When life doesn’t make sense but God does

Sometimes life hits and you’re left wondering if what just happened is real or it’s just a dream…

It was Tuesday afternoon, the day after our thirtieth anniversary when Joe called me and
he softly spoke the words,
‘The Dr called and I have Lymphoma…’

I couldn’t believe it.

Even though God had been giving me bite size portions of this over the past week, my heart didn’t want to receive these words.

‘Oh, Joe I’m so sorry…we will get through this…’ were the words I repeated over and over until I arrived into the church parking lot and walked in to see him.

My gas tank was on empty and it mirrored my emptiness within…I felt like someone had let the air out of my lungs.

Once I reached his office, I held Joe as tightly as I could.
Because sometimes holding onto the ones you love feels like coming home.

He’s always been the strong one and I’ve fed off his strength for years and now I felt like the roles were reversing….

I’d be…
The one he’d lean into.
The one to remind him of God’s truth.
The one who would pass courage on when he feels worn down by it all.

I wondered if I had it in me….But life somehow awakens us in moments like these.

Something’s been changing in us over the past couple of days I feel it deep inside…

The next morning I spent countless minutes with God letting him minister to my soul.
In those moments I felt more alive than I’ve ever felt.
I saw the fight ahead and knew the one who’s been fighting battles through warriors would fill us with everything we needed to get through the days ahead.

We texted our kids and asked them to join us in turning our worries into worship.
Just the day before as one of our son’s prayed over us asking God to let this test become our testimony and our mess be our message, something courageous arose within us.

We sent out songs of worship to those near and far and asked them to join us in worship to God. We knew worship was the thing that ministers to brokenness the most.
The response was huge as we began receiving songs of praise from all over the country. People joining us in worshipping through worry.
Many with piles of worry of their own.

And last night the most beautiful thing of all happened.
As close friends and the leadership of our church gathered together,
God came even nearer to our souls.
We sang out together, hearts wept and we prayed.

We cracked open wide our hearts and our wounds and bled with one another.
And you know what happened?
Jesus met us there…
He cleaned up our wounds and mended our brokenness.
And in the ache of it all, we felt empowered to walk ahead…surrounded by armor bearers beside us.

And truth is I think we all will be different because of it.

Even this place we live will be different.

Our kids will be different and their places will be different too.

Because something that invades this deep can’t help but change us and change those surrounding us.

.

Just yesterday, I read the verse on my daily calendar that I had picked out in November.

The black ink simply stated…

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Psalm 23:4

This verse foreshadowed where we were headed yesterday…as I read the words in the morning.

‘The darkest valley…’ struck me.

But it also gave me an enormous comfort as I continued reading…

‘I will fear no evil, for YOU are WITH me…’

God is with us through our darkest valleys friends.

He is with us and he is with the ones we love who are suffering too.

There is no greater comfort than knowing he walks beside us and even carries us through some of our hardest days.

I’m reminding myself this truth as it feels a little harder to breathe lately and when I’m afraid of what’s ahead-God is WITH me and he’s WITH Joe too.

And friend he’s WITH you in the dark valley you’re walking through too.

The thing with valleys is they’re always sandwiched between two hills. To get into the valley we will have to descend into it and yet to walk through it we must make the ascent on the other side.

You see, even people who live in a geographical valley have to make a climb upward to get anywhere.

And perhaps this picture is more about our climb upward than it is about walking through the dark valley.

Maybe it’s who we climb upward with…and about making it through the valley, so we can make the ascent up that will prove meaning-full.

.

It’s still dark outside this morning as I felt nudged to crawl out of bed on this dark and stormy morning.

But God began writing this story on my heart,

because that’s what he does.

He writes words upon us so we will speak them and revive another’s hurting soul.

Our stories are just that.

They’re our journey, our ascent upward.

They’re the stories people really want to hear but we all too often hide underneath.

People want to know we hurt like they do, they want to know we wrestle inside and that we’re scared like crazy too.

Because this is what makes us real.

It’s what authenticates our stories.

