I am Officially a Failed Homeschooler. And I am OK with that.

I have been a homeschooler for seven years. Before we even had kids, I was super excited about the thought of homeschooling. The bonding! The fun! The books! All those school supplies! I bought a pre-k curriculum for Ethan when he was three. I was pumped, people! Then the actual attempt at “schooling” began. Almost from the very beginning, heels were dug in, arms crossed, chin tucked for a battle. Up was down, left was right, black was white. The kid who loved to read books hated it when it was “you have to.” And I mean I read the book to him.. Oh, the story of reading…. Lets take a rabbit trail here…

I worked some on teaching Ethan how to read. We mainly focused on just “learning.”  Not on “how to read.” We studied letters and sounds, I read a lot. We played games that helped. Once it came to actually trying to read actual words in an actual book, nothing. He’d guess based on the picture (if there was one), or he’d say “hippopotomus” when it was “it.” I bought 4 different “teach your kid to read” curricula/plans. He was seven and not reading. I wasn’t super worried, I’ve read Ruth Beechik’s books, I knew he’d get it eventually. Enter my pregnancy with Riley. I puked/was nauseous daily for eight months. Four months in, when I finally realized the sickness might not stop, we enrolled Ethan in the Academy at our church, because I couldn’t teach him plus take care of the three and five year old. I talked to the teacher before he started school. I told her that Ethan was really smart, but he wasn’t reading and had a horrible attitude about reading (Noel even got frustrated trying to teach him to read. Noel NEVER gets frustrated). She was ready to work with him and do what needed to be done. First day of school: I go to pick him up, ask the teacher how the day went. She tells me, “Great! He read a couple books and….”  I don’t know what else she said, because I fainted when she told me he’d read… He. Could. Read. He just wouldn’t. For me and his dad. I wanted to hug him and strangle him at the same time. Don’t worry, I only hugged him.

Anyway, that’s a little snapshot of what I’ve been dealing with. Add to all that a high maintenance toddler, a husband who works a lot and travels for work, almost constant/chronic migraines and two other school aged kids who have had this strong-willed defiance modeled perfectly for them and are wonderful mimics, and it’s a homeschool nightmare. At least for me. Last year I cried almost daily for two months. The energy and battle of just getting one subject done was exhausting. I felt like a complete and utter failure. As a mom. As a homeschooler. As a woman. Just at life. We switched curriculum (curriculae?) so there was less of Me teaching. Things improved microscopically. Through all of this, I have prayed. I have prayed. I have prayed. I have googled. I have asked for advice. I have homeschool-boards/blogs stalked. In the deepest darkest places last fall, I realized that this homeschool journey was similar to my breastfeeding journey. Yes, I think that breastfeeding is ideal. I also think homeschooling is ideal. Both of these are ideal- until they aren’t. Once your relationship with your child is negatively affected by something, that something is no longer ideal. Ack! My brain struggles with that. What’s best for one should be best for all! Just make it so! Right?!?!? ( I would make a fabulous Evil Dictator… Just saying…) I’m such a black and white person, this lesson is really hard for me to get. I do not believe in “situational ethics.” Sin is sin. Wrong is wrong. God’s word is true, whether we like what it says or not. But there are areas of life that aren’t moral or immoral. Sin or not sin. Lots of those areas surround parenting. Each child really is different. Each family really is different. Families really do have different seasons. It’s not a matter of giving in, but of giving up control to God. Control is only an illusion anyway. Having kids just reinforces the fact that we are not in control of our lives. This is  what I tell my married friends who don’t think they’re ready for kids. “No one’s ever ready for kids! Kids just show you, in the flesh, daily, that you are not in control. God is. We can only listen and obey Him and try our best to follow the path He has for us.”  Thus speaketh Lindsey.

