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Good Words

Friends, my playlist is about to get a major Mama makeover. Elliott and I have never been the kind of parents to keep our preferred music away from our son. Sure, some of the content got watered down once little man’s ears started to pick up on words, but we never fully converted our music of choice over to a Kidz Bop-approved variety. Over the last year or so, Brooks – our son who is now five years old – has taken a special interest in singing along with me to the songs that are on my playlist. We sing in the car, he sings along with the music while I work out or while we run down back country roads. It’s kind of become our thing. When we get to the songs that are filled with uplifting messages – messages that reinforce our faith or encourage self-confidence – I always say, “Listen, buddy! These are good words.” After a few months of me reminding him to pay close attention to the lyrics in certain songs, Brooks has now started to ask me, “Mommy, are these good words?” wh

The Season of Redemption

It’s been a year.

It’s been almost exactly a year since life changed. I’m trying to think of a less generic and dramatic way to say that, but I don’t know any other words that are more accurate. A year ago, I woke up to the reality that I had become a version of myself that I didn’t recognize, respect or like. That’s a brutal place to be. I had been heading toward this place for a year or more, making the same poor choices over and over, looking for ways to fill an ache and an emptiness and reaching for all the wrong things. There was a pain that I couldn’t quite name and a loneliness that I couldn’t quite overcome. And on top of that, there was an image that I had to uphold, or so I thought. Most folks had no idea there was a problem, because I put more importance on showing up with my face on than actually fixing what was broken inside.

In the midst of a sea of unfortunate choices, I did a few semi-healthy things along the way to try and feel better. I tried to maintain open communication with my husband, even when I was telling him things that hurt him. I read a self-help book or two. I did a lot of Googling. I sprinkled in a few counseling sessions, in secret of course, because I felt ashamed. I went to church every Sunday, despite feeling like a hypocrite a lot of the time. Although there was a smattering of decent choices along the way, much of how I was living felt like it was in darkness.

And then, a year ago, everything came to a head. And I had a choice to make. I could keep heading down the path I was on. Or I could change. And not just change, in the sense of making a few small tweaks here and there. If I was going to really change, it would be a fundamental shift of who I was, how I acted and where I was headed. It meant a total lifestyle overhaul. And that’s what I chose.

All of this went down at Christmastime. There was such a pain and a beauty in that. In some ways, it was incredibly difficult to make festive attempts and celebrate what is supposed to be a happy season, when I knew I had caused pain for myself and the ones who loved me the most. But as I think back on it now, there was a significant beauty in the new beginning that was birthed during that season. My husband and I had some of our longest and most honest talks in our kitchen during that time. Although there was no official renewing of vows, we committed to starting over together and learning from all the mistakes we had made along the way. There were a lot of tears. There were a lot of hugs. There were a lot of honest words. There was a lot of grace. There was redemption.

I couldn’t fully see it then, as I was walking through that season, but experiencing such significant redemption is so very appropriate at Christmas. At the heart of why we celebrate this holiday, once you cut through all the presents, decorations and distractions of the season, redemption is being sent to us in the form of a perfect baby boy. Grace wrapped itself in flesh and came to earth to save us, so that we don’t have to live feeling guilty, alone or ashamed. As I experience the current Christmas season, this truth has washed over me and given me an unshakeable confidence that redemption is there for all of us, if we choose to accept the gift. And what better time to accept a precious gift than Christmastime?

I’ve written about this before, but no matter where you are or what you’ve done, you are just one choice away from turning around. There is nothing keeping you from stopping in your tracks and going another way. It’s hard – don’t let anyone tell you it’s not. And you won’t get it right every day. You’ll stumble, you’ll fall, you’ll mess up and have days where you feel like you haven’t progressed at all. But that’s a lie. The truth is that if you really put the honest work in of changing your own life, and you keep your eyes fixed on the One that is your most perfect and gracious guide, you will eventually be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.

When I think about the word “redemption” now, I have a specific image that fills my mind. It’s a memory that is etched into my brain from this time one year ago. I’m standing in my living room, near our Christmas tree, looking at my mama, who showed up for me on that hard day – like she always does – even when I didn’t deserve it. An earthly reminder of the amazing grace that we are freely given. I was talking to her, not knowing how things were going to turn out. Not knowing if restoration and redemption were possible. I believe that God allows this memory to return to me over and over, to remind me of his persistent redemption. Of how far things have come, and what a miracle that truly is.

Maybe redemption is the gift that you’ve never fully unwrapped. Maybe grace – from yourself, your loved ones or your Creator – is something you haven’t allowed yourself to accept just yet. You know what they say, friends…the best time to plant a tree was 100 years ago. The next best time is right now. Today. This minute. Go plant your tree. Receive your gift. Believe that you were created to be loved and forgiven and redeemed. Trust that your story has a purpose. Embrace this magical season when Love came down to prove that all of these things are true.

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

May the God of hope, peace and redemption be more real to you this Christmas than ever before.

Merry Christmas, friends.


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