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Broken Gifts, Mind Shifts, and a Heart Lift

abstract 2018 text effect in broken styleSometimes breaks in life are unexpected. You think you’re about to receive something good, only to find it’s been broken, either by accident, rough handling, or malicious intent. Whether you’re the one who broke the thing or the one whose gift arrives in pieces, it can hurt your heart to see the damage done to something that could have been a treasure.

I helped my aunt put on a party for all the November to January birthdays yesterday. The event was a great success–everyone wore 70s themed outfits and afros, danced to groovy music, and laughed the night away. But the night wasn’t without its mishaps.

One of those mishaps involved our “Super Freaky, Groovy Gift Raffle”. Throughout the night, we raffled off a series of mystery gifts. I would read a clue, the mystery gift would be held for all to see, people would put their tickets in and we’d pull out a winner.  This worked well until I read this clue:

Pull me out when you receive a gift that will give your heart a lift.

As soon as I said “lift,” the package leaped from the holder’s hands. It danced off her fingertips to the tile floor. Everyone gasped (my gasp amplified by the microphone I held) and froze in place.

We proceeding with the raffle, but inside I was freaking out. You see, I knew that what was inside that sturdy box was fragile and breakable. I prayed the tissue paper padding had cushioned it, but in my heart, I knew it was broken.

When the winner lifted the lid, the wrapped bundle still lay in the center of the box. It appeared whole. But as soon as she started unwrapping it, I heard the pieces clinking against each other. It was broken.

We gave the winner another gift in exchange for the broken one, but it hurt to throw the broken one away. “It sure was pretty,” my uncle said as he put the pieces in the trash. I wished I knew how to fix it. It was only two pieces. It wasn’t shattered. Surely it could be put back together? I lifted out a piece. It felt light as breath in my hands. The overhead light caught the gold sparkle and winked off the surface. It had been a beautiful creation.

For many, 2017 felt like that broken vase. When a new year dawns, you have no idea what it holds. The way the new year was handed over to you may have made you think there’s no way this year isn’t broken. Though it may have looked like it had survived the worst, when you unwrapped it, your beautiful gift was in pieces.

2017 might have seemed broken before you received it. You, like many others I see, may be beyond ready for a new year to begin. You are expectant. You long for and look for the gift of a new year and the promise of a blank page. But I have to ask, what did you do with the broken pieces of 2017?

A gift isn’t a given. There’s no guarantee you will get one, or that it will be something you want. You can stamp FRAGILE: HANDLE WITH CARE all over it, and it may still arrive in pieces. Yes, a new year may be a new page or even a new chapter, but what happened on the previous pages impacts the rest of the story. So I have to ask, again, what did you do with the broken pieces of 2017?

I heard about a Japanese art that’s an encouraging alternative to trashing those pieces.

Kintsukuroi (金繕い, きんつくろい, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique.

The first image I saw was of a blue bowl with bright gold seams. Instead of putting the pieces back together in a way that seeks to conceal where breaks have happened, this technique highlights them. What was an ordinary bowl became a work of art. Talk about a picture of making everything beautiful in its time!

To me, kintsukuroi is a beautiful illustration of how God can take a sinner broken by sin and put him back together again. Through faith in, and obedience to, Jesus Christ, we can be healed and made whole. Instead of seams of gold, our broken pieces can be bonded together with a red thread throughout–the blood of Jesus!

At the end of 2016, my story received some rough handling. I knew 2017 was going to have its share of brokenness. But when choosing my word for 2017, I landed on “share.” I think, in part, God wanted me to share for a specific reason:

Instead of hiding the sites of my brokenness from the world and seeking to maintain the illusion that I’ve never been broken, I needed to show how God uniquely put the pieces of me back together as only He could. My brokenness is clearly visible, but God made that broken beautiful in His time. He made art out of my careless handling of my life.

Give God your broken pieces; He will make a masterpiece of them.



P.S. Want to know more about how God made a masterpiece with my broken pieces? Stay tuned for more details about my newest book, Break Right, which will (prayerfully) be released February 13, 2018!

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A Hard Word for a Soft Year

Part of my process to uncover my goals comes from this amazing book.

For the last 13 or 14 years, I’ve come up with a word of the year. I can go back over eight years in my blogs and many more in my paper journals. But in the past four or five years, the choosing of the word and living in it has truly changed my life. It’s like God gives me chances to live in the light of the word when everything around me is saying I should be  walking like one walks in the dark: anxious, fast, clutching my purse. Life circumstances wants me to do the opposite of what I’ve decided to do. It’s up to me to decide if I will stay committed to my word and His word or if I will let the trials and tribulations of life choke the plant of the word God is trying to grow in me in that particular season.

