Five Minute Friday: Glue

Trying something new and linking up with Lisa-Jo today. She does this neat thing for bloggers called Five Minute Friday. Where she encourages them to write unfiltered, unedited for five minutes, then courageously publish their five-minute-musings. I will be honest and tell you I didn’t follow the rules exactly, (in other words it took me a little longer than five minutes, mostly because my kids are on spring break and I don’t have to explain to you what I mean by that) but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?  The topic for this week is: Glued.

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There is so much that is broken. So much that hurts. So much that needs binding.

There is so much left empty. So much undone and untouched, loose
and lost.

And what do we do with all of that?

When you see the friend grieving or the sister who is lost. And you are forced to let go and nod your ok to God to be God.

How do you keep walking down this rocky road of life, with all the jagged and jarred, broken and scarred?

You are left helpless and hurting for the hurting. Desperate for a balm to ease the stinging, the burning, the raw.

Just something that will keep it all together, from falling apart. For the thread is thin and breaking and you hold your breath, bracing for the fall.

And you search, deep within yourself, sifting through pockets and purses, under couches and cushions. Hoping upon hope your hands resurface through the crumbs, finding just what is needed. But you are searching blindly and your hands, crumb covered, come up empty.

Empty.

There is so much that is left empty.

It shouldn’t feel heavy, but it does. And it makes you wonder if it should really be like this, look like this, feel like this. You wonder and you hope and you search.

And you remember there is One that has hold of you. The One who keeps you from slipping through that ever growing crack. Who binds you fast to Himself along with the sister and the friend.

And the three walk together, eating Rocky Road, as they walk that rocky road. And lean deep into the One who binds them up.

Holding fast the broken, filling the empty, recovering the lost.

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11

#FiveMinuteFriday

A Gift of Perspective

picture from the world-wide-web

 

We were hanging on by a thread.

Relationally. Financially. Emotionally.

The recession had sucker punched us in the jaw and our heads were spinning.

The simplest of tasks became monstrous. Taking care of three children under four, some days, was like climbing Mt. Everest in sandals. My feet were slipping and my oxygen was running low.

We were losing our house. A house we were never supposed to live in, but because real estate was at a stalemate we were forced to move into it. We tried to hold on for three years, but we were drowning in the sea of debt the economy heaved upon us. It was built by my husband. I saw his handiwork all through out it. Even the towel bar upstairs he made special for the kids. I loved that pegged towel bar. But still, it was just a house.

It was the man I was really losing.

The stress had become physical. It choked the breath right out of me and left twinges in my chest. I found myself counting the ceiling tiles in my doctor’s office while he did an EKG. I thought I was experiencing congestive heart failure. His prescription was, “Reduce the stress in your life”. Like most doctor’s hand writing, I couldn’t quite decipher what he meant. “We are going BANKRUPT!” I wanted to scream at him, but bit down hard instead.

I had to start letting go. So the dishes and toys accumulated. The mail piled up. Laundry became an eyesore. And the grass grew tall.

So tall in fact, I stopped parking in the back. The kids would have gotten lost on the way to the house from the car if I had. The weeds took over and choked out the beauty of the landscape. Much like my stress was choking the hope out of me. I imagined the many balls and yard toys hidden in the grass, buried. That felt appropriate somehow. “A graveyard of buried hopes,” to borrow the phrase from Anne. That’s how life felt in that moment. All I could see were the weeds and the other things that had a choke-hold on us.

I tried not to venture out onto the back porch unless I had to. This day I must have had to. Four year old Livie Rose had followed me, bouncing along behind me. I turned to the sound of her gasp.

“Mom!!”

“What is it?”

“Look!!!” she nearly burst.

I followed her pointed finger, but couldn’t quite figure out what she wanted me to see. All I saw were the embarrassing weeds.

“It’s a… It’s… It’s a MAGICAL FOREST!!!” Her lisp was more pronounced the more excited she got and I almost ate her right there on the spot.

I looked back out at our horrendous yard, truly hoping to see what she saw. A twinkle, a sparkle… something! Again, all I saw was a neglected yard that had once been a fun play area. So I looked back at my girl and into her eyes. That was where I saw the sparkle. Her eyes. She smiled brightly, clasped her hands and jumped the tiniest bit. Again, I almost ate her. What I saw as a symbol of hopelessness and loss, she saw as magical. A place of beauty and wonder.

