Open Doors

Who knew that with flies buzzing, musquitos biting and sweat dripping, you could feel so happy.  That a broken heart can sometimes be mended with a hundred voices singing slightly out of tune.  Who knew that bringing pencils and crayons could be such a cause for celebration?  That women who live with so much less could actually have so much more.  Who knew that giving of yourself could feel like a stepping stone toward finding yourself again? Somewhere in the heat and the dirt, somewhere in the songs and the stories life feels like it is finding a new way with the old me.  I breathe out sorrow and breathe in life.  Looking into faces that are all to acquinted with pain and suffering, I see joy.  Not manufactured, not temporary, just joy.  There is a slowness, a peace that I can almost touch...and I want it.  To let the sorrow slip from my grasp and to rest in this place.  This kenyan heat and kenyan peace.  

So when she asked if I could stay, my heart leapt.  Excuses screamed, fear knotted my stomach but I remembered that this is my year of living brave. So I prayed.  So many responsibilities at home, so many people I miss, my could it all work?  My mental wheels turned but I knew this was nothing I could reason out.  A family decision, a God decision, these are whats important...I leap into the presence of God and seek.  Seeking answers.  Seeking Him who knows me and knows my tribe.  

The verse He gives is at once stunning and scary.
1 Cor 16:9 but I will stay on...because a great door for effective service has been opened to me....
I cry because He knows my faith and trust me anyway.  I cry because He loves me enough to give me assurance.  I cry because I miss my tribe and yet this feels right.  My boys tell me they will be fine....sigh...and I believe them.  My husband tells me he will be fine...sigh...and I believe him.  And so I push forward, trusting that God will use me and I will be better for having chosen to be brave.

Then in the midst of uncertainty, destiny, and healing my husband says the sweetest thing....
I know Kenya is good ground to sow the most beautiful thing i have to sow, you! 

I am undone at his words, thankful for this man that loves me and teaches me the beauty of sacrifice.  

The bus leaves, the team is gone, my Mom is gone and I feel alone and yet not alone.  The joy of kenyan faces wraps itself around my heart, the hope of healing floods my heart, tears dry and I am left with opportunity.  Opportunity for service.  Opportunity for joy.  Opportunity for peace.  Opportunity for rest.  Opportunity for the old me to become the new me.  Opening the door to joy, loosening my grasp on grief.  

Deep waters call for deeper faith.

Do you ever feel confused about Gods plan?  Discouraged and yet always hopeful?  Sigh....join my party.  This morning I woke up in Kenya, my happy place and yet I cried.  I breathed in the peace of this place all the while feeling turmoil in my heart.

Who can calm the raging sea of my heart, Jesus.  We all get disappointed, we all get undeserved grace.  A fallen world is saved by grace, enough to cover every heartache.  I have as much of God as I want...Sigh...then I want more, this is still not enough of Him.  Im ravenous for more.

Yes, life is hard somtimes and sometimes if we will look for it, life is great!  It has its moments...somewhere between here and there we can see God.  The curtain is pulled back and we see His presence, His angel armies, His comforting Holy Spirit.  Who knows what will happen here in Kenya...I just know that I am an open vessel, leaky and broken, willing and desperate.  

He calms my heart and swims these deep waters with me, and when I can swim no more....He reaches down and rescues time I will be stronger, able to swim farther.  Today I will see Him in all the lovely faces and places I go.  Today I will be brave.  

I love this image!

I love this image.  What an opportunity to interpret it....
She is free, she is surrounded, she is doused in the Holy Spirit.
We too can be covered, flowed over, empowered.
We have as much as we want.....
 We can be free, surrounded, we can be doused in the Holy Spirit.
I want it all, no holding back....       Freedom to love, to forgive, to celebrate,
 to experience true releasing, gifting and freedom.
I want it all and I am willing to give it all in order to receive it all.                                I hope you will join in, jump in the river with me, surrendor it all!  Then lets lead others to freedom together.  

This Beautiful Mess...a grief journey and a new way of life

I used to think that my story was about who I was before I met Jesus.  It was about God saving me, a messed up, broken young woman who had trashed her life pretty bad....thats what I thought my story was.  Over the last few years my life has taken some twist and turns that I couldn't have imagined.  Sigh.....I don't much like it, but I am learning to surrender to it.  God and I are back on good terms, though I have to admit I have not been pleased by some of His decisions.  What I know it that He is still good.  His goodness doesn't change based on my ability to understand.  My favorite verse has always been...for we know that all things work together for the good (Romans 8:28).  I can't see it right now, but one day I will.  In the meantime I trust my Abba Father.  He is still saving me, present tense.  He did a miraculous job saving me twenty two years ago and He is still doing that today.  He is still my deliverer, keeping me from drowning, holding my hand, my strong tower, the one who will never leave me, He is still my everything.

When I find it hard to move forward, when fear is all around me, when darkness strikes at my heart, I return to the only thing I know is certain....He is for me and not against me. He loves me and is somehow taking this mess and making it beautiful.  Redeeming the pain by birthing purpose and destiny out of it.  None of us will escape without having our faith tested...mine is tested everyday.  Everyday I choose to grab a hold of the beauty in the pain, to see the Lord in the midst of it all.  As I taught last Saturday, some great things grow out of "crap".  So when it stinks and the "crap" is blowing all around me....I just remember that fertilizer is necessary to produce a great crop. That it takes the bad and the good to change my heart(it needs a lot of changing) and that somehow He must be glorified through this.  I have been praying for a glory cloud to follow me around, but so far it hasn't come.  So I guess, I just have to find a way to share God's glory with the world through this experience.

Do I miss my son?  Everyday.  The truth is that God has taken the sting out of death, and now my son is beautiful beyond belief. He is not lost, I know right where he is.  He is not dead, he lives.  This truth, makes it easier but I still live with a hole in my future.  A piece of my heart has gone to heaven before me.  Today I live in the messed up, beautiful life God has given me to the best of my ability, trusting that He will make something beautiful out of me.  Knowing that He has made something beautiful out of my Justin.  I suppose that is the glorious thing and the hard thing.  The waiting.  In the meantime, I get glimpses of Glory and I am reminded that life is but a vapor....Glory is coming.  His Kingdom is coming.

The Ebb and Flow of life

The Ebb and Flow of Life

Waves washing in and out
              emotions crashing all around
                           this torrent of rain will eventually wash over every heartbeat

In the distance there is the sound of thunder
               lightning flashes
                                 fear startles and seizes the heart
                                         breath is forced from lungs that feel paralyzed

 Tears shed
            overflowing the eyes as quickly as the ocean overtakes the sand
                    blinded by uncertainty
                              the sand shifting underfoot
                                     and yet each moment standing there, holds a promise

Just beyond what can be seen or heard
               the sun is rising
                                just past the rain and mist
                                                the veil separates and light floods the space

The sun is coming
                a lone heartbeat pounds out a new song
                               to the rhythm of the crashing waves
                                             tears are dried, rain begins to cease and hope has won.                                           
                                                                the darkness must surrender to the brightness of dawn.

                                                                                      Debbie McDaniel Hornsby

Hey I figured something new out....

Up there to the left is the place to plug in your email and join me. 

So....after my husband dropped dead in front of my eyes, don't panic they brought him back (for more info you can watch this... that began a new journey for me.  We had been Pastoring  for ten years but this was a paradigm shift.  Then the following year we faced another crisis and then this past Sept 23rd our oldest son went to heaven.  Life is fragile, but a vapor and I am walking it out daily with this burning desire to redeem it all for God's Kingdom.  Painting and writing as fast as I can in order to bring some order out of the chaos.  This is my process, my story and some may be encouraged by it.  Others may find it silly and self-indulgent, that's alright.  All I know is that if I can find hope and joy in the middle of this beautiful mess, so can you.   If you want to join me, than plug your email in and follow me.  If you don't then, don't.  NO harm, no foul.  I am just happy that after a year I finally figured out how to add a "gadget" to my blog so people could follow me.  Oh yeah, if you are on your smart phone you will need to go to "web version" in order to use the "follow" gadget.  See, you can teach an old dog new tricks.

She Carried Hope

Written by Debbie Hornsby

Standing there looking out at the ocean, her hair blowing wildly around her head, Sarah knew that this was the place.  This was the end, which would be the beginning.  She touched the little box in her pocket, she smiled.  This little box that she had carried with her for so many years had stilled her heart when it was overwhelmed.  It had brought comfort, being able to touch it when difficulties came.  This was the box that she held unto when she couldn't stop the tears from coming.  It had been years now and the whispers that had swirled around her were now blown away in the wind. She looked hard into the cold biting wind and grinned.  She had thought maybe she wouldn't make it, but she had persevered.  She had held her head up in the face of adversity.  There was a feeling of victory that tugged at her heart, today was not a hard day.  Today there were no tears and that alone was a victory. 

