Change is Hard But Necessary for Healing

Warning: A confession from the depth of my soul 

Its time for a change.’ 

This statement’s been reaching deep within today…
As we’re preparing for a new transition it’s been uncovering some unhealed spaces of my heart. 
Because although God knows I’ve been begging him to end this season, this change requires a whole lot more than I ever expected it to. 

It’s honestly been causing me a lot of anxiety.
It’s so easy to wonder what might be lurking outside the familiar boundaries we’ve been walking through. 
It’s easy to long for the daily medical support when you don’t feel entirely better, when your body’s experiencing the after effects of the trauma that came uninvited into your life. 

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This was the advice being passed out as we walked into the front door of the clinic recently.
It was indirectly said to us while one of the valet workers looked into our eyes.
He then explained the guy who was walking right past us had spent the last 16 years locked up and this kind worker explained these were the words he’d intentionally given him. 

‘Its time for a change…after 16 years, its time to change something.’

When he spoke these words to us it was if he was speaking them into our lives as well…
because we too are facing these days of change. 
But not only will our schedule be taking a new direction, my heart needed to embrace this change too. 

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Tomorrow marks the finish line for Joe, as he receives his final day of treatments. 
It’s been five and half months since this journey began and tomorrow we’re finished! 

We’ve been told he will receive a certificate and a chance to ring the chimes that line the all too familiar hallway where he’s been receiving radiation. 

Although it will be a day full of celebrations for us, it is also a day which marks the beginning of our re-entry, our comeback, because it starts our initial ascent from the valley we’ve been walking through to the mountain ahead. 

Because on the other side of every valley, there’s an incline we’re required to climb. 
And these are the steps we often forget to consider.
Yet after every hard struggle, following the flood of visitors and well-wishers, in the days beyond the funeral or the good byes of life there seems to be an interval of quiet when the busyness of others seems to cease and its in these days we realize there’s another transition coming ahead. 

It’s finding our life after trauma when the realization of the magnitude of what we’ve been walking through hits and the reality of it all begins to settle in. 

So, when I heard his words this morning, I realized they were divinely spoken over us as well. 

Because when a hard & holy thing crashes into our lives we aren’t inclined to stop and consider how we’re going to walk out of it… 
Because we merely are trying to catch our breath, nonetheless have what we need to plan our impending departure. 

But something happens in these days of isolation, in their quiet we realize our desperate need for God to walk us out the other side. 

We see this throughout history with God….
As he split the waters in two for the Israelites to walk through, with Rahab as he allowed her to step over the city’s rubble, as he restored Job’s life doubly following his dire suffering and we even see it as he walked Jesus out of the grave.

There’s a life restored following pain.
A healed life full of so much more to live for. And in these moments our lives may not get put back together as quickly as they fell apart but we know God is with us through it all.

This becomes the sacred place we ask God to hold our heart and walk us out differently than we came in.

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It was a Tuesday afternoon when we stood at Joe’s desk, over five months ago when we received Joe’s diagnosis.
We stood there in disbelief and it was in that moment we decided to ask you to come alongside us on this journey. 
We asked you to choose worship over worry with us…at that moment a lot changed for us. 
Because then we realized how much this message resonated with so many of you as we saw the number of times you all shared our story and continue sharing it, 
we were surprised at your response and your willingness to worship alongside us. 

Your presence has been fierce. 
As we’ve received countless texts, messages, emails and letters from all over the world. 
Many of you have bravely cracked open your own brokenness and invited us into your own hard story, thank you for this gift. 

Thank you for bringing us along through your days and introducing us to your family and friends, it’s truly been a humbling blessing. 

I’ll be honest…your kindness has been entirely nice. But at the same time, its a bit overwhelming too. You’ve not done anything wrong, in fact you’ve been so gracious and real. It’s just that its kind of taken our breath away as you’ve unfolded yourself and we’ve gotten real together.  

