Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hope Allows

5:12am. Wednesday. January 30.

I woke up at 3:30am with my head and heart very actively engaged in processing life. Yesterday was a difficult day in our family as we processed news that played out completely different than what we had anticipated, even expected.

In this world of so much heartbreak and suffering, our news was not earth shattering, but it was still disappointing. Our sophomore, who has grown up with a baseball in one hand and a glove on the other, was given news that his place on this year's high school team is one of demotion, not promotion: 2nd string catcher on the 3rd of three teams. Basically, he received the last available slot for his position on the high school roster ... one step away from having been cut altogether.

Receiving his one-word text "JV2", my heart immediately dropped for him. After a series of questions and short replies between him and me, his astonishment and discouragement were evident. This was not the news he was expecting to hear as he stepped inside the coach's office yesterday morning. With an entire school day and first after school practice still ahead, those of us at home were left with more questions than answers (as I'm sure my sophomore was too).

How? What happened?

By the time I picked him up from school ten hours later, my heart was more concerned for how he was doing and feeling than figuring out the roster results. He was downcast, defeated, discouraged and angry. I know anger; it's how we process pain when we don't know what to do with it.

From the time he was two he carried a ball and glove around wherever he went. He watched complete baseball games on TV with his grandpa at age five. He could recite line-ups and player positions of his favorite team, the Angels, at six-years-old. He has lived, breathed and loved the purity of this game for all the years he can remember ... me too.

And then he's basically told that he was "kept in the program" because the new freshman coach highly recommended him; a coach that could only judge him from a few days of tryouts. His talent and skills and 18 months practicing under the watchful eyes of the Varsity coaches hadn't convinced them, but the new coach did. Talk about a blow to his dreams and his hopes and his reality.

His eyes told me all he felt without saying a word. Sliding into the front seat of our car, shoulders slumped and arms loaded with uniform colors he didn't think he'd have to wear again this year, his body language spoke even louder. My heart was breaking badly for my son and I didn't have the words that would make him feel better. Through conversation I could only help him process what neither of us really understood and pray that God would hold his heart and help him process through the pain of disappointment. Life is disappointing and none of us escape that. But gosh, it's so hard to watch one of your children live through it.

So ... this morning. My head. My heart. All those questions and residual heartache. I got up in the dark knowing I was sacrificing sleep for what was more important: I needed to hear from God--needed my soul settled and encouraged, and wanted something to give my sophomore to hold onto today; a piece of God's heart that reminded him to keep looking up, not out.

And then I read this:
"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1 [NLT]
When you think about the future, are you hopeful? Or do you struggle with a sense of dread? ... A close cousin to fear, dread steals the ability to enjoy ordinary life and makes people anxious about the future. Hope is the opposite of dread, and a close relative of faith. ... Hope allows us to leave our unanswered questions in God's hands; it empowers us to live in peace, and it enables us to believe the best about the days to come. You can have hope when you trust in God's love. He has the power to provide for you and lead you through every situation. [Joyce Meyer]
I don't read that verse and think its inference is that everything we hope for in [this] life will magically come true. This is not a "God in a genie in the bottle" type of verse. Considering our treasure should be placed in the eternal things, God does not promise that all our "earthly hopes" will come true.

My sophomore is not promised a career in baseball making millions of dollars playing for a major league team simply because he "hopes" for that. His hope to be a Sooner and play for OU is not written in stone in the Heavenlies (that we're aware of yet anyway). His hope of catching for his high school varsity team is even on shaky ground from where he sits today. But that doesn't mean he's been instructed to stop hoping; instead, he is to be secured by his faith in a God who holds his unanswered questions (for now) and encourages him to press on and in while depositing peace and power to pursue the days, weeks and months ahead trusting in God's plan that is still unfolding.

Hope is a precarious thing. It can feel like we're walking a tight-rope at times without a visible net below us. And disappointment is like a tremor to our foundation of faith. It shakes us, but doesn't have to shift us.

