Love

Sunshine

My dad started calling me Sunshine 2 weeks before he passed away. The first time, I thought I had just heard him wrong. The second time, I figured he was confused, maybe the stress of his illness and news that his days were short, had caused him to mistake Sunshine for Summer. But when I arrived and he called out on that 3rd early morning, “There is my Sunshine!” my heart melted because I could see in his eyes that my new name was intentional.  This intentionality allowed me to feel so loved that it changed our relationship.  I found it easy to be with him and care for his body when previously it would have scared me.  It made me strong and secure in who I was as his youngest and only adopted child.  It also gave me the peace to let him go as he finished his life here with us. 

Nicknames, whether they are good or bad, have such an impact on us, don’t they? They can humiliate or belittle us if used in hatred, or they can offer inclusion, affection, and confidence if they come from someone, like my dad, who loves us.  Nicknames have the power to permanently label us and sadly, we often find it easier to accept the labels that are harsh over the affectionate or true ones given to us. I often dismiss the truth and uphold the label-lies.

Friends, what if we silenced the voices of self-hatred in our own heads and listened only to the names Jesus has already given us? Beloved, Forgiven, and Daughter are true and life changing names that he is intentionally whispering in our ears and  writing on our hearts.  If every time I approached him I heard him greet me with his love-names for me, I would begin to live in them and the reality of them over my life would change me,  just as I began to do with my sweet nickname Sunshine.  Allowing these truth-names to replace lies will enable us to live with full hearts, more stable self-worth, and the confidence that comes from being more fully focused on the reality of who Jesus is and who he says we are. 

The too few weeks my dad called me Sunshine broke me in the best way. My heart became softer and I was able to experience deep joy in the midst of deep pain.  Easily setting myself aside, it was simple to be light to my dads darkness because of the new name and reality that he bestowed on me. Honestly,  I had no idea that these death weeks would cap off my disappointed relationship with my dad with this precious and longed-for daddy love that he openly gave me. 

Sisters, I know this is exactly what God wants for us too. He wants to fill our lives full with the truth of his great affection so that we can live in and live from his unending, unbending love for us.

Xoxo,

Summer

Hope

What I Really Want For My Birthday

CYMERA_20160405_153734Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me!
 Ok, I’ll be honest.  My birthday is really not my favorite day.  I get kinda stressed about it all and never know what to ask for or how to act when I’m opening my presents. I love the whole Facebook birthday wishes, but all of the rest of it feels a bit forced and awkward. I must have been like this even as a child, since this picture makes me think I was trying to get away from my birthday and my Auntie Ruth had to stop me.  This year is a bit different though,  I’m in an interesting transition season, and I think I finally know a few things I want and I’m not going to act awkward when I get them.

Joy!  I want the kind of joy that fills me and overflows to the rest of the world.  No longer do I want to be moody in any way.  I want the deep joy that only Jesus can give me and that, despite hard or ugly things happening in my life, can never be taken away.  I know it’s real because I’ve seen it and tasted it. I also know where to get it and it’s absolutely free for the asking. Yep, I want lots and lots of it!  This is my joy year and I can’t wait to see what it looks like!    [pullquote]Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you…—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. ~Matthew 11 The MSG[/pullquote]

My other birthday wish is for contentment. Materialism is not my problem, but I am a restless soul and a dreamer.  My heart often lies elsewhere and I’m no longer okay with that.  I’m starting to see that life is incredibly short and I don’t want to miss what is happening right before me.  In order to live in today, I need to be content.  God wants me to be satisfied with the way things are in my life, with his provision, providence, and power.  So although I am quite aware that I have to work at contentment, I know that God delights in this request and will meet me right where I am, growing me and changing my heart to be more like his. He tells me that all I have to do is ask for it and it’s mine.

I’m pretty excited about what God is going to do in my life this year– it’s like anticipating a big move to a sweeter and more peaceful place. These God-gifts won’t disappoint me, I’m sure of it.   You see, joy and contentment are gifts that I won’t get tired of or grow out of.  Nope, joy and contentment are exactly what I’m counting on growing into this year.

XOXO,

Summer

 

 

Hope

3 things to do when you’ve been hurt.

CYMERA_20151021_063006Dear friends,
This week has been emotional and hard. Capital H hard.  There have been lots of moments of sweetness, but so many tears and questions in between. It hasn’t been anything I could fix, so I have had to walk along side my hurt people and try to speak truth aloud as we follow the doors that God is opening. I know you’ve had these weeks too.  Weeks that were supposed to be easy and uneventful but then are turned upside down by the unexpected.  It is hard to do this kind of week well, as we become a little bruised too, but perfection isn’t the goal, love progress is. So, how do we do this?
Acknowledge the hurt
It is very easy to get wrapped up in the details of the hurtful events, but it’s rarely productive.  The details may keep us swimming in the hurt when we need to get out of the water.  But before we can begin the healing, we need to acknowledge that we have been hurt.  Hurt shifts our focus a bit off of the anger of someone else and back onto our healing.  It also gives words to our feelings which allows us to begin processing the pain and not just the events. If you are working through things with a child as I was, it helps to ask questions about their feelings,  but  it is important to refrain from teaching them about how they should be feeling.
Name it and hand it over
Once we have begun to recognize the hurt, we can name it.  In the Bible, God gave opportunities for naming places at which hard events occurred.  The act of naming gives us dominion over them.  The same is true for hurts.  We named our feelings this week and then the event.  We used words like betrayed, lied to, and confusion to name our feelings and have even given the whole event a name.  Now that it’s named, we can hand it over to God piece by piece.  Nothing shifts my focus more than when I do this technique I learned from a godly friend.  I sit with my hands open and I speak each word and then I lift my hands and say, “God I give you this betrayal”.  Take it slow and prayerful.  If you don’t feel sincere, don’t fake it.  Wait a day or two and pray first for the desire to be sincere.
Focus on truth
Truth is powerful.  Often when we are hurt, we begin to believe our own lies.  Speaking scripture into the hurt crowds out the darkness and lets the healing words of Jesus in.  We want to focus on scripture that speaks of God’s love and care for us. Keep your focus on yourself and avoid the temptation to go looking for the Wrath of God scriptures to make yourself feel better.  At our house we listen to the audio bible online.  It allows me to go about my tasks while being saturated by God’s word. Here is a sample:  Psalm 103 The Message.  Christian music also offers a good alternative if you choose carefully.  For this purpose, I focus on songs that come straight from scripture.  Ellie Holcomb does a good job of this as do others. Here is one of my favorites-  Don’t forget his love. by Ellie Holcomb These songs remind us of the truth of who we are and who God is. [pullquote] As we begin to allow God to shift our perspective of ourselves into it’s rightful place, we are able to forgive and love others because of God’s great forgiveness and love for us.[/pullquote] Scripture is indeed an avenue that God uses to set us free.

Hurts can become wounds or they can become scars depending on how we handle them.  God’s love offers us the freedom to experience our feelings, work through them, and to offer forgiveness to others and to ourselves.  It is by our scars that we see a trail of God’s love at work in us and for us.

 

XOXO,

Summer