Hope, Keeping it Real

Never Too Late

I have not been able to prioritize writing over the last few months. Oh, I have had a lot on my mind and a lot to say, but this was never really meant to be a personal journal type of blog that only contained my recent season and current experience in the first place. So I did not write, and if I am honest, probably mostly because this was not how I intended to utilize this platform, but apparently God has a better idea of what is going on and needs to happen. 

Honestly, I kept hearing God telling me that He never wastes a hurt and that someone else may hear a piece of the story that will unlock a prison, release a chain or give them hope anyway. I ignored it, and the brutally honest truth is that I was having a hard time seeing the joy in the middle of this hellish experience. It’s in there, joy has always been there because He is there and here and everywhere; I just didn’t know how to find that piece for a bit. 

And then…..

Backstory and a quick one: My mother has finally come to terms with the fact that we are not going to win this battle and agreed to start hospice care. All of that was not in a pretty little bow, but we got there. It officially started a few days ago, and I have to tell you that I feel like the cavalry has arrived. It has, I tell you. The letdown of the adrenaline and pure grit that I have been operating on for the last several months is overwhelming in the best kind of way. Just a few days into this, and not all the moving pieces in place and I feel like a ton of bricks just got dropped on me emotionally, but the physical weight has also been left. It is odd and beautiful. It is sad and joyous. It is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Just another both/and scenario. 

Jesus told us this in so many ways, and it hit me hard in the last 24 hours that He has and is still with and for me. Just as He is with and for you through any and every.little.thing. Seriously, how do we become so unaware of that? The scripture puts it right out there plain as day. 

John 13:7-You don’t understand now what I am doing, but later you will understand.

Yesterday, I heard my mom talking to an old friend that practices a different religion than I do. They were talking about the rapture. For me, that means ‘second coming’ and so when the friend told my mom that they did not believe that was true and that it really wasn’t in the Bible anyway I about lost my mind. I heard mom say that it was in the Bible, it was in Revelations. (Super proud and wonderful moment there.) The friend says, “We think that the book of Revelations is mostly symbolic.” Okay, well duh. The friend says, “Jesus did not say it anyway.” My heart broke for this friend and it broke my heart even worse knowing that my mom may be tempted to believe that. The truth is, that Jesus tells us throughout the Bible that He is coming again, and that if we have given our lives to Him as our Lord and Savior we will see Him face to face. There was further conversation between the two about heaven, hell and purgatory and I was annoyed, somewhat triggered, and told my mom after they hung up that it was really cool that she knew what Jesus said through Revelations and that it was, in fact, throughout the Bible that He was and is going to return. I left it at that. 

At 2:30 this morning, it hit me. I was thinking, planning, not sleeping and figuring out how to utilize the team that God has placed around me to support me and our family during this time, and it hit me that my mom was not feeling at peace about things as to where she will graduate when this time is over with. How heartbreaking. Maybe somewhat normal to not be sure, but still heartbreaking.

 I know that she was saved when she was 7 or 8 years old. I have written proof of that in my possession and I know that we don’t earn that salvation and I truly don’t believe you can lose that. Once you are a YES girl, you are a Jesus girl. Period. 

And I was prompted again to help bring her peace, and when I caught on to what He was asking me and how He was reminding me that despite the trouble, He has overcome. Despite the short season of suffering and pain, there is a pain-free, unfathomable perfect home in Heaven waiting. I must have asked Him the question, “What do you want me to do here?” And with a big, fat heavenly, straight from God answer He told me. Help bring her peace. Honor her, and help her to understand. I think I know what He wants me to do, and He has provided me the words and wisdom; the people, and the opportunity to provide her assurance and peace that she will be meeting Jesus face-to-face and in her heart of hearts she knows the truth, and the truth will set her free. She has already asked so many things that would go against what the religion she follows is absolutely against and for me, there is no more real picture than knowing Jesus and the truth deep, deep in her heart. That brings me peace!

In a step of obedience, to be an instrument in the peace process, I made the phone call to a dear friend and brother. Before I even uttered the words that I was about to ask him, he said yes. I am not even kidding. As soon as I am able to have a conversation with her about how I sense that she is unsettled about what will happen when she graduates, where she is going and whether she has truly been saved or not I will. And then, I can make that phone call and that friend will come. He will stand in the gap, answer the questions, and help me to bring some peace and assurance that PRAISE GOD she will be seeing Jesus and she will be completely healed when that day comes. I am also at peace knowing we may not get that opportunity, but I am confident and at peace enough for her. She gets to meet Jesus soon.

