Posted in Abundance, and Love, Faith, Hope, and Love, Family, Freedom, God, Gratitude, Healing, Hope, Joy, life lessons, Love, marriage, Marriage and Family, mission, Neighbors, Transparency, Uncategorized, Winning, Writing

In which love MEANS someONE…

I’ve had some less than comforting conversations with certain people in my life lately that leave me with a pit in my stomach and a painful ache in my heart. The words spoken remind me of the devastating effect false representation and the enemy’s lies can have on God’s creation, his human creation most of all.

Ever heard the phrases, “Thanks for picking up the slack” or “If only they had been more responsible” before?

Another phrase I’ve heard a lot lately, “Love always wins.”

Without worrying about pc-friendly terminology, I have to reply to that one, what a crock.

And before I get crucified, let me tell you. I DO believe Love always wins. I DON’T believe a lot of people who say that phrase actually live like they believe it.

Let me explain. We use the word love for a lot of things that actually have nothing whatsoever to do with love. We LOVE our new car. We LOVE our presidential candidate. We LOVE our clothes. We LOVE that new movie. What we really mean is that the car, the clothes, the candidate, the movie, all give us a sensation like pleasure. We FEEL something that makes us happy when we think of that object or person, but LOVE has nothing to do with it.

In other languages, there are different words to describe various levels and forms of what we in English call LOVE. We wrap up shallow, surface sensation within deeper, more abiding context and it’s no wonder we confuse ourselves when it comes to the real deal.

We spout platitudes and tell people we’re “in love” and it leaves us with all the depth of a quick Adrenalin rush after the 100 meter dash. It’s great and it feels good, but it’s over in moments and what’s left? The come-down after a temporary high.

So what IS love?

It’s not a feeling, I can tell you that right now.

Love is:

  • giving generously without reproach
  • forgiving seventy times seven and then forgiving once more
  • laying down your life for another
  • looking after the poor and the widow and those who have been oppressed and beaten down
  • advocating for the ones who have no voice to speak for themselves
  • opening your home to the least of these, clothing them and feeding them and giving them resources to get back on their feet
  • making a vow and remaining faithful through daily, moment by moment choices to overlook the other’s faults and open your heart regardless of whether the other fully understands how vulnerable that makes you
  • making the hard decision because the easy one only leads to long term pain and no lasting gain
  • patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not puffed up with pride
  • it does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs
  • it does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth
  • it ALWAYS protects, ALWAYS trusts, ALWAYS hopes, and ALWAYS perseveres
  • it NEVER fails
  • it is the GREATEST virtue in the entire world and yet it is the LEAST used
  • it’s an action NOT a feeling
  • brings healing, restoration, and redemption

Every one of these definitions I got straight from one source. Can you guess what source?

“Love always wins” gets thrown around when the newest law is handed down from on high. It is spoken when a special interest group “wins” a big legal battle against the “intolerant” and “bigoted” offender. Religious leaders even use it to push their doctrinal agendas.

Love ALWAYS wins because HE already won. It happened on a wooden torture device, on a hill bathed in the blood of both innocent and guilty, when a Savior embodied the greatest example of True Love as He drew his last breath and committed His Spirit into His Father’s hands.

The greatest definition of love in the end isn’t actually a decision or a feeling.

The greatest definition of Love is the person of Jesus Christ.

And anything less than what He demonstrated on that cross and in every living, breathing moment of His existence here on earth, is a pale, poor imitation of what Love actually is.

We were made in His image, but don’t for ONE MOMENT think that makes us capable of the kind of Love He pours out on us day in and day out.

When we reach out to a sick friend to lend them a helping hand, that’s a pale demonstration of Christ’s Love. When we offer our services for a hurting family who is broken and desperate for a way out of the mess, it’s just imitation and a pale one at that. When we give our time, money, and selves for a ministry that serves the poor and downtrodden, we are just barely scratching the surface of what Christ’s love looks like.

When we accept that everything we have to give in the name of love is NEVER enough, then we can accept that the only one who can is the One who defines and lives it perfectly.

And when we accept that, then He is free to infuse us with Himself, to love others through us, and to represent His love to a world that is dying without it. Ultimately, that is the greatest form of love.

Loving us enough to give us Himself in our place. When the world sees me, I don’t want them to see my paltry excuse for what I define as love.

I want them to see Love (in the form of Jesus Christ) in all HIS glory.

1 John 4

Posted in discipline, faith, Family, Freedom, God, Home, Hope, marriage, mission, Pain, prayer, soul surgery, Spiritual disciplines, spiritual training, Transparency, Uncategorized, War, Winning

In which I discover the art of war…

sun_tzu_art_of_war_quotes_fear

I’m not a pacifist by any stretch of the imagination. My husband might even insist I thrive on conflict and battle. He’s called me his warrior wife enough times for me to get the hint. I’m not a pacifist.

However, I wouldn’t say I am pro-war either. I’ve seen the aftermath of many a bloody conflict in my thirty plus years of life and not all of them were in some god-forsaken desert in a never-ending campaign against a faceless enemy.

No, the wars I am thinking of now are the ones against an enemy far more insidious and destructive.

An enemy that comes dressed in light and so subtle a twisting of truth and good, that you don’t realize you’ve been pierced by his poisoned blade until you’re left bleeding and dying on the battlefield. More often than not, he takes out your loved ones right along with you, leaving a trail of wounded in his wake.

I watch this enemy rage on in a war that very few are even willing to acknowledge anymore and I wonder why that is. What happened to this world that makes our greatest enemy triumph over and over an over again, meeting little resistance along the way?

The answer is both deceptively simple and horrifically complex.

The enemy is winning in simple terms because we’re letting him win.

The complicated answer? This world is his stronghold, a kingdom stolen from its True King, many thousands of years ago. A stolen kingdom that the True King has already victoriously won back in one fell stroke of ultimate sacrifice and triumph.

The reason it’s complicated is that the True King’s warriors are living like that AMAZING victory NEVER took place. His warriors carry on as if they are living a sedate, civilian life, untouched by the horrors of the war they keep perpetrating through their complaisance and denial. All the while, the enemy is right within their camp, watering and tending the seeds of division, deception, and doubt, until the warriors cannot tell a truth from a lie, reality from fantasy, right from wrong.

All the while, the True King grieves at the chaos and discord, desperately wanting his warriors to experience the victory he paid SO high a price to win. Begging them to accept the freely given gift in exchange for total submission to His benevolent, just, unconditionally loving authority. All He asks for is their everything.

Stupid, selfish, blinded creatures that His warriors are, they refuse time and again, accepting instead, the deceptive, destructive promises of the Enemy, completely blinded to the fact that they’ve signed their names in blood to a contract that is High Treason to the True King.

We lay down our swords and shields for empty promises of peace and happiness, and we have yet to fully understand that TRUE peace and happiness are merely byproducts of a life given over to complete obedience to the True King. The temporary drivel that we cling to in our selfishness and vanity is eating us inside out like acid, destroying everything that made us warriors and victors.

We walked away from the war, raising our white flags in surrender to the enemy. But here’s the thing. We LOST. We weren’t just assimilated into a new order and given a free pass to live as we please.

NO.

By laying down arms and taking up the colors of our Enemy, we’ve LOST. Lost our lives, lost our freedoms, lost our happiness, lost our humanity, lost our identity, lost our purpose, and lost our reason. We’ve won NOTHING. We’ve gained NOTHING.

EVERYTHING in this life that is worth gaining is worth FIGHTING for. It’s not a victory because we chose the easy way out. We just handed ourselves over to the enemy on a silver platter and he’s laughing his ass off in hell. Because God’s people are proving to be cowards and deserters, not men and women of valor. And the Devil is counting heads as they walk through his gates willingly.

Christ may have won the final victory when He willingly walked to the Cross. But He’s still waiting for His soldiers to act like soldiers and take up arms against the enemy who hides like a coward in the shadows and teaches his recruits to do the same.

He’s waiting for Men to stand up and lead their families with passion and conviction, teaching their children to obey ALL the commands He’s laid out for a successful battle strategy. To equip the next generations to stand firm on their convictions, even willing to die for the cause of a Kingdom NOT only of this world but the next.

He’s waiting for Women to stand firm as shield bearers and women of valor, fighting bravely to deflect the fiery darts of the enemy aiming to destroy their families and their homes. To stop picking up selfish and fatal causes and to stand for what’s right and true.

He’s waiting for His people to rally around HIS standard for marriage, for family, for the sanctity of life, for the defense of the helpless and oppressed, for the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the least of these.

He’s waiting for His warriors to live counter-cultural and willing to face death for HIS cause. To stand up for Truth and Justice, to give Grace and Mercy, to stand as victors and not cowards.

To believe that He is who He says He is and to LIVE and LOVE in that belief.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am the worst sort of coward. I talk big, but when the line is drawn in the sand, I’m the first to lay down my arms and give up the fight. But I am ALSO the first to admit that this cowardice is NOT acceptable in my life.

I just made a promise to my children and my husband tonight that until my dying breath, I will fight my worst enemy and I won’t back down ever. Because to do so would spell destruction for my marriage, my children, and my place in God’s army.

My worst enemy?

Myself. Oh how I shudder in fear when I face me.

But by God’s grace, I will face that fear and remember whose warrior I am and what war I am actually fighting.

And the first weapon of defense is Prayer.

OnMyKnees

 

Posted in discipline, faith, God, laziness, life lessons, Love, marriage, Pain, prayer, soul surgery, Spiritual disciplines, spiritual training, Tattered and Mended, Transparency, Uncategorized, War, Writing

In which I see firsthand the consequences of disobedience

I woke up this morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed.

At 4:00am.

It might now sound weird to some early birds, but my usual wake up time is more around 5:00am and I don’t wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed.

That’s AFTER the coffee. And the workout. And my Shakeology.

Not necessarily in that order.

Point being, it takes a bit to wake me up in the morning and I NEVER wake up from a deep sleep bright eyed and bushy tailed.

I still want to know where that particular idiom originated.

So there I am at 4 in the morning, after falling asleep sometime after eleven the night before and knowing I needed to get up in an hour to start my day. Clear as day, I knew it was a God thing. It wasn’t so much a voice telling me to wake up and pray, but I got the distinct impression of a rather large nudge and the urge to pray.

I’m awake, I’m alert, shouldn’t be too hard to obey that particular nudge right? I’m up anyway.

I wish I could tell you that I obeyed. My husband and I watched the War Room just recently and LOVED it. I remember thinking after the movie was done that I wanted to have a neighbor like Miss Clara and I wanted to be a prayer warrior like her too. Here I was, not two weeks later, already failing my first Noticeable God Nudge.

Oh I’m a praying woman. I pray at meal times, I pray for patience when my kids have taken the last dredges of mine and run away with it. I pray at bed times, and I even pray during my quiet times, which have increased in frequency and quality over the years. But I still have a LONG way to go toward really earning the label Spiritual/Prayer Warrior.

Which brings me back to the Noticeable God Nudge to pray. Which I VERY pointedly ignored.

It wasn’t that I needed sleep. If you hadn’t already noticed, I was bright eyed and bushy tailed. It wasn’t that I wanted to sleep.

I just didn’t want to pray.

Do you remember disobeying your parents as a child? Do you remember the consequences you faced? Some had a harsh wake up call and others might have gotten a little more of the grace side of things. Others might have gotten away with it and have no idea what disobedience actually means.

I should have prefaced this with the events of the night before. See, my spouse and I were not seeing eye to eye on some issues. It’s not a big deal in the larger picture, because we are pretty good at working things out. It WAS a big deal because we hadn’t worked it out when we went to bed and the lack of resolution led to some troubled sleep for me. It wasn’t like we were angry at one another, we just hadn’t resolved the issues satisfactorily. Thus, it still hung over us.

Fast forward to my early morning NGN (Noticeable God Nudge). It was  a definite call to action and that action was prayer. I didn’t get a script downloaded into my brain, just the urge to pray.

And I ignored it. In fact, I went one step further, since the Nudge wouldn’t go away. I walked upstairs, grabbed a blanket off my couch, fluffed the nearest pillow, and turned on my iTunes to the KJV Bible as read by James Earl Jones. (Beautiful rendition of the KJV by the way. His voice is SO dreamy)

I let JEJ read me to sleep and didn’t wake up until spouse and children woke me a couple hours later.

I wish I had obeyed the God Nudge.

The consequences didn’t hit the moment I woke up. In fact, the morning started out pretty okay. We worked out, drank coffee, talked about how our day was planned out, and it seemed fine.

Then the subject of the unresolved issues came up.

When I say all HELL broke loose, I’m not exaggerating. It wasn’t until both my spouse and I were left a bloody, wounded mess (not literally, I’m talking heart/soul wounds) that we separated to cool down and it hit me HARD.

The realization hit me HARD, but Grace is SO amazing. While I was breaking down in the bathroom, back against the wall, I heard the NGN again. Only this time, it was more of a gentle voice, reminding me of my act of disobedience that morning. If I had only obeyed the God Nudge, I could have avoided the whole Armageddon sized war that had erupted.

If I had listened and heeded, I might have saved my husband and I a whole lot of heartache. What hit me HARD was how deliberate I had been in my choice to disobey. It wasn’t like I was lost in the bustle and busyness and just didn’t HEAR. I HEARD and I closed my ears.

It didn’t matter who started the war and who was at fault and who had the biggest wound in the end. I’d already drawn first blood when I chose to ignore the God Nudge to pray that morning.

index

He asked me to do a simple thing. Pray. Not because I would change anything. We still had issues to resolve. But God knew I would need that time with him to center my heart and mind and act as my husband’s guardian/protector as well.

I cannot recall a more poignant or deeply impressive lesson on the power of prayer. I set the tone of the day with my act of disobedience and I honestly can’t explain what possessed me to choose that route. Pride? Stubbornness? I can’t say the Devil made me do it, because the choice was ALL mine. God asked for my obedience out of love for me and I did not love Him enough to obey.

Thankfully, His Grace covers a multitude of sins, and my husband and I did not leave it there. We resolved our issues and I took a LOT of time to pray today.

I only hope that this remains a Lesson Learned. The consequences are not something I ever want to experience again.

meme-quote-disobedience-to-God

 

Posted in Abundance, BeachBody, benefits of exercise, Carpe Diem, debt free living, discipline, dreams, Entrepreneur, exercise, faith, Family, Finances, Financial Peace, Free Fall, Freedom, goals, God, Gratitude, Healing, Home, Home Based Business, Hope, Humor, Joy, life, life lessons, marriage, mission, Pain, Passion, Spiritual disciplines, spiritual training, Uncategorized, Why, Writing

In which I expound on my WHY…

Okay, so I went into a little bit of my why in my introductory post, but I didn’t really…

But what is a WHY you ask?

Well, it is sort of self-explanatory, but in this particular situation, there is a bit more to it. So explanation first.

A WHY is the reason for a major life change or decision. A WHY is what pushes you past the obstacles and the struggles and the pain to come out on the other side, a VICTOR. A WHY tells others the reason for your sometimes insanely enthusiastic, motivational posts on Facebook…

Got it? Good.  2

On to MY why…

I joined the BeachBody team as a customer because I was tired of being sick and tired all the time. I wanted results and I was willing to work hard to get them. And believe me, the workouts are no picnic. That might have to do with the fact that I’m doubling up to train for a marathon this summer. Or it might not. My  muscles burn whether I run or not.

So my why was wrapped up in the idea that I wanted to be healthy and whole for as long as I live on this earth. Obviously, I cannot control every aspect. I mean I might have to be DRAGGED across the finish line when I run my last marathon at 80 years old, but I CAN control my eating and workouts until then. I might get cancer, but I can do everything in my power to stay healthy and feed my body the good (non-carcinogenic) stuff to minimize that risk.

Because it all comes down to choice.

I choose, every day, to get out of my warm, comfortable bed and burn calories while trying to remember to suck in my (shrinking) gut. I choose to bench press a little heavier every time because I COULD stay with the eight pound weights, but they feel so light in my grip now I might end up accidentally throwing them through the TV screen on my upswing. I choose to NOT eat that piece of cake because my taste buds are FINALLY craving things like carrots and Shakeology and avocados.

Ever heard of Pavlov? Yeah, I know all about conditioning.

We choose junk food because we chose it once and then again until our bodies forgot what health was and adjusted its tastes. But we can also REcondition our bodies to enjoy the good stuff again.

So that was my why for joining BeachBody in the first place. I wanted health and wellness and to last long enough to have my great grand-kids drag me across the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

Becoming an Independent Coach with BeachBody? That’s a whole other WHY all together.

I got a degree in Nursing and by the time I was finished five years after I started, I lost my motivation for it. I forgot my WHY. I’ve volunteered as a nurse at free clinics and had a job a few years out of college, but I never really held onto my why. So I’ve bounced around searching for my why again, trying a few different avenues non-nursing related.

Nothing fit. I’m passionate about a lot of things. Even nursing, though a lot of THAT passion was wrapped up in the fact that I came from several generations of nurses. But my original why was lost in the shuffle and I felt aimless.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve found other passions in my life and other WHYs. I wanted to get married and walk this life with a man who chooses God first and builds his own faith while encouraging and challenging me in mine. I wanted to have children with this same God-honoring man in order to raise up a generation that loves God and represents Christ well. And I really LOVE children. I wanted them to teach me how to love unconditionally and give unreservedly. And they do, every single day. Some days better than others…

So I wasn’t unfulfilled, but I also still wanted to rediscover my WHY and find a way to channel it, whether it was through nursing or through some other avenue that God opened up for me.

But I floated around for a while and jumped into things without really recovering my WHY. Which meant money spent and wasted on hobbies that I didn’t even take out long enough to actually call it a real hobby. I wanted more. I wanted a why that would change the world, one person at a time.

BeachBody Coaching is NOT my WHY. It’s not even my passion. At least, it’s not the whole thing anyway. It’s a tool, a building block, an active pursuit toward my passion. Toward my WHY.

My WHY is this. And I have BeachBody to thank for reminding me of it. My WHY is that I want to help heal the hurts of others. Not in the, “Give me your problems and I will fix EVERYTHING for you,” way. I don’t want to FIX other people’s problems as much of a fixer as I am.

What I want to do is, along with my husband who supports and loves me no matter what, build my business, pay off my debts, and owe no one anything but the continuing debt of love. I want to point others to Christ and do it by showing them how to run the race to win the prize.

My WHY has everything to do with bringing my own body under submission, so that I can prove to others it not only CAN be done, but it MUST be done. I want to share my freedom and passion with others so that they can see the character of God within me. I cannot live a full, exemplary life if I’m not willing to discipline myself in EVERY area of my life. And I use my BeachBody coaching as a jumping off point to encourage others to seek that holistic wholeness.

That, and I REALLY like to beat my body into submission. I highly recommend it.

So yeah. I love the idea of becoming a Diamond Coach and traveling the globe with and without my family along for the ride. I love the idea of making a full time salary on a part time schedule. I love the idea of finally getting out of debt and living like no one else and GIVING like no one else. The monetary aspect is appealing.

But even more so, I want to bring LIFE to others. I want my love and passion to infuse others with a new energy and a renewed sense of accomplishment. I want my presence to be healing and comforting, not bitter and destructive. I want to share my joy with others.

And being a BeachBody Independent Coach is the platform I’ve chosen to bring that life and joy and hope to the world. It’s the way I’ve chosen to share my WHY.

 

Posted in Abundance, and Love, Celebration, discipline, faith, Family, Free Fall, God, Gratitude, Hope, hypocrisy, Joy, lessons, life, life lessons, Love, marriage, Marriage and Family, Pain, soul surgery, spiritual training

In which my desire is for my husband…

lessons-learned-in-project-management

I’ve read that part in Genesis so many times, the page is marked and torn. You know the part.

To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”

It’s Genesis 3:16 by the way. In case anyone else wants to rub the page thin, trying to figure it out.

I’m no Bible scholar. I have passages memorized from days long past when my parents lovingly and rightly drilled them into my rebellious brain. I get a kick out of the fact that sometimes in the middle of a Sunday sermon, I will find myself whispering the words just one step ahead of the Pastor and my husband’s eyes glow with pride.

“You are amazing, you know that? To have all that knowledge in your head and to recall it so easily.”

Which is high praise when you consider it’s coming from a man who once (and still) suffers from a traumatic brain injury. I think it a source of pride for myself as well, especially when he recognizes it. I’m not saying it’s healthy for me to be proud of my accomplishment in this area. Just that, considering the topic of this post, it’s a kind of irony.

This Christmas, I came face to face with my pride (and this verse in Genesis). I strongly desire my husband’s approval and attention. So strongly, that it colors my own actions or feelings toward him.

I finally get it. The punishment Eve faced was even more insidious and cruel than I first believed and I wanted to be angry at both men and God in the moment the revelation hit me. In the end, though I struggle with wanting to hold on to my own self-righteousness, I place the blame where it belongs. On Eve’s head. And boy, does that admission hurt.

See, I always questioned why Eve would desire the very person who had, in her greatest hour of need, failed her magnificently. Why on earth would she desire him and how could he rule over her when he couldn’t even keep her from taking the fruit of the tree?

Then it hit me. Because I was always thinking the curse actually hurt Adam more than Eve (minus the childbirth part). But I was focusing on Adam. Eve would struggle (women would struggle) for the entirety of their married life with a desire for their husband that often overwhelms their desire for and service to God. It wasn’t so much that Adam would rule over her.

It was that, his action or inaction, words or lack of words, could make or break her. This was not how God designed marriage obviously. He designed it to be a reflection, a shining example of His love for His bride and her submission to Him.  And how could that be when everything in her cried out for her earthly husband’s approval and affirmation? How could she possibly seek after God with her whole heart, when her heart could break over the simplest misstep her husband made.

If he chose passivity, she would struggle over insecurities long buried. If he chose inaction, she would question what she’d done wrong and whether he still loved her.

In the end, her focus, her desire, could very well pull her away from the one thing she needed most. Her heavenly groom’s unconditional and unwavering love.

I gave in to that this Christmas. I focused so hard on my desire for my husband, that I missed my Husband’s joy and affirmation. I focused so hard on my (his) lack, that I missed out on the overflow of His abundance.

I admitted all this to my poor husband, realizing that I’m still not over it. I’m still struggling through it, but I’m aware of my struggle now. And I  pray that I can accept and take joy in where my desire should be focused.

Because I may come to a day when my husband can’t give me the desires of my heart. Not that he won’t, but that through no fault of his own (whether through death or disability or illness–temporary or permanent) he will not be able to be what I need. So I need to stop expecting that now and focus on the joy and gratitude when he does meet a need–focus on it in the right context.

As a part of the overflow of a good and abundant God. Not through any ability or talent of my husband’s, but through the blessing of a God who longs so much to give His children–His bride–good things. Who wants our eyes on His abundance, not on our own lack.

Posted in and Love, benefits of exercise, Celebration, discipline, dreams, exercise, faith, Finances, Free Fall, God, Gratitude, grief, Hope, Joy, laziness, lessons, life, life lessons, Love, marriage, Marriage and Family, Pain, Winning, Writing

In which the darkness tries to hide the light…and fails…

It’s been a rough year so far. I’m pretty certain that’s been mentioned before in my blogs.

But hey, I’m actually getting in a blog a month now. What do you know? At some point, maybe I’ll stretch and make the three blog/month mark.

Anyway, in the midst of financial woes, medical emergencies, raising young children in the midst of cold springs, weird schedules, and insomnia, I’ve felt the darkness pulling at me.

It’s not something I’ve ever gotten a diagnosis for or experienced time in therapy to deal with the implications of this darkness. But these little demons of despair and depression and discouragement (that’s a lot of D’s) seem to creep in during times of high stress and little to no sleep. They chip away at my energy and my joy and fill my brief dream states with disturbing images and dreams that wake me in a cold sweat. I’ve been running and praying and pleading with God to keep the demons at bay, but sometimes I forget in all the running and praying and pleading, to fall.

Fall into the arms of my Savior. To stop running, stop praying and pleading.

Babies seem to get this concept of falling. As they learn to walk, they kind of toddle until they cannot keep their top-heavy bodies upright any longer and look for the nearest pair of arms into which they can tumble. Ungracefully, certainly not very well. But they trust in those arms with everything in them. When logic and reason tell them there’s no way they will be caught (sometimes those arms are halfway across the room and have to hurry close to make it in time) baby knows–believes–those arms are already there.

I do not care much for falling. I like my legs to carry me with control and poise. Stumbling looks foolish and stupid. Needing Someone’s arms to catch me when I’m perfectly capable of carrying myself through the darkness? I scoff at those arms when I should be trusting them to carry me.

I hate it when the darkness overwhelms me. I feel less than human, non-functioning. A piece of scum on the bottom of a very deep ocean. Drowning because I need light and air and freedom. And the chains are heavy, dragging at me, pulling me into the darkness with an ease that frightens me. I fight back, but often have reached a point where I just don’t want to care.

It’s easier to stay in a little comfort bubble. To let the darkness take me. I can sit in oblivion, not noticing life passing me by with all its joys and sorrows and amazing light. Oh, I go through all the motions, and probably do it well enough that no one would notice the difference unless they knew me inside and out. Even then, I’m pretty sure I’ve fooled my loved ones too.

Because the darkness is all inside me. I cover well and cling to sanity like the last lifeboat casting off a sinking ship. I go through the motions and pretend it’s all right, when in reality, I’m screaming for help inside and no one can hear me. It builds and builds until I finally explode with it.

It’s crazy. I find the darkness recedes the most after I’ve had a great worship experience. I’m not just talking music either. I’m saying worship in all of its colorful forms.

A long chat with a mother whose encouragement is often found in the form of a kick in the pants but I know she struggles with the same thing, so it doesn’t have the ring of judgment it might have had if she didn’t know what I needed most.

A good, solid run where the sweat drips down my back and into my eyes and I’m gasping for air like a land-stranded fish desperate for the ocean again. Where the pain reminds me that I’m alive and God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Making love with my husband (and I defy anyone who says that’s not the sweetest form of worship for a couple bound for eternity in the eyes of God). I will leave this one right here.

Cuddling with my littles, when all is right with the world and they haven’t filled my day with complaining and griping and, “Mommy, he got more than me,” and “Mommy, she hitted me.” When they haven’t drained me dry with their wants and needs and demands on my time and energy. When I have a little more to give and I’m glad to give it. Such precious time when we say, “I love you” and mean it with everything that we are.

When my fingers fly across the keyboard as a new burst of inspiration fills me with ideas for my manuscripts that have seen too little light and too much time in between the writings.

When a particular piece of music sends tears to my eyes. I revel in the beauty of a melody so profound, it can induce me to a blubbering mess of snot and salt water puddles.

When laughter overwhelms me for no reason I can begin to explain. I giggle at first and then fall in to those deep belly laughs that hurt so good.

What joy I experience in these flashes of light through the darkness of days spent wandering far from God and wondering why He hasn’t answered my plaintive calls. The lost little lamb, stumbling around in the dark valley when all the while the Shepherd’s fold is so very close and the only thing He asks is for me to turn around and run back into His arms.

The darkness never wins. It can’t. Because I run to a God who is so much bigger than the darkness could ever be. I never doubt His ability to overcome. He is good, all the time. All the time, He is good. It sounds cliche, but it can’t ever be, because it’s so very true.

Peter grew overwhelmed by the waves and began sinking. BEGAN being the operative word there. Because he never ended with sinking. Christ’s arms were right there, the moment Peter cried out. Peter never had a chance to drown because Christ would never let him.

And so the darkness threatens His light; but once again, it never had a chance to win.

 

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Posted in Celebration, Faith, Hope, and Love, Family, God, grief, Joy, life and death, Love, marriage, Marriage and Family

In which life goes on…

My husband and I renewed our vows this last weekend. It’s been seven years since we stood before God and His witnesses to covenant together–our lives, our fortunes, and our future.

I am proud to be the wife of a great man. It is amazing that the best parts of him were exactly what I needed before I ever knew I needed them. His character, his personality, his adventurous spirit–all complement me in ways I did not fully understand when I said I do. Even now, I am still forever learning exactly why God led me to him and I am so excited to spend 60 more years living and loving with him.

I’ve thought of my grandfather often since this whole situation started. It ended with his passing on the 25th of July and a full military burial exactly one week ago. I was privileged to be a part of the ceremony–singing with my sister a song of hope and comfort. I am surprised I made it through the verses without breaking, but glad that I at last found my voice. It was an honorable passing though his last days were not. At the same time, I know that I and others fought well and did all that we could to bring him peace–and that will have to be enough.

It’s bittersweet as life continues to roll onward. I find myself catching snippets of his favorite tunes or getting weepy over a familiar card game. Yet in the same breath, I feel a sense of relief and comfort knowing–and having confidence in–where he is now. Someone attempted to offer me comfort from a rather humanist perspective without any aspects of faith or a future hope beyond this world. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was not the comfort he wished me to feel.

I’ve realized in the midst of this time of grief, the absolute comfort and peace my faith in God affords me. Others may scoff and ridicule what seems to be a foolish, blind trust. I, however, cannot afford NOT to have faith in the unknown, unseen God. It amazes me that such faith is a threat to others when it is supposed to be so very personal and peace-giving.

So life goes on. I feel the soft movements of the child in my womb as they grow and develop–my child, a gift from the God I trust. A reminder of life’s beautiful moments–cherished pieces of hope and legacy and the future.

My daughter and son grow and learn–each in their own unique and wonderful/frightening/amazing ways. Another reminder for me that faith is my anchor in the midst of an ever-changing reality.

My husband and I look forward to many years together–though life is not absolute, nor is it predictable. We enjoy each moment as it comes and pray for one more day in each other’s arms. We will accept the time we are given and be grateful for those precious moments.

I return to my writing, feeling the surge of creative movement once again. Oh, I have missed that in the past months and weeks of grief and stress and early pregnancy. I look forward to once more using the gifts God has given me for as long as my fingers continue moving.

And life goes on…