Where you stand makes a difference.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about perspective, specifically in my mothering. How much it changes you in the midst of unchanging circumstances.  I have thought back to this mothering memory many times in recent days and the perspective my girl so graciously gave me that day.

Mothering can be a tough job. Many moms find themselves fighting the depression battle, getting beaten down by failure or captured by the guilt-enemy. We wallow. Feel lonely and unsatisfied. We swing in and out of victory and defeat, sometimes all within the same moment.

It’s normal. And no matter what you have told yourself, you are not alone.

But where our line of vision rests makes a difference in the daily.

Hebrews tells us to, “Fix our eyes on Jesus…” My prayer needs to be more often, “God show me where my eyes are fixed.”

When I’m feeling frustrated, when I’m yelling, when I have the proverbial towel held tight in my hand, about to send it soaring – in those moments my eyes are rarely fixed on Jesus. My ingrown eyeballs begin to throb and ache, sending a message to my soul, it’s time for extraction.

What a gross picture. Sorry for that. But really, if you let your mind go deep, to that place of sin-infection, it is a gross place. It should be seen as such, so that true cleansing can start to happen.

We are selfish beings by nature. Always. Every time. And self fights so hard to win. Most of the time, if I’m honest, it does win.

But these last few weeks, I have noticed a difference. Walking through grief is never a path I would willing choose. I don’t have to explain to you the pain of it. You know. We run from it and avoid it at all costs. But when we find ourselves sitting in the midst of it, we must receive from it what God wants to give. Perspective is a grief-gift. Yes, there are gifts amongst the painful places of grief.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights…”

We must receive it as a gift. And it must not be lost to us.

There are times when God brings us to the low places. It changes the way we see life. Small things become big. The unimportant, crucial. And things that drive us, disappear altogether. Other times God brings us to the high places. Big things becomes small. What was most important no longer matters. And things that never mattered become the most important. Messes become opportunities to serve those we love most. Quarrels show us our SELF and how to die easier next time. In the midnight moments of nursing again when your body screams for sleep, are moments that can forever change the way you pray. When shoes and lunches and papers are lost again, we can be thankful that those are the only things lost.

There is a strange reversal when we have perspective. It doesn’t have to come through grief. It can come through asking. And when you find yourself being choked out from the life-threatening weeds of those miserable-mothering-moments, know that you can have it. It can change you and your mothering.

“Fix your eyes on Jesus…”

Just What We Needed

I know I’ve not shared much here over the last several months. But I’m pretty sure you’ll forgive me for that, right?

Writing is an emotional thing for me I’m learning. And I think I’ve been slightly emotionally depleted these past several months. Writing asked more of me than I could give, so that’s why I’ve been quiet. I’m trying to work through it. I’m pushing through. I’m not giving up on this thing I love.

Every now and then I guess we just need a breather.

A rest. A break. An opportunity to renew and refocus. A sweet breath of fresh air.

Like that salty breeze that hits you hard and only comes from the place where your toes sink into the edge of the ocean. Eyes closed, arms outstretched, hair whipping wildly, and you standing there welcoming in that long awaited relief.

Ahhh… It’s great living by the ocean.

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These last days of December 2013, that’s just what I’ve needed.

The last few years have come to a close, ending with such a heaviness. I’m starting to think that this just might be the new norm. Life is hard. But is it always SO hard?

I have watched dear friends lose dearly loved ones. Three friends lost their sweet baby girls. Another lost her husband. Another her brother. And just a few short weeks ago another friend said goodbye to her 19 month old baby boy. He was Judah’s friend and it is just so close.  There have been so many other heart wrenching stories I have heard of as well. From friends of friends and members of our church. There has been so much loss. Just so much.

We know that heaven is sweet and there is absolutely no other place we wish for those we love the most to be. But this earthly grief and separation stabs deep. And it leaves us without breath as we watch from the outside completely helpless.

Nothing else has ever taken me to this dark place of questioning. I have never been afraid of God, not like this. I have never spent so much time on the floor, completely powerless to stand. I have never, never felt this helpless or out of control. And I have never seen faith in God acted out like I have in these few short weeks.

I’ll never forget when I was 13, my brother was 10 and he was high in a tree, held by a rope swing and the rope snapped. The pressure was too great, the rope too thin, the tree bark too sharp and it just snapped. He fell and landed hard. I watched, helpless as his eyes bulged and he gasped for breath, but the air would not enter his lungs. There was panic in his eyes as he willed his lungs to work those long minutes that felt like hours. There was panic in my screams as I watched him suffer from the impact of the blow. The air was hit hard out of him and there was nothing. anyone. could. do.

