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Saturday, July 8, 2017

I Will Stay

Sometimes.... there is a darker story lurking and churning behind what others can see from the outside.
This has been true of me.

I was born into a home brimming with love, security and endless laughter.
I've been a follower of Christ ever since I was even remotely able to understand what a follower of Christ was. He had my heart.
I was gloriously voted in as class clown in eighth grade. A high honor for someone who loves to make people laugh.
I went to college and majored in Christian Education and Missions.
I've been a pastor's wife for twenty-five years in a church that has been nothing but generous and good to me.
I co-founded a non-profit that rescues and empowers children and their families from the grip of extreme poverty and hopelessness in Uganda, Africa and have traveled there to love on those kids and be equally loved by them, six times.
I am surrounded by exceptional family and friends who invite me into joy and crazy kinds of fun, who will stop to listen to my heart and who are never as far away as a text or a phone call, lunch or a movie.
I've been in counseling for at least seven years with some of the best Christian therapists in the field and have experienced deep and lasting healing from childhood trauma.

Hear me say this.
My life is GOOD.
My faith is STRONG.
My family is BEAUTIFUL.
But on June 28th at six o'clock in the morning, I tried to shut down my one beating heart by cutting off my air supply with the ties and material of two hospital gowns.

I'm not looking for pity. And I'm not wallowing in shame or regret.
Instead, I am asking for awareness and understanding.
And at the same time, I'm offering Hope.

I was in great anguish and despair on that early morning in June because I somehow believed I was all alone. Alone in the sense that Jesus had given up on me and walked away. And if I wasn't fit for my beloved relationship with Him, then there was no reason that made any sense to keep me tethered to this life.

How did I get to this place?

A few people have shamed me and turned away in disgust because I fell for and believed a lie. Because I chose to be utterly selfish in trying to end my life and leave everyone I love, hurting and broken.
But I'm joining the ranks of believers who don't carelessly judge someone who attempts or commits suicide. The ones who have been there or understand the reality and torment of mental illness.
One can have a beautiful life and have their medications cease doing their job. Add to that chronic pain with no relief, a serious and prolonged sleep deficit, added financial strain because you cant work your regular job, stressors that are beyond your control and anxiety that pulls you into the need to hide which ultimately keeps you from the very people who you need to reach out to for help. That tormented feeling like you are permanently alone and then circumstances that utterly convince you that your God has also abandoned you for good.

That last one broke me. It broke my heart and it broke my mind.

I found out that Jesus didn't want to be alone, either. In a garden in Gethsemane, He asked, "Is there any other way?"
Jesus could have chosen to pray by himself and hide this inner struggle. Jesus often prayed alone. Yet on the worst night of his life, Jesus tells us he needed someone to hold on to the hard moment with him.
Jesus needed someone to stay.



And you know what? The hardness of the journey doesn't mean you are on the wrong path.

Jesus knelt beside me as I pulled those ties tighter and tighter around my desperately pulsating neck, tying knots as I went.
 And He whispered, "I'm here with you. And I'm going to stay. Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I call you by name. You are mine."
The Holy Spirit seemed to engulf me and loosen my grip.
I gave in to Love.

I put words to this incredibly personal and painful experience because we all need people who are real. And to help you understand that this does indeed happen to people of faith.
Don't look down on them. Look up to Jesus. The One who rescued me from my own destructive mind and helped me to uncurl my fingers and let go.

He's just as much for you as He is for me.
Let him stay with you.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I Am in Love


I am a certified list-maker.
Some of my lists are practical, others are fueled by my imagination and others, like this one, are God-led.

It's a list of ten people in my life who have had a remarkable impact on this heart of mine. It was easy to do and I could have added more friends, but I kept it at the nice, even number of ten. From there, I started writing down the details on how these incredible people bring out the best in me.The deepest ways in which they reach me.
 It is the end result that I want to tell you about, so stay with me.

Melissa ~ endlessly patient with me, loves and values my words, thoughts and ideas, sees beyond and through my fears and guarded heart.

Vickie ~ not afraid of my pain. Her very presence speaks safety to me. When she is with me she's fully present and her touch is indescribably healing. I could stay with her for hours.

Karisa ~ is careful with me and hears me in the deepest ways. She is extraordinarily wise and is the rawest real with me than anyone I know. When I am with her, I am certain that I am being heard.

Elaine ~ can wrap me up in her arms and love me with a love that is as close to Jesus as I have ever found. She looks me in the eye, assures me I am ok. And she stays. When all hell breaks loose in my life, she stays and has even gone to great lengths to adopt me. Permanently.

Amy ~ has the ability to make me laugh. Really laugh.With her there is no judgement and no expectations, which leaves me room to be fully and gloriously myself. Which also means she is brave.

Margaret ~ is a powerful mediator and intercessor, She believes in me, fights for me and always tells me the truth wrapped up in unmitigated, impressive love. 

Mom ~ is genuinely interested in what I have to say. She puts me first, lets me dream big and then stands behind me as I go after making those dreams a reality. She is generous.

