For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

This is the Package, and I Don't Apologize for It

In the last few weeks, I've been told I'm "belligerent", "talk too much", am overly opinionated, and some other things my husband told me the night he explained all the reasons he no longer wanted to be married. Only he put it into one big pile and called it "intimidating".

To these remarks, I would say:

If it is belligerent to be determined to break the status quo, to be a force to be reckoned with in a world going to hell, and refuse to believe my family will be part of those hideous statistics the news tosses out, you better believe I'm belligerent.

If being absolutely sure of my God, His abilities, His expectations of holiness, His grace when I fall, and the certainty that there is a right and wrong is opinionated, I really am sure I right.

Perhaps I do talk too much, but perhaps this country and our culture is on a high speed road to hell because people with the answers didn't talk enough.

And, yes, I expect other people who go by the title "Christian" to live up to a higher standard and to live with honor, integrity, and conviction that the normal crowd does not possess. If we don't, then we ARE the normal crowd, and of all the things Jesus was accused of, being normal wasn't one of them.

If that package intimidates you, I pray to God I am the most intimidating person you ever meet in your entire life, and I make no apologies.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Being the Answer


This morning I took time to watch part of the video of Miley Cyrus at the VMAs. I couldn't watch it all because I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry because I'm so sorry she thinks that is all she is. I wanted to cry because the man with whom she sang thought it was okay to treat her like that in front of people. I wanted to cry because those people thought it was fabulous. And none of them realize how much they've lost themselves in thinking all of that was okay and "edgy", and porn of all forms devalues everyone involved because you can't call a human a piece of meat without saying all humans can be cheap piece of meat including yourself, and, Daddy, I can only imagine how that makes you want to cry.

And instead of asking how she can do that, I'm asking for wisdom to teach my daughter to never do that because she is so far more valuable than that and to teach my son to be a man of honor who would never dishonor a woman that way. I'm asking how you want me to speak into the lives of the young ladies in my life and how to invest in them so they know they are priceless and never need to act cheap to get attention, and how do I speak to the young men and live in front of them to show them how a woman of character acts and how they are to treat her?

Lord, I see the problem. Show me how to be the answer.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What I Don't Understand

The sound of vomiting came from my bathroom. I could hear it, but it was muffled by my sleep. Then the voice.

"Mom? I'm sick."

A child calling, "Mom," breaks the sleep hold in an instant, and I am already sitting up when I ask, "What can I do?"

"A cold washcloth and more trash bags?"

The morning passed with the sound of vomiting and the swapping of trash bags. Nothing stayed down. Even water was offensive.

Afternoon found ease with crackers and toast and finally some dry cereal, and while he fought the virus, I considered what to do with the broken dishwasher and the backing of the shelves the girl child and I were building...the backing that had been cut too small. I pondered these things as I scrubbed more gunk (technical term) from the flat top stove that was forever needing scrubbing, and I questioned the terms "low maintenance" and "easy to clean".

Then the phone call asking me about WonderGirl's driving and telling me again how much easier life would be if she had a license and I can't keep her small forever. Can one look at a child with eyes the same height and think she can? And what about this activity and that one, and if she were just driving, I wouldn't be saying my time and energies are already stretched. Did I understand yet?

I understood.

I understood that people like to make judgment and demands when they don't know, and nothing I do lives up to everyone's expectations, and when the week has left me feeling inadequate and seeing all the ways I fail all the time, another person telling me how they think I am inadequate and a failure--and not just inadequate or failing at just anything. Oh, no. Inadequate and failing as a MOM, my heart fails, too.

And I wonder what is in His heart when the problems of life and the problem people are everywhere and the still yet to be seen.

But tomorrow is Sunday and the respite of church where my soul find solace and strength and Him. My soul longs for Him because the longsuffering has me thin.

Then the sun rises, and the light reveals the sickness, not of the boy child but four pets whose digestive tracks have all gone soft, and I hit my knees, not to worship but to work through the piles of illness, and right now, the piles are not all that stinks.

Right now, it all stinks, and really, could it have been so hard to give me a good morning THIS morning? Has the week not been enough? Does what feels like the sadistic have to slip into the Sabbath, too? If you made today for rest, can You not give me some?

After the piles of sickness, I see the pile of dishes left not so much from lack of discipline but from lack of dishwasher and the presence of sickness. The ability to make breakfast sits piled high in the sink, and I try to hold the tears in while the water runs. And my heart is sick. Sick of another thing on the list. Sick of one more thing on my every growing to do list. Sick of...this.