My kids were not flourishing. My relationship with my kids was not flourishing. The rate we were going, I was going to end up with an ignorant High school graduate who hated his mother. And I’m not exaggerating. I had a death grip on homeschooling. Hanging by my fingertips and struggling for survival when all I had to do was let go and fall back onto the soft recliner that was right under me the whole entire time (that would be sending my kids to the Academy.) Be glad you’re not me, people. It’s hard and exhausting having to learn everything the long, slow, hard way!

This year, my three older kids are attending the Academy. They all love it. Their excitement for school and learning is awesome. No, it’s not perfect, but my kids are happier. I have a huge weight off of my shoulders. We all feel free. I have had many opportunities to comfort Ethan, encourage him and support him. I am now the righter-of-wrongs and fixer-of-problems instead of “The Bad Guy.” And yes, I still have innumerable opportunities to teach my children and to soften their strong wills; those opportunities are just separate now from their education.

I don’t know what the future holds for my kids’ educations. I am now smart enough to know that it might not be what I envisioned, but I will obey God even if my pride suffers. I will listen and be patient instead of blustering through with what I “know” is best.  It is hard for me though. I still have this idea in my head of what I wanted homeschooling to look like for our family. I spent years trying to make it a reality and now I’ve accepted that it isn’t ever going to happen the way I picture it- even if we were to homeschool again. It’s a grieving process. I get teary-eyed seeing homeschool blogs with photos of their children quietly working at a table. Then I remember that God gave my kids and I to each other for a reason and it might not look how I think it should, but by golly I’m going to trust in the God of all Creation and I will not mourn for what He hasn’t given me, but I will celebrate what He has given me! And he’s given me FOUR strong-willed, intelligent, awesome kids who happen to not flourish being homeschooled!

A wise person I was talking to about homeschooling asked me this question that stabbed right to my heart, “Did you ever ask God if He wanted you to homeschool?”  Ow! That one hurts! Are there things we do because we know they’re best, but haven’t asked God about? Have we applied morality to things that are amoral? What a mess we make!

My conclusion is that you can be a great parent and have your kids go to the worst inner city school on the planet. You can be a horrible parent who happens to homeschool. The form that your kids’ education takes does not define what kind of parent you are. Your relationship with your children defines what kind of parent you are. Don’t get those things messed up. It all comes down to relationship. (I am of course, a parenting expert being that my oldest is 10. I’m basing this off of observing people, families, parents and kids.)

First Day of School!

I am still adjusting to not homeschooling. A couple weeks ago I met another mom and we started talking about homeschooling. She was a homeschooler and she asked me if I was. I said, “Yes! Wait, I mean no! No, I’m not anymore!  I used to, though….” Pretty sure she thinks I’m a crazy person. I make great first impressions… It’s a spiritual gift…

 

Of Velociraptors and Beards and Mascara

Riley’s attempt at waterproof mascara application… Pretty impressive for a novice!
And yes, my 2 year old still uses a pacifier. Go ahead and judge!

Here are two unrelated stories with two unrelated photos. Well the photos relate to each other, but not to either story.

Last week Riley was helping me with laundry. We loaded the washer up and I grabbed the plastic container that I keep my homemade laundry detergent in and somehow managed to dump it and all it’s contents onto Riley’s head. And eyes. And mouth. And nose. The detergent is veeeeeery fine powder. Not good to come in contact with mucous membranes… I  hurriedly wiped/swatted at his eyes and mouth. He very bravely cried just a little. I raced him to the bathroom, stripped his dust covered clothes off, ran the bath, put him in the tub and then proceeded to half drown the kid by pouring water over his face to clean out his eyes/nose/mouth. Oddly enough he didn’t thank me for my senses-saving speed. We will be working on being grateful this week. What are kids coming to these days?

Here’s a  story from a long time ago.  These stories have nothing in common other than being about my children. La la la… Welcome to my world!

