Image

Final Farewell

Final Farewell

This photo I took captures many of the emotions I am feeling right now. It’s the salute of a final farewell set against encroaching shadows — It is a farewell to all that is old and dead, a farewell to the fakery and the masquerade of false friends, a farewell to the darkness of their slavish mindsets and their poisonous words and murderous acts. There is hope, there is color and vibrancy, there is freedom in what lies ahead, but behind are only the things that live in the dark, and I will not return to them. Farewell, shadow people.

Sofia, First of Her Name

IMG_4646

Sofia Rebekah. First of her name in our family, anyway. Alternately called: Fifi, Squee-Wee, Chunky Monkey, Princess Pootkins…

That last nickname came about because the minute she was born we could all see the striking resemblance. So striking, that we assumed she was a boy for the first 15 seconds of her life. Nope, turns out she was all girl. But the physical resemblances remained: the quizzical eyebrows, the sparkling eyes that become crinkly when she smiles, the thick, dark hair, the little gap in-between her two front teeth. We’re also pretty sure that she’s going to grow up to be a warrior princess because she has HUGE feet and BIG proportions.

She’s always happy (except when she’s really, really ready for bedtime), she loves food (just look at her!), is a smart little booger, and she does deep baby-squats like nobody’s business.

I love having two little girls close in age, and I love all the things that make Sofia uniquely different from Kristina, and vice versa.

So, Happy Birthday, Sofia… We can’t wait to watch you dive into that birthday cake tonight. Here are some pictures from yesterday, and some pictures of her big sister, just for good measure.

Life Scars

The hero of the movie slowly pulls off his skin-tight shirt.

“Oh, Darling!” She gasps… the camera zooms up and focuses on our hero’s muscly back; he’s hot, sensitive… and he’s got scars. Visible ones. They should be ugly, but somehow they just make him sexier.

He gives her the a smoldering look. Then they kiss passionately and fall in bed. Fast forward, we know the rest.

 

4766706088_444bcd60d8_b

Yesterday, Roo was running next to me on unsteady toddler legs, tripped, fell, and face planted right in the gravel, scaring the crap out of Mommy, I might add. Daddy cleaned up her wounds and comforted her crying; when she let us get a closer look at the damage, we saw that she had scraped up her nose pretty good, and gotten a fat lip, as well as scrapes on her forehead. She looks like she got into a tussle with a baby grizzly bear. She’s forgotten about it already this morning, but the bruises and scrapes are still there, and now they are starting to scab over and heal, but I will have to to keep reminding her to not pick at her scabs and cause bad scarring.

It made me think, though, that if I have to teach Kristina to not pick at her own wounds, will I stop picking at my own internal scabs and cause worse scarring?

Unlike the heroes in the movies who get tortured, and attain some hot life scars to show off to their sexy girlfriend, to make her even more madly in love with him, most of us do not have visible scars. When you are in a car accident, and you get lacerations all over your body, you will heal, in time, and have scars to show… but what about when you are in a train wreck of a church split and people stab you in the back over and over and over? You can’t exactly show those scars on the outside as evidence of the viciousness of fellow “Christians.”

And those scars? Those real scars on the inside? Those are the ones that we carry with us for the rest of our life. And most of us will hide them away to pick at the scabs in private, creating deeper and deeper scar tissue. What once was a minor scar becomes any ugly lump of scar tissue on the inside because of our habits of picking at it. I am not without exception, for I have done this, too.  These scars are not visible, and they sure aren’t sexy like the ones that heroes get in movies. They are ugly. They go deep. And we pride ourselves on keeping them bleeding so the scar tissue becomes even deeper.

But, I am weary of this. I am weary of others, who have it so engrained in their psyche to keep it all inside that they know nothing else other than to keep picking at their bleeding wounds. All the ugliness eventually shows up on the outside, too, but it takes time to manifest, and it takes getting burned by these people to realize that they have festering wounds that they keep picking at inside their own souls.

The harsh reality, the reality that is SO hard to teach to our children is that this life WILL give you wounds. People will hate you for little to no reason at all. People will lie. People will slander. People will falsely accuse you. Church leaders will disappoint, and, in many cases stomp on your hands as you are hanging on the edge of a cliff. The people you were told to trust as a child will beat you, abuse you, ridicule you, and make you dependent on them like a druggie dependent on his life-killing addiction.

You have a choice. I have a choice. And I have chosen to say, “no more.” Here is my heart on my sleeve. I am not ruled by my emotions, but I will not hide my emotions either. I will not hide my wounds so that I can keep them bleeding. I’m not doing this to impress anybody or win friends, because being open, honest, and letting yourself be known doesn’t make you easy friends. But it will show you who your real friends are. There are only a handful people who matter to me more than anything else in this world, and I will work to build up my precious relationships with them.

Life happens. Shit happens. Wounds are inevitable. Scars are inevitable. Friendships come and go. People everywhere disappoint. But I don’t want to become completely jaded and retreat into the fortress of my soul. Instead, I want to realize and recognize when I am headed that way, and recognize the effects that bottling my hurts and my complaints up on the inside will have on me and my loved ones. Because when you choose to turn those wounds into bigger and bigger scars by picking at them, you will ruin every real friendship, and destroy all the things in your life that can give you genuine happiness. It WILL become your obsession to the point where it is all second nature to you. And for a lot of people, there is no real healing when they reach that point.

I pray that God helps me to never forget the One who ultimately bore the scars for us; it should be a daily remembrance for me as I go through my own silly struggles and trials, but I forget about what He suffered for me all the time. God did not take away Jesus’ scars. The stripes that healed left visible scars. On His hands. On His feet. On His side. And probably on His back where it was flayed open by the whipping He took.

But Christ is a living testimony now to the truth that those scars, though they never go away, serve as a humbling reminder that we, too, can overcome every wound that is given us in this life. Our scars can become beautiful reminders of His eternal love instead of only ever being ugly, scabbed wounds. But only with His help. Only with His help.

 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.