Hope allows us [the choice] to leave our unanswered questions in God's hands. The choice is ours ... always ours.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Standing Firm: Job Speak

Now that the worst is over, we're pleased we can report that we've come out of this with conscience and faith intact, and can face the world--and even more importantly, face you with our heads held high. But it wasn't by any fancy footwork on our part. It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised. 2 Corinthians 1:12 [MSG]

As I opened up today's entry on YouVersion and read these first few sentences, I felt this strong, immediate impression that I was reading it as if these words are the newest addition to Anthony's and my testimony regarding our walk through the [un]employment journey of 2012. It was so clear to me that I found myself questioning whether or not it was my soulish desire to read it like this (through the filter of believing this job opportunity is God's plan), or if it was God. But just as quickly as that thought arrived, I was reminded of this question I read somewhere:

Why is it that we constantly question the validity (or source: me or God) when Holy Spirit speaks to us, but we so readily absorb the accusations and lies of the enemy without question?

I didn't consciously try to read this through the filter of wanting (worldly) confirmation of this plan (an official job offer). It's 6:30am--early for this brain of mine--and I've been up since 5:30am, mulling over this passage of scripture for almost an hour now. When I opened my laptop I hadn't been awake but 10 minutes and my conscience thoughts were no where near related to Anthony's job. I simply popped open the day's entry and began reading. The impression was immediate and concrete: these are your words and this is My promise and confirmation.

It is my choice whether or not to allow my flesh and my enemy to convince me otherwise, but God delights in my faith and trust, and it's in Him--not myself or my accuser--that I choose to place both.

I am risking what I declare I've "heard" from God (and my soul has a way of reminding me of this every time I talk about this job opportunity) by consistently standing on the belief that this is what God has been working out for Anthony, for us, since October 2012. I've "felt it" since the first conversation Anthony had with [him]--a conversation that quickly turned into a job interview (unbeknownst to Anthony until the end of it 1.5 hours later). There was this peace, this knowing of sorts, that wrapped that evening's re-telling of Anthony's conversation with him.

Did I think back then that it would take this long for it to come to pass? Heck NO! I was thinking ... "YES! Here it finally is!" Yet here we sit, in January 2013 (almost into February) and we're still waiting for a final word ... here on earth, at least. I believe it's already been spoken in the Heavenlies.

What's interesting to me is if you read this particular passage in any other translation it doesn't read like this at all. Maybe some would say "Aha! There's the contradiction." But that doesn't take away from what or how God chose to speak to me. On the contrary, I believe The Message translation was exactly what I was supposed to read first so that He could speak this point specifically to me--not coincidence ... not contradiction ... but purpose.

As I read the above words, my spirit was buzzing a bit, asking God if today is the day we'll know. I do not know that answer; it wasn't really addressed. But I do so love when my spirit starts to flit about like a June bug, all kinds of erratic in motion. Watch a June beetle in flight; there is nothing predictable about its pattern or course because it sees differently than I do. Hmmm... catch the nuance?

So this morning I do not shrink back from the words that I've been holding onto for months now: this job opportunity IS for us; it is what God has been working out; it is the breakthrough to something new for us--not because it comes with a paycheck but also because it comes with a paycheck. Provision is part of God's plan for us and cannot be removed because someone can choose to label that "fleshy hearted". There is nothing fleshy about believing in and for God's provision; it's faith to believe God for the provision of our needs (Matthew 6:26) and the abundance to bless us above and beyond anything we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:21)--and I choose to stand on faith.

A couple weeks ago, as I was coming out of a weeks-long battle with a severe cold and then the flu, I remember sitting on my couch asking God for a word to get me through January. We'd had zero word about this job opportunity for weeks; between the partnership of sickness and uncertainty, my soul was dry and in need. Immediately Jeremiah 29:11 came to mind. I actually scoffed a bit thinking "That's too easy. Everyone knows that verse, God." Then I was prompted to open up Facebook--yep, I go with the flow with God like that--and the very first entry in the news feed was this verse, posted by a friend. Okay, I hear ya, God!

