My dear Bravehearted Beauties, you are a gift to my heart! Thank you for reading and rejoicing in the story of the big brother I always wanted but never knew I had. Thank you for your prayers as I wrestled with fear and struggled to step into my brave heart. Thank you for your patience as you waited and wondered. Thank you for your life-giving words in response. And thank you for journeying with me as the story continues to unfold. I don’t know all that God is going to do through this story, but I get the sense that it’s a story with wings and has just taken flight. I’m expectant and hopeful about what is to come…in my life, and in the lives of others.

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In recent years, I’ve developed a “brave radar.” As I listen to people share their stories, I listen for the ways they are brave…both in big ways and in small ones. Many times, I see brave where people can’t see it in themselves. I love to call the brave out in others. And I love to honor the otherwise overlooked parts of a story that culminate in a glorious crescendo of beauty and bravery.

I don’t know if this story I’ve shared has reached its crescendo yet. Only God knows. {Personally, I sense there’s a lot more goodness, beauty and healing to come.} But today, I want to honor the brave ones who came before me in this story. Their specific stories aren’t mine to tell, and my short sentences won’t do their stories justice, but I’m so in awe of each of these people and want to their brave and beautiful hearts.

First, there was a brave young woman who made a brave choice to give life to a son she knew she couldn’t keep.

And there was a brave couple who made a brave decision to adopt a son as soon as they heard of his birth.

Hearts breaking. Hearts opening. Love is so very brave.

46 years later, there was a brave sister who followed her intuition and bravely pursued a big brother she believed was out there somewhere.

And there was a brave brother who received word of biological siblings out of the blue and bravely said yes to more without knowing a thing about them.

Then there was another brave sister who supported her brother of 46 years in his decision to meet two brand new sisters, and bravely embraced them with hugs and chocolate.

And finally, there’s me…bravely telling the story God is asking me to tell, knowing I’m not entirely supported, but trusting that God will bring beauty to every broken place. And believing that somehow the telling of this story will usher in more healing and goodness than any of us can ask or imagine. {Ephesians 3:20}

Will you dare to believe in the MORE with me? Not just in my story, but in your own? Let’s keep partnering with God in His story by being brave with our stories each and every day…both in the little things and in the big things.

Love to you with all of my brave and beautiful heart,

 

 

P.S. You don’t have to wait until a story is made beautiful to bravely honor and rejoice in it. I’m very much in the middle of my own pain and brokenness right now. Some of it is related to this story and some is not. But no matter how broken things look today, I know this much is true: there is a particular beauty formed in you through brokenness. Will you be brave enough to allow it? And even embrace it?

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”

2 Corinthians 4: 16-18, The Message

 

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  • Krista - Beauty can be made out of the ashes when we allow Him to do just that. It’s in the brokenness, in the rawness, where amazing grace takes place. It’s the surrender to allowing the One who is sovereign & all knowing to continue to write the story of our lives. I have learned this so much in my life this past year on my health journey. It’s having blind faith that know matter what our story is we are never alone, that it is all being worked out for our good. It’s knowing that we are loved in greater ways than we can ever imagine or fathom.
    Be brave little one, be brave because He’s got you.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - Thank you for posting that verse, it was so timely. This has been a heavy hearted year for me, compounded by my inner circle of friends each being unavailable in my time of darkness. The Holy Spirit reminded me Jesus had the same experience with his closest friends so I know he understands my grief…I definitely needed a reminder to not give up.ReplyCancel

Hello Bravehearted Beauties. I hoped to be back just a few days after my last post to share the story I’ve been holding in my heart for months, but every kind of thing has gotten in the way. And if everyday life stuff weren’t enough of a hindrance to writing, there’s definitely an enemy who doesn’t want God’s story brought to light. But it’s time to be brave and let God’s glory shine!

Here’s what I’m learning about stories: the most beautiful ones are birthed out of brokenness. So it is with this story. Life is both beautiful and broken. We can be afraid of the broken parts and try to hide them, or we can embrace the brokenness and believe that beauty will rise right out of that cracked open place.

Before I begin…

Lord, be my words. You have invited me into a really big story…the best one of my life! I see You in every detail. I see how You were writing this story long before I was born and long before I could see You in it. I know I don’t have the full story, God; only You do. But you’ve given me a glorious portion to share. Use my words to reveal the portion of this story that brings You the most glory. Reveal your beauty in every broken place, both in my story, and in the stories of others. You are so, so good, Lord. Let your goodness be evident to all who hear and all who read. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

And now God’s big, beautiful story.

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I HAVE A BROTHER!!!

