Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Day 27: Love

I have just given over to the brain fog today. I am really struggling just to get through normal life, so today's post is a partial re-post from this blog post it's about 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 it is a passage that we discussed at small group today and one I've been thinking about a lot lately...


Love bravely and calmly endures trouble and misfortunes, bearing ill-treatment and offenses without loosing heart or plotting revenge. Love is not sharp, harsh or bitter but gentle, mild, pleasant, sympathetic and helpful.Love is not friends with injustice and unrighteousness but rather shares in the joy of the truth, free from all falsehood and deceit.Love covers with silence the errors of others the way a roof covers a home from the rain. Love believes the best about everyone, hopes for the best in every circumstance, trusting God in everything with joyful, confident expectation, without running away or giving up, but holding fast. Believing that love can not ever be lost or ruined and absolutely will not ever fail.


There's more over here about my thoughts behind the words in this. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day 26 - delay

I have started taking some medication for allergies and have been in such a fog, living for naptime, hoping that once this medicine kicks in it'll be worth it. So here I am, sitting here, waiting for water to boil so I can cook some pasta for dinner and I'm thinking I have nothing left to write.  

Then I remembered, one word, one name, a name I mentioned to my little sister as we shared our moment of "me too" talking on the phone earlier today. The name is Joseph.

We was a most beloved son, obvioiusly a beloved son of Jacob his father but also a beloved son of God, who gave this young man prophetic dreams of a glorious future. He saw, in his dreams, his father and mother and all of his brothers bowing down to him... 

Fast forward a little while and Joseph finds himself 
in a pit
sold as a slave
falsely accused
put into prison
forgotten

Yet God hadn't forgotten about Joseph
God's plan did not hit a delay.
God's purposes for Joseph's life were right on time. 

I have found during seasons of waiting that it is tempting to feel like God's blessings got stuck in traffic. Sometimes it is easier to think that maybe we were wrong to hope for that thing, you know that little hope or dream or idea God has put on our hearts, than to fight for hope in the moments when reality is staring us in the face. 

Suddenly Joseph is brought before the Pharoh to interpret the great ruler's dreams and he is subsequenly given the position of second in command in the most powerful empire in that part of the world. Joseph waited a lot longer than he ever thought he would but he also rose to even greater prominance that he must have ever thought he would too.

So yes, this season of waiting may be taking forever to come to an end, and yes maybe you are holding onto promises while you are in your own personal pit, and maybe the reallity of your situation is the complete and total opposite of where you thought you'd be by this point. 

But I am saying this to you and I'm really saying this to me: let hope arise. 

God has not forgotten you 
God has not hit the pause button on his plan for your life
Neither have you irrevocably screwed up God's pruposes for your life
The waiting may be long but the end is going to be something else:
Glorious
Beautiful
Greater than we dared to ask or think or even imagine. 

Genesis 49:22“Joseph is a fruitful bough,
a fruitful bough by a spring;
his branches run over the wall.
23The archers bitterly attacked him,
shot at him, and harassed him severely,
24yet his bow remained unmoved;
his arms were made agile
by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob
(from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25 by the God of your father who will help you,
by the Almighty who will bless you
with blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that crouches beneath...


Monday, October 27, 2014

Day 25 - ordinary

During this writing challenge I have really learned one thing:

every story matters

we echo each other in so many ways
sometimes it's easier to believe the lie
that someone else is writing this same story
better or more beautifully or with a deeper degree of honesty/vulnerability/authenticity/whatever
then to sit down at the keyboard and pound out another post.

each voice matters
each story reaches someone
uniquely
touches a place in our souls

this month I've read so many blogs but this has just reinforced this idea, that each writer is important. That our point of view is helpful, even if we are saying the same thing as someone else we are saying it from a different point of view or in a way that someone is going to hear in a unique way.


Samantha is young and single and wrote this post about being a writer that I just loved. (I loved this one too)
Liz  is married without kids she loves God and her writing is totally kick-ass.
The Hope Diaries is daring to share her story of healing after she had an affair
The Wounded Dove is writing about healing after her husband's affair
The Momma is sharing her story of mental illness
Tara is writing about her mother's mental illness

and there are so many others sharing their stories of God's faithfulness to them, or their dreams of writing, or just struggle and a chance to say me too.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Day 24 - when you don't feel it

This is Day 24 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 yet you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope that through this series of posts we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are in Him.


 




Last night I was washing up dishes, stressed out because I'm falling behind in this writing challenge, even more stressed out because I just didn't know what else to say. As I'm wiping countertops and clearing the table I ask myself "why did I start this writing challenge in the first place?" I tried to sort through my knee-jerk "right" answers and tried to see the truth in my intentions. The answer is that I wanted to do this writing challenge because I am a writer, trying to step out into who God has made me to be and I wanted to do something that would challenge me, that would be like a writers boot camp.

So what about the moments when you can't feel it? When you're grinding it out and don't feel inspired? Those moments are important too. They help strenthen the writer that is trying to get out.



