on getting it.

there have been times in my life when i have wanted -nay, needed- a man, a brother, to step up in my defense to say, ‘no more. this ends here. now.’ sometimes that has happened. other times, i have had to stand up for myself. sometimes the latter is necessary in order to realize my own strength and stand in the confidence of who god has created me to be.

on other occasions, the former matters most.

i love it when a man – a man’s man, one of god – gets it. he just…gets it. gets a woman. gets a woman born of the same god.

preston gets it. 

thank you for getting it, preston. for wrapping words around strong women who fit a proverbs 32 model, or no real model at all, except that our heart’s desire is to become and look more like jesus in his entirety and to love god more fully. i needed for a man to get it.

thank you for getting it, preston. truly. 

alternately, sarah also gets it.

it’s a different kind of ‘it’ sarah gets, but it compliments what preston gets. she gets the struggle but also won’t relent to it and instead just wants to be about her father’s business.

sarah, thank you for this.

and my best heart-of-my-own-heart, sister-friend of my soul amy gets it. she has always gotten it but, like her own best friend, has taken the long road to getting it, one that neither of us would trade for any shortcut.

at the end of her first book, messy faith, amy states on page 203,

i don’t know how messy your faith is. i just know that god is there. i have no eloquent words to help you on your journey other than to tell you he is right beside you. he longs for you. he wants you. he has not given up on you. he has not forgotten about you. and no matter what the picture of your unique road of trusting in god looks like, know that he is right there. his presence unchanging and eternal. 

faith is not just messy. it is not only an experience of struggle, despair, and hard times. so much beauty and joy and peace and comfort are intertwined even in the darkest of places. sometimes we just have to do a better job of paying attention to them…

friends, thanks for getting it. and for putting words to what you’ve got. you inspire and encourage me. i’m thankful for you. xo

blue christmas.





when het sent an email to a group of us asking to fill guest-spots about ‘preparing for advent’ my honest reaction was,

oh, holy night, het. (see what i did there? only that’s not what i actually said.)seriously? you really want me to tell our friends that my depression only worsens around the holidays and that i ‘prepare the way’ for the newborn king by hiding under my covers from thanksgiving to new year’s hoping that i can make it that long without breathing or saying the wrong thing?

(have i mentioned i was a theatre major?)

but here’s the honest truth: if i can get out of my own way, i really do love christmas.

(except when i don’t.)

i promise by the end of this post i do, in fact, get over myself but you have to head on over to heatherly’s house to find out the who, what, how and why. go on over, i’ll meet you there.

if you’ve jumped over here from our friend heatherly’s page, i am so glad you’re here. you are welcome, just as you are. there is always and only grace for you.

i hope you’ll come back here on monday where i’ll announce a Best Christmas Ever plan for this space.

(maybe i’ll have one figured out by then.)

squirrel stoltzfus.

My friend Shawn, already an accomplished author, was asked by a family member to record their Amish history. In My Amish Roots, Shawn beautifully and respectfully does just that. More, he tells a piece of each our stories, too.

I think the beautiful part about knowing our family history is that sometimes the things we don’t like about ourselves become explained, perhaps even cherished, when we see the root. (p.15)

Our stories are important. The land in which we are rooted is rich. The people who berthed us matter. We belong to these.

Upon the death of Mummi, his great-grandmother around which many of his stories are bound, and being approached by his family, Shawn relocated his family to the land from which he hails in Lancaster, Pa. or “Amish Country”, if you will. As a grown man, with a family of his own now, Shawn set out to be told – to remember – his family lore.

The significance of Shawn’s book hits close to home for me for many reasons, one being because my sister is wrapping up a book of my granddad’s teachings from 50+ years of ministry, which is every bit my own history. I now drive the country roads to and from work each day, the same roads trod by generations of Hart’s and Tyson’s before me. I understand Shawn’s need for remembering his story.

I’m sharing this with you because I’ve learned through this process that we are not isolated beings. We have not been born into this world as only a piece of matter unto ourselves. We are connected. (p. 14)

Never have I learned so much -if anything, really- about the Pennsylvania Dutch community. (Have you?) It is, in short, fascinating. For example, there is a family wig-maker in Shawn’s family, which is custom. They still ride horse & buggy. It is also tradition for Amish women to make their own funeral gown, as in the case of Mummi. Names are passed through the generations, even among women, because names are important. Other people recognize your family name. They know to whom you belong when they know your name, and there is great honor in this.