Turns out giving birth was not even the hardest part.  It was the stares and gossip that were hard in the beginning. It was the fact that they didn't want her to keep the baby; they wanted her to keep it a secret.  That was hard and in the end she said no.  It was the wearing your failure on the outside and yet loving so much what was growing on the inside, that was hard.  She loved her baby, she felt her baby and this baby was no mistake.  These things were hard, but she was harder.

She set her mind like stone, unmovable; no matter the stares or who turned their back upon her she would celebrate this baby.  Finally they told her she was having a girl, a sweet baby girl.  Celebrate, she told herself, “even if I am all by myself I will celebrate her.”  She held her head high and she walked with dignity.  Even in church they shunned her and claimed it was nothing to be celebrated.  She choose to not withdraw, she did not defend herself or make light of her situation.  She simply was strong.  She made the hard decisions that most young women would choose to escape from.  There was no emergency exit as far as she was concerned.  This was her baby, her girl and there was no plan B.  The harder choice was hers and hers alone.  To love and lay her life down for this little girl, to endure the gossip and shame others would put upon her.  This was hard, but even this was not the hardest part.

She remembers it, the hardest part.  She was seven months into the pregnancy, after picking out clothes and shoes, after buying a bassinet and a car seat that was when it got hard.  She knew something didn't feel right, she felt crampy and tired.  She started bleeding and then she went to the hospital.  She was told she was in labor, it was too early.  She watched them run around her in a flurry as they got her admitted and gave her medication to stop the labor.  She willed herself to stop, but her body was not listening to her heart.  In the end, it betrayed her.  She was not strong enough to stop it, and they began preparing her for delivery. 
It wasn’t the physical act now that they were worried about, that would take care of itself.  It was the emotional aspect now.  They tell her, her baby will die.  She doesn't believe it.  They speak quietly in hushed tones, they call her parents and she continues to speak to her baby in between contractions.  She rubs her stomach and sings to her, all the while insisting that her baby girl will not die.  Then they tell her to push and in one easy push out comes the sweet baby girl.  

They swaddle her and lay her on her stomach.  She cries and the baby cries just a little bit and then she stops….everything goes into slow motion.  The nurse takes her baby, she begs the nurse to bring her back and the nurse does, but her baby is still.  Her baby is quiet.  She is gone, they tell her.  She holds her, she rocks her, and she sings to her and this, this is the hardest part of her life.  There is nothing that compares to this moment.  This moment of holding her precious baby in her arms and she is still and cold and somewhere in the stillness people are talking, but all she can do is cry and kiss her baby.  “She is kissed by angels now”, someone says to her.  Sarah falls into the numbness that grief brings, her eyes staring but not really seeing.  She clings to her baby as they try to get her to turn loose.  They leave her alone and Sarah unswaddleds her baby and looks at her little hands and little toes.  Tears fall onto her baby, and finally she dries the tears that have fallen on her precious baby.  Sarah wraps her back up, she lies back on the bed holding her and waits for someone to come in and take her daughter away.  Sarah weeps bitterly into her pillow as they take her hope away. 

She remembers this was the hardest part, the unexpected part.  This was the heartache that almost sank her.  It wasn't gossip or stares, it wasn't rejection or judgment, it was death. It was a future not lived, a hope gone, an entire picture of her future now rearranged.  This had been the hardest part, unexpected loss.  Weeks turned to months and months turned to years.

Now here she was, standing on the edge of the huge ocean, hope filling her heart.  She had survived, some would even say thrived.  She had kept living when she didn't think she could.  She kept breathing and moving even though her heart was shattered into a million tiny pieces.  There had been a grace collision somewhere in the midst of all the pain.  A friend who had come alongside of her, grace and mercy that had been poured out and she had found the strength to carry on.  It wasn't easy, every day was a new challenge, wrapped with pain until finally it was duller.  It was never gone; even now it was her constant companion.  Her heart was larger now, it had to be.  She couldn't possibly have contained all the sorrow with the joy that came.  Her heart had to grow just as surely as life had to change. 