A certain firstborn child was born strong willed. Proof: He was still in the hospital from BEING BORN and he HATED being swaddled. He would fuss and fight and wiggle his way out of the blanket burrito. Less than 24 hours old!  Anyway, he was the advanced age of 3 for this story. It was a Sunday morning, and Noel had gone to church early to run sound or play bass on the worship team. I was getting my toddler (in my world 3 is still toddler), my baby and myself ready for church when toddler misbehaved. I can’t remember what it was, but whatever the transgression was, it was a doozy. Toddler needed to say he was sorry. He wouldn’t. It was a battle of wills and I finally told him to sit on his bed until he said he was sorry. Now this had started at about 8 AM. We needed to leave for church between 9:30 and 9:45. 9:30 came around and he wouldn’t apologize. Would. Not. I called Noel to see what I should do; be late to church if need be in order to be consistent or “give in” and let him down so we could get to church on time. Noel and I both thought I should wait him out. I would go in his room every so often and give him the opportunity to say what he needed to say. I was met with stony silence and complete refusal to talk.  He would not even just repeat what I said. Complete silence…. My blood pressure steadily climbed as the hands on the clock spin around and around. Noel came home from church around 1:30. Guess who was still on their bed. Noel finally brought that “experience” to a conclusion and after dealing with it, I was a shivering, quaking mass of stress, apprehension, frustration, and exasperation. Totally exhausted from this hours long battle with a tiny human! Said tiny human comes out of his room and acts like nothing happened. No big deal to him and I feel like I need a week long spa trip after this epic battle…

Same day. The entire never-used roll of paper from my label maker. Thank you Riley!

Fast forward a few weeks or maybe months. (I have mommy brain, time is blurry to me) It’s a Saturday night. Tiny human commits a crime that would be a felony if he weren’t a minor (OK, not really, but it was a super doozy). He needs to apologize. He won’t. He has to sit on a chair in the living room until he apologizes. This started near bed time. He is still sitting on the chair at 10 PM; we tell him he needs to go to bed, but he can’t get out of bed until he says what he needs to say. Guess what. I missed church that Sunday because a little boy was stubbornly sitting silently on his bed (for almost 18 hours! Counting sleeping.) When I called Noel to tell him we wouldn’t be making it to church I said, “That kid will sit on his bed until he turns 18 to prove his point.” Again it was brought to conclusion by Dad. And I never made that mistake again.

It only took me those two times to realize that I could not make open-ended consequences like that with him: he would test me every time and more than likely end up sitting on his bed until age 18.(Or maybe later. He would maybe still be sitting there at age 35, only getting down to use the bathroom. He’d have a Rip Van Winkle beard and we could charge people admission to look at him and try to coerce him into saying “I’m sorry” so we could finally let him down and be reunited as a family…. Maybe I went about this the wrong way… That sounds like a great money maker…. Hello Reality TV!)

Strong-willed kids are like the Velociraptors in the movie “Jurassic Park.” Even though their perimeter fence  is electrified and always on, they regularly test it because they are certain that eventually the boundary will fail. Even though they get shocked and it’s painful, the hope and expectation that just once, they’ll get away with it and “win” is worth it. And it was! The power did go off! They got out! They ate the people in charge of the fence. Dude. Did you see Jurassic Park? That’s scary and intense and exhausting. (For the people. Not the Velociraptors. They just ate the people. Slurp.)

So where am I going with this? I have no clue. My kids are like man-eating dinosaurs with rabid beards (and sharks) or something… Where can I go from there? Slurp….

 

And yes I know I was a lot a little over bearing/high strung with my guinea pig first born. I’m better now. Much smarter about which battles I choose to fight.

 

 

 

Once More, With Feeling

One more post about pain and migraines and then I’ll leave it. I promise. For realz. (And this isn’t a “poor me! I is a victim, please mail your pity to my address. There be a point I’m trying to share)

I have had pain, from mild to debilitating, regularly since the age of 10. The last decade it has increased in frequency and strength. But it was gradual. It creeped up on me. Not until I was talking to my chiropractor about if migraines interfered with my life did I really grasp how my entire life, and ultimately my identity, had been altered by migraines; both the actual pain of and the attempt to avoid them. (My name is Lindsey-of-the-Migraines) I’ve given up things I love, I’ve missed out on experiences, I’ve been stressed out and overwhelmed over “catching up” when I do feel better, I’ve felt horrible guilt for not being able to be the wife/mom/friend/daughter/ granddaughter/in-law etc. that I want to be.