And you know what I’m finding…the more we tell our story the more it’s not as scary as before, and our pain eases some too.

Somehow in speaking our brave words God heals our brokenness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Your Story Matters

It was a random day thirty-two years ago when a high school friend and I met up.
We both had went our separate ways after graduation and we’re meeting to reconnect.

I secretly wondered if she’d found her way yet, because I felt like I was doing more wandering than anything else. 
Even though I’d spent the last year serving in the inner city of Philadelphia, I felt like the more I learned about myself the more I became confused.

As we sat face to face, across a small table in our local Pizza Hut she openly and unashamedly unpacked her story for me.

We’d been good friends in High School, I really thought I knew her well.
We had hung out at each other’s houses, we shared favorite songs and even dressed alike.
We did all the things teenager girls do but sometimes even then we can bury secrets.
The part of our stories we’d both hidden in fear for being found out, even in the presence of a good friend. 

But this day was different. 

She chose to rip the covers off the part of her story she’d been burying for years and told me of how she was now living freer of all its shame. 

Something shifted inside me as she exposed her soul.
It wasn’t what I expected.

I’d been hiding my stuff for years, so far down I hadn’t even taken the time to sort through it myself.
I’d been protecting it, hiding it and armoring it up. 

But that day something within me was awoken.
Like a valiant warrior ready to meet their foe.

I too held a story within the walls of my chest.
A story that needed to be spoken.
But how?
Would I be rejected because of its shame-full tale?
Would it determine a destiny of failure for me? 

These were the nagging questions telling me to bury it deeper.

Yet as I heard my brave friend speak with such passion and life as she uncovered her wounds, I realized none of her story was ugly or repulsive. 
But rather it strangely yet powerfully drew me in…closer. 
Her story connected with something living deep inside me.

As she told her story it brought forth my story. 

I didn’t share mine that day I just sat on the edge of my seat as hers held such mystery and meaning.

.

Our stories are powerful like that.
They’re painfully beautiful and who we are.

And yet we can spend countless years running away from them.

I wanted to stand up that day and scream…
‘me too’. 

Because my soul felt so alive,
as if it’d been given words it was longing to speak. 

I spent the entirety of the next few months getting acquainted with my story. 
At first I saw myself through a rigid and judgmental lens. 

I think times of introspectiveness can easily become clouded by the images of comparison blocking a clear view of ourselves.

My reflection was filled with scars full of pain.
And the more I stripped away the uglier they became…. 

-I’d spent years worrying about what others thought of me.

-I mirage my pain with humor and being the center of attention for fear of rejection. 

-I often spoke my inadequacies out loud because I feared others might speak them if I didn’t and that seemed far too painful to endure. 

-I lived my life never feeling like I was enough…smart enough, tall enough, skinny enough, talented enough or good enough to ever become noteworthy.

-I deeply longed to be known and seen.

.

As I ran my fingers over my scars for the years to come and uncovered them one by one…I found something noteworthy…
I found that my markings beautifully told moments of authentic living.


And we all possess them.

Every.Single.Human.
They’re our stories.

They tell where we’ve come from and were we’re headed. 
They tell broken tales of rejection and brave moments we’ve overcome.

And although our stories describe us, they don’t define us. 

They’re powerful when shared and heal hearts when told.
They give our souls life and breadth.

So friends, 
no more hiding and covering them up. 
Our story’s are not meant to be left untold, they’re meant to be re-told
….again and again. 

Because it’s a person.
Who’s beautiful…and it’s YOU!

Our stories contain strands of God’s story and he’s given them to us to carry into our broken world.

Speaking your story inspires other human beings to tell their story and soon these brave messages of hope reach the ends of the earth like they were meant to do.

Stories do travel, they travel with us wherever we go-they go too.

I thoroughly believe in the power our stories hold…

do you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How losing someone adds value

As I reflect back on this week just a year ago, there’s so many emotions that come to the surface.

Feelings and words left unsaid mixed in with a handful of gratitude for so many beautiful moments.

