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.

Friday, September 30, 2016

For Real

As y'all know, I believe in being real. I believe truth and real are healing things. I believe when we go through trauma and hard places, being real not only allows us to heal mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, but it also takes away some of the heaviness that our bodies have to fight and gives them breathing room to focus on healing physically.

One of my readers, whom I have loved for a long time, is in a real situation. She is battling breast cancer. I've spent a long time this morning reading her blog, trying to take it all in because I'm still horrified for her and her family. I'm stunned, and I am still having negotiation conversations with God. I am also completely amazed.

She is walking this road with such beautiful honesty and vulnerability.

If you or someone you know is on the same road, please do yourself a favor and go to Donna's blog. You will find a safe place there, and you will find someone who understands. I'm not saying she can carry you through or even hold your hand because she is in an exhausting battle, but sometimes just having someone who can walk that road with you is a boost of courage to keep fighting.

To each of you in this battle, may the Lord our God give you strength.
May He give you joy to fill the places that have been stripped.
May you grieve well what you've lost...and are matter the final outcome.
May you find laughter, even if it seems morbid to those who aren't in the battle.
May you learn to live richer even if you are having to live smaller.
May you find presence...both from friends and loved ones...but especially from Him.

God be with you.

When You Would LIke to Love Someone...But Not Really

Tonight in class, our table ventured into a really good conversation about loving others, and one woman said plainly that she doesn't like some people.

Now, let me say first, I applaud her honesty. It took a lot of courage to tell a group of people gathered around a table in a church who are waxing deep and philosophical about love and God and God's love and the need to love that sometimes you love someone, but you don't like them, and you really don't feel a need to change that fact. I'm serious. That was courageous stuff on her part.

It's real stuff. That not liking some people.

The honest fact is Jesus didn't like everyone either. Look at His words to the Pharisees from Matthew 23.

23 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
13 But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
16 Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ 17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.
23 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.  26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’
31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Yeah, I think it is pretty safe to say He didn't like them much. Did He love them? Absolutely. Jesus loves everyone, but He didn't like them. Do you see why?

It isn't because they tell dirty jokes. It isn't because they brag on their champion football team all. the. time. It isn't because they always know more than everyone else. It isn't because they flaunt their latest expensive purchase. It isn't even cause they don't care for Him. He doesn't like them because they make it so hard for His people to find Him through all the religion.

He doesn't like them because they are keeping people from Him. He doesn't like their selfishness or their self-righteousness or their arrogance or their condescension. But it isn't just the character flaws. These people aren't just obnoxious people that grate on His nerves. These are the people who are supposed to be leading people to Him, equipping them to live for Him, and encouraging them in their faith, and instead, they use His name to beat people down and leave them discouraged and hopeless. No. He doesn't like that at all.

Now, I have used this passage for years and years to excuse myself for not liking someone whom I deem offensive, but the fact is, that doesn't hold water. Someone's annoying trait isn't a reason to dislike them. Fact is, every one of us has an annoying someone. Jesus didn't like the Pharisees for righteousness reasons. Me? Well, maybe not as much "righteous" reasons as "self righteous" reasons.

 Now, I'm going to do the rude writer thing and leave you here because 1. This is already long and some of us (myself included) have limited attention spans and I have a lot more I want to say on this topic, and 2. the topic of self-righteousness is too important (and honestly life changing if you let it be) to be buried at the end of a long post. So, come back by tomorrow and let's talk about the difference between self-righteousness and Jesus' righteousness. Okay?

Y'all have a rocking awesome day!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Beautiful Difference

Five years ago we left the church we had been attending for the last six or seven years. During the seven months of our lives  changing so radically, only two people contacted us from church, and they were sincere. One had not even been told by the pastor who was supposed to notify WonderGirl's volunteer team that the kids' dad had died, and when he found out six weeks later, he was stunned and wanted to know why I hadn't told them. His concern was completely sincere, and he is the one who had one of the children's pastors contact me weekly trying to connect with Robert. Robert was too deep in grief, but good golly, Boaz tried. Beyond that, no one contacted us.

No leaders from any of the four ministries I was part of. None of my team captains. The kids' pastors. The men's pastor where Rob attended weekly and suddenly stopped never checked in. Not even the pastor who did the funeral. (Need to correct that. Pastor Kam Hunt and Brittany Nelson kept in contact with us for a very, very long time. But he told me later that he didn't know we had left the church. I let all the right powers know, and no one told the people covering us.

When we left that church, we felt abandoned. There is no other word. It only added horrible pain to an already painful time, and I said then the only way I would ever go back to that church is if God Himself said I absolutely had to.

In February of this year, God woke me up absurdly early and said go, so we did.

And in the last seven months, we have fallen in love with people there. We are part of ministry teams that we love. And, we know we are loved, like really loved. There is no residual ick. No leftover mess. It's like nothing happened, and there is just deep appreciation and love.

And we are leaving again.

The real, can't get past it, reason is the decibel level of the music. It really hurts WonderBoy's and my ears. I am not saying it is bad or wrong. It just doesn't work for us, and I'll blog about that because there are some beautiful things about God I have learned in this that I want to share with you, but we're leaving.

This week I wrote the leaders of our team and the pastors over our team and told them, and you know what those crazy wacked out people have done? Love us.

Our team captain, Helga, sent me an amazing email, very well thought out, very detailed, very compassionate and personal, looking at everything I have mentioned in my blog that we are looking for and looking for ways to find it at our church. The summary of her email: Let's see if we can find a solution that allows you to stay comfortably.

Talk about being loved and fought for! Folks, take a lesson from her. THAT is what a captain does. THAT is the heart of God.

Our other pastors, deacons, and leaders have emailed. They have prayed over us. Blessed us. Told us if we ever want to come back, their arms are open. Even after I told them we are leaving, one of our leaders has been emailing me to check on WonderBoy's dental situation. The prayers are so precious and so personal. I read each email and the prayers, and tears fill my eyes because they are praying for us exactly what I am praying.

