This blog post was recently featured on People of the Second Chance.
Some days we wake up and everything seems a bit more real. Our brokenness, our pain, our doubt all seem to sting a little more. We spend the day gazing through hazed eyes. We can’t see the beautiful in our lives because the brokenness is so thick. But to see the beauty we have to look deep into our brokenness.
Beauty isn’t always lit up like neon signs, but often found in the quiet, small, still corners of life. And when we find it, we seem to shift. We shift from focusing on ourself to looking at the grace around us – the grace that transforms things into something beautiful.
We must search for the beautiful in our life. It might be the wild flowers growing on the side of the road, the gentle smile from a stranger, or even in the messiness of our home – but all around us, the beauty is there. We just need to recognize it.
Here are three ways to find beauty in the midst of brokenness:
1. Be kind to yourself. Don’t meddle in your brokenness but instead find blessings in and around you. Begin with being grateful you have breath in your lungs and you are here and alive today.
2. Encourage someone. Tell them what they mean to you or tell the grocery man how thankful you are that he took your groceries to your car. When we are seeking the beauty in someone else or in something around us, it becomes contagious and we are able to find beauty within ourself.
3. Smile. Genuinely smile. Reflect on good things and curve your lips upward. Even if it is forced, it will change your mood. And plus, seeing someone smile back at you always makes for a better day.
So today, when the thickness of our brokenness seems to be overtaking us, search for beauty in all that is around you. It is waiting to be found.
Bitterness, unforgiveness and pridefulness are best friends. They secretly work together and are tightly woven to one another.
You see, when we harbor unforgiveness, it turns into bitterness in which we are then too prideful to humble ourselves, and surrender the pain and hurt that caused our unforgiving, bitter heart.
But remember this:
Bitterness doesn’t lead to blessings. It leads to desolation.
When we stay bitter and unforgiving, it begins to destroy us. It seeps into every corner of our life and brings about death. We end up alone and angry.
Forgiving sets our hearts free. It opens up our life to peace and joy. In our humility of forgiveness, we learn to fully live. Forgiving isn’t letting someone else win, it is letting yourself win.
And sometimes, it isn’t someone else who needs forgiving, but it ourself who we need to forgive.
We need to forgive ourself for our past mistakes, the cruel things we say to our heart, and all the times we haven’t met our expectations.
Forgiveness requires grace.
We all need forgiveness and we all need grace and there’s enough to give.
Stop living defeated under the weight of bitterness, unforgiveness, and pridefulness.
There’s a better way to live.
I’m not sure where to begin or quite how to process this past week at the orphanage.
We are on our lunch break and I don’t have much longer until we head back for our final hours at the orphanage. I sit here listening to worship music, fighting back tears knowing that when I say goodbye today I might not ever see these kids again on this side of Heaven.
I can’t say I haven’t been angry while I’ve been here. I’ve wondered why some children are still here, living, when they can experience healing and fullness with Jesus. Why does Jesus allow these children to lay on the mat, immobile, for all their days? I know He is great and a miraculous healer, but why doesn’t He rescue them to their completeness with Him?
Some of these children are fighting for their life and they don’t know what’s on the other side of their fight.
I’m confident in knowing I’m right where Jesus is. He is in every moment. He’s on the floor with some of the children, He’s running down the halls with some, He’s sitting at the table with some and I know He’s in the hearts of all of the kids. We will be saying bye today, but He will stay right there with them. I know I always have a place to find Jesus – with the fatherless and motherless.
I have had a long and hard fight to China. & I knew when I finally made it to this Promised Land I would know why. These children have changed my life. I knew they would, but I wasn’t quite sure of the magnitude.
I have always been confident in my desire to adopt and for the past few years I have been leaning towards adopting a child with a special need but the stipulation of “being much older.” And now I’m counting down the days until I’m 30 and can finally adopt from China! I know The Lord has a special calling on my life, especially for the ones who wait & wait because of their need. Those are the children I want. It’s because of these children at the orphanage I am confident and secure of this calling on my life. It’s been sealed.
Being here in China and at the orphanage I’ve experienced Jesus on a deeper level. He has opened his heart up to me and I’ve been able to see into it a little bit deeper. The pain & the purpose. There is still joy to be found and His goodness is still true in the midst of unjust circumstances.
I thank Him for this life but beg Him on behalf of the lives of the children.
