1384. You need to decide who you are for yourself. Become a whole being. ~Roy T. Bennett

you are not a name or a height, or a weight or a gender
you are not an age and you are not where you are from
you are your favorite books and the songs stuck in your head
you are your thoughts and what you eat
for breakfast on Saturday mornings

you are a thousand things, marvelous things,
but others often choose to see
only the things you are not
~Edited and adapted quote by m.k

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 2.25.48 PM.png

How far back would you have to go to recollect what it was like waking up and not caring what other people thought? Can you remember when you started tip-toeing through life in order to please others? How many of your actions, appearances, and situations have become moulded over the years by the perceptions of others? Whose life is it you’re actually living? Is it yours, based on who you truly are and how you honestly feel about things and what you really want out of life? Or is it a life more or less dictated by others? Has it ever occurred to you that those “other” people you’ve worried about are doing the same–living a kind of “fabricated” existence because they too are worried about what you and others think of them? Do you ever wonder what life might be like if we’d all just stand up and be the person we genuinely are, the one we were meant to be all along?

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not implying that this kind of allowing-what-others-think scenario has influenced everyone else but me. I was just as inclined to play that game as anyone else, but as I’ve aged, I’ve come to have an intense dislike for pretense and an earnest appreciation and acceptance of who and what Natalie is. That doesn’t mean for a split second that I believe myself to be perfect or a be-all, end-all pillar of knowledge and/or wisdom. It just means that this is what God made me to be, and so I’ve come to realize, especially since I’m made in His image, that I and everyone else for that matter should be able to stand alone on our own gifts and merits or lack of them. But ya wanna know what the real game changer was in my decision to stop allowing what others think to have any place whatsoever in my life? It was when they were nowhere to be found during “the dark nights” of my soul! So wouldn’t it be grand if we could all just be our one of a kind selves and thus a true-to-self participant in this thing called life instead of being a concocted facsimile or a mere spectator.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. ~Genesis 1:27  ✝

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. ~Psalm 139:14-16  ✝

**Image via Pinterest

883. Remember what you’ve seen is oftentimes only what that person has chosen to show you. ~Author Unknown

 **This opening statement is true of me and I suspect many others. And so because of some troubling thoughts and comments made by others who are hurting, I’ve decided share a few things about myself and afterwards make an open offer.

Rain falls because the sky can no longer handle its heaviness.
In the same way tears fall because a person’s heart
can no longer handle its pain or heartache.
~Edited quote by
Dinesh Kumar Biran

Screen shot 2015-09-26 at 3.27.50 PM

There is a poem by Saint John of the Cross, and in it he narrates the journey of the soul from its bodily home to its union with God. And I believe that everyone who has ever lived has experienced dark nights of the soul even if they’ve never connected with God. Life is hard, and as I approach my 73rd birthday, I can vouch that it’s not getting any easier. In fact a doctor asked me recently when was the last time I remembered having a pain free day, and I quickly replied, “when I was 25.” He was noticeably taken aback despite his years of experience, and although he asked me to explain all the details, I’m not going to take time to do that here. Let me just say that chronic, physical pain and loss of dearly beloved ones have created for me many a dark night of the soul. However, I’m as determined as ever not to let it define me nor keep me from enjoying life as much as I can. Now before you tell yourself it’s because my faith is so strong that I can say that, let me add that it was in my twenties that I also severed my ties to any church or religion and wandered long and far from the Lord.

Screen shot 2015-09-26 at 2.56.10 PM

Okay now look at the photos above. They are of the Dark Hedges in Ireland which is an avenue of beech trees that was planted as an entrance to a home in the 18th century. However, they represent for me the seasons I’ve traveled through on my own life’s journey. As in the differing photos some seasons have been dark, some dark and cold, others hazy and unclear but not as dark, in some light started to shine but the richness of life still had not greened up, then there were periods of greenness but not much light, and finally there have been times when I’ve experienced both greenness and light. My point in sharing this is that I want to let anyone who reads this know that I’m here, that my email address is on my about page, that I’m a good listener, that I’m not easily shocked, that I will not judge you, that I will try to answer any questions you might have about how I cope, that I won’t expect anything in return, and that when it’s all said and done, I’ll put you on my prayer list regardless of whatever your faith in God is or is not. It’s not that I feel that I’m smarter than anyone else or that I have all the answers because I surely am not and do not, but after what I’ve lived through for nearly a half a century and with what I continue to endure, I have garnered at least a small amount of wisdom and gained a few insights along the way.

PS. I know that I am only here as a direct result of God’s amazing grace, and should anyone ask, I would love to talk with you about Christ’s living water and His offer of salvation. 

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more. ~Psalm 71:14  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie