Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I haven't taken time to blog since we moved to Oklahoma - not because I didn't have anything to add to the internet gobbledegook but more because I haven't found the inspiration to be anything other than a Debbie Downer.  We left Ohio in a flurry at the beginning of August and until now, in the peace and solitude of unemployment and childlessness (they are both in school), things have been dizzingly surreal, disturbingly dysfunctional and, well...just plain hard. 

I prayed for this --- I keep having to remind myself of that fact.  I fervently, with all my heart, put my husband before the Lord and asked him to MOVE in such a way that Chris could NOT deny that the Savior of the universe had good, defined and perfect plans for him.  I had peace with my prayers for him and I knew that God would act in the best interest of my husband.  The desires of my heart were for Chris to KNOW in his heart that God had a perfect plan for his life and without boring you all with the tedious details, it is obvious that God did move, in mighty ways, he moved. 

God moved - so did we.  900 miles away.  Back to a place we left behind in, didn't look back.  So, here to meet us was the realities we left here when we turned our tails and got the heck out of dodge.  Some of those realities were pleasant.  Most of them were not.  Facing the facts that we were not the people that left McAlester - and yet, here we were again, being confronted with the reflections of who we were when we moved here the first time.  Personally, I was a homesick, lonely and scared outsider - I can look back at that time and remember very clearly that my sole intention of this "trip" to OK was to get my husband promoted and so, while I was here I was to ASSIMILATE and SURVIVE.  So, I did.  I joined a church, got involved with the PTSO at the school, volunteered at Hospice, worked with CASA, hosted dinners at our house, brought covered dish dinners to families in need, taught Sunday school and generally just tried to BLEND.  And, for all intensive purposes, it worked.  I survived.  Then we moved away and were taken to a place that was new and I was so very tempted to do the very same thing - but something stopped me.  Something changed.  Something life-altering happened.  My Dad died.

In a gray, heavy and sometimes blinding fog - I left this place and started over somewhere else.  The details of some of those moments that followed his passing and our moving and the rest are still hazy - it was like I was walking around with a blindfold on - in part because I didn't want to see life for what it was without my Dad, the other part was that I just couldn't see beyond the grief.  It cloaked me in darkness and only when the fog finally lifted I was reckoning with so much more than I ever could have imagined.  Reckoning with grief is one thing - reckoning with yourself is another.  There I was, looking in the mirror, hardly recognizing who I had become or even who I was to begin with. 

God uses all things to bring glory to Him.  That person looking back at me was unrecognizable because I had allowed myself to assimilate and survive to such an extent that I couldn't identify that I was His.  I could talk a good game, but at the end of the day, I was so very lost.  God uses all things to bring glory to Him.  Me being lost, so very lost, was the turning point in my life. I had relied solely on myself for so much and when I was in need, I turned to my Dad - never really surrendering all to my God.  I had a support in my Dad that transcended almost all of my other relationships - he was ALWAYS there for me.  In the wake of this death I had to reckon with the truth that I had depended upon my earthly father more than my Heavenly Father and now, there I was, feeling much like an orphan abandoned on the side of the road....and there I found my Savior.  It was coming to Him as a broken, surrendered and helpless child that I found my Father.  It was there I found restoration, healing and forgiveness.

I was so very at peace with our life - I felt like I was home and the benefit of being led and fed by gracious and loving hands was such an irreplaceable gift.  God moved because I begged him to do so, I just have to keep reminding myself of that fact.  So, here we are.  Three months in and this is still as hard as ever. 

