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The Journey Begins

Had the last twenty years of my life been made into a movie, one might be tempted to view it as a tragedy. Pain, my constant companion, nearly destroyed me. Were it not for grace, I would no longer be counted among the living – even had I physically survived.

For a long time, shame closed my mouth. Fear helped keep it sealed. I didn’t want to be judged, to be found as lacking as I thought myself to be. My pain was already enough, and I didn’t need anyone adding to it. It wasn’t until my offspring began showing signs of struggling with pain similar to mine that I found the courage to start speaking out.

Even then, much of what I thought caused my pain was incorrect. I thought there was something fundamentally wrong with me. It has not been until the last few months that my eyes have been opened to the truth. Pried open, in some respects, due to having preferred my blindness.

Now that the healing has begun, I have chosen to cease my silence. No longer will I hide the ugliness when transparency could potentially set others free.

Thus my invitation – grow with me.

We know we cannot plant seeds with closed fists. To sow, we must open our hands. – Adolfo Perez Esquivel

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When God Sends You Down the Craft Aisle

Two thoughts immediately come to mind at the title of this post:

1) It’s too long. That will mess with whatever searches people do that might bring up my post.

2) It’s almost laughable. Many of us love going down the craft aisle!

But I like this title and I’m sticking to it. I’m not really writing these posts to become a famous blogger anyway, and it’s what I feel God is laying on my heart to share with you today.

Moving on.

Yesterday I made a Walmart run with one of my daughters. I had no intention of going down the craft aisle – in fact, I had already checked that aisle for something I needed on a previous trip and they didn’t have it. (I mean, it is Walmart.) But something told me to check again.

I firmly believe it was the leading of the Holy Spirit.

While I do believe that God cares about what we care about (even the little things), I don’t think the priority yesterday was the yarn I was looking for. God’s heart, first and foremost, is for His people.

My daughter and I were perusing the limited selection of yarn when an older woman asked if I could get something down for her. This was a rare moment for me. At 5’4, I am usually the one asking for assistance. I would have been happy to help her anyway, but knowing that many others have helped me, I assured her that I absolutely would get it down for her.

We hung around for a couple more minutes in case she needed more help. I pretended to keep looking at the yarn so it wouldn’t be awkward, and sure enough, she ended up requesting my assistance again. She was looking at hoops for cross stitch, a craft I am interested in but have not yet learned. I asked her if she had particular projects in mind and she said that she did.

She told me that the project she had in mind – a wreath – would likely take her all winter. That was okay because she had just lost her husband of 61 years, and she would need something to keep her occupied.

We talked a little longer – about her husband, about myself and my girls and how school was going online, about cross stitch and crochet. Again I offered my condolences and we were going to go, but I felt impressed to offer her my number in case she needed anything.

She assured me that her family has been fantastic and making sure she has everything she needs, but she appreciated the offer. I told her that I was grateful for her family then, and that I just wanted to make sure she wouldn’t be alone. We said our goodbyes, and my daughter and I left the aisle.

As we left, I heard the woman saying, “that was awfully kind of you to offer.” She said it quietly, introspectively; as if she was taken off guard.

Why am I sharing this with you today?

It’s been a hard year. COVID, race riots, the election, and what feels like a gazillion other things have made the world a chaotic and hateful place. And that is only going to change as we intentionally do things to change it.

That woman’s family is taking care of her. Her needs are met. And yet God directed me down that aisle because He wanted to give her what my mom calls a “God hug”. Not only was I able to help her physically, but God reminded her that she is not alone. Because sometimes, even when our needs are met by our loved ones, we still feel alone. There is an aloneness in walking a path your loved ones have not.

This aloneness is not something we choose, but it is something we face. And it’s hard to share because we don’t want our loved ones to feel unappreciated.

I did end up finding a skein of yarn that I think will work for my project, by the way.

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of the hate. There’s not much time left to this year, but will you join me in making the world a better place? We don’t have to find a cure for cancer, feed every starving child, or rescue every stray to make a difference, although those things are very important. We only need to set our differences to the side and start loving each other better. And while we’re at it, let’s love ourselves better too.

What are some things you can do to make the world a better place?

Shift

It’s been several months since I have posted here. I took a break to focus on completing my degree – which I finally have, thank God – and then the chaos that has been 2020 kept me focused elsewhere. There have been times when I have jotted down blog ideas, but I find that when I am not intentional about life, it tends to run me over, so those blog posts were never written.

This morning a friend of mine shared a blog post about the word she has been focusing on this year, and it reminded me that I had intended to do the same. I couldn’t remember what word I had chosen, or even if I had chosen a word for this year. I didn’t have time to look into it at that moment, but then a couple hours later something else entirely had me revisiting this blog that I temporarily abandoned earlier this year. Ironically, the last post I wrote was regarding my word for the year.

Although I wish I would have prioritized remembering this word; I wish I had been intentional (there’s that word again) about living it this year, I find that regrets aren’t good for much of anything. So instead of beating myself up and living in frustration, I choose to refocus my life for the remainder of this year. We may already be halfway through November, but it’s neither too late nor too early to do the right thing.

My word for 2020 is “shift.” It makes a lot of sense as I think back over the events of this year. 2020 has been remarkably difficult for many, and the thought of adding one more thing can be overwhelming. Change is hard in the best of times, but a shift is less so.

Isn’t a shift a change? Yes, it most definitely is. But for many of us, change is more immediate and complete: I will run a mile every morning and never touch sugar ever again. A shift is gentler, more gradual: I will walk an additional 500 steps today and eat more vegetables at dinner tonight. Both are change, but a shift is less intimidating and easier to maintain.

Writing this blog post is a shift for me. I could decide that I must write three hours a day, six days a week, and then beat myself up every time life gets in the way. Realistically, attempting a commitment like that in this stage of my life would be setting myself up for failure. Instead, I am going to shift – I will commit to dusting off this blog and writing a new post a minimum of a couple times a month. If I write more often, fantastic! And if I don’t, at least I am back. I am taking baby steps that will eventually lead to bigger steps. Someday I may even find myself running.

What do you need to shift today?

Just One Word

I used to roll my eyes when I would see yet another social media post about someone choosing a word for the year. I thought it was silly. How could choosing a word to focus on for an entire year help anyone? But then last year at this time I was so broken and parts of my life seemed hopeless and I figured what could it hurt?

Since I had never chosen a word for the year before, I did research on Google and found a Word of the Year Generator – which I unfortunately cannot share the link for because that was a year ago and I apparently did not save it. I used the Generator and was given the word Restore.

Restore. What a perfect word for what lay before me – a land mine of a life that I wasn’t sure I would survive. It was enough to spark hope in my heart – just enough hope to face the coming year.

Last year was hard. There were definitely good things throughout the year, but overall, it was very challenging. I had to give up my dogs that I loved (I literally had no real choice unless I wanted to be homeless), my classes for school more often than not ceased to be enjoyable and I wanted to quit (but I didn’t!), I got divorced from a 15 year marriage that I thought would be my forever, and I had to deal with the fallout from the trauma for me and my kids from that relationship that wasn’t at all what it looked like from the outside.

Restore. God definitely brought about restoration in my life this last year. I went from being on three different anxiety medications – one as needed, two daily – to next to lowest dose of only one of them (with my doctor’s help – never try to do it alone), and I should be completely weaned off anxiety meds entirely within six months. The anxiety and depression that plagued me before I left my marriage is completely gone. I have moments of sadness or feeling anxious – but they are normal emotions; not strong enough to require a diagnosis.

I was not allowed to keep my dogs but we were allowed to get our bearded dragons because they don’t make a lot of noise and they are not destructive. I still want to have dogs again someday, but you’d be surprised just how much my little scaly babies like to snuggle. Our dragons have brought us a lot of joy and laughter, and will continue to do so.

I passed all of my classes and am set to finish this fall. I will have to really focus and become more organized in order to do so – I will be doing school full time, working, and being mom. Fortunately I do school online so I am still home with my girls.

At the beginning of 2019, I had a good job, but in June I was able to start a career-worthy job. I have been told multiple times that I would make a great supervisor, but I cannot commit to that level just yet. My kids come first, and I also need to graduate before I could consider something like that. When I left my marriage and my girls and I moved into a domestic violence shelter, I really didn’t know how we would make it. I knew I would do what it took, but I never thought I would have a job that I love – one that is so much more than paying the bills. And while I don’t make the big bucks, I thoroughly enjoy what I do.

At the beginning of the year I was trying to find a church but just couldn’t find one that was the right fit for my family. A few months ago I found home, and I am so grateful that God led us there!

I’m not going into details on my finances, but suffice it to say that God is helping me there too.

And finally, when I left my marriage, I lost friendships because I finally stopped protecting a lie. I understand now that they were not my true friends in the first place. And beyond that, I have made new friends and grown closer to old friends that I had barely been in touch with before.

Restore was such a perfect word for last year that I decided to do a word for the year again this year. But now that I’m a seasoned pro (haha), I chose my own word. Truthfully, I was driving to work and singing along with my worship music playlist, enjoying my time with God, when the word came to me. That word is Shift.

Shift. According to a search on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website, the first option for shift is as follows:

Definition of shift

transitive verb

1: to exchange for or replace by another CHANGE

2a: to change the place, position, or direction of MOVE

b: to make a change in (place)

3: to change phonetically

Shift. When my attitude sucks, I will shift to a better attitude. When I am being overly negative, I will shift my thoughts. When what I am doing isn’t working, I will shift to a new way of thinking and doing. I will even do a silly hand movement if it helps!

This year will have its own challenges, but I am determined to grow; determined to keep moving forward. While I choose to be content, I refuse to sit still and stagnate.

And while I’m at it, I choose to have a more open mind to the things that seem silly to me. Because they just might work.

New Year, Not New Me

Today is the last day of 2019. In less than three hours, we will cross the boundary between this year and the next. Many people will get on social media to proclaim things like “New year, new me” and make lists of their New Year’s Resolutions.

I have nothing against making goals, but to me, goals and resolutions are different things. Very similar, but different. To me, a goal is is something you plan to accomplish over the course of time, whether or not emotions are involved. Resolutions are emotion-driven and last only as long as the motivation that inspired them lasts. Maybe they didn’t start that way, but that’s what they seem to be now – for most people anyway. It’s why the gyms are full to overflowing in January but are back to normal in February.

I like myself, so I don’t need a “new me”, but I don’t want to stagnate either. I choose to grow. So here are my goals for this new year:

  1. Become more consistent in my daily time reading the Bible and praying.
  2. Actually use my planner to make my life less stressful and easier to keep track of.
  3. Write more – here, in my novels, in my idea notebook, etc.

I plan to write another post tomorrow about my word for the new year. Last year I chose a word for the year for the first time, and I decided I wanted to do it again. But more on that tomorrow.

See you next year!

A Matter of Life & Death

A picture taken by my oldest daughter

The lovely fall leaves have reminded me that beauty can be found even in the death of things.

At winter’s end, many of us take a deep breath in as we see the beginnings of tiny green leaves unfurling on mostly bare branches. These heralds of spring promise an end to the bitter cold and the colorless emptiness that blankets the world – or at least parts of it – for just longer than we feel we can stand.

Flower buds soon join the dance of green in the breeze and all at once, we find ourselves dreaming. For some, our dreams are of spending more time outside. For others, our dreams are of vacations to be taken during the summer months. And for others, our dreams are of what those leaves and buds represent – a fresh start, a new day. A symbol that life does, indeed go on.

Spring quickly gives way to the heat of summer, which is simultaneously glorious and miserable at the same time. The heat makes it possible to participate in fun activities such as swimming, boating, and biking, but it also often prevents us from being comfortable away from water and wind.

And then comes fall, with the cooler, delightful temps, and the leaves that turn into a dazzling array of colors.

This beauty would not exist without the death of those leaves. Those leaves that, just months before, sparked our imaginations and fueled our dreams.

And as the autumn clouds claim much of the sky, we feel melancholy. Fall is beautiful, but it’s also slow and sad. This slowness is not so much the opposite of fastness as it is just a feeling that the darkening clouds bestow upon our souls.

Again we stand at the threshold of winter, knowing that the cold and the snow (for those of so blessed and so cursed) will bring a pure beauty and a quietness that will calm our souls until it maddens is again with its longevity.

These seasons in life can mean so many things to us. They mean so many things to me.

Just weeks ago a lifelong dream died for me completely, and although I had anticipated and welcomed that death for good reason, still I wept when it arrived. I mourned the death of that dream, and every so often still do, when life is quiet and loneliness springs up faster than rational thought.

It was during one of those brief moments of mourning that I felt God speak to me through the brilliantly changing leaves. There is beauty in the death of this dream like there is beauty in the death of these leaves.

For it wasn’t until that dream had fully passed that I could start to dream again.

Insert Witty Post Title Here

Often, when I write a post, I write about a topic that God has laid on my heart. Today I am simply going to write about what He is speaking to me today. If it resonates with you, that’s fantastic, but today’s post is for me.

I have struggled a lot lately with frustration and anger regarding my past and how it affects my present and future. It’s so easy for me to look at the evil going on in the situation, and wonder why God isn’t doing something about it. This is a slippery slope because God knows way more than I do, and I have no desire to try to take His job. But I still have to fight against the bitterness that works to worm its way into my heart.

What usually sets me off is a not-so-casual display of the person’s wealth (mixed with complaints of how “poor” they are). I might make a tenth of what this person makes this year, and while I have no room to complain (God has provided one way or another every step of the way), it still infuriates me sometimes. Other times it’s easy to blow it off and move on.

It’s also really difficult for me to be portrayed as a liar when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Even my lawyer, during divorce meetings, would tell me I was honest to a fault, and coached me (a few times) on how to tell the truth without telling everything I know. God is my vindication, and it shouldn’t matter to me what other people think. To be honest, it’s not really even so much what people think as it is indignation at the injustice of it. And the fact that right now, the perpetrator(s) are getting away with it.

So I’m really struggling lately. Can I just raise my hand right now and say yes, I am human? Because I am really, really human.

In spite of these struggles, in spite of the seeming unfairness of it all, I cling to God’s faithfulness. I know that His Word promises that we reap what we sow and that the evil will find their end.

Today as I was doing my devotions, I found a couple verses that were particularly encouraging for me.

Those who obey Him will not be punished. Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right, for there is a time and a way for everything, even when a person is in trouble.

Ecclesiastes 8:5-6 NLT

Perhaps you read that and are thinking, “Wait, what? How is that encouraging her in what she’s going through right now?” Let me explain.

The last couple weeks I have been struggling with motivation. My thoughts have been along the lines of why bother, what’s the point, etc. I felt that because this person was getting away with the evil things that they have said/done and the things they are still saying/doing, that somehow parts of my life had lost their purpose. Today I was reminded that this simply isn’t true. It doesn’t matter how this evil affects my life. It doesn’t matter how hurtful it is. I can still do what’s right, I can still keep plugging along, and I can still keep pursuing my calling(s) regardless. What God thinks of my life is what matters. It doesn’t matter what my friends, family, coworkers, enemies, or the Walmart greeter thinks of my life. It really doesn’t even matter much what I think, because I am finite and cannot see the big picture, so sometimes what I think is wrong.

So today I picked up the sword that I had dropped when I started comparing how things are to how I thought they should be. I surrendered each situation to God, and I am ready to keep fighting. I will live my life according to what my Creator has called me to, and none other. It will likely require daily surrender cause God knows I’m weak in this area. But we aren’t promised that life will be easy.

My pastor shared a very important question during his message yesterday – a question asked by Mark Batterson. “When did we [as Christians] start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things?”

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus, John 16:33 NLT

When You Feel The Most Alone

Loneliness screams. It is not a silent, sneaky thing that gradually envelops you over time. You can think that you are happy, that you are doing well, and then loneliness begins its shrill keening.

Loneliness suffocates. You celebrate your freedom, you breathe it in like fresh air, and then loneliness crushes the air from your lungs.

Loneliness stifles. You love who you are, you feel secure and passionate about your future. You are unafraid of the path that lies before you. But loneliness takes hold and convinces you that you are not enough alone. That part of you is missing and if you don’t find that missing piece, you will never be fulfilled.

Loneliness is a monster in the dark, a shroud to cover your still living form. It stalks through your life and tells you that there’s nothing for you here.

The lies Loneliness tells….

The lies Loneliness tells sound true. Truer than anything you have ever heard or known.

But there is One who sticks closer than a brother. One who was willing to lay down His life on your behalf. One who sings a sweet song of deliverance over you, who waits to comfort you in the dark. One who says that you are enough. Right now. As you are. One who sees you, flaws and all, and loves you still.

How do I know? Because I have been there. I still have moments when I find myself there again. I feel the agonizing pain of loneliness; I’ve struggled with wondering if I really can ever be enough on my own. I have woken alone from terrors in the night and longed for arms that could hold me close, and a voice that could tell me that things would be okay.

I won’t say that God’s grace removes all my pain. I won’t say that the sacrifice Jesus made makes me feel so incredibly complete that I don’t ever fear being alone. I won’t pretend that I never have doubts.

But it’s not because God’s grace is not enough. It’s not that the sacrifice Jesus made did not finish its work. It’s that God created me human. It’s that it’s not good for man to be alone. We were designed for companionship, and designed to long for that companionship.

So when Loneliness rears its ugly head, I lift mine. I am a child of the King, and I am who He says I am. I am enough. I am beautiful, and fun, and compassionate. And most of all, I am not alone. I may not hear His voice or feel His touch, but I know that He is there. And I know His shoulders are strong enough to carry my burdens.

He can do the same for you. He can show you that your worth is far more valuable than rubies or the finest gold. But it’s up to you. God won’t force His love on you. But I guarantee you that He is there, waiting with arms flung wide; waiting for you to run to Him.

Will you take a chance on Him?

What do you have to lose?

Putting The Puzzle Back Together

I have always been a passionate person. When I was three or four, I told anyone who would listen that I was going to go to Central Bible College when I grew up. Around that same age, I started singing solos in church. Another year or so later, I started acting/singing in musicals at church. A few years later found me still doing those things, still determined to attend CBC, but also adding on writing stories and poetry.

In my teen years, I competed all the way up to National Fine Arts (through our church denomination) for singing. I acted in still more plays and musicals, and was still writing. I continued to plan for Bible college, and even planned what I would do once I graduated. My parents actually have a video of me doing a skit with a friend, in which I played multiple characters, and the final character was myself. My lines included my plan – I would graduate from Central Bible College, spend a few years as a kids’ church pastor, and then become a missionary to India. That was a huge passion of mine. When I was a preteen (or early teen), I had read a fiction series that took place in India and became enraptured. I learned everything I could, and eventually felt called to be a missionary there.

I did attend Central Bible College. My first year there I traveled with a drama ministry team, which was a blast. I still sang on my own, but never in Chapel, and I continued to write. I graduated in April of 2004, after getting married the previous December.

I eventually did teach Kids’ Church for a few years, but I never made it to India. I don’t know if that was truly God calling me or just me being a kid with a big heart and a passionate fascination, but if it was God’s call, my life isn’t over yet.

I wrote several stories and many, many blog posts, but never got published. I wrote a couple songs and more poetry as well. I organized a couple Christmas programs and acted in a few.

I led worship sometimes in my church, and I was the best wife and mother I knew how to be, but over the years I began to lose myself. It happened so gradually that I never realized that the real me was all but gone.

And then a year ago I had a wake up call. I still didn’t realize how lost I was, but I stepped out on a new path and began the road – unbeknownst to me – back to finding myself.

Twelve days from now it will be exactly a year since I set foot on that path. Over the course of that year, I have rediscovered my peace, as well as the pieces of myself that had been scattered.

Even tonight I found myself rediscovering something that had long been missing. My high schooler wanted help with an assignment for her Theater class – a monologue that she will be presenting on Tuesday. We worked on it together and had a lot fun. It was then that I realized how much I missed acting. Sure, I had acted several times over the last fifteen years, but so much of me was missing that it wasn’t as enjoyable as it had been when I was younger.

This post is more reminiscing and realizing more about myself than anything, but if there is any one thought that I would like to leave you with, it’s this:

Don’t marry someone that will scatter your puzzle pieces. Don’t even be good friends with someone like that. Know who you are, and where your value lies. Know who you are in Christ. Know your passions and your calling. Don’t lose yourself to make someone else happy. If their security is wrapped up in your insecurity, move on. Surround yourself with people who will help put the pieces back together if they are shaken apart.

And one final thing – it’s tempting to blame God when things don’t go our way. God can handle you telling Him how you feel, but remember that He can see the whole puzzle, while we can only see a few pieces at a time. What looks like a disaster right now might just be the part that makes the rest of the puzzle shine.

Kisses To The Holy Spirit

I work for a nonprofit that provides helpers for adults with developmental disabilities. I cannot share any personal details of the ladies I work with, but something happened yesterday that really blessed me.

Out of the three ladies that I work with, I work with one the most – the other two are in day programs during the majority of my weekly shifts. Let’s call the woman that I work with the most Mary.

Mary has had a very hard life. Despite the difficulties she has faced, she loves God with all of her heart. She reads her Bible every day, and when she wants to talk to God, she talks out loud.

There are times during my shift that it is my job to spend time with her. Mostly we watch Gunsmoke together on TV Land, but we also put a Gaither playlist together on my Spotify account because that is the kind of music she loves. (I’m not crazy about country gospel, but I’m crazy about Mary, so it’s well worth the sacrifice.)

The other day I had had a particularly good devotional time, and I felt prompted to share some of the Scriptures I read with Mary. After reading each one, we talked about what it meant, and I could tell that Mary was really enjoying it. At one point we talked about the Holy Spirit (even though the Holy Spirit was not specifically mentioned in the Scriptures I was reading to her). Mary told me that she is so grateful for the Holy Spirit because He is always with her and keeps her company. As I continued to read from the Bible, Mary began to kiss the air. She had a look of such joy on her face as she did so. I asked her if she was kissing the Holy Spirit and she said yes. She said that no one can see Him but He never leaves her alone.

Today we had other things that needed done that prevented us from reading the Bible together, but multiple times I observed her giving kisses to the Holy Spirit. This is what it means to have a child-like faith. This woman is strong, wise, and smart despite the struggles of her past, and in spite of all these things – good and bad – she loves God and trusts in Him like a child trusts. Unwavering faith. She has told me before that there is a reason that God has allowed her to go through what she has. She doesn’t know what the reason is, but that doesn’t matter to her. All that matters is that she trusts God.

God, give me a faith like Mary’s.

When It Comes To Loss

He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.”