And I have to tell you, if I were not absolutely positive we are supposed to leave, the love these people are pouring on us would make me march into one of their offices and say, "Okay, there has got to be a way for us to stay. How can we be part of the church and avoid the music?"

Y'all, I am humbled beyond words by these beautiful people, and I'm telling you this because I want you to see what God can do when people follow His heart.

If we had never gone back to that church, these people would have never loved us. They couldn't. Our choice to walk back into a place that reverberated with hurt, allowed us to be in a place that reverberated with healing. Sometimes it works that way. You have to walk into what hurts you the most so God can heal you the deepest.

And these leaders...THIS is what Jesus looks like. Let's be honest. A lot of leaders and pastors would have taken offense and pretended we were dead. I've seen it happen. It's happened to us. But not them. They didn't just wish us well. They poured oil of goodness, life, and love on us with their words of blessing and prayers.

I understand why God is having us leave, but like I said, with love like that, it is hard to go. Needless to say, it is so different from last time...and it's a beautiful difference.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Easiest Hard Road

As a few people know, WonderBoy has been in the process of preparing to get braces. He had to have some reconstruction done, which required total sedation after failed attempts with a local. Then he had to have two baby teeth removed by an oral surgeon, which turned into a two trip ordeal when the first one ended in a major anxiety attack. At the helm of this trek is our orthodontist, Dr. Copenhaver. He was WonderGirl's orthodontist, too, but it wasn't such a big deal with her. In fact, she is about as easy as they get. WonderBoy, not so much.

When we went in for an initial consult, WonderBoy honestly ended up in a fetal position on the floor from the overwhelming possibilities of "intense" treatment. It was bad, and truthfully, I wasn't sure if Dr. Copenhaver would really want to work with him. As I mentioned before, Dr. C. tends to be a strong presence, blunt. Okay. Truth is, he is a lot like me. I tend to be the type who says, "This has to be done, so do it," and not think about it and not really dwell on any emotions about it. Until WonderBoy, I don't think I realized how much some people really struggle with anxiety over change, especially sensory input change. I wasn't sure how Dr. C would handle it either.

I told you last week that he pulled me into a private office so we could talk about the options for treatment so WonderBoy didn't hear, how compassionate and kind he was. Today, I think I may have fallen in love with the man.

First of all, WonderBoy did not get the full braces. He only got them on the bottom. When I asked about that, Dr. C said the top is easier and will be in place faster, so we can give WonderBoy time to adjust to just the bottom before we do anything else. In fact, his whole approach is to make the smallest changes possible to create the least anxiety possible. He has already thought this through and developed the three year plan and worked in the modifications. He has upped the pain killers as well as added some anxiety meds for treatment days. What can't be avoided, he is helping him get through.

When I told him I blogged about him last week, I told him I mentioned how kind and compassionate he was, and he looked me in the eye and said, "I'm focused on your son. I love challenging cases, and I am going to get him through this as easily for him as I can."

It's a hard road, but I'm going to give you the easiest hard road I can.

On the way home, I was kind of chiding myself for being anxious about this because where was my faith knowing God would take care of us? But then I realized. My anxiety isn't because I think God won't take care of us. It isn't that I think He won't be with us. It's because I know that His being with me means sometimes He is with me on hard roads, and sometimes that roads are self-inflicted, but sometimes, they are God chosen.

In Psalm 23, we are told, "You lead me in paths of righteousness for your name sake." That is a fabulous picture. Righteous paths. The good ones. The ones that make sense. The ones that look like a kind King put you on them, but that isn't really it. "Righteous paths" are the right paths, the chosen by God paths.

Right on it's heels we read, "Ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." In other words, sometimes the right path that brings glory to God's name is the hard path. It's the path that looks hell, the one that might kill you, physically, emotionally, mentally.

The psalmist doesn't say he will fear no evil because that path is somehow easier when we are close to God or somehow we are impervious to the possibilities of death. He says, "I will fear no evil for your rod and your staff comfort me." A rod is a defensive weapon that beats back the enemy, and the staff is the long stick with a hook that pulls us back into place.

I won't fear evil because I know you are protecting me and guiding me, and even when you take me on the hard road, you'll make it as easy as possible, and you are with me on it, making sure I can get through it, adjusting for my personal abilities that you created in me, covering my weaknesses.

At some point, we are all going down a hard road. People tend to be angry about the hard roads. They tend to think they aren't fair, that they don't deserve them, that God isn't doing His job. In that vortex of anger, hurt, and accusation, we become blind to everything else. WonderBoy is pretty upset about getting the braces. Even after the visit, he was miserable because really, no one wants braces. They may want the outcome but the braces? No. But despite hating the braces, on the way home he told me how much he appreciated Dr. C working to make it as easy as possible and giving him extra help to get through. He was grateful, and you know the weird thing about gratitude, it brings peace with it...even when it is a hard road.

May you see God leading you.
May you see His compassion and kindess.
May you see the people He sends to lift you up.
May you be grateful for all He does.
May you be blessed with the easiest hard road.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


You know that sound. I know you do.

It is the sound a day makes when it gets out of control, and you end up wondering how you are going to get everything done that (you think) needs to get done, and you are trying not to panic, but great purple billed sap suckers, Batman! That is a long list! AND, those things you have to get done are not anywhere near each other, and while you are reading this, someone just texted you and added more.

Yeah. I knew you knew that sound.

Today I got hit with another Vroom! day. I already had a full list. Then WonderGirl found out she had to stay at school for the debate, and since I was making the supper she asked for tonight, I figured I would just run it into town to her and go to the bank. No biggie. Until WonderBoy's bands came off, which means an unexpected 1 1/2 hour trip to the orthodontist office and back.

