Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

Because You Were Kind and Asked

Donna sent a message and asked where I am and how we are. In short, we are totally rocking. :-)

About a month ago, the Lord said to post about the good things going on, and He said to let go of the blog, so I have not blogged since. Instead, He gave me the whole storyline for a book, which I have started, and I am SO excited about writing. It has been a lot of fun so far, and the research is right down my alley.

At the same time, He told me to let go of Facebook, so I closed my writer's account. I thought I would go through withdrawals, but instead, I got so much done, and I have had so much fun with the new stuff I have time for I don't really miss it. Isn't it crazy wild how God is God of the empty?!

And really, that is what He is. The God of the empty.

When I first started writing this blog, it was to show that God takes nothing and makes it into something amazing. We had a lot of nothing, and He has done great and wondrous things and IS doing great and wondrous things. We've "reached the other side", if you will, and that was the goal, which is why this blog isn't purposeful anymore.

There will be another blog. I'm just not sure when yet. I'm working with Wordpress right now because I am completely unimpressed with Google's changes and Google Chrome keeps shutting down my computer, so after three resurrections, I've given up on it. Right now the Lord has not directed me to spend my time setting up the new blog, so I figure either the new blog is for a future date or He will send someone to do the set up for me. Either way, He so has it covered, and life is so crazy good.

As for this blog....

I've been told our story is an inspiration. People tell us we are amazing. Maybe you are one of those people. If so, I want you to understand. You NEED to understand...we are just people. GOD is amazing.

Yes. I am "That Jerri"...and we are That Family...but only because HE is our God.

Until...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What You Don't Know

"Your life just seems so full of death and sadness."

Her words settled like an annoying fly that stays just out of reach when I swat at it but close enough to tell you all about the fine hair on my earlobe.

"I don't see it that way." I picked my words--and tone--carefully. "Yes, some days are hard, and some moments are really hard, but overall, I think our lives are awesome."

"Maybe I'm just not around you enough to see all the good stuff. We talk on the phone once in awhile, and I read your blog, so maybe I just don't see the good stuff."

Okay. THAT hit like a punch to the gut, BUT, maybe it was also the answer to my question I've been asking the Lord lately. "Why do people see us as so broken STILL? Why can't people see the good stuff?"

They aren't HERE to see the good stuff, and I don't talk about it enough, so, let me tell you.

What you do not see is The Girl Peep in the starring role of Willie Wonka or playing multiple roles and covering multiple responsibilities in Mulan. You do not see her as the head elf in The Reindeer Who Saved Christmas or the actress honored with the position of Second in Charge when the director misses rehearsal due to traffic. You don't see her learn all the lines, all the music, the entrances and exits, prop places, and so on or her ability to correct mistakes on stage, modify at a moment's notice, or improvise lines and actions when things do not go perfectly, nor do you hear the untold compliments the parents who work with her speak to me or the gushing reviews by the director or theatre staff. Most of you have not seen her walk on stage like she owns it and do it with grace and humility and a depth of character that not only makes me smile but also makes my eyes brim with proud tears.

You were not here when she went to her first political camp without her dad last year. You do not know how she pulled herself together after a meltdown, bravely walked into worship the last day when it had been too hard every other day, or found joy in running multiple election campaigns. You are not here now to see her prepare for this years camp. If you were, you would see her research the New Deal and government entitlement programs. You would be privy to the conversations debating the pros and cons as she identified and considered both the positive and negative results. You would hear that she considers far more than the essays written by the scholars, that her pondering includes biblical foundation, sociological studies, psychology of masses and individuals, the demographic trends, and the present day state of society that can be linked back to the programs of the New Deal. And you would see her doing more than deeming things good or bad. You would hear her ask how SHE can make the bad better. How can SHE be an impact?

When a person chooses to look at the world, see the things that don't work, and take responsibility for her role in making it better, THAT is life. THAT is choosing to step over the void and dare to dream something new.

Yeah. The Girl Peep is okay. If you were here, you would see that.

You would also see The Boy Peep designing entire worlds with Legos, creating stop action films, and receiving recognition from his peers. You would know he was even asked to help with a commercial for a local church. And you wouldn't be shocked to find he is also finding a place in theatre, behind the scenes with the technical group that makes so much look so good, and believe me, his excellence makes a lot look really good.