The discovery of Shawn’s family both through story and his extensive research is riveting. He brilliantly shares with his readers his findings through records kept for centuries on both the times and the times of the people whose name he bears. While Shawn’s own family of origin is no longer Amish, there is clearly a deep appreciation for their heritage.

Shawn also weaves a poignant yet innocent humor throughout, as in the case of the Mast twins who pulled a switch on the men they were seeing, respectively, and ended up marrying, thus altering the course of Shawn’s family line.

Our stories do not end with our death – they continue on, long into the future…Our stories do not begin with our birth – so much comes before. (p. 28)

From tragedy to triumph, as with all story, My Amish Roots is both moving and inspiring. One gift it gave me, other than an even greater appreciation of excellent storytelling with such vivid imagery of the Pennsylvania Dutch community, is the avid pursuit of my own family history from those who are still around to tell it.

Another reason Shawn’s story is important is because it offers a keen insight into a piece of our own American history (and beyond). Shawn’s tales are not just about his family; in a way, they are about all of ours.

In that instant I was more thankful than I have ever been. For my heritage. For my culture. For my family. There is something hidden in the middle of those cornfields that will always be inside of me, no matter where I live. I have to believe that even if my children would move away, even if my great-great grandchildren return to Lancaster someday as tourists, that their spirits will be inexplicably drawn to this place. That it will hold a curious feeling of melancholic nostalgia for them. That it will cause such a strange paradox of emotions to rise in them: emptiness and fulfillment, longing and satisfaction, sadness and joy. (p. 156)

May we all have a porch to sit on and reflect in this way one summer day.

* * * * * * * * * *

Shawn, it was a true honor to be entrusted with your wonderful story. Thank you for such privy, and for letting me share it in this space.

* * * * * * * * * *

Shawn is a master storyteller. I love the pictures Shawn draws with words. One of my favorite things to do with a real book is to circle and underline and highlight another’s words as if they were my own. My one regret is that I read his story electronically and wasn’t able to do that. And while I didn’t have a hard copy in hand, you can.

Today, Shawn is generously giving away a copy of My Amish Roots to a member of the Beauty for Ashes community. You can be entered to win for any/all of the following ways:

1. Leave a comment here, telling us a brief story of your own roots.

2. Do you know Squirrel Stoltzfus? http://wp.me/pfE4s-Nr – Tweet or FB that as your status and come let us know (or include my Twitter handle so it comes back to me).

3. Follow Shawn on Twitter and/or Facebook, then come back and tell me. (He’s great. You’ll be glad you followed him.)

Simple, no? For every entry, I will throw your name in the jar and will announce the winner tomorrow morning.

Shawn lives in Paradise, Pennsylvania with his wife, four children, four chickens, and a rabbit named Rosie. HIs most recent book, My Amish Roots, explores the roles of family, death, life, tradition, and legacy against the backdrop of his Amish ancestry. He blogs daily at shawnsmucker.com about writing, the strange things his children say, and postmodern Christianity. You can also find him here on twitter.


i’m guest-posting today about fostering rest and nurturing creativity over at beautiful elora’s house while she…well, while she fosters rest and nurtures creativity. :)

here’s a sneak peek:

i have a confession to make.

i hate writing guest posts.

it’s true. i do.

but when beautiful elora (who, by the way, has delivered a guest post or two for me) asked me if i would write one for her in september, and she suggested that fostering rest and nurturing creativity were the reason for her blog-sabbatical, and therefore might be the direction we’d opt to take as her guests, i told her i already knew what i wanted to say. call it serendipity, there was already a message brewing in my heart along the exact same lines…

follow me over to love wins to read the rest?

* * * * * * * * * *

if this is your first visit over to beauty for ashes and/or you’ve jumped over here from elora’s, hey and welcome! i’m so glad you’re here. you’ve found us on a unique day because a.) it’s my birthday, see; also, b.) we’re doing this experiment sort of thing right now so it’s not really a typical day in the neighborhood.

unless it’s september (and it is), in which case it’s a pretty typical day these days in the hood. more information is down at the bottom. call it clever, i just thought things were getting a little long up here at the top.

i would love it if you joined us today.

today’s one-word is:


ready? go!

in the beginning, god created

oh, divine creator, supreme artist who splashed stars in the sky by design and filled the earth with oceans deep and mountains high and painted by hand every leaf and tree…

thank you for creating me.

day of all days, i was born this day to worship you, to love and be loved by you and only you, king of all kings.

blessed be.