I’ve allowed migraines to become the loud, overbearing, control-freak, self-absorbed, lip-smacking, demeaning, dysfunctional dude that we warn our friends away from, but they stay with him because they don’t think they deserve any better. (And that is in no way some secret message to anyone I know. I don’t do passive-aggressive, but I thought I’d clarify)

The point I want to make is that miserable became normal. It was gradual enough and over a long enough period of time that I was blind to my life decreasing. Desperate enough to be content with a half-life. Grateful for scraps when there’s a banquet going on above me that I can’t see. (I do have an amazing life, a fantastic husband and super kids and more blessings than I could ever count. This is not me complaining about my life. I am absurdly grateful for the crazy huge blessings in my life. This is me giving pain a swift kick in the rear and seeking the best for myself and my family)  I know I’m not the only one grown content with misery. Grateful for mediocrity and mere survival. In most people it’s not going to be a physical cause. Most people are trapped by their minds, how they see themselves, the value they feel they have. Lies told and believed. Afraid to hope too much or dream too big or believe the truth.

Here’s the truth about YOU:

YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made! (read Psalm 139:14)

 “But in all these things YOU overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved YOU. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate YOU from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

“For I know the plans I have for YOU,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper YOU and not to harm YOU, plans to give YOU hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

“For YOU are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; Jesus came that YOU may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

(emphasis mine)

These verses are true about you and about me. No matter the circumstance. No matter the failing, the bad decisions, or the sin. Ignore the lies in your head or in other peoples’ words (or actions). God chose to make you and He thinks you’re pretty amazing. You have incredible value and importance to the God of creation! That’s kind of a big deal! You’re kind of a big deal!

Let’s quit settling. Let’s quit accepting mediocrity. No longer be content with scraps. Be who YOU were created to be. Live the life God has planned for you! Fight back against the enemy (He is real, he is out there and he hates you and me. And I’m not talking about terrorists or IRS agents or TSA workers, but Satan.)

My prayer today is that hope springs anew in your heart and life. That peace overfills your spirit and you are overwhelmed by God’s great, immeasurable love for you. No pit is too deep, no situation too dire, no sin too bad, no pain too permanent for Him to reach you and set you free to live your abundant life.

 

Just Give Me The TMI Crown Already…

I got all riled up after reading a news article about breast feeding. Here’s a link to an article about the horrors of a man bottle feeding his baby girl.  http://moms.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/28/10520642-sweet-photo-of-dad-feeding-baby-turns-controversial

I keep having to delete and start over. I is riled up. Consider my hide chapped. Breathe, Lindsey… Men, if you do not want to read about nursing infants and the gory details, than you should leave my blog now.

I am writing this as a breastfeeding mom. I nursed 4 kids. The shortest length was 7 months. That means I’ve lactated for over 28 months. I have experience. I’m almost an expert! Or something…

What I’m about to say is going to shock some people, but I don’t care… Ready???

You can be a good mom. No, you can be a great mom and never breast feed your child.

Shocking, right? Gird yourself for TMI zone….

When I had my first baby at the advanced age of 22, I was going to nurse. For lots of reasons. And for lots of reasons nursing my baby ended up damaging me and hurting me. We worked with the Lactation Consultant and she threw her hands in the air and said, “I have no idea how to get this kid to nurse.” My body was so damaged from nursing that after less than 2 weeks, we had to quit nursing and pump. Pumping allowed me to enjoy 4 mastitis infections in less than 2 months. After 2 months of pumping, I tried to get my son to nurse. He finally did. Well sort of. He never nursed right. It hurt physically every time he nursed. Which with a 2 month old is every 3 hours. That’s a lot of pain and stress and dread.  I really, really, really did not want to do formula. Big bad evil formula. I looked into switching him to goat’s milk. I talked to 5 different people and got 5 different answers about cautions, or concerns about goat’s milk. So with no viable alternative, at least in my crazy brain, I just kept on nursing.