If you were here, you would know our trips to San Antonio and Missouri were wonderful. You would see the laughter of watching The Boy Peep build up energy on the hamster wheel and hear the shouts as each of us took turns trying to go vertical as the wheel turned us over and gravity pulled us down. If you had been with us, you would have seen the three of us, the science centers employee, and our friend Jason working at the water table for over an hour and a half as we built water ways, redirected water, and determined means to specific ends.

You would have joined us for our kayak lessons and been there when The Boy Peep and I saved the coconut from the lake during clean up and seen The Girl Peep handle the water all on her own. You would have been impressed to see how well she handles the kayak, and you might have been impressed--once you quit laughing--at how well she and I do rescue drills when one of us tips over and ends up in the water. We had a lot of practice with that.

You would have joined us when we made decorations, set up, and served food for anyone who needed a place on Thanksgiving Day, and you could have tucked in your own notes or homemade cookies for the Army unit we support in Afghanistan.

And, you could have sat with us and watched the sunrise from our camping spot on the bluff overlooking the lake early in the fall, in the same state park we camped with Rob and my mom last. You would have laughed at the In a Pickle game, witnessed the melancholy of being alone...and in the pride of braving it alone.

If you had been with us in the last two years, you would have seen me get my CERT certification and respond to a call out. You could have sat with me while I studied for my Emergency First Responder's certification and maybe been there in Galveston when the Marine Veteran needed a hand, the young couple was hit by the van, or the chest pains needed a transport. And you could have joined us when I volunteered for Special Olympics, and we had the best time watching great basketball. You would even know that I've found I like throwing darts and I'm pretty good.

You could have even proofed the articles I sent in that are still being considered for publication or been excited when the two books I've been published in arrived and we saw my name on the page.

You could see the beans, peas, and cucumbers coming up or sit on the nicely fixed sitting area or even check out the tiny tomato already growing on the vine.

Mostly, you would hear us laughing, talking, making cookies, learning new things, pushing ourselves into new territory, and living.

But you weren't here, and I didn't tell you. I didn't mean to leave you out. It wasn't personal.

No, that isn't true. It was personal.

All of the things I've just told you are deeply personal to us. They are treasures, beautiful and wondrous, and for awhile I tried to tell people the good things, and the response left me confused...and dreary.

When people asked how we are, if I said it was bad day, they understood. They were totally okay with that, but if I said it was a good day, they asked why, like I had to justify it, or when they did agree it was good, it was never as good to them as it was to us. So instead of losing some of the "amazing", I simply didn't tell. The bad thing with that is it trapped the kids and myself into mediocre or even dark thinking. We stayed low key instead of risking explaining why we had the audacity to be happy. It also gave people around us false views of our reality. They only saw the struggle and the pain, and that was good in that others who are struggling or are in pain have found a safe place to share their hearts. I love that.

However, my goal is not to simply show what we have survived but to show the life being created in us as a family and as individuals.

I won't tell you everything is fine. I won't tell you some days aren't challenging. What I will tell you is that there is a Voice in the void, and He is creating something amazing. Not perfect, but amazing.

And I hope now you can clearly see that.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Letting the Battlescars Refine Instead of Define

One of my goals with this blog has been to give a safe place for people in painful places. I wanted folks to know they aren't alone, that someone gets it, that there is life in and beyond the desert. Except in the writing in the emotion of the moment and wanting to reach those that others might not reach, I have committed the heinous act of leaving out the life part.

One of the things I've said since this part of my life journey started about two years ago is I expected God to create life in the void.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

Genesis 1:1


In the beginning, He speaks to the spiritual and the natural.

In the beginning, He speaks to a void...a nothing...and makes something wondrous.

I have said from the beginning that no matter how big the hole got--and wow!, did it get big--He would create something in it. There would be life that came out of the void. He created an entire universe in a void. He could rebuild--recreate or even create all new--in us and for us.

He has not failed us in anyway.

Life does not look like I had thought or hoped. Yesterday I sat in my truck with tears rolling down my face as I grieved another piece of lost dreams, and I talked to Him and told Him it was discouraging to think we had reached the other side only to find out we were still in the desert. Very clearly, He spoke beautiful words to me:

"Jerri, the other side when 'all this is over' will not--CANNOT--look like it did when it started."

I thought I understood that, but in that instant, I realized I didn't understand the depth of it.

I had some idea that we would go back to a wholeness we had then, some semblance of life being what it was, feeling like it felt, returning to "normal", but we can't.

The normal that existed then is gone. Part of us is gone.