* * * * * * * * * *


bless the day
this restoration is complete
dirty, dusty, something must be underneath
so i scrape and i scuff
though it’s never quite enough
i’m starting to see me finally

a gallery of paintings new and paintings old
i guess it’s no surprise that i’m no michaelangelo
every layer of mine hides a lovely design 
it might take a little patience
it might take a little time

but you called me beautiful
when you saw my shame
and you placed me on the wall

you who have begun this work will someday see
a portrait of the holiness you meant for me
so i polish and shine
til it’s easier to find even an outline of mine

but you called me beautiful
when you saw my shame
and you placed me on the wall

and you placed me on the wall

-nichole nordeman

{for we are god’s masterpiece. he has created us anew in christ jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. -ephesians 2:10 (nlt)}

* * * * * * * * * *

for the month of september, members of the beauty for ashes community are conducting an experiment called the just write! campaign, in an effort to unstick those stuck creatives among us. (for those who recognize the idea, our inspiration comes from the gypsy mama‘s five-minute fridays. all praise and glory to lisa-jo.) for more information, please read this post. to catch up to previous words of the day, you’ll find the ‘just write! campaign’ category to your right.

divine appointments.

when i planned my ‘bloggiversary party’, heatherly was on the top of my list.

if we had grown up together, we would have gone to each other’s houses after school and swooned over cute boys together.

we would have helped plan and been the first to show up to one another’s slumber parties.

we probably would have been included on one another’s family vacations, or at least summer beach trips.

if we had known each other in college, we would have been roommates.

if we had known each other in our twenties, we would have been in one another’s weddings. {er…i would have been in her wedding, i mean?}

that is to say, heatherly and i would have been as close as sisters all our lives instead of just in the last year.

as god would have it, we met each other in our thirties. in fact, it was exactly a year ago today. i have said before that i knew as soon as she sat down next to me in our speaker evaluation group that i wanted to be her friend. {in fact, i kind of had to play it cool so i wouldn’t come off as the over-eager, obnoxious, new girl in class…have i ever told you that, het?}

as it is, god has knit our hearts together in this last year with such a love that is only bound by his spirit. we haven’t seen or spoken to each other (except through the internets) since we met last year, yet my heart has only swelled for my precious sister-friend.

her heart for jesus spills out onto everything she does. her honesty is refreshing. her sincerity, humbling. and her steadfastness is nothing short of inspiring.

heatherly is just…good. and if you haven’t met her, you need to. in fact, it would do you well to have a friend like her in your life.

{by the way, she told me she would be sending me a different post than the one that follows. i did not ask her to write this and i haven’t paid her, nor do i feel deserving of such amazing praise. in fact, it really makes me squirm.}

HaPpY fRiEnDiVeRsArY, hEaThErLy!

i am *so* thankful for you.

* * * * * * * * * *

From my first exposure to Anne of Green Gables I always searched for “kindred spirits.”

I have been blessed my an abundance of them: roommates and co-workers, prayer partners, and playmates. Relationships carved out over time, slowly bonded over tears and laughter, pain and celebration. I cherish and adore each one, and when I see one of them, even for a brief moment at the grocery, they become the most important person in the world to me, because they have become a piece of me, of my walk, of my history.

het & mk - she speaks 2o1o

Last year at She Speaks I discovered something- you truly can find a kindred spirit a la Anne Shirley- instantaneously and deeply. Mine came in the form of Mary Kathryn “or MK or whatever” Tyson. {Yes, that is how she introduced herself to our speakers’ group. You are not surprised, are you?}

MK radiates Jesus.

With each and every pump of her heart, more grace and love and energy pour out of her. She affectionately dotes on everyone she meets and then casually name-drops in a way that doesn’t make you roll your eyes, but instead causes you to pull in closer and smile, because you know that some day you’ll be name-dropping HER moniker.

{I know that at this moment she is stuck between denying my words and feeling encouraged, so I’ll season my praise with a reminder that we are kindred because we are both so flawed and human, in awe of His grace and grateful for His healing hand… That does not, however, negate anything I said above. So there, MK.}

Sitting next to her in Van’s hotel room was not an accident, or a coincidence, or a lucky break.

It was a divine appointment.

The power of that moment, and the series of brief moments that we shared over the next few days, seeped into my self. I attended She Speaks as one of the walking wounded of the faith- she understood. I was afraid and self-conscious, unable to be myself- she saw through that. I felt out of place- she assured me I was not.

She was Jesus to me, when my emotions clouded His voice. She gave me- in a reassuring touch, a strong, loving word, and the promise to keep in touch- the briefest flash of a reminder of who I am because of what He does.

Each and every encounter we have has the potential to become a divine appointment for someone else. We have the privilege of speaking LIFE, truth, love, grace, peace, mercy, JOY, and hope into others’ lives.

But we can not do it on our own because humanly, well, none of that is in us. Anything good that is in us is because of Him, His redeeming work on the cross, His beautiful, healing Spirit.

Are you willing, with me, to submit yourself to His grace, to His command to love one another? Are you willing to allow Him to use you in such a way that people see your interactions as divine appointments- as gifts from Him?

Oh, that I would be so intimately linked with my Jesus that I would be an extension of His loving heart!

On this, our friendaversary, I am thankful for my soul sister, Mary Kathryn, and the reminder that she is in my life. She has become an Ebeneezer stone- a reminder of what He has done and a promise of what He can do through a willing life.

het & mk - she speaks 2o11

* * * * * * * * * *

Heatherly Lane Sylvia is a mom, wife, teacher, speaker, aspiring writer, and apprentice grace-giver. Her greatest desire is to live a life following after God with abandon, and she hopes to be a blessing to as many people as she can while she figures out exactly how to do that. Het is passionate, loud, addicted to books, and loves her friends, old and new. She adores the blogosphere and would love to “meet” you there. She’s also pretty sure that comments and tweets {and RT’s} are her love language. Check out her blog A Pinkdaisy Life or follow her on Twitter @Pinkdaisyjane


a place to exhale.

i am so thankful that i have had so many wonderful guests (including you!) who have come to my Bloggiversary Party! in case you haven’t noticed (and you really might have not, given how amazing their stories have been), this has meant i haven’t posted very much over here at all!

so it was perfect timing for me when the awesome & wise beyond her years heather invited me to guest-post for her today. once you’ve finished reading katy’s incredible post about My Favorite Thing in the World (therapy), run on over to grow up! which is where i’ve lent my voice today, in the form of a letter i wrote to a younger me.

and if you landed over here from grow up! then welcome to our bloggiversary party! we are so glad you’re here.

* * * * * * * * * *

i had seen katy’s cute avi (see picture below) on other blogs before she ever subscribed or commented here, and then was completely honored she would share her voice in this space.

there are few people you meet in the world who are so entirely given over to jesus as katy is. and i’m not talking about those of us who love god a lot. i know you know the kind of person i’m talking about. it is likely this person has spent an extended period of time on the mission field, living among the poorest of the poor. she has cried herself to sleep in the night over the dying orphans she hugged that day. she thinks little about the life she left behind because she knows god’s not an american and his heart is so much bigger than our little map.

not all of us are called to that life in the same capacity. certainly each of our contributions, albeit through prayer, finances or simple short-term missions, are equally valuable when we give with all of our hearts back to god to the widows, orphans, hungry and homeless however we can.

but katy is not like the rest of us.

her heart is made of gold, which is seen plainly through her smile and sparkly eyes and heard through her tender voice over at b’ahava.

i don’t know katy very well, but this i do know: she is a child of the king whose heart is sold-out 100%, entirely and completely to the one who adores her most. i know your heart will be encouraged by hers today.

 * * * * * * * * * *

“you are a daughter of the king of kings and you hold your head up high because maybe when you were born the enemy said i’m getting rid of her and god said no you are not.”

-sheila walsh

Sitting in the 9th row from the front, I found my light bulb moment.

A spotlight illuminated Sheila Walsh as she powerfully commanded the attention of auditorium.  Staccato words reminding us the enemy hasn’t gotten rid of us. No matter our story, we’re still breathing.

In this dance of life, stories written by His hand often twist along paths we don’t intend.