More children came, they were loved dearly.  To have lost one causes you to hold on that much tighter and so she did.  Her husband loved her and she loved him and they built a life together that was solid and messy, but beautiful all the same.  She looked at him often and wondered how she could have not known that life could be this good.  If only she had known that this love would come, maybe it would have dulled the pain somewhat, made it easier to let go.  If only she had known there was really true love, not perfect but true. If she had known that more children would never replace Hope, but she would find herself loving them and experiencing joy again.  Maybe if she would have known these things the journey might have been different.  Not that life was perfect and it was somehow all better, it was still at times hard, but she had already lived through the hardest of things, so she stood strong when the storms came.  She was unmoved by them, for she knew she would survive.  She knew it would work out, one way or the other. 

So here she was, patting the little box and looking out at the vast ocean.  As far as she could see it was water and sand.  She pulled the box out and opened it gently and took the tiny hospital bracelet out.  She remembered the nurse asking, what would you like her name to be?  She could still remember the effort it took to speak her name.  Hope, she had said.  Her name is Hope.  The seasoned nurse choked up and made eye contact, placed her hand on hers and said quietly, that’s a beautiful name. 

She holds the hospital bracelet gently and she looks out at the ocean and she feels the winds of change blow through her tangled hair. In the distance she hears her children laughing, and it makes her heart swell with joy.  There is life still to be celebrated.   She knows now the hope of heaven.   She doesn't have to keep carrying hope in a tiny little box, because now she sees Hope all around her.  She will keep the tiny little box with the hospital bracelet, but now she can leave it at home.  Today she will tuck it away with handmade Birthday cards and noodle necklaces from her kids and she will have hope, not in a tiny little box but in a great big heart that knows the giver of all hope. 

  She will never understand, but she will always have hope.  She has hope today and she has hope for the future.  She pictured them now as two in the same, both named hope.  This was the new beginning, the letting go, the stepping out, the hope for tomorrow and she smiled at the future as she put the little box back in her pocket.  Every day Sarah could honor Hope and share hope, but not from a tiny little box, instead from a life well lived and a story of Hope shared.

She Wore A Crown

She wore a crown
       But she wasn't a beauty queen
She was beautiful
      But not in your typical way
She was scarred
      But not on the outside
She was strong as metal
      But soft as butter
She was heartbroken
     But she was laughing
She was complex
     But she was hopeful
She was flawed
     But perfected

This grief journey...

I wish I could tell you I am all better but that would be a lie.  I am better in many ways but I am still working it all out....All I know is to write and paint till my feelings line up with the truth that I know.  I read somewhere that losing a child is like losing a limb in some weird peculiar way.  It will never grow back, you must learn to go on without it, to live and function with something missing everyday.  You must adapt to the loss, make changes in how you live and you will never be the same, it will always be missing.  It is a good analogy.  Everyday I feel as though something is missing.  Everyday I have to go on, even though something is painfully, terribly absent.

It is a very interesting thing, grief.  No one can explain it to you. I have watched people go through it but I never understood it, totally.  The short circuiting of the brain, the fog that settles in, the grace that gets you through it, the lingering pain that you so desperately want to end but don't want to let go of because it is all you have left.

Justin didn't live with us anymore, he lived in Vegas.  I didn't see him often or regularly in the last three or four years as he went on his own journey to build a business and get his young adult life together.  Holidays and weekend by's as he liked to call them.  I live in a house filled with memories of him, a closet door that marks all his growth and a couch he would sometimes show up on unexpectedly.

What you so desperately miss in this grief journey is what could have been, what you saw for the future.  Vacations together, a wedding, grandchildren, holidays spent being entertained by the funny one in the family, having all three of the boys together, his teasing and calling me Mommy, seeing him grow into the man I knew he could be, that is what I miss.  This is what I wake up in the middle of the night crying about.

And so I write, I paint and I cry out to God.

These thoughts swirling trapped in my head
I have no choice but to write them
To set them free
From pen to paper they come to life
Rising from the ashes
Then hope takes flight

I am closer to Him and therefor closer to him, my Justin.  I share because someone needs to know, needs hope and though it may seem that I am without it, I am not.  I know hope...we walk hand in hand.  This would be an impossible journey without hope.  The pain is dulling, the fog is clearing and I am pressing on with hope, living in grace and processing through the pain.  One day at a time.  One breath at a time.  One hopeful smile at a time.  

Thank you to all my friends and family that are loving me through this.  I am deeply thankful for your presence in my life.   

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