And then BOOM! A Mack truck flies through the room.

I’ve never mentioned it here. And, the truth is, I don’t mention it often. I try not to think of it, quite frankly, if I don’t have to.

 

But I was doing some cleaning yesterday and found my journal from last year.

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Lots of people journal. My Mom has kept one for years. She writes her ups and downs, her dreams and thoughts, answers to prayer and the ways God moves in her life.

I’ve never read it. But, I think of it often and wonder what it will be like when I read it. How will it feel to look into her head and her heart. To peruse through her life from her perspective, to see myself through her eyes.

And so, I don’t talk it about it much, that my oldest daughter has Multiple Sclerosis. Diagnosed at age sixteen, after suffering through it for at least two years, she battles like a champ. She has always been a champ. At everything.

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That’s why it was such a shock. A sucker punch. Yes, God, have my oldest daughter–the National Champion Gymnast. The one with I.Q. of 143 at age eleven. Take her brain, her body, use it how you will for your glory.

Did you ever have to say that? Has it ever occurred to you what it takes to say that? Do you know how...hard, it is to say that?

And so, maybe, letting you peruse my head–and my heart–from the private words I wrote in my journal last year, maybe that will help you see how it feels to say that. At least how it felt for me.

June 14, 2013

I do not want Erin to die.

And I hope no one reads this.

And I wonder why I have to step over throw pillows to find the couch. And where is the switch for the lamp???

And, as much as everything in my life is a story, I do not want this to be my story–my daughter is sick. My perfect, amazing, super-cala-fragil-istic over-achieving ninja daughter is sick.

And I understand what it means to be mad at God. But I wonder how long a person can stay mad at God? And is it really a sin not to trust God with all the bad stuff? When the bad stuff is gone, over and done with, maybe it’s easier to let go of it. When it’s going on, maybe it’s harder?

Does everyone’s life feel like a soap opera, or a bad mellow-drama?! It’s like, “What will happen next? Tune in tomorrow when Pam will say…’Oh, No!’…”

For real.

And even as bad as it seems, sometimes it seems not that bad.

And some days, I even forget the bad things.

And then BOOM! It’s like a Mack truck flies through the room.

 

Words can take us back. But they can also bring us forward. And a lot can happen in a year.

My daughter still has MS. And I am still trusting God. And some days it is easy. And some days…it’s not as easy.

But, I am still doing it. I’m holding His hand as I walk through this life. And, in that, there is life.

 

What are you walking through?

How is He holding your hand?

Leave me a comment so we can walk together.

 

When you don’t know why.

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  “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”    

            1 CORINTHIANS 13:12

The last few weeks have seemed to close in on me like the walls of a shrinking room in a sci-fi movie. Schedules loom, days fly by, and the every-little-thing of normal life has become this monstrosity. My to-do list has spun out of control and chased after me snarling.

It’s been rough. To say the very least. And although I don’t always let these things get to me, lately I have. I’ve let them all pile up to some big mound of disappointment with some unknown thing. What, exactly, am I disappointed with? I don’t even know.

Is it my writing? My life? The weather? Is it my lack of desire to follow the schedule of Lent that’s been laid out so neatly by so many? Because it seems like it has, and I do think that’s a part of it. Something there about the “schedule” of Lent, the enforcement of a certain way of worshiping, that seems to scrape up against who I am.

I don’t despise a liturgical calendar. Truly, I don’t. We all need reminders to focus on God, times to make Him central. Somehow, though, I feel like they need to be more regular than just Easter and Christmas. Yet, I struggle with guilt here.

If I’m not on board with what’s being offered for this dinner am I missing out?

What if, what Gods speaking to me during this time is different than everyone else? Not theologically different, but relationally different? Is that okay?

I never mind being the odd man out. Okay, maybe I mind a little. But, it hasn’t stopped me from listening to the One who calls me over the many who chatter. Still. It is never easy to speak up and be the only voice.

