The secret to leaving well

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Guest post by Michelle Blan

I leave well. It is an odd thing to do well, I know. But it is one of the best ‘wells’ I have done and it changed the course of my life. 

So how does one leave well? I will share my secret. 

Life was going smoothly and one day I discovered this dark spot. I was so intrigued that I tried to sneak a peek, but the dark spot sucked me in. I was baited, hooked and couldn’t get loose. 

I met the dark spot at work. Before I knew it, I was with it days and nights, eventually co-habitating. I became so wrapped up in my life with the dark spot that I withdrew from family and friends. 

See, dark spot liked to drink. We began sharing a case of Miller Light, taking shots of straight vodka between each. We did this daily. At first I did it because dark spot did. But then I discovered it was great for numbing the aching soul. 

I was on the bathroom floor. My hands were in my hair, gripping and pulling. I was crying – that bellowing cry. Why had I been so stupid? (No, I am not referring to my co-habitation with dark spot or about the extremely excessing drinking.) I was stupid because I had tried to stand up to dark spot and failed. I knew better than to try. 

Dark spot called me names. It would remind me that I was nothing and that I didn’t deserve the house it gave me to live in. Dark spot made me look in the mirror so I could “put a face with ignorance” and the word “nothing.” 

I really was nothing. That is how I felt, anyways. 

I think it is true – the more you hear something, the more you start to believe it. I did. 

A year down the road and the painful words turned into painful bruises. 

Being pulled of the bed by my ankles because of a missing shirt, pushed up against a wall because of my reaction to my dog getting kicked, or slapped and shoved in a Chinese restaurant parking lot… Dark spot needed control and I was too weak to fight it.

The next morning, I would receive flowers, breakfast, some chocolates, a nice card. And always, always the words “I’m so sorry” and “it was a mistake,” and, of course, “it will never happen again” would play over and over as if trying to reach my subconscious. 

I was so alone and broken that I was beginning to think this was normal. That maybe this is what I deserved for some wrong I did in my past. 

And then the turning point came… 

At the time I didn’t know where the strength came from, but I mustered all I had and was able to load my car up with as much I could and sneak out. Dark spot thought I was going to the store. Surprise, surprise… I was driving back home to my family – several states away. I was free.

That was 8 years ago. I decided to leave well. I won – myself, my family, friends, love and support. 

It is only now that I realize I was not alone during that time. 

God was with me. He was the one who gave me strength. 

It doesn’t matter if your struggle is that the chocolate ice cream machine is broken or that your spirit is broken – God brings you through it, to the joy on the other side. Always. 

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. – Romans 5:3-5

I have accepted God as the light of my life and have since grown in so many ways. For out of my darkness came light. I would not be the person I am today if God had not molded me in my trials. 

About Michelle Blan

I am in my late 30s and didn’t find God until a couple of years ago. More recently I have been discovering all of the amazing things he is capable of and I love to share his word. I work by day as a paralegal, but I am doing some freelance writing on the side. Nothing too crazy! Connect with me on my blog, or on twitter, @shellblan.

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A prayer for when you're in a bad mood

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We woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

We admit that our attitude isn't what we want it to be.

Our words have been short, our actions unkind, and we've cast some looks at people that have been down right mean.

Everything has irritated us today. 

Lord, the thing is, we don't want to be this way but we don't know how to shake this bad mood off which is why we pray.

We are not even sure why we feel this way. Maybe it's because there is so much going on that we feel overwhelmed, or maybe there isn't enough change happening and we feel stalled, or maybe we're frustrated by things out of our control. 

We lift our eyes to you and ask that you help us see the root of our bad mood. Open our eyes to the true cause so that we can start the real work of changing. 

Lord, we know that it will take some time to bring real change in our lives but right now our actions are causing damage: hurting relationships, opening wounds in others so we ask right now for an injection of your spirit. We ask that you would come and replace irritation with kindness, frustration with gentleness, and anger with joy.

We know that we cannot do this without you. We know that it is only your spirit living and moving in us that can take this mood from bad to something that is life-giving.