I’ve often been described as having a heart-full of emotions, as if my heart could be defective because it felt so deeply. 
I struggled with this for years embarrassed of how feelings seemed to be woven into every chord of my inner being. 

And I spent a lifetime becoming whatever someone else thought I should be.
I became a filler of empty souls.
I became the one who strived to bring peace into unsettled places.
I became a soundboard for broken and wounded hearts.
Mostly in some strange way to find purpose for the enormity of feelings I held within my heart. As if I could possibly find a useful purpose for my emotions, then others would accept how I was designed…and perhaps even deem me as ‘normal’. 

But now as I’ve walked through this past year, missing my parent’s conversations and their sweet presence, I am reminded how God has re-membered my heart. 

That God sees our value through the condition of hearts and not in our outward appearance. 
And our hearts which were created in the image of God, also contain the attributes of him. 
My heart isn’t defective, it was given a plethora of emotions to experience others through it.
We experience God through our hearts too.

I truly believe this is what we were given this amazing organ for…
to cry with others,
to feel their pain and their joy with them,
to fully feel the depth of love and loss, 
and experience things alone we would never know.

And I’m reminded- it’s truly an extra-ordinary thing to be moved by people…

To see humanity reflected in moments of extreme living and be invited inside them.

To look within a heart, as it’s peering inside yours.

To watch a life breathe its last breath as you gasp for air.

Both lives fighting to live their own version of brave inside one another.

• • •

Last year when my Dad came to stay with us,
I never realized his coming would lead to his death.
It wasn’t his intention either. He came hoping for greater medical treatment.

Yet as the days unfolded, he went from barely walking until he was forced to lay …completely surrendered on his back.

It was strange to see my Dad, a once strong and active man lying at rest. A decorated military veteran, a real fighter of a guy who didn’t seem to be fighting any more….

He’d lived his life fighting…fighting to survive as a teenager following his father and two brothers’ deaths, fighting to prove himself a man which years later transitioned into him fighting for his family, for his God and for his Country.

My Dad was a fighter through and through.
And boy did he like a good fight too.

But something changed over time….

Dad shifted from fighting against people to fighting for them.
I believe there’s really nothing more powerful than a person fighting for others.

My Dad’s heart grew more tender as he deeply began caring for others.

This kind of living is hard though.
We become exposed and raw.

Where our emotions hover the surface and toughness falls away.

Where Love takes over insecurity and love fights for others.
For the souls at risk.
For truth to conquer lies.
And for brave stories to be told.

Love listens to other’s stories.
It reveals souls.
It tells the hard and holy of people’s lives.

• • •

I have to tell you of my strange love affair with cemeteries. 
I know its quite morbid.
I don’t know if it’s because I realized at a young age that no souls were ever truly buried there or if it’s my love affair with people’s stories and I recognized cemeteries literally contain thousands of them. 

But I once lived in the city across from an old grave yard.
I loved walking along its paths through the acres of gravestones it held.

Call it what you’d like, it was really quite lovely and even quaint.
I strangely found it life-giving to wander through its winding paths reading the inscriptions of people who once lived in the very same streets and neighborhood I was traveling.

Years later when my parents foot steps led them to live in the very same house as I did.
They too became taken by the beauty of this garden of gravestones.

One day while I was visiting my parents I saw a thin white paper lying on their table with a gravestone rubbing on it.
I immediately knew what it was because when I was younger my Mom had taught me how to do this.

Using a pencil with a sheet of paper we would make a copy of the gravestone’s inscription as the pencil rubbed over the surface would make a visible imprint of it. This process renders the natural artistry of the textures and patterns of the stone while also capturing a unique and beautiful print of the engraving.

When I asked my Mom about the significance of the one she’d kept.
She told me the gravestone contained a name she longed to know more about.
We didn’t talk any more about it.
And for the life of me I can’t remember the name that was inscribed on the paper.
I only remember the worn texture it held. I remember how vividly the deep grooves and impressions revealed its age.

And sometimes that’s how it is…
A person’s life leaves impressions and marks on ours.
Ones we want to remember, ones we long to know more about.

Yet when they often leave us far too soon we can feel robbed of this opportunity.

But I’ve been realizing how many lives of my past continue to speak to me.

Much like a permanent imprint on my soul…impressions somewhat unintended left to propel me forward.

Many times I’ve heard my parent’s words whisper from somewhere deep inside as if they’ve been there all along. Whether its words they continuously repeated over me or ones spoken only once, they remain within me. And I carry them close.

Because sometimes as we tread a new territory of our own without those who once cheered us on…
Fear can grow.

We can be afraid because we’re clearing a path of our own and not depending on the footprints we spent a lifetime following.

And I would love to tell you it gets easier and better the longer we do this thing.
But I’m not sure I’m the one who can speak those words with confidence.
Because I’m not entirely sure I believe them.

But what I can say is fear can be something which steers us away
OR it can be the very thing that drives us towards our next brave thing.
We hold this choice in our hands…And since my Father’s death, I’ve been choosing to speak different words of courage to myself.

Because I can hear him telling me to be brave and walk forward.
I hear him telling me to persevere and to believe in myself.
I hear him reminding me to live out the calling given to me by God.
And I hear him cheering me on with every step I take.

Because I believe that’s what he’d be speaking over me if he were still here with me today.
Because words are powerful.
And they move us.

Because friends we get to follow their lives. 
Maybe not living them exactly like they did.
Because we’re different…
But just like them, it’s our turn to carry God into our generation. 
To take our broken pieces and share them with a broken world who needs to know they’re worthy of being restored. 

And deep within me is emerging the person I’ve always been. 
One who sees with fresh eyes the purpose of how we’ve each been uniquely designed. 

Because at the end of the day, our worth isn’t what’s changed it’s how we see the value of our one life. 

The lost get found

Years ago as I sat across from my counselor for the first time, I remember her asking me to share a little bit about why I was there…

It’s funny because before I’d walked into her office that day I could’ve told you every reason I needed to be there.
But that day, that question-left me speechless. 

Why was I there, I wondered?

After all how can you wrap words around the deepest places of your wounded soul? Which part of broken does one begin to tell the stories with?
Everything I said sounded so disconnected.
As if I’d shown up unprepared.

I don’t really remember the details of the words I spoke but there was one word I repeated over and over.
It was the word ‘healthy’. 

Up to that point ‘healthy’ was a description that didn’t reflect any semblance of my heart. It was a stale longing within. 

And yet I reminded myself…
Id done the brave thing and showed up that day.
And if you’ve ever had to be brave enough to walk into a counselor’s office with your heart pounding inside, you know what it took for me to be there. 

I suppose its a fear of being known by someone so intimately and even the intimidating work of finding one’s self underneath the wreckage within. 
A fear of what I’d learn and of letting go of things I’d held onto for years.

But after the initial quickening of my pulse there was something freeing about speaking these words. 

Being known isn’t always what we think it is.
Sometimes it can be
as if we’re releasing a valve that our heart is needing.

I anticipated it being much harder and more embarrassing much like the dreaded teenage years. When I was deathly afraid of when my period might arrive and I wouldn’t be prepared…I’d heard plenty of horror stories of girls being in history class staining their pants to know I couldn’t bear that kind of humiliating exposure. 

But as I kept speaking the word ‘healthy’ I remember a desire growing within. 

Why is it we crave to be healthy and yet often remain in some of the most deteriorating states of being?

I suppose it’s because we don’t see it like it is.

We convince ourselves we aren’t digressing, that we’re remaining steady in our holding patterns. 
And yet its those who are closest to us who usually see us most accurately.

Do you know my husband whom I adore and trust with my whole heart has never told me I didn’t need to walk myself into counseling when I’ve felt a prodding to go?
He’s never said, ‘No, you don’t need that.’ 
And I truly believe its because he celebrates growth in every person he meets. 
And he loves me way too much to leave me where I am.
I suppose its because he knows if I grow and become healthier

-we’ll grow and become healthier too. 

I can honestly say I didn’t know what I needed that day I walked into my counselor’s office.
I just knew I was ‘in need’. 