All of this to tell us this: there is hope, there is a purpose to every painful circumstance and experience and there is a Jesus that is alive and well working on our behalf in the middle of absolutely everything who will continue to draw us back to Him again and again and again. We are called to be His hands and feet, serving others as He would do, and helping them know peace right up until the very end. While our family manages the balance of heartbreak and hope, I pray that you will find peace, make peace or choose to renew your relationship with His peace. It’s never too late to be used by God. 

And friends, there is so much more that I am realizing and experiencing about community, faith, heartache, hope and all the things in between. The unreal phone calls and conversations, the willingness of dear friends to pray with and for me; to laugh and snot cry; to mourn and celebrate; to listen to me swing from all in Jesus girl to all sorts of anxious and slightly inappropriate Jesus girl; has been an incredibly treasured gift. All unknown to me at various points, but never unknown to Him. 

Wishing you peace today and always and the courage to do the next right, hard, nearly impossible thing that He asks of you. 

Keeping it Real

When patience is tested

I got up at least 6 times throughout the night last night and my cranky was at a level 4, but not quite defcon level 5.

It’s been like this every night for almost a week now. I don’t know that I remember how to have a newborn in the house again. But that drive kicks in and we do what we do because that’s what love does.

To be clear, I am not always appreciative of the opportunity to be tested in my patience or my grace. In fact, while getting my mom patient dressed this morning I may or may not have told her that I would suffocate her if she didn’t start sleeping at night. She knew I was kidding, but for the real, I am whooped.

I cannot help but see how God sees me again and again, doing the same dumb things that cause trouble or pain or rattle my peace. He keeps loving me when I keep Him up all night, I am sure.

And the next morning He wakes me up to continue to live and love loudly knowing that before nightfall my patience will be tested and I will also have the chance to love bigger. Like making a fancy breakfast for the one that keeps me up all night, He loves big and loves when I am exhausting because He so loves me and you as well.

He loves still. He loves despite and He loves because love does.

So, I invite you to reflect and share about the times you are exhausted and your peace has been rattled. Do you choose to love bigger and louder? How do you change the trajectory of your day and perspective when you’re whooped? Can you see yourself and others through the eyes of grace?

Hope

Being Upheld and Holding Up

We made it! We saw the end of a difficult year and now we turn the page for the next chapter.

I have never been the “what’s my word of the year” person or been super big on sitting down and writing down a list of goals, but I do take the time to reflect, review and look forward to a fresh page. 

As I am reflecting, talking with God and thinking about what has happened and what has yet to happen, I hear Him telling me, “Take forward with you all the good, and the bad, because without one there isn’t the other.”

The recovering instant-gratification girl would really like to be able to button up the crazy 2020 chapter with a pretty little bow, but the living-in-the-moment girl knows that’s pretty much not remotely possible. 

I hear Him whisper, “I have upheld you. I have strengthened you” and I KNOW that to be true. So, when I think of being upheld and how I am holding up and how we are collectively holding up I can not only think of what I personally have faced in the last 12 months, but so many other people I know as well. Not one person I know has had a stellar year, but we have all had opportunity and reason to take some stellar lessons with us into the next one. 

How have I been strengthened? How have you been strengthened? Through trouble and hardship; mourning and loss; and division and drama. I think I am familiar with that territory. He has a great track record of holding me up, strengthening me through the stretching of faith muscles and trust muscles, and I have held up just fine. It was not painless, but it was an exercise in what to hold on to and what to let go of. 

My relationship with God is stronger. It’s being held up. My relationship with my siblings is stronger. Those relationships are being held up. My connection with my dad is stronger, and it was held up through the strain his children are experiencing facing a horrible set of circumstances with our mother-his ex wife. My relationship with my mom, the person that hurt me the most, loved me the worst, and did the very best she could do at the time is stronger. He is holding it up and I am being held through every challenging piece of the story while the book comes closer to the ending. 

My reflection is this: what do I want to carry with me, and what do I want to leave behind? I tell you, I don’t think I can leave one piece of it behind. Since He has a great way of using all things for His glory and our good, I don’t think we can just spit out the things and pieces that leave a bad taste in our mouths. Instead, we take it all forward. Without the bad, there cannot be the good. Without darkness, nobody can see the light. 