Rob is gone. My friend, my life companion for 23 years, gone. My children's dad is gone. My hopes for that marriage are gone.

We cannot be who we were then. Our hearts will not be as...pristine...as they were then. The loss has left holes and scars and pain. We can live with that, and we can flourish anyway. However, it will not be what it used to be. This home will never feel quite like it did when Rob's laughter bounced off the walls. Christmas is still going to have shadows of traditions we had with my parents and Rob that we cannot do any longer because they were specific to the people. It will never be exactly what it was, and while we can do those things and enjoy those holidays and laugh anyway, it is not--CANNOT--be what it was.

However, that does not mean it cannot be wonderful.

It simply means it will be different.

We have spent much of the last two years getting accustomed to the different things, and we have done well. However, there are aspects of life we have avoided because it feels like embracing those is letting go of the precious things we've lost. The truth is, though, the things of the past are already gone. The memories are there, but tangible things are gone. Embracing something new will not make them more gone or less precious. It only means we are embracing the reality of change, of what is not, what cannot be...and what can.

If you had asked me if I was holding on to the the past I would have told you no. I would have told you we are moving on and embracing possibility and life. I didn't realize the subtle ways I was trying to recreate the peace and lack of pain, which is really what it is about, we enjoyed before.

Recently, I saw a picture of  Marine SGT Jason Pacheco, who trains scout snipers. In the picture he is sitting on the ground demonstrating how to accurately set and fire the rife in front of him. If you look closely, you realize one of the boots you see is being used to stabilize the stand for his weapon...and the Marine only has one leg.

I will not pretend to be in the same class of character or determination as that Marine, but as I have written this and prayed for a clear picture of the Truth I am trying to share, I thought of that him.

He will never be the same. His life will never be the same. He can still do a lot of the same things he did, maybe even all of them, but he will always carry the battle scar of his lost leg. And maybe sometimes he grieves that loss. Maybe sometimes he wonders, "What if...?" Maybe he grieves what could have been.

I don't know his maybes. What I know is he has chosen to embrace life beyond the loss of his leg.

He has chosen not to let the battle scare define him,

only refine him.

He has not settled in to the void of what used to be.

On the contrary,

he has chosen to allow the loss of what used to be

push him to see who he can be.

We have chosen to embrace our life beyond our loss, too. Yes, we are still in the refining progress. We are still learning where we mistakenly think "rebuilding" means trying to reclaim what was...what no longer is or can be. We are not trying to avoid the battlescars or pretend they don't ache.

Instead, we are embracing them,
not letting them define us, but allowing them to refine us,
embracing life beyond the void,
the stuff God is doing that has never been done before,
stuff we didn't--couldn't--imagine.
Only we are imagining.
We are living.
He is creating,
and it is wondrous.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Something That Feels Good

I quit my CERT class tonight.

I hadn’t planned to, not when I left the house, but as I drove over, all the things of the week rolled through my head, and by the time I arrived at the Law Enforcement Center I knew. That isn’t where I am supposed to be.

Then when I told my instructor, I felt my voice cracking. When another instructor asked if everything was okay and looked me in the eyes, I am sure he saw puddles starting to form. I simply said, “Life changes. I need to be home.”

Then a third instructor asked me if there was anything they could do, and I choked out, “I just need to be home.”

By the time I got to the truck, I was in tears.

I hadn’t expected that.

Honestly, I really didn’t know why I was crying. I loved the class the first time I took it, but this time it really was just a means to the end of becoming an instructor. I wasn’t enjoying it at all, and I was counting weeks until it was finished.

Still, I cried.

So I sat in my truck, cried, and asked God what was up with that.

And somewhere in the jumble of words and tears I understood.

With the first class, I had felt so excited, so alive. I wanted to feel that again. Actually, I just wanted to feel something that didn’t feel like pain. And, this didn’t hurt. But, it didn’t feel good either.

I wasn’t crying because I was giving up a class. I was crying because I was giving up something that had been important, that had been a happy place, and there was nothing to replace it. Once again, I was staring at what used to be a place where I felt connected and joyful and now was just an empty spot.

And empty spots are hard things.

They are scary things.

Because I don’t know just how deep they are going to go…

Or how long they are going to last…

Or what will fill them.

All I really know is
I refuse to let the fear of Nothing
compel me to hold on to a useless Something.

So I wiped the tears from my face and started the truck. I didn’t look back because I knew it my break my resolve. Instead, I looked forward and put the truck in drive, not really knowing where I was going or what I was going to do. 