And it happened.

That headache that starts just below your shoulder because your shoulder blade and your spine and inches its way into a full blown trapezius knot of mythical proportions and then rockets right up your neck and into your skull. Hello tension migraine.

Except it didn't happen.

Instead, I noted the knot in my shoulder, prayed for God to do some miracle thing with my schedule today, and then....sat on the couch with some chocolate milk and read my Bible.

I didn't read anything long or heavy. Three Psalms. That's it, and I didn't even know what to read, so I did the powerhouse mature Christian thing. I prayed to the Lord to show the weapons I needed to fight today's battle, took my sword (the Word of God) in hand, and turned it to the ammo He led me to. Psalm 12, 13, and 32. Then I wrote the verses that stuck in my mind in my journal and marked the page with a piece of a stinky note. These are my meditation scripture now

The words of the Lord are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,
like gold refined seven times.
---Psalm 12:6---
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord's praise,
for He has been good to me.
---Psalm 13:5-6---
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord."
And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
---Psalm 32:5---

It's obvious why I picked the first two. Flawless words. Unfailing love. I mean, really, but honestly, the last one is the one I really love. Why? If I were to say it, I would say something like this:

Then I admitted my utter imperfection to you and my propensity for choosing the wrong thing. I came clean with the ugliest parts of me. I said, "I will be real about how I am and how bad things are and how desperately I need you." And you, in your wondrous perfection, accepted me there, forgave me, and took away all the reasons for me to hate myself.

Isn't it just like God on days when we are looking for something about time or schedule or our steps being directed, to step in and say, "Let's talk about something else, like your feeling inadequate, like your perfectionistic mindset that says you have to get it all right, and your lying awake tonight thinking about how you could have done it better and being annoyed that you didn't."

Do you get what He is saying?

That stuff on your to do list will get done or not. The world honestly won't end, and next week none of that matters, but YOU matter. OUR RELATIONSHIP matters. THE WAY YOU THINK I SEE YOU matters. THE WAY YOU SEE YOURSELF matters. MAKING SURE WE ARE OKAY matters.

May you always remember the importance of rest stops on Vroom! days...and in everything you have to get done, may you always remember what really matters.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Why Not This

I grew up in a Nazarene church. Not a big denomination, so you probably have not heard of it and probably don't know what they believe. I left that denomination as an adult, and after wandering through some charismatic denominations, I entered into the "interdenominational" and "non-denominational" assembling of the saints. Now, I'm wandering out and wondering where to find traditional worship.

For me, the issue with the Protestant church we just left and the ones before that isn't the theology. No. I don't agree with all of their beliefs, but like I told a friend last night, no one is going to believe exactly like I do, and it is selfish and narcissistic to expect anyone to. In the last six years, every church we have left is for one of two reasons (sometimes both):
1. There was no place for us to use our gifts to bless the Body.
2. Worship style.

In the case of the church we just left, it is the second. WonderBoy and I are part of a GREAT team of greeters. Love those people. In fact, they are why we stayed. However, we do not do worshiptainment. We don't care for concerts, blaring music, drum and guitar rifts, people jumping up and down on the stage, smoke machines, and roving lights. I just keep waiting for someone to kick and amp and slam a guitar.

Fact is, that kind of louder, flashier, bigger music segment is part of the church culture right now.
Some people say it draws people in that wouldn't come otherwise. Some say worshipping God should be fun. I won't get into my opinions of that here. I will simply say that I do not find decibel levels that are dangerous to my hearing worshipful. I do not care for the "you need to feel good, here's a high energy 'worship' time to jumpstart your happy enzyme levels" style of music. It isn't my style. It isn't WonderBoy's either, and even WonderGirl told me this week, "Mom, did you notice they actually played a truly worshipful, introspective song this week?" I looked at her. "And they ended it with guitar and drum riffs just like they do the pseudo-rock songs they do."

My favorite worship was actually at two churches. One was Methodist, the other Church of Christ. I loved that Methodist church, and if it were close, I'd be there every Sunday. Solid teaching. Sincere worship. You could feel the spirit of worship. The Church of Christ was different because it didn't have instruments, but it was also kind of neat for the same reason. No loud band. No riffs. No one jumping around on stage. Just singing.

The fact is most of the Protestant churches lost me because I feel like they are too focused on being hip and they've lost sight of the fact God is holy.

Our other hang up besides style of worship is a lack of a place to use our gifts. I'm not talking about being in charge or having a title. I mean simply being more than a body that holds the pew down on Sunday. I am deeply bothered by the number of churches whose leadership has death grips on ministries. One church we attended only had three leaders: the pastor, pastor's wife, and the children's minister (and I think she was a family member). Several churches are like that actually, and if a different ministry was suggested, it was usually vetoed because the three leaders couldn't handle any more. When I asked why they didn't let someone else lead, I was told they were sticking to their mission statement and these other things didn't fit into the mission statement.

Here is the thing, though:
A church is supposed to disciple its members. That doesn't just mean a man stands behind a pulpit and talks once a week. It means people are discipled in how to develop intimacy with God and how to live out that intimacy. Living out that intimacy means they fulfill their purpose, which includes using the spiritual gifts put inside them.

If  a church is not equipping its members to develop personal intimacy with God, that church is not fulfilling the mandate given by Jesus to make disciples of all men.
If a church is not equipping its members to use their spiritual gifts, that church is not fulfilling the mandate given by Jesus to make disciples of all men.

Church isn't relevant because of the loud or upbeat music. It is relevant when people find a place to belong, deal with their hurts and demons, develop intimacy with Christ, be themselves, and know THEY are relevant.

Churches that do not equip and encourage people to use their gifts damage the church in two ways: 1. The people with the gifts do not belong, and 2. because those gifts are meant for the edification of the body, if they are not being released, the body is going malnourished.

So, why not the Protestant churches? Worship.

I want to worship Christ in a way I feel is reverent and acknowledges His holiness. I want sacred space, and I want to worship Him not just in words but in deeds by using my gifts and edifying others.

I have not found that in a Protestant church, so I am looking elsewhere.

For clarification:
No, I do not think the loud music is of Satan or even just wrong. I think it speaks to some people. I have friends who like Christian metal bands and find great depth in their music. It doesn't do anything for me. The same if true for the loud, concert type music services. They speak to some people. However, they are not effective connection methods for those of us who are more contemplative.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Exiting the Theological Box...and Dealing with the Aftermath

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I have been attending mass for awhile. Last fall I attended mass on weekends as well as during the week. However, I only told a few friends, like two, that I was attending because I didn't want to deal with the fallout from either my Protestant or Catholic friends who either thought I had lost my mind or finally seen the light, respectively. Instead, I kept it low key between God and me and a few friends who knew I was seeking something beyond theology of once saved always saved, Mary and the saints, when the baptize someone, and whether the juice and bread were actual body and blood or not.

Now that I have come out of the theological closet, per se, it has started. "It" being the battle of beliefs.

We all know there are only two possibilities: Protestants are right and Catholics are wrong or Catholics are right and Protestants are wrong. Since I now realize Protestants aren't all right, then I must choose the religion in the cup in front of you. Some of you are laughing because you can see that scene in your head. I'm not laughing because, honestly, that is how it feels. The logic of "must be this or that" is dizzying.

I hit a point this week when I told God frankly, "I never want to go back to church again. Period." And it had nothing to do with theology. It had to do with people demanding that I take a side.

None of those people asked me about my relationship with God. No one asked, "Are you growing in faith? Is your intimacy deeper? What is He revealing to you?" Nope. Just, "Do you see why we are right and they are wrong?"

Really? Where exactly did Christ get His panties in a wad over whether someone was baptized in running water or a baptismal? Where did He get all offended because someone drank grape juice instead of wine? Where did He tell someone, "Hey, that prayer you prayed isn't in the prayer book. Work harder at learning the rituals because it is about the rituals, not the relationship"? Where did He tell the priests at the Temple the offering should be after the first song and prayer and should be followed by two more songs because that is the absolute right way to do it?

Jesus received a lot of criticism for hanging out with the wrong crowd. He hung out with the tax collectors and prostitutes, the lepers, adulterous women at wells, crazy lunatics in cemeteries, and other people who realized they didn't belong on either side because no one wanted them. Except Jesus wanted them. And I don't think it is just because He loved them. He loved everyone. I think He enjoyed them because they were more concerned about knowing Him, than knowing a theology, and the religious folks were so blooming pissy about making folks look like them, think like them, and agree with them that they missed the Messiah who walked right into their midst.

Does it ever scare you to think that churches spend time teaching you how to be like them and fit into their box rather than how to be intimate with the Savior?

Does it ever scare you to think that people can be so busy learning a religion that they never learn the Lord?

Do you ever think that churches have become so concerned with people choosing a "theological title" that they have lost sight of the important thing: people choosing Christ?

I would tell you I'm not trying to bash either side of the theological chasm, but the truth is, I'm I don't handle demands to submit to human boxes well, and I am pretty turned off by them both right now. Kind of makes me want to make friends with IRS folk and prostitutes, you know?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Because Love is the Kind Place in a Hard Day

I won't go into the details of today because I promise you, someone reading this had a worse day. I will tell you it was hard...and hurtful...and I have spent a considerable amount of time simply praying to get through it, including time kneeling at the wooden altar in my room in silence because I have no words.

And what I will tell you about is the waitress at Chili's named Angie who brought me my order of bacon ranch chicken quesadillas with the nasty new uppity sour cream. When I asked about the regular sour cream, she explained that only came with their dinner portion but she could bring me some, only it would cost extra.  I told her no. I see no point in paying extra for plain sour cream when the supped up disgusting stuff is free. A few minutes later the manager walked to our table and handed me sour cream. Free of charge.

It was kind of a small deal. Except today, it was a really big deal.

And I will tell you about my kids' orthodontist. I was dreading today because WonderBoy got his rubber bands to prepare his teeth for braces next week, and this whole dental journey has been incredibly hard, and the anxiety attacks have been intense. While WonderBoy talked to the tech, the orthodontist pulled me into a private office to explain the tooth situation, what we are hoping happens, and  the possible treatments plans if necessary. He was so kind. He talked in a very calming tone. Kind of different for him. I've come to realize he cares deeply for his patients, but sometimes strong personalities carry themselves in ways that seem distant. Not today. Today he was compassionate and gentle. Today he was a gift.

And I will tell you about our dentist and his staff. WonderGirl had to go in for her usual teeth cleaning, and in the midst of this suffocating day, I sat in the waiting room watching the Disney Channel to one side, listening to the sound of WonderGirl singing to her hygienist from the other side, and I smiled. Then when as we prepared to leave, we chatted with the staff, like usual, and like usual, they gave me long hugs, and when our dentist came by, he stopped to talk to me for a few minutes and he hugged me, too.

It never ceases to amaze me how good a hug can feel or how much easier it is to breathe with the arms of people who care about you around you.

Humbly thankful.....

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Real Faith

The word "prophecy" sounds ominous, but really, it isn't. Prophecy is simply knowing God's heart. It is asking for His heart, getting still to listen, taking time to learn His voice, and telling folks what you hear. That is it.

For whatever reason, God has chosen to give me a prophetic gift. What that means is I know things there is no reason I should know. I know things about people that sometimes they don't want me to know, but God wants to talk about so He can heal something and get them out of a prison. Really, that is God's heart. Getting folks out of prison, getting them set free, get them living in His Son where eternal life is found. That is always the heart of God.

