Stories

We love stories, don’t we. Heroic tales of love and loss, of tragedy and hope, of wandering and homecoming. We love happy endings.

But why do only some stories get told? We like to hear the story of the girl who loved a boy who thought he loved someone else. but she waited and prayed and grew and eventually the boy woke up one day and realized he loved her, not someone else.

But what about the girl who loved a boy who thought he loved someone else. and she waited and prayed and grew and trusted – for years. but the boy decided he really did love the someone else, and the girl was left with an aching heart and smothered dreams.

We love to hear of the woman who couldn’t conceive so she adopted and fell in love with a child who was hers by choice, not blood.

But what of the one who couldn’t conceive, and didn’t have the money to adopt? Or the one who did adopt but still wept over not being able to birth her own?

Recently I listened to Jackie Hill Perry and her husband tell their love story, and I was really impacted by it. It’s a beautiful story of God’s leading, and the way Jackie and Preston tell it is so practical. (Listen to it here on the 30 min with the Perrys podcast)

But when I think about my “love story” (which is much too recent/current/potentially incomplete to tell – give me five or ten years) it feels like a nightmare.

What I’m trying to get at is, what if we told the hard stories? What if we told the sad, the incomplete, the losses, the breakups… and I know they’re incredibly hard – but what if we could find beauty in them?

Not just beauty for ashes, but beauty in the ashes.

What do you think? Is this possible? What stories would you like to tell or hear?

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Follow ?

follow

Follow your heart God.

Honestly, right now my heart would lead me…

To Arkansas. And to Malaysia. Oh, and to Kitchener and New York City and Iraq.

But also it would tell me that I should stay right here. with my family. And my dear church family. How would I live without them??

So, following my heart would be… confusing. My heart doesn’t know what’s best.

But following God… ah, now that isn’t confusing at all! (eye roll!) I wish.

It is confusing, let’s admit it. Learning to hear his voice is HARD.

but belief. Belief steps in yet again.

Learning to believe that

He is good.

And that He knows what is good – for me.

May I always be enrolled in the school of learning to believe that.

even if it takes the rest of my life.

Amen.

People Come and People Go…

Almost a whole year ago, I wrote a post called The Soundtrack of My Mind, which you can read here, if you wish. At the end of that post I wrote about looking back.

Which is what I’m doing today. Looking back to a year ago, a week ago, 3 hours ago… And although I can’t see everything yet, I see a little tiny piece more than I did a year ago. Or a week ago, or even 3 hours ago.

Comparing this week to this week a year ago… the only word I can come up with is gratitude. Gratitude that I am here, not there. That it is today. That I am experiencing love and friendship again. That each time I look back I can see that trust and belief have grown just a teeny bit more.

 

People come and people go, and why that is I do not know…

I met some beautiful people this week. They walked into my life, we laughed and talked and sang and shared together, they left their fingerprints on my heart…

and now they’re gone.

And while I am sad about that… I can’t be just sad.

Because something about this feels familiar. It’s like the music we were singing all week. The notes didn’t last forever. Lots of them were short little notes. Some were long, held out notes. Some staccato, some fermatas. But all joined together they made quite a beautiful sound.

Just like the beautiful people I met this week. Some relationships won’t last. But maybe some will.

Either way, they will all be part of this beautiful, mysterious piece called life.

 

 

A Teeny Picture of What Heaven Looks Like in My Mind

I know… it’s an awkward title. Oh well.

Ok, so. Heaven.

I’m looking forward to it.

Lots of things about it.

Big, spiritual/emotional things. Like feeling loved all the time. And never, never being lonely. And always being understood. And being able to love and love and love and never get hurt.

But also physical things.

And one of those physical things, is sound. Tonight I’m thinking about sound.

Mostly music.

I imagine the music in heaven to be the hugest most fuerte choir possible. With like 800 people. Cause why not? And every single one of them will have a strong enough voice to carry their part on their own. Oh, and maybe they’ll sing like 100 part songs. I mean, there could be a whole dimension of music that we don’t even have here on earth.        

But that’s getting crazy. Which is definitely ok when talking about heaven.

Also, I think about just me. Me, and music, and God.

I imagine suddenly being kindof separated from the choir, and it’s just me and God. And Jesus. And maybe even the Holy Spirit? Although I’m not sure how he looks.

But I have this song that I sing to God. To them.

And I can sing high Ds and Es. In my chest voice. This is not sweetly singing – nope, these notes are being belted. No problemo. 

And there’s no one around, to say that I’m not doing it right, or to say that I’m showing off and not worshiping, or to say that I’m not allowed to sing big elaborate solos and count them as worship.

Cause when it’s just me and Them… well, it can be.

Oh and the words of the song… they don’t really matter. Maybe there won’t even be any words.

Just the huge, belted notes themselves will be enough.

And, for now, that is just the biggest picture of personal worship that I can come up with, and, well, I’m excited.

What do you imagine about heaven?

Birth Day

A year ago today, I woke up to cuetes going off and a loud birthday song playing outside my window.

A year ago today, I spent the day running away from kids who wanted to throw water on me.