This morning as I was drying my hair and getting ready for church it finally clicked - it is the same thing with our walk with God. If you want to get off of the highway of life where the semi's run you over, if you want to leave behind the road-kill Christian life you have to follow God no matter how you feel. 

You have to show up for church, even if you don't feel like it, even if last week was just okay, you have to show up because you never know when the Holy Spirit is going to show up and change your life forever. 

You have to show up to small group even if you're still struggling to get to know people. You have to say yes to godly people inviting you into their lives, even though you feel insecure, insignificant or just exhausted and not sure you really want to put on your big girl pants and walk out the door. 

You've got to sit down with your Bible no matter how you feel before during or after - especially when your reading plan had you going through the Old Testament, because you never know when you're going to look back and see the glorious things God has been doing in the hidden, quiet places of your heart. 

You have to follow the little nudges of the Holy Spirit, even though at first they might feel random and small, tithing is another thing I do out of obedience and not necessarily because of how it makes me feel. 

Following God even when you don't feel like it, believing God is near even when you can't feel anything at all - that is one of the first steps of spiritual maturity. 

Following in the direction God has pointed you until He changes your direction is an important thing to do, because we all have bad days, days when we feel like we're talking to the wall and only hearing crickets. So today, this is my encouragement to you, my friend reading this - keep moving forward with God, no matter how you feel.  


Friday, October 24, 2014

Day 23 - in brokenness

This is Day 23 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 yet you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope that through this series of posts we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are in Him.


 

This is the first day I have missed posting for the writing 31 days  challenge... I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. Yesterday I had a hard time even getting off of the couch. Around 11am I made up my mind to not sit in my exhaustion and discouragement but to try to get some momentum and got outside into the sunshine. I took Eli to the park and that was good. Once I started engaging and smiling it did get better. After school I sat with my kids and listened to their day, and that was a good moment. After school I sat with my kids and listened to their day, and that was a good moment.


Today I don't have any put-together post to share. I just have this one thought: God is with us in our brokenness. He meets us here in our mess. God wants us to come humble and desperate and aware of our need of Him. In my brokenness and my exhaustion and brain fog and funk God is with me. He is near me and He is preparing me.  My brokenness and struggle don't disqualify me. In some ways it even uniquely qualifies me to be able to minister in ways I otherwise wouldn't be able to.  He wants me to draw near to him, in all of my mess, it doesn't make him withdraw. He can take it. He still draws near to me even when I can't pinpoint why I feel the way that I do, even when my body is making things hard for me, even when my flesh is going on a rampage fighting against all the hope God has given to me because I can't see even a glimmer of it with my eyes. God is with me, even in maybe even especially in my brokenness, even though right now I can't feel it.

This is a song we sung at the ladies retreat last week. In person this song was amazingly powerful. As I was writing this post this song came back to my mind. It's called Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) and it speaks so to me about the God who does not reject me when I am shattered and scattered. He takes us when we are lost and blind and breathes new life and opens our eyes so that we can see Him.




Here are some of the words:


all these pieces
broken & scattered
in mercy gathered
mended and whole
empty handed
but not forsaken
I've been set free

amazing Grace how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I am found
was blind but now I see
I can see You now
I can see the love in Your eyes
laying Yourself down
raising up the broken to life

You take our failure
You take our weakness
You set Your treasure
in jars of clay
so take this heart Lord
I'll be your vessel
the world to see your life in me

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 22 - still processing

This is Day 22 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 yet you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope that through this series of posts we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are in Him.


 

It is 9:45PM my time as I'm sitting down to write... I don't even know what yet. I have a pounding headache, it's been a long day with a lot of internal struggle and I'm just ready to go take a bath and get lost in some music but I'm determined not to miss a day in this 31 days of writing challenge.


One year, when I came home from one of these ladies events I wrote:
 "I feel like I did a belly-flop into my valley and here I lay plastered to the ground of my normal, with my kids running all over me, pushing and pulling, demanding more and more of me." 
I have felt that again a bit over the last couple of days. The weight of discouragement has me about bent over. I got sick almost as soon as I came home, my kids are being so loud and the thoughts inside of my head are totally all tangled up, and all I can think is that this feels like too much. There is so much still to process from the retreat, which was amazing. There is so much to read/study/do for my small group that is just really starting to hit our stride as we kick off the study A Modern Girl's Guide to Bible Study. (So far so good.) Plus this blog series, which is something that I am really loving but also struggling to maintain focus and direction and in all honesty all I want to do right now is curl up in a little ball and get some sleep.


DSC_4428
I took this photo at the conference

Here is the post I wrote two years ago coming home from the retreat. I just sat and read it and don't know if I have anything more to say, or could possibly say it better. Read this one first though and then read this one.

Okay, I'm going to take my bath now... but before I leave I wanted to ask: do you have any questions you've been wanting to ask me? Is there a piece of the story that you see is missing? Do you want to know how being a (recovering) roadkill Christian applies to what I think about XY or Z? Let me know in the comments. Good night :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 21 - find rest

This is Day 21 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 yet you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope that through this series of posts we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are in Him.


