Five-minute Friday: “Story”

Story. There’s a popular cliche that’s well known in counseling circles: “Home is where your story begins.” I love that because it is quite true that every story begins at home – a place of nurture, for better or for worse. Yet it’s also true that the place where you’re able to begin telling your story can become home. Hence my calling as a counselor. I consider it a deep privilege to become “home” for someone’s story. Maybe the first time they’ve shared about deep wounds or fragile hope or shattered places in their heart. And story is what shapes you, as well as what you shape each choice of each day of your life.

Story. To live in God’s story for me is another way of saying to live according to God’s will. Am I living a story of God’s glory or of my own comfort/pleasure/fulfillment? Have I remembered that Christ is the HOME for my story? He is where my story begins, and ends. Christ as the place where I am free to share every detail of my story, and Christ as the ultimate Story-teller. His story gives mine meaning, depth, light, darkness. His presence assures me that my story will never be meaningless or hopeless.

Story is captivating. And it is in daring to share our story boldly, honestly, freely, that we will have connection to others. Community is about shared-story-living (and shared-story-shaping). My story is never solitary. It’s part of a whole, and touches your story in similar ways that your story will touch mine.

There is a beginning. A middle. An end. I can tell you its beginning; the middle is what I wade through daily; the end is a mystery kept by God. Maybe in remembering where I am in my story will I be able to better live out the story of who I am; who God’s making me to be; living true to the story he is writing for me.


I’m participating today in Lisa-Jo’s “Five Minute Friday” where you write for five minutes on a topic, unedited. Fun way to get a quick blog post and stir the creative writing process.

Five Minute Friday: “Broken”

I think of hearts metaphorically speaking. Broken after a severed relationship, severed by grief or a break-up or moving or death or relational discord.

And bones. I’ve had a few in my day – two broken arms when I was younger; a broken ankle when in college. Nothing since. (thank goodness!)

Broken implies a need to be healed. Waiting for restoration. Gently cradling and nursing the hurt place, the hurt bone, stabilizing what is broken so that healing can come. It will come. But it takes time.

It was six weeks of a cast on my arm. And you begin to get used to it before finally you’re free. But being healed and being whole feels strangely light after being broken. The process is painful but the result is beautiful. Getting that cast off my arm, and my arm felt like it was light as air. Same with the one a few years later; and then several years later at college. I was only too glad to say farewell to the cast and the crutches.

Now as to hearts after being broken. Well, that’s a different story. There is no six week cure. But the healing is just as sure. Just as certain. There’s simply more waiting involved.


I’m participating today in Lisa-Jo’s “Five Minute Friday” where you write for five minutes on a topic, unedited. Fun way to get a quick blog post and stir the creative writing process.

why completion is harder to write about than the struggle

When Sammy the plumber made his last visit to our newly renovated bathroom yesterday, I breathed a sigh of relief. First of all, please note that we know our plumber by name. We should. He has become a household name to my daughters over the past 4.5 months that we [Seth] has been working on renovating our master bathroom. This is because we live in a house built in the early 1900s and one that was remodeled by someone proud of their DIY mentality yet with little skill. Or maybe they just became lazy along the way. This “master bathroom” was one of their projects, and each stage of remodeling uncovered another layer of poor workmanship and shoddy structure. Such as the clothesline that held a few of the bathroom pipes together. Or the prefab shower that wasn’t actually attached to any structural part of the house – simply nailed up to the drywall. And the icing on the cake was the fact that they had actually cut through a load-bearing supporting beam of the house in this “remodeling” project.

All of this added up to what should have been a relatively quick and easy “re-do” becoming a long and arduous process. Thank goodness I am married to a man who is a perfectionist about these things, committed to persevering through details and behind-the-scenes-structure in order for it to be done right. At one point, he asked a structural engineer friend from church to consult with him as he worked on rebuilding the floor joists. After their brainstorming session, this friend graciously volunteered to come help Seth with that foundational work – which included building a temporary wall in our kitchen to support the floor above while they reinforced it. Wow.

I could go on and on about Seth’s work; my frustrations; interrupted naptimes; living in a construction zone. Etc. Etc. In fact, it would be easier to talk to you about the struggle of this process of rebuilding our 4′ by 8′ bathroom. It’s easier to describe the process with its highs (choosing a good paint color; finding a picture that perfectly complemented this bathroom; how the glass doors came in just in time) and lows (see paragraph above) than to wax eloquent about what it’s like now that it’s completed.

