My Earth Suit

This post has been on my heart for quite some time, but I have been avoiding it…not entirely sure why – guess I just haven’t felt like going there emotionally.

When I look in the mirror – this is what I see:

– an aging woman
– a woman with entirely too much fat around the middle (big gut)
– a woman with too much cellulite
– a woman with fat arms
– a woman with a fat face
– a huge nose
– a woman that looks tired and worn out

All of that is a little hard to take because the first time I ever felt acceptance was because of my looks. I just don’t know how to reconcile everything in my head.

What I value the most about myself is my heart and my character – not my looks – it has never been my looks that mattered to me. Honestly, I think it would have been easier to never have been accepted because of my looks – could have saved me a lot of heartache, and maybe I wouldn’t have these struggles that I have today.

I get annoyed when I see size 2, 4 and 6 women talk about being fat and being on a diet. I get annoyed because I REALLY need to be on a diet – I should have the right to say that – not them. Funny thing is – when I was their size, I said it too. I hate that society does that to us as women…I believe we should be healthy, but I just wish so much emphasis wasn’t placed on being a stick figure. What happened to values and morals and things of substance? Where are those things?

I complain, yet I can’t remove myself from the stigma – and I hate that!

Here’s what I know about all of my extra fat – it has been my crutch for the past 9 years. I ate due to anxiety – I ate due to depression – I ate because I didn’t know what to do with my dashed hopes and dreams. My fat represents my babies in heaven – the ones that I will never see on this earth. My fat represents all of the death I’ve seen in my life. My fat represents the times I have felt so lost on this earth – so aimless – so without purpose. My fat represents my heartaches – and God knows there have been so many that I can’t keep up with them…honestly, I shouldn’t keep up with them. I’ve given them to God – and His they shall remain. I shouldn’t hate the fat or hate what my body has become – I should look at it and be happy that I came through all of these years so in tact with a Savior who loves and adores every single millimeter of me. My body doesn’t represent who or what I am…I wish when I looked in the mirror I would see character, faith, hope and perseverance – that is what my body represents…trials, hurt, pain, dark times. It also represents the sweetest moments of my life – the moments that I was cradled in Love while I laid in a ball on the floor crying my eyes out – comforted beyond belief. I have walked through so much in this body. This body represents my story – and my story is so beautiful. I wouldn’t trade my story, my journey, for anything. I wouldn’t trade my heart or my mercy for anything. I wouldn’t trade my love for God for anything! That love is the single greatest gift I have ever received…my love for Him and His love for me – I can’t even describe the depths of it – I can’t describe the passion and the compassion – I can’t describe the tenderness – I can’t describe the grace, the beauty, the elegance – I can’t describe the dance, the glances, the rhythm.

It is my prayer that when I look in the mirror all I will see is God’s love for me…I pray that I will see myself through the lens of God.

I do need to lose some weight for health reasons, but I truly want to lay down any other reasons…it has been like yen/yang in my mind….trying to go back to being the person I was (the girl accepted because she was so pretty) except I hated being that girl – so why in the world do I long for it so much? It’s such an internal battle. Truthfully, I love who I am now. I love being 44 – I embrace my journey – I embrace the things God has shown me. I walk in full confidence as who God created me to be on the inside…I just haven’t been able to get the outside to match up.

It is my hope and prayer that I will lay this down as I publish this post…that I will quit trying to shed something that is part of me…that I will move forward loving myself as God loves me…that I will move forward in beauty, grace and elegance.

I know that this is my body – my earth suit. It carries me – a Spirit being that has a soul. My body doesn’t define me; my Spirit does – my soul does. I will walk forward in all 3 parts – leaving no parts behind until God calls me home. I’m going to love and appreciate all 3 parts…I think the healthiest perspective moving forward is agreeing to show my body some love (nourish it correctly with healthy things)…feels much better to think of it that way than to keep rejecting it and trying to get rid of it. So onward I go…

Her Name Is Grace

Not sure why I felt led to title this blog post in the third person, but I did, so it shall be.

Grace. 1) Grace: Synonyms: Elegance, loveliness, and beauty. 2) Meaning: admired 3) Biblically: God’s favor

Grace is found 170 times in the King James Version of the Bible.