When I take my concerns to put them before the Lord, the spirit whispers that I am to ENDURE.  That word keeps being brought to my attention - whether it be in Bible study or devotion or prayer time...ENDURE.  I find myself at odds with that call - times when I rally and feel like I endured well that day; other days when I fall on my face, cry out for respite and beg to released from the call to endure.  It isn't torture, it isn't watching my child fight against a terminal illness, it isn't working three jobs to feed our family...but somedays I get so tired of rationalizing things by saying "it could be worse."  Yes, it could be.  I could be persecuted and in jail for my faith, I could be watching my child fight for his life, I could be scrubbling toilets at McDonald's during the grave yard shift to put ramen noodles on the table - and the fact that none of those things apply to me makes me eternally grateful for the many blessings that I enjoy.  I cannot stop asking, however, what could be worse than feeling so very distant from God?  I take great peace in knowing HE is there - but I don't FEEL it and that makes my soul cry out for more.  It grieves my soul to have felt such presence and then to feel like it slipped away.  I blame myself for feeling distant - He never left me - so that means it is I who has strayed.  How did I let that happen?  To have loved and lost is far greater a travesty, right?  Then...smack, it hits me again...ENDURE.

So, what does endurance look like for you?  I have a friend who is married to a great man that has been battling cancer like a warrior for years and she is a rockstar and a hero because she has ENDURED three lifetimes worth of pain, struggle, fear...and she is still standing.  She inspires me.  There's a little girl that I know here that has spent 4 of the last 8 years of her young life wondering what it would be like to have her Dad in her life - he was released from his 4 year sentence about a month ago and now what she endured has been rewarded with arms that hug her tight and promises he will be there from now on.  I have a close friend that was deployed to Iraq only to come home at the end of her tour to her stepmother with stage III breast cancer - not a hero's welcome, not an adjusting to life back in the states...a get home NOW and forget what has happened because this is happening NOW.  She endured.  So, I am surrounded by people that have endured so heroically, so courageously, so inspiringly - I can't help but be shamed by my inability to endure.

Of course, I know logically, this is because I have let myself stray away from the foot of the cross.  I have let bitterness, anger, frustration and stubborness cloud my ability to see God for who He is, to seek His face and all His glory.  I am a humbled, so humbled - still very lost, but humbled as I crawl back to the foot of the cross.  The healing I receieved through such grace has not left me and it would seem my resolve has been rediscovered as I re-focus my eyes on where they should have been all along. While I still feel called to endure - the choice is mine how I will endure.  I pray for the ability to endure with grace, kindness, generosity and joy. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012


For those of you that don't know, we "sold" our house yesterday.  After just 8 short days on the market, someone came into our home and decided they wanted to make it theirs.  I would like to think it was because they felt at home here, that and the baking brownies candle wafting delicious smells from the kitchen. 

From our first encounter with this home last spring, I could walk into the house and immediately feel like I was home.  I would smile pulling into the driveway most days because I loved that warm-fuzzy feeling I would get when I stepped over the threshold and knew that this was the place where my entire body would sigh with relief after a long day or a doctor's appointment or a long day of work.  I homeschooled in this home, so it was also a place where we learned, grew, challenged and blossomed.  It has been my sanctuary and it has held me closely as I have been healed, restored and renewed.  When people say "there is no place like home" - I never really understood until we moved into our home here in Ohio. Before anyone accuses me of this sense of "home" being linked to the amenities, let me clarify - while I do adore the big kitchen and tons of cabinets and the immense spans of the "go play in the basement" basement, it has been more than that.

I arrived on the footsteps of this home a broken and battered mess. Fresh of a tragic loss and then another long distance move, I was lost, emotionally bankrupt and ready to resign to defeat.  Visions of what home means swept over me as I walked into the cold and vacant house, and as I wandered through the rooms and began to imagine myself drinking my coffee in the office or my kids playing in the backyard...I began to feel at home.  The waves of calm that this place emanate have been therapeutic for us all and I know we are better for having lived here.

When this whole process began I was devastated for several reasons, but in part it was because I knew I was going to have to give up my home.  The internal monologue that began weeks ago railed against corporate America for hauling our cookies (again) all over God's creation and the urge to dig my heels in was overwhelming.  I would sit on my front porch and pine away for the times that I had coming "home" here and already started to miss it a little. 

