Faith in the Darkness: Fear in the Light

Most of you know I’ve been in training for the Hartford Half Marathon, coming up on October 10.  It’s a pretty big deal, since it’s my first athletic event, and I am by no means an athlete of any shape, form or kind.

I have to say, though, I am darned impressed with myself.  From the day I decided to do this thing, I started on a path, albeit a path I had no idea to where it led, and I have not stopped moving.  I can’t say I’ve been this motivated to do anything for me – ever.  With the exception of one week, where Mama Commitments limited me to one day of walking, I have been out there no less than 3 days per week, sometimes more, with miles on my sneakers (yes, that was plural!) and the sweat to prove it when I’m done.

I recently found this great wooded path not far from my house, and I decided I wanted to conquer it.  On my 1st visit, I wasn’t exactly prepared for what I found – an offering of several paths; a few short distance ‘loop trails’ and a long distance marsh trail – and I spent more time surveying and backtracking rather than conquering anything.

Prior to my 2nd visit, I spent time online studying where the marsh trail actually traveled throughout town, and purposely decided to start at the opposite end of where I’d started a few days earlier.  After finding the access footpath, complete with cobwebs from lack of visitors, I found the first orange arrow, a sign I was headed in the right direction.  About a mile into the marsh path, however, the signs became a bit more ambiguous, and I soon found myself in a neighboring town, clear across town from my car, as darkness was beginning to fall.  The only way out, as it were, was in…into the woods.

I’m not exactly sure when this marsh path was first established, but visually you can imagine a lush forest footpath, carpeted by roots and tree limbs.  As time wears away the soil, the roots become more prevalent, making each step increasingly important, especially in the darkness.  As I continued to look for the orange markings, ever aware of the decreasing light, I wasn’t afraid; just mindful of my steps and my purpose – to get back to my car.  I started singing along to my music streaming through my headphones, consciously choosing not to remove them as the distraction helped me focus on the task at hand.

I was also mindful of the battery-life left on my cellphone…very low.  And while I’d been tracking my walk, tracing my path and streaming my music, apparently my phone was in revolt.  Again I made the conscious decision to keep those apps running – they all served a purpose at that moment, and with them I felt certain I would get to where I needed to be.  As I reached this unmistakable boulder that marked the access footpath from the marsh path, I knew I had made it back alright.  The crisp moonlight and car headlamps lit my way along the grassy terrain to my lonely car in the commuter lot.

For my 3rd visit, I set off completely prepared; I’d studied the internet map yet again to see where I’d gone wrong; I brought a flashlight in the event I made another fatal directional error; I brought water and a protein packed snack –  just in case; and most importantly…my phone was fully charged.  Off I went, determined that I had it figured out this time.  While I didn’t get lost, I got overconfident once I got close to the exit, making a wrong turn that sent me back out toward the marsh instead of toward the parking lot, essentially adding another .6 mile to my walk.  My only shallow victory was that I did not need the flashlight I had brought, as I emerged from the brush with still some daylight overhead.

Today, I woke up determined.  This marsh path was not going to outwit me.  It was a beautiful first day of fall, and I was going to make the most of the daylight.  I gathered my normal walking paraphernalia (minus the flashlight) and headed to the marsh.  But today, I sat for a minute on one of the benches at the entrance.  I stretched out, which I haven’t been doing appropriately, and could possibly be why I have a slight pull in my right calf.  Lastly, today I decided to bring my iPod instead of using my phone for music.  This proved to be the most important decision I have made all week, probably in all of my training.

I started off strong, as I usually do.  Good typical pace for me.  Passed a few single people walking, a man and his son, other than that the path was isolate as I generally find the farther out I go.  Mile 1 flew by, and the grueling steep climb of mile 2 began.  But today, something was drastically different.  One reason I keep coming back to the marsh, besides the fact that I’m so stubborn, is that it is unmistakably beautiful.  Everywhere you look little touches of nature spring out and you know God has touched this place.  From wild growing cherries and grapes, to unique trees growing intertwined upon each other, to fern outstretched toward the light, to the man-built bridges and planks peering out from nowhere – you are inspired and pulled along step by breath-taking step.

Today, though, as my eyes were pressed onward, I found myself distracted by an abundance of sights, and not in a positive way.  Light crept in where usually it did not, causing need for my sunglasses more than usual – up, down, up, down – an irritating cadence erupting.  As I observed my steps, those holes in the dirt I’d assumed were from chipmunks were now filled with mud wasps, and I scurried around them careful not to disturb their meeting.  Wood planks laid on their side revealed steep drop-offs I’d not noticed until today, causing me to shrink close to trees opposite the drops.

And just about this moment I became acutely aware of my music, streaming loudly, the most perfect of songs for that very moment.  See, my iPod has two playlists – one with pop music and one with Contemporary Christian music.  My iPod was set to ‘shuffle’ and these lyrics rang through:

 

Giver of every breath I breathe
Author of all eternity
Giver of every perfect thing
To You be the glory
Maker of Heaven and of Earth
No one can comprehend Your worth
King over all the universe
To You be the glory

I continued walking, slowly, as these words sank into my soul.   I knew I was being touched by the Holy Spirit at that moment, I was just trying to grasp the full extent.

Early on I declared I was doing this walk because I can, in fact, walk.  Because I am healthy; because I am happy; because I am free.  But I never once stopped to give the glory to GOD for all that means to me.

Then I heard Him say to me very clearly “You have excellent faith in the darkness, and yet you fear in the light.”  How on point is that?  I find it so very easy to blindly trust what I know that I know, but things I have partial vision of, I need constant reaffirmation before I can believe.

This marsh path is just like my walk.  In the darkness, I had no fear when I more than likely should have.  But in the light of day, I wouldn’t trust what I could see.  I was fumbling and stumbling, and allowing fear to creep in, making vision an obstacle rather than a support.

It was at this point on the path a very distinct fork occurs, and you can easily become disoriented.  Your inclination is to go down, but that choice leads you deeper into the woods.  You must choose up to clear the trees.  You must choose up.  Let me tell you something else – today, I didn’t get lost, not one wrong turn, and I made it out before dark…best time yet.  No coincidence there.

What are you putting blind faith in where you shouldn’t be today?  And what areas are you questioning what you can see clearly, perhaps because you don’t like the answers you see?  Lastly, are you giving glory to the One who gave you everything?

Today is a new season, the perfect time for a fresh start.  I know I’m glad for the times I chose up.

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Fatally Attracted

“The moment you feel like you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away.”

I have been manipulated by people my entire life.  To even make this statement out loud strikes at the core of what I value most about myself – my intelligence.  How could someone so smart be so stupid and allow herself to be used and abused so intimately by so many? My greatest relationships have been the most disappointing – the most manipulative.  I thought this cycle of behavior began with my marriage, but in a revelation last week, I discovered this disturbing pattern began much earlier in my life – with my father.  And this new discovery sent me into a tailspin that revealed a level of myself I had not yet seen, and one I wasn’t certain I was ready to look at up close and personal.

They say, “Hindsight is 20/20.”  How many times do we hear this statement and never really stop to think what these words mean?  My observation has been that people peering into your life from the outside – the ‘cheap seats’ as I like to call them – always have the best vantage point.  It’s just so seemingly easy for them to speak volumes into your life:  you should choose this relationship; you shouldn’t buy that house; no, don’t have children now; oh gosh, you bought that dress?  But many times I find the ‘cheap seat’ advice is guised as judgment, even by the best meaning people.  Even with a pretty spin, judgment still stings, especially when some of the words ring true.

Over time I’ve learned to listen first, reflect on the person’s heart who’s laying down their pearls of wisdom, and respond less.  Oh, it’s not been an easy lesson by any means – I will be the first to tell you.  That sting is still there – maybe just not as painful as it once was.  But when you can trust the one who speaks into your life, trust that their heart is not intentionally trying to hurt yours, the pain is short-lived and you’re left with the nuggets of truth to take away.

So this is what happened for me last week.  A painful, but heart-full exchange, truthful nuggets, and reflection.  It was in that reflection time I found my brain spiraling out of control, and I needed to put those thoughts to paper before I simply lost my mind.  That exercise – release of my thoughts and feelings on a blank paper – proved to be so powerful and freeing…I’m not sure I can completely put into words what all I accomplished with that simple act.

I have shared my childhood experience here before.  I am a steadfast believer in the fact that there are no accidents – all things happen as they are meant to.  And while we may or may not receive answers for the tragedies we experience here on this earth, they all absolutely serve a purpose.  I don’t know why I was molested as a child, and quite frankly, I don’t need to know now.  I am, however, learning over time how even though I had thought I was not impacted beyond the end of that event by what happened, that is not exactly true.

As I sat with my therapist this week, recapping what I had discovered in solo work, questioning how I could have been so foolish to allow myself to be continually manipulated, she stopped me and posed several questions to help me work through my harsh conclusion.  Who was the parent and who was the child in the relationship with my Father?  Obvious answer there.  In my marriage, why did I choose my husband?  That he lived 1000 miles away and I was looking to escape, and his family seems so welcoming and I desperately wanted to belong to someone’s family.  In my friendship with X., what did she bring to the table?  Strength when I was at my weakest and availability when my other friends were busy with their families.  So with this information, was I ‘dumb or stupid’ in making the choice to be with them when I made my original choices?  No.  I made good choices at the time.  However, I am drawn to this type of personality – a controlling, manipulative, overbearing person.  Each and every relationship I have had has revealed this trait.  And I bounce from one relationship to the next to the next.  And if I don’t identify why I make this choice each time – I will continue to make this bad choice for myself again and again.

So what we decided together is that I need to trust ME more, pay attention to the red flags that I see coming up instead of avoiding them, and take my time, allowing people to earn my trust, instead of giving it away too freely.  Wow…that seems like it would be so simple, but believe me, it is not!  Doubt is sneaky, creaping in to every little crack and crevice you have, and seriously…I have too many!  But I am wicked proud of the work I continue to do, and I am thankful for the people I have who speak into my life from their heart.  I love them more than they know…and they know who they are.

That Still, Small Voice

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

Romans 12:2

I love my showers.  In the winter, the scalding water warms my chilled body down to the bone, where the snowy cold has robbed me not just of my body temperature but many times of my spirit.  In the summer, the cool water seeps deep into my pores, chilling me beyond what air conditioning can do in the most refreshing of ways.  What I love most about the shower is the silence, the peace, the solace – time for reflection, a collecting of my thoughts, my only true haven.

My showers lately have been different – noisy, distracting, befuddled.  I haven’t been able to connect with that place of peace I need so desperately as of late.  Miscellaneous noise and others’ junk whirl overhead like a swarm of bees, robbing me of my soul connection.  I have allowed it to continue – I make no qualms about this – but I haven’t known how to stop the distractions…until today.

Today, as I watch the water spin down the drain, that still, small voice I’ve been missing for months whispers my name and demands my attention.  The voice only I can hear speaks into my being, and suddenly all the confusion and lack of clarity I’ve been experiencing for the last few weeks becomes transparent – gossamer even – and I know what I must do, and how to get to where I need to be.

For the first time in weeks, I feel light again.  Upon deeper inflection I realize though I’ve made great strides in the recent past, I’ve chosen the wrong road of two presented before me.  And while I thought I’d chosen well, I chose the easier of the two paths, which typically would cause great disappointment in myself.  But today I resolve to make a better choice, with the new information, and leave my weapons on the ground – I’ve been beaten down enough.  Even this revelation is a huge one for me, and I find myself a little giddy at my progress.

I intend to reach out to that voice again tomorrow.  I really hope she’s not a stranger…I’ve got plans for us!

Sweet Victory…?

“Victory begins when you are willing to run by faith, trusting that He will lead the way.”

When a marriage ends in divorce, there are no winners.  No matter how amicable things are, someone, somewhere ends up being hurt by something that is either said, done or unintentionally willed against the other party.  It is not possible for two people to spend any length of intimate time together, share things that a man and wife do, and walk away from that time unscathed.  Bring children into the mix, and the wake of devastation increases exponentially, causing normally rational adults to act in ways they would otherwise not act, all ‘for the sake of the children.’  The shame of it all is everyone suffers damage – everyone.

After preparing half the night for what promised to be an epic battle at court this week, I felt ill at ease.  I thought these feelings were my typical issues with self-doubt creeping back in; I had prepared well, and had sufficient documentation to present a balanced argument for the points I planned to present.  As I finished with my outline for each of the three planned motions, I could no longer contain the overwhelming dread I had been feeling.  I called the one person I knew who could balance my rocking canoe and help me calm the waters before I set off to court.  As usual, she listened to my concerns for what might happen, my lacking abilities, and all my doubts.  And in perfect step she surrounded me with Gospel Truth – and reminded me that this battle was already decided, I was merely walking it out that morning to completion; she reminded me that God had wonderfully gifted me with the ability to speak eloquently and remain on task and that He would be with me that morning, as He always was; and most importantly, she told me God loved my children more than I did, and that He would not allow harm to come to them…those were the words I held on to as we hung up and I got dressed.

What I found at court when I arrived was as I had expected – he had support in his sister and brother at his side.  I did not come unarmed, as three great friends joined me as well.  The process began as it typically does – Family Relations – where he usually disagrees to all I present, and then we are sent to an awaiting Judge in a courtroom.  Two cases were heard before ours, and as I half-heartedly listened to those cases, I found it difficult to quiet my spirit.  The atmosphere there is so negative, even hostile at times, to breathe in the air seems almost toxic.  I closed my eyes trying to focus myself, trying to replay my plan again in my head – anything to disconnect me from where I was yet again…and then it was time.

We both approached our respective tables, took our oaths, stated our names and sat down.  I began my initial motion, and immediately the Judge questioned my direction.  I was thrown, seeing instantly that I’d made a tactical error – that what I’d considered an ‘order’ from the previous Judge was in fact listed in my notes as a recommendation, and thus not subject to a contempt order.  I felt childlike and stupid in that moment, and my mind raced as I tried to recover – I could feel ‘their eyes’ burning the back of my head, taunting me.  The Judge ruled against my next point, and while not critical, again I received it as a blow.

We moved on to the most important of the three issues at hand, and I tried to regain my stride.  I spoke off-script, and while most points were mentioned, I was far less succinct as I am capable of being.  He was offered a chance to rebut, and his words were void of truth and hurtful.  I hurriedly made my notes, sure to catch key phrases to use in my retort.  Almost directly on cue, he began to cry – again – and I found myself not anguished over his emotions but disgusted by his display yet again.  I quickly brought us back to task, and felt I finished strong.

As the Judge began his summation, his initial words led me to feel he was not going to rule in my favor.  I remember shaking my head and immediately thinking what would the next move be, as this would be completely unacceptable.  But as the Judge continued, he did in fact, rule in my favor.  A few more formalities, and I was up and out of the room.  And once again, as soon as I made it out the doors, I was sobbing – the stress of holding it together had completely overwhelmed me – and my friend grabbed me into her arms, apparently in an effort to shield me from them as they exited.

The physical and emotional toll these court days take on me I find difficult to express.  That was yesterday, and mentally I was garbage for the rest of the day.  But when you are a single mom, you do not have the luxury to mentally check out, for any length of time.  I try as much as possible to shield my children from what transpires during these days – because football, chess club, dinner, Click the Mouse, soccer, going to a friend’s house, going to the park, getting to their job, selling fundraising tickets, PPT meetings…all of these things happen whether court goes well or not.

So today, as I lay in the bed for most of the day, reflecting on what happened yesterday and where we go from here, I realized there was no winner in court.  We all lose…we all lose.  Until such a time when we can communicate together and parent these children without the law having to intervene.  Until we can BOTH have parenting time with these children and not disparage the other parent.  Until these children are not hurt by our supposed ‘grown-up’ actions…both of ours.  Until ALL the people in these children’s lives get on the same page about what is in the best interest for them, and work to that end.

What I know is this:  I cannot control him or his actions.  But I am responsible for me and my actions.  And that means I can still continue to be the example – to my children, and to him and his family.  It cost me nothing to be who I already am, so that is no sacrifice.  To sacrifice, I need to take an additional step.  I have the benefit of Jesus Christ, and because of that, I am required to do more.  So I will be seeking God’s face on how He wants me to do more, to take additional steps to make this work.  Because doing what I’ve already done isn’t getting it – it’s merely wearing me out – and that will accomplish nothing in the end.

The Masterpiece in Me

‘You know my name, not my story.