Meet Trevor…the big brother I’ve always wanted but never knew I had. I’ve only known him for nine months, but deep down in my soul, it feels like so much longer. He’s six years older and was adopted at birth. We both grew up in Houston, a few neighborhoods apart, went to rival high schools and know lots of the same people. {Some of my long-time blog readers and friends know him, and are just finding out today that we’re related!} He loves Jesus, loves his family, loves to write and loves to cook. He looks nothing like me on the outside, but is so much like me on the inside. And he loves being a big brother. He’s been one his whole life…to a sister no less! Really God?!?! Who gets the big brother of her dreams at age 41? Who gets to be this instantly loved, accepted and known? Thank you, God. You are so crazy good!

This story didn’t start 9 months ago. Or even 47 years ago when Trevor was born. It started in God’s heart long before our birth. Your story did, too. God says He knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb {Jeremiah 1:5}…before we were even a thought to anyone on this earth! And He didn’t just have an idea of us, but an intimate knowing. I could write a whole post on that alone!

Back to the story. But first, a little set-up to the story from January 2014. I was battling depression and knew it was time to step back into counseling. In one of my first sessions, while trying to tell my story the way I had had always told it, I felt disoriented, sad and even scared. Who doesn’t know how to tell their own story? I stopped for a moment and said through tears, “My story doesn’t make sense. I feel like there’s a missing piece, but I don’t know what it is.”

Months later, in a time of prayer, God gave me the visual of a massive puzzle with thousands of tiny pieces scattered all over my long dining room table. It looked chaotic to my orderly firstborn self. But then I saw Jesus sitting at the table. A question burned in my spirit: “What if there are pieces missing…pieces that aren’t even on the table?” He looked at me with a tender, knowing smile and assured me He knew where all the pieces were. I didn’t have to find the pieces or even work the puzzle. He would do it. I decided to trust Him.

In January 2015, I was newly 40 and happy to be, not knowing it would be such a painful year: a broken ankle, a breaking down marriage, and an unexpected run-in with old trauma. It was also the year of a phone call I’ll never forget. My sister called one night in late March and said something like this: “Do you want me to drop a bomb on you or give you some backstory?” I said, “Go ahead and drop a bomb.”

My sister exclaimed, “WE HAVE A BROTHER!”

My response was surprisingly calm and instinctive: “I know.”

“What?!?! How did you know?” she asked. “I just know.” I didn’t know in my head; I knew deep down in my being. The missing piece. The piece of my story that didn’t make sense showed up on the table that night. And my spirit knew. I think my spirit has always known. When I was young, I begged my parents for a big brother. Even asked them to adopt one. I believe God placed that desire for a big brother in my heart because He knew I had one.

Who was he? Where was he? How much older was he? What does he look like? Of course I was curious, but I was mostly just thankful for the revelation of this missing piece in my story. It explained some things for me in a way I couldn’t have understood on my own or even with years of counseling. Thank you, God. Oh, and guess what?!?! I’m not technically a firstborn! Good news for a recovering perfectionist who’s been wanting to ditch the whole type A thing!

How my sister discovered we had a brother is her story to tell. It’s fascinating. As an adoptive parent herself, she has a unique perspective on biological siblings and adoption. She’s also a truth seeker with a passion and persistence that has always amazed me. So in the summer of 2015, my sister began a search. I remained uninvolved in the search, but prayed throughout the process.

God, you are in control. Not me, not my sister. And certainly not the brother who doesn’t know a thing about this. I’m trusting that what you reveal is intended to heal. Please protect this brother’s heart. Protect the hearts of everyone involved.  Bring your beauty to every broken place. I trust you, God.

I had my moments where I wondered, “What if he’s not a good brother? What if he’s in prison? What if he doesn’t know he was adopted? What if this revelation wrecks his world and everyone else’s?” But God. He continued to remind me He was in control. He made this brother known to us, and I believed He would only allow what He knew to be good.

In August 2015, my sister wrote a letter to our not-yet-known-to-us big brother and handed it over to an adoption agency. In February 2016, that letter landed in our brother’s mailbox. Almost a year after we discovered we had a brother, and six months after my sister wrote the letter. Trevor can tell the story of the significance of the delay for him, but I’ll just say this: God is in every detail of your life. His timing is perfect, even when your story isn’t.

And this is where the story gets really, really good. As in, details only God could write and orchestrate so perfectly! When my sister Holly wrote the letter, she enclosed this picture:

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When our brother opened the letter, the picture fell out onto the floor. When he picked it up and saw my face, he said, “I KNOW HER!”

Really God?!?! Of all the billions of people on the planet and all the people who could be one of his biological siblings, he knew who I was?!?! He recognized me from a small church we both attended in Houston. I only attended for 18 months before our move to Franklin, but it was long enough to form a memorable friendship with his wife, Karen. We met on a women’s retreat in 2010 and felt an instant connection. Of course, we had no idea that her husband was my brother!

I remember talking to Karen in the church courtyard one Sunday in 2010, and she pointed her husband out across the way. And then there was an actual introduction by a mutual friend in 2011. Our dear friends John and Cully came to hear our oldest daughter sing at Christmas. They were dear friends of ours from our old church. After the service, John saw an old friend from high school and introduced us. It was Trevor!

Who knew that this church we attended for only 18 months before moving to Franklin would become a significant part of a larger story that would unfold four years later? God knew! It certainly wasn’t my plan to attend that church. I honestly didn’t want to change churches. I was devastated to leave the one we had been so involved in for 14 years. But I followed my husband’s lead and trusted God was in it, though I couldn’t for the life of me understand what He was doing!

Is your mind blown yet? Our minds were blown every single day as more details clicked into place. After making the church connection with me based on the photo, Trevor and Karen read Holly’s letter. Another amazing detail revealed: Karen works with Holly’s husband! With all of these small world connections, Trevor wasted no time reaching out.

He hand wrote a sweet card and placed it in Holly’s mailbox the day after he received her letter. {They live only 10 minutes apart.} When Holly read the card, she called me crying hysterically. I thought someone had died! She struggled to speak through her tears: “He knows you!”

“What? Who knows me?”

“Our brother! He knows you from church! His wife Karen knows you, too. And she works with Josh!”

My first thought was: he knows me! My second was: he knows Jesus! And my third was: I love Karen! I could remember her face and our conversations as if I’d just seen her yesterday. I couldn’t believe her husband was my brother!

When I got off the phone with my sister, I called my friend John and told him his high school classmate was my brother. He flipped! He told me they used to carpool together, shared a few memories and then said, “I don’t know who hit the bigger jackpot…you for getting Trevor as a brother, or Trevor for getting you as a sister!”

Holly and Trevor met for drinks the same day she received his card. They spent several hours connecting dots and marveling over all the details. My sister called me after and said, “You know I don’t usually say this, but I’m pretty sure this is a ‘God thing.'” She also said, “You’re going to love him.”

I did a brave thing and booked a next-day flight to Houston. Actually, my spontaneous husband booked it. He was absolutely sure I needed to meet my brother. I freaked out and cancelled the flight, then rebooked it. I put on my favorite pair of boots {the ones I bought myself for my 40th birthday}, and boarded a plane. In a whirlwind 24 hours, I met the big brother I always wanted. It felt absolutely crazy and absolutely right at the same time.

The first thing I did when I met him was scan his face to see if there was any resemblance. I tried hard not to stare. I always dreamed I’d have a big brother who looked like me: blonde hair, blue eyes and fair skin. {Interesting side note: I was often asked if I was adopted growing up because I didn’t look like anyone in my family, and here I was looking at an adopted brother who looked more like my family than I did.} You wouldn’t know we’re related looking at us from the outside, but on the inside, we’re very much alike. To start, we share a faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I didn’t have the experience of a shared faith in my family growing up, so to start there with a new brother felt like a huge gift to my heart. And then there’s the way our brains work. Very much the same! It wasn’t long before we were finishing each other’s sentences and knew what the other was thinking before we even spoke it.

When I got back home to the farm, the first thing my husband said when he saw me was, “You look complete.” And that’s exactly how I felt.

Life changed for all of us nine months ago. It’s been a wildly good, beautifully broken, messy but glorious unfolding. This is a story only God could write. And it’s not finished! There’s so much more to the story…more than I can fit into a blog post, and more that’s unfolding day by day. In God’s time, this story would make a really good book! It’s a good thing our brother is a writer! There are some amazing parts of this story that only he can tell.

So how does this story of mine relate to your story? Only God knows. All I know is He wanted me to share it with you. And He knows exactly what to speak to your heart through this story of His. One thing I know for sure: God is doing so much more than we can see at all times. He’s always doing more than we could ask or imagine {Ephesians 3:20}.

Are you willing to risk your heart and believe that all the seemingly disconnected dots and broken bits are the framework for a beautiful story? God is dropping details into place even now. And in His perfect time and perfect way, He will connect the dots and reveal a thing of beauty! All He needs from you is a willingness to trust. I trust you, Jesus. I trust that You are doing more than I can see. I trust that You are working all things out for good in my story.

Believing in beauty with all of my brave heart,

 

 

P.S. Any story that involves more than one person can be told from many different perspectives. This post represents my perspective, written with God’s prompting and presence. I know others would tell the story differently, and I honor their stories. I’m just telling the story as God inspired it through me, knowing that it’s ultimately His story. I hope it blesses you in a big way today!

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  • Ashley - Beautiful story! Thank you for being brave enough to share. I am starting my day with a smile upon my face thanks to you.ReplyCancel

  • sherri cheney - Linsey,
    What a beautiful story! You shared in an honorable way. Thank you for telling us your experience, your perspective. It ALL matters. Prayers for the time spent growing in relationship with your big brother and new family…
    Psalm 40:1-3ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - I so appreciate your words about how I shared in an honorable way. That was my heart’s desire. Not everyone was ready for the story to be told, but after months of delay, I knew God was asking me to tell it. Glad it came out as honoring.ReplyCancel

  • Krista - What an amazing & beautiful God story! There is an incredible peace & beauty in seeing what He brings forth in our lives. I am happy for you, your sister & brother that He has brought all of you together. What a beautiful beautiful blessing! All things can be worked for the good if we allow Him to. ❤️💕❤️ReplyCancel

  • Mary Catherine - Love your beautiful story!Thank you for sharing. I agree completely…this is something that only God could write. His perfect plan in His perfect timing. XOReplyCancel

  • Missy Dollahon - …. I can’t make a comment cause I’m just speechless ….ReplyCancel

  • Christi Brennan - Linsey~ THIS is amazing…I KNOW what you are talking about knowing/not knowing. I met my birth mother/sister in Houston after we had moved to Southlake and the ways we were connected were completely God orchestrated! There is so much richness to be gained from adding another piece into your life puzzle. I am not a blogger, writer or have any aspirations of becoming one, but I did have thoughts of writing my story right after connections were made. Blessings to all involved and thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - Means so much to hear from you regarding your own story, Christi. Wish we could sit down with a big cup of coffee or a glass of wine and talk for hours! It’s WILD how connected we can be to someone we’ve never met but were always meant to meet. Only God!ReplyCancel

  • Alison Fleming - Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, Linsey! I love seeing God weave and complete us in His glorious and perfect way! Big brothers are a treasure! I am sure He has many more surprises in His perfect plan for you and each one of us! We miss your smiling face in Houston! Much love and prayers! AlisonReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - So good to hear from you, sweet Alison! Thank you for reading along, and YES…a big brother is such a treasure! Worth the wait for sure!ReplyCancel

  • Gracia @ Gracious Offering - Linsey,
    What an amazing story! Our God certainly is the master weaver of our life’s stories. I love my big brother and I’m happy you have one now too! Your words give me hope that God is still is working behind the scenes to bring beauty out of some very broken pieces in my life. Thank you for sharing this story of wonder and encouragement. Warmly, GraciaReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - He’s ALWAYS working behind the scenes. I’ve got some hard things happening now where I just keep reminding myself that He’s doing more than what I can see. Let’s keep looking for the beauty and remain expectant of the good to come!ReplyCancel

  • Rhonda - Your blog is such an inspiration to me. I continually see miracles through your story. Thank you for being so open and honest because that is where the healing begins. Gods blessings to you and your family.ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - Thank you for your life-giving words, Rhonda. And YES to the healing that comes with an open, honest heart. It’s hard to stay open sometimes, but the healing is worth it!ReplyCancel

  • Will Otto - I was there! Very cool story.ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - You were not only there, but you are a big reason why we have that little detail in our story of how we were introduced at GBC. Because YOU invited Hallie to sing and lead worship a number of times. Thank you ALWAYS for recognizing her God-given gifts and giving her an opportunity to use them. We’ll always remember you in a special way for that. Blessings to you!ReplyCancel

  • Courtney S Vandiver - So blessed by your wonderful story and think it’s so funny that I met you at first as a customer and was at the small church in Houston, and am friends with Karen, their sons and Josh!ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - Courtney! I love small world details like that! Love that you know us all in some way. God is really something, isn’t He?!?!ReplyCancel

  • Holly Parkee - Thank you for sharing this beautiful testimony to God’s provision & timing! Proud of you and your family. Praying for continued healing and joy that runs deeper than you can even imagine!ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - I love your prayer for continued healing and joy that runs deeper than I can imagine. I’m already experiencing both and will gladly receive MORE! xoReplyCancel

  • Brenna - Linsey – I’m in Trevor’s community group and have loved hearing this story that God wove together. It’s been so great to watch. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - Brenna, I love that you are in his group and got to hear his perspective. He has so many amazing details to add to the story. Hope we’ll get to tell it more fully someday! Blessings to you!ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia - SO that makes you a middle child now, doesn’t it? Welcome to the awesome club!! I love this story and so excited for all of you! Really incredible on many levels and you have shared it so dearly. Excited for what the future holds! JD gets a brother, too! Hugs from Houston-CReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - Middle child…how crazy is THAT?!?! I told my brother the first day I met him that I was turning in my firstborn duties and letting him carry them all. 😉 And how sweet of you to look at the gift God has for JD in this. I think so, too! Love you, my friend!ReplyCancel

  • Molly Urbani - Hi Linsey-
    What an amazing work of the Lord! I am thankful for this gift of a brother to you, and for the joy so evident in your life. It has been encouraging to read your blog. Over the past few years, I see God working in my life in similar (at times painful) ways as He brings His beauty into brokenness. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing…it has reached into the depths of my heart and mind, and ministered richly.ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - So good to hear from you, Molly! Thank you for your encouraging words about my brother and my blog in general. It’s a gift to my heart to know you’re reading along and experiencing God in deeper ways. Hugs to you!ReplyCancel

  • Honoring The Brave Ones » Bravehearted Beauty - […] Beauties, you are a gift to my heart! Thank you for reading and rejoicing in the story of the big brother I always wanted but never knew I had. Thank you for your prayers as I wrestled with fear and struggled to step into my brave heart. […]ReplyCancel

Hello, Bravehearted Beauties. I’ve been away far too long. So long that I forgot how to log in to my own blog! I didn’t intend to take a break from writing. And the truth is, it’s not good for me to stay silent for so long. I’ve said many times over the last seven years of blogging that words are like the air I breathe…essential to feeling alive and well. When I go silent and keep the words bottled up inside, I start to feel like I’m choking or suffocating. It’s not good for me.