What I had been expecting to be a beautiful, bonding, healthy experience with my sweet baby was instead painful, stressful and depressing. I would tense when I heard him cry, or when I knew he was hungry. Our first night home from the hospital, my milk came in. No one warned me about how bad it could be, how I should have a pump to relieve the pressure. Noel ended up driving across town to Wal Mart in the middle of the night to buy a pump. I was crying, the baby was crying, and when Noel got home and opened the pump only to discover that it was MISSING A PIECE!!!! AND WOULDN’T WORK!!!!! He started crying too. One of us threw that useless thing against the wall. One of the worst nights of our lives! Still is 12 years into our marriage! I finally got a pump from a good friend and thought things would work better. I was wrong.

My baby was fussy, so fussy. He would never stay awake to eat. I called the hospital late one night to ask a question and the nurse I was talking to asked what I was doing with the milk I was pumping to relieve the pressure(which had nothing to do with why I called). I was just dumping it because I was too exhausted and overwhelmed to deal with keeping it in a clean way. She yelled at me, “That is liquid gold you are dumping down the drain!” I hung up on her and cried. Thanks for the help, lady.  I heard from women, “I’ve never heard of a baby not nursing.” And other really helpful comments. Not everyone was horrible, but in my crazy, the horrible is what I remembered and believed. Some of the horrible was accidental; people just trying to be helpful. I realized that some of the horrible was purposeful. It was that competition/knock-others-down-so-I-can-feel-better-about-myself-thing that women do so well.

Newborn babies don’t have many needs: clean diaper, sleep and food. Here I was failing at the simplest of things, what on earth was I going to do when the baby got bigger and had more difficult and complex needs? The challenges of nursing and insensitivity of others made me think I was a horrible mom. I felt like a failure constantly. I was depressed and scared. What on earth was I thinking becoming a mom? I couldn’t even feed my baby right!

Just to be clear, most of the pressure was coming from myself. I don’t even know if anyone could have forced me to switch to formula. I can be crazy, stubborn, determined.  I nursed that kid for 7 painful, stressful, depressing months. And he thrived. He was huge! The only problem he had was he was a projectile spitter-upper. Yuck. At 7 months, he was eating a lot of foods, so I weaned him(my milk supply was waning) and switched him to goat milk. Guess what happened. He quit spitting up. Totally. I laughed and cried about that one. If I’d have known he’d quit spitting up I’d have switched him earlier!

Months after weaning him I realized how insane I had been. How depressed I had been. How digging my heels in about nursing had been a mistake. Me breast feeding my baby had made me a worse mom. It stressed my relationship with my baby. It wasn’t worth it. Nursing my first born was not worth what it cost me physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. I would have been a better mom if I’d just given the kid some formula.  But it was too hard to give up my dreams and expectations. Too hard to accept that I wasn’t in control, and never had been. I promised my husband that if nursing was that hard with any more kids we had that I’d quit after a month and just give the kid formula. An emotionally healthy mom trumps the physical benefits of breast milk.

I over-share to make a few points. In my situation with my first born, people looking in didn’t know all the details. Some people assumed I was just clueless or stupid or a drama queen. How helpful would “Breast is best!” be to someone like me? Not helpful at all, in fact more harmful than helpful. Another point is that I tend to have to learn things the hard way. But once I figure something out, I’ll never forget it, and I’ll share it with other people so they don’t have to struggle as much as I did. I also share so that people don’t think they’re alone, or that they’re crazy or a failure. I learned so much from the challenging experiences I’ve had with pregnancies and labor and babies. I was such a black and white person! Black/White. Right/Wrong. Up/Down. It took these really, really hard experiences for me to see grey. To learn that grey is acceptable. Life doesn’t have to be so extreme.