Then it hit me, like a wasn't really about the house or the extra kitchen cabinets or even the enormous basement; the grief I was feeling was more about the fear that I would somehow lose what I had become here.  A home to come home too was an integral part of making this place a great place to live, but what we have experienced in our church home has been of greater significance than any other time in our lives.  Here we have been healed.  Here we have been taught.  Here we have been ministered to in a way that we have never experienced and leaving that scared me.  What if we leave here and lose what we have gained?  What if we leave here and lose the ever closer relationship we have with our God?  The same comfort I felt walking into our home, I felt while listening to our Pastor preach and the praise band sing in worship.  I have been transformed and what if that starts to fall apart when we don't have that anymore?

Of course, I have since been reminded, again and again, that He made me into who I am today through this experience and the only way that can change is if I let it.  He has reminded me continually that His hand is present in every area of my life, now more than ever, and the healing can continue - the closeness does not have to change.  So, now as I walk around my house in the early morning hours I know that He goes before us to make a place for us in our next destination.  I know that what He has done in me cannot be undone unless I let it be undone, and even if I start to unravel and become "undone" that He can do every bit of what He has done here again and again and again in my life if I let Him.

Our home has held us as God has ministered to us in monumental ways and I will be forever grateful for this experience.  I will look fondly upon this place and this time as the place where surrender occurred, where healing took place and where "home" finally had meaning.  But, now it is time to move on and let someone else find refuge in these four walls.  I am going to lift them up and cover them in prayer as the time approaches that my sanctuary becomes their own.

So, yes, we are currently homeless.  However, instead of the initial panic-stricken calamity I envisioned when we hopped onto this crazy train, I feel oddly at peace because I know that while I might not have a home to go home to that is my own, I always have a home with Him and that has made all the difference.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Hours behind the wheel of the car gives you plenty of time to think, consider, ponder, pontificate, pray and listen.  Above the cacophony of my children's giggles, yells, play and DVD selections, I am given a work day's worth of time to just focus on the road and give my life a thorough once-over in my mind.

I am struck time and time again that just when I think I have it all together, I find myself back on my knees trying desperately to put the pieces back together again. 

There is something catastrophic about being humbled to your knees as everything around you falls apart - it feels like getting kicked in the chest and as the wind escapes your chest and you gasp for air, you wonder how anything will ever feel right again.  It is devastating and yet the most beautiful process that a human can endure.  While you cling to the hope that life will be returned to how it was before it all fell apart, you soon realize that nothing will ever be the same.  To return to the same life before the brokenness would ultimately lead you back into catastrophe, right?  So, sit in the brokenness and revel in the pieces of life that have fallen around at your feet and then let the God that relentlessly pursues your very heart catch you, mend you and heal you.

He is relentless in His love, relentless in His grace, relentless in His mercies. Our ability to be independent from Him does not negate His desire for us to be dependent on Him, our wanderlust for the things of this world does not deny us the enormity of salvation, our brokenness and weakness is made perfect in Him. He is relentlessly patient for me to turn to Him as things fall apart and surrender it all at the foot of the cross.

I find myself, after a thorough once-over is that He is my healer. I lift my hands and praise Him for being relentless. His healing has given me a life far beyond my own hands could ever create, a life far better than before, a life that could never have been mine if not for the catastrophic brokenness. I gave myself over to Him as a broken sinner, shamed, disgraced, bound and broken - miraculous and beautiful, restored to anew as His child, His daughter and His masterpiece. The beautiful process of destruction was all part of reclaiming me, part of freeing me from bondage and bringing to light to whom I truly belong. The theme of His relentless love for me has echoed in post after post, He says to me, "You are mine."

He is relentlessly seeking you too. Too much of a blessing not to share.

Friday, June 29, 2012


We sat through a torrential rain today, wind was literally throwing tree branches over the highway.  It was incredible to watch but also terrifying, especially for the little men in the back seat.  They looked to me to tell them it was going to be okay and as I assured them that the storm would pass I began to think.

There are people (that I find rather insane) that have made a career of chasing after storms.  Being as close to the eye of the hurricane or the funnel cloud during a tornado - they are there.  I can't help but think there must be some sort of thrill attached to being a stormchaser, otherwise I cannot imagine why someone would endanger themselves.

