Don’t Be Alarmed

May 3rd, 2018

If you are the lucky recipient of being my camping neighbor over the last 12 days (don’t worry, not too many people have), you have had the exciting middle of the night alarm sounding wake-up call that no car owner wishes to share!

Sorry.

Our car is possessed!

Out of a dead sleep, we have been startled awake (along with other innocent people getting their camp on!) to the screaming car alarm on our LR4! DANG YOU, HOT, COOL, AWESOME…..KICK BOOTY CAR! Why you gotta do me this way?

I’ve searched online, because that’s what you do when you can’t solve a problem for yourself….only to find that in Land Rover’s, the random car alarm is linked to a tiny switch problem in the hood latch. Well, of course. The hood latch. Makes perfect NONsense!

I’m living 3 hours off my normal time and I’ve told my hubby that the further we go the earlier I am waking up. Who needs the middle of the night car alarm. I’m my own blaring honking horn!!

Today, I’m sitting outside in the gorgeous cool mountain breeze of California. I really wanted to hate California. Don’t ask me why, I just thought it was a strange land with opposite values and weird what-have-you’s. I know, shallow. But, I’m a southern girl who might have some narrow-minded life history planted deep inside. I’ve watched too much tv and read too many kooky stories of which, perhaps jaded my view.

I’m in love with this California!

Now, don’t get too hyped up…I’m not down in the areas that may or may not have a few sillies on the loose (sillies are everywhere, let me clarify). I am on the Trinity River off of Hwy 299 in the mountains near Del Loma. Truthfully, I’m in the middle of nowhere and I love it. I can hear the rushing water below me and as I look up all I see are beautiful green mountains. It’s worth every skinny, hug the rocks, turn around the mountainous drive. We are way up and we are on the edge!

If you can only imagine…. I have my GASP down to an artform!

Lots of gasping on this adventure!

We’ve driven through many states and stayed in some amazing places. So many breathtaking views, exciting sights and even some drab, depressing spots along the way. I’m soaking it all up and thanking God for the gift of being able to drive away from a life so strangely out of whack and explore the majesty of His world.

This morning as I prayed beside the roaring river, I felt overcome with emotion of His majesty. This world… the dry, dusty, rocky Utah’s – the long lonely never-ending roads of Nevada’s – the thick, steep inclines of Colorado – the lush, green mountainy California’s…. all of it, created by a God who swings His mighty arms from left to right just for you and for me!

If we are looking, we will see it.

And if we’re not….don’t worry, my car alarm will sound off for you and wake you up to see whatever it is you were sleeping through!

I can’t wait to see what majesty he has for me today!

Too Much Baggage

April 23rd, 2018

I’m on the road (literally & figuratively) to figuring out how to heal and move forward in my life. I confess, I’ve got a bit of baggage that threatens to bring me down if I’m not actively seeking peace and understanding. Some days, I am footloose and fancy, others….I am grasping for relief and wishing something, anything would happen to make it all better again.

Maybe that’s just the way my brain works. I think of all the ways to claim peace and to live minus worry and none of it looks the same as my husband’s. Perhaps, that’s all men. Clearly, we all carry our burdens differently. I suppose expectation gets in the way when trying to compare our paths. Which is a set-up for discouragement.

Take this trip, for example.

I really needed freedom and healing time. I love my things. I love my clothes and shoes, my pretty stuff to decorate with and I love having every special book or Bible with me wherever I go. I use them, daily. I want to have them and to utilize them for my own state of mind. For this long, cross-country trip….I slimmed down my “stuff”! I went through everything I could reach that was unpacked and I spent hours re-arranging and imagining what I could use and what should be left behind. My clothes are packed in a tub and I have a few other pieces above my bed in a storage cabinet. I even squeezed in a limited amount of hanging clothes in my little side closet by my side of the bed. Truthfully, it is just a few very favorite items and that’s it!

My cosmetics are dwindled down to the minimum and I ONLY HAVE 1 half-used bottle of shampoo. I have one big picture of my family, a few small framed photos of my kids and a couple inspirational signs. My bike, is on the back of my camper (you didn’t think I’d leave that baby!!) and I have my favorite lawn chair. I’m telling you, I do not have very much stuff. Even my kitchen things are minimal.

Why?

Because we were trying to remain safe with a light load. Pulling a heavy camper across the world is dangerous! But, even so….my hubby and I had several conversations about letting some things go and trusting God that we would have everything we needed if something happened.