When I told Anthony that day that I had asked God for a word about our situation, he had the same kind of reaction to the "overtness" of this verse, actually quoting it to me before I could tell him the specific verse God had given me--more in a questioning manner than anything declarative. Isn't it funny how we can so easily discredit the Word of God because a specific verse has somehow become cliche' and "overused" in our Christian culture? (That's a rabbit trail I won't go down in this blog, but that doesn't mean it's not worth taking.)

But God was purposing to settle my heart. Scripture is never cliche' to Him. He knows His plans and it was my choice to rest in that fact ... or not. And even today, when I can't point to an offer letter or employment start date, I can point to my God and His promise:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give hope and a future." 

I'm smiling now as I come to the end of this [note] because I realize just how much I needed to walk through this exercise of declaration, of faith, of trust and of knowing.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Visiting: The Grace Perspective

"It's amazing how much more mercy I give to people who struggle with sins I understand." [Michael Cheshire, Going to Hell with Ted Haggard, Christianity Today, December 2012}
Ouch! Did I really just read that? And why did I catch myself catching my breath?
"You guys can't forgive him and let him back into your good graces. Every time you talk to me about God, you explain that he will take me as I am. You say he forgives all my failures and will restore my hope, and as long as I stay outside the church, you say God wants to forgive me. But that guy failed while he was one of you, and most of you are still vicious to him." Then he uttered words that left me reeling: "You Christians eat your own. Always have. Always will."
These were just the first of many thoughts that reached right into my gut and yanked at the fibers of what I believe about grace and stirred the pot of how conditional it is in my life.

Going to Hell with Ted Haggard [What I Learned about Grace and Redemption Through my Friendship with a Christian Pariah] is one of the most thought-provoking pieces I've read in quite a while. Not that I haven't read my share, but this man, Michael Cheshire, just dared to put us face-to-face with the ugly side of grace (catch my sarcasm here because grace was never intended to be ugly).

Truth be told, I would bet my next paycheck (if I earned one) that most people can relate to one side of this story or the other: the Christian sinner cast aside for daring to sin or, if we're throwing all caution to the wind for the sake of utter transparency, the person who has done the casting. Shoot, we've probably all sailed in both boats at one time or another. I know I have.

I think the reason this article touched such a tender spot in me is because I remember the unveiling of this "scandal", the media coverage it received and the venom it produced. Sadly, once I was over my shock of learning that a pastor, of all people, (more sarcasm) could fall from grace so harshly, I remember thinking along the lines of this thought pointed out in the article:
"Most Christians would say God can forgive him, but almost universally people agree that God will never use him again."
I shudder now when I realize that type of judgment resided in my heart just over six years ago, but I smile in thankfulness when I recognize that God has brought me a long way on the journey of learning grace in my life, although I still have a ways to go. Who am I to label someone "unusable"? In other words, "Who died and made me God?"

Now I read stories like this one and nod my head in agreement with the author's next line:
"'Why can't God still use Ted?" After all, I reasoned, Jesus restored Peter after he denied Christ."
But unless I trail off my intended path for this particular blog, I will let the "usable or unusable" topic sit for the time being. (For the record, I would stand in the "usable" line if asked to pick a side.) No, what struck me the most about these particular phrases is two-fold: 1) the grace partnership with restoration and, more importantly, 2) the basic necessity for grace itself.

I have a lot of thoughts spinning around my head, and I could easily digress here, but I've been really challenged by the whole topic of grace as I give it and live it. What's hit me is the notion that I have no problem reading this article and wholeheartedly agreeing that Ted Haggard deserves grace and restoration, not because he's earned it but precisely because he doesn't have to earn it, should not be made to earn it.

And yet...

In familiar fashion to the opening quote of this blog, I can say, "It's amazing how much more grace I give to those whose lives I view from afar, but I struggle with it when you own a piece of my heart."