In need of healing. 

In need of wisdom.

In need of empathy and compassion.

In need, because there had been pieces of the wiring of my soul that had been cut off and disconnected…
And sometimes that’s the best place to begin the process of being re-membered. 

What I found that day in that small simple room was something of a far greater magnitude  than the plain white walls encompassing me…I found a piece of myself.

I found that…
It’s okay to be me and to be loved and to find love sitting across from me in the presence of another wise human being. 
And although sometimes its in the quiet spaces of a closet crying out to God I find pieces of my heart, there are other times in the wide open spaces that someone helps me peer inside my wounds that I find the most soulful healing. 

Because our lives are rarely what they seem.
They’re full of beautiful and hard moments and everything in between but they’re also amazingly real.
And what’s even more beautiful than this, is this is the kind of stuff that brings our human hearts together and causes us to seek healing from God.
Because within our heart is a little piece of someone else’s.

I started a journey of becoming healthier that day and I am committed to this road of restoration…
Where healing’s found and where God uses our hard to care for another.

It’s on this road I’ve unraveled some brokenness and even ran my fingers over wounded places I’ve never felt before….
I’ve encountered feelings buried in the depth of my soul and I’ve had the joy of experiencing what healthy feels like and its got me yearning for more…

Because the work is worth it.

Because we’re worth it and our people are worth it.

Because when we live with souls that are wholly given we’re able to whole-ly live. 

Because everything that’s lost can be found.

Finding what love is

I’ve been told far too many times I ‘feel’ too deeply.
I wonder how many others have been told a story like this and rather than choosing to read a little further into our stories we’ve handed over something of strength.  

I can remember armoring up my heart in an attempt to not feel.

And when it came to love my feelings were so twisted up in what I saw and had experienced that I mistook it for something radically different from what it really is.
I thought love was simply a feeling two people experienced and tried their hardest to keep alive. 
For years I doubted one’s ability to remain faithful to this kind of thing…
As I thought love equated physical intimacy and this truly scared the brokenness within me.
Because most of what I saw around me was full of broken hearts and broken promises with a whole lot of hidden secrets sewn into them.

Although there was something deep inside me that longed to be known and loved…I didn’t know how to reconcile this with how I’d been defining love.

And then it happened, one day when I met this guy who began inviting me to unravel pieces of my soul and as I did he gently massaged it. His affections for me were demonstrated with such respect-full-ness and tenderness my heart felt the beginning of it’s healing.  
I hadn’t ever experienced this before but I knew I wanted more of it…

As we continued trading our stories I began realizing that love was not the romantic notion I had conjured up in my heart, it was so much more.
It involved the peering in of another and recognizing a heart that was beautifully made in the image of its maker… 

I was finding just how much our souls long for trusted vulnerability…
Because vulnerability in its most truest of state is something of great value and worth…

It’s taking all the hard of someone’s life with the holy pieces.

It’s removing the shrapnel of another’s heart and mending its wounds.

It’s listening and hearing someone’s story and holding it near.

It’s carrying a friend to the One who can heal and make them whole.

It’s disregarding our wants and needs to attend to someone else’s.

It’s sometimes leading and many other times spent following.

It’s all inclusive because exclusivity really has no place in its midst.

It’s finding out our hearts might be broken and accepting the healing that is offered to us.

Friends, it can be found all around us if we look hard enough we’ll find we’re encircled with a world searching to be deeply known…you can see it in the eyes of the cashier who’s carrying a heavy load…or in the hallways of our offices and schools…you’ll even see it in the millions of lonely people visiting corner cafes hoping to be seen or heard. 

And if I’m being completely transparent this heart of mine has felt like I’ve walked through way too many days with a heart that’s undone. 

Because…
I never realized the wounds of heart need love and they need healing for them to not ache so deeply and feel like they’re always being re-wounded. 

I never realized my heart when it was formed in the secret places of my mother’s womb was beautifully molded without even a blemish.

I never realized a heart is not meant to ache every second it sits in your chest, that God created it to have moments of joy and of peace too.