Beth ~ leaves her door open for me. Accepts me and loves me without a single condition. She takes me in and sets me free all at once. She does not look away.
Mary ~ sees in me what I cannot or will not see for myself.....in all the best ways. She forgives me and her friendship is permanent.

PT ~ likes to be with me, needs me to show up and delights in the attention I give her. She leads the way.

This list makes me smile. It has become my way of tapping into the very nature of Someone who I have known for years but am just now getting to know. 
I've decided to cease all apologies for being the deep person that I am. I can't deny any longer my great need for depth and connection.
The only relationship where I still find myself hiding is with the threesome; God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. And His intention behind this list that I made was about so much more than looking at the people who He has surrounded me with out of pure goodness. Because I was unexpectedly faced with remarkable insight into the very heart of my Creator.....

He is endlessly patient with me, loves and values my words, thoughts and ideas and sees beyond and through my fears and guarded heart.

Jesus is not afraid of my pain. His very presence speaks safety to me. When He is with me He's fully present and His touch is indescribably healing.

He is careful with me and hears me in the deepest ways. He is extraordinarily wise and is the rawest real with me than anyone I know.

Jesus can wrap me up in his arms and love me with a love that is as close to perfect as I have ever found. He looks me in the eye, assures me I am ok. And He stays. When all hell breaks loose in my life, He stays and has even gone to great lengths to adopt me. Permanently.

Jesus has the ability to make me laugh. Really laugh.With Him there is no judgement and no expectations, which leaves me room to fully be myself. Which also means He is brave.

He is a powerful mediator and intercessor, He believes in me, fights for me and always tells me the truth wrapped up in some pretty impressive love. 

He is genuinely interested in what I have to say. He puts me first, lets me dream big and then stands behind me as I go after making those dreams a reality. He is generous.

Jesus leaves His door open for me. Accepts me and loves me without a single condition. He takes me in and sets me free all at once. He does not look away.

He sees in me what I cannot or will not see for myself.....in all the best ways. He forgives me and His friendship is permanent.

Jesus likes to be with me, needs me to show up and delights in the attention I give Him. 
He leads the way.



I had no clue that I was being set up. That He was about to reveal Himself to me in a way that He knew would set my feet to dancing. 
This is my God. 
This is who has been in relentless pursuit of my heart for so long.
This is who sits with me when I'm so lost and unsure of my next breath. 
And this is who holds me when I think no one should ever want to hold me again.

Let me suggest that you try this. Make a list of ten people in your life who you like to be with. People who like to be with you. And who have made a deep, lasting impact on you and spent themselves for your good. Add the details of exactly how they love you or inspire you or see you.
Then....go back and rewrite your list but use your Creator's name in place of your friends.
This is how He wants you to know Him. 

As for me, I will never see Him the same way again. 
I do believe I am in love. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016



"You never have to overcome your      brokenness to claim God's love.
  His love has already overcome your  brokenness and claimed you." 
  

My shoulders lower three inches upon reading these words penned by Ann Voskamp in "The Broken Way".
My jaw loosens and those eyes of mine shimmer with unreleased tears.

For I am broken.

"No one could tell me how to get the dark, the ache, the fear, the hell out of me. No one could tell me how to find the place where you always felt safe and secure and held."

It was like a thunderclap of my soul from the inside-out.
I am broken.
The pieces are scattered across the floor and I am bent over them, kneeling into the gritty shards of my sin and darkness. The busted up pieces of loss and shame and the gravelly crumbs of innocence lost that look impossible to gather up. Much less put back together.
I needed safe.
I wanted held.

"How can it be? When we're naked and ashamed and alone in our brokenness, Christ envelopes us with His intimate grace. When we're rejected and abandoned and feel beyond wanting, Jesus cups our face. 'Come close, my Beloved.' When we're dirty and tear-stained and despairing, Jesus Christ is attracted to us and proposes undying love. 'All that you're carrying I take....and all that I am is yours.'"

Hope rises.
Jesus is attracted by brokenness.
By my brokenness.
It's why He came.

"You're guilty, but not condemned.
You're busted up, but believed in.
You're broken, but beloved."

I can do this.
I can be broken and beloved in a single space in time.
The two can link arms and walk straight and strong.

"Heart-shattered lives ready for love don't for a moment escape God's notice." Psalms 51:17 The Message



Monday, May 16, 2016

No Pulse

I did not know there was an Enemy in the camp.

Here I was, fully immersed in the life and kingdom that I had so carefully arranged and had dominion over. 
The dishes were washed AS they got dirty and I implemented the same strategy for the relentless laundry.
Back-to-back dentist appointments were scribbled in red ink for Tuesday. 
Said a prayer for my neighbors, daughter's dog AND the pope on Thursday.
A family reunion complete with a bubbling casserole and peanut butter whoopee pies tucked into a picnic basket for Saturday.
And always, always church on Sunday. I was the pastor's wife. I needed to show up.
Every morning as soon as I became conscious, my legs would swing out of bed and my feet would hit the floor running. My husband and four squeaky-clean children needed me for their very survival.
The floors had to be swept and vacuumed, the dog bed needed fluffed, there was a glaring streak on the window that faced the morning sunrise that I never stopped long enough to watch and there was only one pickle left in the pickle jar for goodness sake.