I’ve spent months building trust and relationship with someone I swore up and down since I was little that I would never meet.  I vowed to never find myself sitting in an office across from a counselor.  Oh no. Not me.  Being the daughter of a counselor tends to flip a switch of strong resolve to never end up there.

Obviously, God decided to break me down and take me to my very own “not there” out of my “God, I’ll go anywhere but not there.”  He stripped me to where I couldn’t stand.  Even planted grit somewhere in the depths of my heart to throw my hands up in the air and say, “No, I need you to help me find a counselor because I don’t know what else to do.”

As the threads to my story unravel and twist together, I do it afraid.  Every single time, fear bubbles to the surface and I ask God to be with me.  She sees the fear and my ability to switch on and off my emotions.  She connects the subtle hints and draws out the pieces of the story I fervently blocked out.  Truth speaks in whispers and nods amongst silent tears.  I cringe expecting the backlash of response and I’m loved anyway.  A hard love, but a beautiful love.

I’m doing the hard work of looking back to let go.  Learning to be honest about all even if it means feeling what I’ve denied. Processing and bringing my broken pieces to His hands so He just might make something beautiful.

Because of the hard work, I saw bits of my story in Sheila’s.  I realized the scenes where the enemy tried to take me out:

As a little girl filled with shame from other people’s decisions, he tried to get rid of me. He planted the lies still echoing in my head: you’re not enough. no one sees you. agree with whatever anyone tells you.  do what they say no matter what.

A girl becoming a woman trying to figure out how to walk with friends while stumbling in the dark.  He beat me down and showed me: don’t trust others, they’ll hurt you. protect yourself. people don’t really love god, it’s a show.

Fast forward to the woman who anticipated a ring on her finger and a happily ever after. He taunted me with one more workout to numb the pain of an affair.

His lies: something’s horribly wrong with you, you better fix yourself or nobody will ever marry you, run run run, build up those walls.

Even today, the enemy banters lies to my face: you’ll never get back to africa, give up, you’re stuck, there’s nobody for you.  He throws my sin in my face. He mocks my hopes and dreams.  He sends despair. He laughs when I find a sliver of hope for those secret petitions that I’m not sure I even want to hope for anymore. He tries to convince me God withholds good from me. He calls me unloveable, unwanted, abandoned, forsaken, desolate, ugly, fat, not enough, too much.

These snapshots from my story remind me that I’m still mostly a work of art in progress.  I’m someone still learning how to listen first and foremost to God whispering, “Daughter, I delight in you.” A story with blank pages awaiting redemption in so many areas.  A story written much differently than I intended, but one that will bring Him glory and that He will work all things out for my good even if the story looks different than I expect.

Oftentimes, I still feel like that little girl stumbling in the dark trying to figure out how to even live this life like Christ. So, I sit on the couch I never wanted to sit on so that I can do the hard work of learning to battle.  I learn how to put my armor on and how to fight.  I equip myself because the battle still rages. I’m finding my very own “not there” to be my place to exhale.

See, God’s already won the war even though the battle still rages.

Keep fighting the good fight.

The enemy wants to take you out.
But God says,

* * * * * * * * * *

How’s your battle? Has your story turned out much differently than you intended? What lies are you fighting with truth?

hat just happens to be me over there getting my face painted.  I’m Katy and yes it’s with a y.  You can find me at B’ahava (means with love in hebrew) and @bahava.  Lately, God’s imprinted this on my heart: “God sees you; see others.” Whether I’m running a marathon, at work loving on kiddos, or hopping around the blogosphere, you’ll find me gathering and telling stories.  I love asking questions and hearing other people tell their stories.  I share my own stories as God prompts and mostly, I do it afraid because they’re messy, hard, and raw. In those places, though, He shows up with love that overwhelms, empowers, and transforms.  He’s in the business of making deserts into Eden because He delights in each of us.

new light.

if you’ve hung around here for any amount of time, you know my ‘household’ is no bigger than a shoebox and it only contains princess poops-a-lot and myself.

and so focusing on this month’s dayspring theme shines a new light on joshua 24:15 for me:

as for me and my household, we will serve the lord.

i realize that, even as a sassy singleton, ‘my household’ doesn’t mean ‘if/when i get married’. my little ‘household’, all two of us, is still meant to serve the lord in the here and now, not one day down the road.

even if someone in our ‘household’ (not going to mention any names) eats everything in sight, including my lip gloss, ink pens, and bubble gum.


and so it stands to reason that i might appreciate little reminders on how best to live out this joshua’s admonition.

i have been in love with red letter art ever since i found her through big mama sometime last fall. and so i was thrilled that i could select one of several red letter pieces for my may (and first ever) dayspring review.

but can i tell you something? the wall hanging i received in the mail is far better than the picture of it i had in my mind:

  1. for one thing, my current favorite color is dark chocolate brown.
  2. the cute little blue birds? they are cute little blue birds. darling.
  3. the mission of red letter art? adore.
  4. anyone who has visited my shoebox has probably noticed my random silver crosses sitting on my tv stand because i haven’t known precisely what to do with them. and then i received my red letter art, thus completing my bathroom.
  5. the verse is so simple, yet so powerful. and the big, bold letters make it a great reminder every time i’m in and out of there. when i’m, you know…doing things. in my bathroom. (like make-up.)
  6. it’s only a foot long, no matter which way you hang it. (but there’s only one way to hang it.) so it’s not an obnoxious size, making it difficult to find space to hang it.
  7. because it’s a cafe mount, it can easily be placed as a backdrop on a shelf if you don’t want to hang it.
  8. the price? a STEAL.

if you’ve ever thought about purchasing your own red letter art, i can say whole-heartedly it will be a treasure for your home now and in years to come.

(in)courage at dayspring is graciously offering a $20 coupon to one of my readers as a result of this review. the great news is that if red letter art doesn’t suit your fancy, you can get whatever you want! to be entered into the contest, visit their online store and come back and tell me which item you would pick out to give to someone else. {tell me who, what and why.} you can also be entered by tweeting this link or linking it up to a facebook update. (for every tweet or fb update, please come back here and leave a comment.) i will announce the winner on friday.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did receive a free product from (in)courage/dayspring in exchange for a review, but all thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

And I don’t know if legally I have to tell you this or not, but I’d feel uncomfortable not telling you that I recently became a blog-affiliate of (in)courage and will receive commission from any sales linked from the Beauty for Ashes blog. But, you know, no pressure or anything.

would if i could.

I’ve been linking up with GypsyMama lately for Five-Minute Fridays. Mostly because it’s a good writing exercise: write non-stop for five minutes – no thinking, no editing. My favorite kind of writing is stream-of-consciousness.

Another reason I love 5mF is because of the of the opportunity to connect with other bloggers. I have chanced upon some really beautiful folks I might not have otherwise found. What a treat it has been!

And so, today, I invite you to join us again.

One suggestion I would make: if you plan to write your own, I would do that first before reading anyone else’s so you’re not clouded by their posts. Leave space to just write as freely as you possibly can without being influenced by someone else. And then go back and read what others’ are saying.

I missed last week’s prompt because…what was I doing…oh! I had to be up early to work out-of-town and didn’t get home til late. So, the first prompt I responded to is from this week. The second, last. If you’re just leaving a comment, or using the comment space here to respond to the prompts, feel free to write on either or both. To read my past 5mF posts, or for your own writing pleasure and practice, click here.

Are you ready? Here we go…

If I Knew I Could, I Would…

If I knew I could succeed, I would try harder. If I knew I could win you over with my wit and my charm, I would work at that, too.

If I knew I could hug my dad one more time, I would not let him go.

If I knew I could get the people around me to be quiet, I WOULD YELL AT THEM TO “HUSH!” Seriously. Please? You ramble about absolutely nothing interesting at all and it drives me batty.

If I knew I could tell you about Jesus, knowing you would fall in love with Him, I would introduce you to Him. But that’s not the way it’s meant to be, is it? I can’t tell you about anyone and make you want to know them more or better. I can show you how much He loves me by living in the freedom of His embrace, but I can’t make you love him. Because you’re meant for your own experience, aren’t you? I can’t protect you from yourself or the big, bad world out there. You have to go and live your own adventure and trace the path of your own journey that will lead you to Him on your own.

And I wouldn’t rob you of the heartache and joy and passion of that road for anything in the world.

The Hard Love

The Hard Love is the kind that says “Let go” when you want to hold tight.

The Hard Love says “you before me”.