The situations, circumstances, changes and losses of this last year will always serve a bigger purpose if we let them. I will take forward the moments of hard; the times that isolation became too heavy; and the days that felt like they were years long because there was a limit placed on what we could do, where we could go and what we could do. The extra bonus complications that the pandemic brought also brought out creativity. I had to get creative many times over in how I was going to afford another special memory for my mom or with my mom. I did not always like it or see it as a great opportunity, and I bitched, moaned and complained. But being held up, helped up and held onto by my God meant that I would soon see the blessings even in the many bummers once again. I still saw 365 sunrises and sunsets. I still had love and loss and all in betweens. I had major milestone high moments and some really ugly low moments. I had a lot of BIG feelings and I didn’t hide from them. I had a lot of opinions and still managed to do what I could to keep my mouth shut in wisdom and grace. 

As a reminder for you and I, He will strengthen us. None of us truly can get through our lives without Him being the good God that He is. His strength to carry us out of, over, and through the things He knew were coming is all we have to get us through the hardest of days. 

When this period of history is written in the books, I hope that we can reflect on all the good in it. Many times before in our history, in our personal lives we have gone through dark things (addictions, divorces, child loss, death, etc.) and He has given us wisdom, peace, recovery and growth beyond our understanding. I am confident that He will continue to do the exact same thing with all of this and whatever comes next. 

So, thank you 2020 for all that you have taught us. Thank you Jesus for what you have upheld us through. Truly. We have all experienced more love for our neighbor; more creativity in difficult times; more compassion for those with less resources, less family or those that don’t even know that they belong to You as Your children; and we have all experienced the loss, rebuilding and value of community and basic human decency. 

Welcome 2021, we are stronger than whatever silliness you have to throw us, we are being upheld by the One true God and we are not just ready to hold up but to level up. 

Keeping it Real

Interruptions and Interventions

What an exhausting, trying and beautiful year 2020 has been. I have been reflecting on the troubles and trials so much and it is sometimes difficult to find the silver linings but they are definitely there. Sometimes you just have to look harder to find them!

I got to go to church service in person yesterday for what feels like the first time in forever. And, it was just what my weary soul needed. God knew! 

Yesterday started off in the normal pattern of a text from mom, a sudden burst of anxiety of “now what” and decisions and actions that are anything but normal. But for now, they are my normal. Phone calls and conversations about whether to continue treatments or not knowing that the treatments being received are the only real tangible things keeping a person alive. Decisions and actions to remove something from my overloaded plate that was both heartbreaking and at the same time gave me a huge sense of relief and peace. Both and. There’s always a “both and” it seems. 

As I walked through the doors of the church I felt peace. I felt home. I felt relief. I felt love. I felt anticipation not anxiety. I was greeted with familiar faces and friends and it felt nice to feel normal. God intervened in a way that I didn’t see coming. 

I worshipped my God and felt His presence. I listened to the message about interruptions, and I heard God speaking directly to me about messy people, messy situations and that being the whole point of the Christmas season. I listened to the story of the interruption, the splitting of time and how God uses the messiest people to do His greatest work. All things I have heard before, and all things I know. However, familiarity DOES set in after a while and without God, there would be no impact on my heart and life if I allowed the mundane and familiar to take hold. 

Love like Jesus. Love messy people. Love people when they are messy. Love when it is hard and more so when it is hard. Love the hardest people to love, because I am not always the easiest person to love. All interventional thoughts that came to mind as I felt Him speaking to me. 

Nothing about the circumstances I and my family find ourselves in are normal. This year has been a year of constant interruption, disruption and turning upside down. As we walk through the season of the end of life for my mom, He intervenes to remind me that even when I am so.freaking.tired and so.freaking.annoyed at having the same conversations about health, money, the care she is receiving, the demands and the complaints she has over every.little.thing;  I am to be a messenger of great joy for all people for all times. 

And so, this intervention and reminder of my own frailties and inadequacies; the times that I am more grumpy than grateful; the times that I whine more than I should and all of the times I am difficult to love all served to refuel my desperate need for God, my church family, my recovery and my relationship with Jesus. 

Without His interruption and intervention, I would be so lost. There’s no way that what we are walking through could ever be done without Him. 