One of the important things I learned was that it’s great to have ideals and standards (especially regarding pregnancy, birth and parenting), but sometimes we have to let them go. Letting go of an ideal or expectation doesn’t mean that you quit or compromised or failed. It means you’re mature enough to not be in control. You’re mature enough to not turn molehills into mountains. Just let it go.

The definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. How many of us are insane in more than one area of our life?
 

I also learned that there are different stages in your life. Different seasons. Same for other moms and families. What works for you now may not work for you in 1 or 3 years. What works for your friend now may not be right for your family now. It all comes back to not beating each other (or ourselves) up. I used to roll my eyes at statements like those, but I’ve lived it and I know it to be truth. You need to do what’s right and best for your family in the season you’re in and those seasons are going to change. So if you are wise, you will make changes also!

For moms to criticize other moms for nursing or not nursing (or a million other areas that moms differ) is totally inappropriate, judgmental and wrong. I’m not going to be a part of that! Yes, there are some moms out there who really are horrible, but they’re few and far between. Instead of turning our noses up and whispering about other moms and their horrible decisions and how their children are going to end up stupid, crazy and criminal because they were formula fed or went to public schools or were from a broken family!!! THE HORROR!!! (by the way I am all three of those things ;) The latter, not the stupid, dirty and criminal.. At least not most days… ) Or patting ourselves on the back for not being like so-and-so. Instead of that, let’s encourage, help, exhort and love each other! Let’s accept our differences instead of condemning everyone different than us! Radical, I know, but imagine what our world would be like without the criticism and insecurities!

Some of you may read this and start to feel defensive. Please don’t. I am not judging you if you made the same decisions I did and would choose to make them again. I’m also not judging if you totally and completely disagree with everything I’ve said. I’m responsible for me. You are responsible for you. I just want for women(including myself) to make good decisions for their families and themselves in their season. Decisions based on health and love and abundance and truth, not out of fear. Fear of failure, fear of not measuring up, fear of not fitting in, just plain old fear. That is a horrible way to live. I know. I lived it and it was a miserable experience!

I want you and me and our daughters to be free from the inner and outer critic. To accept Grace from God and each other. To give grace to ourselves and to each other. To be free to be who we were created to be. To believe we really are fearfully and wonderfully made. If we’re so caught up in criticizing and condemning and reveling in self righteousness, we’re missing it.

I don’t want to miss it!

Do you?

One Of Those Girls…

The first twenty years of my life I thought there were two different types of girls in the world.

The sweet, innocent, loving, feminine, protected, delicate girls. Those girls.

And girls like me.

Tough, cynical, eyes wide open, hurt, damaged, protectors.

I knew too much too young. I saw too much too young. Some because of grown ups in my life, some because of my personality.

I believed the lie into my teens, so I started making self-destructive decisions because of it.

I didn’t deserve happiness. I didn’t deserve to be loved. I didn’t deserve to be forgiven. I didn’t deserve success. I wasn’t one of those nice girls. I was tough. I didn’t need (or deserve) protecting or love.

“nobody loved me, everybody hated me”…

Then at the age of (almost) 19, I encountered God. I was flushing my life down the toilet. Skipping class to get drunk. Alone. Drinking to the point of blackouts. Abusing drugs. Hurting, lying to and pushing away friends. I went from a 3.8 GPA my first semester of college to a .8 GPA second semester. I failed 3 out of 4 classes. The only class I passed was an upper level Psychology Elective (I was a Psych major.) I was the only freshman in the class. I was the only person to get an A. The class? “Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.” The humor is not lost on me :)

I came home from that semester a mess, but through the friendship and  love of a handful of people, I realized that God loved me. Me in all my crazy. I’ll go into more detail some other time, the point I’m wanting to get to, is that God started changing how I saw myself, my future. He healed a lot of hurts and set me free from a destructive life, but I still believed that I wasn’t a girly girl. I was rough and tough. I wanted to prove that I was as strong and as tough as a man could be. I didn’t need chivalry or deserve it. I was still the hippy-punk-feminazi. I also had people (some Christians) in my life who knew me before I was “saved”, and never let me forget what I had come out of. It was like Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough to cover all my sins in their eyes and because I looked up to them, it wasn’t enough in my own eyes.