And while I was debating dill versus sweet in the grocery aisle, a battle raged inside my little boy's body.
An unseen and aggressive cancer was quietly grasping and clawing and consuming his entire right kidney for its own and creeping its way to nearby blood vessels and lymph nodes.
We did not know that time was against us.
The only red flag flapping gently in the wind of life wasn't very red at all; fevers that came on swiftly and left even more abruptly only drove me to buy more Tylenol and stock up on freeze pops.
We were all sleeping soundly at night while the disease multiplied and advanced.

As clueless as I was about this nefarious cancer being camped out among us, even more unaware was I, that a different sort of enemy had long ago coiled itself around my beating little-girl heart and had stolen my identity, dreams, hope and purpose.
Any and all red flags on this sinking ship of mine were lost on me.
I was numb.
I barely had a pulse.

Little did I know that a daring and risky rescue for my heart was being ordered and executed as my own son's imminent battle with The Beast began.
I can almost hear the valiant call to arms with swords clashing, arrows launching and shields deflecting. Here began a frightening and exhausting, earthly fight for my child's life and an all out, unseen, spiritual war to cut me loose and lead me out of the dragon's lair.....





             

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Popsicle Stick Cross

 I've been asked to pray about and share my one word for this new year.

One word that God has impressed my heart with.
A word that I will take with me all year long and know that it is mine.
My one-word-gift.
Given to me by my Father.

 I typically resist being boxed in by a request like this when I write.
Rules, scripts and boundaries suck the life out of even the smallest inclination to put my heart on paper. If you look back at my recent posts on this blog of mine, you won't find any. I have not published anything for an entire year.

I've been silent.

My life took a road that I never would have chosen, Had I been given a choice.
A road that was littered with betrayal, loss and eventually suicidal thoughts and intent.
Who chooses to watch their long-awaited-for dream be bulldozed into a pile of smoking rubble?
And who chooses to lose hope?
To lose heart?

But I realized that this request to share my one word is an invitation. 
An invitation to use my voice. To take a break on hiding my own story.
Because God made us to be known. 

For the past year I've been finding out who God is. And who He isn't.
Who I am. And who I am not.
.
Past trauma and the resulting belief that I needed to shut everything down that moved or breathed or had life in me, kept me far and away from living authentically. And it kept me from knowing the truth. That the God I thought I knew is not that kind of God at all.

God is love.

I've known that since I could hike my own tights up under my little skirt in the bathroom stall of our local church. Since I could wrap my fingers around a blue crayon and color in those exact words on my Sunday School take-home-paper. And glue those letters onto a popsicle stick cross.

But those three words were not mine to keep.
I hastily folded my paper up each Sunday and dropped it into the trash.
My cross was broken and discarded before I ever reached home.
God's love was a concept that I bravely denied. Passing it on to the next deserving kid in line.
I knew without question that I was not ok.

There were other shameful words that had been given to me that kept me from receiving any kind of good gift. Any kind of truth.
And especially any kind of love.


I've traveled a few miles since then.
And God has persisted and pursued in His desire to introduce Himself to me.
As He IS.
And to open my bolted heart on who I am.
To Him.
Beloved.

I'm Beloved.

This is who He says I am.
It has taken months upon months of personal, intimate, healing moments to be able to open my hands up and receive that word.

BE.....exist, have life, breathe, draw breath.

LOVED....cared very much for, felt deep affection for, thought the world of, devoted to.....a feeling of warm personal attachment....all arising from kinship or close friendship. 

BELOVED....much adored, treasured one who is affectionately and unconditionally loved.

What kind of God loves like that?

It is the same God who helped me learn to pull my tights on by myself.
Who shaped my unskilled fingers around a blue crayon.
And who wept at the sight of a little girl lost.
The God who rescued her and brought her to rest in His unsearchable love.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” Deut. 33:12

I'm linking up today with my favorite blogger, Bonnie Grey at Beloved Brews.




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

This picture makes me smile....

.....my husband, Jeff in Uganda holding two little girls being adopted by two American families...


Wednesday, October 30, 2013


When God hands me His Word through the voice of someone who says it so well, it has to be shared.
I can't keep this all to myself.
I'm generous like that.

"God has frequently to knock the bottom board out of your experience in order to get you into contact with Himself.

Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God's character has to be cleared in our own mind.
Faith in its actual working out has to go through spells of unsyllabled isolation. Never confound the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life. Much that we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive.

Faith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts Him--I will remain true to God's character whatever He may do. 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him'--this is the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole of the Bible."

~Oswald Chambers~

For the record, I had to look up the word "sublime": -of such excellence, grandeur or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe.