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.

Sunday, June 4, 2017


November 1, 2013, I was heading east down a major highway near us. As I approached an intersection, a teenage boy heading west made an unprotected turn in front of me, and despite evasive actions, my Toyota king cab Tundra slammed into the passenger side of his car totaling both vehicles. By God's kind mercy, other than being sore a few days, we were both fine.

Except, I am not.

Every time I approach that intersection and a car is heading the opposite direction in the turn lane, my stomach gets tight, and my knuckles get a bit whiter on the steering wheel. It isn't just that intersection. It is any intersection where I find myself in the same situation. Not every single time, but sometimes, and honestly, I can't tell you why the difference. Just...sometimes...ugh...and though nothing ever happened.

Maybe you have those kinds of things in your life. Maybe you have those things, but they aren't places. Maybe it is a situation, thing, or something more insidious. A date on the calendar.

One of those dates for me is June 2. June 2 is...was...not sure how the tense wedding anniversary, and for a few years after I became single, that was a hard day, but the last two or three years, it has mostly come and gone without any kind of effect at all. This year, though, I was unsure.

The spring has been hard. Both of my kids are in college now, and I spent the spring on the couch with bronchitis and pneumonia, so the empty house was nearly unbearable with its silence, but more than the empty house, I felt the weight of what feels like an empty life.

This isn't where I expected to find myself six years after Rob died. I have had five simple goals for what "life" would look like. You know, that place when you know you are living again, and not just treading water or breathing involuntarily. Mine are simple:

1. I want my kids seeking after God. (That is about being a good mom for me.)
2. I want to make a difference in people's lives. I want people's lives to be better because I'm part of them (too big to expound upon here).
3. I want my writing to make a difference, and I hoped to be published.
4. I wanted my house filled with people because they love being here and love the atmosphere and know they are welcome and wanted.
5. I want a best friend to spend my life with.

To be horribly honest, I feel I have made no personal headway. I feel like on a personal level I am still sitting in the dust and rubble that I found myself in six years ago. I am not in the same emotional pain by any means, but I don't feel like there has been any building or change, just...making sure the kids are okay, and now that they are, the absence of the other four things screams loudly, and as the kids prepare to move out and move on, the empty is getting even emptier, and that...that kind of void will suck the air right out of you.

It isn't like I have done nothing the last six years. I learned to shoot, got my LTC, became an NRA instructor, volunteered at a women's shelter, developed classes to equip them in rebuilding life, became a pastor, became a certified emergency responder, learned to kayak, learned archery, found out I hate scuba diving but love to snorkel. I mean, it isn't like I have just hidden in my bed and done nothing, so how is it I look around at my personal life that was carpet bombed and see...nothing?

And in the midst of all this, here comes June 2 to put a date to the empty and magnify the void, and I never expected to be alone this many years later, and frankly, lonely stinks.

But there it is. Right up ahead. June 2. That intersection where everything got totaled, and I don't know if I am going to cruise through without a problem or crash and burn.

That is exactly where I was a week ago. Not sure whether Friday was something to dread or not. Not sure about this whole rebuilding thing. Infinitely tired of empty. Hopelessly aware only God can fill real empty, and painfully aware that He really hadn't and not knowing why.

I slid into Thursday morning with a $500 brake job, brand new orthodontist for WonderBoy, congestion from finally getting the acre of yard mowed the first time this year, and the awareness that a lot of people expect me to be above this painful numb that comes when your soul falls asleep.

Then my friend Marza called, and she asked I was, and in a moment of crazy, I told her the truth. "I don't know." And I poured everything out on her about the empty and the waiting and the no end in sight, and she said, "You're right. For you, nothing has changed. What you want isn't here. I see what you mean about still standing and seeing only the dust of what was. You're right. But," and she got quiet so I had to listen closely, "you haven't done nothing. You have poured yourself out into your kids. You have sacrificed the dreams for you so they could dream, and look at them. You have poured yourself into them, and they are amazing."

Yes. They are.

