Friday, September 8, 2017

Faithful Fridays.

I'm taking a cue from Donald Miller this morning- He wrote this- "You Don't Have to Make Your Bed to Write Your Book."

Clearly, I agree today:

Exhibit A

(Don't judge the dinosaur- that's Flynn. I'll tell about him another day...)

Back to the bigger point- Donald Miller doesn't care what our beds look like. His wise perspective is to not let the daily grind pull you away from your calling. The dishes...unmade bed...and for me and my job, the unshelved library books...will always be there. Tend to your calling. Go read the article after you finish here- it's good.

So I am writing this morning. Even though there is homework, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, errands...and clearly, unmade beds...which need my attention. Because I must tell you what's burning on my heart this morning:  

I am nearly struck dumb by God's faithfulness. His provision, answered prayers, protection, is all too beautiful and real for my heart to contain today. My words are pitiful and disjointed, they can't contain His greatness.  

So I'm starting a new post series on here- Faithful Fridays. Each week I'm going to share some way in which God has answered a prayer, provided for us, or just sent encouragement along the journey. Friday is a good day to share joy in how we've made it through the week, yes?

This is important. Pay close attention to this next part..

If you are believing for the impossible right now- take heart and believe. Let this series encourage you. He does the impossible.


Right this moment He is working and orchestrating on your behalf. Waiting is the hard part. But wait and believe. I will believe with you. I hope this space will grow to not only share my stories, but yours as well.   

Let's do this.

Since my facebook memories reminded me of Jon Egan this morning, let's start with a song...

This song is kind of the anthem for our family. We were lucky enough to be in that room when this was filmed at Desperation Conference in 2014. It was just as powerful and beautiful as it appears. And true. 

Six months later, Onnie was doing worship for youth group at Denver United when she heard God speak to her heart: 
"Go to Lebanon." 

Thunder, lightning bolts, flames engulfing the room!

Actually, that wasn't exactly the way it went. 

Here's what really happened:

Onnie looked down at her feet and heard God saying to her she was going to wear those shoes in Lebanon. They were the gold Birkenstock sandals she would always wear with colorful knee all remember the socks and sandals trend my girls started. And still wear. I would apologize to all of you for that horrendous trend, but it's kind of awesome. I digress...

She actually sent a picture of those shoes with her support letters, sharing what God had said to her.

She also heard this song in her heart: 

"Where there is no way You make a way. When no one else can reach us, You find us."

There were no resources to send her on a mission trip at that time. Ron and I had been separated for a year at that point, and our family was struggling financially in ways that are almost embarrassing now. (Ask us about our trash stories sometime.) Also, she was only 17- not even technically old enough to go on the trip without a family member. 

But she knew God had called her. And she had the faith to believe He would provide. We stood with her in faith. On the hard days. There were a lot of those. She was $1000 short on her airfare the week before the deadline. God moved on an anonymous church member's heart at DU and they gave, just days before it was due. Our family and friends supported her- even those who aren't believers. 

Did you catch that? 

Our loved ones who don't believe in God supported Onnie's trip because they love her and believe in her. They didn't understand why she would go to the Middle East, especially as a 17 year old. The Syrian refugee crisis wasn't at the forefront of the news then. But they understood what's traditionally been known of the region- it can be dangerous.  

And the question I got the most:

"How can you let your daughter go there?!?!?"  

Well, you see, I did research. I weighed pros and cons. But in the end, I'm a faith girl. God told her she was going. I BELIEVED God told her that. Who was I to argue her safety with the Creator of the Heavens? Honestly. I knew if God called her then He would protect her.  

She went.  And He did.  

That last picture is the morning she got back home to Denver. She'd been awake for 24 hours at that point. Exhausted. But can you see her joy? 

He is faithful.  

Peace, readers. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

It's the end of the crap as I've known it...

It's been quite a while since I've written.  New Year's of 2016, to be exact.  I've started four seven blog posts since then and written a little on that November novel.  Lots of school papers, too. But for the most part, there's been no time or space to write.

In moving to Virginia, we briefly lost everything.

Lost is such a dramatic word, I know. You all have my permission to roll your eyes in dramatic teenage fashion at the drama of my word choices. I suppose I could find a less angsty word to describe what happened to us since April 2016. There are some good words to be associated with the losing, which I'll share in a bit. But in the beginning, lost describes it best.

Lost: past and past participle of lose.
        1. unable to find one's way; not knowing one's whereabouts.
        2. denoting something that has been taken away or cannot be recovered.

Have you ever felt lost in your life? Here's how it happened to us:

The girls and I were renting a house in Denver which the landlords decided to sell in the booming housing market. Unable to afford rent the prices of rent are ludicrous in Denver, and will be for a while...we decided to come back home to Salem. It took a lot to get here. Parenting plans, permission, notices at work, logistics, finances, moving truck, storage...and and and. Those were the tangible things and every single one of them were difficult. It was so hard, after coming off of the two previous years of stress, crisis and chaos that I was mentally exhausted by May 31st. I couldn't think clearly about simple things.

