When marriage kills you.

Most every journey I’ve heard has that one epic moment where everything changed and from that point on, it was cruising or perhaps even just… Easier? Anti-climactic really. Appears the happily ever after phase has begun.

But I’m calling the crap card. Either their life is really short or that long seasoned life was actually rather mundane. How could a life lived have one eye opening, never the same moment?

Or perhaps I’m just a stubborn learner. I find I’ve had many epic moments on my journey where I know life will never be the same. I Could be a slow learner and serve a gracious God.

The most recent “epic moment”was the day I realized I hated marriage.

Nope it’s absolutely not politically correct or “religious” of me to say it. But I do think it needs to be said. An effective story can be nothing if it is not truthful.

I had filed for divorce after 9 years of marriage. Suffice it to say I felt compelled to move on and live at peace (whatever that means after filing divorce). But the underlying feeling of wanting to vomit and defeat overwhelmed me. One dear friend at the time had told me to “just get past that. It’s normal. It eases eventually.”

After a few more days, I just couldn’t. I hated that sentence and even more, I hated marriage. And not just the idea of it created by the Creator of all things good; I realized my part. Why my marriage failed. Why I hated my Marriage.

It was because I am a sinfully horribly selfish person. And for the first time in my life… I was the worst sinner I’d ever met. The day I realized I hated marriage was because I was against it. God wasn’t. It was me.

I was suddenly aware of how terribly normal my own marriage was, and how selfishly arrogant it was of me to think our troubles were so much worse than every other marriage in the present and history of mankind. I suddenly realized the worth of marriage was a lifelong partnership, a lifelong covenant contract to love a sinner… Just like Jesus loved me.

The very thing I was angry at not happening–my spouse seeing the love of Jesus– wasn’t happening on my time and after years that made me sinfully rage filled. So mad I believed this lie that whenever among the years it was whispered that I was somehow better than the one I vowed to love for life. Those lies when we believe them and let them grow choke out the life and joy. It perverts everything good and pure that comes our way with the vision of sin we’ve taken on to look through. No wonder I hated marriage. 

That wasn’t Jesus.

That wasn’t right.

No where near “Christian”.

No. It was rather arrogant. Self-seeking. Hypocritical. These are rather nice words for the realization I had for the war I had allowed and invested myself to fight over the years. 

I absolutely do not know where you are. You’re reading this for whatever reason. I don’t know your journey. Only God does. Simply from my sin of choice, I thought for many years marriage would be the death of me. That was actually very true. God used the failing of my marriage to humble me and repent. And thank God, it was before I officially was the death of my marriage. The death of my own selfish desires was right where God could start redeeming and restoring what I had broken and damaged.

But maybe this story is simply here so you know you’re not alone. Jesus meets us where we are… Not where we’re not. 

God is for you, not against you. His plans for you are for hope and a future. He promises that when you seek him, you will find him (Jeremiah 29:11-12). 

The resolve of my story?
I laid down my sword. God’s grace made me see the war had already been won and that His burden was much lighter than the mess of pride I had chosen to carry(you can find that somehwere between the book of Matthew and also Ephesians 6). Did my husband have his own part in all this? Absolutely. It’s just not my story to tell. (Maybe another time…)

Because real women do carry swords. It just depends if it’s the sword for my battle or His. One wages death… The other brings life and healing.

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That’s a real pain in my mess.

Did you ever play the cloud game? My kids and I were driving down a hill home in traffic on a beautiful sunny PNW day and the imaginations flew.
That cloud looks like a dinosaur.

Hm. I see an elephant!

Oh… Wow! Me too! 

That’s loving Jesus. Sometimes when I look at this fragile, crazy, beautiful life God has chosen me to walk on with Him I look at it kind of like the cloud game. What is this! Sometimes it’s more like throw up on your couch, down to your carpet… Like really God? What am I supposed to do with this? It’s gross. It stinks. (Maybe some angry choice words. That would be R rated or bleeped out by the FCC. Like really. I’m just being honest.)