But there’s something I need to share, because honestly I’ve only been able to type out a very small portion of our story and there’s so much I’d love to tell you, but for the lack of the right words and the shortage of time, I’ve yet to do this very well.  

Because how do we say all that we’re holding within our hearts? 

Our stories can’t possibly be summed up in this space alone. 
Because quite honestly we’re all at a disadvantage as we work our hardest to type out what seems the easiest to those reading our posts.
And those ugly cries and hard things we all battle have a hard time of being translated into our overcrowded feeds. 

How could I put into words the long nights we’ve laid awake…or the ptsd I’ve been wrestling with…the many side effects still lingering for Joe that might take a long time to subside…or how do I spell out for you this shocking health scare we’ve been walking through…and the reality that we desperately want to heal from all of this? 

Yes, we’re so relieved to be walking out the door of the clinic tomorrow for one last time and so ready for the treatments to stop but if we’re being honest with you we need you now more than ever. 
Because it’s here we’re preparing to fight another battle, the long process of healing. 
It’s one that’s often overlooked but it’s a necessary step for us all to go forward. 

I’ve felt afraid to write this out, because it uncovers what’s laying in the secret spaces of my soul. 
I was scared that if I showed up here and showed you the scars I’ve been covering up lately you might push them aside and tell me I’ll be fine, shoving off my need for greater healing. 

But the truth is I’ve been really struggling with our reentry lately, because so much of our lives have changed…we’ve changed…our family’s changed and honestly we don’t have the option of going back to what life was before all of this.

And yet there’s something I know for certain; even with the rawness of my heart right now…all the fears I’m battling through…all the unanswered questions running through my mind…none of this makes me any less human or worthy of God’s love. 

Because our wounds heal and they become scars which tell just how God helped us  survive. 
They tell our stories and remind others to choose worship over worry when the storms of life come threatening their peace. 

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But perhaps life is less about getting back to who we were and more about who we’re becoming. 

 

Join us in worshiping to ‘Raise A Hallelujah‘ by Bethel Music today.

  

 

 

Worshiping through Worry

Regardless of how much life unfolds before me, there continues be moments when fear grips me; afraid of what might be. 
Because I’ll always have days I consider the ‘what-ifs’ and wonder how I’ll survive, because this is the cost that comes with being human…

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Over five months ago when Joe and I sat hunched over his desk calling family and telling them his diagnosis life felt heavy and hard. But the moment we decided to choose worship over worry,
God lifted that heaviness and ushered in hope.

Family and friends began forwarding us songs and these songs began filling our time and our hearts. Because worship has a way of removing those things we often put in the place of God and gives hope.

Hope doesn’t mean there will always be good news, because we don’t put our hope in good diagnoses…hope resurrects itself when we place our lives in God’s hands, trusting him to carry us through.

When we choose worship, worry can’t exist in our hearts at that very same time.
Every moment of every day we must choose one or the other.

And the truth is:
Worry is what we’re humanly prone to in times of struggle and in suffering.
It’s the path our brains naturally take unless we give them another place to rest.

At the time, we had no idea the relief worship would bring to our worry.
We had never activated it like this.

But It was if heaven handed it to us like a prescription for our days ahead.
Yet when we began choosing to press play every time we found relief and peace.

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And if I’m being honest we’re in another testing of our faith these days as Joe has just a little over one week of treatments left.
You see, this type of aggressive cancer has been known to leave hidden remnants within its victims, coming back with a vengeance.

When Joe finishes these treatments his body’s battle is not over.

Because although the cancer outwardly is not showing itself it can hide and return with no warning and the Drs have warned us to be vigilant…
And this is because they know their enemy well.

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Isn’t this how God wants us to face our enemy, the devil?

He’s warned us of his tactics and told us to be on guard and yet so many of us are surprised and ill-prepared by his attacks.
What if we recognized one of his greatest schemes of these days is…worry?

And rather than submitting ourselves to the panic attacks, what if we chose to worship God instead?
I understand it’s not our natural go to…
But it is the relief our souls are really needing.

Because when we choose to worship God we take all our worries and set them before all of Heaven. We engage heaven’s armies in the battles we face and we set ourselves on the winning team rather than getting lost in our anxieties.

 

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Just last night my chest felt all too heavy as I laid beside Joe. Because the honest truth is he’s still fighting so many hard things.

And my heart aches seeing him suffer. And when you watch the ones you love struggle in ways they’ve never done you wonder if this is how it will be. So, I did what we’ve been doing in times like this and pressed play on our playlist.
And as soon as I did we both fell into God’s peace.
None of our problems got solved, we still don’t know how all of this will play out.

But what we do know is, God is with us through every minute of every day and he’s with you too!

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You see, I’ve always struggled with inklings of worry.
I’ve not always admitted it, but I am now.
I guess that’s because God has a way of showing us how he wants us to live differently.
So, when this thing crashed into our home instead of doing life like we’ve always done it we decided to rise differently.

And the reason we’ve been fervently telling our story is in hopes that maybe you will too.
Because instead of allowing worry to fill our chests and all the ‘what-ifs’ consume our thoughts -we decided to uncover it all before God and allow him to handle it all.

This doesn’t mean it’s been easy and it doesn’t mean we’ve not struggled through.
Because choosing worship doesn’t mean you never will;

It merely means you’ll choose to worship through your worries when they come up too.

You see worshiping through these days has actually allowed me to face my struggle with anxiety and led me to seek help.
Because worship does something holy not only in the presence of God but it does it within the heart of the worshiper as well.

I had to make these changes, because God knew something needed to change. But the thing about changing is -it requires honesty and letting our hearts bleed out. We become unashamedly vulnerable and this is what truly brings healing.

Because a beautiful thing happens when we share our wounds, others uncover theirs too.
Here, we quit hiding what’s underneath and we hurt together, and it’s here we heal together.
Because in sharing our stories we ease the pain we’ve been carrying around and we bring relief to the broken.

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And friend, this is the mysteriously beautiful thing we find as we gather in worship….Because its in worship hearts get revealed and are healed.

Healing and Where We go from Here

There are times merely living can be overwhelming…from the height of joy to the depth of grief, the sheer reality of being human comes with an immense amount of emotions.

I’ve been breathless multiple times by the simple sightings of beauty, the way a song is sung with such passion and the wonder of life as it emerges.
Then there’s the pain of little ones taken far to early, the loss of someone we love and the sufferings so many must bear.

Life is full of a variety of feelings…

And yet no emotion compares to the ones we experience standing on the edge of a mountain ridge or those while we are surrounded in the darkness of a valley.

These heights and dips have a way of marking our journeys in permanent ways.

Because it’s in these spaces our souls are introduced to a sacred beauty which exists deep within others too. 

Here we meet people we feel like we’ve known for years as we split our hearts wide open for one another to see.

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When we stepped into this journey 5 months ago, neither of us knew how it was going to change us.

Because when you are deep in the thick of it all, so much which is spoken of this disease is about surviving.

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Recently, I burst into tears, because for the first time in months, my body felt changed in ways I had no control over.
I knew we were traveling to the other side, at least for now, but I felt ill-prepared and overwhelmed by the grace greeting me on the other side.

Because it takes a renewed mind to emerge from the shrapnel that’s been wreaking havoc on your world.

And the hard truth was, I didn’t want to tell anyone about this.

I didn’t know how to tell my closest friends who’d been holding my hand through these days because surprisingly enough I didn’t have the words to sum it all up.

I mean how do you even tell someone your heart is aching from all the trauma it’s been walking through?
How do you describe the heaviness within?

I honestly didn’t want to give it all words.

Because people want you better and they want to hear of all the good you’re experiencing.
They want your old self back and really just want things back to the way it was before…maybe it’s because in some strange way, their life can return to normal again too.

So, how do you tell them you’re different?
And that you may never be the person you were before?
How do you tell someone all the things you’ve been told by drs and all of the hard things you’re still walking through?

People want see the miracle of bringing you back to who you were before.
But what we can often misunderstand is:
every struggle resurrects someone new, changed from the inside out.

And this new being is exactly who God created them to be…

Because the thing about valleys, like no other place, is they require healing.
And healing is never a simple process.
It takes time for our emotional being to regulate again,

It takes endurance for our body to return to health.
It takes
strength for us to resume to our daily tasks and rest to be able to recover from the trauma we’ve been going through.

It takes us sitting alone in discomfort awhile before it completely resumes to its natural rhythms and the honest truth this all is hard work.

So, as we step into what’s next may we re-discover God’s grace like never before.
Because it’s in moments like this we must resist the urge to rush through the
holy act of re-shaping our soul.

But this simply takes time…
and in the middle of these moments it can be discouraging.|
Because we can’t really see what’s happening deep inside of our souls.
And the thought of remaining stuck here in-between is rather frightening….we’re tired of continually adjusting and feeling out of whack.

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This is when we need reminded that God created us with the beauty of resilience, to rise from the ashes and heal our brokenness.

Because it can be really uncomfortable to sit through healing.
We’d rather reason it away or numb our wounds, because healing hurts.

Lately, I’ve been asking God
to make us whole and to take away our wounds.

And then I realized,
I can’t control how quickly I heal.
It will come when the wounds are ready to heal.

The strange thing is; the pain hasn’t dulled, walking through this hasn’t changed the worries we’re carrying to God or diminished the struggle.
Instead they’ve actually become markings of remembrance; reminders of what’s happened at the site of one of these wounds.

And one day they’ll turn into scars.
Because I’ve had it happen before.
And as I look across our days thus far I’m reminded of the trust in God these wounds  required for us to survive.

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Friend, if you’re out there surviving your own version of hard today, give your wounds the time they’re needing to heal.

For it’s in the healing of wounds God marks us with scars which speak bravely of all it’s taken for each one of us to survive.

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And from these beautiful markings…our reckless stories of faith get told.

Worship with usRaise a Hallelujah from Bethel Music is on replay a lot these days.

Our Miracle in the Middle of Our Mess

When something hard crashes into our lives, what we choose to do in these moments matters and it makes a difference. 
It may not change the outcome, but it definitely changes how we walk through it. 

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That Tuesday afternoon we heard Joe’s diagnosis is deeply etched into our story. 
Neither of us saw it coming, but this is how tragedy often gets written into our lives.

It comes when no-one’s looking and when we least expect it.

I think this is why pain is so hard….It comes into our lives uninvited and yet it somehow finds a way of settling comfortably into our homes. 

I remember Joe repeating his disbelief even while we walked through multiple steps of this the process, even meeting with Oncologists, it still felt surreal. 
And I think this is because no matter how often we hear of tragedy in others lives, we feel disconnected, until it comes into our own lives. 

And it honestly doesn’t matter how many times you hear words like ‘rare’, ‘aggressive’ or ‘fastest growing cancer’- there’s still something inside you that wants to believe it’s not true.

During the initial days of waiting, we had several good meaning friends tell us how they believed Joe wouldn’t have cancer because they’d been praying big prayers for us.
And although I wanted their words to be true, because I wanted to receive them like a word directly handed down from heaven…I struggled with them. 

Because it’s scary when we don’t know what’s ahead or where we are going…

And honestly, I struggled, because I wanted nothing more than their words to be true. But I knew if God needed us to go through this valley, he would be there on the other side to see us through it. 

Because no one willingly travels into the valley and we honestly don’t want anyone we love to enter its darkness either.
In fact many of us will go to great lengths to avoid it. 

And that’s because its reputation holds a lot of suffering, pain and loneliness in it. 

Yet the best thing we can do when God’s walking others into these dark places is to release them into the care of our good Father, knowing he goes with them every step of the way. 

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There was a scripture which Joe and I discovered those first few days found in 2 Corinthians 4.7-12…
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.’

You see, sometimes our miracle in the middle of the mess isn’t what we were praying for. Because friend our miracle isn’t always about the depletion of suffering, because suffering does something within us nothing else can do…
We pray for ‘no cancer’, ‘no death’, ‘no suffering’ because this is what feels right in the depths of us and this is what we think is best for us and for others.
Because all we want for those we love is for them to experience the best and most beautiful times of life.
We somehow believe our worth is equated to the good times in life.
We convince ourselves that people get lost inside of pain…

But friend what if the struggle is where the beauty of God is seen the most?

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Because of the aggressiveness of the cancer Joe had to be put on one of the strongest chemo regiments out there, which meant a lot of suffering. 
Which honestly felt overwhelming and daunting at times…
Yet friend, in some of the hardest moments of his suffering I’ve seen the most beautiful glimpses of God. 
And I think this is because when we walk through the darkest of valleys God gets seen the most. 

Joe and I’ve been learning what God’s needing from us right now is to be present in these days. 
It’s not for us to fully explain, because the truth is, we don’t have a lot of answers…our responsibility is to live out being human, with all the joy and all the pain it brings, because it’s here God sits with us.

I think something we all struggle with us wanting answers and certainties, but this friend is where God calls us to trust.
To trust him regardless of all the details…
And here in the middle of our mess is where life gets real, and it gets hard.

Its within this valley that God somehow gathers a community around us.
And friends its in these sacred spaces we’re able to endure greater suffering, deeper hardship and overcome many obstacles, because this is how we truly experience the presence of God in our lives. 

The gift of God meeting us in our pain is a visible display of his compassion for us.
And this same compassion we are gifted with is given for us to pass on. 

Our pain somehow gets redeemed through this gift of love from above. 

 

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What we need to remember is… on the other side of every valley is a hill…a resurrection from the dead.

So friend, if you’re in the middle of your mess looking for your miracle and you can’t see it anywhere around you…
it’s okay to let yourself bleed out for awhile and 
it’s okay to even let others see you bleed.

Because in the middle of our messes, with shrapnel laying all around us, it takes courage to open up and share our story.

And one day, sweet friend we just might thank God for the valley he’s brought us through…
Because the valley is where God does some of his best work and we find him the nearest to us. 
And this, friend is our miracle in the midst of our mess.

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It’s where God’s crazy power gets beautifully displayed for our broken world to see.

Our Worship over Worry song today is Goodness of God by Bethel Music

Why a Heart in the Middle Needs Connection

A forever friend flew into town the other day and I honestly couldn’t wait for her to show up.
I longed for us to pour out our hearts to one another, because this is truly what I love about being human!
I love how deeply we can exchange pieces of our souls with one another and how something so deep within one soul can connect with another, as if it was their
own story being spoken.
Its in moments like this I feel the most alive.

This friend of mine, has lived enough life to be able to understand the condition of my heart even when I don’t have the right words to speak.
And there’s something special about finding this kind of connection in the middle of a struggle.

We met years ago and somehow we continue finding one another despite how many years go by in between. 

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As we walked into our neighborhood coffee shop that afternoon, I was approached by an older gentleman.
He asked me a simple question wondering how Joe and I were holding up these days.
He knows the battle we’ve been fighting and he was curious how we were doing.

And just like every time I’ve been asked that question lately,
I froze…
You see, I’ve really been struggling with this simple question these days.

And to this sweet older man’s defense or any other beautiful human who’s asking me this question lately, it’s really not them, it’s not even their question…It’s everything that’s twisted up in this question that has my stomach tied up in knots lately.

Because I honestly don’t know how to answer it. 

You see, most the time when we ask a question like this we want a quick and positive answer.
We want something we can tuck away, something to settle the unrest we’ve been carrying around for their ache honestly we just want that person better.

Because somehow if they’re better; our life is better too.

And the truth is, there’s a whole lot of mystery in this kind of living.

Because when our interactions happen in fractions of seconds a day, through a quick text or passing by, we can often miss how people are really doing.

Yet I get it.

And if we’re being honest, how can anyone put words around all the hard things we’re living through in a quick passing of our day?

Because we don’t always have the right words to say in a coffee shop full of strangers.

How could I tell all I was holding deep within my chest at that very moment?

And did he really have time to see all my scars and hear of the lingering wounds Joe’s been carrying around these days?

So, I settled with just an easy smile and ‘he’s doing well…’ because honestly some unpacking of our heart needs to be done when the ones asking this question can handle what we’re about to tell them with the understanding our soul is needing.

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And that’s just what my friend and I did as we comfortably settled into our chairs and opened up our hearts over a coffee and a tea.

She told me the feelings I’ve been carrying around lately were completely understandable. Her empathy offered me the permission to feel and process all the emotions I’d been wrestling within and wondered if it was normal to feel.

And when people give our feelings a place in our story its as if something beautiful comes alive within us.

As we left that evening I don’t think my friend really knew what she had done for me.
Because I think the art of connection and allowing another’s story to be heard really does something that is often overlooked and underrated.
But I truly believe if we’d do more of this there’d be a whole lot more healing happening around us. 

Because there’s something truly powerful about a story coming alive. 

I know this because the times others have been brave enough to show me their scars, it’s often the beginning of something big.

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Friend, we all have battle wounds to prove we’ve lived through some hard things of our own.

And this beautiful friend of mine is living proof of this.
She’s living through something many couldn’t survive.
I think that’s what’s always drawn me to her…

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For years we spent our days raising our families miles apart, both doing the best we could. 

Our lives overlapped so much it’s almost crazy how God let this happen, almost
as if he had a purpose back then
-for today. 

But then, an unimaginable tragedy crashed into her home.
For me it was something I never expected, but for her it was different.
Because when a marriage turns into a nightmare and you’re afraid for your life…the rescue God allows can come like brutal relief.

And watching my friend live out her own brave story has been life-giving for me as we’ve been living through this cancer scare.

When her news came over the phone, I knew I wanted to show up, so I went.
Because sometimes showing up, is all we know to do.

And this is truly often the invitation we’re all waiting for to split ourselves wide open.

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So, this Sunday evening when it was my turn to do the same, it seemed almost too easy to do.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when my words spilled out and they were graciously met with such
compassion and understanding… 
Because everything we live through is really an opportunity for compassion to be birthed…
those
bright red hearts we gain from our struggles.  

Because friend, life requires us to bravely live and part of doing this is sharing our story with others whom we sit across from.

Sometimes this means sharing our story of courage and other times it’s listening to the brave soul who’s courageously uncovering their wounds for us to see…regardless of which it is, both require us to live vulnerably amongst others.

Because there’s something we all do alike in struggles.

We make it past the initial shock of the beginning and find ourselves inside the
messy middle of something….

And it’s here we have this brave choice to live our unspoken life out loud for others to see God in these moments.

Yes, its hard but its where deep soul healing truly happens and where we often discover the hidden blessings God has for us. 

Because every time we tell our story a piece of our broken heart begins to heal.

What about you friend, are you in the midst of something hard, that feels like it may swallow you up?

Know -God has you, he sees you and you are deeply loved! 

And if there’s anything I’m learning these days is
…Go ahead, be brave and tell your story.
Because it’s in doing this you will truly heal!

 

There’s Struggle in the Valley, but it won’t Last Forever

Several years ago my family decided to make the trek up a high peak in the continental divide. I had heard tales of our son’s adventures up these mountains and I wanted to experience it.
I had no idea though just how much it would whip me. 
I thought I was in pretty good shape but I soon discovered I wasn’t entirely ready for what this mountain held.
It’s rugged cliffs and inclines challenged me every step of the way. 

And the closer we got to the top the more I wanted to turn back. 

Yet I’m not sure if it was the view behind me which looked so far away or the deep desire I had to stand on a mountain top
-whatever it was it gave me what I needed to keep climbing…

And sometimes, that’s how I feel life is.

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Somedays life honestly feels like its woken us up climbing an enormous mountain.

Lately Joe and I have been catching glimpses of ourselves in our reflections and we both keep wondering who the stranger is staring back at us.

We’ve caught ourselves not recognizing the person in the mirror multiple times. 

Because valleys bring about weathering. 

And honestly I sometimes don’t know what’s worse the hard thing we’re experiencing or the feeling that we’re in it alone. 
Because we all get lost sometimes walking ourselves through suffering. 
We get a bit confused and overwhelmed as we wander through our days, and we find ourselves feeling alone while we walk through the valley we’re in. 

I know because I’ve felt this lately. 

No matter how many texts we receive or kind words spoken….the way people have loved us has been humbling, but…
there’s some places God leads us alone. 

And I think that’s because the mountaintops are what we climb to see God; but the valley is where God meets US.

It’s in the valley that God reassures us we can make it through. He doesn’t beckon us from the other side of the valley or watch us while we suffer through the valley
-God goes WITH us.

You see, I truly believe people don’t like to say God leads us into valleys. 
They’d rather say its a place we wander when we’re lost. 

But I believe differently.

Because friend we can’t plan the days we will be led into a valley. 
They show up in our lives at the most unpredictable times, usually when we don’t really have time for them and we’d rather walk the other way.
Valleys are just like this, they show up at just the wrong time and in the wrong way. 
And it doesn’t make a difference how good we are or if we’ve eaten all the right things and kept ourselves in good shape. 

Because valleys aren’t choosy and they’re not predictable.

They don’t pick on an ethnicity, a gender or even a certain pay scale…because no one’s exempt from them.

Friend, valleys are hard and none of us make it through without picking up a few scars.
Because our scars tell the stories of the valley and they tell about how God brought us through. 

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In this valley we’ve been traveling through one of the craziest things is the people we’ve been meeting, pushing through a hard time of their own. 
Its always been amazing to me how people slice open their hearts when they see yours is broken too. 
Its as if being in a valley with someone else makes it better.

I truly believe that’s because in the depth of our souls lies an innate desire to know we’re okay and we’ll be okay. 

And when we meet people in these places our collective pain intertwines with theirs and it somehow fills a bit of the emptiness we’re feeling…
It somehow gives purpose to our pain and lets our ache find a tinge of relief.  
And honestly this can be a little tricky as we can convince ourselves that our wounds are healed when God’s just letting the bleeding stop for a bit. 

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And friend, if you’re out there hurting and wandering in a valley of your own…I want you to know you’re not alone.
And if you’re in the middle of a raging storm, know that all storms come to an end and you WILL be okay. 
Even though all of our storms end differently, they all end and you will survive
In fact one day you will show another hurting friend your scars and you will be the ONE who breathes life into another’s lungs. 

I know this because I’ve experienced this and I know you will too!

Because friend, there’s a big difference between ‘feeling’ broken and living broken. 
Those aching feelings you and I experience don’t truly make us broken
>>>they make us REAL.

And although being real hurts and sometimes feels like we’re bleeding all over our people, its okay.
Because being real, is vulnerable and its here we find connection and we connect people to God.
And It’s here in his blood that people find LIFE.

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 And the truth is…

Valleys are best spent with God; because the people we meet there are designed for his purpose. 

Two souls which find each other in brokenness still need God MORE than they need one another, because no other human makes us whole. 

Valleys aren’t meant to swallow us up but to meet God.

Yes, we will struggle in the valley and we will even cry out in the valley, but God won’t ever leave us in the valley…because the valley is only temporary, it’s not a place we’ll ever call home.   

 

When Something Needs to Die

Sometimes we find ourselves standing in the middle of something we’d never pray for, never ask God for yet in the midst of it we uncover a hidden beauty underneath the mess…
Something which although we’d never want to go through ever again…we’re learning and gathering here is perhaps something we once spent hours praying for.

