Hope

This was first posted by me in another blog October 2010.

For too long I have struggled in the darkness of difficult circumstances.  Felt the clouds of despair settle over my soul. Doom and gloom.  Kind of like Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh.  No hope.

Today I find myself feeling hopeful and even joyful. This is not a common state of being for me so I’m relishing it.  Circumstances have not substantially changed, except that my husband is in one of his “good places” for the moment which must have an impact.  And I’m getting wiser.  I realize that it’s not going to last and I’m bracing myself.  Hoping that when he crashes emotionally, I can withstand the impact.  Twenty years + of history – it’s inevitable, barring a miracle of God.

What else has changed?  Life has taken on a new “feel” in that I am finding new opportunities in which to invest myself away from my home.  Writing. Pursuing publishing. Dipping my toes deeper into ministry challenges. Realizing some things there cannot be rushed, and that not all good goals can be pursued with equal intensity, all the time.  Grace.

I’m learning to give myself grace.  And as I relax into the depths of who God says He is, I find greater peace.  I’ll admit that writing “Lifeline: Hope for Women in Difficult Marriages” is not an easy book.  But I find joy in the writing, because so many of you have told me that you need this kind of book.  We all want a solution when we are hurting , don’t we?

There’s not a “marriage repair shop” however.  You cannot tune up one side of the car or put new tires on it, and with the other side of the car refusing repair, run smoothly.  It’s just not going to happen.  The new tires will wear unevenly and carry a heavier burden.  So true if you are in a difficult marriage.

So I’m glad that we don’t have to walk that road alone.  That when we park the car, we can have others around us to help re-inflate our tires and polish our hubcaps.  And maybe wash our window so we can see more clearly.  Even if we are in the passenger seat, which can feel so helpless, we are not without help or protection.  The Holy Spirit is our seat belt and airbag. No better safety and security than when we are secured by God!

I’m still working on finding an agent/publisher for my book, driven not so much by the desire to make a name for myself, or fatten up my lean checking account.  No, what compels me onward is the belief that as I write, I might be able to offer you hope, too.  The hope I’ve so desperately at times needed (and I’m sure I will need again!). Please pray that God would open the right door for that, if it is His will.  I want to move forward and help be there to blow the clouds of despair away, hug you with words that tell you “you are not alone,” and bring honor and glory to God as we persevere through difficult relationships.

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe”. (Pro 18:10)

Hope. Today it floats me.  Praying you find some of that for yourself this week as well regardless of what trials you are facing.  Let Jesus be your strong tower and hope in times of trouble.

Anniversary Musings

This was initially posted on another blog in October of 2010

In two days I will have been married to my husband for 20 years.  I met him when I was 18 and we dated 7 years (and two cancelled weddings) before finally tying the knot.  So I’ve basically been in a relationship with this man far longer than I was without.

It has been a long time since this date has been remarked on or even celebrated by us.  This is not the “hubby forgetting about it,” kind of thing. It’s just not important to him. Investing in our relationship to him equates with spending money so he will not invest. We have no money. He doesn’t understand emotional currency.

Now, I cannot say that marrying this man was a “mistake” or something I “regret” because to do so would be to reject all the growth that has happened in my life because of the challenges I have faced in this relationship. And it would be as if I were saying that my three children were also an error.

I don’t look at this date with fondness. The calendar moves forward without any change in our marriage for the better. In some ways in recent years it has gotten WORSE!  Happy? Not anywhere close.

So it is simply an “anniversary.”  Not one I celebrate. I remember and reflect that in my attempts to follow and obey God, and still respect my husband as a person, has not wrought the “happy.” But I must remember that God is up to something far bigger than my happiness.

I was reminded this past weekend, listening to Andy Andrews talk, that one life, one choice, can impact millions. Every single thing we do has the possibility to impact the world for eternity. But how could you possibly know what that choice or action will be?  Here’s the key (from me, not from Andy): Walk in step with the Holy Spirit and seek to be obedient to HIS leading every day of your life.