 

I have tried to start this post so many times today, but my long weekend has caught up with me and yesterday after my kiddos came home from school I started coming down with a cold.  Today I'm feeling a little bit better but honestly I am having a hard time untangling my thoughts. So today here is the song that was on my mind when I woke up this morning. It's my prayer for you no matter what your circumstances are today.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 20 - on having HOPE

This is Day 20 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 yet you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope that through this series of posts we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are in Him.






Today has been such a good day. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and there is a cool breeze blowing. I got dressed this morning in one of my favorite tshirts, my comfiest cute jeans, cute shoes, a sweater and my favorite scarf. Of course I live in the South and had to loose the sweater about fourty-five minutes into my day, but still.


I met a friend at Panera and we talked over coffee about how raising our big kids is just a different flavor of hard, and talked about trusting God and having faith in our season of waiting. 

On my way home I texted another friend. She texted me back saying "do you want to come eat lunch at my house?" So I stopped at the grocery store for sushi and sun chips and Eli and I ate lunch with her on her back porch with her sweet girls. Now I'm sitting here on my bathroom floor as Eli takes a bath, writing and thinking this is amazing.

See after Eli was born I spent almost an entire year in my pajamas at home. I remember going from Sunday to Sunday without even walking out my front door. Before then I used to spend most of my days at home, so today feels epic. It reminds me how far I've come. Today I feel full. Full of grace and strength, insight and revelation from God. Today is a good day. Today I am not afraid of the backlash or the downswing. I know it'll come, it always does, but today I'm not afraid of it.

Looking back over this weekend I can see God doing a lot of things in my spirit, re-kindling my desire to spend time with him in his word. But most especially I saw him re-igniting my HOPE. 

I believe God sees me. 

He knows everything about me.

He sees every tear, every heartache, every moment I think I can't take anymore.

I bellieve that God delights in me. 

I believe that I am his precious child.

I believe God's plans for me are good.

I believe God has prepared me, and that his plans for me are not delayed. 

I believe God has a purpose for every step of my story.

I believe God is right on time.

I believe that with God there is no plan B. 

And while I might not be living the story that I wanted, or would have chosen, I believe that my story brings Him glory and that is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 19 - healing and growing

This is Day 19 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 yet you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope that through this series of posts we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are in Him.


 
Thank you for praying for me over this weekend. This is one of the photos I took during the conference, and it is one of my favorites. This was about what the weekend was like: full-on worship, lots of crying, lots of time to connect with newer friends and get to hug my friends at church who I've known a long time but now that my church has grown to three services I don't get to see every week. It was a powerful time of ministering and being ministered to. And my photography didn't turn out all terrible either, so that is a relief. It was my act of worship during the conference to sing my love song to God with pictures. As a photographer who doesn't work as a photographer anymore I had forgotten a little bit about what it felt like to use my camera with love. Not for the compliments or the money but for the love of capturing a moment that would otherwise be lost, for being who God made me to be fully whatever that might look like...  I have so much to share from the conference, a lot of what was shared there applies to what I've been writing here but today is a day of rest. What follows was going to be the second half of this post (day 17) when I realized that the post was already crazy-long and this part could be a post in it's own right...

DSC_1432 I've written over the last couple weeks about the story of my journey, about my epic fail and today I wanted to share some of the things that have helped me in my journey of healing:

I joined a good church. 
Not perfect - the leaders are ordinary people like me and they sometimes make choices I don't agree with or do things that don't make sense to me, but they are my family and being submitted to my spiritual leaders has given me a measure of spiritual covering that I hadn't experienced before. This was huge. When I finally realized that God has called me to become a member of my church and I submitted my heart I almost immediately felt a change in the spiritual attack I had been experiencing. I could feel the covering and spiritual protection that being in a good church provided for me. 

I engaged in community.
I've written about this before but I showed up at my small group leader's home a wreck with five kids, including a newborn baby and she and her family opened up their home and their lives to me and together with the other families in that group we formed community. We lived honestly together and shared in the ups and downs of each other's lives. This gave me an opportunity to care about somebody's problems other than my own. It was also an opportunity to see that even couples who are unified in their faith still struggle sometimes and have bad days. This was huge for me. It put my struggles in perspective and reminded me that it wasn't the end of the world if Daniel and I had a bad day.

I began serving. 
This was just so good for me. God really uses these moments of ordinary obedience to work His healing in my life. I have loved serving at my church. Even though all I do is keep a nursery class, it keeps me engaged, committed and involved. God has blessed this times a million, I don't consider it a sacrifice even a little bit, I consider it a blessing. 

These baby steps of commitment have, over time, snowballed into a beautiful thing. I love my life right now. It's got it's hard moment and it's tricky spots but I rejoice in the healing and hope that God has given me after so many years of struggling. I know that the Holy Spirit will lead you to your place of hope at the proper time as you continue to follow Him. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Day 18 - worship song

Today I'm at my church's ladies retreat (and doing the photography for it! I'm extremely nervous about it so please say a prayer for me!!) so today's post is short and sweet. This is a song that has been at the front of my mind a lot this week so I thought I'd share it here.





LYRICS:
Give me eyes to see when my heart is blind
That when I ask You'll give, that when I seek I'll find
Give me ears to hear when my way's confused
Let the uncertain road, still lead me back to You

All I ask, all I seek
Is You, is You
All I want, all I need
Is You

Give me melodies in the silence Lord
And let the fire be where every song is forged
Give me faith to trust in Your promises
That You are truly good, that You are all You said You are

All I ask, all I seek
Is You, is You
All I want, and all I need
Is You, is You

Whom have I in Heaven but You?
Whom have I on Earth besides You?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Day 17: embracing my epic fail part 2

This is Day 17 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 yet you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope that through this series of posts we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are in Him.



Today has been Crazy, with a capital C. I have SO much to do today!! I have had a ton of stress because this weekend is going to be nuts.

I am definitely writing this series from a place of healing and growth but also, I have bad days when I struggle with fear and anger, when I let myself just sit in my stress. So yeah, crazy.



Today has also been a good opportunity to rest my heart in God and be still before Him (if only in my heart!). Choosing not to spin my wheels but trust Him.


I have also had a crazy-productive day, ticking off everything on my to-do list, as a type-B person I find myself wondering "is this how the other half lives?!"

So anyway today's post is going to pretty much just be a reply to a comment I got on yesterday's post. Because I really do want to live out embracing your epic fail.

This is my epic fail: I almost divorced my husband. 

Maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal to you, but to me, that was a huge step of deliberate disobedience. God showed me clearly what He wanted me to do. Stay. I told God "that's too hard!" He showed me over and over again that He would be faithful to me and carry me and I just said "No. We're not happy. This is just too hard." 

In the year after Daniel's de-conversion I gave up nearly every piece of doctrine I ever believed in (and I held a position on almost everything) I stopped going to church consistently, and didn't serve, give or participate. I was just surviving. When we moved here I still believed that there was a God but that was it. Culturally, I was a Christian because that's how I was raised, but honestly at that point in my walk with God I was a universalist, which means I would have considered all religions to be equally a path to God.  

That is my epic fail. 

Unbelief & Disobedience.

Since then I have started picking up the pieces of my faith a little bit at a time. I don't have clear positions on every point of doctrine like I used to.  Now I see diversity within the body of Christ as a positive thing and feel less of a need to be right about everything. 

Now the shame of my fail doesn't weigh me down. God has healed a lot of my heart. It doesn't define me, and I don't feel a need to hide it. I have faith for those who are struggling, and hopefully more humility and less of a desire to act like I have it all together, because I know that the only reason why I am where I am today is because of the grace and faithfulness of God. 

Daniel and I agree on love, mutual respect, compassion & gentleness. We love each other, we love our kids and that is enough. We make compromises for each other and make it work.

For example we don't pray to God at mealtimes but we do say a blessing and express gratitude for each other and our meal. Daniel allows me to take our children to church every week and I make it clear that they are free to agree or disagree with what they are taught at church, and that they are free to change their minds about God as many times as they want.

As a family we expect our kids to make their own choices about God when they are old enough to understand the arguments for and against the existence of God. I have my faith - which I expect my children to respect (for example they are not allowed to speak disrespectfully about God or take His name in vain) but I also expect our children to show respect for their father's beliefs. 

I failed at this a lot in the early years of figuring this out. I said a lot of things to the kids that were disrespectful and hurtful, at times unintentionally at other times out of ignorance, fear and hurt but it took me a long time to navigate this new way of raising our kids. Now I feel like Daniel and I do better and this has been huge for my kids, it has made them become more compassionate, respectful people in general.

How do we deal with disagreements? Here is where I have to admit weakness. We tend to just leave them alone. I'm not sure if this is helping our marriage or hurting it, but we tend to give each other a lot of space on the things that set the other one off. I do pray about things when Daniel brings them up and ask myself "is this a Biblical command or a Chrstian tradition?" If it is a command I have to stand up and trust that God will give me favor with Daniel and if it is just a tradition I try to find a way to compromise. 

For example when Daniel challenged me about praying at meals I felt like that's more or less a tradition so we say a blessing together instead of one person praying to God over the meal. But when Daniel challenged me about tithing on the money he gives me every week (for gas, groceries and misc. expenses) I said that this was something I felt like I needed to do, even if he disagreed. Daniel was awesome about it and we worked through that moment really beautifully. 

Does Daniel read my blog?
I don't think so, but I try to write every post with the assumption that he does or at some point will. I also try to remeber that there are always more people who I know in real life reading my blog, even if they don't ever comment and I try to be aware of that and not write anything I wouldn't want someone to say back to me. 

How do I struggle now? 
Fear. It is always a constant battle between fear and love. Love casts out fear but sometimes I have felt fear cast out love and have to fight against the reflex to fear whenever things get hard. I have to fight to love when I want to fall into a puddle of self-pity and bitterness. I have to fight to stay open to love when I want to close up and protect myself from getting hurt. I have to fight to believe Daniel loves me when I'm just strait-up freaking out. 

