I love this message from John Riley, my dad, about Monday.
noun (pl. heroes)
a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities
Somehow, somewhere, we women got it in our heads that our men are unshakeable. That nothing should affect them, especially the way it affects us… They are the strong ones… There isn’t anything they can’t shrug off and move on from. Well, this simply isn’t true. And that fact doesn’t make them any less of a hero.
I don’t always allow him to do that. I don’t always tell him what an amazing provider he is and how strong and courageous he is to fight the daily battles that I could never withstand. I’m not always his biggest cheerleader and I don’t always let him know that there is no one, to me, like he is.
I want to. I do.
MY will gets in the way.
MY clouded perception of who does what and who should do more or less, creeps up.
MY skewed sense of self worth puts up a wall that isn’t always easily torn down and instead of voicing my insecurity, I lash out.
MY self centeredness kicks in, more than I would like to admit and within moments, my priorities can center solely around my wants.
This is not something I’m proud of.
Here is the solution. And I know this, because I have failed at so many other ways of trying.
Please join me on the blog over at leadingandlovingit.com/blog for the rest of this post.
I finally realized that even though I “believed” something, didn’t mean I “received” it. It took me releasing clenched fists and raising open palms to Heaven in admittance of my utter dependence on the one who created me and calls me by name. Savior of the world…Messiah…Jesus. Only then was I able to exchange my rags of ruin for his cloak of grace.
At times, God shows up where I least expect Him and He whispers to my heart, without words, “Joy, watch this.”
I step out onto the third story terrace and look out as a mama bear and her cubs emerge from the thick foliage into the open area of the backyard. She will dig and rummage for food as the two little ones tumble and climb not too far from her reach. I am reminded that they do not worry about what they will eat or drink. She does not store up extra for her babies. She steps out in faith (of sorts) and trusts that she will find the food needed for herself and her little ones. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. In a few moments of a summer afternoon, in the backyard of my sister in law’s mountain home, God shows up and in a tangible expression of love, shows me that He sees me, reminding me that I am His and He is mine.
I want to take a minute to say, “Thank you.”
To those of you who have shared my writings all over social media,
To those who have read and commented,
To those who are receiving notifications of new posts,
To those who aren’t afraid to disagree with me,
To those who I’ve never even met, but consistently send me encouragement,
To those who email me with desperate pleas for help with addiction, eating disorders or something else you know I have walked through,
To those who find community here…
It is such a privilege to share this space with you.
I love that we have comments from all over the world complimenting our stories. It’s incredible to read of the laughter and tears shed (sometimes in the same sitting) while reading posts and comments on these pages.
If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that I’m a egomaniac with an inferiority complex. Some days my feet never touch the ground, while other days my face never leaves the dirt. I am my own worst critic with an inner cheerleader. I fluctuate between feeling like a goddess and an ogre. I am either the happiest, most optimistic person in the room or the anxiety ridden pessimist who draws the blinds and sits in the dark.
Through all of the emotions, I have written. The one constant in my physical life has been the ability to verbally vomit when needed and find healing in the chaos. Through the journey of starting my own business, grieving the loss of someone close to me and walking into incredibly fragile situations with families I had never met, to document the last few moments of their baby’s life, I know I can come here, to this page and process.
I have been completely overwhelmed (in a good way) by the response to many of the things I write. Astounded that anything I have to say would resonate with anyone else and move them to positive action. Elated to find that I am not alone in any struggle.
I am so grateful to you for using what I know to be valuable, precious time, to be with me for a few moments. It’s a gift and one that I do not take for granted.
The days ahead are full. And though I can’t come visit with you as much as I would like, please know that I think of you, my beautiful readers, all the time. I pray for you and I thank God for you.
Thank you for investing in my story.
I’ve had this song playing in the background many times, but for some reason this time, the words grabbed my attention enough to keep me sitting in my car in the driveway. Images of my beautiful friends who have walked through the darkness and come out on the other side, came flooding to mind.
People like Emily Wierenga who survived a vicious eating disorder that almost took her life. She now spends her life telling others her story through art, words and actions in hopes of shining light in the darkness.
Jennifer Riley who is by far the most creative person I know. She spends everyday creating beauty for other people. She doesn’t even know how incredible she really is.