Earlier this year I started a Christian counseling course – one that I felt led not to finish – but, nonetheless, one of the things that stood out for me before I stopped going was that God sometimes gives us a new name…I thought about that, and I was quite sure God had not given me a new name. I know that God does, in fact, give us new names. Look at Abraham, Sarah and Paul from the Bible. Clearly in this case our new name is more of a term of endearment that has a special meaning between you and God as no one else starts calling you that.

Well, for my birthday this year, Chuck surprised me with a zip lining adventure in Blue Ridge, GA. Neither of us had ever done it. We really lucked out – it ended up being only us and 1 other couple on our course. None of us had ever zip lined. We flew through the 2 hour course in 1 hour and 15 minutes. The other couple was a lot of fun. I particularly liked the girl…she laughed and screamed every single time she zipped. Her laughter was contagious. I apparently nailed a smooth and graceful landing pretty much every time. The girl looked at me and said, “Your new name is Grace” and I told her that her new name was Fun. And there you have it…just like that…my NEW name.

And as I sit here and write I get answers…Her Name is Grace – that’s what God says when he points me out to his beloveds in heaven. That’s why I was led to write it in third person.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! When I read the definition of Grace – that is how I’ve always wanted to be known – Graceful, Elegant, Lovely, Beautiful…not that I ever thought any of those things about myself, but that is always what I’ve wanted to be. Maybe, just maybe, I am all of those things :).

My grandmother’s name was Geneva Grace. Every single story I’ve ever heard about her embodies all of the definitions above. I never met her – she died when my mom was a little girl. Funny, I’ve always felt a connection with her. I look like her, and I certainly love the Lord like she did. Can’t wait to meet her.

Our daughter in heaven is named Geneva Grace Gardner – GG for short. I imagine she is all of those things too. I can’t wait to meet her one day.

What a heritage! I feel blessed. I feel chosen. I feel adored.

I will always be thankful for God’s grace. I will always be thankful that I am God’s Grace!

The End is so Final

Where to begin…I just spent the last hour sobbing hysterically. I’m not sure my heart has ever hurt so badly. Clearly, it has definitely been extremely wounded, but I didn’t know how to handle the pain of long ago – I had no outlet for it, so I buried it deep, deep inside. Every painful thing that happened afterward just pushed the initial pain that much deeper until that entire spot in my heart became numb. I guess God has been digging out all of those wounds for the past number of years. I’ve been through so much healing, I didn’t know there could be this much more, truly. I guess tonight was the night to dig out the ultimate wound from the ultimate heartache. Man it hurt. It is also such a needed relief…crying like that sucked, yet it felt so good at the same time. I know these sound like crazy words…that part of this makes me giggle. Glad to see God brought out my twisted humor even through this. One of the many things I adore about Him – He knows how to comfort me through my tears, Dance with me through my joy, and laugh with me through it all. He surely knows how much laughter I need to make up for – where so much was stolen.

I saw a picture tonight on Facebook – that single picture touched my deepest nerve and really agitated it. I knew it made me sad, but more than that it put me in the biggest funk. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why. The picture was of Truett Cathy in the hearse riding by Chick-Fil-A headquarters. I think the saddest part of that picture for me was reading the words of his son – something about his dad taking a final ride to the corporate office. Over and over again lately it has hit me that death is so final. I recently lost a friend of mine – granted I had not seen him in 15 years at least – but knowing he was no longer on this earth hurt my heart in a way I couldn’t explain. Finally tonight, while watching TV there was a traumatic family scene, and looking into the eyes of the actor felt like I was looking straight into my own soul. That’s when the water works started. I’m still not sure I understand all of what’s going on – maybe I never will – maybe God is just touching these things and healing these deep hurts so I can be free to really experience everything I’m meant to. I know in my heart of hearts that this is a season of my life for true freedom, to really experience the desires of my heart, and to let all of the pain go leaving only beauty…kind of like beauty for ashes I suppose.

