What is Beautiful?

Hello, hello, HELLO!

I have been on the fence on what to do about my blog…and my website. Does what I do here really matter? Is writing something I am truly called to do if I can’t manage to force myself to do it? In my defense I have a healthy distraction with three amazing little grand daughters that I could just gobble up like so many cherry valentine hearts (I can’t stay away from those either!). In a world filled with noise am I just one more voice clamoring and clanging away adding to din?

Annnnd then I found Your Story Redeemed, a Lenten study by Sacred Holidays that has proven to be a bit of my undoing. It is only day two.  A caveat here-I applied to be on their launch team and was chosen to receive the study and share about it. Something I thought I would do on Instagram and via email with one or two folks. Annnd then I couldn’t get it out of my head that I needed to blog about it. More specifically, that I needed to write about it.  I had a few days to thumb through it before the study actually began and a trembling began in the pit of my stomach (no, not from all the cherry valentine hearts…).  This happens to me when I am on the verge of something-finishing a painting I know is good, a life changing event, a looming unknown filled with potential-so it is usually a harbinger of something good.  Really good.

I have been on a path that only the Lord knows the ending to. I have set aside my ambitions, my aspirations and most of my ideas of what I thought my life would be at this stage of the game and waited.  I have been waiting for well over a year now to hear that still small nudge that would tell me that the time had come to move, to begin, to start walking down whatever new path He had prepared. Some of you will understand when I say there was a knowing that began.  Notice I didn’t say understanding-it is just a knowing that the time was coming. Now, if I just knew what exactly was coming that would be really awesome.

I have also been on a search, one that has been a long and arduous hike.  I consider myself a jaded faithful. I have done church, quit church, tried church again, been hurt, have rejected and been rejected but have clung to my faith and to Christ with a tenacity I never knew I had. This search has led to a realization that I long for imperfection.  My heart cries out for other clumsy, imperfect hearts to connect with. I long for real. We live in an increasingly curated world where perfection looms around every corner and church is no different. The scripted, styled and hip church of today is frightening to someone as flawed and unlovely as me. Someone who has never been quite in style, never been beautiful and is as far from perfect as Pluto is from being reinstated as a planet.

We are a world obsessed with beauty, with pretty, with perfect.  The perfect cup of coffee deserves to be grammed. The perfect pair of boots viewed from above can fill even the most jaded with envy when viewed on a 2″ x 2″ screen. I am guilty of it! I post pics of only the smallest portions of my life and seldom post the ugly truth of my dirty laundry or my messy living room.  And selfies? Forget it-the best you are going to get from me is a close up of my eye or the top of my head. You are not going to see me. Not happening. Nobody wants to see that. We want pretty-not to be reminded of our mortality, not gray hair and wrinkles in sweatpants and wool socks.

Before I rabbit hole any deeper I’ll get back to the study.  This is going to be soooo incredibly good! I can’t remember being this excited about a study. I have been hopeful. I bought a beautiful study for advent. It was perfect. The images were to die for and it was just so. well. crafted.  The first day sent me reeling into a theological quandary that had me emailing my pastor brother-in-law with a litany of questions and analysis that lasted the length of the study and left me disappointed and frustrated.  The upshot was the amazing conversations that I was able to have with him that deepened my search and enriched my spirit. The study? Not so much.

On to lent.  Lent-at least for me-is a transformational period. Advent points to the beginning-the birth. Lent points to the life, points to the deepness of our salvation story, the powerful, beautiful truth of what love is and does. It points to LIFE.  I had followed Sacred Holidays for a bit and really liked what they were putting out there.  When I heard about their Lent study I thought that this might be what I was looking for-and it was. In a big, hard way.  This is beautiful I can understand.

We will talk about fasting and ashes and all those things that go with lent along the way. We will also talk about story and the reclaiming of our individual story as it is written according to Him-not according to the world or to our own inner voice. We will learn to exchange our ashes for his beautiful interpretation of who we are.  For someone who has never been beautiful this is not going to be easy.  I was never beautiful on the outside and know that my beautiful on the inside leaves much to be desired. It is craggy and ragged, cracked and jagged-hard to love and hidden so deep it is often hard to find. So, when I was asked to write the words “I AM BEAUTIFUL” on page 25 I couldn’t do it. Still haven’t. My goal is to be able to before the study ends.

If you are here because you are part of Your Story Redeemed I just want to say Hi and thank you! If you aren’t then I say Hi and thank you-I will be doing my best to be real on this Lenten journey and if you would like to join me I would love your company along the way.

I will leave you with this spoken word piece by Isaac Wimberley called Beauty. This comes from the study so the credit goes to Sacred Holidays for finding it but it is too good not to share…