And no, God hasn't given me the obvious desires of my heart, but He has given me the greatest one.

I want to be an amazing mom. I have always wanted to raise my kids to fly, to be courageous, to be willing to move beyond where they are. I have always wanted to instill faith into them that is unmovable, and I wanted them to know they were made for a purpose and whatever God called them to was great things because they were God things. And when grief slammed us like an avalanche, and we were buried in pain and anger, I wanted to see the kids laugh again, be themselves again. I wanted to be the person they knew was here for them, and I wanted our home to be the place they knew they were safe, and I wanted them to know this is the place where you can be real in all its glory and gore...and still  be unwaiveringly loved. I see all those things in them. Marza is right. I haven't been doing nothing.

And that helped.

I hadn't failed to rebuild. I had just focused on rebuilding for someone else first, and there is a strange peace in that. It doesn't feel as hopeless. It's like looking at a devastated area after a tornado and realizing this block is still empty because other key blocks were rebuilt first, not because nothing will ever be here. I needed the perspective adjustment.

While my perspective was getting adjusted, my weekend was getting totally reordered.

I had planned to have lunch with a friend on Friday, and my brother was coming over on Saturday before we went to church. Then we found out one of WonderGirl's best friends was accepted to her college of choice a few states away, and this was the only weekend both of them knew they were free to see each other, so could she spend the night? So we wiggled it in so her parents and I could meet halfway for the drop off, and I would take the girls home before I headed to lunch, and we would take Best Friend home after church Saturday night. Then I asked a friend if he was busy Friday night because I thought maybe getting out of the house with someone would be good, and honestly, I figured he was busy. He is sincerely usually very busy, but just so happens, nope, he was free. Suddenly the weekend was full, and it felt a bit packed, but it also felt like a good distraction from the soul numb I've been enduring.

But nothing ever quite goes according to plans. Have you noticed that?

Best Friend's parents couldn't meet due to an unexpected situation with another child. Could I pick up Best Friend. Um...yes, but, it is a snatch and grab. No chatting.

And...Best Friend has an unexpected required meeting. Can I drop her off early? Uh...okay....if everything goes perfectly right, this should still work. But does anything go perfectly right?


Except when it does.

So we were supposed to pick up Best Friend at 10. At 10 we were sitting in an unmoving traffic jam thirty minutes from her house. Now, here is why this was a big deal.
1. Two full days of friend time has already been cut to one.
2. Best friend lives an hour from us, so I have to drive back to our house, drop the girls off, and drive to lunch with my friend an hour from us...where I am supposed to be at 12. Do we see a time issue here?
3. The lunch I am supposed to go to at 12 will take me right through this traffic jam again.

Now, that wasn't all. I had to be finished with my lunch by 1 so I could go to the grocery store to get the stuff for dessert for church Saturday night and take it home so I could then go to dinner--yep, an hour away--with my other friend at 7.

As I watched my digital clock laugh at my plans, I started to think about what I could cancel. I called my lunch friend. She understood. She would be there when I got there. Okay, then we'll see from there.

Well, we finally picked up Best Friend at 10:30, and I dropped the girls off, endured the traffic again, and sat down for lunch at 12:45. We talked for 2 1/2 hours, and I got back into my truck at 3:30. I looked at the clock...and the black rain clouds...oh, yeah, did I mention we were under a flood warning?...and called my dinner friend and asked if I could just go to his house instead of going back home and never making it to dinner because of Friday rush hour traffic. Yep. He would be there in about two hours. He'd see me then.

Instead of pulling up to his house a half hour later, I pulled up two hours later. He arrived an hour after me.

The next day the timing continued to fail as we got out a bit late to take Best Friend home and then chatted with her mom, had to pick up the stuff for dessert, ran out of eggs and had to borrow them from a neighbor, and spent the day on my feet doing stuff instead of sitting around talking to my brother. By the time I got to church, I felt so tired...and so perfectly blessed...and so perfectly...full.