I have been that 13 year old girl. Panicked and helpless. Screaming, willing for air to enter.

There is a story that I listen to often. A story I have referred to many times before. A story for children God has used for this weary heart. A story of A Horse and His Boy. The boy was seeing Aslan for the first time and it was all coming together for him. HE had been the lion who had pushed him through the waters to the violent man who raised him. HE had been the lion who had chased them through the desert. HE had been the lion who had slashed his friend wounding and causing her deep pain… How then could he be GOOD?

I have been Chasta, the boy. Asking God, how could you have allowed these things? This deep pain that takes away the ability to breath, which causes such heart ache you almost wish it would stop beating. The ache and the empty and the grief that crashes like waves, threatening to drown. Why, God? How, God? Why like this?

Like the lion Aslan has been described, God too, is good, but He is not safe.

I want to think that He IS safe. That nothing ever bad will happen to his children. That we can walk in ignorant bliss through this life and never be touched by grief. This is what I want.

But like we can ask of most things we want, is it really what we need?

What we need is Jesus. And only Jesus.

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Through this deep grief and loss I have been deeply convicted of where I place my hope and trust. While processing through this I have shared with several friends, that I have not wanted to place all my eggs in one basket so to speak. So I have placed hope-eggs everywhere. In my husband, children, relationships, finances, my house, my church, things… oh yeah, and Jesus too.

Jesus is important, but He has not been my first and only hope. Other things have taken his place, or rather, I have given His place to other things.

This was the prayer of an 8 year old boy about to say goodbye to his baby brother, “Jesus, you are our only hope… please help us to trust your will.”  When I heard this, I was brought hard to my knees. Jesus told us to look to the faith of little children. To follow their example and lead of a blind and simple faith. They accept it. They believe it. They embrace it.

As we grow up, we lose that kind of faith and trust. We push ourselves through this weary life relying on our own strength and trick ourselves into believing we have control. And then get angry with God when he tries to bring us back to a simpler, child-like acceptance of His sovereign hand over our lives. It is not safe, but it is always for our ultimate good.

I have asked over and over, “What is the good?”

I’m beginning to think that our ultimate good is to always see a clearer view of Jesus. It is not through the easy times that our view becomes less foggy. No, it is often through
times of pain, of loss. Of grief so sharp it leaves a heart-wound and that is what sharpens our view of Christ.  We are forced to stop. Forced to question. Forced to decide and take hold of what we believe about God. Only then does our verbal faith become an action faith. When everything seems to be falling apart. When reality turns into our worst nightmare. When nothing makes any sense and half your world is gone. And you still choose to believe that God only gives us good gifts. That He is never changing. That His love endures forever. That He still sees. That He still hears. That He will carry you through.

That is when He becomes your only Hope.

I am thinking of the story of Hagar. Her troubles had forced her to run into the desert. She was afraid for her life and she had come to her end. But God. But God met her there… at her end. When nothing or no one else could rescue. God could. And God did. That is where she saw Him; stripped, completely helpless, at the very end of herself. He is the God who hears. He is the Living God who Sees. (Gen. 16) And He wants us to see Him, clearly, and only Him.

I have been deeply shaken. But I know that I am settling. Settling in after much wrestling, many tears, and loud screams. My eyes burn and my throat aches, my heart throbs and my head hurts. But I feel certain my vision of Jesus is slightly clearer.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1Cor. 13:12

For my friends, there will be many, many days of grief ahead. I ache for them. I want to take away their suffering, but I know that I can’t. I would be robbing them of the great work of God in their lives. And as painful as that work can be, I know that not even our tears are wasted.

Even in the midst of such grief, I know that God is here among us. There is still much hope.

I wasn’t sure how to do Christmas this year. It felt almost wrong to celebrate. But singing the Christmas hymns, I realized that Christmas is the perfect time to see anew the true hope we have been given.

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

As I sang quietly, the tears fell. My hands raised slightly opening in surrender. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…

Our world is so weary. Yet He gives us sweet hope in the midst.

I felt this in a tangible way Christmas night. The best surprises are those you never see coming.

Sitting in the midst of the Christmas chaos, a combined 6 children squirming and squealing, opening presents from aunts and uncles, Baba’s and Dadada’s, I felt a slight shift in the atmosphere. It wasn’t loud or obvious, but I turned my head just the same.

