Mended with Gold

This summer I got to spend it living with my aunt and uncle. Two people who are truly an inspiration to me. I was welcomed into their home as I took on a new and bold adventure. It was during this summer that I got to hit the reset buttons in many areas of my life. Not only did I learn a lot as I dove into pursuing a big dream, but I healed. I healed in ways I wouldn’t have been as easily able to had I kept on the same path.

During this time, my aunt and uncle also welcomed me into their lives which included an occasional at home Happy Hour on Wednesdays (their date night). So as my time was coming to an end in VA, I began thinking of a gift I could give them to offer my gratitude. Inspired by the big wine lovers that they are, I found a cool company that turns wine bottles into serving trays- perfect for their Happy Hours! It was even in my aunt’s favorite color and could have an imprint of hummingbirds which we often admired from their porch. I was incredibly excited for this gift.

And then it arrived… shattered.

After some emails and realizing there wasn’t enough time for a replacement I got to thinking. Kintsugi, a Japanese art form that uses gold to mend pottery, came to mind. I did some research and realized it just might work. So I tried it and it actually came out really beautiful! My aunt and uncle loved it and found a spot to display it right away.

Now that I’m back home and reflecting on my time, this gift keeps coming to mind. It felt very much like a symbol of my time down in VA- a time of my broken pieces being mended back together. But not just so that I would look like how I was before but to be mended with gold and return even more beautiful. One person described the gift as “a priceless piece of art” and I am now beginning to see myself that way too.

And then just last night it happened… another piece was chipped off of me.

But as this new piece has been removed, I stand still and I surrender it to the Lord. I allow Him to do His work and trust that He will mend this piece too with His priceless gold and that I will emerge from this fresh break even more beautiful, precious, and sacred.

I don’t know what the final artwork of my life will look like when my time here on earth comes to an end. But what I do know is that the Master Artist is not surprised by any of these broken pieces and is already holding the tools that will mold each part of me back onto His Sacred Masterpiece.

It can be easy to look at the broken piece lying next to you and think- will I ever be worth the effort to be kept whole? Will anyone sacrifice themselves to protect me from being broken? Why am I not beautiful enough as I am, do I really need more gold? While these are all understandable questions, they are not valid because there is One Person, the only person who matters, who has already said yes by the gift of His own life.

A few days ago, I sat in church after Mass and questioned my worth. Whether I would ever be the one someone else was willing to sacrifice for. Jesus then gently took me through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection and with each scene looked at me and said, “I thought you were worth it in each of these moments.” Worth it to be tortured, ridiculed, and killed. Worth it to be left lifeless in a tomb. Worth it to actually fulfill His promise and mission and bring ME salvation by rising from the dead. HE says I’m worthy and HE has already proven it. And in that I know I am seen, I am chosen, and I am DEEPLY loved.

Regardless of whether anyone else believes I am worthy (which many do), I trust the Lord in this. I trust Him more than I can ever trust myself (although this new break has also reminded me that my intuition is not as clouded by wounds as I thought it was and that I can in fact trust myself, especially when I continue to surrender all to God in the process). He sees things that I could never see. He creates paths where there was no humanly possible way for it to be formed. He moves mountains for those He loves and those who love Him back by trusting Him. So once again, I release a gift I was so grateful to have for but a short time and I leave my hands wide open ready to receive at any moment whatever He desires to give me next.

As I look at this broken serving dish turned one-of-a-kind piece of art, I remember the looks on my aunt and uncle’s faces and the joy they felt from the story behind it. To them, the gold looked like it was meant to be there. And that is exactly how God views us. Not as broken pieces of art that were slapped back together. But as beautiful stories lined with gold in the most unique and unrepeatable places. Let His light shine through your whole being, broken gold-filled lines and all. You may just find yourself attracting even more attention and love in His name than you ever could have had you not let your act of loving others chip off a bit of you here and there.

Be vulnerable and be bold, friends. The only thing stopping you is fear and that has no place in the making of a masterpiece.

 

Promises

This Easter brought with it a recurring thought: “He keeps His promises”.

How many times have we been told that? God keeps His promises. Depending on your journey it could be hundreds over the years or maybe it’s a new revelation to you. Regardless of that, what is your reaction when you hear those words?

Growing up it was often just one of those lines that sounded nice but I honestly didn’t pay much attention to or try to fully understand. It wasn’t until this past year when I came face to face with it in a way I never had before. During the hardest months of my life many close and well-intentioned loved ones told me that “line”. I remember hearing it and thinking, “How? I thought what He had given me was Him keeping His promises but now it’s all gone so how can it be true?” Then as I began to heal just a little more and the emotions weren’t clouding my every thought, a different question was allowed in: “What even are God’s promises?” Now this was a profound and startling thought. What does this God I’ve spent my entire life believing in and trusting and doing my best to follow, what does He actually even promise me?

Being in a still rather fragile state, I didn’t have the stamina or determination to figure it out on my own so I asked those loved ones who had originally shared that thought with me what they believed His promises were. Honestly, I think some of them were as thrown off by the question as I was. Some came back with good enough answers, but they still didn’t feel concrete enough. So naturally I pushed the question aside and moved my focus to easier thoughts instead. (Classic avoidance mentality haha)

Months later, as I was praying the Surrender Novena again for the umpteenth time, something stood out to me- a promise from Jesus right there! I’d prayed it how many times at that point and never put two and two together? (see my last post for more on that) So, in response, this time I decided to make a list of any promises God has made to add to whenever one popped up. I started with that promise I had just read and another one in a subsequent day’s prayers. These included:

  • I will take care of things, I promise this to you.
  • I will take care of it all; I will console you, liberate you, and guide you.

Then a couple Bible verses came to mind:

  • Love never fails 1 Corinthians 13:8
  • I am making all things new Revelation 21:5

These were a start and gave me comfort but I was still struggling to fully believe God was being serious and would come through. Then Holy Week 2021. This Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) was the most beautiful and impactful one I have ever experienced in my life, and most of it I was all on my own for, which is new for me. God had emptied me so much over the last year that I had literally become an empty vessel. But that emptiness was no longer a profound ache or discomfort, it had a freshness to it, a welcoming presence ready to accept whatever the Lord desired to pour into me. It had a peace to it which very much came through over those three days.

And that’s when it happened. Easter Sunday. As I scrolled through Instagram one of the first posts I read said, “’He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.’” Bam. Those words, “just as He said”, stopped me in my tracks and hit me with such a deep amazement. He had promised it, His resurrection and defeat of death, and He had delivered. That was it. That was the promise of all promises and when all hope could have been lost, He did just as He said He would. So that became my Easter message to people, “He keeps His promises!” because that’s the why, that’s the reason, that’s the hope.

Now I’m seeing His promises pop up everywhere and it makes me smile and feel an excitement to actually believe them, believe HIM. When we can’t do it on our own, when our strength is decimated, when our tears are an overflowing waterfall, when our thoughts are stuck in a revolving door, when we don’t want to believe anything remotely beautiful or good could come from our current circumstances, when the passion is stale and the days disappear into each other, there’s only one sane thing to do- hold onto the promises He’s ALREADY fulfilled. Those in your life, those in other’s lives, but most importantly that one that changed the world. The one promise that took every single thing you’re experiencing, asked it to die, asked it to wait, asked it to empty itself, then blew away any expectation that could have ever been fathomed by giving the answer of a NEW <<WHOLE>> LIFE.

As I continue to walk through this new life and as I’m called to testify to my past, this is it. This is the word I want to live by and share. The depths of despair do not last, but that doesn’t matter when you’re in it. Feel it all and don’t be afraid of it BUT do not turn from the One who…

…is with you always, until the end of the age. Matthew 28:20

…will give you peace that surpasses all understanding. Philippians 4:7

…will fully provide whatever you need. Philippians 4:19

…will fight for you. Exodus 14:14

…will wipe every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:4

His promises are as endless as His goodness. Hold tight.

