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The Gift of a Broken Identity

The Gift of a Broken Identity

A broken identity can actually be a gift. Sounds crazy right? Yet it’s true. Because, as the Bible tells us, in our weakness, God is strong.

I want you to take stock of all the things you believe about yourself right now. Not what you should believe, what you intellectually know from sermons and Bible reading and Sunday school songs, but what feels true right at this moment. If it makes you feel embarrassed – don’t be.

This is where you are starting from. This is what you have to work with right now.

And if what you have to work with is thoughts like “I’m worthless.“ or “I’m not beautiful.” or “No one loves me.” then that’s what it is.

Wishing, or just trying to gut it out and believe harder won’t help.

Do you know why? Because you are weak.

But you know what is crazy? That is a good thing.

If we were strong enough to fix ourselves by ourselves then we would be very tempted to do so, right? Everyone is all about self-help and self-improvement in our culture these days. And in theory – I’m on board with that. But, the danger is in feeling and thinking that we, on our own, in a vacuum, can bring about all these beautiful changes.

We can bring about beautiful change, but only in communion with God. And that’s why your weakness is a good thing.

Your broken identity is an incredible opportunity to go to God in vulnerability and allow him to be your strength.

Imagine yourself as a little girl. You don’t know how to make your own lunch, but you are desperately hungry. Your dad is in the next room.

What is more logical – two make a huge mess of the kitchen and burn yourself on the stove trying to make your own lunch or simply going to the next room and asking your Dad for help? This is a loving Dad. He will make lunch for you. He knows that you can’t make it for yourself.

It would be crazy to think that He would expect you to do so.

And yet this situation is the same: we are desperate and unable to provide for our own needs. So why do we act like we have to check off the boxes alone and bring our completed checklist to God when it comes to healing our identity?

You don’t have to get to a place where you have things figured out before you come to God. Admitting that you feel worthless right now doesn’t degrade God’s love for you. I think that might be what we fear – admitting our feelings of lack to God would be like saying that He isn’t enough for us. That’s not what we’re saying at all.

Being honest with God we are saying that our minds and hearts are out of sync. We know in our mind that God is love – that He loves us. But we don’t feel it in our hearts yet. And when the chasm between our head and our heart can feel uncrossable, God can build a bridge.

We are just asking for his help to build that bridge. He knows we don’t know how to do it. So just like the little girl hungry for lunch, when we ask God to build that bridge for us he is delighted to oblige.

So here’s how we heal:

We bare our souls before God.

We pray, pray, pray.

We use science.

Writing is a proven way to create stronger connections between the head and the heart. In writing both how we feel now and how we desire God to form us we can use the very skills God created in us as humans to cooperate with God in strengthening the connection between our head and our heart.

We begin again every day.

I strongly recommend making the truth and scripture verses a regular part of your every day life. You can use one of our lock screens on your phone (head to Instagram to grab them from our story highlight), you can set up a desktop background on your computer, and very soon we will have a whole collection coming out created specifically to fill your day with these truthful verses.

The more we see the truth the more it gets written in our heart. Think about how much we get inundated with lies – from TV, movies, magazines, tears, and the culture at large. We are getting slammed with those lies day in and day out. It’s no wonder that we’re struggling to cling to truth. We have to give it a fighting chance. We have to fill our lives with it

We ask for help.

Go on this journey with sisters. Gather a small group of women from your church, school, or community to talk about identity. Talk about the lies that you believe about yourself and what you are trying to cooperate with God to believe. Affirm each other in who you are. Let friends and mentors have the opportunity to respond to the negative voices in your mind by vulnerably sharing your struggles with them. God desires to use us as his body presence in each others lives. Receiving affirmation from devout friends can remind us of how God sees us.

Broken identities can feel like wounds that won’t heal, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Not only can we heal, our journey of healing can lead us deeper with Christ, the true purpose of life on this Earth.

That sounds like a gift to me.

 

Trusting There’s a Place for You

Trusting There’s a Place for You

This post is part one of our ongoing series about identity – what your identity is, where it comes from, and how to let God be the one that shapes it, really. We are creating lots of amazing content to share with you free, and we’d hate for you to miss any of it so drop your email below and we will send you new resources as they come out!