Why do I hand out grace on a silver platter to the man down the street, or the person on Facebook I barely know, yet my grace has its limits and its conditions when it's tested by the same person(s) time and again? Is it still grace if it has limits, which in reality makes it conditional? If grace is unmerited then who am I to say, "Today you are worthy, tomorrow you are not. The first few times I'll cover you in grace, after that, dude you're on your own."

I mean, really ... who am I?

I either believe in the totality of grace or I don't, right? I either believe it's truly unmerited, in all circumstances for all people, or I don't, right?

But what if I don't? Why don't I?

Like I touched on in my Visiting blogs from last week (Grief and Reality), I am in a place of examining everything, and grace is that place today. I don't have the answers yet, but I am--at the least--willing to ask the questions.

Every journey starts somewhere.

Rachel's Child: Response

Kate is one of handful of writers whom I've never met, yet I have followed her life and her heart for years now. She wrote something yesterday--Rachel's Child, Part 1-- which I read this morning that left me with such a discomforting feeling, a rawness exposed without a band-aid. She recounted the story of a little girl who was her "client's child" when she was a social worker, yet she left this particular post dangling with a sense of hopelessness and despair. It is only Part 1, but my soul is already yearning to see what comes next. I'm not comfortable with this sense of dark wonder ... with the ability to only read chapter 1.

This story left its mark. I was compelled to leave a lengthy comment on her blog, and I wanted to save it here (for me) because I believe it's the catalyst to something else ... a something else I just can't quite put my finger on just yet.

I’ve read everything you’ve written since I became aware of your blog years ago, and when I became aware, I took months going back and reading everything that came before. I rarely leave you comments, maybe a couple over the span of a few years, not because I’m not “a commenter” because I am; I love to leave words that describe what your–the writer’s–effort and time has done to and for my heart, or how you have caused me to think about something I would have never considered or been exposed to. But rarely do I leave comments here, even though I would with pretty much everything you post, because … well, we’ve never met, and I often wonder if it would seem “weird” to you to have someone “that verbal” on your blog who you don’t know from Adam.
But this post … I couldn’t keep my fingers from the keyboard. This story reached inside me and grabbed, uncomfortably, at a piece of my heart that is not used to coming face-to-face with these kinds of stories–the ones that are far more prevalent than my daily life would ever allow me to assume, with too many outcomes that scream for both justice (towards the predator) and also mercy (for the child).
I know and love a little girl who is almost three and lives in circumstances so very familiar to those you have described. A housing complex replaces the hotel, but its conditions are just as dreary. Drug dealers, abusers of all kinds, and a mother who couldn’t care less that her daughter even exists–she just won’t release her to a family who would love to adopt her because she’s a part of this mother’s monthly check from the government. Instead of a daughter, she is income that can be spent on men and alcohol and drugs.
I read this line and understood it more than I’d wished: “I hugged the little girl, hating the system and its boundaries which were keeping me from taking her somewhere safe.”
My niece has had access to “our” little girl since she was a year old, originating from contact with a relative of this mom at church. And the mom has allowed her into this little one’s life because extended visits with my niece means she is free to do more of what she wants without the girl being in the way. There was even a time a year ago where she decided to allow my niece and her husband to adopt her daughter, to give her a home she knew she couldn’t and knew she couldn’t care less about trying to give her. But money and pressure from those around her got in the way and a month later she retracted her offer for adoption.
A year-and-a-half have passed and we’ve watched this little girl grow up some, and we’ve watched her change. When she’s with our family, she flourishes: talking, laughing, interacting and receiving love that is foreign to her in her home. But when she is returned to her “mom”, she retreats emotionally. They believe she is autistic because they’ve never heard her speak a word. When she’s with us she uses full sentences, and at three her vocabulary and level of communication is astounding. She’s potty trained with us; she’s in diapers at “home”. She is fully alive with us, yet they say she looks dead behind the eyes when she’s with them (little girl’s mom and grandma). It’s heartbreaking and leaves a sense of emptiness and hopelessness for the future of this little life. Will she ever become who God intended her to be when the life that surrounds her is one she knows (even at three) to retreat from?
I was so hoping that your words wouldn’t leave me dangling, but they have. I’m not sure what to do with what I’ve read … except pray for that little girl, oh that God would provide a way out of despair and into healing and love and a home where she would be surrounded by safety and not danger … and also the ones (and so many like them) who were in that hotel room, drowning in the darkness of sin and their life choices and the choices that were probably made against them too when they were younger.
But, in the end, I am left (for now) not knowing what to do with these words of yours except to wait for Part 2 and see if any light of redemption is shed into this darkness. Oh, please say that light is coming?