Somehow this sick heart and tired mind makes it through the dishes and the cooking of breakfast and out the door on time with two children in tow, and thank God they are no maintenance today because really I think one more thing may break me.

Then it happens. The breaking.

"Check engine".

I stare at the light on my dashboard, and in that instance, my light is gone out.

I am in darkness, and I wonder where my Daddy is and why He is silent...and really? Today?!

So I pray...for whatever that is worth. I've been praying all week, and instead of finding answers, I have found a harder assault. And I am helpless on this battlefield. I have no more armor and no more energy, and I need...I just need. Desperately need.

Because it is more than the list of what has to be addressed. It is the seeming sabotage of my efforts to address them. I figure out a strategy only to have it stopped by another problem, but I figure out how to handle them both, and before I can take a step forward, something happens that makes it impossible to address either, and if you have to do B before you can do A, and C must be done before you do B, and you find yourself somewhere down around M only to be slammed with an N that knocks you to your you sit there. On your knees. Because all you have is the reality that He is God and you are not, and He doesn't answer to you, and as much as you want answers, you remember Job...and then what do you do besides just sit there because really. You cannot handle it getting any worse.

So I just sit there. Hoping to stay off God's radar.

People are confused because I am quiet, and I am never quiet, but when you have a million questions and no answers and the hits keep coming even where you expect to find refuge, what does one say?

Sometimes the whole goal is simply not to sob.

At least not where people can see you because what would they say? What would you say? How could you explain? How do you explain that a God you know is good has left you feeling far more broken than blessed? How can anyone understand? Surely they can't.

I can't.

But I know He is good, and I know He is kind, and I spend the day trying to find peace with the pain.

Sometimes the greatest faith is finding peace with the pain...especially the pain that seems to have no purpose.

And all I know to do is cry...and whisper. "Please find me. I can't find you in this. I need you to find me."

And somehow I find my way to Isaiah where the enemy is bigger than Israel, and surely defeat will come, and the king only knows one thing to fall on his knees before the God who let them get here, so he does, and he never asks why. He simply says, "Without you, we will be defeated. We cannot stand against this army. Without you, we will be taken captive."

The words whisper from me. "Without you, I am defeated. I cannot fight this battle. I don't even know where to start. Without you..." My mind cannot fathom the thought...without Him.

As hard and painful as life is with much as I don't understand why He does what He does...without Him? I cannot fathom.

I read the words He speaks to the king. "Tomorrow you will see your deliverance. I will handle this."

Tomorrow. I don't know what tomorrow holds, but He is there, and His plans are not thwarted by the next letter in the alphabet, and I don't know how, but tomorrow things will fall.

This morning I woke early, and before I was out of bed to let the dogs out of the house, I knew the answer for the shelving problem and the oven top, and while those rolled through my mind, He whispered over them, "Call first thing about the truck."

I did knowing it is impossible to get in to see the shop I use on Monday morning, except this morning when they had an opening. Come on in. The disconnect button is blurry through this humbled daughter's eyes.

Four hours later the call comes in. The diagnostic is run, and two codes have pinged. They took off my gas cap, put it back on, and the codes cleared. Seems the gas cap was ajar, and they think it is petty to charge for that, so it is free. And my mind remembers another place that charged $120 for the same thing and had no concern or mercy.

Then the bad news. The front brakes are worn dangerously thin. Then I remember. The red light. The hard jerk to the right, the pop, and having to press the brakes again because they didn't hold. In the busyness, I had forgotten. But my Daddy didn't. This is concern. This is mercy. This is a Father doing what has to be done to keep His children safe. This is a Father who loves...even when this daughter is so completely unlovely...

"By the way, when the tech was looking through, he found a $20 bill in the seat rail of the front seat. He put it in your cup holder. I just wanted you to know in case you wondered where it came from."

And I am drowning in this mercy pool, and the tears are falling again. No. Not all the alphabet is fixed, but how much He loves me fixes my heart, and I still don't understand.

I don't understand this mercy. I don't understand this grace. I don't understand the lavish generosity. And once again He leaves me not understanding. I don't understand Him...or this wild and crazy love of all.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

An Honest Letter to God

Dear Daddy,

I love you. Before I say anything else, I want to set my heart right with Truth and tell you I love you, and I know you love me, which is part of why I am so confused.