I believe this: Love wins. Every time. I have seen this in my life and I believe it 100%.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 16 - embracing the epic fail

This is Day 16 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 yet you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope that through this series of posts we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are in Him.


 

One thing about being a shiny, "holier than thou" style Christian is that there is not a lot of room for failure. Sure, we admit we are sinners and we speak solemnly and in hushed tones of our struggles with our sin, but if we could just be honest, we know that pride isn't the same thing as one of those "really bad sins" and we stand before God and pray "thank you God that I am not one of them."



Until one day, you are. You are that person, who willfully disobeyed God. You are that person you looked down your nose at when you were younger. You are that woman straying away from her faith. You are that woman who is kept only by the grace of God from going off into all-out family-wrecking sin. You aren't shiny and holy anymore, you are a full-on mess. Your wedding-gown of grace is muddy and torn and in desperate need of saving.

It took walking across that invisible line of us and them to realize that there is no line. There is no distinction in God's heart. He had been teaching me for years that His love for me was deep and wide, lavish and extravagant but it took a season of walking around with life's tire tracks stamped across my forehead to realize that God's love for me also had nothing to do with my performance.

I sat at a my church's Ladies Retreat (two years ago almost to the day!) as God showed me I had been living under a glass ceiling. I thought my disobedience and doubt meant that I could get this close to Him but no closer. I felt I was disqualified. But He broke the glass ceiling and said "come". He drew me near in forgiveness and love and full acceptance, through the death of Jesus Christ covering my sin and he led me into a new season of growing closer to Him.

I'm not saying "keep on doing whatever you want" because in obedience I have found freedom and healing and life and in sin there is only bondage and death. But there is bondage in a performance-driven relationship with God too. There is death in defining ourselves by our own performance good or bad. In my walk with God He has shown me over and over again it's not about that.

It's not about my check-list, it's not about my good behavior, it's about my heart and it's about my relationship with Him. Out of a heart that is right with God flows what is right, out of a heart filled with God's love flows love, and no amount of good behavior can cover up a heart that is filled with fear and doubt and self.

I was a road-kill Christian but I don't carry the weight of the shame of this anymore. I have been forgiven, and God has restored and even made better-than-new the places in my heart that were shattered, those years have been redeemed but it took embracing my epic fail.



P.S. these photos are with my "baby" Eli who is 3 years old now!!



Day 15

This is Day 15 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 yet you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope that through this series of posts we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are in Him. 

And the photo bombing and selfies continue...
I sat across from my best friend the other day and she asked me  "so are you going to write about how things are now? Because I think some people are assuming your story ends a certain way."

I realized, as I thought about her question some more, that maybe I wasn't. I had some nice posts planned to round out my series though, I guess I planned to wrap it up in a nice sparkly bow, but that's not real life, is it?

Let's be honest. It is so much easier to write about our stories when we are writing about what happened in the past - the mess of last year, the disaster of a decade ago. Sometimes I have a hard time writing and being honest about the hard moments of now. In some ways, that's not a terrible thing. I have a different perspective now to the things I've been through, I've had time and space to process. Mostly though I have a hard time with the hard parts of my now.

Today I woke up full of joy. The sky was blue the sun was shining, a cool breeze was blowing and I was working on my 3rd cup of coffee. Today was going to be a great day.

Later in the day, as I began my yoga practice, I lay in child's pose and found myself sobbing. I did some sun salutations and raised up to warrior, one of m favorite poses, and just wept. I am really struggling with finding the right words to share the struggle of my now. To honor my husband and celebrate the healing our marriage has had over the last few years, and yet be honest that it is hard.

This weekend has gone by too quickly!! Daniel had already left for Atlanta and we all already miss him so much! This week's goodbyes were even harder than last week!
My husband is still an atheist. Not the "angry at God" kind or the "I don't care anymore" kind but the "god isn't real" kind, the "Jesus is a myth" kind. He is not like the atheist in "God is not dead". He believes as he does because he looked honestly at the evidence and came to the conclusion that the Christian God does not exist. He is a kind husband and a loving dad. He has endured a lot more because of his atheism than most people I know have to endure because of their faith. For the past seven years we have both struggled to show respect for each other's beliefs and try to build a family that is both, when most of our friends are one or the other. It is really hard.

Marriage is hard. Every marriage has struggles, I don't think our marriage is significantly different from anyone else's. We share a lot of the same values even if some of our core beliefs are different.

It's not nothing, but it's not everything either.

We found an awesome pavilion where we ate our picnic lunch.Heading homeuploadAnniversary date night pic. 13 years ago today I married my best friend - on a SNOWY Georgia afternoon!! So glad to have an evening together without constant interruption.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Day 14 - this is where the healing begins

This is Day 14 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 yet you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope that through this series of posts we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are in Him.




Today I spent the morning with my best friend. My kids are all home from school right now so between the two of us we have nine children. In between all of the interruptions that happen with that many kids we shared life. She encouraged me to my core and shared her big dreams for me, and she listened as I shared my frustration and fear. We spoke life and love and light to each other. We listened to each other, we reminded each other of the truth. We loved on each other's kids and as I sit here now and think about where I was in my life when I met her and all we have been through since then I thought "this is where the healing begins."