We pray for you to change us.

We wait for you to change us.

We know that you are faithful to complete the work you have started in us.


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When someone makes you feel worthless, remember this

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Genesis 1:31 records after God created man, God looked over everything he had made and said, “it was so good, so very good!” In the Psalms we are told how God knit us together in our mothers wombs, how we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Think about that for a minute. Think about the intimacy of God in your mother’s womb, forming and shaping you, and then pausing and saying, "That is good work! I've made [fill in your name] well."

In the beginning God made you well. {Tweet This!}

Since my nephew was born with Down Syndrome I think about this often. It is easy to think that God made a mistake, but I think when God formed my nephew he looked at Noah and saw a man made well.

The more I think about this, the more my ideas about what it means to be made well – shaped in God's image – are challenged. Is Noah any less a reflection of God than me? 

I'm realising many of my thoughts about these things are more about my understanding of “good” or “well”. And often that understanding has led to me believing that “good” or “well” are simply synonyms for perfect. 

This week my friend Nelet wrote this:
There are few words to verbalise what I feel right now.


At peoples ignorance. At peoples lack of respect. At peoples ability to make someone feel so worthless. 

I stutter. That's it. Nothing major. It’s like some people have curly hair. Others have red hair. Some have long legs. I stutter.

I've been stuttering for as long as I can remember. I don't know why, and no, speech therapy didn't help. I gave up speech therapy at the age of 12 and never looked back. 

This is me: made by God. 

I'm not perfect but I know how I was made: I know my strengths and my weaknesses. I know what my body can do and I suspect God made me with a stutter to teach me patience, because – eish, I have none of that. 

The beautiful thing is I like who I am: my strong legs. My stutter, my ability to go into survival mode when crises strike. 

I know what my body can endure: I know that I can carry a backpack for weeks; through a new country. I know I can climb hills to white temples in Pokhara. I know my body handles long work days well. I know I can swim for miles between islands off the coast of Tanzania. 

And God created my body. Just like he created me with my stutter. 

Genesis 1:27 - So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

What you need to remember
I don't know what people have seen in you that they've laughed at, ridiculed, or made you feel worthless for. I don't know why people have tried to say you aren't made in the image of God. But I'm sure you can put your finger on it in less than a minute.

What I do know is that God is singing over you louder than all those people making you feel worthless and he is singing:
Beloved, you are made well.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made in my image.
What I see is good, so very good.
You are mine and you are loved.

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One of my favourite books, A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny is on sale on Kindle for 0.99USD till 29 September 2016. It's about so much more than Down Syndrome, it's about our idea of perfection. I wrote a bit about the book here. If you like memoirs this one is worth a read. *Affiliate link*


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Why you have to slow down

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Without health it is hard to live life well.

That's why one of my focuses this year was to learn to run well. I've run for years but I've never really had goals, followed a programme, joined a club or worked at it.

This year as part of learning to run well I set myself a goal of completing a half marathon. I finished my first one after 4 months of training at the end of April. Since then I've completed another one and managed to clock sub-30 5k and sub-60 10k. I know for many runners these aren't big things but for me they've been major milestones on my "run well" journey.

Running has taught me about so much more than just how to complete a half marathon. The lessons I've learnt putting one foot in front of the other have spilt over into the rest of my life.

When I started my running program it featured a number of slow runs. These runs were so slow that I could walk them and still finish the distance at the suggested pace.

This concept was completely new to me. Before this every time I ran I tried to run as fast as I could that day.

In the past, running well meant running fast. 

Now I have fast days when my breath struggles to keep up with my legs and easy days when I jog along and have to keep slowing myself down.

On these easy runs I get quite a lot of time to think. The other day the bible verse Hebrews 12:1 came to mind:
So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us.
Let us run well the race set out for us.

Whenever I've read this verse in the past I associated it with winning. Surely, the only way to run well is to win? But what if the writer meant that to run well is to finish even if it means crossing the finish line at a snails pace?