I looked over at my mom who was holding a partially unwrapped package, her eyes staring. The contents were still concealed but I could tell they held great meaning. I looked from her to the gift bearer and back again, desperately trying to discern what it meant.

Their eyes were wet and Mom whispered, “Really? You are?”

I jumped from my seat. I’m not really sure why, I just reacted to the surge of hope within me, and I jumped.

“Really. I am.”

It was quiet, but it resounded loud within me. A baby. A life. Hope born.

The tears were immediate as I yelled, “YOUR PREGANT!?!?!?!”

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My logic couldn’t believe it, but my heart screamed that it be true. When I saw her nod, my arms flew open, engulfing my brother and his wife. Hunter, a dad. Amy, a mother. A moment I really thought I would never see. I was completely overcome by shock and joy and laughter and tears. I rode the wave of emotion, letting it wash over me. Everyone joined in at this point, each family member coming into realization. A baby. Sweet hope of life reborn.

Looking around at each person there, I knew this was what we needed. I’m not the only who has screamed for answers this year or begged God for mercy or felt the burden of grief weigh heavy. None of us are alone in the weariness of life.

It was then I felt the cool breeze of relief rush into my soul. A lightness entered that had been absent for a long time. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…  I looked around and marveled as each one took turns congratulating, wiping tears, and embracing one another.

It was a moment in time that will be forever frozen in my memory. A testimony to the Living God who Sees. Who is forever faithful. Whose love endures to the very end. He, who is our Only Hope.

With that, I will take courage and welcome a New Year.

“Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raised the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us…” 2 Cor. 1:9-10

A Time

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time for the things that happen in our lives.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under the sun.”

This brings me comfort.

Especially when I get in a hurry for something to happen, or disappointed when it doesn’t.

Not much writing as been happening around here lately. There is a very big part of me that is sad because of that.

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Writing is one of those things for me that water is to a fish, or oxygen is to lungs, or love is to a lover. Without it, the other just can’t exist.

Ok, well maybe that sounds a little dramatic. I’m not dead or anything for goodness sakes. But maybe just a part of me feels a little, well, dead.

I have always written things down. Lists are one of my favorites. And I’m a great note taker. I had a professor in college even tell me so. And I have always kept a journal. That journal has taken on different forms through the years. First it was a diary with a lock and key, hidden under the mattress. Gosh, how fun it is to go back and read that! After that they were always leather bound, some with lines, others more on the eccentric side without lines. Now, it’s here. In the cyber world of blog land.

And I love it. But I really miss it when I am kept away from it.

This past summer I went to a writer’s conference. I was a little embarrassed to tell people at first. I think I still feel a little embarrassed. It’s just one of those things.

You want to do something, but are afraid. Afraid of failing and of what other’s might think. Fear of rejection and of making a fool of yourself. Just all around fear.

I know God has given me a message, just like He gives each of us one. And He’s given me a unique perspective, because no one else has my thoughts and feelings and perspective. We all have that uniqueness and I just love that. He’s given me a passion for things and an urgency to share that through words.

But I’m still just a little fearful.

Ok, a lot.

And now I’m mad at myself for that. Because it’s keeping me from what I love and have a deep desire to do.

There have been different times in my life when I haven’t been able to write. Like in the throws of pregnancy sickness or the newborn baby fog. During deeply painful times in my marriage when I was angry and bitter. While having three kids 3 and under, when all I could do was scribble down little notes here and there. And different times when it just didn’t happen.

So I’m familiar with that feeling of frustration of wanting to, but not being able to.

I don’t know what it is about driving down the road or taking a shower or when I have suds up to my elbows or cooking dinner or cleaning a toilet that inspires me to write. I can always count on those perfect times for a fresh thought to hit me, only to watch it swirl down the porcelain throne with the flush, never to be retrieved again… Ugh!

But this is different. This fear. This insecurity. This less-than-confidence. It’s threatening to take root and so that’s why I must write it out. Process. Bring out into the light that which is threatening to overtake me in the darkness.

This past summer has been a hard one on some levels. Part of me has been shaken to the core. And I really don’t mean to sound dramatic. There is nothing that’s happened that is life threatening or deeply depressing. We are ok and life is so good. But it is life, after all and sometimes things are hard to process and deal with. But everything is for a reason and God can do so much and I am thankful.