But I knew I was headed in the right direction, and that was something.

And that something felt good.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Wife's Hardest Journey

A friend of mine is watching his father fade away, and more than likely, today will be the day his dad's body gives up the fight and his soul passes on. My heart is so sad for him, sad beyond words.

I buried my dad.

But more than my friend, I am considering his mom, the wife who has claimed oneness with this man for nearly 60 years. I cannot imagine the strangeness of home for her, the too quiet rooms, the bed that is so empty even a toe slipped a few feet away only finds coldness not the warmth that has been there for decades.

I cannot imagine fixing meals on her own, the ones she know longer knows if she likes or she just makes because he likes them. They are all the same now.

I cannot image not finding whiskers in the sink after all these years or his suit set out for church on Sunday. I cannot imagine not needing to iron the white button-down shirts he has worn virtually everyday since they were first married.

I cannot image not having the hand so familiar that it forms around her own or the breath in the quiet darkness that soothes her to sleep.

My heart aches for this precious woman who has begun the journey she promised to take nearly 60 years ago should God deem it her road...

...the hardest journey one takes as a wife...

...the one she is required to take as a widow.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

If I could give you anything...Being...

If I could give you anything today, I would give you a seat on my glider on my deck where it is warm, and I would sit a glass of tea on the table beside you and make the presence of God on the other side of you so deep and rich, not only did you feel the peace of Him, but you knew the touch of His hand on yours or His arm around your shoulder...

...and I would leave y'all to talk...

...because today you need to talk to Him, to hear Him, to be with Him, to feel His love for you.

Today, you need to simply be in the arms of the One who loves you most, understands you best, and feels you deepest.

Today you don't need to perform or figure out what is expected. You simply need to be...

...and know whatever that is, wherever that is mentally or emotionally or spiritually...He wants to be there with you.

May you have THAT kind of day.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Daddy Speaking

"Just get a box of tissues before you even start watching." I looked at his face, shadowed with stubble. Then I looked in his eyes. The laughing man's-man eyes had changed, become soft, almost misty. His lips tightened as though he were trying to control a quiver in his chin.

"GREAT movie," the woman beside him said, nodding passionately, eyes wide, vulnerable.

A chorus of voices joined in, accolades for the movie, comments on the powerful emotions.

I tried not to tense visibly. The very mention of the movie made my mind shut down...and my heart ache.

They were talking about the movie Courageous, the story of men stepping up, becoming who they should be, being the leaders God intended. Except the man in my life didn't, and I really didn't think I could watch another reminder of how things did not go as God would have chosen...as I wanted.

"It's a promise, not pain." A whisper deep in my heart, just loud enough for my conscious mind to register. Still, easy enough to dismiss as imaginary...because the pain was still all too real.

No. That movie was not for me.

I left the home group that night and headed back to my friend's home. The next day I left there and headed back to Texas.

We had survived Valentine's Day and the first anniversary of my husband's dying, and it was time to go home.

Although I knew it was only a date on the calendar, some part of me felt good, like we had crossed an unspoken line in time, a line that said the first wave of emotional landmines were behind us and although more would be ahead, we would weather them well.

I had no idea the first was waiting for me in a decorated bag on my counter.

When we drove into the driveway, our house sitter came to meet us. Everyone grabbed bags, coolers, and "stuff", and one trip at a time, we unloaded. With piles of bags, pillows, and personal things spread through the house, I went to the kitchen to see the flowers my friend Kristi had sent me. Although they were a few days old, they were stunning. Mary Kate had done a great job trimming them and tending them so they still looked lovely for me. White roses and red carnations hugged up by greenery. Perfect.

Beside the vase of flowers sat my gift. I opened it somewhat slowly, enjoying the thoughtfulness, being remembered, not being alone on this holiday of expressing love...of being loved.

Then I pulled it out...

...and stopped.

Courageous.

The DVD.

"It's a promise."

I slid it back into the bag and stared at the gift lying on my counter.

This was no coincidence. 

This was not a whisper that might or might not be real, a whisper easy to dismiss.

This was a language I understood, the language of a Father speaking to a daughter too raw, too afraid, to trust her own ears. So He spoke in ways I could hear...in a home group I visited once, more than seven hours from my home...and in a gift of love and hope delivered right to me...waiting on my return...clear words too close together in time to miss.

This was more than a movie. This was Daddy speaking...