When I chose the word savor for 2013 and decided to chronicle savory moments in my life, I had no idea my car would be totaled on January 9th when a drunk driver ran a red light. When I chose submit in 2014, I had no idea all of my writing submissions would be rejected or my will would fight so hard against submitting to God. In 2015, I had many literal and figurative moments where I needed to practice the principle behind the word attendance. When I decided 2016 was the year to seek God in a more focused and personal way, I didn’t know I would lose things I thought were big parts of my identity in pursuit of His. I’ve come to realize more fully than ever before the power of words, and how hard the devil and this world will fight your attempts to grow.

I took my time coming up with a word of the year this time around. I realized whatever I chose, my resolve to stick with it was going to get tested. The fact I’m only now writing this post is proof I’ve felt the pressure of this word on me. But enough build up. Let’s get to it.

I had a myriad of choices for word of the year. I settled on one and had a whole blog post (that I’ll share at some point) dedicated to my word ready to go way back in December. But it didn’t feel like it fit perfectly. It was like when you can get a dress on and zipped up, but you feel stuffed in it, like all your “rolls” are on display like a well lit bakery display.

My original word was participate. I said the word participate way too many times during writing workshops this year to ignore it. I didn’t like this word. I tried to use another word, but participate stuck. Stuck but didn’t fit. Then in the synonyms section of the definition, I found this:

(my word) usually implies that one as the original holder grants to another the partial use, enjoyment, or possession of a thing.

That’s what my original word was lacking. When we participate, we take part in something. We help create it. We are part owner in the effort. We worked for it. We played our part. Good for us. But I see myself more like this–like a recipient. God grants me the partial use, enjoyment and possession of things. I am not the owner. I don’t work for it. And this year, I wanted to remind myself of this, and help others learn this truth and others connected to this word. The rightness of it sank into my soul. The best part? Like three of the last four life changing words of the year, it begins with an “s.”

My word for 2017 is: SHARE.

:  to partake of, use, experience, occupy, or enjoy with others

:  to grant or give a share in

:  to tell (as thoughts, feelings, or experiences) to others

One thing I recorded in my thoughts about participate stuck out to me: in 2016, I sought God, and like the scriptures promise, I found Him. I learned more about His nature and His ways. I learned to trust in and depend on Him. But now that I’ve found Him, what am I going to do with Him, with this knowledge of Him? I want to revel in this revelation. God shared it with me. Also? I want to share it with someone else.

That’s all my writing is. I’m not coming up with life changing lesson or inventing anything new. I’m sharing the truths God revealed to me.

In studying the word this past year, I saw how important confession/testimony was in the lives of the people of God. It stood out to me the most with the woman with the issue of blood. She shared what Christ did for her with the multitude.

This year, I want to focus on sharing more of what God is doing in my life, to share Him more with a sick and dying world that needs the healing He has in His hands. I want to share what has worked for me and what has worked me, all to His glory. I want to confess, to tell my story. I want to point everyone to the Owner of this marvelous thing I’ve been given to enjoy so they can get their share. I want you to share with me. I want to see God at work in your life, to celebrate and contemplate and commiserate with you as you have been and will be with me.

I have some fun goals attached to this word. I can’t wait to share them with all of you. Sharing isn’t easy for me. It’s downright difficult. But I’m not going to be difficult in response to it. I’m going to be soft, pliable, yielding to all God wants me to share and all He will share with me.

What’s your word of the year?



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Making it Monday

It’s Monday again. This is a short week for me, not because I’m off today, but because I’m off Friday. I am off the belief that every week has its Monday, whether we are off or not. If I were off today, tomorrow would be Monday. If I were off Thursday, Friday would be my second Monday of the week. Monday will not go unexperienced in all of its “let’s start from the top” glory.

In an only tangentially related non-sequitur*, I hate the phrase “fake it ’till you make it.” Admittedly, I have used the phrase, but it’s a silly way of saying that you’ll do something you don’t want to do until you want to do it, or that you should pretend to be a certain way/ have certain things until you are/have them. It’s one thing to get out of bed to exercise when you don’t feel like it & another to end up in debt attempting to keep up with the Joneses. Besides, I like being authentic.

I’m not really one of those people who writes the Facebook status about how I’m going to make this Monday great as if I have Monday at gunpoint and can guarantee it’s going to do what I say. I am not saying every Happy Monday message is a fraud. I have written a happy Monday message in my day. I wasn’t faking it, nor was I making it; it just was a happy day.

What characterizes a happy Monday with No faking or making required?

1. The obligatory I’m still alive praise. It may seem like a given, but even at almost 28 (0_o), it’s not guaranteed that I will see what has to be the least anticipated day of any week. It’s a praiseworthy thing to wake up healthy and same when so many do not. This particular Monday morning, I woke up to news of Mindy McCready’s passing. Death is all around. I’m grateful for another chance to get it right.