When people you love doubt you. When they blame you for wrong and your intention was only for the good. When you never tried to be perfect, only helpful and humble, but are rejected for it. It does something to your soul.

It has done something to mine.

It has brought me to a new place. And I feel a little naked, exposed. Shy and timid. Who am I? What do I have to offer this great big world? What do others need that only I can give? Is there even such a thing? Is it still ok to be me? And what if it happens again?

So here I am. In this place. And I am asking these questions to which I have no answer. Well, not right now anyway. But I know it will come and I am waiting for that moment. When the quivering stops and I feel firm once again in His grip and nothing else even matters.

And I know it will come.

“There is a time for every event under heaven… A time to tear down, and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance… A time to search and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A TIME TO BE SILENT AND TIME TO SPEAK…”

It will come.

Toiling.Hoping.Waiting.

It’s amazing how you set out to do certain things in a day. Important things, because, well, they are important. And then in an instant it all changes. And none of it is important anymore.

It is amazing how your heart can feel, well, normal. And then in an instant it is hurting. It’s swollen with grief and you grasp it, holding tightly willing it to keep beating.

It’s amazing how you have no need for the tears resting just below the surface and then in an instant, they are there streaming down your cheeks, running down your neck and you are gasping in anguish.

This, my friends, was the start of my day yesterday. But so much worse for my dear friend Rebecca and her sweet family as they received that call in the middle of the night that told them that her brother, their son, was gone forever.

We are reeling. Me from a distance, watching the tornado wreak havoc on their souls. Them caught in the middle and being pushed and torn and battered by fresh grief.

In moments like these I am forced to wonder. Understanding escapes me and I am left with a gaping wound of wondering. The heart is bleeding out and you look up to heaven seeking the pressure to stop the flow.

My eyes have landed on James 5. God has been using this sweet book in so many different ways to bring me comfort and healing and conviction as of late.

 
Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.
Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it,
until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts,
for the coming of the Lord is at hand… Behold we count those blessed who endured.
You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings,
 that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful…

We are toiling in this life. We are farmers planting things, plowing, digging, pulling, aching, hoping. The crop has not been guaranteed us. We wonder if the rains will come or if the hail will come first. We do our best, we work hard and often we are disappointed, because our efforts did not grant what we had hoped it would. It doesn’t make sense, because the formula should work. You prepare the soil, you plant the seed, you water the ground… it should then produce fruit.

But often times we do not account for the scorching sun, the wreathing winds, the crushing storms that devastate us. And how do we recover from those?

The how is in the …compassion and mercy… of our God.

And in the knowing that this is not the end… strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand

I was listening to a Focus broadcast just a few days ago. They were talking about heaven… how timely. Have you ever said, “When I get to heaven I’m going to ask God…”? Randy Alcorn, author of the book, Heaven, said that really, we wont have to ask. Just seeing God face to face will make it all clear. Just the sight and full, unfiltered presence of the Lord will quiet our questioning hearts, will silence the “what if’s”, will reassure our doubting wonderings.

In our unglorified state we do not even have the capability of understanding the dealings of the Lord. The why’s, the how’s.

That is why he tells us to be patient. There will come a day… there will.

In the meantime, there are tears and toiling. The grief cuts us open leaving us raw. We ache for truth and for healing. And I ache for my sister who has ached for me in this real-life friendship we share.

I will go to her tomorrow. I will cry with her. I will listen. I will bear her burden as if it were my own. I will pray and beg for healing. These are the important things now.

And I will be patient as I eagerly await the coming of our Lord.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

He Built a House

It’s taken me too long to write this post.

I started it almost a year ago and had to stop. I realized I couldn’t just write about the house. I couldn’t write about the house without writing about the man who built the house.

And I realized I couldn’t write about the man who built the house without writing about why he built it.

This is a big story. A sad story. And it’s really not mine to tell. I had to ask permission. But I will still only tell it from my perspective.

The man we are talking about is my Daddy.

The house began with a dream. And this is what I remember of the beginning of that dream. I was a young child so there is a chance that my childhood lens might be a little clouded or rose-tinted, but this is how I remember it.

I remember making the drive out to Seabrook. It seemed like such a long drive. We’d come out just to look around. It was fun.

There was this big white house with double porches. It looked like one of those really neat houses that you see in movies. I dreamed of living in that house. There were two other white houses across the street. They were smaller, but just as pretty. They looked like family.

There were railroad tracks.

