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.

 

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Is this art?

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Sometimes, my heart hurts. Do you ever feel that? Heart pain, heart break? It’s been building in me for over a month now (maybe longer…) and it was sneaky. It didn’t come every day, but instead it would rear it’s head every once-in-a-while, just enough to catch me off-guard–enough to make me nervous.

As someone who’s battled depression off and on most of my adult life, I know how this works. I keep my eyes open. And when I feel like sadness may be starting to take an unwelcome hold on me, I do what has to be done–I withdraw from stress, relax, spend some quality time alone, and regroup. Often, this is a time when I become quiet and just need to clarify how I’m truly feeling and why. If I’m doing too much, or dealing with too much from outside sources, I will evaluate what I can let go. Sometimes, it’s nothing, other times I can find a reasonable way to lighten the caseload.

Yesterday I took some time to work on a project for my daughters room. It’s something I’ve been promising her for…quite a while. It’s a storage necessity that would make both our lives a little easier, and get  rid of some of her “floor-drobe” issues. What I didn’t realize was how bad I needed to actually do it. To do something creative. To make art.

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And I’m still figuring all this out–what is art, what is not. And maybe, as I’m learning from Seth Godin–maybe it’s all art. This writing and connecting, creating and joining, these things I’ve done all my life that have brought me joy and success–it’s all art. I am art.

  I AM ART.

In The Icarus Deception, Seth says, “Art isn’t a result; its a journey.”   It’s the way God paints beauty in my life. It’s the people He brings to walk this road with me. It’s the way I’m nurtured by words and images, and creating them both as well as consuming them. It’s everything. All of it! All of my crazy, messed-up, mixed-up life. All the things I say and do and read and write and eat and see and want and love and leave and become and know. ALL OF IT! All. Of. It.

  The challenge of our time is to find a journey worthy of our heart and soul. ~Seth Godin

Knowing you’re on a journey is half the battle. You still have to take that first step. Then, another, and another, and another. And that is hard. Some days, it’s damn near impossible. Today was one of those days where it’s feeling impossible. Until, sipping at my coffee, weeping over my keyboard, I read this:

“Maybe you’re in a season in which you feel like what you’re doing is all for naught, that you’re doing all this work and nobody’s paying attention. But maybe that’s not the whole story.

Maybe you’re being prepared for a season that hasn’t come yet. If that’s the case, may I encourage you to do one thing?

Show up

Even when the fruit isn’t there… show up.

Even when the critics tell you to quit… show up.

Even when you’re tired and tempted to throw in the towel… show up.

If this is a time of preparation for you (and not a time to start), do the work. Show up. Because what you are doing is sowing — that’s planting seeds, for you non-farmer folk — and though you may not reap them for some time, the work you’re doing is not pointless.

Stay the course, be brave, and your season will come.”

Jeff Goins

I know this is a season. And it seems long. But someday, I know I will look back and see how much I needed it. I know, because I can look back at the road I’ve traveled so far and see progress. I see where I’ve been and how it affected me, how I grew, even through rain and storms, the seeds were sown, and many have grown now. Waiting is good. Hard, but good.

The journey I’m on is worth it. I know that. And that makes it worth the hard days. So, if you’re feeling down, your road seems long, take a day–or two–and just relax. Get alone with God and nurture your creative soul.

And remember; spray paint is better than Prozac.

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So, is this art? Or is it the cardboard I used underneath the pieces I was spray painting…what do you think?

I’m thinking of framing it.

Painted in Waterlogue

 

I wrote you a post. Last week. Way last week. But in the crazy middle of all that’s been happening I forgot to share it. So, today I reread it, and was getting ready to hit send, when it occurred to me to–instead–be honest.

Some days, that is the last place I want to be; ownership. Transparency. REAL.

I run. When it’s hard, I hide. Escape is my default mode and, until people get to really know me, they are often perplexed as to my strange behavior. One day I’m all in-your-face friendly and talkative. Then, with-in a weeks time, I disappear.

When I first met my friend Shannon, I was elated. She was like a breath of fresh air in my stale little-town world. She was cool, and funny, and she was from Colorado (my happy place) so how could I not love her? We talked for hours and I have the phone bills to prove it. Our kids loved each other, we drank coffee like hyper-addicted caffeinated fools. We bared our hearts and shared our dreams. It was divine.

But then…I fell into a funk. It’s called fear. Or depression. Or, writers block. Or, personality block… It hits me every once in awhile. Or, you know, every other day…but I hadn’t ever broached it with her. So, instead of whining and risking the potential of ruining a perfectly wonderful new relationship, I ran.

I know she wondered. Because she told me. When I finally got over myself and gave her a call. She was understanding. But more over, she was supportive. And she has since become a rock to me. She is someone who speaks blessing over my life when all I see is failure and death. And, when I need it, she’s not afraid to call me on all my B.S.

I really need that.

Everyone needs someone who can build you up–and tear you down–without destroying or degrading you. You need truth. You need REAL. You won’t grow or bloom without it.

So, this week has been hard. Oh, and last week too. Not to be pessimistic, but I’m thinking it may be that way for awhile. I mean, really, when isn’t life hard? But, instead of hiding in my shell and rotting in here, I’m moving forward.

I’m going to stand here and face the words. Face the REAL. BE BRAVE.

How can I help you BE BRAVE as well?

 

 

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.