What I do know is that the combination of all of these things took me back to being 8 year old Kelley – the Kelley that had to watch her daddy leave this earth without truly getting to say goodbye. I was so scared that he was lonely and hurting…the mere thought of that I think burst a hole in my heart. My uncle took me on a walk to get me away from the house where everyone was visiting and grieving. He told me years later that I asked him if it hurt to die. Such a profound question for an 8 year old – even back then my mercy gift was almost more than I could bare. I remember asking one of the girls in my family (I can’t remember if it was my mom’s baby sister or my cousin) what happened after I left the cemetery. I needed a play by play of what happened when they put my dad’s casket into the ground. I remember this now, and I truly see how big my heart has always been – always worried about those I love – always wanting to make sure they feel no pain. What I realized is that I was in so much pain myself and carried so much worry. I didn’t have a clue how to deal with it, so I never did. I just moved on and survived the best way I could. I definitely did that with a black spot in my heart – a black spot full of nothing but death – that part of my heart had died.

After all of these years, God showed me the most beautiful picture. In the picture was me as a little girl holding His hand. He was slightly in the air, and above Him was my dad – very much alive and happy. God was showing me that we are always connected. My dad never was alone and scared. Before he took his last breath, God had him in his arms whisking him away to the most beautiful place of all places – the land of complete happiness. I truly believe that after they started the journey to heaven, my dad’s earthly body took its last breath. That gives me so much peace and so much joy.

I realized tonight that cemeteries seem like such a sad and morbid place – a reminder of loss and pain. Really graves are memorials – a tribute to the people we have loved and what they meant in our lives. It’s a memorial to say we will never forget them. It’s not a place to be sad. It’s a place to remember the beautiful things, the fun things, the precious things. Our loved ones were never even there – just their earth-suit.

All of this gives my weary soul rest and makes my heart smile in places that were counted as dead. Looking forward to the precious things that will fill that hole…

Hope Has Saved My Life

Starting at the age of 8 my life has been full of one traumatic incident after another. I was always amazed that I made it through each and every struggle without having a bitter heart or feeling like I needed redemption because of what I had been through. I was able to gracefully walk through everything and come out on the other side. Nothing was able to keep me down. I never understood where that came from. Eventually I went through something that I couldn’t get back up from…I really didn’t understand because on a larger scale, what knocked me down paled in comparison to everything else I had been through in my life. I finally realized that it was God letting me hit rock bottom. I had to hit rock bottom to realize that I wasn’t self sufficient, and that I needed Him. I always loved Him, but I never thought I needed Him or anyone else (product of other wounds). Once this realization took root in my heart, the most awesome journey began. I say awesome, because it really has been that grand. It has also been very painful…but in the midst of that pain, there has always been freedom.

This knock-down and revival of sorts happened in 2003 – 11 years ago. I went from the pits of depression and despair to finding passion, compassion and a fire for life – all in the safety of the greatest Love I’ve ever known. I’ve been on a spiritual walk where I have shed so many false identities and really discovered who I was made to be. There is so much freedom in that. I love that God is perfecting us always.

I realized something this week. Hope is what always got me through every painful situation. Through my pain, I always knew there was something more – there had to be. I’ve always been so full of Hope even through every heartache. Honestly, if I hadn’t had that Hope I don’t think I would be here right now. Hope saved my life. Hope kept me reaching for more. Hope wouldn’t let me give up.

I had the deepest revelation today straight from the words of Beth Moore – a perfect picture of my heart: pain and beauty tangled in a big knot called Hope. That pain and hope have been intertwined in my heart since I was a little girl – getting more and more knotted up along the way but never separating. The beauty that’s there is my deepest love, adoration and affection for my Lord and Savior – my greatest Hope! The pain is all of the dreadful circumstances that I’ve had to walk through. I feel like I have climbed up on top of the tallest mountain, and I’m looking back over my life. I feel like it has been an achievement getting to this point. I feel peace. I feel grief. I feel joy. I feel warmth. Honestly, I just feel like I need to rest on the top of this mountain for a moment…feeling the dew of the clouds brush across my face, smelling the sweet scent of my Savior and Love, resting my weary but relaxed head in His warmth.

It’s time to let go of the pain…where only faith, hope and love remain. I’ll rest here on this mountain for just a brief moment – then I will get up and go with my Love on what will be the greatest climb of my life!