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Being as I seem to have a lot on my mind, I shall continue the blurging (blogging+purging) that is today's fourth ... and counting ... blog post since early this morning.

A sentiment shared at a friend's birthday dinner last night was tweeted and posted on Facebook by a couple people who attended said gathering. I was not there. I have only seen the tweets/posts.

"A man that loves a woman makes her unstoppable."

While I wholeheartedly agree that a man's love can propel a woman towards her destiny and cause her feel to unstoppable, I would like to offer some additional thoughts.

First, let me reiterate that I was not there to hear the full context of this sentence (what came before or after it), but it got me thinking, and I would like to graciously expand on this further--not out of malice or judgment toward's my friend's heart and intention, but out of a place of trying to understand what it stirred in me when I read it. I am someone who loves to dig deep into thoughts, so this is just me doing that, not attempting to discredit a very honoring and loving affirmation.

Love is a very broad word in our English language, and our society in general, and is interpreted and expressed in countless ways. What is love to one person is not love to another.

Let me come at that thought from this perspective: I heard a statement made at my women's group that goes like this...

Love [and pain] are defined by the receiver.

The essential meaning behind these words is that we may think we are giving love to someone but because s/he defines how love is received, it may not look like love at all when it reaches him/her.

This thought process corresponds with the theme behind the book "The Five Love Languages": we all receive love differently, therefore, knowing who we are giving love to is imperative in order to speak their language so they can receive wholly, the way they are "designed" (and I use that term somewhat loosely here, but that's a rabbit trail thought too long for this post) to receive.

Personal Example: I am not an overly affectionate person, but one of my husband's top love languages is physical touch. He could stop every time he walks by me and touch me in some manner--a hug, a kiss, a pat on the bum--all the while thinking he is loving on me, but by the 50th time that day I am not going to be feeling loved on but exasperated.

In comparison, I could keep a spotless home, make awesome meals, and make sure he never runs out of clean underwear and socks and think "BAM! He should feel like the most loved husband in the world!" ... because my top love language is acts of service. But to my husband, my work is akin to ignoring him because physical touch, not service, communicates love to him.

The same understanding is applied to pain, but in reverse: we may not think we are causing pain to someone when we say or do certain things, but because pain is defined by the receiver and not the giver, we may be hurting someone and not even be aware of it.

Here's the catch: I would include that in our world of broken souls and the abundance of life experiences that often inaccurately filters our perspectives, love and pain are often times just as much defined by the giver as the receiver, and then held out to the receiver all wrapped up in the giver's interpretation. Therefore, when a man loves a woman out of his filter and definition, she could very well receive those same actions as being unloved and ignored, quite possibly resulting in her feeling disconnected and discouraged instead of unstoppable.

So, may I add on to the Unstoppable quote in such a manner?...

A man who takes the time to invest in a woman and makes the effort to get to know her deeply, and loves her not only the way she receives love but, more importantly, as Christ loves the church, makes her unstoppable. (And for the record, a woman has the very same ability to make her man unstoppable too.)

Thanks for "listening". Please feel free to leave a comment and know that my heart's intent is not to offend but to unpack thoughts on something I read.

Visiting: Grief

About a month ago a FreedomFriend gave my OtherOne and I some hard-to-come-by, one-on-one time as we sat in three chairs located in the corner of our church during a Sunday morning service. We had been reeling from November's 'day of disconnection' and were labored by so many questions. During this hour, the topic of grief came up (among so many others) and I was told that I didn't know how to grieve. This was not said with any malice or judgment, just a loving challenge to go learn how to grieve the losses of my life. I know his revelation was accurate because my soul does this funny, grumbly, uneasy thing when words touch the soft spots of unhealed wounds.

That was over a month ago, and his words have been left dangling in front of my heart, untouched but not ignored. It's just that every time I think about that word ... grief ... I get a little apprehensive, like I'm standing on the above pathway look straight into a black hole into which I must choose to walk.

I'm on a journey to discover who I am and who I am not; learning the importance of grieving is part of this process. In this, I am reading the hearts of a few people I am particularly drawn to for one or all of these reasons: 1) their transparency, 2) their unique gift of using words to share stories, and 3) their wisdom and ability to make me think.

I found my way to a post written by a favorite Wordie and was gripped by the below passage. She wrote my heart. So instead of trying to say it better, I just borrowed it.
"I guess that's the thing: I don't want to visit the places I left behind. But maybe if I do, the Way to Freedom and grace will be made a little clearer. Maybe. Maybe it doesn't have to be perfect. Maybe if I write about what happened and what was, who I am will be made clear." Amber Louthan, Maybe, December 2, 2011 
Right now, grief feels like the above pathway--dark and foreboding--but maybe ... just maybe ... the process of walking through grief will not be as daunting as the thought of walking into the unknown. Who knows? I may even come out of it calling grief my friend. If health and wholeness are what I'm after, then the tools to get there may be more forgiving than I think standing on this side of doorway.

But how to enter?
"So I got out my journal and I began to write about losses. Less than a paragraph in my heart connected. If Jesus wept, so could I. And weep I did. Loss is a normal part of life ... Grief is the normal way God allows us to purge the pain of loss and keep a healthy balance in our souls." Bob Hamp, Good Grief, December 3, 2011
Journal: that I know how to do. Cry? I've done my fair share even though I wouldn't consider myself a "crier". Weep? Um, yeah ... we're not on as familiar ground with each other. I've wept, truly wept, only a handful of times in my life. I can recall each incident intimately.

But this journey is one of digging, excavating, discovering and purging. Tunnels may be dark, but there's always a point where light leads you out.

Visiting: Reality

"God was putting pressure on this movie set I had built and named "reality". It was crumbling, and I was trying to rebuild it." Bob Hamp, Tearing Down a Stronghold, November 20, 2011
I read this again and my soul immediately squirms, uncomfortable with the resonance these words ring within me, but also wondering (a year later) if this purging of thought lead to something different. Was your matrix deconstructed? Did switching sources redefine reality in such a way that the reality you had built no longer mattered? Did you find a way to devalue that which you had always valued? I connect with this writing (again, a year later) in such a way that I could not connect with it a year ago. And because it stirs my inner pot, I really do ask these questions with a sincere desire to know and learn and understand, not simply with a rhetorical flair. Pondering, again...
I'm in a season of revisiting things: words, perspectives, experiences, thoughts, beliefs. I'm looking for truth where I may have grown comfortable with a lie and both challenging myself and inviting others to challenge my way of thinking in all areas. This is a not quick, fad diet to produce a temporary result. Change is needed, required actually. I've placed hope in new things too many times and have watched myself grow more inward each time that hope dwindles under expiring words and actions.

I can't stay [here], but I'm not sure yet how to get [there]. A harvest has been sown and its fruit is not tasty. I didn't realize how greatly the quality of the seed would impact the fruit of my labor. Sow in ignorance and reap a harvest that leaves you feeling devastated, overwhelmed and questioning everything. 

I have spent years building my own reality and placing a high value on those things and people and experiences that laid my reality's foundation. Could it really be that value is not for me to place? I'm digging for answers now...