But, there were good words to cling to in the moving, so I did. Words like family, support, peace, hope, love, consistency. Rest. If I could just get us here, to this green corner of Virginia, we would be okay.

But the bad words had to be lived through first. Fear, uncertainty, weariness, panic, sadness, regret, confusion, anger.  Lost.

We had a home and then we didn't. Life was hard in Denver and had gotten markedly tougher since January, because the official legal disentangling of my 19 year marriage had begun. But we had a home and friends, a church we adored, school was finally getting better for the girls, and I adored my work at The Challenge School.

Honest- I didn't want to leave.

And yet, my soul longed for some rest. Some freakin peace.

I lost every ounce of security to reach for it. (Dramatic eye roll again. Because it's true. But still dramatic.)

God provided rest. And now, newness. Of course He did. The Maker of the Stars will never ever let us down when we choose to trust like little children. But it didn't happen as soon as our moving truck made it to Virginia. It has taken a whole year, a difficult and long one. However, I needed to learn some important stuff that I just had to live through, discomfort and all.

1. We must actually climb up from the valley to the top of the mountain.
2. Our attitude along the way makes all the difference as to whether we actually make it or not.

“We don’t reach the mountaintop from the mountaintop. We start at the bottom and climb up. Blood is involved.” 
― Cheryl StrayedBrave Enough

This is the second truest thing I've read outside of the Bible this year. I somehow wrongly believed that Salem was the mountaintop- that we would leave the dry plains of Denver...what a bad metaphor there, sorry friends...and be transported to the mountaintop of Roanoke. That in driving across the country last summer we would metaphorically climb the mountain and all would be Rivendell when we got here.

Truth- That could never be because the things which were keeping us in the valley had to be climbed up and over. Surmounted. Scaled and made victor over.


That isn't easy work at all. Blood is involved. It's not easy even with the best of mindsets starting out. But that's not what we had, not even close.

I'm going to be very honest here.

We had broken. broken broken so very broken BROKEN...can't you see our brokenness, our deer-in-the-headlights trauma, our shock numbness PTSD...why are you wanting us to act and be normal, CAN'T YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WE'VE LIVED THROUGH?? kind of


I'm not only referring to the chaos of the move, I'm talking about all the things which took place that I can't talk about. And I suppose that's what made us such freaks. We carried our brokenness on our outsides, like strange costumes, and others could sense it. But we couldn't talk about it. Sometimes we tried. But it was too much and too deep. We all have moments in our lives like that, yes?

So we didn't so much start climbing up the mountainside when we reached Salem as we did grovel around on the ground next to it. Needless to say, not much progress was made.

Let me be clear here- the truth was that things had happened which caused legitimate fracturing inside of us. That is indisputable fact. I'm not going to cover what's taken place in some glossy, "You can have your best day ever", Joel Osteen kind of crap. This is not the kind of brokenness that one positive self-talks their way out of.

But you can die with that kind of attitude. You can sit and stay in that ugly, I DIDN'T DESERVE ANY OF THIS, kind of place...and you can just stay there until your death day.

You see, you have to let go of all of it if you want to live. To move forward, climb that mountain. Here is the beautiful thing-

We have a choice.

We can acknowledge what has happened- no hiding from ourselves or God- and then we can lay it down. Surrender.

You don't have to be broken anymore.

That bears repeating-

I went up for prayer at our church two Sundays ago. The message had been speaking to me...beating me gently, yet relentlessly...about our suffering, our brokenness. You see I had lived broken for a whole year- well, much longer than that, really- and I was done with it. But I couldn't pull myself out it on my own, I'd tried. I had to surrender the attitude. I did that day.

I finally feel free. But it's more than a feeling- it's truth. The attitude doesn't have me as its slave anymore. More specifically, as I believe, Satan isn't holding me captive in brokenness any longer.

Mountain climbing should be much more efficient now. I am hopeful and joyful...and light...for the first time in a very long time.

There is still some healing that needs to take place. I'm not going to gloss over that part either. I finally understand we can acknowledge the things that have happened to us without staying stuck in them. We must tell the truth- to ourselves and to God, and we have to live out the processes of healing and forgiveness. That's mountain climbing. With a healthy attitude.

This entire post reminded me of one of my favorite books- Hind's Feet on Hind Places.  It's a classic, about a crippled shepherdess named Much Afraid, who travels to the High Places with the Great Shepherd. All allegory, about our lives as we make our way each day through this Earth. I've read it more times than I can count, and its messages have carried me through some tough moments in my life.

(That copy above is 20 years old...THE JARS OF CLAY EDITION, for all you 90s Christian pop culture nerds out there. Go get yourself a copy- I'm sorry yours won't be as cool as mine.)

Thanks as always for listening, dear readers. Peace to you all today.