Disappointment

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Disappointment.

Who isn’t familiar with it?  It’s a part of life.

Walking through disappointment with kids will wrench your gut and wring you out.  As a mom, I know life happens.  There is no way to protect them from disappointment and do them justice.  In those hard moments, there is so much wisdom to be poured into these sensitive hearts.

I really love those moments of teaching our young ones to process pain and disappointment in a healthy way.  I certainly don’t love the circumstances that bring the pain, though.  But, what shallow and weak human beings they will be if I don’t shepherd them through their difficulties.

Hope

Today was such a day.  Another disappointing report crushed a young heart.  I could see it–a beautiful face fighting hard to hold back the tears.  A heart full of dreams and faith.  Lots of believing and praying childlike prayers.  It was in that moment I had to close my mouth and say a prayer.  I prayed for the right words to ignite a fire of faith.  My first thought was, “Lord, what do I say to another disappointing report?  What are you going to do about this?”

I know all too well these times come.  We don’t hear the answer we want to hear, we are passed by for what we deserve, people don’t live up to our expectations and wound us, or there is another delay in our answer.  And, we ask, “What am I supposed to do about this?  Where are you, God?”

Here are 3 thoughts to help us through these moments:

  • God sees and knows.
  • He never leaves us or forsakes us.
  • God works all things out for our good.

I absolutely believe God sees and knows all that is going on in our lives.  I know He never leaves us or forsakes us.  I know for a fact He works all things out for our good.  I know these three things to be true in my life.

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We have walked through some incredibly severe and trying situations as a family and I remember sensing God speak to me that He had seen it all and knows it all.  What a comfort that was to me!  Just hearing that affirmation of love still brings hope to my heart.  You know what that means?  He had never left me and He truly understands my pain like no other.  He would vindicate and heal the wounds in His good time.

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I told my disappointed one yesterday that God does not always answer in the fashion in which we envision in our minds.  Our small box of plans can’t even begin to hold the answer He has for our situations.  And further, if our disappointment and need hasn’t been answered just yet and we’re still breathing, then the answer is still on the way!

Big lessons for a young one.  Better to learn and solidify your faith at a young age and know for yourself this great big God of the universe than have to wait until your older and have no clue who He is!  Yes, I would love for this life to be smoother sailing, with more positive reports, but, I know He is with us even in those moments.

He is walking through it all with us.

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By the way, lots of love and hugs help, too!  God isn’t shocked or offended by our pain and questions.  Take some time to grieve and process the loss or disappointment.  Talk it out and then move forward.  By the end, a little ice cream hit the spot!  There are no callous “stop crying and suck it up” talks in this house.  But, we are learning to not wallow in our pain.  Eventually, we were able to laugh a little and hug it out!

So, what disappointment have you swallowed lately?  It is sure to come.  But, you can stand strong when you remember this:  He sees and knows; He certainly hasn’t left me;  And, I know good is on the way—it may not look exactly how I planned, but His perfect plan is at work in my life.

Hey….maybe you should even have a little mint chocolate chip ice cream to top it off!

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Would you like to read more about this wonderful journey through this one beautiful life?  Sign up to receive a post delivered straight to your inbox each week.  I would love to have you join me on this journey of hope!  Here’s to a great week!

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Where Is Your Life?

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It’s been a really great summer.  Sleeping in (my favorite!), road tripping around the area, reconnecting with friends, reading, watching my boy play ball, and playing taxi.  Pretty much loving life and feeling grateful.  We enjoyed a great day for our anniversary.  We kept it simple and relaxing.  And I am so thankful.  My kids are pursuing their passions, living life and having a good time doing it.  God is blessing their lives and you can see His love for us.

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In the last few years, I haven’t always been able to say that.  Maybe that’s you, too.  We’ve experienced financial reversal, faced rejection, suffered at the hands of people and felt like we were going through hell.  I realize that isn’t the warm and fuzzy thing to say.  Suffering depression, anxiety and PTSD was never on the order list we sent up.  When 4 out of 5 in your family have to be medicated just to handle daily life, I’m telling you, that’s not what you order up.  Who does?

But, it happens.  Life happens.  I remember a couple of years ago, living life with a teenager and   just being thankful we were dealing with normal teenager stuff.  We had come a long way.  Moving from constant crisis mode to dealing with everyday issues was such a relief.  I even found some much needed humor in that.

A few years ago, I was walking the neighborhood, thinking life would never get back to normal.  I just wanted it to so desperately.  Whatever that was supposed to be.  What I thought was normal life, happened to be a private hell for someone most dear to me.  That was an eye opening thought.  A paradigm shift.

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Life changes—often on a dime.  We had more stuff going wrong and our lives turned upside than I had ever thought possible.  But, following dreams and doing big things, often stirs up the waters.  We weren’t living the status quo; life threw not-status-quo stuff back at us.

But, here we are a few years out and life has smoothed out just fine.  In the heat of it, when your neck is being scorched by the fire and heat, life looks pretty much like it is never again going to smooth out.  That seems like a very distant memory.  I got you on that one.  We are looking eyeball to eyeball, and I say, I know it.  It hurts.  It really hurts.

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I was reading some Scripture today and wanted to share it with you.  My heart skipped a beat when I read it.  Yes!  I felt it!  I knew it!  Psalm 16 is a great chapter.  Take a look at it with me.

Keep me safe, my God,

for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

apart from you I have no good thing.”

I say of the holy people who are in the land,

“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”

Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.

I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods

or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;

you make my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;

even at night my heart instructs me.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.

With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

my body also will rest secure,

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because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,

nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.

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You make known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

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Verses 5 and 6 really lit up for me.  Go ahead! Check those out again!  Many of the first years of living in Virginia were beyond hard.  It has been a challenge testing everything we were made of and then some!  But, we’ve come out on the other side.  We’ve fought hard and won!  We trusted in Him and depended on Him to get us through.  We took refuge in Christ.  We kept our eyes on Christ.  I really don’t know where we would have ended up if we hadn’t had Christ.  People will disappoint you;  people will betray and reject you.  Christ is forever the one where our hearts find peace.

So, back to the present.  Life is good.  Life is beautiful.  When you taste the bitter, the sweet is so much sweeter!  When you walk through the darkness, the light is that much brighter!  When you lose things precious, the blessings are that much more treasured.  You have to experience the sad to appreciate the joy.

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Such is life.  My life boundaries are falling in pleasant places.  That makes me happy.  We are doing life.  It’s not perfect, but what is?  But, it sure is beautiful!

Do I Have To?

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I have experience.

Lots of it.  Some of it has come with kicking and screaming, but I have experience, nonetheless.  “What experience?” you may ask.

Well, it is …..

stick-to-it-ativeness. 

Yeah.  It’s not as beautiful as it sounds.  Trust me.  Everyone has one of two tendencies.  That is to fight or flee.  And, actually, I am by nature a flee-er.  Many times the option of “flight” seems pretty alright to me.  So, honestly, I don’t come by this naturally.

But, I am married to….you guessed it!  A fighter.

No, not a fighter, as in, he can’t get along with people and stirs up conflict.  He is the kind that won’t run from a battle.  He knows what is needed and will fight to see it happen.  He’s not a quitter.  His philosophy is, “I may not be smarter or more talented than others, but I can certainly outlast anybody!”  Um, clearly, this has made for some great fun over the years.

I like comfort.  I don’t like to go through the stretching and retching part of life.  I like for everyone to like me.  I want no hardships and certainly no sacrificing.  I want dreams and projects to flow smoothly.  I really don’t want conflict, hate it in fact.  I certainly don’t want to be judged or misjudged.  I like for the tasks I set my hand to to flow without hiccups or roadblocks of any sort.  I want everyone to agree with me and my opinions. And, I certainly do NOT need or want rejection.

It hurts. The hard stuff hurts.

Life tends to bring along those moments when we must choose.

There isn’t any way around it.  Someone or something intrudes into your dream or boundaries.  Something important is at stake.  The life or death of it depends on whether you stay and fight or run and flee.  Maybe it’s your family, a child, a dream, or a way of life. Maybe it’s your calling or vocation.  Perhaps it is fighting injustice or standing up for what or who is right.  Whatever it is, you will have to choose.

Either way, everything hangs in the balance.

I’ll give you 3 examples from my life.  Perhaps you can relate.

First of all, my husband and I started a new church back in 1994.  We were young.  We were inexperienced and truthfully didn’t have a clue as to what we had joined up for.  We were still trying to figure out who we were at the tender age of 24.  We had seen great success stories and figured we could pull off something just like those.  It took 7 years to reach the goal of 100 people.  It took even longer to acquire our own facility.  We worked hard.  It certainly wasn’t for a lack of hard work and sacrifice.  We barely survived on the meager salary.

About the third or fourth year in, I was done.  We had faced apparent failure on many levels.  I wanted to quit so badly!  My husband?  Oh, yes, I know he did.  But, we didn’t leave that congregation until 2008.  He would pacify me by telling me to just give him until May.  If things didn’t turn around by May, we would think about going somewhere else.  Well, he knew that once winter was over in Iowa, things always look better at some level, come May.  I figured him out, finally, about the third year of being told that.  I’m slow.

Second story.  In 2008, our family moved to Virginia to our second congregation.  This seemed as if our dreams were answered in one fell swoop.  Not long after moving here,  it seemed as if we had stepped into a nightmare.  This was a very different hard than our Iowa challenge.  We faced intense obstacles, setbacks, reversals, personal attacks, rejection, strife, and twisted plots.  The personal and professional price has been high. This church was in deep crisis and they weren’t in the mood to be helped.  So many times I could have been packing boxes on a moment’s notice.  All my husband needed to do was give me the word.  I was more than done!

Final story.  The first three years in Virginia seemed like they were from hell.  We took a huge financial hit when the real estate bubble burst and we needed to sell our house and move to Virginia.  Then, my son came to us and told us he had been sexually abused for three years by an authority figure.  Then, my other child was diagnosed with a serious medical condition after months of intense, unexplained pain and slow debilitation. Then, my father passed away after battling Alzheimers for 13 years.  This all happened within the first three years after moving to Virginia.  There were moments during those very difficult years I began to question the presence of God in my life.  I wasn’t so sure He could be trusted.

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Here’s the deal.

At any given point in my life, I desperately wanted to throw in the towel.  The pain felt greater than the reward.  And, yes, there have been some serious sacrifices made that only God will be able to make right.  But, we didn’t quit.  There were no magic formulas or bribes to hold us steady. The only promise we had to go on was God would see us through.  It might be painful, it might look ugly, but we would make it if we just didn’t quit.  “Those who quit remember the ordeal.  Those who endure remember the adventure.”  That has become a life value of sorts.

There are many giftings we don’t possess.  There are quite a few things we do well; there have been many mistakes along the way, too.  But one thing which doesn’t require talent or gifting is something we do have—“outlast-attude”.  We can outlast just about anything.

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You have to dig deep.  You have to stare your giant in the face and stare it down.  It’s not easy.  But, find the grit and the depth of character to outlast anything life throws your way.  Needless to say, I’m thankful my Honey had enough hutzpah for the both of us!

Your whole life and legacy depend on it.  Everyone who follows after you, depend on it.  It’s not just about you anyway.  It never has been.

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The Whole Of It

…..May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ.  The One who called you is completely dependable.  If he said it, he’ll do it!!

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There is something that calls to me from this Scripture.  You will find it in I Thessalonians 5:23-24.  This world has a way of pulling us into a million pieces.   Start with responsibilities, toss in a few wounds, mix in unmet expectations, throw in some disappointment and there you have it!  I would never say life is all bad.  But, stuff happens, and there ya go!

As a mom, one of the most important things is to see your children whole and happy—living to the fullest.  When you see one of those cubs struggling  to stay afloat, your instincts kicks into gear.  I’m sure you are familiar with “Mother Bear” syndrome.  I’m really familiar with it!

I do believe I lived in Mother Bear mode for about 3 years.  There’s not a thing that can be said to a woman in full-on MB. Those cubs are the treasures and the way I see it, it’s our responsibility (with my honey) to get them from start to adulthood in one relatively good, solid piece.  They need to be someone people can stand to be with and do something good with the space they take up.  They need to pursue their passions and dreams and be all they can be.

So, when life starts getting in the way and you see your treasures fracturing and losing their handhold, MB mode is on high alert!  My prayers for my hurting child were for him to be whole…. nothing missing and nothing broken in his life.  I didn’t want the pain and anguish he experienced at the hand of someone so incredibly selfish to derail and destroy greatness within.  I prayed and prayed for the wholeness which was rightfully his.

I remember God spoke to my heart that “he had seen it all” and my child and family would be healed and whole.  He cared even more than I did.  I wrote it down.  I clung to that promise as my lifeline.  That was over 2 years ago.  I haven’t forgotten.

images-2 But, there have been times I have felt that the progress just was not good enough.  It wasn’t a complete enough healing.  I remember telling God during a particular season this wasn’t going to be good enough.  Next try, please.  I’m not sure what God thought about that. But, I felt I was exercising my faith.  I knew God told me the broken parts would be healed….this wasn’t healed, as I understood healing!  It certainly was a start, but I was believing for wholeness.  There was a pain and hurt so deep that only God could touch it.  But, I believed.  I hid that promise in my heart.

I’ve watched him on this journey.  Huge steps forward and some hiccups along the way.  He wants it just as much as we do for him.  It takes time and is a long journey that is neither easy nor enjoyable.  But the strength of his spirit is inspiring and one of a true fighter; he will not be labeled a victim.  For all of us, we want quick, easy answers and solutions to the pain and loss.  We know such answers won’t come.  But, I haven’t stopped believing!

Now, here we are.  Three years later, great ground has been covered, healing has taken place, much learning and growing has been experienced.  And, I am still watching and listening.  God is answering and doing what he said he would do.

I just had an incredible conversation with my boy.  He experienced God in a powerful way during his university’s chapel service a couple of weeks ago.  He isn’t one to share his personal pain on a constant basis and has a list in his heart he knew intimately….hurt and pain he had just assumed would always be there.  He was coping.  God said,  “That’s not good enough.”  God promised…..and he is delivering.  God came in that moment….even when my boy wasn’t looking for it.  He met him there and brought more healing and hope to the hidden and private pain.   He talked of joy like he hadn’t experienced in years.  Oh! How a mama’s heart is healed by hearing such things.

When God promises something, he delivers.  Our timetable is rarely correct.  He doesn’t work on Human Standard Time.  When he promises he will make you whole, putting together body, mind and soul, that is what he intends to do. I haven’t given up.  It comes out of nowhere, looking different than I expect.  But, oh my!

A few days before my son’s extraordinary moment with God, God sent a reminder to me of this very verse.  I took note.  He gently reminded me and turned my head toward him.  I knew.  And then, seemingly out of nowhere, he came and amazed us once again.

He’s just cool like that.

Strong Medicine

I sat on the bed.  Everything I believed was in the middle of a free fall.  This was my parachute.  It deployed and my descent slowed.  So, I sat there and started crying.  Not the gentle tear, but the rolling, sobbing kind.  

 

If you asked me, I would have done away with our current course. There was so much to wade through and sometimes I just wasn’t sure about much.  Trust of everything and most everybody was at a devastating low.

I had picked up a book I had some months earlier stuck in a corner.  I had seen it advertised, it looked interesting, but when it came, it underwhelmed me.  So, there it sat, forgotten, actually.  Until one night in small group, the book came up in discussion.  It rang familiar….I went home, dug it out and started to devour it.   It’s funny how that happens.  Not a coincidence, by any stretch of the imagination.

I had NO idea.  God knew that it would be required reading for the journey I was about to take. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp changed my life forever.

As I was reading, God nudged me and began to un-bandage my wound.  He was always so gentle with me.  His gentleness wooed my worn out soul.  He knew me and the brokenness of my heart.

He was always so full of grace.  And, He began to speak through the words on the page.  What was I going to do with it?

God was there in all the ugly pain.  He was there and heard my child’s desperate cries for help and rescue.  He made a way out.  He was with us in the counseling moments.  The hours upon hours of healing that took place through a dedicated mouthpiece.  The darkness that seemed to hover over the waiting room would take my breath away.  The grief that never seemed to run out.  He was there.

In that moment, I had a choice to make.

I could either trust Him enough to be grateful in spite of the pain and destruction or….not. 

Was I going to continue feeling as if He couldn’t be trusted? Was I going to keep on feeling as if He didn’t know what He as doing and certainly not keeping an eye on my family? He held out the medicine for my soul.  Right there. Within my reach.  Trust and Gratitude.

Gratitude makes my life a sanctuary.

Gratitude invites God into the pain and opens the door to beauty.  Gratitude changes the lens of of our view.  Thanksgiving lifts my head off of the present, shattered mess and on to the One who leads me forward.  I can trust that He will lead me safely on and be right by my side.  I could focus on my desperate thoughts of wishing this had never happened; or wondering where God was on the nights my child had no escape; or the fears of my child never being whole and happy.  At that moment, the view was pretty tragic and desperate.

God knew my life was meant for more than that.  There was nothing I could do to change the circumstances, but I could change my view.  That was entirely up to me!  Gratitude invites grace into the dark and transforms it into light.  The light shines bright and life is breathed back into the dead.

It’s not easy or everyone would do it!

If it came naturally, this world would be transformed beyond recognition.  I’m not saying we have to be grateful for the ugly destruction.  I’m certainly not there yet or sure I ever will be.

But I’m choosing to not focus on it.  It isn’t my daily diet and I am not going to let it eat me alive!  BUT, I am trying daily to focus on the everyday miracles and answered prayers. 

The hand of God moves and reveals Himself in the mundane and in the grand.

Beauty in the sunlight

Chai tea lattes in the morning

Family dinner

Little girls kisses

A Saturday with no commitments

God loves my children even more than I do

Friends who understand

Honest and open conversations

God speaking to my children

A day with lessened pain

Darkness is destroyed

Date night with my love

Libraries!!!

In my brokenness, I can still worship….a sacrifice to the One who is always there

A smile

Love expressed in simply kind ways

Candles on a cold day

Sweet sibling prayers

 

So, here I am….1,122 gratitudes strong….written down.

And it will keep going.

I’m just one woman working to live at peace on this journey I am on.  Unfortunately, at times I’ve bogged down and some days have been very gratitude silent.

But, I don’t want to be that….for what has the Love of my Savior done to be ignored and unrecognized?  He faced darkness head on so that I can have Light in my own darkness.  

 

What gratitude do you need to start voicing?  Where is the mundane or grand that needs acknowledgement in your life? A lack of gratitude will choke the very life out of your heart.  But, thankfulness will keep your eyes off the dark and on the Light!

Forgiveness…..It Makes Me Sweat

Forgiveness.  The word makes me sweat.  

I am an emotional person.  I feel things deeply. I take things to heart.  My heart gets bruised.  And, it’s not just about me.  I am madly in love with my husband and children.  They are my world.  When they hurt, I hurt. When bad things happen to them, it might as well be me!  I am very emotive….so much estrogen.  Just ask my family.  (Think mother bear!)

The biggest lesson of my life came in October 2011.  Desperate to end his nightmare, our child spilled his hurt and pain to my husband.  We knew this person.  We thought she was safe—she wanted to be a youth pastor and we were mentoring her towards that end.  We thought we knew and understood her well.

Apparently, we didn’t.

The days that followed were full of rage, pain and complete shock.  We navigated the legal system, detectives, and victim advocates in a haze of unbelief.  Not unbelief of our child’s story.  We never doubted him.  Sitting in the detective’s office, trying to answer endless questions, we just couldn’t figure out how we had gotten to this point.

How could someone do this to one of our own and to our family?

I never dreamed, in all my days, I would be sitting

in a courtroom listening to all the graphic details of the abuse.

Who does?

Betrayal of any kind is painful. 

At this level, it was hard to breathe.  We had done so much to better the life and future of this caregiver; providing opportunities for a future that would not have come anywhere else.

We did receive justice in the legal system. We are grateful.  It started the healing process for our boy and for us. We felt heard and understood.  Unfortunately, in today’s culture, male victims of female perpetrators many times don’t receive equal justice.   But, we did. And that is nothing short of a miracle.

But, see, this is where it gets gritty.

As Christ Followers, we are taught to forgive.

  For the longest time I wasn’t in any place to forgive.  I needed  time and space to process and heal.

And I honestly think God was okay with that.  I learned something important.

Everybody moves at their own pace and the journey is cyclical—just like in the grieving process.

FORGIVENESS   IS   NOT   EASY   NOR   CHEAP.

I have to say, there are some days I don’t feel as if I have forgiven very well.  Most days, three years isn’t long enough to pay for the level of trauma, fear and pain he endured.  And, if I am really honest (please allow me),

I can’t understand how God could forgive this, much less me.

 

I know this: If I surrender my deep betrayal and pain to God, and follow His lead, He will walk me through this difficult journey of forgiveness.

I am learning that forgiveness is a journey.

This past week was a perfect example of how much work I have left to do, but how far I have come!  It was a milestone in our journey.  He knows we are human.  We are not perfect in this earthly skin.

I think forgiveness isn’t a one and done type of thing either.

It is a process—a lifelong journey that brings great peace.  I imagine I will work the rest of my life to forgive fully and completely as I know Christ does.  I know God knows my humanity.

He gives me strength and power to do what I can’t seem to do on my own.

As you can see, it makes the top 10 of the hardest lessons I will learn in life.  And I’m still trying to figure it all out.  It is a team effort with God leading the way.  I’ll follow in His footsteps and I know all will be alright.

What about you?  Do you have something that screams for forgiveness but you just don’t know how?  Can you give yourself grace knowing God does when you are walking hand in hand….moving in His unhurried rhythms of grace?

 

My friend, I know it is hard.  I hate the cliches.

But, God is jealous for you and is aware of your pain.

Sit and listen for His rhythm of grace.