Category Archives: Beauty

Out of Heartbreak Valley

Something everyone should know about me is that I am an absolute sap for romantic movies. Movies that can make you laugh, make you cry, make you do the stereotypical sigh of bliss when the hero finally wins his lady (or the heroine lands her man!). When I have nothing better to do, I stay curled up in bed or on the couch with my huge fleece blanket, make myself a cup of tea, and pop in one of these wonderful movies. Movies like Pride and Prejudice, Return to Me, While You Were Sleeping, You’ve Got Mail

The list could go on forever. There’s something about these movies that appeal to women like me. Perhaps it’s our natural desire to feel loved and cherished that sends us flocking to the theaters to see Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly fall into each other’s arms, or Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s romance blossom, or Lucy and Jack ride away on that train together for their honeymoon in Florence. Something about these movies appeal to sentimental little hearts like mine. What can I say? I love love.

I never really equated this kind of longing and heart-fluttering to my relationship with God. I suppose it’s because God is so intangible most of the time – I mean, all He’s really given me that I can touch is a huge book full of rules, poetry, and prophecy, right? Verses like “All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be regarded as unclean by you.” Really? What on earth is that supposed to mean? Who would want to eat insects, anyway?

So here I am, a big dusty book in my hands full of ridiculous rules, staring at it with that disbelieving look that I often get when I’m confronted with difficult theory homework, and praying that I honestly don’t have to read this book. It’s going to be boring, that little voice in my ear tells me. Don’t read it. But God told me to. So I suppose I probably should read it. So I crack the thing open and try not to fall asleep.

It’s hard sometimes. Getting through Leviticus? Not so easy. In fact, to this day (after reading through the Bible TWICE) I still have yet to completely read books like Leviticus and Deuteronomy. There are so many rules and regulations, and – ugh. I just can’t do it yet. But I will! Before I turn 21, I promise that I will read them. Promise.

But then I hit Psalms, and beautiful language pours over me. David’s songs of old are refreshing and new even over 2,000 years later. I find new meaning in them, things that stick out in my mind. They bring me comfort, make me weep, even make me angry sometimes. I get angry that David could pray to God to destroy and kill and curse –

And then realize I do the same things sometimes. David was human, just like I am. He was a man with thoughts and feelings and flaws. A man who loved God completely, but got angry sometimes when things didn’t go his way. He sinned once – it’s one of the things people remember about him. He defeated Goliath with a single stone … oh, and he also got a woman pregnant and killed her husband just so he didn’t have to face the consequences. But he still loved God.

David screwed up, just like all of us. I screw up more times on a daily basis than I can count. I’ve turned my back on God before, convinced I could do it on my own. My way’s better, I’ve told Him. I know best. And like a loving Father, He’s stepped back and let me make my own choices, let me walk into destruction because He’s warned me, and He knows that sometimes, I have to fall and cry for a little while before I’ll submit to being picked up and healed again.

Over the course of walking away and falling down and being picked up and dusted off and holding His hand for awhile before repeating the entire process again, my favorite book in the Good Book has become Hosea. The language in it is, at times, a little graphic and disturbing. I mean, God’s letting this woman ruin her life, watching as the entire thing unfolds. He allows her to go and be a whore and be unfaithful and use His gifts to live off of while she sells herself to anything willing. Why would God do something like that? And why is it in the Bible?

But then comes Hosea 2:14 (The Message) and beyond:

And now, here’s what I’m going to do:
I’m going to start all over again.
I’m taking her back out into the wilderness
where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.
I’ll give her bouquets of roses.
I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.
She’ll respond like she did as a young girl,
those days when she was fresh out of Egypt.

Roses? Courting? Dates? Please, sign me up. If that’s the kind of treatment I get after ripping out My Father’s heart and stomping on it awhile, then by all means am I in. What did I ever do to deserve such fabulous treatment? The answer?


That’s right. I did absolutely nothing. At least, nothing good. I walked away, I threw away everything He was offering me. But when I was done trying to do things by myself, He met me where I was and romanced me again. He caters to the sappy, romantic heart that He formed in me and woos me to His own heart. He takes my hands marred by mud with jagged fingernails and scrapes from digging in the dirt and calls me His. I can’t imagine a great love than the one that My Father shows me on a daily basis.

Someone once told me that my relationship with God was a journey. That each day, I had a choice to make: I could choose to roll over in bed and ask for five more minutes before dragging my feet up and refusing His help; or I could take His hand and let him take me on a whirlwind adventure through the unknown. But the unknown doesn’t scare me . When I screw up like David and millions of other people do, I know that He’ll be there holding my hand and hiding the next bouquet of flowers behind His back to woo me back to Him again.

And that makes the journey worth it.

Living beautifully,


Listening in the Silence.

Have you ever listened to silence?

I’m not talking about being quiet. Being quiet is something that you want little kids to do when they’re being naughty, or when they’re aggravating your headache. Being quiet is something you want the jackhammer outside your apartment window to be when you’re trying to study. Being quiet is what you want the party two doors down from you to do when you’re trying to get some sleep for your exam tomorrow. Listening to silence is not being quiet. No, listening to silence is a physical thing. You don’t shut your brain off while you’re listening. You are actively involved in listening to absolutely nothing.

This is a really strange concept for most Americans. We so often surround ourselves by noise. Even while I type this, I can hear my sister in her room, the television in my mother’s room, the music coming from my own computer. We are not accustomed to being without sound. We’re on sound overload, and we’ve forgotten what real silence actually is.

In my choir at school, we have this really interesting exercise where my director just tells us to close our eyes and not make sounds. We’re just supposed to listen. Sometimes it’s thirty seconds, sometimes it’s a minute. We close our eyes like dutiful students, take a collective breath, and then –

There’s silence. The hold-your-breath-and-don’t-move kind of silence. The kind of silence that makes your brain go, “Thank you, thank you!” The kind of silence that is just so still that no one disturbs it.

That is, until someone decides they aren’t comfortable and shifts around on the creaky risers. Or they cough. Or they sneeze. Or they take a drink of their water. Or they sigh. Or they scratch their head. Or they cross their legs. Or they tap their pencil on their black choir folder …

Do you see what I’m getting at now?

Silence is so rare in our culture. That’s why I’ve started driving to and from school in silence. I’m a commuter student, so I get a good 40 minutes a day of silence. I use this time to think about my day, to organize my thoughts, and to talk to God. Sometimes I’ll speak out loud, but mostly I use my personal thoughts and drive in silence.

Silence is needed for my sanity. If I didn’t have silence, I think I’d go absolutely crazy! That’s what I’m not a fan of huge parties or super loud music (other than the fact that too much noise gives me a massive headache). But there’s just something about silence that is a soothing balm on my day-weary brain.

I often lay in bed at night and listen to the sounds around me. Mostly, they are the tiny little sounds of my breathing, of my legs shifting under the sheets, and of a car or two driving past on the street. However, a majority of what I listen to isn’t sound at all. It’s silence. And it’s one of the most beautiful sounds ever. It’s that moment where everything seems to stand still. I love those moments. I feel like I’ve achieved something in those moments.

I challenge you this week to find some silence in your life. Find a place to get away from everything and open your ears. I promise that you won’t regret it.

Living beautifully, Sophie