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It was 2004, and it was my first day of high school. Fashions were questionable, track suits were in, and at least 3 trucker hats had already been confiscated from the lunchroom. And despite living in a small town and having just come up from the middle school with my entire class, it was lunchtime and I didn’t know where to sit. 

I’m 99% sure every single one of us has some version of the story. Doesn’t matter if it was the first day of elementary school, middle school, high school, college, or in the workplace, but there has been a time where each one of us has felt like there wasn’t an open seat for us. 

And that feeling is pretty much the worst.

So here’s an uncomfortable question: Do you feel like that in your everyday life? 

Do you ever feel like there’s nowhere that’s meant for you to sit, like there’s not a space at the table for you? Or, perhaps, even more disorienting, do you feel like you don’t belong at the table at all? Do you feel like you don’t have anything to offer even if you did get a chance to sit down?

I’ve felt this way many times throughout my life and honestly still do with more frequency than I really care to recall. And yet despite the commonality of this experience, I think we all still make believe that we are the only ones that feel this way. But when we hear someone, anyone, share that they feel the same, a connection springs to life, almost as if we’ve been tossed a life preserver and we feel like there is a ship out there somewhere that can haul us in. Really, truly, we stop feeling so alone. 

Do you believe there’s a place for you? That’s really what it comes down to.

It can be a hard question to look at there in black and white. 

Whenever I’m questioning whether I feel like I belong or not I love to read 1 Corinthians Chapter 12. In this letter Paul is talking about the spiritual gifts. I find it all comforting, but this verse is my favorite:

But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. – 1 Corinthians 12:18

It’s so matter of fact. It is… as He intended.

All the Puzzle Pieces

Have you ever done a huge puzzle? Every Christmas at my parent’s house they do 1000+ piece puzzles. It’s insanity. I am not a puzzle person, so I get overwhelmed just looking at the jumble when they first dump it out of the box.

Inevitably there is a face in there somewhere, or a light, or some other distinguishing characteristic that jumps out first. It’s the easiest two to recognize amongst all the other pieces, and placing them together is an easy quick win.

But then there’s still 998 more pieces to go.

And every piece, even that awkward bit of green that could go literally anywhere (Christmas puzzles literally have so many evergreens) has a spot that’s all it’s own. The puzzle will not be complete unless every piece, awkward little green and all, are nestled tightly into the grooves made for them.

That verse in 1 Corinthians makes me think of those puzzles because though God gives us different gifts, the puzzle is just as incomplete missing any one of us. It may seem like more fun to be a face piece or part of a lantern, but where does your eye go in a puzzle missing a piece?

The hole where the piece is missing.

Doesn’t matter where it is. Doesn’t matter if it’s part of the action or just the background.

The whole gets defined by its holes.

I firmly believe this is the way it is with the church as well. Every member is needed. Every member has a place, just as intentional as a puzzle piece, that they are called to fill.

So how do we live that?

1 Trust your puzzle piece spot is out there.

The NUMERO UNO theme of this series on Identity is that we have got to give God the benefit of the doubt for things we don’t see. That is trust. That is opening the door to radical relationship with Him.

Just because you don’t see your place right now, live like it’s out there. Make your default frame of mind an adventure with God and not a dreary march to nowhere when you don’t see the path. Start each day with the prayer

God, I have no idea what you’re doing. But I can’t wait to see what it is.”

… and avoid the mental litany of self deprecation…

“There’s no place for me. I don’t belong here. No one needs me.” (Umm, LIE.)

This thinking is 1.) a lie 2.) a copout 3.) the easy thing to do, and you’re better than that. It’s hard to trust. It’s hard to great each day with hope when you just keep feeling out of place. But it’s also brave. And you have it in you to be terribly brave. I know you do.

2. Expect it to take time.

Putting a puzzle together is a long process, and all the pieces sure as heck don’t get placed at the same time. In our family a 1000 piece puzzle might take a month and that’s a drop in the ocean compared to what we’re talking about here. Maybe we give God some grace in the timing of it all, shall we?

I know, it’s not easy. But what’s worth doing that is?