Deuteronomy 32:10 ESV

I have a bonsai that I treasure. I started it from a seed, and although that was probably a year ago, it is still not very big. This bonsai is called a desert rose, and someday will have beautiful blooms when it is in season. Thus far, it has only grown leaves, but they are shiny and smooth, and very pleasant to the eye. Over the course of the last several months, it has dropped its leaves many times. At times I was fearful that I would lose this plant that is so special to me, but with the right care, I was able to bring it back to full health each time. After this happened many times, I found out that desert rose bonsais hibernate when the weather is bad – dropping their leaves in order to survive what would otherwise destroy them. But as soon as conditions became conducive again, it would put out more leaves.

Over the course of the last several months, I have experienced a lot of loss myself. At first it was devastating, reaching a point where a broken fan made me weep. It was when we were moving out of the shelter into our own apartment. We had very few belongings while living in the shelter, but I had purchased the fan for the room we shared because we lived above the kitchen, and it got very hot in our room once winter began and the building’s heaters were on full force. The night we left the shelter for the last time, I had the fan and a few other belongings stacked on a small cart and was pushing it out to my car. The fan was not balanced well enough and tumbled to the ground. When I realized that it was well and truly broken, I felt all of the loss of the three months before slam into me like a wave in a turbulent ocean. I put the few belongings from the cart in to the back of my car and then I sat down in the front seat and wept. To be honest, it was a full blown panic attack. Because it wasn’t really the fan I was weeping over. It was the loss of the life that I knew, the loss of the innocence I had maintained in my naivety of how the world works, the loss of nearly sixteen years of my life. It was a reminder that no matter how positive I tried to keep my attitude, no matter how determined I was to overcome every obstacle, no matter how hard I worked to make life as normal as possible, I was not in control of any of it. But being broken like that made so many things easier from that point on. Once I finally realized it was all out of my control, I was able to surrender and truly begin to trust in God and what He was making out of my life. I began to see my life as the beginnings of a stained glass window – in order to become a beautiful piece of art for His light to shine through, my life first had to be broken.

The process of breaking hurts. It is a stabbing, stinging, shattering thing that you are surprised to discover you’ve survived when you look back on it. And many times we try to find a way to patch ourselves up – to get ourselves back to “normal”. But God is not calling us to be normal. Normal doesn’t change the world.

The Scripture at the beginning of the post is beautiful to me. It was a promise God made to the Israelites – His chosen people – after they had left Egypt, but before they made it to the Promised Land. He promised His people that He would love them and take care of them, even though He knew they would behave like spoiled, demanding children. There were consequences for their bad decisions, and many even died as the result of their sins, but God was always faithful to them. He was always ready and waiting to bless them once they returned to Him. He was there for them when their enemies threatened and attacked, and He fed them when there was no food to be found. He guided their every step and protected them from enemies and elements.

“He found him…in the howling waste of the wilderness….”

I feel this phrase in the depths of my soul. I have been in the midst of the howling waste. I have been buffeted by winds and waves and lashed by flying debris. And every time, I felt God’s strong hands surrounding me, lifting me up. Not out. Up. He didn’t rescue me from every situation, but He held me steady as I made my way through.

Almost everything I have lost, He has replaced. And the things He has not yet replaced, I believe that He eventually will. I don’t have it all together, but I know He does, and I choose to trust in Him.

I visited a friend’s church this morning, and they sang a song that resonated within me. I had heard it before, but today, it was an anthem declared from every fiber of my being.

If you are facing loss, are in the midst of it, or are close with someone in either situation, please know that this is not the end. And even if it feels like God is far away, know that I have been in your shoes, and I can promise you from experience that God is right with you, He loves you, and He will continue to meet your needs. It may not look like what you expect, but it will be what is best for you in the long run. Like a great artist, God can see the finished product and knows what needs to happen in order for you to reach completion. If you don’t have enough faith right now, rest on mine until you can find yours again.