Take chances. Abandon all the rules. Ditch the recipe. Color outside the lines.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Self-Love and Poetry

As I am sure has been apparent to those of you who follow me on a regular basis I have been on a new journey lately towards self-love.  I have found that though I can always accept quite readily that God loves me and I can sometimes accept that other people love me, I have an incredibly difficult time loving myself.  Some of this struggle comes from growing up within religion where self-love was labeled selfishness as the continual reminder to “die to self” repeatedly echoed through the empty places in my soul.

I have lived my life mostly unaware what trouble hating myself has caused me.  As I began my self-hate recovery journey a little over a year ago I saw chains break inside me that I had no idea where held captive.  Not long ago my cousin Catherine challenged me to something she called “She Speaks Truth to Herself.”  The challenge was to write a letter to myself speaking truth to my own heart.  It was incredibly difficult and incredibly healing.  [Click here to read my blog of that challenge].  So, when she asked me if I wanted to preview her poetry chapbook with the same title and write a review of it I was super excited to say yes!

She Speaks Truth to Herself by Catherine Valentine is a fantastic little chapbook packed full of truth and healing words.  I’m kind of a sucker for poetry anyway (probably because I really suck at writing it) so it wasn’t incredibly hard for this collection to win me over.  In this book Catherine is fearlessly authentic and beautiful exposed.  My favorite piece in the book is called “Broken.”  Here is my favorite stanza:

This is God’s church, these are His people--
the wounded, the broken, hypocrite and liar.
In good company in the church of the broken.

I would definitely recommend this chapbook to anyone who is interested in poetry, truth, or authentic people.  I hope it will encourage you to start your own self-love journey and in turn free places in you that you didn’t know were captive.  It surely has helped do that for me. 

For more writing by Catherine check out her website here:  www.catherinevalentine.wix.com/cvalentinewriter

Monday, October 17, 2016



It’s amazing what power there is in a breath.
Life itself can hang on the ins and outs of just one breath.  In fact, with very little research one will find that life’s origin lies in one breath.  One holy breath.  One exhale from God and one inhale from man and life exploded into being.  One exhale, one inhale, it’s all so simple.

Today as I sat in the break area at work hanging desperately to the last minutes of escape before going back to invoices and numbers and expectations, I took an extra moment to breathe.  I took just one big deep breath in and let it sink its way down into the depths of me, and as I exhaled I felt my shoulders slump and relax for a moment… a fleeting but precious moment. 

Have you ever stopped to think about what breathing really is?  I mean, have you ever REALLY thought about it?  Breathing is about receiving.  Breathing is receiving life from outside of yourself.  It’s about taking in nutrients and energy and expelling all that is not those things.  One exhale from God and one inhale from man.

It’s funny to me how I so often think that I am in control.  How often a cling to my independence thinking that makes me strong.  AND YET I cannot even take a breath without being dependent on things outside of myself to supply me with life-- on trees and plants and molecules of oxygen that I can’t even see with my own eyes.

I can’t help but liken this physical life to the less tangible reality of spiritual life.  Interestingly enough in the Hebrew language the word for “breath” and the word for “spirit” are actually the same word.  It’s the word “Ruach” and it carries with it the undertone of both life and power.  When the Hebrews spoke of “spirit” it was linked to identity.  Who you were was defined by your spirit or your breath of life.  This linking of breath and spirit and life and identity is peppered ALL through the Bible (weird, it’s like it’s important or something).

Now, you might be saying, “Ok, Jess, we get it you’re a huge Bible nerd, but what does that have to do with us now?”  Well, my friends, what if I told you that you have been breathed into with the holy breath of Jesus himself?  What if you possess in you the very life force of a Savior too powerful to be held by the grave?  What if, your identity is linked to Jesus Himself?

Well, you have. You do.  It is.

Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you.  

Romans 8:11 (NET) 

You know the problem with the Church today?  We only preach half of the gospel.  We want to talk about forgiveness all day long.  Which is great, don’t get me wrong, we’d be hopeless beings were it not for the mercy of forgiveness, but that’s only half of the story.   See because not only was our sin defeated with Christ’s last breath on that cross, but HIS spiritual life was provided to us as He kicked down death’s door and busted out of the tomb.  The gospel is incomplete without the glorious grace of Christ’s life IN us.  One exhale by God and one inhale by man. 

Many will present lists and guidelines and 10 step programs to live a good Christian life neglecting the fact that we are wholly dependent of the Holy breath of God to accomplish any of those things.  Or have we forgotten that even in our breathing we are dependent beings?  We are receivers; God is the giver; may we never confuse the two. 

One exhale from God.  One inhale from man.  That’s the gospel.

But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God’s wrath. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life?  Not only this, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.  

Romans 5:8-11 (NET)