Community is kind of a buzz-word in the church right now, but when you have it everything is better. When you are isolated everything is harder. Community, even if it's just one other friend, or just a small group of other women, or a few couples, that is where I have found change, and healing and the real-life growth I needed so much.

I believe God leads us through seasons of wandering through relational deserts. I know God prunes us, and causes our roots to go deeper in Him during seasons of being (or feeling) alone but the growth, the branches sprouting up and stretching out, I have found, at least in my life anyway, that these seasons happen when I'm in the context of community.

It takes time to develop community. It takes showing up again and again, it takes reaching out even when you feel you have nothing to offer, it takes saying yes to meeting up at the park on days when you want to stay home in your jammies, it takes being willing to open up your home and sit with dirty dishes and unfolded laundry and share a cup of coffee and your heart. It takes showing up and being willing to set aside the emotionally photoshopped version of yourself, and be real, in all your beautiful mess. 


Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 13 - starting over

This is Day 13 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 yet you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope that through this series of posts we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are in Him.




When we moved to Augusta I was a full-on mess. I was having panic attacks and was suicidally depressed, yet I was trying to homeschool two out of my four kids and transition to a town that felt like it might as well have been on the other side of the world, while my husband began a stressful job that needed him to work very long hours. I didn't know anyone here except for one other woman whom I had met before our moving process. She was truly Jesus' hands and feet to me in that moment. She invited me to her church - and before I knew it I had a church home.

I remember sitting there one week, during a sermon series called "Storms" about how we all face season of life that are hard. I asked God to show my the condition of my heart and He did. It was storm-wrecked, like after a hurricane. The storm was over but my beach was destroyed. 

I remember this as being a first moment when I realized that I couldn't put my life back together on my own. I saw Him cleaning up the wreckage of my broken heart and broken dreams. I was beside him, participating, but he was doing the heavy lifting. It reminded me of a verse I had run across a few years earlier:

 “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer. “This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.  

O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of agate, your gates of carbuncles, and all your wall of precious stones. All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you. If anyone stirs up strife, it is not from me; whoever stirs up strife with you shall fall because of you...no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:4-15, 17 ESV)

When my heart is broken and my life is a mess - it is God who puts my back together. I put all of my trust in Him. He will not leave me or fail me. He will establish me, even if right now I feel like I am in ruins and wonder if I can ever be re-built.

I have watched God rebuild my life. He has put me back together from that shattered place and I can testify that I like who I am now better than who I was before the hurricane of grief wrecked my shores. Now I have more compassion, hopefully more humility and a greater desire to be a person of honesty and openness. God has already done more than I could have asked or even imagined. He can do the same for you.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Day 12: worship songs

This is Day 12 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 yet you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope that through this series of posts we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are in Him.




Last Sunday I sat in church with tears streaming down my face. The sermon was on being a generous giver and I prayed "God it feels like you have asked me to give everything. It fees like you have asked too much. This is too hard. It's been too long."

But then I remembered everything He has been to me, all He has given to me in the ache, how He has filled me in the hollow. In the empty He has been with me. In my valley He has been my stream of joy. He has loved me with a love that is better than anything else. He has taught me what it means to truly love. Everything He has asked me to give He has give back to me better.  He has resorted what was broken, he has carried me through every season.

Today I wanted to share some of my current favorite worship songs. Maybe these are your anthems, Maybe you've never heard of them... I hope you'll take a moment, maybe go find your earbuds and let the music wash over you and the Holy Spirit minister to you.



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day 11: Abraham and faith in the waiting

This is Day 10 of my 31 days of writing. You can read Day 1 here. I am linking up with The Nester's  #write31days challenge. I hope you will stick around for the whole thing...  my desire is that by the end we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are to Him. I've been sharing my story this week. 


Over the last week I've been sharing my story in a linear kind of way. If I could go back and do it over again, I'd probably do it differently. It's been exhausting and it's been driving me crazy but I wanted to share where I am coming from in this series and I wanted to share a story that has been in my heart for awhile now, just waiting for the right moment to come out. I guess this was it.

God has done so much in my heart - so much healing and restoring. When I look back to where I was a few years ago to where I am now the difference is huge. Daniel and I are in a much better place in our marriage, I am in a healthier place personally and I can confidently say that God has brought so much beauty out of the ashes of the past few years.

Last weekend I brought in some stories from the Bible that I thought connected with my story and I have been looking forward to writing about Abraham all week long because I love his story so much.

When I was in my early twenties, (pregnant with my third!) participating in the Bible Study "Believing God" I cam across this verse:

"For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.' " Romans 4:3 ESV

What was it that was counted as righteousness? It was his faith. Not his obedience.
Here is another verse that I always think of in connection with the one above:

"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." Isaiah 64:6 NIV

I think it's easy, when we have gone through (or are currently in) a season where we have been far away from God or when we are keenly aware that we are a million miles away from where we think we should be, to believe that God is somehow repulsed by us, that he doesn't love us the way he used to or the way we wish he would. That he looks down his nose at us and says who are you again and what exactly do you think you're doing here? I am here to testify that this is just not true.