See, because I got to lunch late, we missed the lunch crowd and could talk as long as we wanted, and oh my lands, that was good. We talked about life and change and the hard place of in between, and I poured out my desires and the empty and the hope that has begun to feel so hopeless, and my friend who is old enough to be my mother listened and understood and told me I'm beautiful, like beautiful in a way she has never seen me be, and she is convinced I am the youngest she's ever seen me, and I'm not to worry. I can put some stuff down because she'll pray for it for awhile. Just rest.

And can I just tell you how good it feels not to have to be anything but honest and tired when you are honestly tired?

Because our lunch ran late and the rain came hard, I ended up at dinner friend's early, and instead of meeting at the mall to walk around and eat at the food court, I had an hour with my friend's son and his girlfriend, and I love them. We talked and laughed in our warped sense of humor. When my friend finally got there, the three of us were lolled out on the couch and recliners, covered with blankets, watching Pirates of the Caribbean. I'm telling you, sometimes full looks a lot like hanging out with people you love doing nothing.

Then all of us went to dinner together and ate fried cheese and French fries and dessert, which doesn't sound like much, except it is exactly what I wanted but wouldn't have been what we got at the mall.

We went back to his house and "the kids" went on a date, and we stayed home and talked. I told him about my funk and the empty and wanting a relationship, and he talked about his life changes and his questions and his understanding wanting a relationship with a best friend. It's a strange thing. The comfort of lying on someone's couch with bare feet poking out from under a blanket pulled up to your chin because he likes it a lot colder than you do, baring you heart and hidden dreams that so many dismiss because you're a Christian and faith should make you happy where you are, how your life is, because God's timing and will is best and who are you to question--only he gets it...and he thinks they are reasonable and good...and possible.

If it hadn't been for Best Friend at home, I would have camped on his couch for the night and avoided driving more in the rain because I'm welcome to do that. The couch is always available, and it is a comfortable couch, but instead, I hugged them by, slid into my truck, and promised to text when I got home, which I did at 1:30 am.

As I lay in the dark letting the day slip into slumber, I felt the smile...all the way to my heart. Crazy how a schedule gone wrong can fill up so much empty.

The next morning we took Best Friend home and arrived back to the house with dessert stuff. We had a late lunch, and instead of sitting and talking in the living room, my brother and I filled the kitchen and talked while I cooked and he taste tested. When he left a few hours later, the cookies and cobblers were finished, and he and I had caught up on life and were planning the next visit.

Then off the kids and I went to church that feels more and more like family, and we enjoyed food and people and were soul fed deep. After service, we were talking to one of the men there, and he said, "I'm glad y'all are here." I had to give him a hug. He didn't know. He has no idea. Honestly, I don't think anyone does, and that is okay.

June 2nd isn't the same for me as it is most women who have buried their husbands. The other women I know associate their anniversaries with the day they married the love of their lives. They think of the friend who is no longer here and the live they miss. I associate my anniversary with a man who walked out on his family. I associate that day with not being valuable, not being wanted, not being perfect enough, not being...wanted "here".

I really, really did not want to feel that again this year, and I didn't.

Instead of feeling unbearably empty, I feel wondrously full.

No. I didn't have one of those love at first sight experiences, and I didn't get offered my dream job, and I didn't sign a book contract.


My house was a place of love where people know they are welcome.
My kitchen is a mess because I got to bake, which I love.
I was able to attend church with a good sermon and great people, but even more than that, my kids talked all the way home about the truth they can build their lives on.
Maybe I am making lives better, not because of what I do or write, but simply because of who I am in them.
There is something amazingly beautiful about sharing your dreams with someone who has known you nearly 20 years and that person saying, "Yeah, I see that in you. I believe in that dream for you, too."
There is power beyond explanation in the simple words, "I'm glad you are here."

And I just keep thinking about how wondrously beautiful the last two days have been and how much I have utterly enjoyed it all. Now, I am fully aware the emotional roller coaster could dip again because there is still a lot of empty, but right now, at this moment, even in the empty, I feel incredibly, gloriously full.

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