I am grateful to walk through the season we are in, in the time we are in, and realize that ultimately I am loving as best I can, doing the best I can and that this is a gift to give my mother the best last days and months of her life that we possibly can. It is a gift to be able to help someone die well. Truly. We don’t know exactly when that decision will be made, and she will be ready to just let God take her without the use of medical treatments, but I know that she is getting closer to making that decision. We have had the conversations, and it is both painful and beautiful to have that conversation with a person that you have had a VERY complicated and difficult relationship with. It is difficult to tell someone that she does not have to hold on for her kids, that she gets to choose when she is ready to stop and that we WILL be okay. It is both horrible and wonderful. 

My encouragement today is to remember to look at the person that is difficult and draining and look past what they are saying and doing, to feel what they might be feeling and have compassion. Then ask God for his intervention and strength to continue to love that hurting, scared, angry person underneath as Jesus loves you. 

Hope, Keeping it Real

The If/Then Equation

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear them from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Our Father God is a relational, loving God. This scripture is found in the Bible after the first temple in Jerusalem has been completed and King Solomon threw a week-long party. That party led to a walk of shame.

Perhaps what He is saying is that He doesn’t want a fancy building or our constant efforts (works) to impress, serve, or get close to Him. He wants our hearts. He wants our trust. He wants to hear from His children. 

He wants us to not call ourselves Christ followers but to be Christ followers. And notice that this scripture points out the if/then equation. Notice that He lines it out very simply.

If we humble ourselves (admit our need for the Savior), seek Him (crave His face, guidance and goodness), and repent (stop doing, saying, thinking and believing the things that lead to our own walks of shame) and call to Him THEN He promises to hear us, forgive us and heal our land.

That’s a sure deal. A sure bet. A guaranteed promise. 

Throughout the Bible, He tells us the recipe for a healthy life-a healthy land is to believe and receive. When He speaks about healthy land He is asking us to get right with Him, with others and to share His goodness with the people that don’t know Him. We have the opportunity to do His work alongside Him. 

We make that far more complicated through our limited understanding and the things that we have experienced or witnessed in the name of Christianity. Even at that, if we repent (the 5-dollar Bible word for turning from our old compulsive behaviors and actions)  He is dancing and celebrating simply hearing our words. 

Every promise and prophecy in the Bible has been fulfilled in and through Jesus. His timing may not be the same as ours, but He does what He says He will do. Every time.

We get things so out of order sometimes. We think we have to get our act together or be better or do better to experience the relentless and reckless love of God. That’s religion.

Jesus calls us into relationship just as we are. In and through Him, we will experience healing. In and through Him we will experience the fulfillment of the if/then equation. Humility isn’t the same as weakness. Humility is surrender and right-sized thinking. 

Thoughts for the day: How have you already experienced the if/then equation with Jesus? What do you need to stop doing? What do you need to start doing?

Prayer: Father God-thank You that you that You understand our tendency to do the wrong thing. Thank You that You fulfill every promise You ever make. Forgive me for making that so complicated. Help me to let go of the chains of shame and begin to hold up my end of the deal. I humbly admit my need for You today and every day. Amen

Keeping it Real

Permission without Pretending

The other day I said something to my person, my best friend, and it seemed inappropriate and random at the time, but it has really stuck with me for a few days.

I said, “If I stay pissed off and pretend I am mad, then it keeps the feelings of insecurity and all of that away so I am choosing to stay mad about it.” 

She laughed at me and with me, and then said to me, “I get it. I am on your team, and I am not going anywhere. If that’s what you need to do for yourself, then okay.” 

I am in a bit of a headspace right now where I am fighting feelings of insecurity and wanting to kick myself in the ass for risking vulnerability and not sure I can trust my own judgement while waiting on some sort of change or judgement or course-correction to come down. 

There are so many hard things happening around us. Good Lord, this is turning out to be the absolute longest year of my life. While so many awesome things have happened and are still happening, I am literally emotionally exhausted. I think we all are for one reason or another. 

I am going through the list of comparison, disillusionment, what-if, over-thinking and still somehow choosing to manage to get up and show up. I so badly want to make the best of a shitty situation and somehow keep living. Everything is so freaking complicated at this point and it is wearing me down. 

I do want to stay mad. But I have a rule about that. I tell myself that I am allowed to feel what I feel, rational or not, for a day. Maybe two. We can get happy in the same pants we got grumpy in. 

But this time, I am feeling like I just want to stay there. I want to stay guarded, stay walled up, stay protected and not risk anything other than finding out who is with me in the middle of this and who isn’t. And then, I don’t actually care because I can function in lone-ranger mode if I need to. Well, I do care and I don’t want to actually be in lone-ranger mode but I tell myself I do so I can feel better for a minute. 