These are some verses from Romans 4 in The Message translation that I wanted to share. I know it's kind of a lot but every phrase is precious to me:

We call Abraham “father” 
not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, 
but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. 

Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, 
God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? 
Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father 
because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: 
raise the dead to life, 
with a word make something out of nothing. 

When everything was hopeless, 
Abraham believed anyway, 
deciding to live 
not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do 
but on what God said he would do. 

And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. 
God himself said to him, 
“You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!” 
Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. 
This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” 
Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. 

He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise 
asking cautiously skeptical questions. 
He plunged into the promise and came up strong, 
ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. 

That’s why it is said, 
“Abraham was declared fit before God 
by trusting God to set him right.” 

But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! 

The same thing gets said about us 
when we embrace and believe the One 
who brought Jesus to life 
when the conditions were equally hopeless. 
The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, 
set us right with God. Romans 4:17-25

Abraham waited on God to fulfill his Highly Unlikely Promise for a Really Long Time.  But the promise, and the timing of it's fulfillment had nothing to do with Abraham's obedience and everything to do with God's faithfulness. Abraham wasn't "made fit" by his perfect record he was "declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right." That is right where I need to land when I'm tossed by waves of shame and doubt.

It can be easy to think that because our lives are more or less obviously a mess right now that we are more or less acceptable to God. But here is the truth that I want you to hear right now: God doesn't think about you in those categories. We are all of us a mess before God. All Of Us. With God there is no distinction. The churchy lady with her prim pride and the woman at the back who can't tell up from down. He cherishes them both. He cherished me when I was both. When I was the snobby holier-than-thou-girl he showed me mercy and taught me some humility, when I was the mess of a woman willfully going directly against his will for my life he showed me his steadfast lovingkindness and hedged me in. He loved me in both of those moments with no distinction. I believe he has allowed me to go through seasons of wandering so that I can experience the depth of his forgiveness and unconditional nature of his love for me.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31



I believe that God sees me as his precious child, His beautiful creation. I believe that He sees who I was meant to be when He was carefully knitting me together in my mother's womb. I believe that He sees me as I truly am, as perfect as I will one day be. I believe that He sees me clothed in the wedding gown of grace. I want to see myself the way my Father God sees me. I want to see myself and everyone around me with His eyes of love and compassion.

I have found a lot of healing and freedom in the path of obedience but only after I let go of it as my identity.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Day 10: the end of the ending

This is Day 10 of my 31 days of writing. You can read Day 1 here. I am linking up with The Nester's  #write31days challenge. I hope you will stick around for the whole thing...  my desire is that by the end we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are to Him. I've been sharing my story this week. 





Are you leaving me? He asked
Let's just get the kids to bed. I replied.



I had spent every one of my teenage years trying to decide which parent I wanted to live with if they ever got a divorce. For most of my childhood I had watched my parents make each other miserable and had promised myself, if I was ever in their position I would walk away.

I think the devil put that lie into my heart at that young age so that it would be hard for me to recognize it when my moment came. when I looked at my storm-wrecked marriage and had to decide to stay or leave.

This was not how I'd planned to discuss the possibility of separating, I had hoped we would come to some kind of mutual agreement. I thought that the best thing for all of us would be for us to divorce so he could be free to marry someone who shared his worldview and I could be free to marry someone who shared mine. It seemed to me like we would both be happier.



"Are you really planning on leaving me?" He asked once all our little ones were safely tucked in.

Yes I replied

Daniel had become someone who, if I'd met him in a group setting, I wouldn't have become friends with. He was actively opposed to God, he supported things politically and socially that I didn't. We had Big Huge Fights about things that were really important to both of us but here we were sharing the same space, the same bed, the same kids. It was hard on me. It was hard on him. I just wanted all of the hurting to stop. 

We went to emergency counseling the next day and we decided to try to resolve our differences. I realized that my idea that we could somehow split and it not be anything by a bloody, awful heartbreaking mess was total bull-shit. I mean it. Daniel and I walked around raw from the trauma of this one night for months. I can not even begin to imagine what kind of disaster it would have wrecked in our hearts if I had followed through with my intentions.

It was a moment that declared my unbelief in what God was able to do in my husband, in my marriage, and in me.  For a long time this moment covered me in shame. I thought my husband would never trust me again. I thought God would be eternally disappointed in me. I felt like I was nothing but a road-kill Christian.

A few months later Daniel was offered a job in Augusta, we moved here and God began healing me and putting back the pieces of my broken heart. 

Day 9 - it all starts crashing down

This is Day 9 of my 31 days of writing series called "Confessions of a Road Kill Christian" If you haven't read Day 1 yet you can click here first. I am linking up with #write31days. I hope you will stick around for the whole thing... while the message of one post might feel incomplete my hope is that by the end we'll be encouraged by who God is and who He says we are in Him. This week I've been sharing my story and the ups and downs that have brought me to this point. 