I never realized any of this because the mess I’d been burying and covering up needed to be dug out in order for the vessels of my heart to flow blood through my veins as it’s designed to do. 

I never realized any of this because for far too long I believed I was made to be broken and that love was somehow broken too. And it wasn’t until God showed me through those he’d surrounded me with that his intention for all of us was something that was so much more than this. 
That love in its most beautiful form is found in one life that’s given for another’s to be found. 

Because love breaks us wide open and returns us back to who we were created to be …love perseveres through the hardest and even the best of days…love does what nothing else can ever do- – –
it heals, it restores and it causes us to never forget its undying power to revive a heart that’s barely beating. 

Let us be the love our world needs…even when its hard and it hurts…or we feel all too broken…for love will forever heal!

How to Make Room to Grow

This plant recently found its way into our home and has spread its beautiful roots beside me.

Plants have a sweet way of moving life into our homes.

Its continuous need for light and water are reminders of its fragility and resilience to survive.

And even though I’m fully aware of its unceasing needs

-I’ve been known to neglect and even kill a few plants in my lifetime.

And yet it hasn’t stopped me from bringing another one home….

Because their beauty far outweighs their risk.

Every.single.time.

Which reminds me of this one plant I recently moved into a bigger pot.

Its roots were all twisted up and overcrowded busting through the soil as if it was begging me to make room for it to stretch out.

As I look at my plant that is now looking much healthier and sitting pretty in its new home, a thought came to me…

-Everything needs room to grow…space for our souls to breathe-

A moment to lengthen and branch out even with the risk of survival waits nearby.

A moment to get untangled and revisit our original intentions of moving forward…

But…

Growth can be scary.

And hard.

It might even require us to make changes, to take big risks.

And that can be scary because making room can get messy and even hurts…

But change brings growth…every.time.

And creating room to breathe, to heal and to reflect gives us the gentle space our soul needs to grow…

In fact it sometimes makes a difference between life and death.

I saw this with my little plant…

When it was given more space -it spread its roots and began thriving.

Every day it soaks in the rays of the sunlight which beams through the glass panes…

and it stretches out a little further.

As if it’s speaking a gentle thanks for it’s healthier place to bloom and grow.

When brokenness becomes a calling

What lies deep below the enormity of the ocean waters is often unknown and unseen by so many of our human eyes.
And although many of us have played in the shallow of its waters and even dipped our toes in its delight there’s fewer of us who’ve trained to go into the depth of its discoveries. 

And much like what lies deep below the surface of the ocean walls so it is within the walls of a human soul.
We may know a selected people’s likes and dislikes and even a few interesting facts about their lives but the things that get stashed deep within one’s soul are often hidden  there in fear and shame. 

This past week as I’ve been reading with a heavy heart a Pastor who recently took his life….a loss far bigger than many of us can fully imagine.

But what I am finding in this story is something so beautiful.
For in the midst of the overwhelmingly hard thing this community is living through they’re encircling this when so much still remains unraveled, unknown and hidden in the dark and they’re choosing to speak a courageous message…telling all they know in hope to save lives.
Oh may we meet them here in this sacred space…

I am reminded of friends and even relatives who’ve ended their lives far too early…Dads…Moms…Husbands…Wives…Brothers…Sisters…Cousins….Nephews….Nieces….Uncles….Aunts…Sons…Daughters…Pastors…Spiritual leaders…Co-workers…Neighbors…and even as Friends…

You see, in every ending of life there is a rippling loss for so many…

We really have no idea how many people we’re really connected to when we feel like we’re all alone…when we feel trapped in the darkness of our brokenness. 

But friends we brush shoulders every day with hidden pain that’s lining the walls of others souls; never realizing the brokenness being carried around. 
We often see only glimpses of this pain seeping out.
We ignore unspoken indicators brushing them off as exaggerations of brokenness. 

But if we’re real and would reach a little deeper into our soul we would find places of unhealed brokenness too….because being human comes with volatile casualties.
And I truly believe every human experiences a variety of these traumas.   