Fast forward to the very hectic and long days of trying to get packed to leave.

Somehow, every single thing he could think of got put onto the camper. He has more clothes, more jackets, more shoes and more garage equipment than the law should allow. Matter of fact, we are so over-weight we may never finally get where we are going because we cannot drive more than 3 to 4 hours a day. The load pulls and sways the whole drive down the road.

Baggage.

So much baggage.

This morning, I thought I’d sit outside in the beautiful glorious weather but I couldn’t get my chair out of the storage area because there’s a heavy planer in the way. A PLANER! A wood-working planer! I cannot do anything for all the stuff that has to be moved to get to my few things every single day. Which makes a chaotic mess constantly.

It’s heavy. Heavier than the weight of pulling it along in a camper on a windy highway. Too much, too much, too much!

So, here’s my message.

My need to go lightly and let go of some of the heavy stuff of my life belongs to me. My husband’s belongs to him. Clearly, he needs his stuff in order to move forward. Strangely, we are living opposite lives in this thinking. However, I am working on me.

I have said it time and again, how God is chiseling me down. This situation seems fitting that once again….He would chip away at pieces of my heart through extra stuff.

It hurts. It feels painful. It seems so heavy.

But, I am trusting. Just like I’m trusting that my car will continue to pull us through every mountain and highway. I will trust him to lighten my heart and open my mind to new and glorious ways of living and loving.

Lord,
My baggage is heavy. My load seems too much sometimes. Help me see that I can carry it or I can chuck it overboard. Forgive me for hanging on to the things that do not matter.
Amen

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Small Group = Big Love

April 16th, 2018

Let me tell you about my small group.

It consists of a rag-tag bunch of individual people all working towards the same goal, Jesus. I told my hubby yesterday as we drove away from our church that before we joined them as members there….I would drive by and see the cars and all the activity – and inside my head, I would think MY FRIENDS ARE IN THERE!

Weird, I know.

But, I knew there was someone in there that I needed. Eagle Church in Zionsville, Indiana was just about a mile from my house (for the last 4 years). We visited a few times when we first moved there and really liked the service. Still, we made no commitment. The only way to my house or to the world outside my neighborhood forced me to drive right by Eagle. Never, not once did I drive by without looking over and thinking about who was in there that I needed. I know, you’re thinking I’m really strange.

One Sunday, my son and I were at morning worship when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to meet the warmest face. Instantly, we connected and she invited us to visit again and meet her small group. I couldn’t get home fast enough to share the whole conversation with my hubby. He had worked all night and was sleeping, otherwise…he would’ve been there too.

We took them up on the offer and from day one, we knew we were with our friends. The ones God kept nudging me to get in there and find.

I’ve been in many churches. I’ve met countless believer’s along the way. This group of people represents so much that it’s hard to put into words. I want to do them justice. I want to portray what they mean to our hearts.

They have LOVED with an everlasting love. (Jer. 31:3)

When I felt that tap on my shoulder that Sunday morning, we were at the beginning stages of the hardest road of our lives. These great Godly people opened their hearts and said, “Come on in!”.

They have KEPT TRACK of every sorrow. (Ps. 56:8)

Every tear, every sad rejection…this group of people offered up love and support. Not a single time did we get anything but encouragement from them when we were facing another letdown in the job search. They pushed us, with love & encouragement….they prayed like warriors and they BELIEVED in us and that GOD was (and still is) doing a great work in us. Note: When you walk through the fire, it is hard to see yourself victoriously! Find friends who can see and let them lead you on!

They have modeled STRENGTH and COMPASSION. (Phil. 4:13 – 2 Kings 20:5)

Who can you turn to when your life feels shattered? No matter how dejected or depressed we felt, our small group rallied like warriors around us. They cheered us forward, listened to our desperation and loved us in ways we didn’t know we needed. Every. Week.

They ANCHORED us to God. (Heb. 6:19)

During many of our lowest moments, these people carried us through prayer, encouraging words, a shoulder to cry on and remained steadfast & faithful! Sometimes when you’re hurting so badly you can’t see ahead, it takes the faith of another or others to hold you up and keep you focused on all that God is doing and can do in your broken life.