For me, my gift also means God and I talk all the time, about everything. People ask if I hear God talk, and that is kind of hard to explain, but, yes, He is very kind to share a lot of His heart and mind with me. And I confess, that has been priceless the last few years especially. When all the hard things came, I didn't know the specifics about where we were headed, but I had a general direction. I often knew what we were working toward and what the end goal was. There is peace in that. Granted, it takes faith to walk in that kind of knowing. It requires faith to believe that what God has said will come to pass. It requires faith to know that if I miss it, He will correct me and not just let me walk off a cliff into hell for eternity. It requires faith that He is capable of doing what He promised as well as faith that He really cares enough to bring it to pass. Sometimes I'm good with that faith. Sometimes, not so much.

A few weeks ago I was in Hebrews reading. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

I asked a question: Is my faith really faith for things hoped for and unseen? I hope for promised things, for where I know God is taking us, for outcome He has shared as His heart. Is that the same thing?

In the last two weeks a lot has happened, and I find myself once again in situations that stretch me. They stretch me physically as I work on the covering for the deck and put up headers and joists. They stretch me emotionally as I deal with the reality that a part of my life I thought was gone and settled isn't and now has to be addressed all over again. They stretch me mentally in ways I could not begin to put on paper. Altogether, I have five situations that are beyond what I have done. As I told a friend of mine yesterday, I won't say I am drowning because I am not, but I am in over my five different oceans.

Four of the situations are challenging, and I have to constantly choose to trust that God has everything in hand and will get us to where we are going. I know the outcome, and I know He will get us there. It's just that sometimes that means the road runs right by my bed where I kneel and pray multiple times a day, but even as hard as that can be, I'm good with that. I know His character, and I know He does not abandon or leave. I'm solid.

Then there is this fifth ocean. And I don't get it at all.

I don't know why I'm in the ocean. I don't know what I'm supposed to be learning in the ocean. I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing in the ocean. I have no idea how to get out of the ocean.

I am lost.

But I'm not.

Because this is not the faith that is looking for an outcome. This is the faith that is trusting Him no matter what comes.

Certainty of things we hope for. Evidence of things we do not see.

Certainty of His presence, of His helping me, of His not letting me walk right off a cliff into hell.
Evidence that He is faithful, He is kind, He is gentle.
Evidence that He is loving.

Even when we don't know where we are going.
Even when we don't know what He is doing.

Evidence of Him.
Certainty of Him.

Faith isn't set on where we are trying to reach, but Who is reaching us.

And sometimes instead of figuring out all those things we don't know, He simply wants us to figure out that all we need to Him.

That is faith.

I have no idea what the purpose of this "ocean" is. I have no idea where we are going, what I'm supposed to learn, or what I am supposed to do. That is different for me. Some folks call it "blind" faith. I understand why, but I'm not blind. I clearly see Him.

When the disciples were in the boat and the storm came up, they were terrified. Then they woke up Jesus, and He rebuked the storm and everything settled, and He admonished them. "Why did you have so little faith?" I understand now.

Their faith was figuring out the how of getting through. Not the Who. The how was impossible, but the Who still had a plan that had to be accomplished. If they had focused on the One who had the plan that demanded fulfilling, would they have been overcome by the lack of how?

I'm not trying to wax poetic. I'm asking the Lord a real question.

Certain of what they do not see.
Sure of what they hope for.

Certain of Whom they do not see.
Sure of Him for Whom they hope.

Instead of drowning in all the things  I do not know...standing solid in the One I do.

Dear God, hone my faith until the only certainty it rests on is you.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

My Beautifully Blessed Weak

I've spent the entire week battling sinus congestion, earaches, and vertigo. Finally went to the doctor yesterday after giving OTC every possible chance to be a hero. Instead, Dr. W. gets the hero title with his shot of prednisone and 5 days of oral follow up. I do feel a lot better today. Sinuses are moving, and for the first time in 8 days, the room and all furniture therein isn't.

But it's been a hard weak.

I haven't been able to work on the chapter outline and conflicts for the writing seminar that is less than a month away. I didn't get the post done about my being a romantic, partly because I couldn't think clearly enough to write what I wanted to say and partly because sometimes I really doubt that I am.

The deck remains uncovered, and the new gate fixtures are lying on a shelf in the garage, and I cannot tell you how many times I have looked at what still needs to be done and simply wanted to cry.

I did work on the pages for a writer's contest, but I know they are not good enough to score well, and in the dizziness I could make the words stand together like they needed, and sometimes I wonder why I write and if it makes a difference at all because sometimes I think I am the only person who is this screwed up and unsure and trying to figure out the next step and wondering if I am really making use of this trip around the sun or not and if not, then how.

All of those thought fluttered through this week...during my weak.

And it is kind of scary telling y'all that because what if you realize I am just a human trying to be still and hear God because without HIm, I am...dirt. Not even a muddy mess. I mean the kind of desert sand that is useless for anything besides being called Death Valley dirt. Without Him, I am nothing.

And you know what gets me? This God who is faithful beyond words, who can create a universe out of nothing in a week, steps right into my weak and instead of asking why I am not stronger, starts speaking life and pouring His strength into me...using my weak not for my humiliation but His glory.

I can't even tell you how He does it, but He does, and suddenly instead of thinking what a horrible weak it is, I think it is a gift. How can anything that brings my heart to Him and brings Him to me be anything less than gift?

This morning I had to go pick up some stuff at the store and without plans wandered through the CDs  found one I have wanted for awhile. Not my typical genre, but this group is growing on me. This one particular song seems to run through my heart on continuous play, and how Only-God that He would remind me that my weak begins and ends with the One who "spoke and life began". And if He "can hold the stars in place, (He) can hold my heart the same...If (He) can calm the ranging seas, (He) can calm the storm in me."

I hope you have a beautifully blessed weak too.

