"Happily Ever Afterish"

October in Kenya, my favorite day was seeing these amazing women graduate!!

It's been a over a year since I moved to Lubbock.  When I first moved here I still wept almost every day.  I distracted myself from the loss I was feeling with work and well some bad choices.  We all look to fill the hole in our hearts when the world as we know it has crumbled down around us. Some of you may know the feeling, your future is suddenly unknown; simply empty as you try to look at it. Sure at times we all have had it all figured out.  This is what mine looked like:

       We will work on the church until we retire, pouring our hearts and lives into something so precious to the Lord until we retire.  We will love having grandchildren, we have built the perfect house for that, pool and plenty of room to play, We will have a wonderful pool of family and friends around us, and we will travel and do good things all over the world.  We will sit on the back patio on rocking chairs and remember how great our life has been.  
God will protect and provide until the day we die.  

Then the bottom falls out, literally.  I found myself free falling into what I will forever call, the second greatest tragedy of my life.  Six months of counseling and I moved to Lubbock.  Far, far away from what I had called home for twenty five years.  I was broken and brave.  I knew I had to get away to heal, and so I did.  Now as I reflect on it, I realize my strength was not my own.  I flew on the wings of eagles as people were Jesus with skin on to me.  What an amazing gift. Family that stepped in, new friends that showed me love in Lubbock, old friends that talked for hours on the phone with me when I felt lonely and a new church that felt like home.  Yes, they were the wings that carried me.  
Not to say it hasn't been messy.  I have made my share of mistakes(big and small) but somewhere along the way I am learning to give myself grace.  Learning to squash the guilt and drown out the condemnation.  I have grown in empathy for single people because I was now one....and to be honest I dislike being single. In my humanity it is so foreign to me.  Dating is weird and difficult.  At fifty one(almost fifty two) I know what I need and want but sometimes I think I am completely terrified I will not be able to have it.  My heart is so fragile and fear comes on it so easily.  It is different from when you are young and you are just led by emotions.  Now my brain works and even over works.  I can see people, really see them.  I see the potential and I see the negatives.  That can make for difficult dating.  

So sorry, please forgive me... to every woman that I ever said anything to about being single, I had no idea how to relate. I am especially sorry for this statement "Let Jesus be your husband."  How stupid, what bullsh*t.  An empty bed is still an empty bed even when you love Jesus.  There is so much Jesus can do for me, He is my friend and love of my soul but sometimes I  need a tangible presence in my life that can be Jesus with skin on sometimes.   

And so now it has been over a year.  A complicated messy year and I am much better.  I cry rarely.  I laugh often.  I enjoy being alone(most of the time).  I am enjoying painting and writing again.  I enjoy my job and the travel I get to do.  My life is good.  Jesus has been sweet to me in my despair and brokenness.  I am even dating someone, I think he is kinda special but more on that later. 

I have at times been angry with God but He has always waited out the storm with me and when the anger dissipated, He always was right there.  I have never given up hope but I have at times given into fear, despair and doubt.  I am trying to ensure my hope is always in the right thing, God.  It is easy for me to put my hope into thinking for a new husband, or more money and even into ministry.  But, this I have learned....My hope must be in God alone and when it gets shaky and I want to run to something or someone else.  That is my warning sign.  Time to get focused, remember what is important and fill my mind with the goodness of God. 

So yes, it has been over a year here in Lubbock rebuilding a life.  I still miss my kiddos, my spiritual children, my church, my community, my friends, basically my old life.  But this new life, I think it is going to be great.  I am not the same person I was, I am changing and honestly I think it is a good thing. I still can't see my future...but I can dream and I know my destiny isn't gone.  As a matter of fact it is looking brighter than ever.  I believe more in myself and my dreams than I ever have.  