This is the point of the story I have been dreading having to sit down to write.
This is moment in my story when everything unravels, when my life began to truly fall apart. 

This is the moment God lovingly and gently showed me His will and I said "I can't. It's too hard. This is too much." 

But this isn't the story of Everything That Went Wrong. It's certainly not a moment to complain. I'm trying to write this as honestly as possible...

Our story today picks up as we were moving into our new house. I was so excited. This was our first home that we would own. This was a house we could make a home. I could look forward to our future here. I would give birth to my fourth child here - finally a boy!! I could dream here. But that dream quickly turned into a nightmare. 

Not everything about our time in this season was bad. I had a couple key friends who loved me, prayed for me and taught me a lot about living in community. But it was tough almost right away.

We bought our first home the very week they changed the rules for lending, right as the economic bubble in our area was about to burst. We didn't know that at the time. My husband would have a lot of trouble with work (he was laid off twice in one year!!) and we had a lot of financial strain during this period.

Emma, Daniel & Beth 

We had been fighting on and off for awhile now, but the fighting intensified. We were worn out from all of the transition. I could feel the spiritual warfare intensifying. It was debilitating. We had spent years without any covering of authority. Going from one frustrating situation to the next and we were exhausted, physically, emotionally, spiritually drained. 

Daniel didn't get along well with the leaders in the church plant we'd moved across town to join so I continued to attend that church while Daniel looked for a new church. This process felt like it would be the straw that broke the back of our marriage. We simply could not agree about anything church-related. 

Josiah Leeland was born, in September. People from the church plant were kind and helped us out with childcare while I was in the hospital but we were shuffling them from place to place, which was causing Emma a lot of anxiety and Daniel a lot of stress. All I wanted was to rest in the hospital with my son. This child I had prayed for, was finally in my arms and I didn't want anything to bother the bliss of our first moments together but it was just stressful.

The Raider chicks with our new little manJosiah & Daddy 9/20/07Josiah & Daddy 9/20/07

No one from the church we had been attending was willing to drive all the way to bring us a meal. Only one person from my homeschool group even offered to bring us a meal but then she forgot. Did I mention yet that I was stressed out of my mind? Four kids under six was hard. I had no context for how hard this was, I just felt weak for struggling so much. I felt like a human tornado flying from one kid to another and I was quickly running out of steam.

The Raider Family

my girlies today

In November I noticed that the books that Daniel was ordering were different then his usual stream of theology texts. He was watching debates on YouTube in the evenings after the kids went to bed, debates with Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens vs various christian apologists. I noticed the change in his attitude towards what he was watching. He wasn't defending his faith anymore, he was questioning it. 

I knew where this was going. I had seen this behavior before and I knew there was only one logical outcome. Daniel was loosing his faith. I had to decide what I was going to do when that moment came. 

I felt like the Bible was crystal clear on this. It left me no way out. There is this one passage that particularly comes to mind, to paraphrase it says "you had better stay with that unbelieving spouse of yours for just as long as they are willing to stay married to you. You are a presence of grace in your home and you bless your spouse and your children whether you recognize it or not." (See 1 Corinthians 7:12-14) 

So on that night when I asked "so what is going on? What do you really believe?" and he answered honestly - I was ready to say "I love you no matter what." What I wasn't ready for was how heartbroken I would feel that my husband had left our faith or what a fight it would be to maintain that position of unconditional love.

The next morning I got up, made breakfast for my kids and just cried. I cried and cried and cried. His doubts cast a shadow over my faith. His questions shook me to my foundation. To say that I struggled over the next year is an understatement. 

We spent months discussing our difference of beliefs. I struggled to not feel personally attacked anytime it came up, but it was hard. Daniel tried not to push the issue and I tried to show respect for him but it was a constant battle to find the balance between being honest and showing honor for one another's differences of belief and we were constantly getting hurt. 

Josiah 9-21

I just wanted to get my feet under me, but I felt like every time I'd get my feet under me I'd fall on my face. I lived that year on the edge of falling apart completely. The first time I heard Josiah laugh for the first time I sobbed. How could so much pain and so much blessing co-exist in this small space of my heart? 

God was faithful to me. 
 
I wish I could say that I handled this season with grace and overflowing unconditional love. But the reality is that I did not. I freaked out. I floundered in my faith. One day I'd be believing God and be confident in Him the next day I'd be wallowing in doubt and self-pity. 

I remeber this one particular moment, it was near the end of a long hard day, I was feeling crushed by the weight of my grief, bowed down by the responsibility of trying to raise my children with respect for their father's atheism but still honor my faith (and those things were colliding often) I just felt in over my head and pushed past my limit. I opened the nearest Bible at random and this is the verse I read that night:

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. 
(1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG)

I had to believe that my trials were still within the scope of normal human experience. I had to believe that God would bring me through this. Or at least I hoped He would...


my kids!!

Later things crashed dramatically... but I'll have to save that for tomorrow's post.

all the kids

I have been listening to this song on repeat over the last two days of writing this post and so I thought I'd post here.


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