In a time where nothing and everything makes sense, and it just seems like one plot-twist after another, I don’t want the plot twists that they always have been. I would rather avoid that. The reality is, that risking a different outcome takes a different approach and a bigger trust and confidence that it will all work out the way it is meant to. 

I want it to be certain. I am exhausted from uncertainty. I am exhausted from being in the middle of plot twist after plot twist after plot twist.

I still give myself permission to choose how I want to or need to respond. I am still choosing to do what I need to do to survive and am hopeful that choosing to survive will be turned back into choosing to thrive.

Joy Junkie

Be well! Get honest and real with that one or two people that you are not afraid to risk vulnerability with and hold nothing back. If we can manage that today, then we are moving in the right direction. Maybe it doesn’t look or feel like the next right thing, but I am telling you that we have to continue to give ourselves permission to be right where we are whether that is gloriously undignified and irrational or not. Eventually, one day at a time, we can move from there to the next right thing. 

Where you are, what you are feeling and what you are thinking right now is okay. It doesn’t mean it’s true or accurate but give yourself permission to go through that story of what you are telling yourself and then talk about it. Talk about it when it makes no sense, it isn’t pretty or appropriate or polished.  

The people that aren’t going anywhere can help you unbullshitify the story. 

Hope, Keeping it Real, Struggle Bus

Rising Above Rejection

I have been wrestling with some ideas and thoughts for a little while about rejection and how to rise above it. In the middle of that process, I have begun to recognize how easy it is to become more about routine than relational. 

I personally realize that some of the things I have done or been doing are taking me further away from the intended destination than I even recognized. When and where things have become so routine that I am further away from my purpose and contentment, and damn it if there is not a sense of people pleasing in the middle of it all. 

But God, as I know and understand Him, has continued to show me about rising above rejection. Even so, how things that have served me so well are now becoming routine and not reaching me as deeply as they once did. Having been one that has compromised self-worth, dignity and self-care for the sake of others while sick and deep in codependency I hoped that I would not do the same things again. In a sense, I think I am. I think I could be compromising and rejecting parts of myself that there is absolutely nothing wrong with but are hidden out of sight because I thought it was what I had to do in order to belong, in order to do what was right, honorable, Godly and approved of. Approved of by who is the question. 

For me, I am recognizing how I have compromised by continuing to do what I have always done at the cost of losing myself again. Not in the same ways that I would and did before recovery and before Jesus, but compromising just the same. 

I am fairly confident that God as I know Him says I am fully known and fully loved. In fact, I know that is true. I think deeply, pray, read, research and review from different angles quite frequently. I have to ask myself, and people that I trust to tell me the truth, if I am in denial at all or just a little bit or not at all just to be sure. We all know how easy it is to rationalize. 

For hell’s sake it makes me so freaking mad when I see the patterns that I thought were long broken sneaking in. I hate how my past tendencies to hide and not talk about what I am really thinking or feeling sneaks in there. It really frustrates this recovering perfectionist knowing that I know better, and yet find myself doing it again. Still. 

Friends, here’s the thing. We get to decide. We get to choose. We get to turn away from those old patterns again and again and again. We get to deepen our relationship with God as we understand Him and don’t need to do the same things over and over again just because it is routine or safe or comfortable. Nothing big happens when we hold back. 

So, as I become increasingly aware of just how individualized and special that relationship between He and I is, I would encourage you to fight to rise above rejection. Do the healing work, do the new things, and be not afraid to rise above rejection experienced in the past and experienced by our own doing and understanding. 

Just because it is safe and comfortable, doesn’t mean it is right. Thank God I have people to remind me of that from time to time. I don’t grow when I get too comfortable. And in a time where God keeps whispering, “Move, loved one.” I am beginning to see more of what that means. Honestly, He keeps telling me in many ways, and I am moving. I am moving ever so slowly towards what He has been trying to get me see in all arenas of my life, not just the ones that I thought.

How are you capitalizing on the time you are in, the time that you have to work at rising above rejection? Are you setting boundaries and/or letting go of things that have served their purpose and time? Are you ready to move into a new time of rising above rejection after finding that you have been invited and reminded to stop rejecting your whole self? 

Hope, Keeping it Real

Operating in the And Also

There’s a term, a thing, in psychology called black and white thinking. It also could be referred to as splitting or polarized thinking. 

If you have done recovery work, are doing recovery work and have ever experienced trauma maybe you can understand this idea of black and white thinking. It’s a life stealer if you ask me. I used to operate there regularly, and have learned to operate in the “and also” over the years. 

The polarized thinking that steals pieces of our lives, relationships, opportunities and memories maybe sounds like: 

  • It is or it isn’t there is not in between.
  • He is the best thing that ever happened to me or he is the devil incarnate there is no in between.
  • You always. 
  • You never.
  • It always….
  • It never….

That thought pattern keeps us from seeing the world as it is: complex and full of different shades of every color in between black and white. Right? It holds us in a place of extremes, and nobody likes to live at nor thrives best at one extreme or the other. It’s difficult to have much of a life or quality of life at those extremes. 

I have got to be on guard against slipping into that type of thinking as a regular way of functioning, coping (read NOT COPING) or facing the real issue. I can say that operating in the and also is a much healthier, fruitful, wise and hopeful way to live and think. God carefully reminds me, from time to time, that I have slipped or that even in the smallest ways I can and do respond in a black and white way instead of an and also way. How about you? 

There’s the big-time, big deal examples of seeing a hard circumstance as just bad, just hard and just impossible. The flip side? There’s the opportunity to see it as an and also scenario. It is bad, and I am also learning new things about myself. It is hard, and also easier with great people around me to love and support me. It is impossible for me to see the way through this and also it is not impossible for Him. 

In my own life, there’s a silly example of me not listening to any music other than Christian music that was created from the year 2012 forward. No, I am not kidding. I stopped listening because I was so offended that George Strait and Eric Church performed on an awards show together one year and I was mortified. So, I stopped listening. I also probably had it in my head, more honestly, that because I had turned my life over to Jesus that I could not listen to that kind of music. Seriously. I know, ridiculous. As it turns out, I have discovered that all new country music is not bad and also I might actually enjoy some of it. I have not thrown my faith out the window by listening to it and nobody got hurt in the process. 

My point is, friends, that I think that whether you believe in God or not; no matter who you choose to worship, there is always an opportunity to take a quick check and see what kind of thinking we have going on inside our heads. If we are moving away from the life-sapping defense mechanism of black and white and towards more of the and also thinking while learning to operate more in that space, then we are better for it. 

Learning to operate in the and also, thinking in the and also, and speaking that into my own heart and mind has gained me a much more colorful, happy, joyful, authentic life. How about you? 

Hope, Keeping it Real

Makings of a Joy Junkie 2.0

When this whole thing started, I had written a cute little introduction about the who, what, where, why and how. That was like 9 months ago and I never posted it. I also did not get off my butt and do what God had asked me to do 9 months ago and I waited procrastinated. 

I re-read it and laughed. It was cute, it was real and it was honest. It also is not where I am right now. And that is perfectly okay. So here, we are with the 2.0 version as I actually thought about what I really want to convey. I still don’t fully know the why, but I do know the what behind it and so I am going with that because I have learned to be okay with that. Mostly. 

When I started my walk with Jesus, the real walk with Jesus, I was told that the best way to get out of my own head was to serve. As it turns out, the best way to get out of my own way is and will always be to serve. It brings me joy, it brings Him joy. That’s part of my why. 

Over the years, He had me doing things I NEVER would have chosen to do on my own. He had me serving in places I would have NEVER chosen to go. Truth is, He has been turning people upside down forever. That’s just who He is. 

Over the course of time, most of my addictions and/or compulsive behaviors have been replaced with more life-giving, healthy addictions and compulsions. The ones that are meant to help, not harm. In a sense, I am addicted to joy. His joy. That’s why I called it Joy Junkie. 

When I encounter Jesus it brings me joy EVERY SINGLE TIME. 

Long before I ever knew Jesus, I found a love for writing and sharing words through it. I was a journalist starting in high school, college and even beyond that for a few years. It was my first stop on the journey to my big dream of being an NFL broadcaster. Obviously He had different plans. 

I had the privilege of writing for our church’s daily devotional for a few years, and I have often wondered if that should be on a bigger scale. That was a whole lot of scary. But I finally decided that it is okay to try and it is okay to fail. So here we are. 

 I want to share good news for all people for all times through the gifts that I have been given. Simple as that. I also want to be inclusive of people that don’t have the same beliefs that I do. It’s okay that we don’t believe the same things. I respect our differences and maybe we can learn from each other in this. 

It is not complicated. What you need to know is this: I am real and raw. I may use language that some find offensive. I may say hard things that make you uncomfortable or make ME uncomfortable. I may share from a place of deep hurt or of radical healing. I promise to be as respectful and kind as I can be while sharing truth, humor and the occasional random subject matter. I may put into words what we all think but are not willing to say out loud. I may not put things into words that are better left between myself and God. I may or may not have a filter. 

I don’t yet fully know the why, but it is being revealed over time. Maybe you are asking why I chose to rewrite what I had already written. Well, the truth of the matter is that I recently read something written by someone that I don’t really know but that has inspired me and given me a little more courage than I had before. She wrote an entire post apologizing for not being where she was when she started, when she branded herself in a certain manner, and I realized that God was speaking to me in a million different ways through what she said and what she did. 

I don’t want to live with the gate closed, I want to live with the gate open. I don’t want to find myself apologizing for where I was, where I am and where He might take me next be that physically, spiritually or emotionally. I also don’t want to run thoughts through just the common filters of is this true, is this kind, is this helpful and all of that. I also want to do more filtering of: is this real? I am not necessarily talking about rational, I am talking about real. Like, the real me, all of me and unapologetically me. 

He uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things through His power and strength, and through our willingness to be used for His glory. That’s the real what. That’s part of my why.

Joy Junkie

Thanks for being part of the ride. My hope and prayer is that you are not staying where you are because you are afraid or unwilling to fail, fall and get back up again. We have all been there, maybe are there and will most likely be there again. 

 My prayer is that you feel hope, that you feel encouraged through raw and real, filtered and unfiltered, and everything in between. Even if not, my what is about being obedient and I am choosing to do that to the best of my ability.

Live loved today! If you like what you are reading, and care to share with others that might want to join in on the conversations, please feel free to share.

Hope

A Vision Check

There’s always an opportunity to find the blessing in the bummers. I say it a lot, I mean it a lot and I know it a lot but sometimes I have to repeat it over and over again until I believe it a lot. Even more than that, God has to keep reminding me a lot. 

I cannot say that I love this seemingly never-ending season we are all living in, but what I can say is that I love that the God I love and serve is reminding me again and again and still to keep digging, keep seeking and has continued to prove that He is rock steady in every struggle and is in this one, too. 

I wish we could stop talking about it. I wish we could stop living in it and I wish that it was just a temporary time of change. I hate that it is the new normal and it feels like there is nothing normal about it. And then, I see that it appears to be another time to recognize, remember and have our vision redirected. 

In a matter of hours today, He took me from a place of asking the what and why questions, to hearing Him say, “Seek and You shall find me.” to a message that almost brought me to my knees in gratitude. Well, actually it DID bring me to my knees.

Friends, we cannot grow tired of what He wants to teach us. It is not happening to us, but it is happening for us.

Joy Junkie

We have most likely seen the same story in our lives already. I know I have. The times when we were asking things like why does this person not love me like they said they would, why did you take that job away from me or what plan or purpose is there in this mess? Been there, done that, came out of that and have been restored from that. Right? Our hindsight vision is 20-20 and we can see clearly now the why and the what. 

I know we are weary. I know we are tired. I know we have more questions than answers. For some of us, we are questioning the validity of our own faith and allowing ourselves to be tempted to believe that our feelings are facts, that God has suddenly forgotten or forsaken us and maybe this season is full of way more challenges than just avoiding a virus. 

I know that our first draft stories about all of this are not likely to add up with what God has planned in the middle of this mess or any mess we have been brought through or what mess He will lead us through next. 

In our weakness and tendency to do or believe the wrong things, He is not done with writing the story. Maybe our vision is a little blurry, but I know that He makes blind people see. He made this blind person see once or twice or forty times before and He will do it again. 

There’s a picture of this miracle and truth in Mark 8. There’s so much power and so many lessons in the middle of this scripture. Read it and let it sink in. Don’t miss out on how relevant this miracle was then and how it is true today. 

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” (Mark 8:22-26 ESV)

On the days that we forget that we have felt His touch before, that our blindness was once restored and can be restored again; let’s remember that we have the tools for a vision check. We have people, we have the truth in His word and have first-hand knowledge of His power to restore us.

Our vision may be blurry, but His is not. He can see what we cannot see, He knows what we do not know and He has a plan and purpose for all the things in our lives. Check your vision, check in with your people, and watch Him clearly do His work in all of it.