My last post (and several before that) alluded to my yearnings—and the whispering of the Spirit—in the area of Speaking Freely about difficult things. And maybe that’s really where my disappointment lies. Because, I want this to be easy.  I want it clear cut. Simple. But the truth is, it’s anything but.

And maybe, I just need to do it and stop waiting for it to feel okay. Because, maybe it never will. Maybe, it will always be hard. It will always feel like ripping open my chest and letting you read my heart. I don’t know. But if I don’t try, I may never know and the never knowing is even worse.

So, here we go. Here’s a truth for today that I am choosing to speak.

I am discouraged.

It’s true. I have tried to pretend it wasn’t the case. And I won’t say I always feel this way, like every second of every 24 hours. But, it’s there none the less.  And many people will read this and immediately assume I’m the one to blame. I’m not walking closely enough with God. I’m in a season of disobedience. I’m back sliding.

Because, otherwise I’d have Joy, right? I’d be happy all the time and smiling through every trial. Because that’s what Christians do…isn’t it?

Or is it? Is it that we smile through every pain and every hardship or is it that we hide? Have we learned not to feel the pain of a fallen world any longer or are we keeping secrets?

I really don’t know. I don’t know what you do when—and if—you ever stop to think about the evil present in the world and our lives, but for me, I hurt.

I hurt that somewhere on this planet (and maybe in my own state…or city even) a child is being bought and sold like meat.

I hurt that over half the planet is starving and sick while we buy Coach purses and Ugg boots and a million other things to impress people we don’t even know with things they will never see.

And I hurt that The Church has become a closed door beaten in with a battering ram wielded by those who comprise it.

How did this happen? When—and how—did things get off track?

I don’t have an answer. But I am choosing to believe two things about this season, at least my own understanding of it. I am believing what it IS, and what it’s NOT.

From my experience, a season of disappointment is a chance to grow. We can often learn more from what we lack. Setbacks, falls, embarrassment, failings, and unfulfilled dreams give us one most important thing; a reference point—a place to begin.

So you didn’t get what you want? You don’t like the way things are going? Congratulations, you just learned half the answer. Even if you don’t know where you are, knowing where you aren’t is half the battle. You just found your starting line.

The realization that you aren’t getting what you want from a situation is actually a wonderful gift. Many, many people continue in failure and frustration for years, even lifetimes, before finding that line, if they ever do. If you have accepted, or at least acknowledged your problem, or any problem, you’ve just put yourself ahead of half the pack. Look up! Things are getting ready to change.

Pain is a wake-up call. If you hurt, you are still alive. So, while you’re still alive, and since you’re not in the grave just yet, let’s do something about that pain why don’t we? Let’s use it. That’s right. We are going to take that thing that’s causing you grief and let it be a catalyst for change in your life, in my life.

You know what? I hurt most deeply when I feel I’m wasting my God given talents and gifts. Namely, writing. I’ve said it before; Why I AM a writer! God gave me words and stories and I need to share them. Yet, I flail in my writing life for many reasons…excuses…and it wears me down. Every time I feel God inspires a post and I don’t write it, I feel discouraged. When He wakes me at 3 a.m. with a dream that gives insight into one of my stories and I choose to go back to sleep instead of getting up and hitting the keyboard, I feel depressed. But because I’ve just identified that as a source of my tension I am now able to fight against it. I have a new frame of reference from which to move forward.

I hate sex-trafficking. I actually hate it. HATE. IT. It makes me angry, literally. And I feel more angry at myself than anyone else when I fail to do anything about it. Because if I’m not part of the solution than I am just part of the problem. If I fail to talk about it, or pray about it, and help others understand why we need to work against it, I am really no worse than those committing it. The blood of the innocent is on my head.

So maybe, today, I will put that red X back on my hand so I remember to keep praying for those bound in slavery. And that sticker of the #enditmovement? Maybe I can actually have it made and put it on my car, and maybe sell some to raise funds for this cause that is so important to me, important to us as a society, and species.

