Some days just defeat me. Today was one of those days.

I'm visiting with family right now for a particularly joyous occasion: my sister, who is a missionary in Peru, has brought her new husband to the States to meet the family. And so we are celebrating their marriage with a big family get-together and a Blessing of the Marriage service at my grandmother's Episcopal church tomorrow.

This is a happy time for a number of reasons: we are welcoming an awesome person into our crazy family; my sister is actually HERE, in the United States (I probably won't get to see her again for at least a year and a half, if not longer); my other sister is pregnant with her second baby; and family members who haven't been together in years are coming together this weekend to celebrate and reconnect.

Happy times, happy times.

But also a wee bit stressful.

We are all dealing with less elbow room, summer heat, lots of bodies crammed in one house, different ideas of how things should happen...typical issues when planning big gatherings.

And so, on occasion, a random, stray phrase - said with no harm intended - might slip from an unaware mouth.

This is what happened today. Something was said that seemed (to me) to make an inference about my housekeeping skills (or lack thereof). Now, I'm normally a pretty sensitive soul anyway, but when you add that to crazy hormones and a houseful of different, occasionally conflicting personalities - well, let's just say it wasn't pretty.

Of course, I'm not the type of person to blow up at someone on a whim. No. I'm the kind of person who sulks and mutters and cries, secretly hoping that someone will come down and see me and pity me and ask what's wrong, only for me to bitterly say, "Nothing, I'm fine."

(Come on, I know some of you have been that person too...)

So I went downstairs and I sulked and muttered and cried while picking up things and folding the laundry I had done earlier but left in a pile so that I could spend more of my precious little time with my family.

In reality, I *knew* that no harm was meant by what was said earlier. But in my fragile emotional state, I allowed it to eat away at me. I allowed it to dredge up all the hurtful, negative, degrading, demeaning things that had ever been said to or about me. I focused on those things. I *believed* those things. Things like, "You're less of a woman because you're not as neat as your sisters." Or "You're less of a person because you couldn't even get scholarships to college." Or "You aren't good enough at music to pursue it as a career." Or...fill in the blanks.

Many of these things were, first of all, complete falsehoods. I *know* that my value and my worth does not lie in my ability to keep a house spotless, or to get perfect grades in school, or to sight-read music the first time I see it. I know that my value is not determined by how others see me, but rather by how God sees me.

But many of these hurtful things have been said over the years by family. Family who is supposed to love me no matter what. Family, whose opinions I highly value. Family, in whose eyes and heart and mind I have placed my worth.

It is unhealthily easy for me to get tangled up in worrying about what others think of me. I have spent most of my life worrying about what my peers thought of me, and I have placed my value in their (often presumed) ideas of me.

And today I did it again.

But I am so glad that what matters most (or rather, the only thing that really matters) is this right here:

The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.

(Zephaniah 3:17, 19)

New Day

For the past several years, I have been feeling in the deepest parts of my spirit that some sort of change was coming for me, for my family. I've had no clue as to what kind of change that might be, though we felt the beginning stirrings of it almost 2 years ago when God moved us from one church home and planted us in another. But I feel that the change, whatever it is, may be nearing its culmination.

I have been dealing with a lot of stress lately. There are a number of things going on contributing to this stress, but the current that constantly runs beneath all of it is the fact that I still have not fully dealt with the death of my daughter over four years ago. And that has influenced how I handle things - big things as well as little things. Things like interactions with my husband, my outlook on life, and even how I am raising the two children I now have. I am very aware that this issue needs to be dealt with, and I am taking steps toward dealing with it. But in the meantime, my stress levels have been gradual building.

Today, I was driving around after dropping off my husband at work. The kids were asleep in their car seats in the back, and I was conversing in my head with God. We are on the cusp of so many possibilities - a possible house, possible school for my husband, possible preschool for my daughter - and for so long it has just felt like my life has been bound up in the unknown. I feel like I have been tossed about, jarred against one wall and then another, until I finally stopped fighting it and let myself be bruised and broken from the jarring. And all of a sudden, as I was silently talking with God, silently weeping as I drove, this phrase just stuck in my head - "New day." It was almost like a voice spoke it. And without forethought, my whole being suddenly began crying out to God, resonating with the phrase - "New day! New day! New day! New day! New day!" I didn't vocalize it, but I was crying, and if I had actually said it out loud, it would have been gut wrenching and without breaths between the words.

It was the first time I have had a prayer wrack my body to the core.

And I'm not even sure what the prayer meant. And by that I mean, I did not plan that prayer, didn't think it out. It just...poured out of me. I think that was literally the Spirit praying for me. It was an intense experience. For those several seconds, all that consumed my mind, my heart, my soul, and even my body, was "New day!"

I feel like we will begin to see answers within the next month. And while I am not sure exactly what this "new day" will entail, I am eager to find out. And with all my being, I will look for it.