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And it’s not good for you. God has made it very clear to me over the years that I don’t write just for me. God has given me this way with words…this way of speaking to your heart as He speaks to mine. There are things He wants to say to you through me. There are places He wants to access in your heart as I reveal my heart before you in vulnerable ways. There is beauty He wants to reveal in your brokenness as I share my own journey of beauty and brokenness. And there are stories He wants to tell. Not my stories, but His stories. He is the ultimate author. I’m honored to be His mouthpiece. And sad that I’m silent at times.

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I have a really big, beautiful God story to share. I heard God asking me to share it before I even knew what it was He wanted me to share. In January, God said as clearly as I’ve ever heard Him: “Tell your story so I can tell Mine.” I said, “Yes, God.” But I didn’t know where to begin. Then in February, God revealed a huge missing piece of my story. {I always sensed a piece was missing, but couldn’t have told you what it was.} In March, I knew this was the story I was meant to share. A story far greater than myself or anyone else involved…a story meant to glorify God. In April, May, and most of June, I stayed completely quiet in an attempt to honor others involved. In late June, I told you I was living a great story and couldn’t wait to share it. In July, I told you I was bursting at the seams and still couldn’t share it. But that’s exactly when I wish I had broken the silence. Because in June and July, God told me it was time. But I delayed. And since then, my silence has come at a cost.

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So why the long silence? Why didn’t I write sooner? God is asking me to be honest with you here. I think He knows you’ll find more of yourself as I share more of myself. So here is the truth:

I allowed fear to silence me. I allowed the fear of others to become a louder voice in my head than the voice of God in my heart. I allowed my fear of a few who don’t want me to share the story keep me from writing the story God has asked me to share. I have feared the reaction of a few, discomfort of a few, disapproval of a few and rejection of a few. So much that I stayed silent when I knew it was time to write. What began as a loving desire to honor others grew into a fear of others. I hid behind honoring for too long, and today, I’m calling it what it is: fear. Fear isn’t honoring; it’s dishonoring…to my God and to myself.

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Bravehearted Beauties, your voice is needed. Your stories are needed. Especially when God tells you it’s time to speak them. There’s no good thing that comes from fear-induced silence. Trust me. I went from feeling fully alive in the story I was living to feeling burdened, trapped, small and stifled. I turned inward and have felt dangerously close to my previous battles with depression. {Depression rises when I shrink inward and make myself small. I don’t want to shrink anymore.}

A recent declaration from Brené Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton captures some of what I’ve become aware of in my own battle with silence and smallness:

“My silence is not going to be your comfort. My job is not to make you comfortable by dying on the inside and staying small and quiet.”

Dying on the inside. That’s what it feels like when you’re keeping silence out of fear…all in an attempt to appease others. Dying on the inside is what depression feels like, too. So…appeasing in order to make others feel more comfortable while I remain silent and spiral into depression? No, thank you. I’m done. It’s time to share the story God has asked me to share. It’s time to give Him the glory and give myself the freedom and healing that comes with speaking my voice and using the gifts He’s given me.

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This is where I need to remember how God sees me, who He made me to be, and the new name He calls me: Bravehearted Beauty. I don’t rise up and speak my voice or share my story because it’s easy for me to do, or because I’m good at it, or because I have the support and blessing of others. I rise up and speak my voice because God calls me to do it…and because God calls me brave. And remember, bravery isn’t the absence of fear. Bravery is stepping right into the fear. It’s saying, “I see you fear, but today, I am not ruled by you. I am ruled by my God who makes me BRAVE!”

So Bravehearted Beauties, I have a big, beautiful God story to share. And this time, I will not let fear keep me from sharing it. I’ve heard God say, “It’s time.” And this time, I’m going to honor His voice above all others. I’ll be back soon!

With all of my brave heart,

P.S. In case you’re tempted to think I’m good at being brave and you’re not, let me tell you: I ripped a couple fingernails off in the first few paragraphs of this post. And even as I finish writing, fear isn’t absent. I don’t know if it ever will be this side of heaven. But we step into fear because being ruled by it wrecks all kinds of havoc on our hearts, souls, minds and bodies. You can do this brave thing today, Bravehearted Beauties! Even if you pick a few fingernails, fall down, fail or whatever else along the way. Keep choosing the brave thing in the midst of fear. And when you do, fear will lose its power, leaving you more free!