Isn’t that true about life too? It is in the process of parenting that we are prolific; in the waiting of pregnancy we hope and dream and speak – the birth comes and we are speechless. I find that when I am walking through a trial, words come more easily than when that trial is done. Or if I speak about a trial in the past tense, my words sound a bit empty – a little too “tie-a-ribbon-on-it” perfect.

As a “J” personality, I am always longing for closure. (Referring to the Myers-Briggs personality test – J or P – which are you? Also closely related to type A or type B.) And yet. When closure comes, there is a sense of emptiness in it. The home project, as beautiful as it is, is never quite as fulfilling as I imagined it would be. The successfully potty trained twins don’t make life 150% easier as I had pictured it. [Enter comic relief: we now do potty RUNS wherever we go, like the Virginia Aquarium this morning when I grabbed my two-year-old by the hand after she announced she needed to go potty; and we fought crowds like it was an emergency.] I think this is life this side of heaven. The completion feels great, for a moment, but never quite all it should be. For we are still longing for a Day of Completion to come.

Meanwhile, we’re in the struggle. And let’s write about it together, giving words and hope and meaning to the waiting.

On vulnerability, leadership, and courage

I am a big fan of Brene Brown. She is known as a shame-researcher whose TED talk on vulnerability went viral and pushed her into fame. What she says connects with us as humans who are all hiding yet want to be known. We’ve been doing that since the beginning of it all. See the first act of this tragedy starring Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.

I listened to an interview with her this past weekend, and one sentence has haunted me. In that really good way, of sticking in your mind and being a place you want to return to over and over and over. An idea that you want to incorporate into you, and who you are, and how you live. She said,

Leadership without vulnerability breeds disengagement. 

All of us can think of leaders who engaged us through their own vulnerability, and those who alienated many through their lack thereof. What kind of leader are you? And don’t say, “well, I’m not a leader.” Because you are. Are you a parent? An older sibling? A cousin? A friend? Someone looks up to you, whether you realize it or not. How are you leading? With courage and vulnerability? Or through hiding, trying to cover up and appear as strong?

Here is one working definition of courage, according to Brene Brown:

This is the impetus behind my blogging, my speaking, and my writing. Oh, that it would also be the way that I parent, befriend, mentor, shepherd, and counsel! Let’s do this together. For we the Redeemed have the greatest reason for courage, in the love of God the Father who’s made us forever beautiful in Jesus Christ. Our brokenness is exchanged for his beauty. We are free to be courageous, and to lead through our vulnerability.

If you’re also a fan, what’s one of your favorite Brene quotes? I’d love to hear it.



why “hidden glory”?

I’ve been thinking about why I have the blog title that I do – “hidden glory” seems obscure, not very focused or necessarily clear in what it’s about. Yet it fits my purpose for blogging. Writing for me is a way of seeking meaning out of what can be confusing about life; writing is part of my quest to find the glory that is hidden all around us. So at times that means I’m writing about parenting; other times it’s a book review; or a counseling topic; or my meditations on a passage of the Bible; or reflections about my own life; or just observations in general. In all of these, I am inherently seeking the Truth and the Light {coincidentally what my daughters’ names mean} that I believe can and will be found there.

Our lives are tragically flawed yet beautifully redeemed. That’s my hope; that’s a summary of the glory hidden where all who seek may find.

I’m reposting my very first blog post from September 13, 2005, about my title:

Hmm…my first post. There’s a lot of pressure…so I’m just going to start with the quote that inspired the blog title.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” ~the apostle Paul in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians

We are glorious beings. Yet the glory is hidden. Beneath sin, failings, and simply the frailty that comes with being human.

I desire to explore this strangely beautiful dichotomy in which we are appointed as image bearers of hidden glory. And to invite others into this journey with me.

Waiting for Perfect

I am going to try an experiment suggested by Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project, which I picked up for a good summer read last week. (Who wouldn’t want to read a book about happiness, right?) She talked about launching her blog, and that someone advised her that if she did so, she should write daily. Hmm… Something I certainly haven’t done here. But why not?

I say I don’t have time. (But I probably do.)

I am afraid I won’t have things to write about. (But I’m always thinking about something.)

I think you won’t want to read it. (But you’ve proven you will – thank you!)

I want it to be perfect. Perfectly expressed, polished, magazine-worthy article that will move your heart and your soul and change your life and get me lots of re-posts and “likes.” There, it’s out there.

I want it to be perfect because I want to be perfect, or at least for you to think I’m perfect. That’s the allure of the internet. I’ll only Instagram what I want you to see about my life – the happy smiles, the weddings enjoyed, the perfect-looking family moments of strawberry picking and visiting local restaurants and overall having a fabulous time in life. I tend to Facebook days when life’s going well. And when it’s not going well, and life is less than perfect, and I don’t have words to say and I feel like an awful mom and wife and friend, I hide. It’s easy to do in virtual reality, because there’s not usually people saying, “Hey! I haven’t seen you on Instagram lately. What’s your life been up to?” “No Facebook statuses lately, Heather – are you doing ok?” “No blogs in a month – everything going all right for you?”

This post said it well and got me thinking. Enjoy it. And I’ll (hopefully) be back tomorrow for another perhaps less-than-profound post.

Body image and the gospel

I just found out that I had the honor of being quoted in an important article on body image over at The Gospel Coalition Blog. You can read more here (quoted from an article written before I was married, so my maiden name is used): 9 things you should know about body image

memoir writing workshop

Two of my favorite things discovered anew in 2012 are lavender hot chocolate at Stella’s Cafe (I mentioned that in my last post) and the free memoir writing workshop I saw advertised at our local library. It seemed to have my name all over it (pun intended): meeting on Friday (the day Seth can watch the girls for me), once a month, and FREE. For a long time I have wanted to get some sort of additional input/training on writing, but the opportunity never presented itself so clearly. As I showed up at 10:25 on the first meeting in January, I was almost giddy with excitement. And I felt very young. With the exception of our instructor (someone my age who is getting his Masters of Fine Art at a local university), I was the youngest by at least 30 years. Perhaps longer. Sweet, dear old women who have lived life with stories to tell. Like long, memoir-length stories to tell of immigrating from Europe and Russia, having children, grandchildren, careers, and years of retirement (one woman’s been retired 25 years which should make her at least 75 by a conservative estimate). When I floated my idea of writing about my life thus far through the lens of the various places I’ve lived, each of them representing a distinct season of my life, one woman replied, “Honey, you’ve only had two seasons of life.” Well meaning, I’m sure. But I’ll admit my enthusiasm was a bit squelched by her dose of reality.

Nonetheless, I began writing my memoir and returned to our February meeting with my typewritten 5-page draft. It felt good to be back in “school” with an “assignment.” I was eager to share it and get feedback. Alas, our group had doubled in size and so most of the hour was spent reviewing last month’s class – with the instructor repeating every few sentences because much of the group cannot hear very well. Then there was the woman who responded to finding out that I had twin daughters by walking me to the door after class and asking me quietly, “So, were they natural?” Oh, my. I didn’t think we were that close yet.

All jokes aside, I really am enjoying the experience to mix with an entirely different generation than I’m a part of, and I am looking forward to hearing the beginnings of their memoirs, whenever we get to that part. Maybe in March? I can’t set my expectations too high, as this class is free, after all. At least I’m getting good connections with other students of writing, picking up a few helpful tools along the way, and it’s provided outside motivation to write.

During the last five minutes of class, I shared my first paragraph with them – and I’ll do so with you, too. There wasn’t time for the full critique I was hoping for, and half of those at the table probably couldn’t hear me read it. But I will share it with you – my virtual audience – feel free to offer your thoughts. I’m framing this memoir as if I’m writing it as a letter to my daughters about my life.

Nestled into a cozy suburban neighborhood in the South, filled with families just like ours – you’ll find the house. Even its address reflects the idyllic life we lived there: Sweetwater Court. It was the second home where I lived, but it’s the home where my memories began. Both of your uncles were born there (not literally, but taken home there after the hospital). In the summers, our backyard was our center of adventures. We planned a putt-putt course and charged admission – even got featured in the local newspaper! Mom and Dad (Gigi and Pops to you) generously assisted our efforts, taking us to various putt-putt centers in the town to see about donations of the green carpets, helping us install PVC pipe for the “challenge” holes, making copies of the scorecard I designed, and letting our backyard be overrun with neighborhood kids for much of the summer.