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Your Story Matters

A little bit about my story…

I’ve been married to my chunky hunk, Eric, for 27 years. You know that movie, Madascar 2? Remember the hippo character, Moto Moto? He sang a song, “I like ’em big, I like ’em chunky…” That is a little theme song for Eric and I. Not really, but it gives us a good laugh each time we think of it and of course, we can’t help but sing it. Click on the song above for a giggle. Some of it is true, as we are a little chunky, or what do they say sometimes? “Pleasingly Plump” or “Fluffy?”

We have 4 adult children. My boys are 25 and almost 27 and my girls are 20 and 22. I get choked up just saying these words. Crazy that my babies are that old already. I started as a young mom but wouldn’t change it for the world!

I am a book hoarder (I mean, reader). I LOVE to read! I read for laughs, for spiritual growth, for parenting and marriage helps, and everything in between. I really do have a sickness. You should see my wish list on Amazon. If you’d like to see some of my favorites, you can check them out here. My husband was just looking at our bank statement, going over my charges (I admit, most of them are mine), asking me what the Amazon charges were for. I said, reluctantly, “Books”, waiting for his response. He said, “Let me get this straight. You subscribe to a Book of the Month Club and you still buy books from Amazon?” Like a dog with his tail between his legs, I said, “Yeah.” All he could do was just shake hishead. You guys, I really need prayer. “Hello, my name is Tammy, and I’m a book-a-holic.”

Speaking of reading…I remember a time when my young son was reading a book. I noticed some of the pages in his book were folded down. Wondering…I asked him why he folded the pages. He said, “Because those are my favorite parts.” Of course, he was a boy after my own heart because I often do the same thing when I’m reading. I’ll dog-ear a page, write notes, or highlight a phrase or sentence on a page, so I can go back and reread my favorite parts. In some books though, there are no pages folded down. No notes. No highlights. In those books, I often find myself editing as I read, maybe looking for ways I could have written it differently, or maybe there were parts I would have added or deleted altogether. Especially the ending. Do you ever get stumped at the end of a book and think, “That’s dumb…they should have…the author could have…?” Or we might say, “Ugh!” because we wanted more of the story?

The Beautiful Middle

When it comes to the story of our own lives, we may have many pages that are folded at the corner, times in our life that we would like to go back to reread or revisit. But we may also have a chapter, or chapters, we may never want to revisit. I’ve often wondered why the Author, our Creator, included those chapters and how they fit into the greater story.

When I begin a new chapter in my life, perhaps a difficult one (and I have had many), sometimes I want to just mark up the pages and send it back for revision. I can’t do that, because the story has already been written, it’s already been published. Psalm 139:16 says, Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began.” I can’t skip ahead in a book because I’ll miss the middle. I can’t skip ahead in the pages of my life to see what happens next and I can’t erase what has already been written. And friends, you can’t either.

What if you’re the type of reader that goes directly to the last chapter or to the end to see how a book finishes before deciding to read it? I know you’re out there. What about all the beautiful pages leading up to the end? Let’s not miss this beautiful middle. The middle that we are living right now.

Friends, your story matters. God is still writing your story. You are here. Your story is where you’ve been. Your story is where you’re going. God never meant for your story to be summed up in a simple summary or commentary. God doesn’t use bullet points or Cliff’s Notes to describe your life. Your story. He never meant for your story to be sized up by just reading the last chapter and tossing it aside.

God uses every page, every chapter: the joy, the pain, and all the pages in between. Your story includes your finest hour and your weakest moment. It includes the best day of your life and the worst. This is all part of the story that is your life. Don’t miss the chance to fully dive into your story!

When I mentioned earlier about being married for 27 years and starting as a young mom, I realized that doesn’t sum up my life. There aren’t enough blog pages to describe my 47 years, so here’s a little summary: My parents divorced when I was ten. My father was an alcoholic. My other became one later. Being raised by a single mom brought poverty and hardship. Not having a father present brought some mischievous behaviors. I’ve had weight issues all my life. I was 19 and pregnant when I got married. Eric and I have four children, an average of two years apart. I suffered a miscarriage in that time. I have always worked full time. We have gone through bankruptcy, foreclosure, many injuries and surgeries (all me), losing jobs, having anxiety/depression and all the adventures that come with raising young kids and teens.

But God…

He knew what he was doing all this time, even though I didn’t become a believer in Jesus until I was well into my adult years. I didn’t have a godly foundation growing up. As I reflect back on my story, I realize my Heavenly Father had his eye on me through all of it… He was working through all of it, even though I didn’t know him or see him. I can look back and reflect on the times in my life when he held me, rescued me, comforted me, and gifted me with such wonderful grace and mercy, when I didn’t deserve it.

Remember

God calls us to remember and reflect back on our stories, our life…Psalm 105 says, Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced (his decisions for the good and the wicked, emphasis mine), you his servants…his chosen ones… He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations…”

As David reminds us in Psalm 139:16, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day has passed.” Just like David, God had recorded every day of my life and yours, in his book. Does he say he recorded only the times we knew him? No. He knew us. He knows us. He is writing all the moments in your life in his book. He is still writing your story, friends.

We often come to a paragraph, chapter, or chapters that we can see how Jesus was protecting us, even though we didn’t know him personally. He kept us safe. He got us out of unhealthy circumstances. He continues to do that in our lives today. Friends, God doesn’t tire of you. He doesn’t write you out of the script. He hitched his glory to your ruin and my ruin. He keeps on trucking. He is delighted in every tiny step we make in the right direction.

Sometimes you can look back on times in your life and

know that God was guiding you even when you didn’t

know you were supposed to be listening.

~ Melanie Shankle

Reflect

Take a look at the pages of God’s journal of your life…the pages filled in…how are you seeing God on the pages of your story? You might look back and think, “It’s an ordinary life” or “It’s a messed up life.” I realize life isn’t all tickles and farts. I am not perfect, nor do I strive to be. I still struggle with my insecurities, body image, and “not-enough’s.” My marriage isn’t perfect, but it has certainly been fun since knowing Jesus.

But God…

He is faithful. I would not be the woman I am today had it not been for my journey, for the pages he’s written in the book of my story. And friends, he is faithful in your life too. Don’t ever discount or ignore the tough years. Reflect back on your life and see how much stronger you have become. God uses ordinary people like you and me for extraordinary things.

God uses our story to inspire others, to allow others to see the possibility for hope and change in their lives. God uses our story to put a spark under others’ rear-end, making them think that maybe they can become the women God created them to be. Even with all the junk, the hard, the sorrow, the yuck that our life has been. God uses your beautiful story for his glory, to bring others to him.

God’s story is a story of faithfulness and goodness. As we get to know God, the Author of our story, personally, and we trust him, we can watch the story of our lives unfold with awe and wonder. Even when we can look back on the pages or the chapters in our life that don’t make sense, we can remember, wait, and watch…knowing the storyline that is our life is moving forward to a beautiful and glorious end.

Reach Out

God chose you. He didn’t just pluck a name out of a hat. Your actions, thoughts, and decisions leading up to this point have caught God’s attention. When God was looking for a woman with great and powerful faith, he picked you out of the crowd. You are forgiven. You are redeemed. You are loved by God, despite your past, your weaknesses, or your struggles. How will you respond?

Your story matters! You are not limited to the lines the world is trying to write for you. Ladies, because Jesus has reached out across the chasm caused by sin, reached out to you, be willing to reach out to others and offer them your story. This could be through your words or through your actions. How you carry yourself, how you speak, how you love…people catch on to these things. This is how you let others know about Jesus. This is what God means when he tell us our story matters and he is using us.

For you “seasoned” ladies, you have a beautiful story to share with the rest of us. Don’t think for a minute that God is done with you. Your upbringing, your story, is not a reason to keep from reaching out to someone else and sharing with her what you have received, but to share what God has written on the lines in your life story, the journal that is your life. Your real story can change your community, inspire a nation, or even change the world!

Gals, you are more than your past. More than your pain. More than your problems. C.S. Lewis says, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” You have something wonderful to offer this world. You have gifts to give. You have passions that can help the hurting and the poor. You have love to spread. You have convictions that should be acted upon. As I do too. You have time to invest in someone else. You, my darlings, are a light and that light is not meant to be hidden.

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.

~ Maya Angelou

One of my favorite authors, Melanie Shankle, says, “God has a script written for each and every one of us. No matter who we are or what we’ve done or how much we feel completely ill-equipped for the adventure.” The longer you stare at the blank pages of your life, the less time you have to share your life and your story with those who need it. Now is the time to hand the pen over to God, to allow him to continue writing your story, line by line.

Psalm 71 says, “…I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do (or have done)…Let me proclaim your power…” This is where you are…and where you’re going! The wonderful things HE has done …Proclaim HIS power…for the present and the future. His power is your power!

Your story. The same story that you avoid and try to hide. Marriage. Infertility. Brokenness. Parenting. Anxiety. Depression. Addiction. Loneliness. Joy. Hope. Blessings. Grace. Lessons. Sharing your life could be the key…to seeing someone in your community, at your table, at work, your neighborhood, your family, from seeing Christ and his goodness, mercy, faithfulness, grace, and power. You have an impact.

Ladies, don’t forget…

The single greatest impact ever made in history came through a woman. Mary, an ordinary girl like you and me, being alone and young, gave birth to the Savior of the world who would offer the path of salvation to everyone who calls on his name and believes. Mary chose faith over fear and boldly claimed God’s will for her life, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be done to me as you have said, according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

Proclaiming God’s will for her life…one page at a time, one chapter at a time…reflect on the pages of your life…surrender the pen to our Mighty God…for the blank pages in front of you…Allow him to continue using your story. Let him write the rest of your story. See how he’ll knock your socks off. Enjoy the front row seat of other’s lives as their lives change through your story.

May it be done to you as he has said.

Hugging you so tight,

Tammy