.  And shouldn't my faith be stronger than that anyway?

I wanted to be a good Christ follower and live as a person of hope and joy.  And I thought I was pulling it off pretty well.  Sure, I had some dark thoughts and emotional moments.  But I told myself that I get to choose how I will face each moment, and I would choose the path of peace and happiness.

I had myself convinced.  I thought I was putting on a decent show.

But I wasn't fooling anyone around me.

After a time (a fairly long time actually), I confided in a friend and told them I was struggling.  I admitted to being not just depressed, but weary and frustrated as well.  And as the words started pouring out, I was finally able to put a picture and a description to all the "stuff" that had just been swirling around inside.

I called it "Devil's Snare."  The harder I tried to fight it, the tighter its hold.  I felt like Ron in the movie.  Hermione:  "You have to relax. If you don't, it'll only kill you faster!"  Ron:  "Kill me faster?!  Now I can relax!" Of course, he makes this exclamation as he struggles harder than ever.  And just like Hermione, my friend had to remind me how to defeat deadly Devil's Snare.  Light and letting go.

Devil's Snare can't stand light.  And I needed the help of a friend to shed the light on what I was feeling.  I had to let go.  To drop the mask and the pretense and fully acknowledge my hurt and pain.  Once I did that, the tentacles loosed their hold and I was able to pass through to the other side.  Now, just to be didn't magically wipe everything away.  But it was so refreshing and empowering to not pretend to myself.  And my "Regina-ness" came back quicker than I ever thought possible.

I learned my lesson.  That picture of Devil's Snare has helped me to fend off other dark times.  I'm not afraid to admit to having a down day now and again.  Inviting light and truth into those days helps more than I can say.  So for anyone who may be fighting a similar battle, let me encourage you.  It's ok to be pulled in two different directions by warring thoughts.  Devil's Snare can take many forms.  Don't get caught up in the fight.  Even if your mask fools the mirror, it's not really fooling those who love and care for you.  Acknowledge it.  Accept it.  Shed some light, and let it go.  If you don't fight it, and if you allow light and truth into the situation, those snaring tentacles will flee and you'll emerge unscathed (though probably changed) on the other side.

Psalm 18:28 "My God turns my darkness into light."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


This is an ugly lampshade.  When I bought it, I astounded even the store owners.  "You're going to pay that much...for that?  Really?"  (It cost about the same as a nice lunch.)  They had only stocked the items as a sort of favor.  I assured them, "It's ok.  I have  friend who loves ugly things.  You have no idea how perfect this gift is, and how much she will love it."  I don't think they were convinced.  But that's ok.

Upon initial review, it just looks quirky.  Orange and blue maze fabric?  Ok.  Creatively colored chicken?  Um, sure.  But stick a light bulb underneath the quirky shade, and it just looks like trash.  Because that's what it is -- half of a discarded plastic bottle with a bit of paint and paper.

What makes it perfect and beautiful for my friend is the story behind it.  The lampshade was made by street children in Uganda, and the proceeds from the sale go to a charity that is helping them to make their life better.  (Though, I think my friend would love it even without the story.  She really does love ugly things.) 

I feel a camaraderie with this lamp shade.  Upon initial review I'm colorful and quirky.  But illuminate me to the core and all my flaws become starkly apparent.  And it's not all that pretty.  But that's part of the testimony right?  I have a story.  I've been picked up and re-purposed.  Every time I let that light shine through my flaws and weaknesses, it's a chance for me to share that story.  (You paid how much?  For that?)  And the proceeds go to further a cause that brings life and hope into the dark places of this world. 

I'm loved...just as an ugly lampshade...chickens and mazes and all.  My story is just the bonus and a chance to share the light.

I'm so thankful I have a friend who loves ugly things.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I learned something while white water rafting down the Nile river.  (Can we pause for a second?  Isn't that a fun sentence?  White water rafting + Nile river = One memorable day.)  Anyway, back to my lesson:  There's nothing graceful about getting back into a boat.

Before hitting the more ferocious parts of the river, a group has to practice flipping over and getting back in their raft.  I entered the drill as a fairly confident adventurer.  Our guide said the trick is to grab the safety cord on the edge of raft, take a superman sort of position in the water, keep your arms locked, and use momentum from kicking your legs and pulling your arms just so to jump back in.  Easily described.  Easily watched.  Not so easy to do.

I failed miserably.

No matter now much I tried to readjust my posture, to kick my legs, to pull with my arms or to follow through with my momentum, I just couldn't do it.  I could barely raise myself out of the water, much less get all the way back up into the boat.

I had to be fished out the Nile by my guide.  Who literally grabbed my shoulders, wrenched me up and over the wall, and dumped me on the floor of the raft.  My outfit was discombobulated.  I still had to find my center of gravity and untangle myself from the floor to return to my seat.  It was not my most graceful moment.  At all.

It would be really easy to compare that to my unintentional sabbatical from blogging.  So I'll pause and acknowledge the parrallel.

Have you ever had to have one of "those" conversations?  The awkward ones?  The ones involving tough love?  Sometimes, no matter how perfect the form, how protective the gear, how determined the swimmer...a person could use a hand.  (Wait for it...wait for it...especially if that poor little swimmer is in denial.)  And if someone is floundering in the water, they'll never be able to survive the ferocious bits of the river. 

So if you're strong enough, if you have the foundation and buoyancy under you to support it, reach down, grab a shoulder, and pull.  It's not graceful.  Most likely there will be some discombobulation to sort through.  But once everything settled, the embarrassment passes leaving only gratitude in its wake. 

And then the fun begins.