What my easy runs have been teaching me is that in order to run with perseverance there are times when I have to take it easy and times when I have to push till all I can do is walk in the house and collapse. 

I find it easier to push myself than to show restraint.

But without restraint injuries happen. The race is delayed, aborted. 

I'm trying to embrace this in more than just running. I recently wrote about how I couldn't blog anymore because I was burnt out in life. In retrospect I can see that I'd been running hard every day instead of showing restraint some days. 

One way I'm learning to do this is to give myself more easy days, permission to lie in bed late, read books, watch movies and eat popcorn. At work I'm scheduling in more time to learn instead of just pushing, pushing, pushing. 

In an old blog post by Ann Voskamp she writes, 
Life isn’t an emergency. It’s a gift.
Life’s so extraordinary it warrants going slow, held in reverential awe.
Only the slow see their lives. Which makes it seem longer and richer.

Restraint is not the norm. It seems easier to show how good I am at something then to hold back something in reserve.

I'm learning that if really want to live well (and not only run well) I need to slow down sometimes so I can run the race set out for me by God.

I’m learning that it’s not about doing more, running faster but about enjoying the run, appreciating the beauty around me and finishing well.

What areas of your life could applying restraint help you live better?

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One of my favourite books is on sale today only on Kindle for 0.99USD. It's about so much more than Down Syndrome. If you like memoirs this one is worth a read. *Affiliate link*


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Words to pray if you need Jesus to be your strength today

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I don't make a living from blogging. It's a hobby. Something I do because I love writing and this gives me a reason to write consistently.

I've looked into turning this into a business but since I primarily write about finding hope in God when times are tough it just hasn't felt right. Every few months I make about $10 as an Amazon affiliate when you guys buy a book I've recommended. And I get all giddy because it means I've got a little stash of cash to buy a few books on Kindle sales.

A few months ago I signed up to webfluential (follow this link to sign up and I could get a bit more book money). I didn’t think anything would come from it and then recently I was approached by a pharmaceutical company to post a photo of me with my sourced strength written on my bicep (evidence of how weak I am physically).

I've never done a sponsored post on social media before but I thought, 'let me give it go.' I knew right from the moment of reading the brief that there was only one answer I could give to the question, what is your source of strength?

When my husband, Xylon, was receiving treatment for cancer over the period of two years people who often come to me and said, “I don’t know how you do it, I couldn’t be so strong. Where do you get your inner strength from?” Much of the time I woke up each day and went through the motions in a blur but the only reason I had the courage to wake up each day was because of faith in Jesus that he redeems all things. My faith is my source of strength; it is what makes me a strong woman, and one who is not overcome by fear of what the future holds.

Originally I'd wanted to use a photo with "Jesus" written on my bicep.  When I went to write the copy for it I put on my corporate marketing hat and went, "That will never get accepted." So I changed it to "faith" because I figured the story about Jesus helping me through my husband's cancer diagnosis and treatment were more important then writing “Jesus” on my arm.

I sent the picture to my Webfluential account manager and it took days to get an answer. She apologized and said it wasn't normal and that the post was with head office she wasn't sure why. I’m guessing that Jesus had something to do with that.

Right at the beginning, I decided that if I was going to do something for money it needed to fit in with what I believed and for me I really couldn't think of another way to answer a question about my source of strength. I tried to think of something else but I couldn’t because there is nothing, which is as strong when I'm weak, as Jesus.

These are some of the words I prayed when Xylon was going through treatment that gave me the strength to do the next thing:
Jesus you are our crutch and our hope.  You hold us up when we’d rather curl up in a ball and rock ourselves to sleep.  You make us smile when we feel like frowning.  When we feel alone, Jesus, you remind us that you are still there with us. Even on the days when we don’t feel you are close we know that you are because you’ve promised to always be there.   You have promised to give strength to the weary and change mourning into dancing – and we believe you do, you will, and you have. We ask that each day you will show up with new mercy, with enough strength for the next 24 hours.
* Affiliate links used in this post * 


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