I have tried to pray through this, but honestly, I'm trying to pick my words carefully because you are God and you are holy, and you deserve my praise. I have no right to question you or your character, and really, I do not need to do anything to incur your wrath or make you unhappy, but the fact is, I have no one else but you.

I have quit believing in knights in shining armor, and I have no expectations of a cavalry showing up at my door, but I can't do this. I know it is pathetic and weak to confess what I can't do, but really, I am so at the end of me. But you know that.

And I don't understand it. I don't understand why you feel it necessary to push me to the edge and see how incredibly inept I am...or have me see it. Believe me, I am fully aware of all that is "on my plate" that I feel totally inadequate for. Why do you need to show me all I'm not? Do you not know how much it tears my heart out to be less than worthy of you, and while I know I will never actually be worthy of you, do I really need to be reminded how I am not what I want to be for you? Really. Do I need to see yet more vividly how I fail as your bride?

And I don't understand what you want from me or who you want me to be? I do not understand why you keep taking the things I enjoy. I do not understand the stripping down process...again. I didn't think I was being rebellious when I found enjoyment in those hobbies. It wasn't my heart to rebel, but maybe I made them idols and didn't realize it. If I did, then by all means, take them away.

But I must tell you, once again I feel like I have nothing. I have nothing to offer. I am no one. And I am trying to trust that you never tear down without building up, but I thought we were building before, and honestly, I can't take the stripping down again. I would rather be nothing.

And in this nothing, I am honestly, HONESTLY desiring that you are everything, and it seems I have missed that, and maybe that is what the pushing me to the edge, showing me all I am not, and stripping down is all about--making you everything. If it is, okay. But please understand, this hurts me, and right now, in this moment, I am drowning in how much all this hurts me.

I am drowning in the assault of broken things and things that need to be fixed...both tangible and intangible. I am drowning in the pain of seeking you and feeling like I get a grasp on what you are doing...only to be slammed hard by something even bigger. I am now afraid to move because I don't want to be hit anymore.

Your Word says you know your plans for me, they are to give me hope and a future. I am giving my hopes of things and outcomes back to you. My heart is shattered with hopes of outcomes that didn't happen. My hope is simply for You, that I would not shame you, that somehow I would bring you pleasure, even when all I have are tears to pour on the altar for you.

But even when I am broken and so very confused, one thing I am sure of. You are God and you are good. I don't understand what you are allowing. I don't understand why it seems you are intent on crushing me at times, and truly, it feels crushing. I don't understand...a lot of things, but this I know with all I am...
You are not cruel.
You are not sadistic.
You are kind.
You are generous.
You genuinely care.

You love me.

Sometimes the pain and the confusion and the not understanding can cloud that, and when I feel like I am drowning in all those things, the one thing I cling to...the only sanity I can sometimes love me.

When I know nothing else, it is the one place I know is solid, the one place I know I can stay....

You love me.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

On Being Profound

It's that kind of day. You know the kind. I know you do. When Ann Voskamp shows up in your email and your FB feed and sounds deep and profound and enlightened, and you are just trying to find your way out of the pile of dishes you left in the sink because by the time they showed up last night you were just too tired to deal so you went to bed early and slept...sort of... It's the kind of day when you read a chapter from this book, and the descriptions have you right in the middle of it all, and the characters have you mesmerized, and where do they come up with these crazy good plot ideas anyway, and you wonder what in the world it would take for you to write like that because...well, we all know it, so let's just say it...I am not Ann Voskamp and I am not Tim Downs or Francine Rivers or Leanna Ellis or...profound.

I'm just Jerri.

But today I want to be profound. I want to write something that catches readers' attention. I want my words to be so enthralling and powerful that they burn into someone's brain and roll around there all day and maybe even tomorrow and randomly show back up from time to time just when the person is ready to throw in the white flag but something I said makes them decide not to. Something makes them think, 'Not today. Today, I can do this. Today I can cling to the cross and get through. Today, I will stand.'

Really. How privileged to be the words that tells someone, "Today, you can still stand, just don't let go of the Cross, and you will stand just fine."

Because really, isn't that how we all stand? Clinging to the Cross.

It isn't this divinely animated dirt that holds me up but the blood poured out and the love rained down. It is the One who chose to be the weakest that makes me the strongest. It is the One who chose to be sin who makes it possible for me to be sinless.

And without that I am nothing.

It is not so hard for Him to become everything when I realize how utterly nothing I really am.

And is there anything more profound than the simple gift of a life lived as a constant act of dying?

Does it get more profound than that?

Could it be that the most profound thing I have to offer is the simple fact God loves you and Jesus died for you and whoever and whatever you've been and done you don't have to be or do anymore because in the presence of Everything all of you--even the filthy ugly--becomes nothing except wanted and loved? And isn't wanted and loved what we all want to be anyway?

Does it get more profound than that?

Or any simpler?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Question of Abundance

John 10:10 NIV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

What life is Jesus holding out to you today? What hope does He want to restore or fulfill? What tomb is He trying to open up and breathe life into if you just get the faith to stand with Him and let Him? What dream is He breathing life into? What fading desire is He loving into a flame? What promise is He asking you to trust Him for? WHAT FULLNESS AND LIFE IS HE WANTING TO POUR OUT ONTO YOU AND INTO YOU AND THROUGH YOU TODAY?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Not All Princesses Are Created to be Soft

I'm sharing this here because some of you...well, you just need to know...not all princesses were made to be soft, some were made to be warriors, but they are ALL fearfully and wondrously made.
Finally finished my get-to-know-you paperwork for the ladies' group at church. I honestly didn't want to do it because...

Fave books: Stuff I've read lately that I enjoyed...
Marine Sniper
American Sniper
Fearless--Seal Team Six Member Adam Brown
On Killing (fab study on psychology)
Day of War (SO GOOD)
The Plain Fear series

shooting and guns
board games

Yes, I'm still coming out of the June Cleaver/pervertedProverbs31 indoctrination, and I'm still a bit self-conscious around church women. BUT, God woke me up at 0400 this morning and told me to finish the paperwork. He reminded of something a friend I deeply admire said to me when I was struggling with this before. He said, "Not all men like their princesses soft." Those were powerful words to me. This morning the Lord said, "Not all women want to be soft princesses. Someone is praying for someone to believe she can be a warrior princess. You are an answer to prayer."

So, paperwork done. The King has spoken His blessing, and He is ready. Let the royal warrior princesses come forth.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Plain Fear: Forgiven by Leanna Ellis

My friend Leanna Ellis has a book coming out today, August 6th, Plain Fear: Forgiven.

It is the final book of her series Plain Fear.

I have read all but one of Leanna's books, and this series is hands down my absolute favorite, which is odd because I hate Amish books. I think they are weak, watered-down, and unrealistic. I simply cannot relate to them. I hate vampire books. Too sci-fi for me. However, Leanna blends the two into an amazing story of human frailty, failings, and forgiveness.

I read the first book the year my husband died, and I totally understood the power of vampires and how easy it is for them to win hearts and take souls. I read the second book right after Christmas last year (although it came out last August, the first chapter threw me and I needed some time), and again, it resonated with me...the hope of redemption, the possibility of love and life after everything collapses. I had the privilege of reading Forgiven as an advanced reader's copy. For those with a warrior spirit, you will simply get it--the battle of good and evil in the spiritual that spills into the everyday and the power of temptation, the fear that you've fallen too far, the reality that the greatest war is within yourself...and the Truth of redemption.

As I said, this is my favorite series. Maybe it is because I've faced my own vampires. I've fallen hard, and I've desperately needed to be Forgiven. Maybe you or someone you know does, too. If so, this is worth the time and the read.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Because the Only Way to God is God's Way

Stop! Listen to me a second. Some of you need to hear this because it can't totally change your day, your week, and your life.

God loves you, and He is for you, but He can't bless you if you choose to do things in opposition to Him. He cannot bless what goes against His nature, character, or laws. He will not bless manipulation, revenge, or cruelty. He will not bless sin. He will not bless you to keep sinning. If there is something in your life that takes you further from Him, He will not bless it. He may give you over to it if you are determined to have it, but that is not His blessing. That is His letting you have your way so you can see what a failure that road is.

If you are tired of living that life, if you are ready to be blessed, have peace, and find Him, turn to Him in repentance, meaning confessing that you've been doing it the wrong way and want to do it His way. Ask His forgiveness, which He grants with lavish generosity, and seek His heart and His way of doing things.

You don't have to try to fix your mess on your own. You don't have to try to escape the addiction on your own. You don't have to fill that hole caused by the failure of those who should have covered you and loved you on your own. He can and will fix it for you, but He will fix it HIS way, and He wants to start fixing it today, right now.

I'm praying for you today. If you want to know more or need personal prayer, let me know. God be with you.