I just found my starting line.

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So what is it for you? What’s eating you? What haunts your sleep? I think it’s time to find out what that thorn in your side is really there for. It’s there to move you. And it may only be for a season, or it may be a permanent fixture in your heart. I don’t know. Only God does. But wouldn’t you like to find out?

When you find out what it is, just remember what it’s not.

It’s not the end. Disappointment, disillusionment, and pain do not mean you are done. As crazy as it sounds, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t necessarily even mean you are doing something wrong. You could be, but this is a chance to reevaluate that. It’s an opportunity to look at things from a fresh set of eyes and see what’s missing.  It’s not as bleak as you imagine.

And God is NOT done with you yet.

He loves you. He’s in control. And He’s waiting for you to step forward and draw closer to Him through this.

Please speak freely with me in the comments about what is discouraging your heart. What disappointments are you harboring? This Lent, let’s work together to get past them.

Right here. Right now. Ash Wednesday.

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We are a dirty, filthy, wretched, broken—but beautiful—mess. It’s true. We live in fear and secrets, isolated in our brokenness and shame. At times, we try to stand only to find we have fallen back down again. It is a desperate existence we work hard to hide. We take great pains to cover up our failings and shortfalls, at times, extinguishing every bit of hope the Spirit is offering.

And while some of us (if not all of us, at one time or another) prefer the prisons we’ve fashioned, there exists also a desire to be open, to be unbound from our sin and shame. What we need most, is Permission to Speak Freely.

You won’t find it everywhere, but little by little, word by word, I think hearts are changing. In the beat-up and bruised place we call The Church, I see a glimmer of hope. The spark, though small, has the potential to spread like wild fire through a sea of dying hearts, dying lives, and a generation of dying faith.

So how do we kindle, instead of smother, what could be our Salvation?

I believe it’s with honesty; truth. By taking off our masks and letting the pieces of real fall where they may.

Oh, it may be ugly. And it will—most certainly—be hard. But at some point we have to decide if we want to continue to suffocate, or to take a fresh breath and breathe again, to live again. It’s been too long since we got to the heart of the matter, and the matter—or rather, what’s the matter—with our hearts. This denial has had us in a stranglehold for so long…

It’s fear. Plain and simple. Being real feels strange to us, it’s frightening. We are more comfortable stuck in our past regrets and failures than we are with any change, even for the better. But there is hope. There is, really. I promise. Although, it won’t come cheaply. It will cost you. I think if you’ll wager with me on this though, you’ll see it’s well worth the price required.

And today is a beginning. Today is a time for confession; truth. It’s a beginning of a fire that has the potential to burn down everything you were, are. It’s a chance for God to make Beauty from ashes in your life.

But that road to beauty is straight through death. There is no detour, no way around.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”       John 12:24

Unless—and until—we die to ourselves, we will never be fruitful. We will never live. We will never be able to reflect the glory of God who created us until we are able to leave behind those things that detour us, the sin that so easily entangles. We cannot run the race set before us in cement shoes. Those cinder-blocks that are keeping us mired will have to be broken.

So where do we find this freedom? This elusive tool to break our chains is what? Shall I dangle redemption in front of your thirsty soul and leave you parched? Or is there water somewhere to quench you? Is there Living water that will destroy your thirst forever? Is there…more?

Yes! YES! A thousand times YES! There is freedom! There is victory! There is Peace unending and Grace overflowing! And believe me it is for you, it is Him for you–His body broken and bruised for you, an offering for your offenses. Not a bandage but a cure, not distraction from the reality, but a healing, HELP. Help is on the way!

His Extravagant Love Pouring out on your soul. HELP!

Hurt Extinguished & Lives Purified—HELP!

His Eternal Light & Purpose. HELP!