Whether it’s clean and crisp like the clouds…or smelly and cruel like the throw up…what are you supposed to do with this?

The finesse of serving in the crazy,the chaos,the mediocrity or the pain of life… It’s definitely an art. A practice. 

Not many will look at the vomit and weep with tears of joy for the gift of that child in their life (let’s face it, it’s usually kid vomit.) That breath in those tiny lungs. The stains that remind us of the love that was birthed deep. It’s easier to breathe that spring air and close your eyes and fearlessly fly through the clouds like life is just fantastic.

Maybe for you it’s more like a bomb went off. Maybe there’s pieces missing. Maybe there’s damage everywhere. Maybe there’s hot tears and repeated questions and fearful stagnant waiting. Maybe there’s a deep burning ache and an anger at heaven… A wondering of why God? Where God? Is there a God? There’s a longing for days as simple as looking at shapes in the clouds. But they don’t come. You pray over and over hoping desperately for relief. But there’s silence. It pierces like a knife to your already broken heart. You don’t even want to think about what’s in front of you let alone the breath you are seemingly cursed to have in your lungs. Hope? Not really.

But then God.

I assure you. From my once broken and bleeding heart to you wherever you are… But then God.  

This story birthing before your eyes is more than a profound mystery and more than a clotted mess. It is the very life of God weaving and showing you His deep passionate love for you, the very one he made in your mothers belly from His own perfect likeness to be birthed into imperfect and sin scorched humanity to cover, cover you with the love of His own flesh. Did God make the mess? No. I assure you. No. (James 1:17) that’s the mess of sin in our world. But God will absolutely use it. All in good time. His good time.

This messy story was made beautiful and known long before your very existence on this very day. We struggle to slow to see the very gentle and humble existence of the Savior of the world who is much unlike the very prideful arrogant and aggressive life we suit up to try to survive in.

So that silence.

That chaos.

That noise.

That battle.

That war.

That death.

Don’t speed up. 

Merely slow down. 

Slow down to the power of an unfailing and never changing God. Who knows the plans for your life (Jer. 29:11) who never leaves or forgets you(Heb. 13:5)whose power works best when you’re weak…whose grace is enough (2 Cor. 12:9).

And start somewhere. Anywhere. Look for the beauty in that mess you’re in. And you’ll see Him. 

It was only.

It was only a decade.
It was only a blink.
It was only some choices.
It was only, i think.

It was only a promise.
It was only a vow.
It was only forever.
Forever and now.

It was only a moment.
It was only a cry.
It was one little heart beat,
And my world hit the sky.

It was only the struggle.
It was only a job.
It was only some moving.
It was only a nod.

It was only one moment.
It was only a shrug.
It was only some moments.
It was only some mud.

One more little heart beat.
One more little world.
One more life change forever.
I remembered my word.

It was only some memories.
It was only some smiles.
It was only some hand holds.
But it was your hand in mine.

It was only some trouble.
It was only some pain.
It was only a bottle.
It was a life full of change.

It was only the heart ache.
It was only the cry.
It was only hands reaching.
To heaven to cry.

It was only a paper.
It was only a chance.
A moment of freedom.
A moment to dance.

It was only some moments.
Without some of the chances.
It was only those moments.
And hard mirror glances.

It was only a service.
It was only a church.
It was only an email.
It was only actions rehearsed.

It was only a listen.
To a heart filled with pain.
Did the only’s be broken,
And this heart, full of blame.
A heart, not the same.

It was only some reading.
It was only a prayer.
It was only a life change.
That started right there.

It was only Your whispers.
It was only Your grace.
It was only the same old.
But not the same face.

Suddenly those only’s didn’t seem very small.
And the grace whispered sweetly, that I’d missed it all.
Every ‘it was only’ was everything, moments by like the sands.
The burden so heavy, like blood of the innocent deep on my hands.

But He still stood by me.
His cross bore my shame.
His grace like a flood;
His grace, and the power of His name.

