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Friday, April 14, 2017

The Good




I've been feeling a pretty embattled lately. 

Scripture describes struggle as being hard pressed and crushed on every side, and I feel like that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the last 4 weeks. 

First, my mother-in-law suddenly passed away which shook our tiny corner of the world in a way I still cannot describe. (I wrote about that this week. If you click back, you can read that and how we're coping.)

Then, less than a week later, my largest client-the one who generates almost 75% of the revenue for my business decided to pull out.

Yep.

After 15 years and modeling our entire business around service to them, they went with a semi-cheaper bid and a couple of lame excuses as their reasons why. 

No warning. 

No chance to re-evaluate my numbers. 

Just gone. 

And now I find myself unwillingly holding people’s jobs, livelihoods, and futures in the palm of my hand; and I’m starting to wish I would have thrown in the towel a year ago.

Boss babe status isn’t for the faint of heart, even though the Pinterest memes make it look easy.

And lastly, a dear friend and mentor-whom I admire with my whole heart-was diagnosed with stage 4 uterine cancer last week. We are still waiting on the pathology results to confirm, but right now the prognosis isn't good.

And as I talked with her yesterday, she made light of it and put on her usual brave face.

Instead of turning the conversation inward and focusing on her diagnosis, she spent our conversation time coaching me through the unknowns of a career that seems to be vanishing right before my eyes. 

She has always been my champion.

And as I sit here on a beautiful Good Friday afternoon watching my daughter play quietly with the craft in front of her, I am doing my best to continue this charade of holding it all together.

But, the truth is this: I can’t.

Because, shattered doesn't seem to adequately describe the state of my heart and all of it's pieces.

And you know, I wanted to tie these words into Good Friday and keep being brave.

I wanted to tell you that while I know that all of this sadness and pain doesn’t hold a candle to the sadness or pain my Jesus experienced today, I am reminded in midst of all of this, that MY sadness and pain is exactly WHY He did it.

I wanted to tell you that I know that this world with all of it’s pain, sickness, heartache, and disappointment was never intended to be my home.

That I know these struggles are temporary.

Because I do KNOW all of these things.

And quite honestly, weakness has never been my color.

But, today…TODAY…I feel vulnerable and weak.

I feel like my drive and my purpose died somewhere along the way of the last four weeks.

Maybe it’s in the pond with my mother-in-law’s ashes and the roses we threw in there for her.

Maybe it’s in the file folder with the termination letter that I wasn’t expecting.

Or maybe it’s buried somewhere in my text messages with the message my friend’s husband sent telling me that the prognosis wasn’t good.

Honestly, I’m not sure where I lost it.

But, I think I have a small sliver of a grasp of how Jesus might have felt in the garden.

Because right now, there are a few cups in front of me that I don’t really want to drink.

Not one little bit.

And even though I know God is good, this crap sure as hell doesn’t feel good while I wait here expectantly for Him to provide the next move.

The next door.

The next path.

Because despite how angry and how sad I am, I still know that I know that I know that He is here, He is going to provide, and this mess-as painful as it is-is all apart of the plan.

So, today I am going to keep trusting, and attempting to hold it all together.

And you know, I can’t even begin to comprehend what the weight of the world must have felt like for Jesus that day.

But, today I think I have a pretty good idea. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Truth About Tomorrow


"We talk about them, 
not because we're stuck 
or because we haven't moved on, 
but we talk about them
because we are theirs, 
and they are ours,
and no passage of time will ever change that."
~Scribbles & Crumbs


I can still hear her laugh.

It really was the most infectious laugh.

I had never really thought about her laugh until someone else pointed it out to my husband in a condolence message.

And the more I think about it-I couldn't agree more.

On Saturday it will be exactly one month since my husband lost the first great love his life: his mother.

It was sudden-totally unexpected.

It shook our little corner of the earth in a way I didn't even know was possible.

Nothing prepares you for walking your spouse through this type of overwhelming, gut wrenching grief.

Nothing. 

We didn't touch on this in marriage counseling, there isn't a neat little check list of do's and don't, and blog posts on this subject are basically non-existent.

Trust me. I checked. 

The death of a parent-especially a beloved parent-is a different beast.

It doesn't look anything like grieving a grandparent, a favorite teacher, or sweet friend.

And so here I am-my marriage less than a year old-trying to help guide this completely shattered person down a path I never expected we would be traveling down so soon.

And let me be the first to tell you: it's heart wrenching. 

My heart breaks every time I make eye contact with him, or when I see him pause and get that far away look in his eyes.

And all I can think to do-all I know to do-is to propel us in the direction of forward.

One minute, one step, and one day at a time.

Forward.

Always forward.

Life doesn't stop or slow down just because we want it too.

And in the forward motion I find myself leaning even harder into the things I know to be true:

That God is good. That God is faithful. And that God is always there.

I read something this week in which the author mused that maybe God chooses for us to go through these valleys to teach us how to totally depend on Him and Him alone, and the more I ponder that-the truer it seems to me.

And in this moment, it is the only thing that makes sense. 

Because too often than not my heart wants to trust in people.

Real, tangible, living, breathing people.

I want them to pick us up.

I want them to bind up our wounds.

I want them to tell me what it is I'm supposed to be doing and how I am supposed to be helping him cope.

I want real bandages, and morphine, and the things I know of that were created to stop real, physical pain for him.

But, you can't put real bandages on a broken heart.

And in Psalms 147:3, David says, "He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds."

HE does that.

Him and Him alone.

I know this is true because I have seen Him do it.

I have felt His peace and love like a salve on my own broken heart many, many times.

And in the midst of all of this, I can feel Him there.

Ever present. Ever faithful. Ever propelling us into the direction of forward-toward the life He still has planned for us.

While I'm not exactly what our today, or our tomorrow, or even our next week is going to look like, I do know that this has taught me how brief and how fleeting our time on this earth is.

We can make these grandiose plans.

We can store up all of our hope in our futures because we think it's going to be there.

We can put things off until tomorrow or the next day.

We can make lots of promises full of good intentions.

But, the truth is this: we have no guarantees.

Every second we get to spend on this earth with the people we love the most is a gift.

A beautiful, wisp of smoke in His grand scheme of things.

And if my mother-in-law taught me anything in the very short amount of time I knew her, it was how to make time to love your people and how to love them well.

Because she loved well. 

Her love shaped this extraordinary man I get to call my husband.

And for that I am ever grateful and ever convicted, as I find myself now more than ever asking myself, "How am I loving my people today and am I loving them well?"

Because when my time on earth is through, I want nothing more than for it to be said that I loved well.

I honestly don't think there is any greater accolade.

And I know there is no higher calling.

Yes, He has called me to great things.

There is definitely a plan for my life in motion.

But, I know my ultimate calling is in the privilege I have of being someone's wife and someone's mother, and the fact that I have been called above everything else to love them and love them well.

My people will encounter lots pain, discouragement, broken-heartedness, disappointment, and frustration along life's path.

I want to be their soft place, their champion, and the unconditional, unwavering love of Jesus in their life.

What about you?

How are you loving your people today?

Honestly, I think we all need to take this play right out of my mother-in-law's playbook and implement it in our lives today.

Not tomorrow.

Not next week.

Today.

Today let's love our people.

And love them well. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

My One Word


“To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. 
But we must not drift or lie at anchor.” 
Oliver Wendell Holmes

A few years ago our pastor preached a sermon series on praying and seeking out one word from God that defines your life's calling. There were no limitations on what that word had to be-we were just simply instructed to pray and wait for God to reveal that word to us. 

And it was during that sermon series that I was given a very specific word that defined the calling God has placed on my life. But, shortly after He gave me that word, I was made aware that my heart and mind were not quite ready to fulfill that calling. 

So as a result, 2016 was a season of waiting for me and allowing myself to be conditioned by God. 

In my human frailness, He chose to shine the light into areas of my life that need to be addressed-the things that stand between Him and I that cannot be there for me to reach my full potential for Him. 

And, I wish I could write this post and say with total confidence that I have addressed all the things He has revealed to me and that I am ready to live out my calling to the fullest extent. 

But, unfortunately, that is not the case. 

Sometimes being broken and poured out takes time, and I have learned in this season of waiting to allow Him to work. 

Yes the work is slow-but it is steady. 

I am praying that 2017 will be the year I take the leap, but I am learning to be content in the waiting, because I know the plans He has for me are far greater than anything I could ever dream up on my own. 

So as 2016 came to an end, I found that many of the areas He was drawing my attention too had a lot in common, and most of them had to do with how I was spending my time. 

2016 felt so incredibly BUSY to me!

Does anyone else feel that way?

There were moments within the chaos that I wondered if I would ever catch my breath. 

All of my evenings were planned out a week in advance and most of my weekends were planned out two to three weeks ahead of time.

I was taking on too much and a lot of the more important areas of my life had been/are suffering.  

And as we approached December (the busiest month of the entire year for me),  I found myself overwhelmed by the prospect of yet another busy holiday season.

I wasn't sleeping well, and as a result I was sleeping later which meant I was always late to work.

My stomach issues were getting worse and worse.

And I was agitated all the time! My family was suffering from my bad attitude.

Fast forward to about three weeks ago, and I found myself desperate for a change.

In that desperation, God lead me to a place where I started researching habits of highly successful people.

I think I just found myself wondering, "How do they do it? How do they juggle all their success and responsibility and make it look so easy?"

I found that one of the most effective habits of other successful people is in their routine and in their ability to live with intent.

They live like every moment and every day counts.

They don't assume that they "have time", because they know time is precious.

While a lot of the things I was reading wasn't spiritual in content or written by Christian writers, I was reminded of the sermon series my pastor preached a few years ago, and I found God writing the word "intentional" upon my heart.

How can I be more intentional in 2017? 

How can I  manage my time better and prioritize things so that my primary focus is on the things God has called me too?

How can I strive to be more intentional in my quiet time with God and in the areas where He has called me to serve?

How can I be more intentional with my family who is my greatest calling?

How can be more intentional at my job or with my fiances?

How can I intentionally work on the areas of my life that God needs me to work on before I can move forward in the plan He has for me?

These are the questions I find that I am asking myself, and I have already begun the process of praying and beginning to journal through them.


One of the ways, I am doing that is by filling out Jennie Allen's 2017 Dream Guide. Jennie Allen is the founder of IF:. 

Many of you who know me personally, know that IF: is a ministry that I am drawn too, and one of things IF: encourages women to do is to live intentional and authentic lives for Christ.  

So, last week when Jennie released her 2017 Dream Guide, I was instantly intrigued. I downloaded it and finally took some time today to fill it out. It's exciting to re-evaluate the last year, and dream about what I want 2017 to look like for me spiritually, relationally, personally, and through my work. My plan is to put this guide in my prayer journal and review it often throughout the coming year. 

I also printed off an "Intentional Living Goal Setting Worksheet" that I am hoping my husband and I can look over tonight. We have some very specific goals for the coming year, and I think this will help us to put these goals down on paper and get a plan together for how to accomplish these goals. 

I also want to make some very specific changes in areas of my life such as developing a morning and evening ritual; how I schedule my time and how I can prioritize my time with God and my family; and how I can cut out some of the things that are robbing me of my time such as social media and developing clear boundaries for my time regarding my job. 

I know that the New Year is traditionally time for New Years Resolutions that don't always stick, and instead of making myself promises I probably won't keep, I want to take my one word for 2017 and live life with more intent and purpose. I want to actively seek out ways to prepare my heart and mind for God's calling on my life, so that when He opens the door, I will be ready. 

What about you? What are your plans, dreams, and goals for 2017? How can you purpose to live more intentionally this year? 

Today is the start of a fresh, clean slate. 

Let's make all of our days count from this day forward. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Lessons From The Tide

Remember that this experience of life is tidal.
That some days we are invincible
and others, fragile.
And that both are always true.
~Jesh De Rox


For some moments in life there are no words.

Even for someone like me who always seems to be full of them.

On November 9th, I woke up filled with hope.

While I know so many didn't share my sentiments, my anxious heart was a little more steady as I greeted my day.

My daughter was up early, so we were able to take our time that morning to get out the door. 

She lounged in my bed, watching her shows on our iPad, and eating her breakfast. I lounged next to her and sipped my coffee while I perused my Facebook newsfeed getting a feel for everyone's tone regarding that morning's early election results. 

I was mortified by all the hate and backlash from both sides.

I purposed in my heart to not be that way, as I hit the home button on my phone and proceeded to put on "real" clothes to take my daughter to school. 

After I had made myself somewhat presentable, I got her dressed, made her lunch, and bussed her out the door.

We were off.

School drop off that morning went as smoothly as it always does. I dropped her at her classroom door, kissed her forehead, and signed her in on the sheet as I walked out the door to head back home to get ready for work.

The drive back home wasn't anything special.

There were no feelings of premonition or foreboding thoughts. 

There was just the sudden flash of sunlight blinding me through my windshield and the glittering of glass on the road.

I saw something.

A piece of a vehicle. 

I slammed on my breaks and looked to my left.

There was an elderly man standing in a driveway.

My heart was racing as I rolled down my window, "Are you okay?!" I asked frantically, as the smell of burnt rubber hit me like a wall.

"I'm okay," he said, "I just thought I heard a terrible noise like someone crashed across the road."

I looked to my right and there it was: an SUV on it's passenger side near a silo at the catfish hatchery down my road.

The following moments were a total blur. 

I pulled my car over and clicked on my flashers. I got out of my car and began to walk toward the SUV trying to look inside to see if I could see anyone.

I was shaking uncontrollably. I was totally terrified by what I would find.

And then I heard her.

Deep, painful moans.

My eyes searched around the vehicle from where I stood near the ditch and that's when I saw her. She was laying outside the vehicle and seemed to be trapped half way under the SUV.

I gasped.

And then a man appeared in a truck.

He got out and ran to the vehicle, as he yelled at me to call 911 which I was already doing.

The phone was ringing, an officer picked up, I told him to send help.

The rest of the conversation I hardly remember.

I remember rambling in sheer panic and desperation.

I remember telling him things he probably didn't need to know, but he patiently listened to me talk.

I remember the man who came to help trying to lift the vehicle with another man and trying to get her out.

I remember him putting something on her head to stop the bleeding and telling me to stay where I was so I wouldn't have to see her.

I remember the fire trucks coming and the ambulance as it pulled up on the scene.

I remember as they knelt down beside her and then how they all just stood there starring at her.

I remember thinking, "Why aren't they helping her?!"

I remember the police officer gathering all of us bystanders around.

I remember him saying something about how her injuries were "unable to sustain life".

Words I will never forget as long as I live.

I looked around at our small group that had been there as she passed from this life to the other: an owner of catfish ponds, a couple utility workers, her boss and a co-worker who had driven down from their shop, and me-the girl who was too scared to hold her hand.

I went home.

I cried.

I called my mom.

I wished with my whole heart that my mom would have been the one who had been there.

The former emergency room nurse.

The helper.

The woman with the instincts of a first responder.

And since November 9th I have carried that regret.

The regret that I didn't have more courage.

Not for me...but for a woman I didn't even know.

I can't imagine how lonely it would be to die that way.

No family. No one to hold your hand. No medication to ease your pain.

I spent the rest of the week in a haze.

Floundering in my weak human body that craves to "understand" such tragedies.

In the hours and days that followed, I found myself needing to know everything I could about her.

I found out that she had a son and that she was only 36.

36. Years. Old.

I wondered if she had a bucket list of things she'd left undone.

Things she wished she would have gotten to do or see or experience.

I wondered if she was happy and content with where she was in life.

I wondered about the things left unspoken, the hurts that never got the chance to heal, and all of her dark places.

And through the hours and days of wondering and grasping, God lead me to a clearing by the sea of my grief where the profoundness of the following truth hit me like a rolling tide:

This life, dear one, is not permanent. It is not your final destination. So, quit living like there is a promise of tomorrow-because tomorrow's have never been guaranteed. 

While I'm still struggling and still grieving for this woman I didn't even know, I am beyond grateful for the lesson-even if I've lost sight of it over the past few weeks.

It is no secret that Christmas is stressful me.

Co-parenting your own child at Christmas and then having to mix that with your own parents who are co-parenting tends to rob you of the joy you should be experiencing at this time of year.

Granted, we make the most of it.

My mom and dad still spoil my sisters and I rotten every single year, and I am always so grateful for my daughter's co-parenting situation that we have all worked together so hard to achieve.

However, I will still be waking up on Christmas Day without my girl.

And even though we have been at this for three years now, I will be the first one to admit that this is one part of the story that I don't think ever gets any easier.

So, joy is a little hard to find these days.

I find myself wishing my words were kinder and my heart was softer.

And last night as I sat on my daughter's bed having a hard conversation with my almost eight year old who wants to talk about life and death, I realized that I am doing a terrible job matching my words to my actions.

How can I tell her that life is a gift, and the people we get to do it with are the greatest part of that gift if I'm walking around this house like the world's biggest Scrooge?

So, for the next few days, I am going to purpose to be a little less stressed and little more grateful for these moments that we are not guaranteed we are going to have.

I am going to remember how blessed I am to have a big crazy family that makes time for each other, and a husband who truly loves me unconditionally.

I am going to purpose to love people the way my daughter loves people with her pure, unjaded heart.

And I am going to be more thankful for another year spent with all of those I love most.

Especially because I know there is a boy out there who won't get to spend Christmas with the woman who truly loved him the most.

So, this Christmas as you look around your table or your house that is filled with those people who love you the most whether they be family or friends or both-remind yourself to be grateful for that moment and for those people.

Because it can truly all be over in the blink of an eye.

In the blinding sunlight of an instance.

The course of your life and the lives of those around you could forever be changed.

So, hug your kids a little tighter and kiss your husband a little longer and just be grateful.

I know I am going to try.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Grace & Motherhood

"Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled.
They are the ones that never give up despite the struggle."
~Sharon Jaynes

I've been having a rough mom week.

Who am I kidding?

It's been a rough month. 

I've spent the last few weeks feeling inadequate, because I allowed a few negative comments to leave me breathless and unsure of myself.

As a parent, do you ever feel that way?

Do you ever dwell on the side eyes from the lady behind you at Target or the negative feedback from a doctor or a teacher?

Do you ever take the comments of another parent just a little too personally?

Do you ever sit on your couch looking at your dusty entertainment center while you drink a glass of wine wishing that you would of had just a little bit more patience today?

You do?

Me too. 

Sometimes I allow the hard moments of motherhood to cause me to lose sight of the bigger picture.

The bigger picture that is focused more on what God is telling me to do as a mother, not what this lost and broken world is telling me to do.

And when I lose sight of that bigger picture, I also lose sight of the truth.

The truth that I am-despite all my imperfections-a good mom. 

I am able to embrace this truth now more than ever, because there was time in my life when I was not the mother I should have been.

On the outside, I appeared to be doing most things right.

I stayed at home and spent countless hours with my daughter, she had clean clothes and food to eat, and I was committed to trying to do ALL the things that the world told me I was required to do to be a "good" mother.

But, on the inside, I was so damaged and as a result, I allowed myself to become very self-absorbed.

You know, looking back on those dark years, I realize it was the combination of my failing first marriage, my ongoing issues with unresolved postpartum depression, and pure mid-twenties selfishness that all played a huge role in the type of mother I was choosing to be in those early years-the type of mother I had always sworn I would never be.

The mother who chose partying and "going out" to numb the pain of a broken life.

The mother who pawned her child off on anyone and everyone instead of getting to the root of the postpartum depression that was fueling the disconnection I once felt with her.

The mother who somehow felt "cheated" because I chose to get married very young and have a child very young. 

The mother who embraced all these lies and deceptive schemes of Satan and many, many more.

It took me several years, lots of soul searching, and intense personal healing to realize what I was doing wrong and what I needed to do better when it came to being a "good" mom.

And you know what was the most surprising part of that revelation?

The fact that no where in Scripture does it say that how much TV I allow my child to watch, or how many Happy Meals she had last week, or whether or not I do crafts with her or play Barbies with her is what makes or breaks me as a mother.

In fact, the most important commandment that Scripture leaves us with is this:"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6). 

I think when God passed this wisdom down to Solomon, He did so knowing He was giving these instruction to very human parents.

Sinful, imperfect, human parents.

And that's where grace comes in. 

Grace that allows us to dust ourselves off and try again.

Grace that covers our lost times, our hard times, and our "not so great" mom times.

Grace that says, "It doesn't matter what you have done-it only matters where you go from here."

And you know, I am so thankful every single day for the fact that God holds me to standard of grace not perfection in all areas of my life, but especially as a mother.

Sure, there are things I could always do better.

But as long as I never quit trying and never quit pointing her to the Grace Giver, I think she's going to probably turn out okay. 

And, regardless of what they may be telling you, I know that great kids don't just happen.  

They are the product of love and hard work, and of mother's who worry themselves sick that they are messing it all up. 

So, here's to all the moms out there who are pretty sure they are messing it up.

Let me be the first to tell you-if you haven't been told in a while-that you're doing an amazing job.

No matter what your parenting style might be.

No matter what your past may look like.

No matter if you work or stay at home or get to do a little of both.

YOU are doing a wonderful job. 

And tonight while I'm curled up on my couch, drinking some of that wine, and worrying about how I might have messed my daughter up today, I will raise my glass to you.  

Because we've all got this in our own way at our own pace and it's all made possible by huge, heaping portions of grace.

Lots and lots of grace.

And as long as we never give up, I promise our kiddos are going to make it.

They will emerge into adulthood braver, stronger, and hopefully with minimal therapy bills and the knowledge that God knew exactly what He was doing when He entrusted you with them. 

He never makes mistakes.

Never.

So, take a deep breath. 

It's all going to be okay. 

No matter what they say. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Mountain


"Only if you have been in the deepest valley, 
can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain."
~Richard M. Nixon


In all fairness, my life up until the past year has been mostly valleys.

Long, dark, lonely valleys that force you to become the person you were always destined to become.

But for every valley of the past 30 years, there have been many, many mountain tops-this year has been one of them.

If someone would have told my bright, awkward, 20-year-old self that this is what my mountain top would look like 10 years later, I would of laughed.

Because it's a proven fact that at 20 years old, we have got it ALL figured out.

<insert super dramatic eye roll here>

Yep. 10 years ago, I was on top of a mountain. I was going to be a teacher, I was pretty much already married, and I was sure I would have at least 2 kids before 25.

I had the next 50 years of my life completely mapped out.

<Enter real life stage left.> 

And all of sudden as if overnight, I had no idea what I was going to do tomorrow-let alone in 50 years.

I think it was at that point in my life that I finally accepted that for every mountain top there must be a valley in order to get there. 

Fast forward to today, and I find myself perched on the top of the world!

I have been married to my best friend for three months. We are almost completely done remodeling our first home-which will eventually become our first business venture.

I am running a growing company which looks nothing like the teaching job I thought I would have by now, and I love getting to make my own schedule, as well as, working from home some days.

We are active in our church. We are allowing God to use us to change lives.

We are growing and evolving and to be honest, our future looks incredibly bright.

I can confidently say that the world has never looked more beautiful.  

But as gorgeous as it is on top of this mountain, I had forgotten how lonely mountain tops can be.

I think one of the hardest lesson I have had to learn over the past 10 years is that not everyone you meet along your path is supposed walk with you every step of the way.

Yes, some friendship are life long. The friendship of my husband, my sisters, my cousins, etc. were meant to accompany me on every single journey. No matter where I go in life-no matter how hard or how easy life is at times-I know I can always count on them.

It's the other friendships that come and go- the ones that are meant only for a season-that have become the hardest for me to let go.

I have always been the one with a small, close group of friends. I was never that super popular girl who was "friends" with everyone. I never went to parties or fit into an array of cliches.

For most of my childhood and teenage years, I had the same two or three friends. We grew up with each other and then eventually life got the best of us and we grew apart.

<Enter early adulthood.>

 In my early adult years, I was a newlywed and a new mom. I had some friendships-but not many. I was mostly consumed with being a wife and figuring out motherhood.

And then when life got really hard, I had to learn the difference between true friends and "friends" who jump ship at the slightest sign of distress.

It was a rough part of my journey.

But, through that hard season, God cultivated new friendships. Fun friendships. Friendships that helped me experience some of those things that I missed out on in my early twenties.

It was a memorable time in my life-one I will not soon forget.

<Enter present day.>

I have found myself being ushered into a season of contentment in my life.

I am most happy being mom to my daughter and wife to my husband. I love cooking dinner every night and the mundane-but steady and relaxing-task of folding laundry. I love lazy evenings on my new deck and quiet mornings curled up on the couch with my girl watching Netflix.

I love this life. 

And I would not change it for anything.

But, lately the loneliness has been overwhelming, and while I may be physically on the mountain-a piece of my heart is lost somewhere in the valley.

The valley where I am trying to hold onto people that God never intended to go with me all the way to the top.

And if I'm being honest, I would tell you that I have allowed that place in the valley to steal most of the joy I should be feeling on this mountain top.

I have been sad, and weepy, and overwhelmed by the thought of having to find new friendships and new women I can relate too.

Women who will stand with me in this place instead of making me feel guilty for being here. 

And as a result, I have been quiet.

Here and in other places of my corner of the world.

I have at least 10 unfinished blog posts, because I just could not summon the words, or the feelings, or the energy it would take to finish them.

And you know what I did instead?!

I wallered. <Ozarkian term. Just go with it.>

I sunk deeper and deeper into a place of remorse, loss, and self-pity.

 I allowed it's poison to affect every aspect of my world, even some new friendship that had recently come into my life.

But, after some wise counsel, weeks of prayer, and drawing closer to God, I have come to this conclusion:

He never promises what the mountain tops will look like-He only promises that He will be right there with us.

So, this is my truth: I have been chosen-set apart by God-for something amazing. He is writing a story with my life that not everyone will understand which means that I will struggle with loneliness from time to time.

Earthly loneliness-not spiritual loneliness. 

Because even though He promises there will be persecution in this season of life, He also promises that I will never walk alone.

And just like Paul encourages Timothy in 1 Timothy 6, I need to "keep fighting the good fight".

Satan is trying to use this season of life against me. His primary concern is to get me down and make me feel defeated. He sees the Lord's call on my life and He trembles at what that means for a world that is so caught up in their own selfish desires.

As long as I'm sharing my testimony and fighting against him in this war he is raging on marriages and families, he knows he will lose his foothold in some people's lives and he doesn't want that.

And so he whispers in my ear.

And sometimes I listen.

But, unfortunately for him, there will always be a Voice that is louder than his.

The Voice of the One who breathed life into my bones and who began a good work in me that He will see out until completion.

Yes. This season is lonely.

I am growing,  and changing, and experiencing what life looks like when you hear the Spirit's call.

But, I know, it won't be lonely forever.

God always provides and I know He has new friendships out there on the horizon.

Friendships that will propel me forward.

Friendships that will encourage and support me.

Friendships that are meant for this season.

I just need to patient. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Ugly Truth

"Always choose the ugly truth
over a pretty lie."
~Beau Taplin


If you have been following me a long time, you know my story. 

You have probably read every word of the story that I wrote almost 3 years ago, and you have shared with me in the heartache and triumph of my fall to rock bottom and my rise from the ashes of a shattered life. 

I have never shied away from my truth.

I have a call on my life to use my story for His glory, because the hard reality is this: divorce, cheating, and extra-martial affairs have become a pandemic in this country. 

We have bought the lie that OUR happiness is all that matters.

We are bombarded with this lie in the media through the celebrities we follow and the television shows we watch. We have become numb to the ugly truth behind this pretty lie. 

If our husband's make us mad or don't listen to us, we run to our mother, our sister, or our friends. We listen to them tell us how "wonderful" we are and how we "deserve" better. 

If our wives disappoint us, we tune them out. We find a younger and more beautiful model or at least someone we believe truly "gets" us and shares "our" interests.

We pour our time and energy into relationships with people who are just as human as our current spouses instead of fixing what is right in front of us. 

We expect each new relationship to fulfill the lie that requires them to be the sole dispenser of our happiness, and if they fail-which they will-we move onto the next one. 

It's a vicious cycle. 

It's a road that can only lead to one place: destruction. 

I know this because I have been there.

There was a time in my life that I expected other people to fulfill my happiness. 

Me-the good, little Christian wife with the "perfect", little Christian life-bought the lie.

I drank the koolaide.

I was thirsty for the superficial love and false acceptance the world told me that I "deserved".

It was a deep, dark place that left me broken and completely destroyed.

But, like one of my favorite quotes by J.K. Rowling says, "Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."

I have spent the last 2 years, 10 months, and 29 days rebuilding my life, so that I can sit here today and tell you this:

It's not worth it. 

Yes. I am happily remarried.

Yes. My husband and I work very hard every single day to actively and amicably co-parent our daughter with my ex-husband and his wife.

But, the consequences of my actions and my choices haunt me every single day.

There are nights I go to bed without my daughter and important things I have had to miss or learn how to share with her stepmom. There are holidays I don't have her and moments I experience that I wish she could share with me. There are hard conversations that I have to have with her almost on a daily basis and a "new normal" I don't think any of us will ever fully get used too.

 There are people in my community who won't even look at me-who still turn and go the other way in the middle of a Wal-Mart aisle if they see me. People who have been affected by the far reaching grasp of my choices. People I don't even know.

There are things I will never get closure about and apologies I will never get to give.

I still have nightmares. I still beat myself up.

I physically dread the day my daughter finally asks me about that time in my life, and I often wonder how that conversation will go.

And these are just some of the consequences.

I have also had to experience this from the other side of the coin as an adult child of divorced parents.

I live everyday with the consequences of my parents choices and actions.

Holidays suck and birthday parties are awkward.

I have trust issues and therapy bills.

Just because I was out of the house and months away from my first marriage, doesn't mean that my parents divorce didn't affect me.

And this is the ugly truth.

These are the things the media doesn't tell you.

This is the behind the scenes look that you miss when you're watching TV.

This is the verse that is always missing from those love songs.

And this is the line in those Pinterest quotes that your missing.

Because, these are the true consequences of a really pretty lie.

Marriage is hard work. 

It is a choice you make every single day to love someone not inspite of who they are, but because of who they are.

Happiness is hard work. 

It's a choice every single day to be content with the life God has chosen to give you.

It is not a emotional state. It is a mental state.

Making the right choices is hard work.

If doing the right thing was easy, the world would be a perfect place.

Owning the ugliness of your truth is hard work.

I can promise you that there is nothing easy about it.

But, the freedom that comes with owning it and working through it is indescribable.

I will never forget the day I found freedom from the lies I had been telling myself.

It was a freedom that was only possible through Christ.

Because without His forgiveness and my true repentance from a life that looked nothing like the life He had planned for me, I honestly don't think I would be where I am today.

Yes. This is the stuff the world keeps forgetting to tell you.

These are things that you don't want to hear, but that you need to hear.

I don't know where you are on your journey or what flavor of koolaide the world has convinced you to drink, but I know this: it's never too late to hand them back the glass.

To say no to the poison and the lies.

To say yes to the life God truly has for you.

Will it be easy? No.

But, I can promise you that it's worth it. 
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