A year ago today, I had a big birthday cake with fresh hibiscus flowers on it.

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A year ago today, I was trying not to be homesick.

A year ago today, I got over a hundred birthday messages – between Facebook, emails, messages, etc… later I found out my daddy had made an announcement at church the day before that it was my birthday and that I would appreciate some birthday love. (one of the sweetest, most meaningful things he’s ever done for me.)

A year ago, I was trying to write a year recap, because it felt like 18 was a really big, hard year and needed to be written about. That blog post was never finished. And I had no idea what 19 would bring…

19 brought the deepest sorrows of my life so far – without the deepest joys. (It seems like those are typically supposed to go together…?) Maybe the joys will come at 20.

19 brought the most heartbreak.

19 found any faith I had, crumbled to dust.

My prayer for 20 is that rebuilding could continue. That trust and faith could grow again, on a real, strong foundation this time. That there would be more joy and less pain – but not no pain.

That I would come to love this God who I’m only beginning to discover.

The Story of My Cross

I want to share a happening from today in a blog post, and I’m rather excited about this one. Let me tell you why.

I feel like my blog has some dark, dreary, heavy things on it. It also has quite a lot of hard, honest, wrestling things on it. But sometimes I feel like it’s lacking lovely, beautiful things on it. Sometimes I wish I had more of those beautiful, lovely things to share rather than all this hard stuff.

So today I’m excited about a story that makes me excited, because it feels a little bit more beautiful and not quite so hard. But still honest. Always honest. Otherwise it wouldn’t be me and I may as well not write at all. 🙂

A bit of background, in the past few months, I’ve been realizing that I am a very visual person, and images really speak to me. Images that symbolize deeper meanings. It’s been a delightful discovery, and something God is beginning to use – maybe to get through to me? And so, it quite stirred up my heart today, when my little cross grew to have such lovely meaning.

Here it is, The Story of My Cross.

I was with some lovely ladies today, ladies who encourage me and lovingly nudge me closer to God. So many times when I’m confused or trying to do things on my own, and I crash into a wall or something else, I come back to these women, and they point me back to God, and for that I just say thank you thank you thank you. They mean the world to me.

My cross started off in a pile of pieces, like this.

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And as I sat in this circle of lovely women, talking about lovely heart things, my cross evolved from a pile of pieces, into, well, into a cross. My cross.

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At first, I wanted my cross to have four nails, with two nails as the cross piece, like this one.

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I wanted this because with four nails, the cross is even, 2 and 2. Also with four nails it doesn’t leave one pokey side. That pokey side could scratch someone you know.

But as I was putting this together, for some reason it wasn’t working with four nails. So the cross stays with three nails. Which means it’s a little rough and pointy on one side.

Now for the symbolism. The nails on my cross are God. This connects with how I’m seeing God right now. He’s not at all completely smooth and even and understandable. He’s pokey sometimes, and is definitely capable of causing scratches.

But, despite the pokey-ness of God, there are these little flowers, little roses wound around my cross. These flowers are exciting, because flowers speak of life.

Somehow, despite all the hard and hurt and wrestling that is the majority of my life right now, every once in a while I get these little glimpses of life. And that is comforting and exciting.

And then, lastly on my cross, there’s a little heart. The important thing about this heart is where it is. I wanted this heart to be right in the middle of the cross. I wanted it to be perfectly on the center, sitting there solidly like it knows where it belongs.

Well, that wasn’t working. I couldn’t figure out how to fasten it there. And so instead, the little heart hangs off the side, held on by the stems of the flowers.

This heart is my heart. A heart that wishes it could be solidly planted in the middle of God and who He is… but a heart that just isn’t there. Instead, my heart is a heart that is hanging off the edge. Still attached, but definitely dangling.

Maybe someday my heart with sit squarely in the middle of the nails… but for now, I’d like to be choosing to accept where it is. And I am forever grateful for the stems of new life that are holding my heart fast to those nails.

Maybe only in heaven will my heart be where I want it to be. Maybe in heaven, my cross will be full of flowers. And I know in heaven, there won’t be anything pokey.

Come Lord Jesus, Come. 

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Questions Questions Questions

“Maybe I’m getting sick.” I say. “Maybe I’m just tired.”

But I know it’s not “just tired”.

It’s a deep set exhaustion. Weary of never getting anything right. Of wrestling with the same things, over and over and over. Reconciliation is nowhere to be found, and is anything even changing inside?

Why am I so old?

Why does this 19 year old body seem to have 30 year old struggles?

No wonder I don’t have close friends my age. No wonder boys are scared of me.

People my age don’t understand.

They don’t know what it’s like. To have your brain fog up to the point you can’t even explain something simple in words. To have it take every ounce of strength you have just to hold yourself together in a crowd.

These are things that moms with four kids talk about. Not teenagers.

So why me? Why do I have to face these things I’m not equipped to handle?

Why am I not ok?

Why must I be so lonely?

Does loneliness ever go away?

First Days

April 5:

A year ago tonight, I was spending my first night alone in El Chal. I had met some nice people there, and the reality of what I was getting myself into hadn’t hit yet…

April 7:

A year ago today, the work group that I had come to the ranch with was leaving, and it began to sink in, how very alone I was.

Later that night as new country sickness set in and the puking started, I headed downstairs to what felt like a dungeon at that point, but what would quickly become my safe/escaping place… fell on my strange, creaky bed and cried myself to sleep.

Loneliness had pounced,

and wouldn’t loosen its grip for the next four and a half months.

 

Note:

As I write these things down, I wish they wouldn’t have to sound so dark and hopeless. I wish I could write this with light and hope… I wish I had happy, joyful things for you to read. Who knows, maybe it would be better if no one read this at all.

But as I struggle with the darkness of these days and months – and my life – I’ve realized there is one thing that I am committed to, and that is being Real. When my story has no light and no hope in it, I cannot edit it to contain that. When I did not feel God, I cannot pretend that I did. When I did not believe God was there, I cannot say that I did.

So all I can say, with tears in my eyes, is that it does get better. The darkness didn’t last forever. Yes, it lasts for months, long, excruciating months. But a year later, the light is shining, slowly, through cracks and broken places…

So, if you can, bear with me in the darkness – for Light is coming.

 

Breaking my Silence

I have not written for a long time.

But. it’s time for me to break the silence.

It’s almost a year. Almost a whole entire year since I stepped on that plane that took me to… The ends of the earth? or the end of everything.

As I remember, the memories come floating back. Not as much memories of events as memories of feelings. Maybe someday I’ll write more about that – but not today. It still makes my heart hurt and my brain go in loops to think about those things. One night in the past month or two I actually had a dream that I was back there, except it was a nightmare because all of the feelings of four months were packed into a few minutes of dream. That still makes me all scrunchy inside so… I’m not. ready. to talk about that. not today.

So why am I breaking the silence.

I think, I want to start to explain,

how God is breaking his silence.

Slowly, very slowly, and one teeeny piece at a time.

This will not be explainable in one post. I’m hoping it might slowly bleed out over a few. or many. or maybe things will change and I’ll fall silent again. I really don’t know.

I don’t know a lot of things anymore.

I’m a little bit sorry about the ramblingness of this… but I really felt I needed to start somewhere. And maybe I really won’t get anywhere in saying very much today…

but today, the important thing is to start.

I do want to say, for as much as the first months of the past year were hard, and… really hard,

the last months of this year were really hard, but a good hard.

Half a year ago, I stood in a complete fog, beside something, and not knowing what it all was, I prayed – or maybe more like wished, because at that point I didn’t know if God exists or not – that the fog would clear and I would be able to see whatever was there.

I wasn’t ready to give up yet.

And over this winter, that happened. Now I can even say, God made that happen.

First the fog cleared, and I saw that I was standing in the ruins of my life, the crumbled foundation and the rubble of smashed structures. That was nearly overwhelming. But then people came to me. And some of them have helped me walk into the rubble, and some of them have offered to sit there with me, and some of them have helped wash my feet when they get cut with the shards of glass and bruised by stones I step on, and none of them walked away.

And slowly, slowly, one piece at a time, I’m starting to sort through the rubble.

And God is in those people that are in the rubble with me.

But, most importantly, every once in awhile, God Himself shows up in the rubble too.

And He says,

look at this piece,

or, sit in this puddle for awhile,

or, see this shard that’s poking your foot? put that in my hand now. 

And sometimes He picks up a little shiny piece from somewhere and He whispers,

But look, here’s something that’s still beautiful. 

And that makes me cry, so that’s where I’m stopping today.

Shattering

Listen. Can you hear it?

If you listen close enough, you can hear the sound of my heart breaking.

Not just breaking; shattering. Not all at once, but one tiny piece at a time. Slowly dismantling into a pile of dust and broken pieces.

You can hear it all being pulled apart, ripped into pieces…

Where’s God in all this? Hah. I wonder too. It seems He’s more interested in taking than giving right now. He knows I don’t care about stuff that much; it’s people and opportunity, and dreams, that make me. So why would He take my stuff? He’d be free to take that, but oh no. He’s just going to pick away at every relationship until I have no one left. He’s going to see every dream shattered until there’s no point in dreaming anymore.

And then what?

Oh yeah, in the stories, this is when I suddenly start feeling so, so close to God, and Jesus becomes my best friend and then everything turns out just peachy.

Well, in my experience… it’s not like that. It’s…

Too hard to explain.

You hear the bitter cynicism, don’t you. I’m sorry you have to see that… I’m sorry I can’t hide it better. But it’s the part on top, the part you see first.

If you lift that layer off and look a little further, listen a little more, you’ll see,

That’s just a bluff for a heart that is more scared and bruised than it knows how to deal with.

A heart that has been too lonely, for too long. A heart that has held too many dreams that have ended up ground to pieces. A heart that wonders, if it’ll even survive.

Listen closer, and you’ll hear the heartache that is deeper than words. You’ll hear it, still shattering.

This is not the end, not yet.

But I have not the strength right now to hope for more.