A moment of burden and a breath like the baby birthing,
Like a life drowned by sin, but now marked by dancing.
There’s freedom in here, in this burden of love,
The life I’d been missing now reality, not a burden at all.

It’s true what they say– you’re never the same.
Like flashbacks that moment, for a lifetime He whispered your name.
He stood there waiting, never impeding.
The grace, like waves, like the saints interceding.

It’s like heaven applauded because you were freed,
The grace on the sinner, the sinner–that’s me.
There’s no control needed when hands lifted high.
The knowledge of knowing He heard every cry.

The battle’s not over,
It’s already won.
The honor of patience,
You redeem your son.

Like a bride waiting to join his hand,
Like His chosen waiting for the promised land.
The place of the righteous is being restored,
And all the it only’s to be cherished and adored.

 

 

I’m an addict.

For many of you, this click just got so interesting. You’ve known me a while. You’re racking your brain over our relationship and trying to pin point it.

What is it? Is it pills? Alcohol? Sex?

So here’s His story.(sorry. insert rolling eyes emoji here)

I’ve used for a good portion of my life. I started extremely young actually. I remember the rush I used to get on the first hit. The satisfaction. I also remember the low after. The annoyance, the frustration and the desperation. And when I could, I’d seize the opportunity to feel that rush again. The pain in between was too much.

The years went by. It affected everything I did. I wouldn’t finish school work in high school. I lost a lot of good friends. I had to win everyones approval and lose it all at the same time. Whenever things didn’t go my way I’d get angry, spiral out of control, get frustrated and act out.

By my Junior year in high school I lost all hopes of getting that high when my parents told me we were moving away for my senior year. My brain flat lined. And then exploded. I did whatever I wanted, whenever. I did everything I could think of and more, and nothing filled the void of what I’d lost from the years on consistently getting exactly what I wanted.

So I used more. I went so far to get that high I ran away. I lived in my car. I got sent to psych ward. I almost went to jail. My parents had to send me away to keep me safe from myself.

That’s where I met Jesus. That’s where I met my husband. But that’s not where my addiction stopped.

I thought I made Jesus the Lord of my life. But I really just added him in. I saw the worth, but I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t time.

I found out I could in fact get pregnant. I pushed up our wedding to look right, physically and spiritually. And every attempt I made at correcting that picture failed, went crooked, or didn’t fit the way I needed. I sunk even deeper into my addiction.

The high wasn’t the same as the years went on, but I still tried to get there. I tried to fix my husband. I tried to fix my kids. I tried to fix my image. I tried to make more money. Have the right car.

When that didn’t work I tried finding it everywhere else. In some one else. In my husband. In my kids. In my life. My life was already falling apart but I was in denial, like most addicts are.

I realized I went too far. I tried to give it up again. I stayed home. I went to school. To learn about people. Give back. I got burned out.

I served in the church. A lot. I served with my husband. I served with my kids. Everything finally seemed perfect. I finally got it. It was a false high.

It fell apart. Churches. Marriages. Lives. People died. Pain hurt worse. Finances ran dry. Struggles got real. Kids were kids. We didn’t get a house. A 401K. A break. A baby. A life.

I couldn’t get high anymore.

I got angry. I got hurt. I need to get out God. I can’t run this anymore God. Look at what this is God. Why did you let this happen God? I needed a fix, but I didn’t want it. I wanted it fixed, but not by me. I wanted it whole, but not by my creation.

Broken.

Months of brokenness. It’s like having a baby. The contractions come, and the slow, and you breathe and rest before the next one comes. And if you just let go and work with it, the baby can come. There’s new life there. In the brokenness? Yes. There.

I’m a recovering addict.

My drug of choice was control.

And I don’t want it anymore.

I missed my life. I missed my kids growing up. I missed opportunities. I missed love. I missed so much. I missed my present looking back at my past to try to get control again.

I think about having control again every. single. day.

But then I remember the losses that I built with my own two hands over all the years I used. The control is still there, but I choose to use it as a memorial of my past life. Where grace can now thrive, and my future is bright because of Jesus grace on me all these years long.