It’s here and it’s real. Real with a capitol “R” REAL. Taste it, smell it, hear it, Feel it REAL. It’s like breaking through the Matrix and finding yourself Real. Climbing out of your tomb and seeing sunlight Real. It is open your eyes and smell the coffee Real. Real love, a Real life, a Real savior.

Freedom. Forgiveness. It’s real; HE IS REAL. Christ and Him raised. Knowing the Truth of all time—knowing Him—is your ticket to real; Real Freedom.

No matter what chains Tuesday held you in, today is new. Today is Wednesday. Today is the beginning of a walk towards Him. Today is Freedom. Speak the words. Right. Now.

There isn’t a minute to waste. Today is the day. Today, you start over. Today you move from darkness into light because you step over the fear of confession. Today we—you and I—together—we take out all our dirty, filthy rags, our wretched sin and shame, our lies—the ones we’ve told and the ones we’ve believed—and we say enough!

ENOUGH!!!

We refuse to let them bind us any longer! This, this is a proclamation. This, is our declaration of war. This—right here, right now—THIS IS OUR BATTLE CRY!

WE WILL BE QUIET NO MORE!

We are tired of wearing rags when our Father has adorned us with robes of righteousness. We are tired of false motives when our Father has given us deeds of Purity, good deeds He planned for us before the beginning of time. A pseudo life isn’t enough for us anymore. We are awake.

We are the body of Christ. The Body. The Church. Us dead in our sins and transgressions and RAISED with Him in newness.

WE WILL NOT BE SILENT ANY LONGER!

Today.

Right Here.

Right now.

Choose you this day—this day—life or death—the blessing or the curse.

Choose Life. Choose Him. Awaken Church and walk forward. Speak freely~

We have a winner!

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Thanks to everyone who commented on last weeks FRIDAY FREEBIE post! I’m excited to announce that Shelly was the winner of Takedown by W.G. Griffiths! I will be contacting her this week to get an address to ship the book and chocolate her way. It’s a great story and one I know she will love.

As a first time give-away, FRIDAY FREEBIE seemed to be placed on the wrong day for involvement. After reviewing some stats, I have decided that I will change the rules and the drawing will be based on comments left on my weekly blog posts (however many I have that week). I will draw a lucky winner and post their name on Friday, rather than waiting until the following Monday. Or Tuesday, as this week has worked out with a snow day and no internet due to ice on our satellite dish. 🙂 (Thanks for grace!)

I’m really excited to continue this promotion though as I really want to share some great Christian Fiction with my readers. I have purchased close to thirty titles to start this promotion and will continue to add to that as I go along. There are so many great authors writing in the CBA (Christian Book Association) and I hope to share some of them with you so please check in weekly. Or better yet, sign up for my email posts and get them delivered right to your inbox so you never miss an opportunity to win!

I also plan to include some non-fiction titles from my favorite authors like Francis Chan, Jennie Allen, Emily Freeman, Donald Miller, Phillip Yancy, Margaret Feinberg, and Lisa Bevere, just to name a few. Stay tuned for reviews of current non-fiction titles as well!

Is there a particular author you enjoy? please share in the comments and let me know who’s on your TBR list, or what book you’d love to win on a FRIDAY FREEBIE post!!

 

 

DEAL or NO DEAL

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Never. That’s the best time to ask God a question for which you truly do not want answer. As my husband often says, the second Tuesday of next week…

So why would anyone in their right mind, when browsing innocently through the blog of a new friend, upon seeing the post do you need a zebra coat to feel content, investigate this?

Of course, I don’t need  a zebra coat to feel content. I feel fine. I’m content.

I am.

I don’t need anything to feel content. Well…except maybe, just…you know a few things. Like a warm bed, and food, and…and…my make-up, and Chi straightener…and…wait a minute! Those are just basic necessities, right? I mean it’s not like I should give those up. I mean how crazy would it be to give up basic things like, um say…clothes.