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  • Krista - You are exactly right when you say that God has used you & the words that you share to bring hope among other things to those who need it. I ❤️ God’s divine timing. I was struggling yesterday with sharing what God has put on my ❤️ to share with others.
    It has become apparent in the past few years that He has called me to be an encourager. He even spoke those words over me one day. One of the areas He has called me to encourage in is about babies. He gives me very specific encouragement to share with those I know personally & even those that I don’t really know. Like you shared, sometimes I let the fear of what the person I am led to share His words with, put the wedge of doubt in me. Then I think of what Jesus did for me on the cross. How can I not honor the mighty & sovereign God?
    I was prompted to share encouragement with a popular blogger who has shared her struggles with pregnancy. I sent her an e-mail telling her what God revealed. When I didn’t get a response, I was able to contact her & explain about the e-mail. She still hasn’t responded to the e-mail. On her blog yesterday she spoke of an incredible weekend that she had & described many God moments. My ❤️ became sad. Not for me,but for the fact didn’t reading His revealing in my e-mail speak to her as well? Did she think that I am some random crazy person claiming something that is false? Should I really put myself out there & be vulnerable to being unheard or rejected?
    But then God. This is what He told me. He said that it’s not about me. It’s about being obedient to Him. He then reminded me of the apostles & how they spread the good Word despite being ridiculed, mocked, rejectted. In that moment I saw the one who was treated worse than I could ever imagine being treated. He hung on that cross for me. He endured it all. Far be it from little ole me to allow fear & doubt creep in & not share the words I am called by the most Holy to share.
    We need to not allow the enemy steal, kill or destroy what God has entrusted us with.ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - “It’s not about me. It’s about being obedient to Him.” That’s the heart of it right there, Krista. Well, said! Thank you for that truth, God!ReplyCancel

  • Patti - I do hope you come back soon! I was so hoping you’d be telling the story today!ReplyCancel

  • Talia - Hoping to hear the story soon!ReplyCancel

  • Mary Catherine - Welcome back Lynsey! Thank you for your beautiful writing and honesty! I look forward to reading your brave story!ReplyCancel

  • Guest - I love how singer Sara Bareilles says it: “Say what you want to say and let the words fall out…show me how big your brave is….” I cringe to think what you’re about to say (because I feel the discomfort you are experiencing, even though I don’t know you), but I stand with you as someone who feels stifled. And being stifled (or FEELING stifled) does a number on your body, mind and soul…and you’re right, it’s a burden you were never meant to carry (and why we’d think otherwise is just crazy!).ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - Love those lyrics! Thank you for reminding me of them today. And yes, there is discomfort for a pleaser who’s been addicted to keeping the peace. But God has a story to tell, and He’s given it to me to tell. So…here we go! Breaking free of the silence I’ve kept will surely feel better than this!ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia - Great post, Linsey! Miss you and hugsReplyCancel

  • Suzanne - Just read this Linsey, and I so admire your bravery! I know that fear has played a huge part in my life and my family’s lives the past several years. Sometimes life does not go as planned, and circumstances and events can change us forever. I believe that God can make beauty from ashes and that our mess really becomes our message. You are so special and such a blessing! Thank you! ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Sheila Reinstein - Looking forward to hearing your inner beauty tell her story. Henry is wanting to go to Vandy ED so maybe I will get to see you in the near future! Miss you!ReplyCancel

  • Sherri Cheney - Linsey, your openness and vulnerability is refreshing. The way you express yourself is both tender and courageous. Your pursuit in following Christ is an encouragement to me. I have been on my own journey of life recovery and transformation for the last 3 years. No more games. I have worn many masks, many at the same time. What will please the one I am with? What should I be to gain love, approval or acceptance? How lost I’ve been in my own head and heart… it has kept me from being present with those I am love and not being (or knowing) who God created me to be or using the gifts He gave me. Thank you for sharing your story. I am better by knowing I am not alone. Sending warm hugs to you my blog friend!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - I’ve so missed you. I checked often for an update. I’m excited to read your next post.

    Bless you.
    Lisa from IndianaReplyCancel

  • Lexi - So glad to see you are in a place of growth and light. The truth can’t hide in the light. I know your story will help so many others and your courage for telling it is amazing. Thank you for sharing your heart with us Linsey. ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Jamie - Hi there :) I keep checking in to see if you have posted a new post. Praying for you as you work on your story.ReplyCancel

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Hello Beauties! Happy hot July to you! It’s too hot for porch sitting these days, but my oldest captured a quick photo of me with a handful of Limelight Hydrangeas this week. These beauties redeem an otherwise hot and sticky summer! Hydrangeas, lightning bugs and iced green tea lemonade with fresh mint leaves are the highlights of summer heat for me. How about you?

Okay, I’ve got to get right to it. I’m in between travels and visits with family and only have a 30 minute window to sit down and write, but there’s something welling up so strongly in my spirit that I know I have to give it voice today.