3. Rejoice and find hope when other people find their spot.

Competition just totally ruins the whole puzzle thing. Can you imagine puzzle pieces competing for a spot? Seriously, I want you to imagine little jealous bits of cardboard being fake and giving backhanded compliments trying to shove themselves into the wrong spot.

First of all, weird, second of all, probably painful, third of all, just why?

Our common mantra needs to be, “A Place for Everyone.” We need to actively desire for everyone to find their perfect spot, because frankly that’s an aspect of loving our own spot.

Instead of defaulting to jealousy, we need to default to praise. Any feelings of jealous need to get taken to Christ and given to Him to wrestle. Seriously, if you struggle with this, (umm, me, so this is preaching to myself) you need to accept God’s help with the jealousy. He doesn’t want that for you. He wants you to see the beauty of everyone being where they are as He intended.

Because that means you too.

This post is part of our ongoing series about identity – what your identity is, where it comes from, and how to let God be the one that shapes it, really. We are creating lots of amazing content to share with you free, and we’d hate for you to miss any of it so drop your email below and we will send you new resources as they come out!

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Do you struggle with feeling like there’s a place for you? Tell us about your experience in the comments, or drop a request for prayers on this front for yourself or others around you.

No More Lies: Creating Fertile Ground for a Healthy Identity

No More Lies: Creating Fertile Ground for a Healthy Identity

This post is part one of our ongoing series about identity – what your identity is, where it comes from, and how to let God be the one that shapes it, really. We are creating lots of amazing content to share with you free, and we’d hate for you to miss any of it so drop your email below and we will send you new resources as they come out!

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There was a little tingle of joy and fear mixed in my stomach. It was risky, but this was fun. “I can get away with this.” I thought to myself.

I was 5 years old and too smart for my own good. Lying became a game to me, because I could always keep the lie just within the realm of possibility. When people believed me, I felt powerful. Though reality stayed the same, it was like I reshaped it. So the feeling got addicting, and I got out of my depth.

It was clearly too elaborate to last, but my story of a full blown theatrical kindergarten class production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears kept my parents going for a bit. Eventually teacher/parent conversations where had, however, and my charade crumbled, along with my desire to keep dabbling in complicated lies. This kind of ending proved exponentially worse than the fleeting glee of getting away with something.

My time as a liar taught me something, however. It taught me what Satan has to gain with lies: that little flitting feeling of power. Think about his existence: he is the perpetual prequel, playing out a story where we all already know the end and *spoiler* it doesn’t go down so well for him. That is reality, and there’s not a whole lot of anything he can do about that.

But lying – there’s an interesting possibility. Reality still doesn’t get changed, but my, my he can get us to act like it is.

If you’re grasping at straws, kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?

He knows we are worth everything to God, since God sent His very son to die for us, but what if he can get us to act like we are worth nothing?

He knows our beauty is written in the very fabric of our being, but what if he can get us to act like our beauty is dependent on our youth and weight, or, better yet, that someone else’s beauty somehow cancels out our own?

He knows we are loved infinitely by pesky old God (always mucking things up), but what if he can get us to act like we have to run around hunting down love like an endangered species?

And that’s worked for him with us lately, right? Not all the time, but more than you’d like to admit? (I’m the first one raising my hand over here.)

No more.

It’s time for us to call him out for what he is: a liar. No more will we be letting him influence our perception of reality, because just like any daughter dealing with a bully, we’re going to call our Dad.

And Dad scares this bully. Like, for real.

We are going to call Dad over and over and over again, every time that bully shows his ugly face in our mind, our mirror, or our screens.

We are going to call Dad about the little lies and the big lies, the half truths and the insinuations. Putting our foot down means getting Dad to bring the thunder.

And oh boy can he bring the thunder.

We don’t fight lies. He does.

Sometimes we get onboard with fact that these are lies. Sometimes we even get riled up about believing better things about ourselves. But nine times out of ten (for me, maybe you’re awesome and defy the stats) we fail to make lasting change to our identity. Time passes and the same lies bubble up and we are back to square one.

Why is this?

Simply put, I think our default is to try and fight these battles with lies ourselves. The horde of hell is coming at us and we treat God like a spectator, loving us from over there and if we can only get through these lies then we will reach Him.

Baloney.

That is total crap. The reality is that God is next to us literally dying to go in and fight for us. This isn’t even some analogy. He literally died to fight for you. But are you treating Him like the B-team? Not probably intentionally, but in reality?

I totally do. It’s horrible to admit, but it’s the truth. I spend all my time jabbing at the lies with my little toothpick of truth and it doesn’t take a master strategist to figure out that’s not gonna get me too far.

It’s time to lay our toothpicks down and call in the big guns. God fights the lies, it’s just our job to ask Him to.

And that’s what we are going to be talking about for the next few weeks here at Pink Salt Riot.

We are going to go on this journey together, encouraging each other, helping each other, and inviting God into our community to fight these lies where they live – in each one of us. We have lots of amazing resources coming your way to help you on your journey, and we really want to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Drop your email right here and we will send you everything as it comes out!

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So, your turn. Tell us about the lies you heard Satan whispering to your heart and tell us about how you let God into the battle with those lies. We can’t wait to read your comments.

Resolving to Get Out of the Way

Resolving to Get Out of the Way

 

Now that Christmas is over (though not the Christmas season) and the flurry of activity that went along with it has dwindled, people are starting to turn their thoughts to what’s next: a new year. The new year brings with it a flurry of its own, in many ways opposite of the flurry just ended. Instead of preoccupation with holiday treats, gifts for others, and velvet dresses, our culture turns to salads, gym memberships, and sports bras. The outward focus turns in. Instead of delighting others we start to think about the version of ourselves we’d most like to see in the mirror. Resolution season begins.

I love the idea of New Year’s resolutions, but have yet to truly have a positive experience with one myself. I am not a skilled habit former and as soon as a habit is “set,” or so they say, I get too bored, busy, or exhausted to keep it up. The four month mark is where I stumble most frequently, long after the “experts” say the habit should be set and ready. This year I head into resolution season with a long line of failed resolutions in my wake, even last year’s push to lose weight which I maintained for 8 months before falling off the wagon early in my pregnancy when the only things that sounded edible were white bread and onion rings.

In September of this year I listened to a book by Jennie Allen called Nothing to Prove.

I was drawn to the title.

It was included in my Scribd subscription.

I had a lot of driving to do.

I didn’t expect an epiphany. It was the kind of book I read to feel like I was doing something about the overwhelming need I have to prove myself, because I knew it wasn’t great. And so I thought I would listen to this book while I trekked around the country and then I could check it off my list – I did something about it, I read a book. To do list item completed.

It wasn’t the book itself that really stayed with me, it was a whispering of the Holy Spirit that came while I was listening and kept coming in the months that followed. As Jennie talked about her journey to letting go of the desire to prove herself an image sprang to mind over and over again.

It’s like the moon.

We are just supposed to be the moon.

God is the sun, and we are the moon.

He is the light and we are the reflectors.

I know that I’m far from the first to make this analogy, in fact I recently discovered it appears in the Catechism itself. It’s a simple one, and obvious too. But I like to think that’s maybe why the moon works the way it does. I mean, it doesn’t have to be that way, right? God could have just given us a lesser light in the sky for night. But He didn’t. He only gave us one bright light. Only one.

I knew what the theme of my first release in 2019 would be. A collection was born.

At first I wondered if this whole idea of being the moon needed to be more than just a collection. I felt like this was a conversation we needed to be having as Christians. Why was no one talking about this? Maybe this idea was so important that it needed its own whole entity. Maybe it needed its own brand even, but then you know what?

Doing that would be me trying to be the sun. Again.

That Satan is a tricky one.

Even in trying to share this pure message there was that opportunity for me to feel like I discovered this light and was solely responsible for sharing it. I needed to be some kind of harbinger of change in the way we see ourselves and live our lives. And that is a very sun-ish thing to try to do.

I think the Holy Spirit inspired this collection not because I’m good at living out this idea of being the moon, but because I am rather awful at it. I love to make a difference. I love to provide the truth. But then there is always that temptation to think that the truth is mine. That sharing it rests on me. But the truth traveled on its merry way before me and will again just fine when I’m gone. The only thing that changes when I am here is that right now, while I am here, God desires that the truth bring me to Him. Just that.

I need to love you in Christian charity, but I don’t have to save you. God already did that. But what I can do is be a full moon pointing earnestly to the light of the sun through my own desolation. I can reflect because I have so little else to give, just like the moon.

The poet in me is also drawn to the extension of the metaphor – for though we can not provide light on our own God does allow us to draw the tides. We do change things. We do change people, sometimes even in our lack of light just as a new moon still draws the water.

But it’s not the trappings of a beautiful life that draw people in. It’s not your size, your level of attractiveness, your bank account, or the number of children you have. It’s the honesty of faith. It’s the courage of sharing. It’s the brokenness. When people share like the moon instead of the sun, we feel like, hey – me too. I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, but that’s because I’m not doing it. The good things are God’s, and I get to help.

It is not up to us to treat the truth like some pageant toddler, dressing it up and doing it’s makeup to make it an object of beauty to the rest of the world. A Christian life doesn’t have to be shiny to be a thing of beauty. It is a thing of beauty. And if we are acting like it takes all this work to even make it something shareable like the most overzealous pageant mom on the planet then haven’t we kind of done the opposite? Doesn’t that make it kind of unapproachable?

So what does all this have to do with resolutions?

Just this: [ctt template=”8″ link=”j5qdf” via=”yes” ]I want to challenge you to a resolution to get out of the freaking way.[/ctt]

Start thinking about yourself like the moon.

Stop trying to make light and start just basking in light.

That doesn’t mean quit all your ministries, volunteering, and apostolates. It doesn’t mean you stop helping people and just wait for God to lightning bolt everything into place. It doesn’t mean you don’t still try and lose some weight or hit the gym a couple times a week. Heck, it doesn’t mean I close my business and just stop making things.

It just means you think about it all in better way.

It’s a fine line, but I think 90% of us are over it the wrong direction. I am. I still I am. I have been writing and designing and photographing for this collection for 3 months and it hasn’t changed me nearly as much as I’d like. But I think telling you that is part of being the moon for me, because I think that a big part of being the moon is not being afraid, especially of what people will think.

As a creative voice in the Christian small business and art community, I think the desire to light things up is especially strong. The pressure is coming from somewhere (coughENEMYcoughcough) to be an inspiration, to know the answers, to lead the troops like we are the ones that know how to do these things. Not bad things, not necessarily wrong things. But so, so easily wrongly motivated things. If he (enemy again) can’t get us to stop talking then at least he can get us to speak with pride and undo ourselves in the process.

The antidote is reliance on God and courage. That’s it. We don’t plan it all out in advance, we don’t make safety nets for ourselves, we don’t put up with BS. God saves and we get to help sometimes.

If this idea speaks to you, I’d love to have you join our simple 7 day free email challenge that will walk you through evaluating your own sun-ish tendencies in totally non judgmental way, because, as mentioned, this is not something I am amazing at. I created this challenge not out of my own expertise, but as I walked through my own process of identifying pride and lack of reliance on God in my life. This is absolutely not “Seven Days to a Perfect Moony Faith,” which is what I’m supposed to say for click bait, but I’m choosing to break the rules and #benotafriad.

If you’d like to join you can sign up right here:

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This is simply an evaluation process. Take a week, and figure out where in your life you need to stop trying to look perfect, trust God, and get out of the way. And then you’ll have some groundwork for a resolution that could really make a difference in your relationship with God.

On January 7 we are going to be launching a small collection called “Moon.” It is simple and designed to be wearable and usable for everyday so that if you are one of the people like me who strives a little too hard you can keep a physical reminder of your commitment to trust and courage with you throughout your day. I have always found that when I tether my spiritual practices to things in my everyday I am much more successful in the long run at living them.

If you decide to take up the challenge to get out of the way in 2019, let me know in the comments. I’d also love to hear how PSR can support you in your quest!

Five Ways to Find Peace in the Busy Advent Season

Five Ways to Find Peace in the Busy Advent Season

As the calendar closes in on Christmas it’s easy to lose sight of the peace that is supposed to come with this season. If your Advent is headed in a less than peaceful direction, here are five strategies to get back on track.

Write it all down.