Like, maybe a 365 day challenge to not buy any clothes for a year. Did she say a YEAR? because, you know, a year is long time. A whole lot could happen in a year! I might need clothes. New clothes. Or at least, new to me clothes. Does underwear count? What about shoes, or worse…purses! Gasp! 

Oh my goodness, how would one survive such terror? How? It’s so…taboo. And I’ll admit, when I first saw it I steered away. Oh yes I did mam. Right away. There will no conviction happenin’ here. No siree Bob. This girl happens to like clothes, and she is staying as far away from that challenge as possible.

But God said no. Go read that post, he said. Look at the Zebra coat Pamela Hodges passed over, (with a purple lining no less!!!) and at a Goodwill so you know it was affordable. She didn’t need it to feel content. Aren’t you content He said. Hmmm?

So back I clicked, and I did read on. And then I did a very dumb thing, I even told her I would pray and ask God if I should join her! Yes! I know!? I am, in fact, CRAZY. Mostly because I was already about 500% sure I knew exactly what God would say (again, did I  mention I was thinking irrationally…don’t ever assume to know Gods thoughts. Just don’t. Trust me on this. Please…)

And also, as an aside, don’t ever out loud say you’re gonna pray about something, especially if you *think* you already know what God will say. No, really. I mean that. Cause here’s the thing, God does not require your direct inquisition for His spirit to move. Nope, nope, nope. (And here I insert the most heartfelt LOL. ever.) He will often tell you what He thinks even if you don’t ask.

And because God loves me, when I opened my devotional book the next morning this is what I found…

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.…(Matthew 6:30-32)

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There it was. Plain as day. Smack dab in the middle of page 86, an answer. Unfortunately, God wasn’t done speaking to me on this subject. He was going to meddle. Yes, I said meddle.

Ever had God meddle in your affairs? The only thing I can think of is the end of every episode of Scooby Doo I watched as a child. You know, when they finally caught the villain, Daphne would whip the mask off his head, everyone would gasp, and then he’d say (verbatim) “And I would have gotten away with it too! If it wasn’t for these meddling kids!”

Am I the bad guy? Because I buy clothes? Because I like buying clothes? What if I stop? If I stop buying clothes does that make a good guy? What if I don’t buy them? What if, they are free! What if it’s not clothes I buy, or acquire, maybe it’s something else? Hmm? What then God?

What if it’s…scrapbook paper? Or neat pens (I like neat pens…)? Or maybe it’s fancy wall decorations, or cookware, or a lamp shade, or soft bedding, paintings? Paint? More art supplies in general? Antiques? Can I get more antiques Lord? Please? I just loooovvvveee me some antiques! They’re old God, you know someone has to have them. Why not me? Or tools! My husband loves tools, if I am buying for someone else is it okay? Because my mom has these dogs…they could maybe use dog sweaters? Blingy bowls? Special expensive food? I don’t know…training?

Is everything bad God? Common’! What’s the point? Can’t I just buy whatever makes me happy?

Oh, wait…is that what you’re saying? That I shouldn’t find my happiness in things, but in You?

Are you saying that it’s NOT about what I buy or don’t buy (with-in reason…) but about the state of my heart and my relationship with my Creator God?

Why didn’t you just say that?

Oh…you have. I just haven’t been listening.

Well, I am now.

That dress in the picture up top might have been a deal breaker for me. I took that picture through a boutique window in downtown Dublin, Ireland, in 2009. I’ve not forgotten the dress and the way it shimmered, the simple style and cut (if you can refer to something rhinestone encrusted as simple.)

But, I don’t feel God is calling me to give up clothes buying for a year. And honestly, after many tears, I realize that He is calling me to a life made more simple through intention living, including how I spend, save, and feel about my material resources, including clothes. I plan to buy less, give more, and most importantly, give God His rightful place as the supreme source of joy in my life~

Still don’t think I’ll see that dress at the Goodwill though. Darn it. 😉