I know because I’ve lived them…

And although I’ve found so much healing, I’ve dipped back and forth this past year. 

The loneliness…the weight of too many losses at once…the pain that comes from living in a broken world…and in the aching of it all there were moments I thought of disappearing and not letting my story out.
I thought it was too much to share. 

BUT…
A piece of me wanted you to know…even though it can be scary and so hard to put ourselves out there and to be this version of real as I read this man’s story this week I found a similar strand woven through every human life…
a remnant…a desire to be wanted…needed and noted as valuable..a yearning within a broken soul to find wholeness….

The words that I’ve kept locked away have pleaded for years to be written. 
Yet I know what its like when a person spills their stuff out on paper…it’s all too easy to assume they’re a little too ’emotional’  ‘needy’ or ‘broken’…

I know what its like because I’ve been there.
Because there’s times we rise from these difficulties with resilience and others when they become woven into our identity and self worth.
Where rather than healing and leaving a scar they remain an open wound bleeding into our existence. 

You see…
I know how it is to feel pain running through your veins and wonder if it will ever stop throbbing.

I know how it is to have continual criticism intended to wound, plans devised to taint your integrity and what its like to be the target of someone’s misdirected anger. 

I know how it is to feel like there’s no one who understands the pain you’re suffering through.

I know how it is to be told to just ‘get over’ it and move on.

I know how it is to be told you are over-reacting from the trauma you’ve endured. 

I know what it is like to go through multiple losses that somehow connect with devastating losses of long ago. 

I know how it is to wonder if anyone will know that you’re missing…

I know how it is to not want your story so we bury it far away from the life we are striving for.

But I’ve also been on the other side….

Attending funerals with far too many families…comforting children whose parents gave into the darkness that was haunting them too much of the time.
I’ve walked through the ugly days that followed to know if I don’t speak out and give others the courage to split their hearts wide open,
they’ll remain hidden in their pain…

And friends being hidden is where our lives are at greatest risk…we’re vulnerable for attack.
I understand I fought it for years…trying to remain <UNKNOWN>.

Isolation is where the enemy does his best work. 

I’ve not wanted to tell these things…
Because if we’re being honest they give us the appearance of weakness, instability and being far too raw. 

I’ve not wanted to tell of how I’ve had feelings like I didn’t measure up as a mom…a wife…a daughter…a friend and forget how much less I can feel as a minister’s wife…

I’ve not wanted to tell of how watching my boys grow up has caused me to wrestle through all of my stuff…

I’ve not wanted to tell how many times its landed me on my knees begging God for healing and relief…

I’ve not wanted to tell what it was like to live through years afraid of men, holding them hostage because of a handful who stole something sacred from me…

I’ve not wanted to tell of how for so many years I felt like an object rather than the incredible design of my Creator.

I’ve not wanted to tell the depth of any of these things and definitely not out in the vastness of this open space.

Because just the mention of them all makes me feel uncomfortable and a bit twisted up inside…and even the mere releasing of these words raises up a whole lot of fears. 

Because it really feels far too risky to form them into words.

But God has been calling me to write them down…
He’s been revealing how these events either can be counted as losses>>>
or be collected as a gift…

And what if the very wounds I’ve been trying all these years to heal are the very battle wounds he wants me to write?
What if they were given as a gift,
rather than a burden?

For he knew these days full of pain would come…
and maybe these messages that get written on our souls are a piece of his art…
calling for our broken world…
calling to create a space to speak about such hard & holy things…
calling to one another to be vulnerable…to peer inside the dark spaces that we all possess…
A bold calling for us to be the generation that changes this thing from endings to beginnings.
A calling for us to get in front of this thing to bring healing rather than picking up the pieces of shattered brokenness.

Because friends there’s too many people wandering through their own kind of hard needing us to take a step inside it with them…

This gift of community we’ve been entrusted with is so that no ONE walks through this life alone…
And friends we can create the space for this to happen.

Because although we don’t get to choose exactly how life plays out we do get to choose how to live this one life we’ve been given.