And old buildings that once were special to this small town. Had it really been a town?

There was an old post office that people still used. What fun it would be to have your own post office box! And a key to match it and to have to ride your bike to get your mail. I dreamed of having a post office box.

There were other old buildings that I wanted so badly to explore. They looked so intriguing.

And there were pecan trees. So many pecan trees. What I eventually came to understand was that this used to be a pecan orchard and some of those ‘other old buildings’ were the packing sheds.

The neighborhood smelled of onion grass and it made me want to reach my hand down under the earth and pull a small bunch out and take a bite. It smelled so delicious.

There were two matching silos. Had those been used for the pecans too? I wondered.

There was a dock that you could fish off or swim off or go crabbing off of. But you had to live there to do those things…

And we didn’t.

That was the dream.

Mom and Dad would drive out there and imagine all of those things too. I’m sure just as I did, including wanting their very own post office box.

It was always a little sad when we would drive back home. To the house we knew and the busy street we lived on. Not that we didn’t love that house too, but it just wasn’t part of the dream.

I remember going to Park Day with our homeschooling group. We met at a house that was in Seabrook too (ironically this would one day be my family’s house, my one-day-husband’s family). As we turned left to go home, we would all longingly look out the car window to the right and say, “Maybe one day we will be able to turn right to go home…”

It was strange when that day came. I was 13 when we moved out here to this quiet little neighborhood. The roads were still dirt. The houses far apart. There were woods everywhere. Oh how we loved all those things.

Playing manhunt with friends became a favorite. Climbing trees and picking pecans off the ground to eat was another. Staying outside til after dark and taking long walks down to the dock that we could finally call our own, well it was a dream come true for my family.

We eventually moved into another house just down the road from the first one. I loved that house. I used to babysit for a family that lived in that house and now we did. It was strange at first. But it would eventually become our own.

I left that house to go to college. I remember the night before sitting on our porch swing. A favorite place. I cried. I had just said good-bye to my then boyfriend, who would become my husband. I didn’t want to say goodbye to anyone else. Not to my parents or brother or sister. Or to my house where I felt so safe and at home.

I came back often to visit. I just couldn’t stay away for long. I was sooo homesick.

I got married in that house. Well, in a church, but you know.

After that my parents decided to build a house in the neighborhood.

That decision didn’t come easy.

I wasn’t living at home anymore. I had my own house somewhere else. But that place was still so special to me. The thought that they wouldn’t live there forever was a strange one for me. That I wouldn’t be able to come sit on the porch swing made me sad. But things were happening out of their control and they knew they had to do something.

They put that sweet little white house up for sale.

I knew it was just a house. But it had been my house. I grow attached to things easily, so it was hard to let go the day they closed on it. It was so hard for many other reasons too.

My parent’s world was starting to crumble. At first it was just small pieces. But then the pieces started to get bigger and bigger. We would later learn how big.

I remember watching my Daddy build this house. It seemed to take a really long time. So much was happening in his life and I remember thinking, building this house is what’s saving him.

And I still believe that it did.

We don’t really talk about that time much. It’s almost like we aren’t allowed. My parents have never said that. But it still feels that way. There were so many people involved. People we still know. People we were so close to.

That’s just it. We were so close to so many and then we weren’t.

How do you recover from that? I mean fully? How do you talk about it? How do you share honestly without causing further pain to others?

I don’t want to do that. Not anymore at least. Maybe that’s why I’ve waited so long to write about it. I’m not bitter anymore.. I’ve extended grace and forgiveness even when it wasn’t reciprocated. I’ve moved passed the consuming anger, even if I still get angry.

Even though I would never want to cause further pain to those involved, I think it’s important to acknowledge the hurt. I think it’s ok to say, wait a minute, I’ve been left wounded.

Watching my parents go through that was excruciating. And still is at times. Knowing there was nothing I could do to take away their pain. Nothing I could do to help them regain their life as they new it before. And learning how much had truly been lost… the relationships, their identity and occupation, the good standing in their community and church, their reputation.  If it had just been money. If it had just been a house. If it had just been a job. If it had just been a friend or two.

But oh, it was so much more.

It was devastating and baffling and confusing. Almost like being side-swiped by a car. It just came out of nowhere and left our heads and lives spinning. The damage left us totaled, but mostly mom and dad.

But the hardest thing was to remember there used to be light in his eyes and there isn’t anymore.

