Invisible Cancer

June 5th, 2018

My first peek at news this morning was the terribly sad news of Kate Spade’s suicide.

Heart. Broken.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle. Some cry out while others stay silent and hurt all alone.

I can’t speak for Kate Spade or her particular circumstance. I don’t know her personally but I do know others who struggle with depression and or mental illness and it’s like an invisible cancer. No matter how hard the person suffering tries to snap out of it, darkness looms and debilitates.

The mind will trick you and tell you that YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE.

Don’t listen.

Surround yourself with people who remind you:

— YOU are here because the world would never be the same without YOU.

— YOU only have to deal with one moment, one day at a time.

— YOU do not have to suffer alone.

— YOU have people who love you and care about you.

— YOU will see through the clouds. The sun will shine again.

— YOU will feel joy and have energy again.

— YOU can win, YOU can hope, YOU are worthy.

Suicide is not the way out. Let the people in your life help you. Answer their call, text them back and let them help carry what feels so heavy and hopeless.

YOU ARE LOVED.

To you & to me, let’s be kind. Let’s be aware of those hurting and lend a hand, heart or listening ear. It’s so easy to believe we’re the only one stuck in the ditch! Life will feel good again. If we only hang on!

With My Own Eyes

May 30th, 2018

I’ve been busy. Good busy. Memory making busy.

I’ve seen with my own eyes some of America’s most beautiful wonders. I will never forget any of it. This world will dazzle you if you let it. For the season that I’m currently in, this journey has been an incredible distraction.

I cannot escape God’s goodness, no matter where I turn.

I’m reminded every day how creative my God is in that He provides just what I need right when I need it.

Some might just see an eagle on a pole on the beach when they look at this photo. For me, I felt God’s majestic power and glory. He created this place, this creature and He shared it with me.

Just a stop along the side of the road (cliff) will gift the person looking for wonder with wild beasts all up and down the coast of Oregon. My heart almost couldn’t take it.

WHALE ALERT

Something I’ve learned about myself on this trip is that I cannot outrun troubles or worries. They still chase after me and threaten to ruin my attitude and living in the moment lifestyle. This morning I read in Zechariah how easy it is to go through motions and not really mean what you’re outwardly doing. For the people in the scripture, they were fasting and outwardly trying to make a change but inwardly they were oblivious. God knows the difference.

I’ve thought about my own personal reasons for getting up every morning and reading my Bible, doing a devotion and praying. Are my motives pure? Do I just go through motions? Am I hearing God or am I checking off the box of what I think God wants me to be doing everyday?

I wish I could say that my heart is always pure on this. I struggle. I want to be fully immersed in exactly whatever it is God has for me, every morning. The truth is that I get distracted by my own troubles sometimes. I have worship days and I have wallow days. I notice the difference in what days hold what – I can be a selfish Christian and only think of myself if I’m not careful.

I had a big hit of crying last night. Emotions of all that the last nearly 2 years have pounded on me came knocking. I fought them off all day, almost. Then, the floodgates opened and I just let it out. I hate crying. It hurts. It makes my nose swell and my face all ugly. Crying gets out some emotional toxins (for me) and I fell asleep hard and fast.

I can’t let what’s happened or happening change me for the worst.

Bitterness has tried to grow inside of me with a vengeance. I feel like I’m in a battle with it beyond all the other issues that threaten to bring me down. Bitterness is so ugly. Which is why I don’t want to linger there and spill it out onto the people I love and those who have no idea what I’m going through.

Again, I force my focus on to all that God keeps showing me. Every sunset, every wild animal, the mountains, the majesty of my world and the love of my family. I thank God for all of it and I vow to push my head out of the clouds of what hurts and to SEE WITH MY OWN EYES His wonder, His gift, His grace….over my life.

I want to be faithful. I want to be genuine with God, with myself and with others. So, I’ll keep meeting up with Him every morning. I’ll keep looking for Him in the beauty of this world and the people He puts in my path.

And when I need to just cry…..

I’ll just let it wash away the hurt and let it clean up my mind and soul. He hasn’t left me to fend for myself. I can trust Him with every emotion my kaleidoscope feelings drum up. He loves me, He loves you and He sees what we think is hidden. Isn’t that a good reason to let Him carry every burden?

God,
Thank you for the many ways you show me love. I’m going to be okay, thanks for the many reminders.
Amen

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

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0056.JPG

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