They have been MERCIFUL. (James 2:13)

Do you know how much shame and embarrassment is wrapped up in our social structure of life? Being unemployed and doing it for what seems like forever is not only heartbreaking, it’s embarrassing! It feels as though SOMETHING IS WRONG with you – and all the rejections that go along with that only make it worse. These folks have not judged us or looked down on us. They treated us with dignity and love! Put that on repeat. Over & over. Endless mercy.

They have been a source of ENCOURAGEMENT. (1 Thess. 5:11)

Times were hard. Friends don’t let friends stay in a hole. They grabbed their shovels of love and dug us out so many times. Who does that?

They have been a MOUNTAIN of faith. (Matt. 17:20)

We needed them, God knew it and He provided them at just the right moment. Nothing ever swayed them or their confidence in God doing what we needed just when we needed it most. My faith grew because they kept at it alongside us. They understand we are not where we want to be, but they know there’s no mountain God cannot move. We will see so much more clearly….when we look back.

They have given us their HANDS. (Is. 42)

Fumbling along, stumbling and sometimes even falling down…this sweet group of people stepped in and lent a hand when we couldn’t find our way. I’ve been around long enough to know that getting involved in someone’s struggles is life-sucking. It not only sucks it sucks the life out of you! With grace and kindness this small group of Christian soldiers handed us help in both simple and difficult ways. They are unstoppable!

I could go on but I won’t. I am challenged to be a better me because of them. When we drove away from them yesterday, I cried. Not only tears of sadness, thankful tears… filled with inspiration and DEEP LOVE! I KNOW – I KNOW – I KNOW, they are still right behind us (no matter how far we wander away from Zionsville) and cheering us on and praying as we discover whatever it is God is calling us to do.

That’s my small group. Small in size but big in love!

God,
You orchestrate the most amazing experiences for your children. I consider my small group one of my greatest blessings. I pray for them, that rag-tag of humans all combined to make one big dynamic Christ-like force. I pray that you would bless them, keep them safe….push them forward while we are away and pour all over them the love they deserve. Each of them have a precious piece of my heart and I will never forget the kindness & love they’ve shown. My people, YOUR PEOPLE! Thank you for every single one of them!
Amen

Can I challenge you?

Tap someone on the shoulder, invite them into your life. You never know, they may be just who you need for such a time as this!

I’ll Be Happy When __________

April 14th, 2018

I’ve had pain that I didn’t deserve… but, I’ve had pain that I needed. (Jack Deere)

Have you ever said, “I didn’t deserve this”? If I’ve learned anything in this last ALMOST 2 stinking years of my life it’s that very unexpected and ugly things can happen to you. For me personally, my problems are nothing compared to so many who are walking through real fire. Joblessness is pretty horrible but it’s not the suicide of a beloved family member or a child wracked with drug addiction. It’s a loss but it’s a whole nother kind of loss.

Loss that I can logically make sense of and cope with (ahem, yea….coping) and I can trust that there is an ending of some sort to my pain. The other kind of loss threatens to never let the person suffering from it free again.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sat and dreamed that my circumstance would suddenly turn for the better and my life would pick back up where it left off September 9th 2016.

I’ve wished.
I’ve prayed.
I’ve lamented.
I’ve begged.
I’ve let go.
I’ve gone to bed.
I’ve dried my tears and got back in the game.
I’ve given up.
I’ve fallen down the pit.
I’ve leaned on my husband.
I’ve sat alone.
I’ve hoped for good interviews.
I’ve wished calamity on the ones who caused this.
I’ve aged.
I’ve died to old ways.
I’ve made new friends.
I’ve given up a lot.
I’ve lost trust.
I’ve stopped expecting.
I’ve walked away from dreams.
I’ve believed that there was no hope.

In all of that, I’ve selfishly told God that I would be happy when _____ happened. Of course, my _______ is a great job for my husband again. Somehow, I’ve convinced myself that this one thing is the hinge to my well-being. The truth is that a job will not be my source of happiness. Oh, it can make me feel peace again and it can pay my bills…but happy? That’s an inside job!

I could wallow in the pit and cry about WHY THIS HAPPENED to me (to us) or I could wise up and trust that God is orchestrating this time in my life for something so much better.

Maybe I didn’t deserve it, but I needed it.

I’ve needed every hard day, every sad moment, every out-of-control feeling, every tiny piece of hope, every bit of stripping down and every I’ll be happy when ____!

I’m becoming who HE needs me to be.

I can’t do that lolly-gagging along in a perfect life. I’ll be happy >>>

    now!

Right here, right now.