Fast forward a year. I was a youth leader at the church I went to. We took a group of highschool kids (kids, ha ha.. I was 19 and 20 at this point…But really mature… Or something…) out to Montana. One of the places we went to was Camp Bighorn. It is a Christian Adventure Camp. Boys and girls were separated by gender and we were paired up with leaders from the camp. Us youth leaders were still in charge of our kids, but we were under the authority of the Camp Leaders. We’d do an adventure during the day, white-water rafting, kayaking etc. Then we’d get dropped off in the middle of nowhere in a National Forest with tarps, rope, food and our packs. We had to make our shelter for the night with the tarps and rope. It was awesome.

Our main leader was a young woman around my age. She was so feminine even as an adventure camp leader.  She was very petite and had china doll skin. I couldn’t figure out how she was so fair when she was outside constantly. She was one of those girls: the sweet, sensitive, innocent kind. Never said a naughty word in her life. I really liked her even though I was jealous; of her innocence, her nicely curly hair (mine was always frizzy-although it was only about 1/2 an inch long at this time), her pretty pale skin (My skin was either pasty or lobster).

I had all these ideas about her, how I could never be like her because I just wasn’t born that way. Because of the life I’d lived. She was one of those girls and I was the other kind.

The second night out in the middle of nowhere, we were all settled under our shelter for the night when she started to share her story. As she started sharing, I heard a weird sound from outside our shelter. I was sitting the farthest back, by the opening to our shelter.(All those scary movies I’d seen with a creature pulling someone out of the tent screaming flashed through my mind) Other people started hearing the sound too. I was pretty sure I knew what the sound was… A cougar. Cougars make distinctive sounds that are rather un-catlike. The sounds were circling our shelter. We were being stalked.  She stopped talking and we all prayed. The sounds ceased.. She continued on with her story…

She dated an older man as a young teen. She partied. A lot. She got pregnant as an early teen. Her parents kicked her out. Her baby ended up dying… It went on and on.. One tragedy after another. One sin after another.

This sweet, innocent girl. She was like me. She wasn’t one of them. She hadn’t been protected. She was like me. I was like her. But she was so different from me! She was so free and sweet!

She was free. She had grasped the power of Jesus’ sacrifice. She trusted that He was enough. That her sins truly were removed from her as far as the East is from the West. She truly was a new creature. She trusted that He had forgiven her. Forgiven and forgotten. No guilt. No shame. She believed God. She wasn’t believing the lie anymore.

I was wrecked. I was believing the lie. The lie that I was still a marked woman. That I’d be paying for my sin, my bad choices for the rest of my life. The lie that there were two kinds of women.

This truth revealed from a brave girl’s testimony changed my life. It took time for me to accept it. To trust. To believe God. To believe that His promises were for me. To reclaim my femininity. My identity as a Woman of God. Redeemed through Jesus. My sins washed away. Hard to believe and trust that I didn’t need to do anything. That Jesus was and is enough.

Friend, it doesn’t matter where you’ve been. Where you are. God loves you. He. loves. YOU.

Sweet one, you are the Daughter of the King of Kings…

You know what a King’s daughter is:

A Princess.

You are a Princess. Even if you’ve been hurt, abused, rejected, forgotten or discarded. Filled with self hatred. None of that alters the truth. You are the Daughter of the Most High King.

I pray that when you look in a mirror you will see what God sees.  A child of His heart. A child who is wanted and loved.

I am a beautiful, sweet Princess.

You are a beautiful, sweet Princess.

I am one of those girls.

You are one of those girls.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

 

Psalm 103:12
as far as the East is from the West,  so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

 

Revelation 12:11
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
 
Luke 7:36-50
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”