If you don’t have a family calendar the other eleven months out of the year, make one for December. Put everyone’s commitments on it, starting with the non-negotiables.

Also, make lists of everything you need to do this month, and if you aren’t a paper planner person why not print a copy of our Christmas Checklist from our freebie library this month? You can become a member for free here, or current members can log in right here (search your inbox for “Pink Salt Riot” if you can’t remember your password – we try and include it in every email!).

 

You can print as many as you need for yourself, and the rest of your family as well. If you have kids old enough to have their own holiday to dos you can also print one for each of them and guide them in writing down gifts they want to make, purchase, or wrap, and other seasonal things they need to get done.

Shop early and from as few places as possible.

Do not procrastinate on gifts that matter to you! There is nothing that steals holiday peace quite like constantly checking to see if your gifts will arrive in time. Select a few retailers that will be able to meet the majority of your gifting needs and place your orders in early December. Then you will have just a few packages to keep track of, and the bulk of your shopping will be knocked out quickly.

Here at Pink Salt Riot we like to think that we are a pretty excellent one stop shop for the girls and women on your list. With everything from stickers, tattoos, and pencils to fine customizable jewelry, you can knock out stocking stuffers, gifts for your sisters, moms, and girlfriends all in one stop. We also ship orders out within 2 business days, even in the heart of the holiday season and most of our US customers have their orders in hand in 5 business days.

Say no.

It’s easy to get buried under a pile of commitments in December. But it’s also a great opportunity to look at your priorities and be intentional about what you say yes to. When you’re filling out that family calendar from #1, why not take a moment to consider whether each activity supports your priorities and serves to prepare your family for Christmas. Not everything is optional, i know, but consider what matters most in allocating your time this season.

Make time to enjoy the season as a family.

Put some time on your calendar to do fun family activities, either with old traditions or new ones you’d like try. Some fun ideas include baking as a family, decorating cookies, caroling at a nursing home, or wrapping presents as a family for other friends and extended family members. Let the joy of the season be something you experience as a family and not just something something you rush through as individuals.

Make time to reflect on the gift of Christmas yourself.

It’s important to remember that the Advent season is meant to be a season like Lent, a time of reflection and preparation. We reflect not only on Jesus’ coming 2000 years ago, but His coming into our own hearts and lives. If we don’t take the time to reflect, we miss out on so much of the grace the season has to offer, and therefore a great source of peace, no matter how busy the season is.

There are so many great Advent reflection programs out there, but the two that I personally recommend are the Blessed Is She study, Bearing Light, and the reflection program I run each year called A Beauty Full Advent.

What do you do to keep a peaceful heart in Advent? We’d love to hear your thoughts and practices in the comments!

Giving Thanks for Everything Else

Giving Thanks for Everything Else

I think I am always going to look back at 2018 as the year I grew up.

Pink Salt Riot has grown from me + two very part time students in my living room to a full fledged business with a CFO, three directors, and a team of makers in a brand new studio. But the transitions have been hard – full of growing pains, mistakes on my part, and risks I wish had gone a different way.

This year has also been one of growing personally: putting my children in school for the first time while navigating both giftedness and special needs, exploring my own talents as a teacher and an artist in new ways, renovating our mid-century home and, most recently, saying goodbye to my unborn daughter at just 15 weeks in early November.

So much has happened, and so much has been things I didn’t want to happen. There was more than a little kicking and screaming involved.

But now I find myself getting ready for Thanksgiving, preparing my family for the trek to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and realizing that this year has given me more to be thankful for than any year prior. And it’s not just that I appreciate the good things more, I think the grace of God has actually allowed me to find the thankfulness for the struggles as well.

The business has helped me be thankful for the gifts of others: the joy of our makers, the incredible focus and organizational skills of our Ops Director, the dependability and flexibility of our Marketing Director, the patience of our CFO working with an artist who has nightmares about journal entries and account reconciliation.

Each of these team members bring something to the business I never could – themselves. Sometimes I long for the relational simplicity of the soloprenuer life I lived for so long, but that’s the bad days. That’s when I realize that though running my business used to be easier, it was poorer, not necessarily financially, but spiritually. There was only so much I could give, and I felt the constant call for more from my audience. My team is that more. Their presence pushes me out of my comfort zone every day and there is not a doubt in my mind that that is making me a better artist, leader, and person – perhaps even into the beginnings of the person God desires me to be.