You’ve heard what I’ve done, not what I’ve been through…’

I, like everyone else on this planet, am a person who comes with baggage.  I have lived 46 years on this earth so far, and in that time, I have done things…some things I would proudly write on my epitaph, and others I still beat myself up about daily; I have struggled with challenges – sometimes failing miserably, and sometimes surprising even myself with strength I never knew I had; I have made poor choices, some that impacted those around me, and some that brought me to my knees because there was nowhere else left to go.  But the one thing I know in my heart of hearts – I have done more good than bad in my life, helped more than I’ve hurt, and at the end of the day, I know I’m right with my God, so to me, I’ve accomplished my goal.

Reflecting on some of that old ‘baggage’ this past week, someone who didn’t know me really at all responded to some of my history in a way I felt was critical and hurtful – something others who know me well would have never said or even believed for an instant.  I immediately felt judged all over again, as if I were back in that moment of when the event first happened, defending an inexcusable action that was full of lies and mistruths.  In that moment, I allowed this person who knew a thimble-worth about me to cast me in the role others had set for me, instead of what I know truth and integrity say about me instead.  I was angry, not at this person, but myself, for allowing someone to hold power over what I thought of myself, swaying my opinion with such ease.

I realized that I am still – everyday – a work in progress.  That for as hard as I’ve worked to redefine who I am – what I know to be true about myself – I am a sandcastle…one mediocre wave, and what I’ve built comes crashing down, with little left to rebuild upon.  I need to be wiser about where I chose to build.  While I love the sound of the crashing waves and the tickle of the water on my toes, that same beauty is hazardous for what I’m trying to accomplish in me.  If I rebuild, but farther back from the edge, I can still experience the beauty – the sounds and sights will all still be present – I just won’t be so exposed to the dangers of lashing tongues, boisterous judgments, and harsh critics who lounge by the water’s edge.  The sand doesn’t shift as easily farther back, either – a better foundation for where I’m headed – a hope and a promise of what’s to come.  Sure, it’s more work to build your castle back there – but when I’m finished…wow!  Can you imagine the masterpiece?

The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:13 –

‘I can do everything through him who gives me strength.’

Paul was in prison because of his decision to follow Jesus.  Imagine how low he must have felt.  If he could write books of the Bible while suffering for his beliefs, I’m fairly certain I can adjust my sails and keep rebuilding until I get it right.  That’s the resolve I want to wake up with each day – I can do EVERYTHING – no matter who thinks different.  It’s all up to me to start.

When a Mind Breaks, It Don’t Break Even…

No matter how cautious you plan to be, heartbreak happens.  It can happen between the best of friends, between parent and child, between family members, and between lovers.  I don’t think we ever set out to hurt or be hurt – anyone who’s experienced that wince of pain caused by the loss of love would more than likely attest to that.  But the heart, as complex of an organ as it is, is relatively simple in its emotional make-up.  We store all our emotions there, and when you stop to think about it, that’s quite a vast capacity.  Thinking just about the supposed ‘seven major emotions’ that psychologists categorize, we’re talking about fear, contempt, disgust, anger, sadness, happiness and surprise.

When we lose our relationship with someone we care for, no matter the context of that relationship, we generally feel loss.  There can be loss of trust, as in a friend who you feel alienated you and your life that you entrusted to them; a loss of innocence, like when a child crosses a line you never would have imagined would be crossed; a loss of intimacy, when a partner betrays your faith or simply denies your feelings altogether; a loss of confidence, when you deny yourself and doubt all that you know to be true.

Regardless of what the cause of this loss, the angst that follows must be allowed to process, in due time.  Denying ourselves and our emotions is both detrimental to our emotional health, and harmful to our attempts to rebuild who we are as individual beings.

I recently entered the dating world after a 25+ year departure.  Let me simply say this:  dating over 45 is ridiculously difficult, and dating in 2015 – absurd.  Apparently there is no more simply meeting someone, enjoying their company, and wanting to spend more time with them.  Most everything is done online now.  I don’t know if you’ve seen the commercials – there must be 50 dating sites, at least – one for every different group you could imagine…ethnic groups, religious groups, age-based groups, farmers, you name it…there’s a group.  The premise is all the same…girls and guys trying to meet each other, via picture and profile, with or without a membership fee involved.  So before you even get to the date, you can be rejected any number of times, by a mere ignoring of your message, to a nasty message sent to you, to a nasty comment on your photo – it’s the screening before the date that knocks your feet right out from under you.  Back in the 80s, that happened at the bar, and at least you had a drink to wash down the sting.

So I started with the Christian group, thinking I’d have the best results there.  That site was a joke!  It was basically non-Christian guys looking to ‘hook-up’ with good girls to see what they could get away with.  I figured that out in less than a day, lucky me!  I previewed a couple more sites and ended up on one that seemed ok, but regardless of where you land, you certainly have to keep your guard up at all times.  I spent a few days hanging back, seeing what the guys were all about – like 80% said they go to the gym every day (as if!); many have photos of their cars (oh, my racing heart!); an incredibly high amount have photos that include their exes (yes, you read that right!) – and I came to the conclusion that many guys my age have no idea what women want, period.  I don’t know whether to have a tantrum or cry over this information…the jury is still out.

I did, however, meet someone and we started to chat on the website.  He really was great – he said all the right things, and truly meant them.  I felt comfortable with him immediately, and I trusted what I felt.  We talked for a few days, then agreed to meet for our first official ‘date.’  No pressure…yeah, right!  He was perfectly charming, our conversation was enchanting, and I didn’t want to go home.  The weather was bad, and he texted just after I got into the car to tell me to let him know I got home alright – how sweet!  I smiled the whole way home, despite the treacherous driving.  We texted for over an hour after I got home – again, very sweet.

The next day, though he was busy helping out a friend, we managed to plan catching a movie in the evening.  I was giddy just knowing I would be seeing him again – I felt like I was in Junior High all over again – what would I wear, did my hair look ok, what would we talk about.  Never once did the huge smile leave my face.  We had arrived early which allowed for time for some great conversation.  Just as the lights went down, he reached over for my hand – I thought I was going to melt right there in my seat…so much better than Junior High!  The movie was amazing, and the company even better.

We saw each other two more times that week, and each day the conversations we so sweet and tender – extending into the evenings until we were both too tired to talk any more.  I was being as cautious as necessary, but also feeling so safe and secure – it was unbelievable how well we were getting along.  He met one of my friends and her husband when we went to see a band at a local bar – I was really nervous and acted quite out of character, but he quickly reassured me that everything was alright.  We were enjoying simply spending time together – we didn’t have to be doing anything special – just being.

He was happy as well – he communicated how he felt – he couldn’t get the smile off his face either, and things were going well.  He worked hard, and I gave him his space, perhaps popping in via text midday to say I was thinking of him or to ask how his day was going.  He responded as time permitted, and this worked out fine.

And then suddenly, something changed.  To this day, I have no idea what happened, and that is what really kills me.  Being the logical person that I am, just about the worst thing you can do to me is to walk away with no explanation – nothing.  I am left with self-doubt, self-loathing, self-abuse. I simply cannot process the not knowing.  My mind goes to every horrible scenario possible…and then it splits in two.

On my birthday, nonetheless, I got a ‘snippy’ message from him.  I had an idea something had shifted, but he didn’t really say anything was up.  I was busy that day, and decided as the day was drawing to a close, to reach out and ask how his day had been.  No answer.  Next day, a little bit of chit-chat, but certainly not status quo.  I decided to ‘put myself out there’ in words – I do that quite a bit – and often I give everything away when I do.  I asked him to just be real.  I said I trusted him, and that he could trust me.  And the response I got was more than I ever bargained for.

The next day he said we needed to take a break.  I don’t personally own the Guy Code book, so at first I didn’t really know what that meant.  A break?  From what exactly?  Me texting him during the day?  Oh…from me…I’m a little slow sometimes.   I responded curtly but not ugly, then stopped before I did get ugly.  Then I processed for a little bit.  Then I can back with something ugly.  Then I processed some more.  Then I apologized.  Then I went to therapy…a lot of therapy.

I gave him the space he asked for, though I’m still confused of what exactly happened.  After the allotted time, I texted him again, asking if he could call so we could talk.  Nothing.  So I called after a day.  Voice mail.  Then I waited the acceptable amount of time for him to respond, and I texted that obviously we were done, but if he could give me a clue why, I could process this a whole lot better.  Nothing.

I cried every day for the first 9, no, 10 days.  I can’t say my heart is broken – I did feel something for him – I definitely could have felt something.  My brain is broken, most certainly.  And I am left in a heap once again.  What did I do wrong?  Why can’t he even answer that for me?  Am I that annoying he can’t speak to me one more time, seriously?  How is this ever, ever going to work?

The worst part is I sent a message after the phone call, telling him I wouldn’t bother him again – could he just tell me what happened.  And then two days ago, thinking I’m moving on finally – I text him again.  At this point, I’m sure he thinks I’m a stalker.  I’m sure that’s why he dumped me…future stalker in the making.

So I’m reluctantly returning to the website – where of course I see his profile every time I log on.  They are so very kind to tell you who the perfect matches are for you.  Little do they know that some of those ‘perfect matches’ will snap your logical brain if you’re not careful.  Guard your hearts?  Guard your minds, too.

This Old Home

As the weather toys with our emotions, some days teetering ever so close to spring and thoughts of blossoming crocus, walks around the block uninhibited by huge mounds of snow and actually seeing grass in my yard again and then tormenting us once again as the thermometer plummets to artic numbers, blowing winds and more threats of that horrible white stuff, I cannot help but push forward to the joys that spring offers.  The newness of everything:  new growth, as in the flower bulbs that have patiently waited underground all cold winter long for their time to burst forth; new projects, as the sunlight unveils all that the winter had hidden in its darkness, now revealed and needing our attention; new opportunities, as the kids school year turns to its final leg, and choices for the next year are being put into place, big life decisions are being made, growth is being plotted and measured, all without skipping a beat.

One of my favorite parts of warmer weather and spring is tag sale season – strange as that sounds.  Another opportunity for purging the old, clearing out your things no longer viewed as valuable, and a chance for someone else to find their treasure in what you’re willing to part with.  I like both sides of that equation for various reasons – over the 12 years I’ve spent in this house, I’ve amassed a LOT of stuff…things that haven’t been touched since we moved in here, things I’ve outgrown, not just in size, but attitude and phase of life, things that definitely need to move along.

I also like to visit other people’s sales.  What they view as junk, worthless or close to it, can often have such rich meaning to me at the time.  Many things I own previously belonged to someone else before I owned them.  I like the story that comes with a piece.  None of my bedroom furniture matches – never has, and there’s a story behind that.  My living room furniture has changed more times than I can even remember, and that’s saying a lot!  I have this amazing hope chest that I got at a tag sale – real cedar – was able to talk to guy down to only $20…I don’t think he really knew what he had there – again, a treasure in the eye of the beholder.

So say you found this painting at a sale you visited.  To you, it might look like a pretty ordinary painting.  But the frame has some potential – nice wood, could probably be redone and if nothing else, you could always use the frame for a better painting or a photo you have at home.  The seller, not seeing the same potential you see, is only asking $5 for the painting.  Do you leave it there, or bring it home, knowing the value you see?

Recently I’ve been struggling with my value and my worth.  I know I thought I had it figured out, but here’s the thing:  apparently once you struggle with self-doubt and self-loathing, you ALWAYS struggle.  So I went back to my Source, my Rock, my Daddy…finding it ridiculous how long it takes me to return to my beginning for what I need.  In the silence of my prayer today, I thought of where I would be in a year from now.  Immediately God placed a word on my heart:  RESTORATION.  It’s so appropriate for me, my home, and my family.

Just like that painting from the tag sale, God sees the value in us, especially when we cannot see it in ourselves.  He paid the ultimate price for us, no questions asked, and brought us home.  Then the real work began.  He each day is stripping us down, removing all the layers of old junk, garbage piled upon garbage, looking to find what He saw in us all along.  He shows us each and every day that we are a new creation in Him – but we have to be willing to listen to what He is saying, and able to see His vision – both of which are very difficult alone.  We need His eyes and His ears as a constant reminder of His unfailing love for us.  He is always with us – when we doubt, when we feel alone, when we feel unworthy, when we hate ourselves – He is waiting to remind us WE ARE ENOUGH.

Restoration – the act of renewal, revival, reestablishment.  That’s about right.  I certainly want to be renewed – I think no matter where you are in your life, we can all use that.  I believe I’ve been revived over the last few years – revived from a life that was headed in a hopeless direction, now with its sails set toward smoother waters.  Reestablishment…not in this world, no thank you.  I’ve seen too much, been through too much, hopefully grown too much too.  But I will certainly will be obedient, and if God calls me to reestablish myself, physically, or in any way He commands, I will listen.  I am His painting in the rough…and maybe now, finally, I am ready.