Sounds so much easier than it is. Not because the Holy Spirit is difficult. He is not!  However – I am. My stubborn, rebellious heart often doesn’t want to let go of my sin to bend my knee before God in repentance. When this does happen though, the Holy Spirit has free reign to lead and guide me. When I give up my “rights” to happiness – I can find joy in following Jesus, even when the path is not easy.

He never promised it would be easy. He never promised roses and flowers and candelight. He promised that He would walk through life with us. The hard days.  The painful nights. He captures our tears and holds us in the palm of His hand.  Psalm 17:8 says “Guard me as the apple of your eye (daughter of the eye); Hide me in the shadow of your wings. . .” (HCSB). Wow. Love. Protection.  God’s eyes light up at the sight of me. I am precious in HIS sight and His affirmation and love are far more important in span of eternity than my husband’s.

So how will my choice to stay in this marriage change the world?  I don’t know. Really, it doesn’t matter as long as I am following God’s leading every day of my life. Day by day, He can lead me to  bring glory and honor to His name, for eternity, as I submit to His leading. I wish I did this better, but I’m a work in process and I’ve grown so much. I am not the same woman who walked down the aisle 20 years ago. I’m certainly not the same size!

I may not celebrate a wedding anniversary, however, I can celebrate a God whose love and faithfulness have sustained me and molded me over the past 20 years into the woman I am right now, today. That’s a good place to be and something to rejoice in. To have a happy marriage at the expense of missing out on God’s best for me? Well, my human side would choose the “happy” every time. The longings of my heart can only be met in Christ and will find ultimate fulfillment in His presence. That I can celebrate.

Island of Misfit Toys II

This was originally written and posted on another blog in October of 2010.

Okay, so been thinking more about the misfit thing.  Then I remembered that Paul felt that way too.  Remember Paul?  He was a noted theologian of his day and righteously protecting the faith when all of a sudden, WHAM!  He encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus and was blinded by the LIGHT!

After that he had to go and wait three days, to meet a man who would restore his sight. (This is Acts 9).  Can you imagine poor Ananias?  God calls him to go to Damascus and meet with Paul (then called Saul) who was known to murder followers of Jesus.  Yikes!  Talk about faithful obedience.  Ananias went, and Paul received his sight, and chose to follow Jesus. He went to join the other believers in Christ.

He had a little problem though.  His reputation preceded him everywhere he went!  Leaders amongst believers in Christ were hesitant to embrace him. He no longer fit with the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day.  He was truly a misfit!  God obviously made a good choice though in this strong willed man who was grounded in Scripture and had converted to becoming a follower of Jesus.  He persevered, was eventually accepted and embraced by the budding young Christian church and went on to become one of the most powerful forces in spreading the gospel.

Peter writes about us being as sojourners and aliens (some versions say exiles) in a foreign land.  (1 Peter 2:11)  Hmmmm.  Another translation might be misfit!  When Christ calls us out of darkness in to His glorious light, we are adopted into His family.  We learn a new way of living and thinking and obedience to Him doesn’t always make sense to the outside world. Our new home is heaven.  We’ve just got a job to do before we reach our final destination.  Scripture is full of misfits.

Jesus himself did not have a home the three years he wandered Israel teaching and leading and healing. . . He too was a misfit. Scripture says in Isaiah that there was nothing in him to draw us to him. He wasn’t the handsome surfer dude we sometimes see depicted.

So, do you feel like a misfit, sometimes?  If so, then you and I are not alone, but instead fall into some mighty impressive company!  I’m so glad that God doesn’t make cookie-cutter Christians.  We don’t have to look alike or wear the same clothing or even serve with the same gifts. God’s glory is magnified through the unity expressed in diversity within the body of Christ, His bride, the church.

I need to remember this when the world tells me I need to be a certain size, or that my children need to be raised in a perfect manner and that my home should be decorated, just so.  My kids are not going to grow up perfect. No matter how hard I try, that is not possible, so I can relax and trust that as I obey God, HE will do HIS perfect work in and through me and my children for HIS glory. My home could be gone in the short span of one fire – it’s all just “stuff.”  And my body size – I’m glad God knew I would be the way I am right now today and loves me just the same!  We may all be misfits in some way, shape or form, but maybe that’s exactly what will set us apart for God’s glory to shine to the world.