In my last post, I wrote about a willingness to be seen.  God has really been getting my attention on that topic recently, but in the weeks since I’ve written that post, He’s been speaking something along these lines: a willingness to be seen comes from knowing you are worthy to be seen. 

We don’t tend to show something to someone unless we think it has value, worth, importance or significance. Do you see that you have all of that? If we don’t start with the truth that we are worthy, it makes sense that we won’t risk allowing ourselves to be seen. Who shows someone something they think is worthless? And yet, sadly, we often view ourselves as if we have little to no worth.

So where do we find our worthiness? I’ve tried to find it in performance, perfection, the opinions of others and all kinds of other things. But the thing is, a worthiness that’s tied to what we think about ourselves or what others think of us will always leave us feeling unworthy in the end. Because we can never be enough, do enough, perform enough or be perfect enough to attain and sustain our own worthiness.

Here’s the rock solid truth: our worthiness comes from God alone. It’s not up to us to secure and maintain our own worthiness. It’s not up to us to prove our worthiness. It’s not up to us to “hustle” for our worthiness {as Brené Brown likes to say}. What is up to us is to choose to believe and agree with God about who He says we are. We are beloved children of God. We are image bearers. We are radiant with His glory. And so much more. When your identity is rooted and grounded in who God says we are, there is no one and no thing that can influence or redefine our worthiness. Bravehearted Beauties, your worthiness is secure! 

The real work for me has been in not only believing in this truth once, but in claiming it over myself day after day. When the lies of the enemy threaten to steal my identity or the fear of what others think of me leaves me hustling for my worthiness, I return again to God and agree with what He says is true about me.

A huge part of my calling is to remind you what’s true about you. It’s why I started writing as Bravehearted Beauty instead of sticking with LLH Designs. Because deep down, I know God is calling you a Bravehearted Beauty, too. And He’s using me to call it out in you. {And if you’re a man reading this blog – you’re awesome by the way – then you are a Braveheart. And the same truths apply to you!}

So back to allowing yourself to be seen. Why is that so important anyway? Is it just so you can be fully known? No, it’s so much more than that. By allowing yourself to be seen, you’re revealing more of the glory of God to this world. Because you, Bravehearted Beauties, are GLORIOUS! Made in the image of the most glorious Father, Son and Spirit! You are all of the Trinity’s love, glory, radiance and goodness combined! And now more than ever, this world needs a glimpse of that glory. You, my friends, get to be that glimpse!

Shine on, Beauties! You are worthy to be seen!

P.S. My 30 minutes are up, but there’s one more thing I want to say: our ability to love ourselves is also tied to our worthiness. We’re not very good at loving someone or something that we don’t view as worthy of love. And sadly, we often believe somewhere deep down we aren’t worthy. For more on learning to love yourself {which is directly tied to your ability to love others or receive love from others}, here are a few posts/videos. God’s been doing a lot more in me since then, but this is where He started:

Brave New Yoga Pants {And Learning To Love A Little More}

Learning To Love What He Loves

Loving…As We Love Ourselves

As You Love Yourself

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  • Krista - God is definitely speaking to my heart through your posts. I was diagnosed by the doctors in March with mildly invasive follicular carcinoma of the thyroid. I choose to believe & proclaim that I am healed by the stripes of Jesus. One of the things that I have learned about healing the body is how unhealthy stress is. I knew it before this, it’s just become more real to me since the “C” word was brought into my life.

    So, what does this post have to do with all of that? I have cried out to Him that I want to be able to be more positive, stop dwelling on the hurts of the past, to learn how to stop letting the enemy taunt me with hurtful things. This post & the posts that were included are revealing God’s precious truth of who He wants me to be & how much He wants me to love me the way He loves me.

    I can see clearly that is the simple truth. Loving yourself the way He loves you, enables you to be able to be clothed in dignity & strength. If you truly love yourself, you will know & recognize your worth. Equipped with that, you will easily not allow the enemy to taunt you with the lies & schemes to undermine you. Loving others will be possible because you will be content of who you are in Him. You will want them to feel His incredible love through you. What a beautiful concept!ReplyCancel

  • Jessi - Oh, boy … this is bringing up a lot for me. Jesus is using your words – thank you, Linsey.ReplyCancel

  • Lorri - I think everyone suffers from feeling unworthy at least some of the time.

    Ever had the experience of saying something thoughtless or a little harsh to someone you love, and seeing the winch of pain on their face? You know you’ve pushed a button that’s been there all the time, but invisible to you until that moment.