As the 80 mph wind whipped rain sideways across my wind shield I had a moment of reckoning; we are all stormchasers of one kind or another.  We go out into dangerous situations for the answers that the world promise are out there if we just weather the storm, we seek out ways to fulfill our desires/lusts/wants at the expense of time, effort, relationships and even safety and we walk straight into the storms senselessly, thoughtlessly and recklessly to prove some misguided notion that we are not scared of the storms of life. 

Am I a stormchaser?  As I calmed the boys and watched the rain subside enough to get back on the road, I pondered that very question. Yes, I am, but why?  When I logically know that the world won't give me the answers it promises, that the desires/lusts/wants are never worth what they cost, that the storms of life can be terrifying - why do I still chase head long into the storm?

And then I started to think about my Heavenly Father.  My boys, when they became scared, they immediately looked to me to tell them that the storm would pass - is that not exactly what I do when I am in the storm myself?  I look to my Father and plead with Him to let me know that the storm will pass.  His counsel is always wise, His truth is never changing, His ability to calm the storm will never cease and I look to Him to calm the very same storm that I just sprinted, not just ran, sprinted into all on my own accord; and yet He is still there.

I was able to calm them and they were back to silly giggles in no time and I took a moment and marveled at how easy it was for them to believe that the storm would pass - just because I said so and I am their Mom and they trust and love me, they believed me without hesitation.  Oh, to have the faith of a child.  Humbled before His throne of grace in that very moment as I marveled at my sweet boys' ability to just accept things because it was spoken so, He speaks to me and says:

My child, it really is that easy.  Do I not know the very number of hairs on your head?  Do I not know your heart like no other?  I created you.  No one will ever know you like I do and yet, you doubt that I can calm your storm. I spoke the world into being, I created a man to walk among you who then suffered and died so that you can walk, or even sprint, into the eye of the storm with reckless abandon, and I will still wash you in the water and leave you cleansed, restored, blameless and freed from the storm. Accept Me for who I am and accept to whom you belong - You are mine.

We arrived home safely to see the damage the storm had created and I replayed in my mind how God spoke to me in the middle of the storm - He would free me from the storm, restored and blameless, and yet as I looked around I was reminded that storms can do real damage. The storms of life can be as destructive as any natural disaster, the wreckage looks different but the damage is done nonetheless.  So, does that mean that He will see me through the storm but I might be almost destroyed when it passes?  Does that mean that after the clouds part and the Son appears that I will not be bruised, battered and broken? 

While I am His, I am guilty of stubborn rebellion, of brazen arrogance, of prideful pursuit of my own set of priorities.  So, to answer the questions above, there is a resounding NO.  The beauty of God's mercy and grace is that He allows us the opportunity to choose for ourselves which way we could go - there are days when I cry out to Jesus for a road map that would just get me where I needed to go.  I still haven't had even a glimpse at the map but I am always keenly aware of when I have strayed off course because in that same mercy and grace that allows me to stray if that is my choice there is also that still small voice of the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart to redirect my paths.  But, almost destroyed, brusied, battered, broken...yes, you can be all those things.  The most astouding part of grace to me is that amid destruction there is still light, even if it barely illuminates the darkest shadows, there is still light.  There is still a respite from the storm.  There is healing after the storm as the Son clears away the damage and reassembles the brokeness at the foot of His cross.

I am awed by His grace, His power. but even more than anything, His willingess and ability to forgive.  To forgive the storms we bring on ourselves, to forgive the storms he gently leads us away from and yet we still end up crying out to Him to save us after we've gone right back into the middle of it all.  I look at my boys and know I would run into any storm to save them at any cost and I know that He loves me even more than that.  Humbled and awed.  Almost destroyed, bruised, battered and broken and yet free from the storm. 

It is not coincedence that the most beautiful weather follows the storm, it is like Noah's rainbow reminding us that He is there.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Turn to You

What does it mean to walk away from something?  This connotes a certain degree of defeat when I say it out loud - but can it mean something else?

I am walking away from darkness.  I am walking away from what holds me captive and bound to my baggage and shame.  I am walking away from what keeps me from sleeping soundly at night.  I am walking away from relationships that I sink myself into and then start to drown into their pit of despair.  I am walking away from a life that leaves me lacking in peace, kindness, joy and contentedness.

I turn to You for it all.  When I seek Him, walking away is NOT defeat, but triumph.  When I seek His presence, walking away is less the defining action and more about what and WHO I am walking towards. 

Embraced in His everlasting arms, I turn to Him and I am saved.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Struggling.  I have spent years of my life attempting to define who I am, what I want for my life, what I will become, what I will be.  Defeatedly, I realize that to define oneself as one thing or another does two things:
1. Squishes all that a person is in every facet, situation, or moment into a proverbial box
2. Once "defined" complacency sets in and allows you to become so comfy that the challenges seem too challenging, the problems seem too problematic, the risks seem too risky

I have also come to realize that I am not ever really who I define myself as, nor the person that other people would choose to define me as - so then, who the heck am I?  I think we define ourselves by the standard that we wish we could live up to, but more often than not we fall short.  The result, in turn, leaves us feeling like a failure.  Who on Earth would be willing to define themselves as a failure?  However, with life coaches telling us that we can do, be, aspire to could that not breed self-loathing and feelings of failure?

It is a vicious cycle.  As a woman, I am particularly at risk for not living up to societal definitions of a woman (one word:  cellulite), a mother (I do spank and they have a favorite meal at every fast food chain in town), wife (I do not having a raging libido nor the ability to do cartwheels every time he walks in the door),  homemaker (at any given moment I need to dust and there is always a load of laundry to do) or friend (some days all I can seem to manage is texting or social media check-ups). However difficult the process or inadequate you feel as a result, the urge to define yourself is overwhelming because the NEED to know where you fit. 

Everyone wants to fit in somewhere and often how you define yourself determines "where" you fit.  So, back to how to define yourself. When I ask myself "who" I am the first thing that typically comes to mind is "Mom" then the rest follows, but as I have journeyed on into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God I have happened upon a concept that makes this whole defining yourself completely unnecessary.  It is not some sort of trade secret, nor is it an original thought - but nevertheless, knowing who's I am is the most powerful thing in the world. 

I am HIS.

No matter the challenge, problem or risk, I am His.  No matter where I do or do not fit in, I am His. I will continue to perceive myself as a woman, Mom, wife, daughter or friend but as I grow, I pray that the first thing that comes to mind in the future is that I am the daughter of the King, the child of the Savior, the masterpiece of His hand.  Seeing myself this way, I feel loved.  Seeing myself this way, how could I not see the world from a different and better and more beautiful viewpoint?

How do you define yourself?

Blessings to you and yours.


Sunday, January 1, 2012


It seems as if each year we all feel tempted to begin doing something "more", start doing something "less" or vow to stop doing one thing or another all together.  We begin with a bang and end with a whimper.  I have often found myself in the precarious position of lacking the intestinal fortitude to stick with whatever I have promised myself I will do differently and in the lack of willpower, strength, aptitude or commitment; I feel rather like a failure when again I end the year with that extra weight, a potty mouth and a quicker temper than I'd like. 

I did some research to find out if I could isolate the masochist that conceptualized the infamous New Year's Resolution and while I could not identify one person, it seems as if the origins begin in people of faith.  In Judaism there is Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, where one can reflect upon the wrongdoings of the year and end with offering and receiving forgiveness.  In Christianity, there is the season of Lent where people can sacrifice something to hopes to gain insight into all that Christ gave in death for forgiveness of sins.  Both religions feature forgiveness as a hallmark of making oneself a better person. 

I know that the beginning of a new year seems to give us the opportunity to start anew, with a fresh start and a happier outlook than we had when the previous year ended; however, I find it compelling to look at the seemingly faith based origins of this "resolution" process over indulging myself in flights of fancy about the resolutions that year after year remain elusive. 

Forgiveness.  What a loaded word.  Starting the year with the goal of living everyday forgiven and forgiving, now there is a resolution that sounds worthy of the battle it takes to see a resolution through the 365 days in one calendar year.  Forgiveness.  Who among us can walk with our heads held high,confident that we do not bear any ill will, unforgiveness or down right disdain for a person or persons in our life?  I guarantee, if you responded with "me", you are in short supply.  I cannot and will not offer myself as an upright example of forgiveness, for I often harbor ill will, unforgiveness and down right disdain for multiple people, especially while caught in traffic, crowded grocery store aisles and sometimes at the family dinner table.  Aghast?  Just honest. 

Most days I am fairly confident that my sins are forgiven because of my faith, belief and steadfast reliance on my Lord and Savior; however, when days come and strike me down as a disgusting, immoral, mean and selfish sinner...I do have pangs of doubt.  I have learned that on those days it is best to rely on the word of God to root out my doubt, in His word I find comfort and reassurance that, YES you are disgusting, immoral, mean and selfish BUT, I LOVE YOU ANYWAY!  To love regardless of fault, wrongdoing or indiscretion is something I cannot easily give another person, and yet I take it in without a second thought.  There is that selfishness rearing it's ugly head again. 

To forgive another person is to set free the guilt, anger, fear, disappointment, resentment or bitterness, some of which we cling to like the winning Powerball lottery ticket.  What would it mean to you to forgive that person that broke your heart?  Or the parent that neglected, abused or ignored you?  Or the friend that walks in and out of your life at whim?  Or the spouse that was unfaithful?  What would it mean to forgive yourself for being a disgusting, immoral, mean and selfish sinner? 

I have a relationship in my life that I struggle with almost daily and the struggle is rooted in my ability to forgive, or not forgive as the case may be.  I do not particularly enjoy any part of this relationship and one would think that I would do ANYTHING to resolve it so that I can summarily end this relationship and move on with my life.  However, as in everything in life, it just simply is not that easy.  To forgive this person would free me from so much anger, hurt, resentment and bitterness but I find it is so damn hard to forgive someone that has yet to seek my forgiveness, yet to apologize, yet to accept responsibility for their, do I need to get off my high horse, or what!?!  I know how self-righteous this sounds and yes, I am aware of my own need to adjust my attitude.  I am not proud of feeling this way, but that is why it has been so hard to forgive.  I think we all want to know that the person that wronged us understands why we are hurt, disappointed, etc and maybe even show some remorse...before we can forgive.  And then there is self-forgiveness; how do you forgive yourself?  Self-loathing aside, there are circumstances in everyday life that we wish we handled differently, better, etc.  We hurt others, say things we regret, lose our temper, indulge in selfishness, gluttony, lust and greed - how do we forgive ourselves? 

Therein lies the true challenge of forgiveness that makes this a worthy resolution in my mind.  To forgive without being asked, to forgive without remorse, to forgive the same transgression time and time again to forgive ourselves for falling short on a minute by minute basis...that is to forgive like our God.  Forgiveness with out a price, without an apology, without the grudge, without the self-loathing...what a gift to be given and to give.  To offer and receive forgiveness, can one occur without the other?  Most faiths ascribe to the belief that true forgiveness can only be received once you have yourself forgiven others, so that is the real litmus test in my own forgiveness - can I forgive first? 

So, rather than "resolve" to lose weight or stop swearing or start exercising regularly, I figure the best resolution I can make is to forgive first so that I can in turn receive forgiveness.  Alexander Pope said, "To err is human, to forgive divine."  Wise man.  I admit this will not be an action I will ever succeed at on my own, that divine forgiveness is not something I can ever grant, but I can work towards that goal with the Lord's ability to forgive me at least once every second as my guide. I resolve to forgive in 2012.

I pray 2012 gives each and every one of us more blessings than not, more smiles than grimaces, more laugh wrinkles than worry lines, more opportunities to hug, love, forgive and be forgiven.  Happy New Year, here's to 2012 being better than the last and another chance to try to get more right.