The world doesn’t take kindly to those who march to the beat of the Holy Spirit’s leading. Paul was  crucified upside down.  Will you be brave enough to follow?  Ananias was.  Because of that one choice to obey – the Good News of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection spread throughout the world.  A ripple effect that continues in and through us today.  Wow.  Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be a misfit after all?

The Island of Misfit Toys

I originally published this content in another blog in September 2010.

My life had changed significantly since September. My kids were all in school full time.  My marriage was a barely manageable co-existence.  I carried my volunteer “office” in my car.  Visits with my family of origin felt like traveling to a foreign country where I didn’t know the language (so I conveniently lost my passport and didn’t visit if I coould avoid it).

I struggled with my identity when I left a paying full-time job to come home to be with my kids. I wanted that, but in addition to that change, my husband insisted on a move. Away from my support system and all my friends.  Back to enemy territory, the same town as my family who really didn’t seem to like me. It was really hard to re-connect in this community.  It only took a year to find opportunity to really serve using my gifts – friendships took longer.  Two young children, isolation in the country, fragile income source from my self-employed spouse and keeping an eye on my unbeknownst-to-us-at-the-time, Alzhiemer’s afflicted mother-in-law.  Whew!

That was eight years past and now Grandma was in a nursing home. We added a daughter to the mix.  My health tanked on me.  Marriage went from passable to worse.  We struggled with a special needs kid and eventually gave up home-schooling.

Life had changed again in a different direction.  It was something I had looked forward to but was finding a hidden threat in it.  I was adrift.  I had plenty to do with ministry and writing.  Homework challenges, dinner, and keeping the dishes and clothes clean.  However, we could seriously use an income as my spouse has added financial abuse to his list of control mechanisms.

There were no local jobs out there in my field.  Writing is happening, but no agent yet, much less the coveted contract for a book.  I avoided being home to stay away from my spouse.  So I literally was “adrift”.  Even when home I had no spot to myself.  I was rootless.  I needed to set my own agenda and I get things done but didn’t feel as productive as I would with my own “space”.  We are supposed to be moving but I wasn’t sure where or when. I’d been in this holding pattern on this for YEARS! 

misfitsI felt like a misfit in every aspect of my life.  My marriage, even my family of origin, ministry (although there is a gift and passion fit), my writing “career”.

This brought to mind the story of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and the “Island of Misfit Toys.”  We all want to fit in don’t we? (No, I’m not trying to anticipate Christmas here!)

I read on a website somewhere that misfits are the leaders of the world.  Maybe that’s so, because we are not following the prescribed paths.  But know this – it’s not because I don’t want to. I would love a spouse who adores and supports me and provides for me and my kids. I would love to come home to a house that I loved – and create a space there to work and live and entertain friends.  I would love an income from a job (or financial support from my spouse would suffice).  I really wouldn’t mind my family appreciating and applauding my choices in life.  *sigh*

I’m not trying to have a pity party here. I’m simply struggling to come to grips with a new reality for my life.  I crave security and stability and my life is anything but that.  The emotional dissonance of what I want and what I have is creating some friction inside. An unsettledness. It’s new. It’s not fun.  And I’m not really sure what to do about it but keep on with the tasks God has given me and hope He knows the answer and will reveal it in His perfect time. I’m seeking to find my stability and security in Him. . . but it can feel so intangible. In spite of that, I’ll keep pressing on in pursuing Him.

Are there any areas of your life where you feel like you don’t quite “fit” the mold?

Welcome: It All Starts Here

Welcome to my new blog. I originally began this years ago on another site but am transferring content here. I’ve been on a journey through many valleys, twists and turns.  Relationship challenges, parenting issues, and then throw in an autoimmune disease just to make life interesting.  I hope to encourage you as you travel your own path with God, to continue to hold HIS hand, to continue to see HIM as faithful, and to grow in the likeness of our precious Lord.  If you are in it (whatever it is you are in) for the long haul, maybe you’ll find some encouragement here.  For HIS glory alone.