Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

California Roll Style

I came upon a 4-way stop this morning on my way to work. As my car came crept up to the stop sign, I witnessed a truck slow to a crawl, but not come to a complete stop at their designated stop sign. I thought, “Ooooh, look at you just California rolling” through the intersection. Disclaimer; I may be guilty of doing this from time to time myself.

Over the course of my life, many people have made an impact on my life. But there’s a difference between someone making an impact on your live versus in your life.

I don’t know where I learned the phrase “California roll” for this traffic violation but wherever I learned it, it stuck. According to urban dictionary, this phrase means: “To fail to make a complete stop at a red light or stop sign, especially when turning.” See, I didn’t just make this up on my own. And I bet you thought I was gonna be talking about sushi! HA! This is not about sushi.

This past year where we’ve been allowed to work from home, stay secluded in our homes, and refrain from the life we’ve grown accustomed to has been hard. Life may not have come to a complete stop, but it definitely came to a California roll.

Where did I see this happen the most in my life? In my faith. Let me explain. Before the Covid “lockdown” I was in “control” of whether I went to go to church or not. When I made the decision to stay home from church pre-Covid, it was typically because the week had been to “people-y” for me. You all are awesome, but don’t get me wrong, sometimes life outside the confines of my home, is a lot for this introverted extrovert girl.

But then staying at home became my only option, thanks to a pandemic. Awesome. Not!

Watching church on-line is easy. It means I don’t have to be fully present. I can carry my digital device from room to room in my house and listen to the message while doing other things. It’s called multi-tasking. You know what happens when you multi-task? Something usually gets missed.

This past Sunday, I decided I was going to be fully present during church. No multi-tasking allowed. No California roll type faith happening this day. I didn’t go in-person. I stayed home. I was reminded as I listened and watched the worship and message who I was there for and why.

Church is not about the people. It’s not about the worship team, the pastor, the tithing, or the potlucks. It’s not about the hypocrites, the sinners, or the saints. Those reasons alone can actually keep you from going to church. They make for a good excuse. I mean who hasn’t heard, “there’s too many hypocrites in church” as an excuse not to go?

Please hear my heart when I say those things I’ve mentioned are not reasons to not attend church. I’ve had so many amazing encounters because of all those people and events. Having a church family is truly a blessing in ways I can’t even begin to remotely express my gratitude over. Relationship and community are a part of the life Jesus has for us. We need our peeps. And I’m not talking about them sugary marshmallow shaped chicks or bunnies! Blech!

So what’s church about if it isn’t those “things”? I’m so glad you asked. It’s about Jesus. It’s always been about Jesus and the message of the gospel. It’s about rest. It’s about taking the focus off you and centering on the One who gave His life for you. It’s about feeding your soul with the life altering Bread of life. If you go to church for any other reason than getting to know Jesus intimately than you’re missing out on the very thing you…I need most. Jesus.

 Jesus is the only One who makes an impact IN you. But, you have to stop long enough to get to know Him. California rolling through the process is like swiping right on a dating app. Or is it left? Clearly I don’t use these. HA!

The point of all this babbling is to say going to church is FOR you, but it’s ABOUT Him. What you get out of the experience is where you place your focus.

Matthew 6:33 says:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” ~ NIV (emphasis added)

If you want to know about “all these things” mentioned in that verse, I’d recommend reading all of Matthew 6.

At the end of the day, getting to know Jesus is a choice. How much time you invest in doing that, again, your choice. It’s called free will. It’s a gift. One we didn’t earn. And that’s the thing, Jesus freely gave His life for you. And you get to decide if you want in or out. That’s some amazing grace my friends. Choose wisely.

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Broken Shells

Just over a year ago I was at the beach with a friend I hadn’t seen in years. We had an outstanding time reconnecting! I’m not a huge fan of crowded beaches or hot sand. Since it was February, the sand wasn’t hot, and the South Carolina beach wasn’t crowded. It was perfection in my book!

Every day my cherished friend and I walked along the beach discovering its hidden treasures. She was on the hunt specifically for a whole sand dollar. She never found one. She found all kinds of broken ones. She collected them anyways. The thought was to piece one together to see if a whole one could be made.

Yesterday in my quiet time with Jesus, I was brought back to the beach. As I walked along the memory beach I carefully picked up each broken shell I came across and held it close. As if that broken shell was the most precious thing on earth.

Usually the broken shells are thrown down or tossed into the ocean. The flaws make them un-pretty.

Your flaws? Your broken parts? How do you see them? It’s important how you see them, because they’re part of you. You can’t erase them. You can’t out run them. Wherever you are, they are too. That’s why it’s so important to know, they don’t define you.

Did they change you? Absolutely. Did they end you? No. But they did become part of your story. The key word here is “part.” Are you letting part of your story define the rest of your life?

For years I allowed collective parts of my story tell me I was a failure. I held onto shame, guilt, embarrassment, and fear like they were my best friends.

Like those tossed aside broken shells on the beach, I felt un-pretty. So, I did what I knew to do. I buried the broken bits and pieces deep inside and then planted my “I’m ok” flag on top of my emotional mound of yuck.

I tried to pack the pain-filled voids with all types of things like sex, alcohol, shopping, crazy diets, television, food, exercise, etc. Guess what? The mound of yuck was still there. But, it never let me alone. It wanted to be addressed. It wanted out. Instead of letting it out, I stuffed it back down.

How’d that work out for me? It didn’t. When I thought I couldn’t take the pain of it all any longer, I made a plan to escape it. I was done. I wanted out.

But, years later, I’m still here. My self-destructive plan collided head on with Jesus. My plan failed. Thank you Jesus!

My life forever changed when I met Jesus. I don’t know who you think He is, but for me, He’s everything.

He is absolutely everything I’m not and so much more. But even though I‘d heard of Him, I didn’t know Him. Maybe you’ve heard of Him. But I have to ask, have you experienced Him? There’s a marked difference.

Being told about Jesus is not the same as having a relationship with Him. When you truly collide with Him, there’ll be no mistaking it.

It’s my heartfelt prayer today that you know Jesus in such a way, there’s no denying it. I wasn’t even looking for Him when He came for me. He came for you too, whether you believe it right now, or not. I can’t wait for you to meet Him.

The picture below is a beautiful shell I spotted on Myrtle Beach, Feb 2019. I left it there in hopes someone else might be reminded just as I was of how very loved I am. Do you see a broken shell? I see it whole, made just as it should be.

Have an amazing day, friend! It was made with you in mind, by the Creator of the universe. How awesome is that?!

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