1330. Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light. ~John Milton

In a futile attempt to erase our past,
we deprive the community of our healing gift.
If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame,
our inner darkness can neither be illuminated
nor become a light for others.
~Brennan Manning

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Everyone has a story no matter what their age. We who are older however are actually made up of a series of stories, and in each of them tides turned along the way or remained static because of the choices we made and/or the chances we took. And one of the most critical choices each one of us has to make is whether or not to be authentically who God intended us to be. Most of us have somewhat of a grasp of that early on, but adolescence is and was a game changer. Living through those years is like what Virginia Woolf once said, “the eyes of others are our prisons; their thoughts our cages.” During the formative, teen years rather than remaining true to oneself, many try to be what the eyes of others think they should be and to think thoughts and to have ideas that this body of “they” believe to be “cool.” Because teens, like everyone else, want to be liked and accepted, their innocence and naïveté prompts many of them to succumb partially or wholly to the standards and choices of others in order to remain “free” from the prisons and cages of their peers, the intimidating, corporate “they.” And I was just as guilty of that as anyone else until one night, years and years later, in the middle of a very emotionally and physically painful night, it dawned on me that though there was no one there in the darkness to help me cope, to soothe me, or to stop the pain. And that was the mid-life game changer that motivated me to walk back far enough through time to remember who Natalie genuinely was, to embrace her, and to walk into the future as the Natalie I was meant to be. A subsequent choice I made was not to let what had broken me define who Natalie was and is but instead with God’s grace to find my inner light and let it shine even if at times it yet has to break forth through tears.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. ~Brené Brown

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden…” ~Matthew 5:14  ✝

**Collage of developing ages in Natalie’s life gathered and put in chronological order by Natalie

1217. There is nothing better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve. ~Malcolm X

At last, you will not be remembered for
roaming the earth as a non-entity,
but by every word, and every miracle,
and every love, and every seed that ever came
from the innermost part of your heart.
~Michael Bassey Johnson

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Every day I read blog post after blog post filled with litanies of “somebody done me wrong” songs, and I know that pain and loss are real and deep, unwarranted and regrettable, heartbreaking and devastating. And although I can’t walk that proverbial mile in the shoes of these bloggers, they need to know that we’ve all been there and done that. But ya know, there comes a time when one must let the past go and move on. My guess is if I handed any of them a burning hot potato that I’d just taken out of the oven, they would put the darn thing down before it did any serious damage to their hand. And so why is it that any of them or us hold on to toxic, past suffering, letting it “burn” us over and over again, day in and day out! Why do we give hateful, hurtful people that kind of power over our lives? Isn’t it like dragging dead bodies around with us wherever we go-weighty, stinking, rotting corpses with no life left in them? Why do we do that? Is it because we think nothing good or anyone loving will ever come along again? Oh my gosh, if nature were like that, life on planet earth would have ended eons ago. Like everything else God created we are full of seeds and possibilities, but the seeds must first be sown and then nurtured before the possibilities become evident, not unlike those minuscule green shoots that push up from the darkness of the soil to the light. And that sowing process can’t be done by whining and wallowing around in the stench of those carcasses we’re hanging on to. It can only be done when disappointments and heartbreaks are finally thrown onto a compost heap to become fodder for new growth and the seeds are thrown out to germinate! And no, it’s not that I’ve lived a sheltered, privileged life devoid of heartache that I can say these things for I’ve known bitter loss; I live with chronic pain; I’ve dealt with defeat; and I’ve experienced utter despair; but I’ve also known enough of joy and happiness and miracles not to let that which has tried to break me define who and what I am and/or steal another millisecond of what life is left in these old bones. Walking away is a choice; letting go is a choice; setting ourselves free from harmful people and things is a choice, and only we can make those choices. So grieve a while, sing your sad songs, write your sad stories and poems, and then pick yourself up, dust your fanny off from the fall, stand bravely tall, and declare to life and the world that you cannot, will not be subdued or diminished by others or the past. Then walk away with songs of hope in your words, and never, ever look back.

He(the Lord) heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ~Psalm 147:3  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; text box added to altered and edited images I created; collage by Natalie too

839. And soon, too soon, we part with pain to sail o’er silent seas again. ~Thomas Moore

It’s an art to live with pain…
to mix the light into gray.
~Eddie Vedder

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I have lived pain, and my life can tell,
but I only deepen the wounds
when I neglect to give thanks for
the heavy perfume of wild roses in August
and the song of crickets on humid summer nights
and the rivers that run and the stars that rise
and the rain that falls and all the
good things that a good God gives.
~Edited and adapted excerpt
from Ann Voskamp

The migraine rages on, and once more I’m sailing the silent seas of pain. Though it be a life long story, the Lord has and will again bring me back one day to dry land. ~Natalie

But as for me, afflicted and in pain–may your salvation, God, protect me. ~Psalm 69:29  ✝

**Images found on Pinterest

749. It has been said, “time heals all wounds.” I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind protecting it’s sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone. ~Rose Kennedy

The love of Christ reaches
to the very depths
of earthly misery and woe…
It also reaches to
the throne of the eternal…
~Excerpts from Ellen G. White


Oh, misery, what’s gonna become of me?
It’s raining,  a-rainin’ in my heart again
‘Cause this awful pain keeps me alone and awake.
The heavy, tearful rain’s a-fallin’ even though
I hear Your voice, Lord, a-callin,’ “It’s all right.”
But this salty, rain of teary sadness mixed
With desperation keeps a-fallin on my pillow
While outside it’s another rainy night in Texas.
And it seems like both rains are never gonna stop.
Lightning bolts a-flashin’, thunder booms a rumblin’
And the distant moanin’ of a train seems to play
A sad, sad refrain on this hard and rainy night.
Oh Lord, it’s such a rainy night in Texas,
It’s like it’s a-rainin’ everywhere in my world.
And no matter how many times I wonder
The story still comes out the same…
Whichever way one looks at it or thinks on it
It’s life and one’s just got to play the game
So I tell my pain-filled blues they mustn’t show
But these tears tonight I cannot keep from flowin’
‘Cause it’s rainin’ in my sad, despairin’ heart.
~Edited and adapted lyrics from a song
by Tony Joe White, and another song
by Bouleaux Bryant, and Felice Bryant

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. ~Psalm 31:9   ✝