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!

Sweet, Simple Life

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I am thankful for the small graces in my every day.

Sometimes, it seems as if a whole host of things can go wrong at the same time.  You know, you’ve had it happen to you.   You’re busy running around marking off your to-do list, trying to go out of town and the lawnmower and trimmer break down and the yard police are watching.  The equipment is new, mind you!  Or maybe your child (or as they blame the sibling) has lost their phone.  Thorough searching has gone on without success, but it is imperative for the child to have one, since they are going on a trip without you.  So, the race is on to find a replacement that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. (Because, of course, the child is not due for an upgrade.)

Sometimes, there is just so much to do.  Just do the normal day to day responsibilities, but throw in some hiccups and you feel up to your eyeballs trying to squeeze it all in.  But, I’m thankful.

I’ll be candid with you.  I deal with some anxiety issues.  I’m well aware of what it feels like for me and some of my triggers.  So, today, amid all the running and preparing for the five of us to travel, and make sure our four-legged fur baby is taken care of, I was feeling the effects of anxiety.  I usually call my husband and clue him in on my anxiety.  Instead of trying to ignore it, hoping it will go away, I recognize it at the start and have learned to handle it head on, right at the beginning.  I knew he would pray for me.

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I also had to remind myself that this life is beautiful.  While the responsibilities sometimes feel overwhelming, compared to what others are facing, this is simply life.  One important lesson I learned in counseling is to learn the difference between a crisis and everyday glitches in life.

Broken lawnmowers and lost phones aren’t crises, just life to be managed.  I’m blessed to have a family of my own to care for and nurture.  I remind myself these days are truly short.  While I taxi and run errands, I am caring for my family.  All of this is life.  Beautiful life.

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It takes careful mindfulness to control our thoughts and harness them for power.  I’m learning to not spin into sidewise energy, by not focusing on the glitches and hiccups along the way.  Yikes!  I am not always so good, so I am talking to me today, too.  But, amid the shopping and working through my list of to-do’s, my anxiety disappeared.  (I also think my Honey’s prayers made a difference, too.)  About an hour later, my husband called to check in on me, and I realized my anxiety was gone.  I didn’t let it derail me or steal my joy.

Here are a few ideas for dealing with anxiety:

  1. Stop and look for the source of the anxiety.  See if there is any merit to it. 
  2. Invite someone you trust into your moment.
  3. Pray.
  4. Remind yourself to slow down and enjoy the process.
  5. Be mindful of your thoughts and words.

Life runs at breakneck speeds and sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that all is well.  Remember what is truly a crisis and what is an annoyance or mere, every day stuff.  This is what life is about.  It isn’t all the big, splashy moments.  Most of our days are made up of ordinary life stuff.

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I am learning to appreciate the simpleness of everyday living.   At this point in my life, I am thankful to  just live normal, everyday life.  It is beautiful–complete with bumps and hiccups.  Finding beauty in the simple, and even in the middle of challenging annoyances, is the key to living more fully and peacefully in the everyday.

 

 

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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!

A Letter To My Loves

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To Our Loves,

As your Dad and I celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary, I hope you have witnessed a growing, deep love.  It’s hard to believe we are at 24…..next year is 25 and we will be celebrating in fine style!  But until then….

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Your Dad and I met in 1988.  I know it seems so very long ago.  We married in 1991 while we were young and full of dreams.  I suggest you marry when your heart is full of love and bright with dreams.  Young love can be challenging, and I often say older is probably better.  But, here’s what I know, your dreams grow together and you figure out life with someone close by your side when you start out younger.  Life is good in pairs.  That may not work out for you exactly like that, but if your heart is open, your head is solidly on your shoulders and feet are firmly planted on the ground, run through this life together.  You won’t have all the money you need (and money is really good!), but God will provide if you listen closely to Him.

You will never find the “perfect” Mr. or Mrs. Right.  Everyone has flaws.  You have to decide what you can live with and what is non-negotiable.  Nobody you love will be perfect.  Absolutely nobody.  So, if you find love and depth of character, decide whether you can live this life without them.  Some flaws are obviously worse than others.  Run!  Run, like the wind!  But, you know I have taught you, they need to love Jesus, serve Him and love their family.  Of course, each of you have things you love and desire and things that won’t fly.  Listen to your heart!  My sweet girl, if you can find someone like your Daddy, you will be a woman most blessed.  My strong men, I hope in some way I have shown you what a Jesus-loving wife should represent.

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Love hits bumps and gets bruises.  The real beauty comes from walking out whatever life has to throw at you.  Not running away.  It’s the living out grace and faith through the rough patches.  It isn’t always pretty or easy, but marriage isn’t just about you.  The other person doesn’t complete you—you are whole just as you are.  One goal of marriage is to help your Love fulfill their dreams.  And together, if you both do that, you will achieve more than you ever could on your own.

As you journey together, you will change and grow.  So will the Love of your life.  That is good.  When you are Jesus followers, He will change you and grow you.  So, encourage them to grow.  Life is a journey; and, no, you will not know what you or your Love will look like 24 years from the day you walk down the aisle.  But, if you open your hearts and journey together, you come out on the other side even better than when you started out.

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Our journey has been filled with so much fun!  Trips to Walt Disney World, the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon.  Trips to the ocean and visits to opposite coasts.  Trips to other countries and close to home.  So many fabulous memories!  Life is what you make it.  Marriage is too.  Don’t wait for the golden years or someday to live life.  Do what you can, when you can.  You aren’t promised those yonder days.  Make the most of now.  It may mean you have to do it with some financial finesse, but do it nonetheless.

Remember, the children don’t run the corner office!  Teach them there is something out there bigger than them.  They can’t survive without that!  And, that, my dears, starts at home.  Your marriage is first.  Your Love is first.  Yes, there are seasons in which the children’s activities will dominate the schedule.  But, remember your love comes first.  Do what you can, when you can!  Date nights and time and moments have to be taken.  Learn your Love’s love language and do what you can to meet it.  It may be a stretch for you to think outside the box of your own idea of love, but do it.  Try hard!  Give it all you’ve got!  Children need to see their parents in love.  That is when they are most secure.  Oh, they will complain and be grossed out—gross them out anyway!

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Many times, you will be called upon to sacrifice.  That is life.  Sometimes you will have to give more than you think you have to give.  Many times you will have to set yourself aside for the moment and give out of yourself so your Love can have what they need.  And they will have to do the same.  I know this flies against the current culture.  Often times you will find a godly marriage will.  Many times, a godly marriage will have to go counter-culture to survive and grow.  In fact, I will say, most of the time you will find yourself needing to live counter-culture to protect your family.  Do it!  Make the sacrifice!  Your home, your family and all that is to come will depend on it.

There is so much more to say that comes from 24 years of marriage.  But, I’m sure that will come in time.  I wouldn’t change it for the world!  Yes, I wish I had done some things differently.  I wish I had loved better and understood more. But life and love is a journey.  Your Dad is a great example of loving—many times I feel he has done it better than I.  But, we are in it for the distance!  We’ve been through a lot, but we’ve also experienced so much laughter, joy and love.  I wouldn’t do this journey with anybody else.FullSizeRender

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Choose wisely, my Loves!  But don’t be afraid!  Love and marriage aren’t perfect, but definitely worth the effort!

 

Off We Go!

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A good old fashioned swing.

I think it must be the closest feeling a child has to soaring.  I remember as a kid on the playground pumping higher and higher…once I got the pumping figured out.  The cool kid thing was jumping from the swing at the peak.  Probably not the safest!  I was horrified when my kids tried it.  My younger brother did it once….landed flat on his back.  Hurt himself, he did.  Yeah….no jumping from swings, kids!

I think we all long to soar.

We want to soar with our dreams.

Pumping and pumping until we reach the heights.  I know I do….but, I really, really want my kiddos to soar.  My oldest is a big dreamer.  He has always had a creative imagination and I often felt I was trying to hold fast to a bucking bronco.  He has always had so much he wants to do.  I never could quite keep up!  He inspired our made up word—exhausterating!

I never ever want to be a dream killer.

Some dreams are often unrealistic.  I want to be my child’s biggest cheerleader.  Life has a way of killing dreams.  I’m not going to be guilty of doing it.  I will train and guide my children on a path which leads to fulfilling their dreams.  Whatever God has for them….He will lead them.

Giving them wings is a little like stomping on your heart one day and thrilling it with joy the next.  My firstborn is pumping his wings fiercely.  As the time grew near for him to soar from the nest, my heart couldn’t comprehend it.  I had given so much of my life to this cute little boy who easily held my heart.  How was I supposed to give him wings when I wasn’t sure I wanted him out of my nest in the first place?

The fear of the unknown was almost debilitating.  Much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth took place.  Until one day, a wise lady basically told me to get over it.  I’m not kidding.  Her kids are grown and she has a great-grandbaby, maybe two.

But, I was bemoaning on Facebook about the nest emptying of one, and she told me to think of all the greatness to come.  There would be great joy on the flip side; an adult relationship with your offspring is incredibly rewarding!  But, I have to adjust my thinking.  I had to rethink this and keep moving forward.

At first, I have to say, it jolted me.

It felt rough and scratchy.

But, it wiggled its way into my brain and heart.

I sat in his bedroom, after the dorm move in day, and cried my way through the mess that was left behind.  I cried and scratched and clawed my way through a week, or maybe just two.  Sobbing even, maybe.  Until one day, my littlest Little asked if I still loved them—the ones who were still there with me in the nest.  I knew it was time to pull on the big girl panties and fully embrace this new day.  And slowly, I began to see.  I was excited to see him try his new way; walk his own path.  His joy was my joy.

When our children soar, our hearts soar with them.

It has been a giving and taking and figuring it all out.  You know, the normal boundaries stuff, and the mom in me worrying stuff, and I want you home this weekend stuff.  It has been good.  Mine is about to finish his first year of college.  I can’t even imagine it.  Oh, the soaring he has done!

There have been some clunky landings and stormy skies.  But, that is the soaring life.  How did he get the wings to fly, you ask?

 

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We certainly don’t have all the answers, here are 5 things we did:

  1. Teach him he can do anything and everything God has for him to do.  He stirs the passion of our hearts to do good things.  Make sure he knows we believe 100% in him.
  2. Give him solid roots to ground him.  Are they gonna be forgotten sometimes? Oh, yes.  But, this solid foundation will always go with them.
  3. Shape his life full of opportunities which inspire him to be all he can be with God.
  4. Make sure he knows he has a nest to come home to.  Our love is unconditional.
  5. Realize at this point, the “parenting” is pretty much done; we are now in the coaching phase. 

I see the shortcomings and misfires in our parenting.  This has not been an easy or mistake-free parenting adventure.  But, like I told one of my Littles today, we make mistakes, but it has only been done from a heart of love.  They aren’t going to like every decision we make, but never forget, it is always made from a place of love.

Love.  Real, honest love.  This is what makes the wings grow.

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Roots and Wings

Has anyone ever told you
that your job as a parent
is to give your Loves
roots and then give them wings?
Roots
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That is such a beautiful phrase.  I love it.  There is something about that line that creates such an image of beauty and strength coupled together.  And what a dichotomy!  Such different words.
Roots, wings. 
The nature of roots makes us think of an earthy, gritty, life-source, sustaining and supporting foundation.  The essence of wings calls to mind flight, self-supporting strength, beauty, resourcefulness and gracefulness.  It seems to me there may be a connection between the two.
The symbolism can’t be dismissed.
Parenting. 
The word alone can intimidate you.  In one moment, you may go from feeling completely in control, to feeling utterly out of control in seconds.  You might be on track and feeling successful one moment, but in a split second you realize everything is not as it appears.  You often lack sleep; you just may find your interests and passions intertwine or collide with late night talks full of tears and reassuring hugs.  It’s not an easy world in which to raise children.  You exhaust yourself by always being diligent and on guard.  If you’re wise, you realize you need divine help in taking these Loves from birth to flight.  And you don’t get a whole heck of a lot of time to accomplish it.  A mom further down the road than me offered this valuable piece of wisdom when my oldest was barely two…..the days are long, but the years are short.  On many occasions, this helped me keep my perspective and make wiser decisions.
There are so many joys in parenting. 
One of my all time favorites is watching my Loves find their passions and dream big dreams.  There’s nothing like the “I love you” or “Thanks, mom” that comes from hearts genuine with feeling.  Watching your Loves learn from their mistakes, and trying their best not to repeat the same mistake…..whether they do or not, to see the effort to learn is what matters.  Knowing your kids are making the right choices along the way–when choosing the wrong would have been so much easier–brings so much joy.  Gooey kisses and slobbery hugs go a long way to making parenting easier.
I am focusing over the next two weeks on the topic entitled “Roots and Wings”.  Almost 20 years into this parenting gig (that’s a LOT of toddler and preschooler years!), and I often say to my kiddos, “This isn’t my first rodeo.”  I really like to remind them of this.  Especially when they think they have a new take on a particularly time-worn lesson.  My Honey will often remind me, to my chagrin, he isn’t a first-time parent.  I haven’t experienced it all, by any means, and I’m sure my other two at home have some surprises for me along the way!
Here are a couple things I have learned along the way.
Whether you were parented well or not does not determine your parenting ability. 
I also know God gave you those particular children because you have what it takes to get them from nest to flight.
There is such beauty in parenting. 
There is loads of grace for it too. 
God does not leave us unequipped for the job he gives us.
We just have to look for his hand and be open to his guidance.  God says, “I got you!”
He will give you every good thing you need to bring your children up to be what he intends for them to be.  He will give you the grace to do all he has called you to do.
Whether that is
parenting + an outside career
or
staying at home full time + pursuing passions that fuel you,
he knows exactly how he formed you and is working to bring out the gifts he placed within you.
I would love for you to join me on this journey.  I look forward to sharing a few things I have learned along the way.  I believe God can give you just what you need.  I don’t know exactly what that is, but he does.  Let’s meet together and see what He has to say!
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Courage, Dear Heart

“I know what I’m doing.  I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

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Why is it that after all I know, I still doubt?

Where do I think He is going to lead me?

What about the time I trusted completely and the wheels came all the way off the bus, landed in the ditch…..and, the bus blew up!?!

Why do I forget who He is and how much He loves me and mine?

My heart screams foul.

Instead of first remembering all the glories and grace, I turn and stare at the cracked and raised scars. I think of what put them there. I remember the pain and the emotion of the broken and disillusioned reality.

  So quick to forget.

What causes this short term memory gap?  Is it fear that causes the impaired vision; or is it the impaired vision that causes the fear?  I know it is a human issue.  It’s not new to me.  Even the wanderers of Israel could never seem to remember the miracles and open hand of God.  Maybe you, too?

It is so easy to rehearse the pain of the past; it is lazy at best and ungrateful at worst.

There.

Sometimes we need to be direct and truthful with ourselves.

Tell ourselves to snap out of it—get back to focusing on the good.  What of this living by the spirit of fear?  How much better would it be to live with power, love and a sound mind?

Interesting how “sound mind” is lumped right in there.  It seems fear has a way of causing us to lose our minds.  Without clarity, we don’t process and interpret life or situations effectively or wisely.  When we don’t work from a sound mind, we lose self-discipline and good judgment.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.  But, for whatever reason, I can pick up and move on over and slide in right next to fear.

What do I think fear is really going to do for me?  It is a harsh taskmaster.  Fear ties a noose around my neck and leads me down dark and unsafe paths.  My judgment is clouded and I am not able to hear clearly what God just might say to me.  Fear is relentless and tiring and leaves me frazzled, lying in a heap.

 

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I have to shake my head.  God did not think highly of the wanderers when they did the same thing.  Oh, He loved them immeasurably!  But He grew tired of their faithlessness and their inability to just remember!  In fact, He saw them as ungrateful and difficult.  I really don’t want God to look at me in the same light.

Our scars are left behind as a reminder that God’s grace is sufficient and our strength is made stronger in our weakest moments. 

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God’s grace goes where no human hand can.  The world is a rough and tumble place with countless potential land mines.  Fear points out everything that could possibly go wrong; grace reminds us He never leaves us or forsakes us.

If we are so quick to remember the messes and disasters, why can’t we just as easily remember He has an awesome plan for us—one that is full of blessing, hope and better tomorrows?

Maybe the best place to start is with gratitude.

It seems to always come right back to that.  Doesn’t it?  A daily remembering of all the lovely graces which fill our days from beginning to end.  It takes a purposefulness and strength to look beyond the hard edges.  It takes focusing on the abundance in the simplicity.  Oh my goodness!  The whole of our minds shift and light dazzles the gray.  Why wouldn’t we want this?

Gratitude and grace aren’t gold pavers lining the street and smoothing out bumps and potholes.  They serve to lift our focus from the mess to the savior in the mess.  We see He is for us. This sin of Adam is the problem; not God.  He has never left our side.  And, He can clearly see us all the way home.

So, what do I have to fear?

What do I have to be afraid of?

No scheme of man can ever take me out of His hand!  (And you know some try awfully hard!)  Circumstances or events may not look how we imagined or the horizon may be asking more questions than giving answers.  The answers don’t often come before we strike out on the unfamiliar road.

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When gratitude and grace emerge, you shift your focus to the one who sees clearly and has walked this way before.  

Psalm 32.8 beautifully expresses his heart toward us,

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”

He watches over me with loving care.

He is not flippant with my life.

When I stay close, He gives me good counsel.

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When I stay close, I look at Him, see His heart and know—really know—I need not be afraid for whatever

may come.

Fear has no place.

Fear can’t rule.

This is a huge challenge for me today.  How about you?  What is so easy for you to forget?  What situation needs your radical faith?

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Just try it……the air is cleaner up there.

Love And All Its Glory

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I’ve heard folks say, and I guess some really believe it, if you experience hardship , you aren’t in God’s will.  I am confused by this mentality.  Never mind that Scripture says, “In this world you will have trouble.”  Nobody wants it on a greeting card, but hey….

That brings me to think for a moment of the areas in life that I have had difficulties and obstacles.  My children, my family, my church, my friendships, my life, my marriage….they’ve all had, at one point or another, some level of challenge, difficulty, turmoil, chaos, or pain.  And I would dare to say, each of them are a part of God’s will for my life.  How can someone say that my children or my church or my life is not a part of God’s will?  Boggling.

Anyway, in 2008 my husband and I knew God was getting ready to change things up for the  Reynolds’ crew.  With open hearts and anticipation, we moved from Iowa to Virginia.  I look back at a few rare journal entries and feel such sadness for that girl who wrote with such excitement.  I want to warn her of all the pain that is about to blow through her life in a matter of months…..for years.

To say we faced challenges is a gross understatement. Wave after wave of loss and turmoil rolled over my family.  I was working hard to help the children transition well, but I could feel the strain and the tearing of the fibers in my home and, more specifically, my marriage.  I could feel the fabric of our marriage stretching to bare. We were functioning at some level, but we certainly were not thriving.  There was a lot at stake so we just kept moving….one foot in front of the other.  Hardships come. Opposition rises.  And marriages crumble. IMG_7745[1]

……love never gives up.  It’s certain….we both had misfires, misunderstandings and unmet expectations.  There were hurt hearts and wounded pride.  But, we didn’t give up.   It was probably the lowest of lows for us.  But, we kept on.

……love cares more for others than for self.  My husband was the rock we all needed as we wandered in the Shadowlands.  He was strong and tended to us and led us as a fearless leader.  We gladly followed.  It was the aftermath of the abuse that drew us together emotionally as a force to be reckoned with.  We rallied as a team and circled our wagon.  We worked together to help bring healing to our broken family.  Even though we felt weak and vulnerable, we were a team.

…….love always trusts God.  My husband always pointed us back to Christ.  Even in the hardest hard or darkest dark.  Yes, our faith was shaken and all we knew was rocked to the core.  But, this man, my love, led us back again and again to Christ.  He didn’t have all the answers and didn’t pretend to.  But, he knew that God could be trusted….even when it doesn’t make sense and we can’t see His hand.  Glenn gave me room to question and even scream and yell.  He held my hand and understood when to let me cry.  He cried with our boy and grieved for the loss.  But, he led us back, over and over, to Christ.  “Follow me while I follow Christ.”  He didn’t know where it all led, but we would follow Christ.

……love never dies.  Goodness.  What a statement!  Do our dreams die?  Do our hopes and expectations die?  Do people and marriages die?  Yes, yes, and yes.  But Christ living in us does not die.  Christ living through us does not die. This is our hope!  God is love.  If we have him living in us, we have his Love living in us.  My husband demonstrated love by continuing on with this broken mess.  He led us to forgiveness.  My sweet love gave sacrificially to help us on our journey to healing.  He trusted God’s love even when his own doubts were doubling by the day.

  He will cringe at finding out I wrote my blog around him this week.  He’s not a self-promoter.  Nor does he like my flattery “out there for the whole world to see.”  But, then again, those are other traits of love flowing in my man.       I could go on and on.  But I will end with this.  Love isn’t shallow or flighty.  It isn’t selfish or easily drawn away.  And if you have any experience, you know that some days it fires hotter than others and some days you love because that is what you committed to do.  red hot sedona love

So, for those taking notes, in this world you will have trouble.  Lots of it.  And it doesn’t mean you are out of God’s will.  But you do walk out of God’s will when you forget to love.  If you truly love, you work through it.  You work through the bad, the ugly, the broken, the inconvenient, the harsh and the lean times.  It’s what you do with the trouble that counts.

If you do it right, you end up with the amazingly beautiful,

the whole, the blessing,

the joyful and the abundant.

Everything can be conquered with love.

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!