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Growing up, I never saw myself as an author, much less a speaker or coach. I wanted to be a wife and mother, and I'm thankful to have those opportunities. However, twenty-five years ago, in response to a heartfelt and earnest prayer, God would change my life and stretch and challenge me in ways I never would have imagined.
Honestly, if I'd known ahead of time where He would lead, I would have run the other way. I wouldn't have understood how almost being homeless, moving far from family, living where winters temps can get below zero degrees, and meeting a man doing life in prison could bring me closer to God, teach me about love, forgiveness, resiliency, and freedom in ways I would come to cherish.
Have you been taken on such a journey? One you would have never asked for? Has it been difficult? For a long time, I was focused on comparing my circumstances with others and felt either cheated because life didn’t go how I’d envisioned it, or felt I had done something to deserve what had happened to me. There were plenty of people along the way that helped reinforce those thoughts.
Thankfully, as I sought the answer to the question “Is God truly good?; Is he truly kind?,” He has shown me the enemy’s lies. God has taught me that all of those experiences could have a beautiful purpose when I let Him take them and reframe them. Most of all, He’s shown me that He never condemned me. He has never been disappointed in me. He loves me! With no strings attached, radical, perfect, forever and always love. There is glorious freedom in knowing I am loved by the one who formed me in my mother’s womb; the same one who created the heavens, the earth, and everything in it. I am discovering His love for me more and more each day. My passion is to help others see His love for them too and live freely in His kingdom on earth and in heaven.
THE DANDELION ANALOGY
After a particularly harsh winter and spring had sprung, I pulled into the driveway of the home we were renting. It had a large front yard, a beautiful tree with a tire swing, and bushes in front of the beautiful picturesque front window. The grass had recently turned green and was inviting to bare feet. On this day I came home to a spectacular yellow-flower carpet covering the front lawn. I stopped my car at the top of the long driveway and just stared at the unexpected beauty! I imagined running barefoot across it and how soft it would feel. I imagined the fragrance of the flowers. I imagined how beautiful those little yellow flowers would be when viewed up close.
I pulled my car into the garage and got out to get a closer look at the beautiful display of God’s lovely surprise. Imagine my dismay when I discovered they were dandelions! Prickly-leafed dandelions were covering almost the whole lawn! All I could think of then was the work it was going to take to eradicate all these nasty weeds before they turned to seed and spread to my neighbors’ yards. In only a matter of seconds, what I had first seen and beautiful, lovely, and as a gift from God, had quickly turned into negativity, disappointment, and wanting to rid myself of this “gift” as soon as possible. I even had a fleeting thought that the enemy had tricked me, and I was disappointed God had let me see it as beautiful before discovering the “truth” of what I was seeing.
How many times have you had the experience of something looking so beautiful, inviting, and welcoming only to discover that it was prickly, thorny, and not at all what you had imagined? That’s happened to me many times in life. There were times in both my childhood and adulthood where I was excited about something, jumped right in, only to discover that I was right in the middle of muck and mire. People were not whom they had seemed; the job entailed something I was not good at; it was hard; people didn’t like me; someone criticized me; the weather was cold – I mean, really, really, cold; that moving to another state was life moving to another country; people didn’t follow through on what they said. We have all had those times when we’re going along, and life is good, only to feel blind-sided with a challenge, encounter, or trial, that makes us wonder what happened? We even question the goodness of a loving God.
From afar it can look beautiful in a field of green grass. Up close we notice the prickly leaves, and it even hurts to walk on it. Then it turns to seeds and multiplies. However, the dandelion has good qualities too. Dandelion is shown to be useful as food and has medicinal qualities. In traditional herbal medicine practices, dandelion is revered for their array of medicinal properties. For centuries, they’ve been used to treat a myriad of physical ailments, including cancer, acne, liver disease, and digestive disorders. You can read more about potential health benefits here and here.
When looking for a logo, I came across the seeding dandelion and thought how appropriate it is in explaining my life and what God has done. Most people think of a dandelion as a particularly pesky weed. In our yards that may be accurate. However, in a more natural setting, dandelion has a purpose, and we can view it as a beautiful cover for the ground and as medicine to help our bodies. In its seed form, we can watch the seeds carried by the wind to spread to other places where it becomes a beautiful ground covering and to help bring medicinal healing to others.
That is what I hope to share with others. How the prickly parts of our stories can bring healing to others as God brings healing in our own lives. I love this quote about the difference between vulnerability and transparency by TrueFace. “In vulnerability, you not only tell the truth about you but also allow others in to help.” We are meant to share our vulnerabilities and weaknesses with others. Not only to commiserate and find a connection between ourselves but to bring God’s light on those dark places so we can know Him and know ourselves how we are meant to be.
God created us to bear His light, His love. We can only do that by being willing to let him bring light into our dark places. His light is full of peace, kindness, and love. Don’t be afraid. God is good. He is kind. His motive is love – perfect love.
In my personal life, I am married to Jeff Howard. My book “You Can’t Try a Dead Man” is his true story. If you read our story, you see how remarkable he is. I am blessed to have joined him on his journey, which is now our journey together. I have three sons, daughters I laws, and five lovely grandchildren. I have a master’s degree in social work and have enjoyed my career in this diverse field. I learned so much through the people I’ve worked alongside with and served.
I learned about Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross for me, and all human-kind, when I was a little girl. I’ve had times when I questioned my faith and have fallen out of I was created to be, but I never fully put aside my faith. God, in his infinite goodness and kindness, never left me but pursued my heart from day one. I fully believe He doesn’t play favorites and pursues each one of us with his passionate, unfailing love.