And I look to the cross, I put on my armor with my kids, and battle on.

 

I’ve lost my mind.

 

“The only person that can change your life on a moment by moment basis is you. The battles already been won and you choose life or death. It’s all in the choice.”

This was the never ending phrase I heard endlessly for 9 months of my 17th year. I’ve done a lot of reflecting on those days. I even whipped out the Bible I got from that school and out fell a picture of mom and dad to which my kids said “wow dad had black hair? And mom. What is going ON with your hair?”

Yeah…good times.

All those annoying choice talks back in ALA a decade ago are coming full term. You can try to live it and fake it out, but the truth of the mess we saddle up with comes out. There was plenty I faked and feared for many years after probably some of the best days of my life. Arrogance is a deceptive thing.

Perhaps it’s too early, but I’m a huge believer in sharing stories. Stories have saved me, so I, in turn like to share mine because someone else might need to hear them too.

The last few months have been the hardest of my life. I thought starting a new school my senior year of high school and going crazy, almost going to juvi, and getting sent away to a program was the hardest. This definitely topped it. I won’t go into details. That’s not the point of this story. But 9 years of marriage and two kids later, there’s quite a different picture. In walks God.

I went into this season thinking one thing and it turned into quite another, just confirming further my addiction to being in control and thinking I’m God. (I never thought I WAS God per say, but looking back there were plenty of times I said it in action. There’s no point in telling a story if you’re not going to be honest.)

It started with a very large leap of faith, and shortly after my fear of losing control kicked in. Shortly after that I realized I was still acting in fear and me and the mirror had a very hard interaction.

There comes a time where you realize you just don’t want to let your thoughts and negative habits dictate who you are and how your life is going to be. It’s amazing what happens when it LOOKS like crap, and it FEELS like ending and you remember… That’s right NOW but I CHOOSE life. I CHOOSE praise. I choose I STAY. I choose to feel BROKEN for more than an hour to let healing begin. Go through the grief. (You can put your armor on and still cry.)But know your end choice and goal must remain the same… So your choices will either keep you on track or drive you quickly and quietly where you don’t want to be.

Choose to feel awkward and painful and break some destructive habits that are really just not doing anything in life. Because when it comes down to it–I am the only one allowing it. I am the only one adding fuel to the fire if I choose to live in those habits and let them control me.  
For years I thought “if only God would change him. If only God would give us better opportunities and an easier life and the kids had come later and blah. Blah. Blah.” 
Oh hunny. I just want to go back in time, wrap you up in a blanket give you some tea and slap you.

You’d lost the vision, the end life long goal. And it robbed you. Robbed you blind. Stole and destroyed plenty.
All that came to ruins. 

In thought, it didn’t seem destructive at the time. But the years added that debt total. Little compromises. Little oversights. But a lot of little grains of sand can be refined into a sheet of glass. And I realized after the glass house of lies I believed was built and standing in all of its hideousness and horror, no one was there to be deceived–no one but myself. Because it came down to me. That’s the only one I could see in that reflection. I’m where that glass house started. It’s time for it to come down.
There’s a reason Jesus death on the cross was meant to be so personal. He can only save you. Only you can make that choice. And you? You can’t save someone. But you can love them.
So where do you start? Repentence is a complicated word but a beautiful process. God got me to a point where I was willing to accept his debt forgiveness and begin demolishing that glass house with His help.

Every day I wake up and put my armor on with my kids. And every day where that glass house stood is nothing but empty land for His purposes. But it really isn’t empty because now there’s room for faith, hope, love, redemption, and restoration. That leaves plenty of room for grace in today. And plenty of room for hope for tomorrow.

You’re not alone.

As busy as life is, it’s amazing that in the silence the loneliness awakens.

Many times, you think it will be peaceful, reflective, refreshing.

But really, sometimes it’s a slap in the face.

It’s those quiet moments that define you. They start showing you what’s really there. Maybe even what need’s to be worked on that’s pushed off.

But you’re not alone.

Working through the firsts in life never really ceases. We go from exciting firsts for the first decade or two into the firsts that jostle us. Then the next set frightens us to the core. And if you’re like the majority of humans walking this earth, it makes you realize why growing up sucks… and that in all realities your parents saying “it goes by fast, enjoy it before it’s gone” was really their way of painfully recognizing that the days of innocent simplicity were over.

Well now I’m there.

Bills, emotions, grown up issues, suck.

I’m not through the tunnel yet, but it’s been a while since I’ve written, and I cannot help but think someone out there reading this needs to know you’re not alone.

I may not be going through what you are, and yes, your road may be rockier than mine, but you’re not alone.

Our views may be different, someones grass may be a little greener; someone may have a few flowers, but you’re not alone.

Because no matter the view or the circumstance, the perspective of soul pain doesn’t change. The hurt of the growing pains doesn’t cease.

Your heart beats. Your lungs inflate. And so do mine.

You’re not alone.

This may lack a bible verse. It may lack a famous quote. Some profound pearl of insight. But I hope you walk away from my parable knowing, you are not alone.

Potty Training.

I remember as a kid always waiting for the next big moment. I was always the youngest, always the slowest, weakest… loudest. Somehow getting in the practice of having to be bigger, faster, and stronger gets exhausting.

All my siblings were 11+ years older than me. By the time I was old enough to start really remembering life’s best moments it was largely quiet, empty, and lonely. I spent a lot of man hours wondering what my older brothers and sister were up to in their big important lives being grown ups.

I’m 26 now (yeah yeah yeah, I’m YOUNG. Shhh.) but I have 2 kids, I’ve been married 8 years, and I have student loans and my oldest’s school work to keep up with. Since I was 18 I’ve been submerged in a world where I needed to start making responsible decisions. I held my first child 6 days before I was 19 and realized that beautiful little egg roll needed someone to protect him.

I’m 26 now. I’ve been adulting for 8 years. (Yes, adulting will be a word one day. Adulting–(n) the act of being an adult. A constant state of enacting adult life)

Admidst elementary homework, 3 years of poverty, 1 associates degree in psychology and multiple attempts at an internship to finish a bachelor’s degree, potty training, bill paying, job loss, job gain, job loss again, car problems, car loans, marriage good times, marriage bad times, health struggles, kids growing up and exploring, and growing some more… I sat down to dinner with my sister-in-law (as we do multiple times a week) and we looked at each other, sighed and said: When do I get to stop adulting?

We never really stop looking for the next big moment as kids. We just become bigger, older, children. With bigger, older, challenges. And the bigger and older I get, the more I realize how ass backwards we have it as adults (yes, I said ass).

When my 4-year-old daughter goes to the bathroom the basic conversation, however exhausting as it may be goes as follows:

K: I’m going to the bathroom!!
Me:Don’t forget to wipe.
K:Yup!
Me:And wash your hands.
K:Uh huh.
Me:With soap.
K:*UGH*Mooooom.

We have had this conversation 100+ times. Do you think my daughter wipes, and washes–with soap–every single time? Nope. It’s not because she doesn’t KNOW, it’s because she wants a quicker, easier solution. She wants the choice that gets her out of there quickly, without urgency to go potty anymore, and the filth? Doesn’t really bother her…too much.

Um, hello? Do we have to be 4 to understand this logic? Isn’t this daily life most times? We walk around until the discomfort, or stink of ourself is too much to bear and then we choose to make a change.

Jesus didn’t pound the truth in, scorn, or punish those around him. He confronted the situation with truth, and that was that.

You’re in sin? Don’t do it anymore.
You came to be healed? Take up your mat and walk.
You’ve followed all my commands? Sell everything you own and give it to the homeless people around you.

One step further. But always really the truth we knew was there all along.

Something happens when we intentionally do the little things we know we should be doing. If we wait for the big moments we will eventually want to quit “adulting” (insert hand raise here). If we intentionally wait for the worst moments to choose love and service of another stinking human being(pun intended), we just might realize we’re really walking for the first time after a lifetime of being crippled.