Funky, Funky

Man, I'm in a funk. A true, weighty, bonafide funk. I can feel it inside and out, physically, emotionally and spiritually. If I could watch me, I would see it: in the lack of twinkle in my eyes, in the way a smile doesn't quite make it to my lips often enough and in the way laughter seems like a long-lost treasure buried deep beneath.

I'm not writing now so I can send 'negative energy' out into the world or to illicit uplifting comments to make me feel better. Heck, no one will probably even know these words exist because I'm not going to promote them anywhere. This post is just for me because I realize how much I stay away from published words when I don't have something "positive" to write.

It's not that people could look at my life from the outside in and think "her life sucks". I'm not homeless. Actually, I quite like the little abode we live in. It's the one place I've lived in since being married that most fits my tastes for a home. I have food in my pantry and refrigerator, albeit I wish Mr. Budget had more room for much healthier choices. I have a car that gets me everywhere I need to go. I have clothes to wear everyday and a warm bed to sleep in at night. I even have a set of white twinkle lights strewn along my fireplace mantle. Oh, how I really do love twinkle lights. There's something quite magical about them to me.

And yet, here I am writing about funk.

I've thought about this funk a lot lately in my downtime, probably because I both ended last year and began this new year battling sickness. My 10-day head cold in December didn't knock me off my feet, it just added fatigue and fogginess to my everyday schedule. But this flu that came raging in in January did. Yesterday was the first day in nine days that I woke up and felt like Mr. Life-Sucking Fatigue was gone. Seriously. I felt 82-years-old with this bug--a fraile, drained, unhealthy 82.

And this dance with our finances? I'm ready to stop spinning and get off the floor--to sit down and rest. 2012 was another tough year when it comes to our budget, and while God strengthened my courage more days than I can count and deposited hope when circumstances were bleak, I can honestly say that I so want things to turn around now. I'm longing to make a budget instead of just being able to pay a bill when a freelance job comes around. I'm longing to tackle what remains of our debt instead of incur more. I'm longing to thrive and not just survive--to look forward to an upcoming birthday or holiday and not fear the cost associated with it. I'm longing to climb into the boat instead of wading in the water holding onto the life preserver. I know that sounds dramatic, but it's how I feel.

And my marriage? Well, we're in the beginning stages of learning "differently", with a trusted friend and pastor coming alongside to help us see and think differently. But that doesn't mean that the toll of choices and circumstances hasn't been exacted. Blended family. Baggage from previous marriages. Brokenness being uncovered and still in the process of healing. It's all taken its toll. I never dreamed that marriage would be such a battle to survive, but these past five (almost six) years have been more battle than refuge. Marriage is never easy, but I don't think I ever considered how difficult blended marriage would be. Building a life with someone you didn't grow up with takes work and courage and determination, but trying to do that and navigate the rough ocean of exes and kids you only get to influence and not parent and financial struggles ... well, that's a perfect storm that's bound to leave wreckage in its path.

I'm realizing how much a long battle with anything drains the human soul, let alone multiple battles.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013: i will BEcoME

I will seek God's truth to dethrone the enemy's lies.
I will pursue healing and remember my wounds no more.
I will know and be known, without walls and without fear.
I will learn to live with a heart fully transformed by vulnerability.
I will get to know that little girl again and see the world through her eyes.
I will learn to overcome and not succumb.
I will smile on purpose and laugh without restraint.
I will write not only out of inspiration but more often out of pursuit.
I will read beautiful words every day. 
I will choose connection over isolation.
I will press in instead of shrink away.
I will lay down regret and take hold of redemption.
I will walk in authority and let go of blame.
I will make the choice to forgive when offense wants to tighten its grip.
I will use my words to bless and not to curse, to build and not break down.
I will pray for those I have labeled my "enemies".
I will hold onto hope in the face of adversity and turn towards love when faced with fear.
I will rest each night under a blanket of peace.

... i will BEcoME.

*A special shout out THANK YOU to Mary Jo for her sweet inspiration to emphasize BE right along with ME. I love it! {January 15}