May the children have families, always feel loved, and know they are important and valued.
We are leaving now and I always end my time saying –
Thank You Jesus.
For the Cross.
For Your Promises.
For Your Faithfulness.
For You are Good.
Thank You Jesus.
An update from China:
Today is our last day at the orphanage & I know there will be lots of ugly crying.
Please look at our blog. May your hearts be changed & you help these kids have families.
I (Braley) woke up feeling the prayers of many today. After an emotionally, spiritually, and physically draining day yesterday, I needed the Lord to restore me (& the team). I’m confident in knowing that this is the place where He wants us – completely emptied out so our strength will rely in Him alone.
This little one came to the birthday party. We think she lives at the orphanage in a building we only spent a few moments in on Tuesday.
Today was an encouraging and exciting day! During our morning time most of the team spent time with the kids. We played with balloons, we fed the kids crackers, we sang to them, Leslie has started allowing the kids to play educational games on her phone (great assessment tool) and she even braided one of the girl’s hair. Rachel brought bubbles and the kids absolutely loved that. Even the…
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I have temporarily left social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) to be more present in life, focus on my writing and on my blog. I’ll be here for a while, so make sure you follow me to keep up with what’s going on in life.
I love tea, especially green tea, however, every time I drink green tea a headache arises. I do not know why this is. I have searched the web, asked friends, and I can’t seem to find the answer. I do know it is not caffiene, because I love coffee. I’m addicted to coffee. I am trying to break my habit of drinking coffee. I’m trying to only drink tea. & I write this sipping my tea latte :). It’s a process. Anyway, there’s this thing called bubble tea and there’s this place called Honey Bubble right down the road from where I live. I don’t know much about bubble tea, except the bubbles have something to do with how the tea actually bubbles and not with the little pearl pods floating around in the tea. (I should have probably done some more research before trying to explain this drink). But I do know my mint chocolate bubble tea with coffee jelly (these are the little balls in the drink) was delicious. It was like a milk shake but not – it was better. Now, all I want is bubble tea, and I’m ready to go back. They also sell macaroons at Honey Bubble. It’s a dream. If you are in Atlanta or whenever you come to Atlanta, go to Honey Bubble on Ponce. You won’t regret it. See – I sipped my drink rather quickly that it was only half full when I remembered to get a picture.
Other exciting things: I can’t believe Grace turned three on Friday!! We celebrated her with a princess party and a visit from Cinderella. The most fun. I’ve been with Grace since she was about 18 months old. The growth and transformation in her has been such a joy to watch. She amazes me. She is smart, talkative, a leader, takes initiative, she’s absolutely beautiful and is really a 30-year-old. It is such a gift to spend my days with her – she is a gem. Seriously, look at her. So cute.
I can’t wait to post some writing on here and share about things I’ve been learning in life. I’ll also be posting recipes along the way, too!
with love, Braley
1 cup applesauce (I used my homemade applesauce)
1/2 cup coconut flour
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 apple diced *
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Grease muffin pan or fill with paper liners.
3. Mix all ingredients together, except the diced apple, with a mixer or by hand until well mixed.
4. Let sit for 5 minutes
5. Fold in diced apple.
6. Spoon mixture into muffin pan
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes
*I did not include the diced apple because I was short on time. They were delicious without the apple, I can only imagine how good they are with the apple! Now I want to make these again. 🙂
This past Saturday I traveled up to Blue Ridge, Georgia with some of my friends to visit Mercier Orchards and go apple picking. It was a beautiful day and we had so much fun. I even got to visit a gluten-free friendly cafe – L L Beanery Coffeehouse. If you are ever in the area, go downtown and get brunch. You won’t regret it.
Here are a few pictures from the day.
Here I am biting into my first apple and it was also from the tree with the sweetest apples on the orchard. It was delicious.
I ended up bringing home more apples than I knew what to do with and I had to use them somehow.
So, I made applesauce. I was quite impressed with how well it turned out. By far the best applesauce I’ve ever had. & I’m not biased 😉
4 apples peeled, cored, diced
3/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of sugar
Optional: Cinnamon to taste
Place apples, water, and sugar in a large pot, cover and cook on Med-High until apples are soft. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and mash into applesauce with a potato masher or fork.
This yields about 16 oz of applesauce. I doubled and quadrupled this recipe.