God,
You haven’t missed one thing in my life. 20 months of waiting, wondering and begging for a new job has rocked my life and the life of my husband. Still, I know YOU ARE GOD and YOU ARE GOOD! Help me stop putting barriers on my joy and to live right where I am with purpose and peace! Thank you for your mercy and grace.
Amen

Don’t Look For Me

April 13th, 2018

For months now, I’ve been trimming down my life. I’ve hauled junk away, given stuff to everyone who needed or wanted it and I’ve sold some treasures too. All of it, necessary.

Who needs stuff?

I only miss some things. The rest of my belongings are packed away in storage and I can crawl around in there trying to find special items but it mostly makes a big mess of everything packed up. I end up feeling overwhelmed when what I’m hunting for is buried underneath a ton of boxes.

Note:

I’ve ordered new Social Security cards.
I’ve bought a new hair dryer.
I’ve ordered another birth certificate.
I plan to buy whatever jewelry I want when I find things I love.
I’ve stolen my daughter’s charger for my toothbrush.

I know, it’s just stuff.

This week is our last here in Indiana for a while. We’ve been, once again, packing. This time, even skinnier than before. Everything we want to take just won’t fit and I think God knew that’s exactly what we needed.

Go lightly.

Maybe leaving some of our things behind is closely related to leaving behind the jumbled up hurts we’ve endured this last year. Only, when I return…I do not plan to unpack any of the hurt part. We need to drive away from our life and we actually get to do that. It’s part of the plan that we never knew could happen to us.

I’ve done a little fretting about taking this or that but the truth is that I don’t need any of what I think I need. I have everything I really need. I just need a few cute shoes, my sweet Miss Lizzy & hubby and a soft place to lay my head. Bonus: I get Imogene to shack up in for the next however long so, I am psyched!

Adventure begins in 5 more days. It’s exciting, scary and challenging to even think about. My heart is everywhere and my head too. I don’t want to miss anything in my kids lives (even though they are grown and living it up!). I have so much growing to do myself and I can’t do it hanging out here just waiting for the next door to open.

So, I’ll be happy with every item I’ve packed. I’ll trust my hubby to handle our rig along the world’s highways (no more snow mountain). I’ll let God grow & mature my kids while I’m away…trusting that they need me to go just as much as I need to for me. I will use this time to turn my already rocking marriage into a MIGHTY FORTRESS! I won’t waste a minute of seeing America as I drive its roads & park in its beauty. I’ll make friends (of course!) and I’ll even take my church along with me on Facebook Live every Sunday!

I’m going to be okay.

Don’t look for me. I’m not here.

I’ll be HERE —>

Grace Hoarder

April 4th, 2018

Confession: I withhold grace from people I love.

I’ve always known this about myself and I’ve worked on being better a million times but yesterday as I walking to the mailbox, I felt God whisper to me my inability to extend grace. At first, I wondered where that thought came from then….I realized God was nudging me, reminding me to snap out of it.

So much has happened this year. I’ve had time to reflect on my life and how I’ve lived it. Maybe more than I really needed. Nothing is wasted with God so, I’ll take all of the looking back as a lesson in becoming better.

My children experienced my graceless mothering over the years and I know they love me and even forgive me…but, I can see how that has crippled much of my relationship with them. They feel as if they can’t please me and I blame it on my wielding the sword of perfectionism over them. Each of them are beautiful, unique and wonderful people. I’ve always known it and I’ll always believe it. It’s me that pushed too hard, blazed over them when they made mistakes and left them hurting by my angry silence.

That grace, the holding it so tightly….hurts everyone.

My kids are all grown and gone but I can see the effects of my grace hoarding in their lives. I can tell that they handle me with caution. I don’t think they do it to hurt me but I know it is just a consequence of my own doing. I grew up with a mom who couldn’t give grace. There was no moment in my life where she said, “Hey, that’s okay!” “Don’t worry about it!”. She was the opposite. She lauded her fury over me, beat me down physically & spiritually. I never received the grace I needed from her.

No one has ever been given more grace (BY GOD) than me. He has gone over-board loving me fully and unconditionally. My life, many times has been like a trainwreck! Still, G R A C E was plentiful and even sweet over my foolishness.

Why? Why have I lived hoarding my own grace?

I can’t answer. I won’t blame. I’ll just make it my priority to offer it out every chance I get.

Grace for you.
Grace for me.
Grace for everyone.
Amen.