The Hard Love is the kind that says, “You don’t have to love me back. But I’m going to love you with all that I am.”

The Hard Love is nail-pierced hands hung on a tree. Broken back slashed with my sin of equal parts self-hatred and self-obsession.

The Hard Love is the kind that says, “Come back when you are through living out there the way you want to. My door will be open.”

The Hard Love is the one that says, “You have hurt me. Again. And I love you. But I have to leave you now.”

The Hard Love says, “You are free. Free to come, free to leave. My love for you will not waiver.”

The Hard Love says, “I accept you, Self. I love you, Me. I forgive for years of torment and self-abuse, Mary Kathryn. Now, come let me love on you and take care of Your sweet self.”

The Hard Love says, “I will give myself to You, even though I cannot see you and I don’t know how to trust You. But I know that You are good and You are faithful and to You I commit my life.”

Your turn! Have at it…

stylish blogger.

i was honored to awaken to a pingback from beautiful elora’s own ‘stylish blogger award’ given to her by joybird.
but THEN…i got an EMAIL from beautiful elora, who was handing out her own stylish blogger awards! i never win anything! thank you, beautiful elora!
i’d like to thank the academy…
and my mom and dad…
and my sisters…
and all of my fans {hi zella!}
too much? i’ll work on it.
part one of the stylish blogger award post is that i must tell you 7 things you may not know about me:
1.) i. am. TERRIFIED. of clowns.
2.) i have two fake teeth. i used to be able to pop them in and out of my mouth.
3.) i can stick my tongue up my nose and my fist in my mouth.
4.) i could eat popcorn 24 hours a day.
5.) when i was in the fourth grade, my mom permed my hair the day before school pictures. because my hair had previously not taken to ‘perms’…i slept in it.
the next day, no one recognized me. not even my little boyfriend, tad. henceforth, i was dubbed ‘cricket’. you know…as in, kid sister to ‘my buddy’.
hoping it would make a difference, i took a make-up picture a few months later.
it didn’t.
6.) when i was four, the story goes, i taught myself how to read and tie my shoes.
7.) i wasn’t ‘diagnosed’ with learning disabilities until my senior year of high school, even though i had known all of my life i learned differently than my peers. (so you know, i had been in ‘academically gifted’ classes – so i wasn’t dumb, just different.) then, my freshman year of college, i began treatment for add with anxiety. which i also could have told you in elementary school.
8.) i dropped out of the brownie scouts. and 4-h club.
9.) i was in six accidents in between my sixteenth and seventeenth birthdays. but only four of them were my fault.
10.) in middle school,  i joined the soccer team. i sprained my arm playing goalie in the first week of practice.
11.) i played rec softball growing up (but was afraid of the ball), was a cheerleader (but was put on academic probation and i also got into a fight with our coach for defending a friend on the team), and…a debutante.
12.) i also played the piano and alto saxophone like my dad. (but i was clearly never going to be as cool as he was.)
sorry, y’all. that was clearly more than seven and WHY CAN’T I JUST FOLLOW THE RULES? gah.
now then. on to part two.
my favorite writers {and people} are ones who aren’t trying to prove anything, either to themselves or anyone else. they have an authentic voice and aren’t trying to show-off or impress anyone with either their talent or knowledge. they just are who they are, messy lives overflowing with abundant grace. and they are smart. and witty. these are just a handful of those whose blogs i read every day.
and so, it is my great privilege to link you up to some of my precious blog-friends; hopefully there are some here you haven’t met (but you should):
1.) it has been such a complete pleasure to witness heatherly grow as a writer, as a person, as a minister, a wife, a mom, a teacher, a learner of god and of life. i guess i feel particularly fond and proud of het because we met when we were in similar places in our hearts and lives (save for the wife and mom part). quite frankly, i was most challenged by her address to middle schoolers (because, evidently, my faith is at the level of a thirteen-year old this week).
2.) ashleigh came on my radar through a deeper story, another site i love. if you feel like crying (and even if you don’t), you must read about her husband’s homecoming after serving a year in afghanistan.
3.) leigh is just smart. and sassy. and cute. and beautiful. but really just smart, in every sense (not just books). i love her heart and her desire to grow and learn and her pursuit of god in all aspects of her life. she is also incredibly encouraging, definitely a glasshalffull girl. sometimes i wish i could put her in my pocket.
4.) have you met alece? she is blog-royalty to me (even though i know that makes her uncomfortable to hear – sorry, alece). she is the same in person as you find on her blog – open, honest, raw, slightly (and understandably) guarded, but mostly vulnerable. she is lovely through and through. not long ago, i watched (a very cheesy) adaptation of the velveteen rabbit with hanners. and then alece posted this a few days later. and i cried.
5.) melissa joined us over here not long ago and, y’all, she is just so tender. it doesn’t take long to know that her heart is so yielded to the holy spirit. i know you’ll love and appreciate her, too. she is…just good and sincerely humble (not just the pretend-kind of humble). seriously, i love her heart.
6.) dougy introduced me to keri through a little faith-based blog forum she started. she is very fun(ny) and i love how she incorporates a lesson into every day life-stuff, which can be found in posts like pole-dancing for jesus. :)
7.) samantha. is. PRECIOUS. she is the executive assistant for proverbs 31 and last year at she speaks, when they were thanking all the admin staff, everyone stood up and cheered for sam. you can’t not love sam. and her heart for and knowledge of jesus, along with her sweet prose, is so beautiful.
8.) the other day i read all of lynde ross‘ posts in my reader. truly, she is so candid and tender and raw and honest and i just love this girlcult mantras is hilarious to me on about a thousand levels, especially because we came out of related charismaniac backgrounds that spoke the same language.
9.) there is little that mike ross writes that my jaw doesn’t hit the ground. his insight into the bible and heart of god, matched by his candid ability to speak plainly and wrap it all up in a short message, amazes me. also? he’s lynde ross’ husby, which makes me love him that much more.
10.) i’ve told you about the funniest girls i know club, haven’t i? the one my friends jube, L-I-Z and i started in college? {not only are we the co-founders, we are also the only members.} jube is hilarious to boot. she tells her every day life stories, mostly involving her husband, The Doctor, and her three little people, over on maximum brain jail and you can find her at hey nonny on mondays. p.s. only the favorites call her jube. sorry. inside joke. you had to be there.
(don’t you hate it when people do that? :))
so you know, i have about 63 different blogs in my google reader that i read (almost) every day. this is just a small, sweet sampler of some who have really meant a lot to me most recently.
also? it’s taken me over 24 hours to find all the right links.
who are some of your faves?

love makes the {blog} world go round.

i’m a little bit loopy this week for all the allergy/sinus/cold medicine i’ve ingested. thank goodness all of the posts this week (until today) were pre-scheduled else i’m not sure what kind of mess i might have made over here on my blip of the blogosphere.

as such, i thought it best that you not read my words today but those of other bloggers, in some posts i’ve come across recently:

first, every thursday, a she seeks team member does a vlog in response to that monday’s post. this week, the beautiful ali smith responds to my post to ‘all the single ladies’ on monday.

dustin has been closer than a brother since high school. i know the place he comes from as he describes life on a stage.

sarah markley tells the moving story of her grandmother’s mental illness over on a deeper story.

speaking of grandma’s…well, i was going to point you to the beautiful prose ashleigh writes about hers. but when i went back to her page, i also found this valentine’s ode to her husby and SWOON.

amanda talks about her (un)eventful valentine’s day, and shows a sweet appreciation for her husband on life-edited.

my dear friend lisa whittle gives an honest perspective of the other side of writing a book. (the side we don’t see.) p.s. i am handling all of lisa’s bookings now. if you are interested in having lisa come speak to your ministry, group or organization, please feel free to email me privately at: marykathryntyson(at)gmail(dot)com.

isabel is the daughter of wendy, a table 11 friend from she speaks. at just five years old, god has moved on isabel’s heart to help orphans.

are you a black sheep? tamara can relate.

i’m pretty certain i cried when heatherly told the first part of this story to our speaker evaluation group at she speaks one night. the second part had not been written on the earth yet. until now.

and i have to say i’m real proud of leigh for doing the thing she had to do in order to do the thing she has. to. do.

i always thought i wanted a story like angie’s. hers is a story of coming to know the lord in recent years. (mine is one of being a big fat contradiction/hypocrite.) but god.

and don’t forget today is the last day of the give-away for the be kind campaign. i’ll announce the winner tomorrow!

have any posts moved you lately?

please share!


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