I know things are going to happen. I know that no church is immune to problems. I know that people are imperfect, that they make mistakes. It is foolish to expect anything else.

It’s one thing to make mistakes. It’s another to pass over someone lying in a proverbial ditch with a gaping heart-wound. That’s just not ok. That’s what it felt like.

But I guess in a way it is ok. Because nothing happens out of God’s control. Nothing goes unnoticed by Him. Nothing happens in a person’s life unless He deems it right and good and for our ultimate holiness and His ultimate glory. That’s why we can forgive and move on and look to the future with hope.

If nothing else, (and there is so much more) I’ve learned that people are fragile. More fragile than we think. Sometimes we can’t recover and wont until we reach heaven. Sometimes people smile when they really wish they would just die already. Sometimes their hurt runs so deep that several generations are effected by it.

People can’t be looked at through a lens of black and white. We are so much more complex than that. And so our problems. I wish it wasn’t so. I wish you could use a Bible verse like a bandaid. Or what worked for you. I wish we could expect people to give the right answer when they are hurting. But that’s impossible when they still haven’t found it yet.

You can’t expect people to stand up and walk without a limp when they have been so badly crippled.

I’ve also learned that it’s ok to talk about it as hard as it is. To share the pain. Not to inflict more pain, but in hopes of find healing for yourself and for others.

In giving us our stories, God never meant for us to keep silent about them. He meant for us to share them with speech seasoned with grace, as it were with salt. Sometimes salt burns. But sometimes that’s needed for healing to take place.

So when I walk into this house that I now call home, it’s sometimes weird to think that this is where my parents used to live and now I live here. I never lived here with them.

But I love that I live here now and that they live just behind us. At first I thought it would be hard to be so close. But after a year, it has only been good. So good.

So good to see my Daddy’s house being used. Being filled with lots of grandchildren and noise and messes. That the table he built twenty plus years ago is still being dined upon by many who love him. Who know the man he is and used to be. And who only wish for his happiness and healing.

But even though it makes me so happy to be living here. I sometimes get sad too.

I get sad when I look at the concrete floor in the living room. I remember seeing it right after it was poured. I remember seeing my dad looking so beaten down. So discouraged and confused and hurt.

I remember the long hours he would be here. To escape. To survive.

I remember worrying so much. That he would fall or get hurt when he was by himself. That no one would know to come help him.  And no one really did know to come and help.

I remember watching Mom up so high on the scaffolding white washing the walls that turned out so beautiful.

I remember the question in her eyes. What’s happened? Why?

I remember the isolation we all felt. And still feel at times. Knowing that people were innocently wondering and talking and not knowing how to treat us.

There is so much good represented in this house. There is so much pain too. Because it represents a time in the life of my family that is hard to remember. Hard to look back upon and see the good.

But we are choosing to see the good. And we are thankful for the blessings God has bestowed on our family. Not everything was lost. And so much was truly gained. Understanding God’s grace over my life has been one of my greatest joys. I don’t know if I would have otherwise.

I hope a year after living here wasn’t too soon to share this story. I hope you understand my heart in this. I hope you see my family differently. I hope you see our fragility. But more importantly, I hope you see the strength of my Heavenly Father. And that His grace is all sufficient in our lives, no matter what course it may take. That you can be left standing!

Thanks, Daddy for the privilege of living under a roof that you built. It brings me so much pride to brag on you and your beautiful workmanship. You are one of the most gifted and talented men I know. I love that we are neighbors and that we share a yard. I love that your grandchildren run on floors that you laid. And that I cook in a kitchen you made. I love that you aren’t perfect, that you make mistakes and that I can love you anyway. And I love that you love me the same. You and mom have come so far. God has given you a story. A story that is meant to be shared, so that His glory isn’t wasted.
I love you, Daddy.

Refuge

We are finding refuge this week.

For last week was a very long, difficult week.

We moved.

We lost a cat.

We buried the daughter of  dear friends.

We are finding refuge in a new home and in the arms of the Father.

We aren’t claiming to understand. We aren’t claiming to be strong. We aren’t even pretending to be happy. We are sad, grieving and exhausted.

We plead with you to pray for our friends, who without any warning were forced to say good-bye to their sweet baby girl the very same day they said their first hello.

Once again, we are reeling.

And once again we are seeking refuge under the wings of the Father.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
3my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation,
     my stronghold and my refuge,
my savior; you save me from violence.
4 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
2 Samuel