keep adding to your story

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 Anyone who knows me, knows that I love t-shirts. This is one of my favorites.

The story isn’t over yet.

A simple sentence full of truth and determination. It screams tenacity and grit, endurance and sweat, achy muscles and tears and exhaustion. It’s a phrase of hope for the future. There is commitment and faith in what’s to come. There isn’t any weakness in this phrase, but total and complete strength.

To you….. the broken, the hurting, the exhausted, the lonely, the forgotten, the overlooked.
To you… who is struggling with what no one knows about, to the one who doesn’t feel like she can quite hold it together any longer, to the frustrated, to the weary one. To the who is shiny on the outside, but totally broken on the inside.

Your story isn’t over yet. 

You are becoming the person you are working hard to be. You will laugh again. You will be loved again.
You will pick up the pieces and create new goals and dreams for yourself.
This isn’t the end. This isn’t how it will always be.

Give yourself a break. Be gentle and gracious with yourself. Remember that in order for the next chapter to be written, you have to participate in the story. Your level participation determines the quality of the storyline. Accept what happened in the pages before… Accept your anger and work through it. Do the work in figuring out why you’re hurt and upset and forgiving that person. Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for not seeing it, for putting up with it, for allowing it to happen again, for not speaking up, for whatever you’re beating yourself up about…. then, let it go. Forgive the one who hurt you – whether they care or not. whether they have apologized or not. whether they know it or not. whether they intended to hurt you or not. Forgive them so your heart and mind will be free, so you won’t keep pressing replay and rewind on what has hurt you. Train your mind to think on other things and pray when something triggers negative or hard memories.

Then, move on.

Sometimes very hard things happen in our lives and we will not always understand why God allowed us to walk through such difficult circumstances. But, when you trust his sovereignty and his love for you, the difficult things are a bit easier to take in stride. I may have said this before, but I literally forgot that God goes before me. I didn’t even consider what that meant and how him walking with me as he/after he has gone before me is such a benefit. He has already been where I am right now, he knows what is happening, he has come to put things in place so that I will experience exactly what I need to in order to grow in him, bear fruit, deepen my understanding of who he is and stretch my faith. He is working the next moments, hours, days, weeks, etc out for my good as he walks with me through it. I think of it as the ultimate surprise…. how someone goes ahead of you preparing a surprise or sweet little search … they know where everything is. They probably know who you will respond to each stop, each fumble, every turn and hint as they prepare this surprise. Then, of course, they’re walking with you through it or watching you as you figure this whole thing out and sometimes give you hints. They steer you in the right direction when you’re going too far off course, they enjoy watching your anticipation, they hold on to you and guide you when you can’t see. Then, they wait for you as you near the end. They are standing right there as you put it all together, as you uncover your eyes, as you make it through the end. They’re right there to celebrate you, to celebrate with you. They are there as you look back at everything you went through, as you see what all was prepared. They’re saying “yes! And, you almost missed this… you bumped into a wall here… you did so good there… ” as you see how everything was put together from the end. As you learn why this was kept from you, why you weren’t allowed in this room…. as you learn the why’s of every detail of the planning phase after the fact. They are there. They were always there. There was forethought. There was understanding of you, your personality, your routines. In order to pull off the best of surprises, you had to be known. Well…. The Lord knows you. He has a plan for you and he knows exactly what you need to go through in order to receive his best, in order to grow through what you must, in order to become who he wants you to be.
Doesn’t that make you smile?

Yes, it’s hard now. It is difficult and heartbreaking but the Lord has gone before you preparing this moment to work together with every other moment for your good and his glory. We couldn’t avoid this or we would miss out on some much needed growth and a pretty amazing ending – becoming more like the Lord an serving his people…… in whatever ways the Lord has for you.

God has and will always offer us joy and peace. Two things that can remain in the midst of the hardest circumstances. But, one day you will wake up and realize how happy you are. No matter what decision you made, even if no one understands it, if you are following the Lord, he will keep you through the bad but will also bless you with the good. You’ll be shocked at the peace that resides in your heart. You’ll have good days and you’ll have harder days. But, understand that they’re just days – not your life. A bad day doesn’t mean you have a bad life.  The days to come will be difficult, but soon, things will calm and your new normal won’t feel so mechanic and awkward. Your new routines will soon be habit and you’ll find yourself settling quietly there without your mind racing. Or…. you’ll learn to find some good in each day, you’ll draw closer to the Lord and as you grow in him your perspective will change. Joy, peace, and strength from the Lord will keep you. He will allow people to see that there is something in you that is not of this world, even when you don’t see it or feel it. You’ll walk with your eyes on the Lord which will make going through the difficult much easier that it would be if your eyes were on what is happening.

The Lord is good, y’all. And, he loves us. He has a heart for us.
A plan for us and will heal us.

He will redeem, he will comfort, he rejoices over us with singing, and he surrounds us with his unfailing love.

He who puts their hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and will not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

There are lines, paragraphs, pages, and chapters added to our stories daily.
We determine how they will read.
Trust in the Lord and be brave.

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