2. The obligatory “I have a job” praise. I have a job that I don’t dread going to each day, no matter how I feel leaving. I love my boss and what I do. I know people who aren’t happy when they go to work, who hate their jobs. I’m thankful I like my job.

3. Bills are able to be paid, and my needs are met.

4. Even though I’m wasn’t excited to run and had to twitter accountability guilt myself into it, I could get up and run. I even felt better afterwards. I Hirt in the right places. It felt good to move.

5. (For the founders :D) It’s coming together. And by “it,” I mean the website, this blog, the book, the car plans, & my best life. What more can a girl ask for?

What makes your Monday happy/better/survivable?

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This is Only a Test

Have you ever read a lifestyle blog/website that was so deeply philosophical you felt like you we’re going to drown? I do. All.the.time. It drives me up the wall. I want to shake the author & yell at him/her to just be practical. It’s great to be profound, to say things people can meditate on, & to inspire people to “live their best lives”; it’s just annoying to use every flashy word you know to convince someone you really know what you are talking about, especially if it seems like you have the secret to happiness and are hiding it in obtuse metaphors.

If you are unfamiliar with my blogs, let me assure you, I’m not “that guy.” I have been a teacher in one capacity or another for most of my life. My gift is clarity. I once used cans of beer to help my uncle pass algebra 1. I was a substitute elementary teacher. I taught Sunday School. Making things plain is kind of what I do.

However, I am told I have a tendency to use a big word or two. I do have a degree in English. Grammatical errors and “made up words” like YOLO irritate me. Then again, I use the word “so” and the phrase “the fact of the matter is” more times than the law allows and I rarely proofread. In short, I am a walking contradiction.

I am a person who loves to smile and laugh. I have been known to be funny every once in a while. I can be a big kid, waking people up in the morning, or a deadly serious adult, forever obsessed with being on time. You just never know what you’re going to get with me.

So I thought I would share the few parameters I do have for this blog. It will help me help you figure out what on Earth you’re getting yourself into.

1. This is a Christian lifestyle blog. References to God, scripture, Jesus, faith, sin, forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, & more will be made frequently. Some people are looking for a more…or less “spiritual” outlook. This isn’t the place.

2. I love entertainment. You will hear me speak of it often.

3. I don’t love exercising. You will hear me speak of it often.

4. I love to hear other people’s opinions, so don’t be scared to comment!

5. I am writing my first book. You will hear about it occasionally…and by “occasionally,” I mean all the time. I can’t help it. If all goes well, it will be the first in a series.

6. I can’t swim. Perhaps this explains my aversion to deep armchair philosophers and pseudo life coaches?


Miss E

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The Season For Getting Serious: Where the Concept Began…

This post was originally posted on my blog, Indigo Moods in December 2010.

—Santa, I forgot my list, but I think I wanted focus and success this year. Image via Wikipedia
Tis the season for getting serious–about life, about relationships, about your career. Now is the time when people partying for a few weeks, then realize they wrecked their finances or their weight loss goals. This is where the promises begin to do better next year, amidst egg nog and hideous sweaters.

I read somewhere that men propose around the holidays as a last ditch attempt to get things done that they told themselves they would do this year (get engaged–check). I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know people have a tendency to try to squeeze every last thing they meant to do this year but haven’t into the month of December. We can be a nation of procrastinators.

I propose something slightly different. I am taking December to reassess, and I hope you will, too. It’s time to take stock: What did you do that you said you would? What didn’t you do? Where did you backslide?

Don’t do this in an attempt to “save the year”; this year has flatlined. Do this to refocus yourself, to make a plan for going forward. Put things in writing. Tell people about your goals and ask them to help you (but only ask people who can be helpful to you in achieving your goals). Take some time and evaluate the people that populate your world. Ask yourself “is this person necessary? What do they add to my life? Would my life be better without them?”

Most people love being carefree and having fun in December until after Christmas, then they get serious again until New Year’s Eve. After realizing it’s a new year, they make resolutions and go all out for a while, then burn out. It’s my belief that I succeed better when I don’t merely establish a goal, but a pattern, a habit. It makes achieving the goal effortless. If I’m establishing a pattern of going to the gym so many times a week, or taking a favorite class (they cancel the Wednesday class I loved :-(  It was the class I went to most often, too) instead of focusing on losing my stomach or how fat my stomach is, I have a better chance of succeeding.

Success is something I take one day at a  time, but even so, you have to be able to look back and see progress, and if you can’t, then it’s time to do something different. Now. If you hurry, it will be a habit by New Year’s.

That’s my two cents. Leave yours.