    It’s amazing how we can tear each other down. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve gotten mad at someone for being callous to a friend of mine, and then turned around and said something insensitive to him myself! It’s the worst feeling in the world to see the look of pain on someone’s face because you made them feel smaller.ReplyCancel

  • Lexi - OK girl, YOU ARE WORTHY TO BE SEEN, so let’s SEE YOU! Just one of your many followers who is missing your heart and your light! Hope all is well and that you decide to share with us again. :)ReplyCancel

Hello Beauties! I’m back! I didn’t want to leave you too long this time, despite the holiday weekend and a much needed getaway with my husband. It was our first time away together since our marriage meltdown last fall. And even though the enemy tried to stir up some old stuff the night before {of course}, and even though we missed each other’s hearts the first night and spent most of dinner in an awkward silence {happens sometimes}, we fought for connection and enjoyed a really sweet time together. It was worth the fight, and I’d do it again! {That’s something I want to write more about in time: fighting for your marriage.}

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So here I am, bursting at the seams to tell you a story so divinely orchestrated that you won’t have to strain very hard to see the glory of it all. But I can’t dive in just yet. Oh, I’d love to, but I’m wrestling with how to honor the ones I love who aren’t so ready, while also honoring God who has told me this is His story and it’s time for me to tell my part of it. I trust your hearts to see the beauty of it all, but this is the internet after all, and sharing even pieces of stories here can feel like entirely too much exposure for some. I get it. I’m pretty vulnerable here, but you’ll never hear every detail unless you’re sitting right beside me. There’s something powerful that happens when you get to see another person’s response to your stories, especially the painful ones. It heals something in you. {That’s yet another post for another time.}

But regardless of when or where I tell my whole story, and when or where you tell yours, here is something that’s at the top of my heart today: Are we willing to be seen? Am I? Are you? It’s not always as easy as it sounds.

When I shared the photos my daughter took of me in the last post, I felt vulnerable. But I also felt willing to be seen. Why? Because I desire to feel deeply, truly known. Don’t you? After 41 years and plenty of hiding, I’ve come to this conclusion: the only way to be fully known is to allow yourself to be fully seen.

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Let me be clear, I’m not saying everyone needs to post a picture of themselves as proof that they desire to be seen. But for some of you, that might be a big deal. Maybe you’ve been hiding behind the camera like me. Or maybe you’ve been hiding behind veneers of performance, perfection, people pleasing, you name it. Coming out from your hiding places and allowing yourself to be seen is one of the bravest steps you can take toward being fully known. Your desire to be fully known is beautiful! But it won’t just come about on its own. You have to take the small steps each day.

Revealing yourself as you truly are on the outside is one way to be seen, but the real work is allowing yourself to be exposed and known from the inside. And not just the parts of you that have already been refined and made beautiful, but the parts of you that are still broken and in transition. Perhaps the bravest of all is to let others see the parts of you that are somewhere in the foggy, messy middle where you have no clue how or when things are going to be any different. You just keep daring to believe they will be…someday.

A friend shared these words from Brené Brown on Facebook last week. They sync perfectly with what’s on my heart these days. {Though I’d trade the word “universe” with God, because that’s who I hear whispering in my ear.}

”I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.

Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.

Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”

 

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It’s time to show up and be seen. This is what a Bravehearted Beauty does. She has the courage to show up and be seen. She has the faith to believe what God says about her even if she’s not feeling it: radiant, beautiful and delighted in daughter of the King! And she has the confidence to let others see the beauty and glory of God that shines from within her.

Made in His image, you’re naturally beautiful and glorious! So rise up, Bravehearted Beauties! Rise up and let your/God’s glory be seen!

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  • Marsha - Linsey,

    I love seeing the way God is using you. Your honesty and vulnerability are such an inspiration to me. It is so hard to let our defenses down and be completely transparent, but God honors our obedience to Him. Thank you for sharing your heart. I am praying for you.ReplyCancel

  • Lexi - Linsey so happy to see that you are back to us and so wonderfully willing to share your journey. Brene’s words are profound, as are YOURS! Thank you, thank you, thank you for discussing the truths of life that are messy and not so perfect. Please know you have inspired many others to start doing the same!ReplyCancel

  • Marcella - My journey to your blog began this morning by simply clicking on a Pinterest picture of your first attempt at container gardening in a wine box. Something about your spirit drew me through a number of your blogs and sites to where you are today. It was where I needed to be this morning. Thank you for continuing to share your journey. Your beauty (and God’s) shows through.ReplyCancel

  • Emma - So, So happy you are back!!! What a great smile in your pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Dianne - I must say you and your girls are all so beautiful. Your light shines. I do have a question. Did all of the turmoil come with the move? Was that the jolt that started it all. I am hoping for a beautiful, happy ending whatever that means to you. Hugs!ReplyCancel

  • Worthy To Be Seen » Bravehearted Beauty - […] my last post, I wrote about a willingness to be seen.  God has really been getting my attention on that topic […]ReplyCancel

  • Breaking the Silence » Bravehearted Beauty - […] In late June, I told you I was living a great story and couldn’t wait to share it. In July, I told you I was bursting at the seams and still couldn’t share it. But that’s […]ReplyCancel