Video: Skillet "Stars" from their "Unleashed" Album

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Building the Building Supply Store

I made an early morning trip to Lowes to get some fill dirt for a dippy area by my driveway, and while there, I wandered to the lumber section to check on some specific things I need for a project. As I walked down one of the aisles, there was a man getting 2x4x16s by himself.

"Want some help?" I asked, my leather work gloves in my hand.

He stared at me, and I knew what he was thinking: Girl.

"Be honest," I pushed, putting my hands on my hips so he could clearly see the leather work gloves in my hand.

"That would be nice," he finally said.

I nodded, put on the gloves, moved a cart, and reached up high where the boards were.

"How many are we getting?" I asked as we put another long board on his pile.

"Forty. That is 16."

"Are you framing a house?" I asked as we moved another board to the growing pile.

"Building a wedding chapel."

We chatted and moved boards and counted to make sure and counted again because two equal piles should not make an odd number and then moved some more boards. When we were finished, he thanked me, and I wished him blessings and a good day. He headed toward the front of the store, and I headed toward the boards I needed to check out...smiling...because God allowed me to be part of something amazing. A wedding chapel. Kind of like the delivery ward for life adventures with your best friend. Should be anyway.

Right there in Lowes. Building the church by helping out...and getting to be part of building a helping out.

I'm still smiling.

Then I headed over to Home Depot to get some pavers but headed to the building supplies to pick up some brackets I needed for my project. Wasn't part of my plan, but since I was already there...And I ran into Charles, who is one of my favorite people there. He asked what I was doing today, and I told him I was making low places high so I could get some landscaping done. I asked what he is doing, and he told me about his life and how he is helping his family and working hard to take care of folks and preparing for the next thing so he can take better care of his father who is in his 70s. Then he asked about the kids, which led to our talking about my daughter going into film production because she wants people to see God and Truth especially when Truth is hard and God is...not what you thought. And it happened.

The assembling of the saints.

Right there in the main aisle of the building section. Building each other up in our faith.

Encouraging each other to stay staunch in getting real with God because only when we realize how much we really need Him to change us is the door open for Him to change us for real.

Only in being real do we really find Him and not just a religion.

And we stood there, talking about the importance of sitting with God, confessing our desperation for Him, hearing His heart for us. Admitting the truth that He does not need us, but we crazy need Him.

And there He was. Right in the middle of our impromptu gathering in His name. Oh, my goodness, it was good.

When another customer needed help, Charles went his way, and I got my pavers and came home, but the richness of the morning...of His creative building of His people...still permeates my thinking.


God building the tangible and intangible church...right there in the big aisles of the building supply stores.

Oh, yeah, it was very good.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Are You a Romantic...No...

The question came out of the blue.

"Are you a romantic?"

Lady I was chatting with while waiting for an appointment. Watching TV, we started up a conversation about what we watch regularly, movies we've seen, the ones we liked. She is in her early 30s and "although I got divorced a few years ago, I'm still a romantic." I smiled. Then she slammed me with the innocent question of whether I am or not.

Thankfully, my name was called before I had time to answer. I simple smiled, told her I enjoyed talking to her (which I did), and wished her a lovely day.

But the question has stuck with me.

If I had answered, though, I would have said no, I am not a romantic. I would have confessed that I no longer believe in knights in shining armor that come riding in to save the damsel in distress. I no longer believe in that magic wand "fairy tale ending" where people live "happily ever after". In fact, I hear that kind of stuff, and I am generally repulsed. In fact, I despise the lie our culture feeds our girls and boys and men and women concerning relationships and romance. I find it offensive in every way.

I abhor the idea that a woman has to be in distress for a man to find her alluring. I hate the suggestion that my daughter needs a man to help her get through life because she is too emotionally weak to handle life on her own. I despise the idea that women are just waiting around for some strong man to come find them in their needy state.

I loathe the idea that men can never need to lean on someone else, can never need to be found, cannot be a normal human being. I hate the unrealistic expectations placed on men to be superman who takes care of everyone else because they are never affected by what rocks everyone else' world, and then we criticize them for not knowing how to be vulnerable and intimate.

The garbage that society tries to pawn off as "romance" is so offensive and so destructive.

First of all, it tells girls they have to be weak to be loved and they need someone to save them because heaven forbid we embrace the idea that God made girls and women strong enough to save others.

Second, it tells men women have to be weaker for men to be real men. What does that do to a man's image of a strong woman? It tells men that weak women, damsels in distress, those needing to be saved are real women. That is how a woman should be, and if a woman is strong, independent, and self-sufficient? Well, society has a word for women like that, doesn't it?

Third, it sets up false expectations in marriage. Men cannot hold up under the weight of that, and if they try, the world will collapse. No where in the Bible does it say God made man to carry the world on his shoulders. No. It says, "God saw man and said it is not good for man to be alone, so He made someone to walk with him." Women don't know how to walk with their husbands because if their husband is a mere mortal, the women think he is a failure, and men don't know how to let their women walk with them because they are trying desperately not to be a failure.

And, let's be real. This kind of romance is seductive. If a young man asked me how to get a girl to sleep with him, or if a man asked me how to get a woman in bed with him, I would tell him to play romantic music, take her to see a romantic movie, fill her mind with ideas that he is the one to take care of her, throw in some alcohol because we all know wine is a key component to "romance", tell her all those things the songs say and the movie says, and be willing to take some time. Guaranteed recipe for getting laid. And if we are really real, a lot of men would admit they have used that recipe, and a lot of women would admit it worked.

So am I romantic? No. I am not a romantic...and yes, I am. In fact, I am a hopeless romantic. Come back tomorrow, and I'll tell you more.

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Sound of Inaudible Heart Beats

I have drums. I have dejembes, bongos, congas. I even have a walking drum. I bought them for WonderBoy's birthday last year, and he never got into them. I was going to sell them but felt a bit of a hesitation, so I prayed, and out of nowhere, a friend of mine called and asked, "By any chance do you play the drums?"