So for all the struggles, I am thankful.

My struggles with navigating school for my children, most especially my gifted four year old, have also been challenging, but they have helped me see the importance of viewing each person as an individual and realizing deeply that that is how God looks at us. It has helped me appreciate the struggles and sacrifices of my parents to provide me with a challenging education in light of my own giftedness. It has helped me see my son as a gift full of possibility, requiring a level of dedication from me above and beyond the norm because he has been given talents and gifts that have the potential to affect and shape the world above and beyond the norm.

So for all the struggles, I am thankful.

This year I also felt a call to dedicate myself to art in a deeper way than ever before. Though I showed early aptitudes for drawing, writing, poetry, and photography, much of the skill I built as child has fallen to the wayside in adulthood, except for the skills I do still use in my work. Somehow toddler motherhood and small business ownership hasn’t left a lot of time to paint and write recreationally. I still struggle frequently with frustration that I feel called to things I am not yet a professional at, and I resent the fact that time to practice, and not simply produce, is necessary.

I wrestled with this all summer particularly, and actually God has spoken to this need for time directly through the Pink Salt Riot team. They have all been getting so good at their jobs that there is less and less for me to do and more and more time for me to be creating better art for both our brand and myself. In short, God has opened the time for me to practice.

But you know what?

I hate to practice.

I like to be good at things.

And so even with the time given back to me, it has been a struggle to sit my butt down and make bad art. It’s hard to practice. Just like it’s hard to practice our faith. Have you ever noticed that’s what we call it? “Practicing” our faith?

I am at a time of tremendous opportunity in my life – a time when I can grow in discipline that will renew my life as an artist, but also as a Christian.

So for the all the struggles, I am thankful.

Our beautiful, maddening home is also a constant source of struggle that has, even still, taught us to be thankful for shelter. Our AC was sub standard for most of the Oklahoma summer, our electric and plumbing are ancient, and it felt like all we could do to simply paint all the mid century dark wood that made it feel like we were living in some kind of a underground lair after four years of enduring it. The paint on our kitchen cabinets ended up not taking two coats like we expected, but five to seven. On 40+ cabinets and drawers.

But our home feels like ours now after all the paint. The big yards are our children’s favorite playgrounds. And the constant fear that a major system will go kaput gives us a very tangible opportunity to trust God to provide.  

So for all the struggles, I am thankful.

And then, there’s Frances, my infant daughter that went home to God on All Saints Day. I found out I was pregnant my children’s first day of school. I liked the idea that I was not going to be away from all my children at any point this year. And even as I sit and write this I am aware that now I am here by myself, with an empty womb like an empty tomb inside of me.

Frances is everything that’s bittersweet in life. She is the saint from our inner circle, and I know she prays for us. But she is also the hole in our inner circle here on Earth, the open space that will never be filled until heaven.

Her sonogram picture hangs in the hall next to my other children’s portraits. Her life existed, her life mattered, and it matters still. She has deepened my pro-life views, and helped me find a new and shattering empathy with women who feel trapped into letting their unborn babies go before they have the chance to live. She has given me new empathy for the thousands of women who have walked this road before me, including my own mother. She has helped me find a longing for heaven that I have never experienced before.

So for all the struggles, I am thankful.

Wherever you are this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to count the blessings amidst your struggles even more than the blessings that come with a bow. My husband is wonderful. It takes very little from me to be thankful for him, or for my children (although that does fluctuate with their decibel level). It takes a lot more to be thankful for the struggles. The day to day gratitude should be the easy stuff- the things would could take for granted, but choose not to. But I think if we are going to take a whole day, or week even, to be about thankfulness, we need to dig in and till up our deepest feelings about everything that has touched us this year – good and bad. We need to take this gift of time and sit with it all.

Because I think, at the end of the day, a good Thanksgiving is one where we look past the turkey, and the iPhones, and the good jobs, and find the thankfulness for the hardest things we’ve faced this year. 

I think that’s when we grow.

Happy Thanksgiving, and please know that we are deeply thankful for you.