So maybe it is not about the picture we paint of our future but the picture God paints bit by bit, each day at a time.  
Maybe my picture was always just that my picture.   I think this amazing life I have been privileged to live, I could never have dreamed up.   It has been far better than I ever deserved and far more difficult than I ever could have imagined.  
     Because we always want to make our own stories easy and        "happily ever afterish".  
Do you know what I mean?  In a world of Facebook and reality television we sometimes start to believe our own story telling, that we will have a perfect life like we see others having.  Here is the bad news, no ones life is ever without trials.  People just choose not to show the bad stuff, and that's okay.  Their choice.  

As for me, I share the ups and downs because I want others to know truth.  Life is both beautiful and  brutal.  We are destined for trial of all kinds, our lives are written out by the King of the Universe and He gives them necessary trials (1 Peter 1:6) to make us like Him and to be Jesus with skin on for others going through their own trials,

I am not yet to the whole rejoicing in every trial but I am at the, thankful for the trials that have made me who I am today stage.  Thankful for a living hope that has never left me, thankful for new friends, thankful for a beautiful/brutal past and a very hopeful future.  He holds my life in the palm of His hands and that is something I can trust even if I can't see it.  

What is your history with God?

It's been awhile...not sure why....maybe just nothing interesting to say or maybe just too caught up in my world to stop and write, whatever the reason I am sorry.

My mind has been returning today off and on to my history with God.  It started with reading about David and Sauls discussion before he went on to fight Goliath.  He stood on his experience with God, you know how the story goes...

"Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.  And David said, The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."

David had a track record with the Lord.  He didn't believe it was in his own strength, he knew his God.  We have all heard the story dozens of time but do we remember to apply it?  Do we personally keep track of all that the Lord has done for us, creating a monument in our minds to God's goodness and faithfulness.  Thinking on the good things, not the disappointments but all the appointments, not the heartache but on the one who comforts in the midst of the pain, not on the silence but on all the times He spoke, we all have this choice:
Build a monument to a good God or dig a pit of self pity.  

Its not always easy but it is so difficult to dig out of the pit that I am intentionally trying to build the monuments!  I am not perfect, don't get me wrong I am as inclined to a pity party as much as anyone but it never makes me feel better it actually starts me on a downward spiral.  Hence, I try to focus on my history with God...the victories He has given me.

It was awful that a bear and a lion took from Davids flock, I am sure he hated it.  No one likes facing the awful stuff in life but it does prepare us for the future.  David took initiative, leaned into God's character and fought for what was his.  What are you fighting for today?  

Catch and celebrate all the good things, you won a race give God the credit.  You get a new job, give God the credit.  He is in all the things that go right and not to blame for all the things that go wrong.  

Hard things happen in a broken and fallen world.  We are all sifted at times, not a fun thing.  Sifted means to be beaten and pummeled until the bad blows away in the wind and the good remains to be used. Yay, we all celebrate those times....NOT.  However, if we truly love the Lord we can see past the circumstances to the blessing.  The blessing in unanswered prayers, closed doors and broken hearts that come after the sifting:  The blessing of new open doors, healed hearts and strengthened character.  

I celebrate what has been accomplished in my life through the love of Christ.  Who could have believed I would get to live such an amazing life, be loved by such lovely people and travel the world.  Not to mention all the hard things that have taught me and shaped me into the person that I am today.  It has been a brutiful life, both beautiful and brutal but every experience has made me closer to the best me I can be through Jesus Christ.  

So this week when my beautiful boy would have been 29 I look at the track record, the monuments of the goodness of God in my life.  The sweetness of salvation, the holiness of brokeness, the joy of experiencing God and the fullness of a wonderful circle of family and friends and I choose to focus on all the good things that I have in my life.  I will still shed tears but I won't get lost in the flood of pain, I will fight hard to remember all the sweet things about my first born and I will rejoice in the fact that I have treasure in heaven.  I will give God the praise for getting me through to victory in every battle.  

In the end it is always about perspective....will I focus on all the good or on the few bad? I choose good, for at least 12 years every time I was in the pulpit I would say, God is good....and He still is and always will be.  

We each have history with God, look for all the good in yor history with God.... it is there in abundance.  Ask the Lord to show you if you are struggling,  because behind the curtain He is always working for our good.

Love my tribe!

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