Well, I think "play" is a monstrous stretch, but I do beat on them.

She said she was praying for me that morning and felt like the Lord told her to call me and tell me when I play the drums, I play people's hearts, and in my "playing" the drums, I connect people's hearts to His, I intertwine the beating of their hearts through the beating of the drums.

I kept the drums.

For the last three days I am again left mostly horizontal due to vertigo. Tonight I asked the Lord what I am to do with the silence, and just a quiet thought floated through, "Pull the small dejembe onto the bed with you and play."

So, I tried to do that. Except I couldn't hear the rhythm.

Usually, I can lay my hand on the drum and feel something. Not tonight. When I told the Lord that I needed help because I heard nothing, I heard this beat so quiet it was almost though it had given up hope to be heard. And I couldn't figure out how to play it.

I could not get such a silent sound from the drum. So I prayed again and asked how I was to play this sound, and suddenly I knew.

I took my fist and hit the drum. Right in the middle of the head. I hit again. As hard as I could. I beat the drum as hard as I could right in the middle to make the loudest sound I could...

...because when a heart begins to become inaudible....

...the desperation to be heard screams.

Like someone pounding on the walls in which they are trapped screaming, "FIND ME! FIND ME! FIND ME!" That is the sound of a heartbeat fading into nothing.

Tonight I pounded on my dejembe, and it yelled, "FIND ME! FIND ME! FIND ME!"

I didn't even care if I broke the head because sometimes that is what it takes for people to be break something. A law. A more. A normal routine. A conversation. It is like a scream in the silence of life that says something isn't okay.

Tonight I beat on that drum until my hand hurt, until it hurt too much to continue, and then I held onto it wondering how many inaudible heartbeats are ceasing because it hurts too much to continue.

And I wonder in their screaming, "Find me!", how many of them I can many God can find through me...if I just stop trying to make a rhythm of my own...and ask Him to help me hear their rhythm...especially when it is faint...and their screaming is silent to my ears...but not His.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Things that Don't Matter...And the Things That Do

Friday I went to see my stepdad. He has been in a nursing facility since last December when he had a stroke and lost the ability to care for himself at home. This is actually the fifth facility he has been in, and although it is nice and has a great staff, it is not his favorite. In fact, I really don't know much about the facility he prefers because his wanting to be there really had nothing to do with the facility.

"There was a pastor who came by every week and talked to me. He didn't talk about the Bible or anything. He just talked, like you and I talk, like friends. It was only once a week, but he came every week. I miss that."

When I asked if he knew what church he was from, he said, "No. It doesn't matter. I just enjoyed the fact he came and talked."

There it is. Plain as day.

The things that don't matter....
and the things that do.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Real Honesty

Yesterday I wrote a blog about finding peace and joy in God. I wrote about how a rough day doesn't drive me to be more popular but leads me right to Him, where everything I really need is found in abundance.

Honestly, that was the point of the blog.

I almost didn't write it. After the confusion about my blog on grief, I had some concerns. I received some nice responses about the grief blog sending me hugs, condolences, prayers. People told me how sorry they are that we are so sad. I really, honestly, thought I wrote that blog in such a way as to say, "This is how we handled (past tense) the grief, and I'm sharing this because I know a lot of people who are grieving right now and hope to offer some encouragement and comfort that we know exists because we experience it."

Honestly, that was it.

Then I wrote about the day yesterday with the intent of saying even on bad days God is still the answer, and we look for easy answers, like the number of fans or likes or whatever affirms a writer, but the easiest answer is to go to God because He is always there, and nothing--NOTHING--is as precious and knowing God hears you and cares intimately about you.

Really, that is all I wanted to convey.

Today  I received a few, "I'm so sorry your life is so hard. I'm sorry you are so lonely. I'm sorry things are so bad." What? When did I ever say my life is hard or that I am lonely or that things are so bad? It was one day. ONE DAY! Are you really honestly telling me you don't have a rough day now and then?

I was praying about this earlier because I try really hard to be gracious and not hurt feelings. I would never intentionally hurt someone's feelings, but things that suggest we are stuck in grief or wallowing in misery or drowning in lonely is so much the antithesis of the truth and so totally against everything that undaunted reality stands for to me.

Undaunted Reality means you look at the circumstances, and you know God is bigger, and you stand in the bigness of God.
Undaunted Reality looks at the lies you have allowed to be your world and then you look at the truth God says is your world, and you choose the truth.
Undaunted Reality means you do not believe that you are less  but you believe God is more.

I do not wallow. I spend time in certain places because it takes time to work through certain things, but I face my giants head on with the intent of stepping over a dead body because I've got better things to do that look at a rotting corpse.

I do not dwell in loneliness. I don't have a huge social life, but I am not a big social life person, so if I am hiding in busy social activities, I'm doing just that...hiding.

I am not unhappy. Ask anyone who knows me. I have a loud laugh. We'll call it "boisterous", and you can hear it multiple times a day, and it is sincere.

I am not discouraged or in despair. On the contrary, I am very excited about the stuff I am writing that no one is reading yet. I'm excited about the work I am doing in my backyard. I'm excited about going to see my favorite band in concert this fall.

I have also become very picky in how I spend my time. For a long time I felt like I was drowning, and honestly, I was afraid of drowning. I have seen way too many women who lose husbands to death or divorce who go into a dark hole and camp there. I was not going to be that kind of woman, so I did a lot of stuff to keep me busy, make me get out of the house, make me talk to people, maybe even find stuff I enjoy again. Now, I've let a lot of that go because it was useful for the purpose of something to keep me moving, but it isn't long term. I do not spend my time on stuff I don't enjoy just so I have something to do. I'd rather be home with a book because I'm not drowning, and I'm not afraid of drowning. Besides, David Baldacci is good brain candy.