Are you struggling with this too? Ask God to reveal His promises to you! “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 (Hint- that’s another promise 😉)

 

I Surrender: A Year In The Making

I have a bunch of scribbled notes in various places with ideas for blog posts but nothing really inspired me enough to sit down and write. Then I realized something- I have been praying the Surrender Novena for a full year now. Let me put that into perspective for you. A novena is a 9 day prayer that you usually pray for a bigger intention. While the specifics of my intention changed and transformed and molded into something new over the year it really all came back to wanting to deeply surrender my entire life (every single aspect of it- every desire, every hurt, every question, every doubt, every joy, every gift- everything) to Jesus and His most Sacred Heart. Now 365+ days later I have prayed that novena over 40 times. I have never prayed for something so consistently before in my entire life.

And let me tell you. It worked.

There is a new perspective, a new lens that I’m viewing this life through, and it is hands down the most freeing feeling I’ve ever felt. I’m no longer afraid to dream and trust that the King of the Universe sees those dreams and knows exactly how to give them to me in a way that will not only fulfill the desires in my heart but also touch the hearts of so many others in His kingdom.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suddenly able to give every single thing over to God with a big smile, open hands, and a heart full of unbreakable trust. Hardly. But there is one dream that God placed on my heart many years ago that He brought to the surface again in a big way. Over the years I always looked at it as my own random concoction, such a pipe dream and so unattainable. But now, now I look at it as something God planted there knowing full well how HE would deliver on it. “Reason” would tell me what I’m asking for is impossible, too much, or bound to fail. But with this new found freedom in surrendering it God is saying to me- this is possible with Me, keep asking Me big things because I’m the only one who can give them to you, and even if this fails in the eyes of the world if you’re following My will  it will not be a failure. In that knowledge, I have literally never felt more free to surrender something and really  go for it before.

So after a year of praying for, fighting through, and slowly releasing my grip, there are a few things I learned that may inspire you to begin your own surrender journey.

I’m a self-proclaimed perfectionist and have been called controlling by some. So when I began this novena I was well aware that I had a long journey ahead of me. Surrender and release are synonymous. As we think about this it’s important to remember that while God asks us to release everything to Him, doing so can lead to many different outcomes. Here are some lessons learned about surrender and release:

 

  1. Release and surrender = less anxiety, less worry, less confusion, less chains & more freedom.
    We stop clinging and start receiving.
     
  2. He asks us to release it to HIM. Not to anyone else, no matter how well intentioned they may be. Others can help us discern but they cannot decide for God  what you need to release. Ultimately, the stronger your relationship with God the more you’ll be able to recognize what God is asking for and when someone else is asking things of you that God is not.
     
  3. He might not actually take what you release- shocker! He is a generous God and gives us what we have which means He doesn’t want to take it all away. He just wants to make sure we’re rightly ordering our lives and putting Him first before all else that He is giving us.
     
  4. If he does take something, you better keep those hands open and ready to receive whatever it is He’s planning to give you in return. He doesn’t leave us empty handed, and if it seems like He has then He has actually given you an opportunity to hold Him so incredibly close because this is a moment where there is nothing else in between you and Him. So build up your strength and surrendering skills as you wait, and cling so utterly close to His Heart that you feel it beat next to yours.
    “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 
     
  5. Embrace the joy in the uncertainty. A year ago I would have scoffed in your face had you told me that. Uncertainty was quite literally sucking the life out of me. Now, I look at it a little bit differently. I still feel the pains and hurts and wounds, the boredom and monotony and frustrations, the trepidation with excitements and hopes and joys. But even in feeling those things I’m choosing to view God BIG. Big enough to bring beauty out of the ashes of what was, bring miracles out of graves long buried, and bring uncontainable love out of hardened hearts.

It took me a full year to reach this place, and  still this confidence in surrendering only fully surrounds one particular area of my life. It will take me a lifetime to hand over the rest as I’m sure I’ll fall and find myself clinging once again. So my advice to you- start now. Stop waiting. Stop making excuses. All it takes is one small yes. Once small prayer and a determination to keep praying it over and over and over and over and over no matter what obstacles you come up against. You CAN do this. You CAN invite Him in and let that still small seed begin to grow and bloom.

Miracles are waiting, friend. Miracles are waiting.

Practical advice- print out the Surrender Novena or get it in pamphlet form. Use a sticky note to mark your spot and set a reminder in your phone to go off every morning. Before you even get out of bed pray it and let your day begin with this first act of surrender. 

O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything.

Mother, I am yours now and forever. Through you and with you I always want to belong completely to Jesus.