Please hear me, I’m not saying I’ve ever prayed for this disease or suffering to be in our lives but within this very intense season something bigger is being birthed. 
It’s when we acknowledge what this season is bringing into our lives and how we’re growing even in the midst of the deep ache we’re experiencing that we find purpose for the pain.  

It’s wholeheartedly believing these seasons which sometimes crash into our lives with a reckoning force that crack open our hearts bring a sacred invitation to join God in his holiest of work. 

In no way am I over-magnifying this work to elevate anything we are doing but what I am saying is perhaps the seeds God calls us to sow in times of heartache and suffering grow something far greater than we would’ve ever expected. 

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Here I am in the middle of watching my husband struggle through pain, here I am in the middle of the wounds that come with fighting against something so brutal that I often miss how God is healing us in ways that will carry us for years to come. 

Being able to see our lives through the steps of growth we’re taking rather than the pain we’re struggling through is making all the difference for us.

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God loves to put a new song into our hearts but the process of ‘moving’ one’s heart is a tender work that sometimes requires pain.

Because movement within us arouses our sometimes sleeping souls and awakes us to people we would’ve never stopped to notice before…

Now changed we get invited to be moved by his Spirit.

Why does this matter?

It matters because there’s a lot of broken souls surrounding us and God desires for us to leave our self-focused lives and enter into other’s pain…uncovering unseen brokenness.

We come alive in this work.

Because as we begin to uncover other’s pain we discover something born out of our pain, giving it purpose beyond the devastation of it coming into our lives. 

Our lives become far greater than a search for its meaning as we find life resurrected from a hard season of plowing, awakened and released to embrace a new beginning, a renewed ministry to those who are broken. 

God does his best work in bringing life from death, because death always precedes resurrection…

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We are finding this true in so many ways as we are walking through this cancer journey.
When we were first told of the aggressiveness of his diagnosis, doctor after doctor spoke of its rarity and aggression. 
And honestly we both were overwhelmed with their concern.
We’d always heard the words aggressive and cancer used together in rather hopeless situations. 

So, when our Oncologist explained with the aggressiveness of his disease it could be treated with an aggressive chemo we were hopeful, but there was one thing
-it was going to take all we had to fight it. 
(And boy has that been true!)
He said the treatments he would endure would attempt to kill all of his cells to bring him back to life, to heal him. 

The details of this disease shouldn’t really surprise us…

You see God’s been calling Joe and I to the work of restoration since we first came into ministry. 
We didn’t always know this or even see it.
In fact it wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that Joe first spoke of how he felt God had designed us like this.
And once he spoke it out loud we began tracing this truth throughout our lives and were surprised to find it even within the tiniest of details.  

You see, God’s given us a love for this kind of work whether it’s the beams of a house broken at its foundation, the soul of a shattered person broken beyond belief or even the heart of a church splintered needing its heart revived…

So why were we surprised that he would need us to experience this same kind of  work in our own lives too?

And the interesting thing is, even though Joe and I are going through these days right now side by side next to each other, we’re experiencing this work in two totally different ways…him within the minuscule cells of his body and me within the secret places of my soul. 

Because the work of restoration is as unique and distinct as the cells he’s placed within our bodies.

And the truth is each of us goes through our own kind of restoration…

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Because death always comes before a life is resurrected and the question which remains is…
Are we willing for something to die to find life?

Who am I to think that the road to finding new life would be anything less than paved with the pain of death? 

And even though a death of something must happen for life to find its way to emerge, there’s something truly beautiful that gets birthed when we live a life surrendered to this kind of dying. 
We clasp arms with the restorative work of our Savior who he himself chose death for life. 

So, friend if you feel a part of you is dying or even more a piece of you that you know has needed to die for years
-know although the process may take all you have
the life you’ll find after the resurrection is a life worth dying for….

I’ve felt death within the deepest places and God is showing me how what is rising within me is far more life-giving than anything I once carried around. 

Because what we are finding these days is for us to feel fully alive,
a death must painfully come first…