Mollymorgan who chose life and has been recovering from anorexia for 3 years. Does she have any idea how proud I am of her?
Julie Taylor who has overcome a drug addiction thought only to be defeated in death.
This post is for you.
It’s for those still in the dark.
For the children who don’t have a choice.
It’s for the ones who are at the jumping off place. Numb and afraid that you will never feel anything again.
This is for all of you who want to scream, but don’t have a voice.
I want you to know that whether your monster is addiction, an eating disorder, discrimination because of your sexual preference or the color of your skin, depression, anxiety, abuse…
I love you. Your Creator, God, loves you. He knows your name.
And you were made to shine.
Press play to listen to “Burn Bright”
Feel free to download a pdf version of the picture and quote in this post.
Baby Burn Bright pdf
If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, please, please, get help. It is serious and it wants to take your life. You can start by visiting the National Eating Disorders Association.
If you are, like I was, broken & without hope, I beg you to reach out to someone at one of the resources listed below. Click on the name and it will take you directly to the website. As long as you are breathing, there is still hope.
People of the Second Chance
Central Christian Church: Las Vegas
To Write Love on Her Arms
Hello Wonderful Readers!
I truly miss you! I have been so disconnected from this community and it is obvious in my life. I need to write! It is a reset for my brain. It brings all the chaos into alignment.
So much is going on that I want to tell you about. So much so that I had to check in to say that I’m going to do better. I’m going to be intentional about documenting with words, the way I’m documenting with pictures.
Dawn takes on a whole new light (literally) it’s captivating the way the sun sneaks up and begins illuminating the sky.
The most important things in my life this October are the fact that my man and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage. TEN. What?!
The fact that he has not only tolerated me but championed my dreams is beyond my ability to understand. I am so grateful.
For those of you reading this and thinking (Nice…another story of true love and a perfect marriage. I think I’m gonna barf.) Please do not be fooled. We have been through darkness so thick, we weren’t sure we would ever see the light of day. I can be totally stoked that Chris and I made it this far because the challenges we have overcome are proof that there is a God as nothing else could have accompanied us and navigated the road of unknowns.
Oh, a few quick details about the pictures…
- We had just said, “I do” and “I do too” on a gondola in Las Vegas’, Venetian Hotel.
- We were married by a minister we had never met and have not seen since.
- I wasn’t wearing white.
- There was no church.
- Chris won a large sum of money at the roulette table he passed while walking to our ceremony.
- We lived like rock stars for a week.
- I was 2 weeks shy of completing my first year free from the addiction of all mind altering substances. (My drug of choice was whatever was available at the time. Do you have any idea how many mind altering substances are available at any given time in Vegas?)
- I have not been back to Vegas since we married. Not because I don’t want to, I just haven’t had reason to.
- There are people who still haven’t spoken to us after our decision to “elope to sin city” (sometimes people have to weed themselves out of our lives before we discover that we’re better for it)
Another date that is just as important to me is my sobriety date, which will represent 11 years this month. A girl like me…sober…for 11 years?! Yet another tangible example of a Higher Power working and moving. He has used my story so much in the last year. It’s crazy awesome and frightening and beautiful. (That will have to be its own post)
Big things are happening in my life and the life of my family. Bigger things than I ever could have conjured up for myself. Bigger than I have ever known and yet incredibly simple. I didn’t say easy. I said simple. In other words, not complicated. Not diluted by self-doubt and ridicule from skeptics. Things that have nothing to do with money or fame or worldly success.
Spiritually I am going deeper, wider, and more fully committed than I even knew possible. I am no longer sticking my toe out, cringing while bracing for the worst. I am leaping off cliffs that at one time paralyzed me. I am discovering true, unpolluted, without hesitation, faith.
I want to tell you all about it as it unfolds, but I must be patient and wait for the words. I must enjoy every morsel without thought of the next.
It comes to me in the most peculiar of places. I write on whatever is available to me, knowing that if I don’t capture it in that very moment, I will never remember it quite the same way.
I so want this kind of freedom for you, my friends. But I cannot give it to you. It is something that must be sought out through complete surrender, asked for and accepted. (Often times we think the difficulty is in the asking, when really it is our inability to accept when goodness is being offered)
The days ahead are exciting ones. I look forward to our journey together.
Until then, may bountiful blessings and all that is light be yours.