I know there are people who are in dark places. Grief is hard. Trying to find yourself in ways that feed your ego but not your soul only leads to a bigger mess. I know this, so I write about this because while I am far from perfect, we've come through grief. We are coming through grief beautifully. My kids were 10 and 13 when their dad died. As much as it may shock some folks, for them to still miss their dad is very normal, and honestly, every time there is a major life milestone, they will grieve him. It is the way we are emotionally wired, and it is beautiful and wonderful because that is how God made us.

I write about those things because when we went through it, no one knew how to walk through it with us. People who love us deeply inflicted some significant pain, not because they meant to. They would never intentionally hurt us, but they didn't know what to do or say. They didn't understand the process. No one talks about it.
No one talks about divorce and how hard it is to stay in church when your marriage is coming apart and your husband or wife walks out. No one talks about the rage or the confusion or the insane pain of watching your world crumble. No one dare say that they have days when they don't give a f---- if anyone prays for them or not because on that day the pain in them or in their kids is so high and so overwhelming it feels like God does not give an f--- and has walked out. No  one talks about the undaunted reality of pain, grief, loss, hope, rebuilding, finding courage to face your worst nightmare because none of those things are allowed in a church culture where you better by golly be "blessed", "highly favored", or "so very thankful" or you are looked at like you are failing as a church attender.

Well, you know what? I've lived those things. I've said all the four letter words. In fact, I've screamed them at God on more than one occasion, and I am not afraid of reality. I am not afraid of the truth. I am not afraid of the church taboo topics. And you want to know something really, really important? God is not afraid of them either.

And there are people lost in that world I just described who need someone to find them because they don't know how to find their way out, and by heavens, I will write as raw and real and ugly as necessary to find them and give them hope that there is something beyond the nightmare where they are.

If I may be so bold, if all you see is loneliness, grief, and a hard life when you read my writings, I'm guessing you are one of those people who are lost in this world. I pray you stay here. I ask you to pray for me that I would have words for God to use show you the road out. I'm not judging you. I've been there. I have prayed for you to be here, and I am praying that everything you need to walk from the void into life more abundantly is laid out in these posts. I am praying for you to find hope, life, and anticipation here. I am praying you find wonder again. I am praying you find...a reality of God you may have never known, and I am praying you find faith in Him that is...undaunted.

Beautiful Desperation

So, it wasn't really a freight train that hit me today. Maybe more like a muscle car with a flat grill that I got stuck on so when it came to a screeching halt, I flew forward and slammed on the cement for a nice fallout landing. Yeah. It really was that bad.

Jury is still out on the quality of life issue with my daughter's dog, but euthanasia is very much on the table. I'm praying God just lets the little guy go to sleep and not wake up in this realm.

We will hopefully know next week why my 4-pound poodle can't close her mouth. If the growth is benign, surgery might be an option. If it is cancerous, probably not so much.

After MUCH prayer, and I mean M.U.C.H. prayer, I have opted to not amend the contract that the buyers let go inactive on the house we lived in before this one. Instead, I am terminating the contract and praying about what to do with a house I really wanted to be done with both mentally and emotionally.

Add significant conflict with my favorite son this morning that ended with my proclamation, "You are grounded."

Plus I told one of the members of the board of the sheriff's office group of which I am a member that I have no desire to do mundane date entry as my only social outlet, and I probably did it with a bit less grace than it could have used.

And you know what? I am feeling a bit overwhelmed emotionally. I am feeling a I want to feel better about being me. I want to feel that I am getting something right because when I look at the decisions facing the dogs and the emotional impact on the buyers of the house and the energy of being a single mom and feeling like I am either getting it wrong or letting someone down...Yeah, I need to feel like somewhere I am getting something right.

So you know what I almost did? I almost looked at my Facebook and Blogger statistics. I almost looked to see how many people visited my sight yesterday, how many likes I have, how many times something was shared.

You know what I really wanted to see. I wanted to see how many people believe I make a difference, how many find my words and wisdom valuable enough to read and visit. I wanted to see numbers that tell me I am acceptable and important.

Really. That's it. Shallow, I know, but true. It is easy to use numbers as a gauge, you know?

How many Instagram likes? How many "reactions" on Facebook? How many subscribers? Are my numbers going up or down?  Anyone knew like my page? Have I reached that magical milestone yet?

Here is the thing about numbers though. Large numbers of Nazis still doesn't make Nazi-ism right. Large numbers of slave owners still doesn't make it right. Large numbers of people who subscribe to porn channels doesn't make porn important, valuable, or purposeful. Numbers do not convey value.

Instead of looking at the numbers, I've opted to simply look for God.

Have you ever noticed God is like the anti-feel good? Sounds crazy but true.
Other people try to make me feel good because they love me.
God  says, "It's been a hard day, and it is okay just to lie down, hold onto me, and let the emotions work through." He lets me be where I am because He loves me.
He doesn't give me a slew of fans so I know I am making a difference.
Instead He gives me His time because He makes the difference.
He doesn't promise me fame to tell me I'm valuable.
He calls me to be still just the two of us because I'm valuable.

And right now, I don't have the energy to feel better so someone else can feel better, but with God, I don't have to. A few years ago, He told me something that was so profound to me that I put it on my wall in huge letters:
Jerri, you have the right to need me desperately.

Isn't that where we really feel better? Needing Him desperately and finding Him there? Don't we feel better knowing He is faithful? Don't we feel better when He gives us those incredibly intimate gifts that no one else knows about? Don't we feel better when no one else can possibly help, and we say, 'Only you, God,' and He says, 'I'm right here'?

Is there anything that makes us feel more loved, more valued, more important than needing God desperately...and Him answering in a way that is so personal that it is unmistakably Him finding us in our desperation?

Crazy how God makes even something as miserable and uncomfortable as desperation into something beautiful.