Monday, February 20, 2012

A View of What I See...And What I Pray to Always See

Periodically, I get asked how I study the Bible or how God speaks to me. This morning I was having some fabulous time with the Lord, and He was giving me answers to questions I have been asking. I thought I would share that with you and demonstrate how I study and how God speaks to me.

My notes are marked with ** and in regular font. The actual scripture is in bold.

I hope this blesses you by helping you with your Bible study, help you understand how God can use scripture to speak, and maybe offer you some answers you have been seeking, too.

Blessings!

Psalm 105
 1 Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
   make known among the nations what he has done.
**Praise the Lord and proclaim His name. Simple stuff. There are no qualifications. It isn't praise and proclaim when things go my way, when things are easy, or when I'm in the mood. I need to praise Him and proclaim His name period.
**"Make known what He has done"--sometimes it feels like He has done nothing. Sometimes I am drowning in all the stuff I have been hoping for that hasn't happened, or all I see is what I've lost. What am I supposed to say He has done. "All good and perfect gifts come from God." What good gift do I have? My kids, warm clothes, food, coffee with my friend, a good car, warm house, running water, clean water, the ability to put my feet up, the ability to read the Bible for myself....
Dear God, thank you. You spoil me with good things. Thank you.
2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
   tell of all his wonderful acts.
**"All His wonderful acts"--Daddy, please make me acutely aware of your wonderful acts, right down to the dandelion that makes me smile in the park. Who knows but that you protected that flower just so I would see it on a bumpy day and feel joy? In fact, I am willing to believe you did just that, that you saved that flower just for me because you know I love them. Thank you. Thank you for being so detailed in your love for me. Help me to not miss the tiny, but so intimate and personal detailed ways you love me.
3 Glory in his holy name;
   let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
**Dad, sometimes when I'm seeking you, I get frustrated because I don't see you answering. Please show me how to rejoice anyway. Show me how to rejoice as I seek you. I'm not really sure how to do this, but I am seeking you, and I believe rejoicing has a purpose. Help me not to think my rejoicing means I will get something from you. Help me to rejoice simply because you deserve it. You are worthy of my rejoicing. But, Dad, I know if I seek you, I will find you, and honestly, that makes me giddy with expectation. So, please keep my motives in check for me.
4 Look to the LORD and his strength;
   seek his face always.
**Daddy, there are things I've needed help with that I've been avoiding because I don't have the answer. It is easier to escape. Forgive me for looking for the easy way out instead of looking for you. Forgive me for forgetting that you have every answer to every problem. Forgive me for not believing you care as much about those things as I do, maybe more, because I seem to think they are inconsequential or can be ignored. You never ignore a need. NEVER. Daddy, I'm sorry. I know you probably have been sitting there waiting to give me the answer so I could handle this and we could move on. I'm sorry. You are the answer. Forgive me for whining and not actually looking to you for the solution. Oh, Lord, keep pulling me back to you until I remember.
 5 Remember the wonders he has done,
   his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
**Daddy, I know this is probably talking about water out of a rock, armies in the ocean, and such, but honestly, the fact that you love me so much and you are so detailed in your commitment to me is a miracle. I think of all the times you speak to me, answer me, work on my behalf, save my butt, and just lavish me with your love, and I know the kazillion reasons I have given you not to love that way, but you do. THAT is miracle enough for me.
6 you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
   his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
7 He is the LORD our God;
   his judgments are in all the earth.
 8 He remembers his covenant forever,
   the promise he made, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant he made with Abraham,
   the oath he swore to Isaac.
10 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree,
   to Israel as an everlasting covenant:
11 “To you I will give the land of Canaan
   as the portion you will inherit.”
 12 When they were but few in number,
   few indeed, and strangers in it,
13 they wandered from nation to nation,
   from one kingdom to another.
14 He allowed no one to oppress them;
   for their sake he rebuked kings:
15 “Do not touch my anointed ones;
   do my prophets no harm.”
 16 He called down famine on the land
   and destroyed all their supplies of food;
17 and he sent a man before them—
   Joseph, sold as a slave.
18 They bruised his feet with shackles,
   his neck was put in irons,
19 till what he foretold came to pass,
   till the word of the LORD proved him true.
20 The king sent and released him,
   the ruler of peoples set him free.
21 He made him master of his household,
   ruler over all he possessed,
22 to instruct his princes as he pleased
   and teach his elders wisdom.
 23 Then Israel entered Egypt;
   Jacob resided as a foreigner in the land of Ham.
24 The LORD made his people very fruitful;
   he made them too numerous for their foes,
25 whose hearts he turned to hate his people,
   to conspire against his servants.
26 He sent Moses his servant,
   and Aaron, whom he had chosen.
27 They performed his signs among them,
   his wonders in the land of Ham.
28 He sent darkness and made the land dark—
   for had they not rebelled against his words?
29 He turned their waters into blood,
   causing their fish to die.
30 Their land teemed with frogs,
   which went up into the bedrooms of their rulers.
31 He spoke, and there came swarms of flies,
   and gnats throughout their country.
32 He turned their rain into hail,
   with lightning throughout their land;
33 he struck down their vines and fig trees
   and shattered the trees of their country.
34 He spoke, and the locusts came,
   grasshoppers without number;
35 they ate up every green thing in their land,
   ate up the produce of their soil.
36 Then he struck down all the firstborn in their land,
   the firstfruits of all their manhood.
37 He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold,
   and from among their tribes no one faltered.
38 Egypt was glad when they left,
   because dread of Israel had fallen on them.
 39 He spread out a cloud as a covering,
   and a fire to give light at night.
40 They asked, and he brought them quail;
   he fed them well with the bread of heaven.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
   it flowed like a river in the desert.
 42 For he remembered his holy promise
   given to his servant Abraham.
43 He brought out his people with rejoicing,
   his chosen ones with shouts of joy;
**Daddy, thank you. I believe you are going to bring the children and me out of this with rejoicing. I believe you are going to bring us out with shouts of joy. I already see it. I see the huge change. We aren't where I want to be yet, but I see such faithfulness and wondrous change. The desert has been hard, but you have been so faithful. Thank you for reminding me of Joseph and Israel and the steadfastness of your promises. Thank you for feeding my anticipation and expectation. Thank you for the desert. I hated it, but I am amazed at how present you were in it, and if you brought others out with rejoicing and shouts of joy, I know we are coming out the same way. You take my breath away with your goodness.
44 he gave them the lands of the nations,
   and they fell heir to what others had toiled for—
45 that they might keep his precepts
   and observe his laws.
   Praise the LORD.
 **Daddy, I'm pondering this, "...that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws." I don't understand how their getting the lands of nations or the stuff others toiled for leads to keeping your precepts or observing your laws, but I want to understand because I want to keep your heart. I want to be faithful.
Daddy, I know this chapter is your promise to me. It is you assuring me again that you have us even if we are in the desert, and it is encouraging me to continue to believe in your promises. When the hard days come, help me not to fall into flesh patterns but to fall into THIS truth, right here. Help me to remember that you are in the desert and good things are here with you. Miracles and provision and love are in the desert, and, Daddy, if this is where you are the most evident, I want to be here. I know...I know I'm not always faithful, and I know I whine a lot, but really, if this is where I know you, this is where I would rather be. I love the idea of the Promised Land, and honestly, I'd like to rest, but the Promised Land is nothing if I am too busy with the "good stuff" to see the God stuff. All the gifts are useless if I don't see you. Please, Daddy, help me to always see you.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

When You Need...Something

It's that kind of day.

You know the one I mean? The kind of day when you are sort of wading through emotions that are all muddled like colors in a child's fingerpainting, and you can identify the emotions in the mix but can't really pick one out, so you just stare at the whole mess and wish somehow you could shake it like an Impressionistic Etch-a-sketch and come up with something that resembles a Monet masterpiece, something that may not look perfectly like what you think it should but is at least recognizable?

Yep. That kind of day.

Wanting to be by myself curled up with a blanket and a cup of coffee watching a favorite movie...and wishing a friend would show up with an invite to Starbucks.

Thinking this single life works and I can live like this and wishing I had some to curl up with on the couch and feel his arm around me.

Thanking God for the long list good stuff has gone on today but still wanting to cry because...because.

Because of all the stuff I can't put into words...all the stuff mooshed together in the fingerpainting that I can't quite shake into something that looks like real life.

And I want to tell someone, but really, what do I say? "My fingerpainting is broken, and I can't fix it"? Uh, yeah. They are sure to get that.

So I say nothing.

Instead, I ask.

I pick up my phone, look through the contacts, pick a name, and ask, "How are you today? Can I do anything?"

I pick up my computer, type in a name, write an email, and ask, "How is your day going? Is it better?"

I pull out my card box, address the envelope, open the card, and ask, "Do you know I'm thinking about you and praying for you? If not, I am."

I answer the phone, listen to the voice filled with anger or tears waiting to fall, and ask, "Do you need to scream?"

I get on my knees (literally and figuratively), and I ask, "Daddy, who needs me to pray for them right now?"

A name comes to mind, and I ask, "Daddy, please reach where they are. Please reach into wherever they are and meet them there. Whatever they need. Whatever they need to hear. Whatever they need to know. Oh, Daddy, give them that something. Meet them there."

The words come and so do the tears because I understand they are wading through their own life fingerpainting, trying to find some answers, trying to find some clarity, trying to find...something.

Who knows? Maybe me on my knees is the exact something they need.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I Choose Daring

It is easy to pray about the problems.
It is far more daring to pray to be the answer.
Dear God, I choose daring.
How am I the answer?

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Prayer for You Today

I don't know what is going on in your life today...right now, but I prayed for everyone in my life realm this morning, and I want you to know I prayed:

Dear Lord, you are God over all things. You know all these people by name. You know the intimate parts, the silent joys they think others will believe are dorky, so they don't tell. I pray today that they share those joys with you and y'all have a great time rejoicing in them. I pray you share laughter, giggles, chuckles, and deep belly laughs.

I pray for the pain areas that they don't know how to talk bout or human words or best efforts can't touch. I ask you to speak to those pains and heal them and be sure they know you are not afraid of the tears, the screaming, or the coffee cups smashing against the wall as long as they are only aimed at a wall.

You know their dreams, even the ones they don't put in their diaries and journals because if someone sees, they might laugh at them. I pray today you would whisper life into the dreams, especially the dreams of loving deeply and being loved, make a difference in the world, knowing they have a purpose and belong, and I pray you would breathe into the other dreams...of getting to repaint the house, go on that vacation, or get a car that runs consistantly.

Daddy, you know how they need to be led and loved. Speak clarity of mind, clarity of priority, and clarity of purpose. Show them how to love others through time, action, and word. Bless families to be healed whether they be intact or broken. Just because folks fail at marriage doesn't mean they have to fail as Christians who choose to have a healthy relationship for family's--especially children's--sake. Daddy, show us how to be good to each other and value each other and bless each other...especially those annoying enemies of ours. Thank you for loving me when I was your enemy.

Meet financial needs and give folks wisdom to see the big picture not just the big screen TV. so much of our financial issues we create ourselvs and then want you to bail us out. Give us more sense than that, and nag the stuffing out of us so we are miserable when we ignore you.

Daddy, thank you for hearing my heart and my prayers. If I have prayed with the wrong heart or wrong intent--in judgment in anyway--I ask you to forgive me. Take my words and bend them to your will for your purpose. Above all, reveal yourself to everyone on my list and in my realm of life because above all things, they need you.

I love you, Daddy. I'm looking forward to spending the day with you. Amen.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friends and Enemies

"I've met someone," I say, smiling slightly, mostly looking down at the table.

In my peripheral, I see her sit up straight and her body get tight with excitement.

"Really?" she asks trying to control the excitement.

I nod, take a deep breath, and look up.

Who is he? What does he do? How did we meet?

I try to answer each question before the next question comes. I watch her face light with joy. Her eyes are bright. Her smile is big.

"Do you think he is the one?"

My eyes drop back to the table. I am caught off guard by the question, but more so by my answer.

"I think I buried one husband. I don't know if I can bury another one."

She is quiet. I wipe the annoying tear from my cheek and bite at my lip.

"I know you tell me I'm one of the bravest people you've ever known, and I know so many of you think I really would have made a helluva Marine. I don't know if I can do this."

My chin quivers. The table blurs, and I wipe at another stupid tear.

I am thankful she does not try to tell me not everyone dies because it doesn't matter. Some people do.

My husband did.

And people who like to remind me he wouldn't be here anyway don't understand. It is very different watching your husband walk out the door because he is starting a new life and walking out of a sanctuary and leaving him lying in a casket because he's dead.

I've done both.

And I am not sure I have it in me to risk that again.

"Maybe more time will help," she says softly, and I feel her watching me, and I know she wishes she could help in some way, say something. I wish she could, too.

I nod and wipe more tears.

"Does he make you happy?" Her tone is different, and I know she is trying to find me in this territory neither of us have ever traversed.

"He doesn't make me UNhappy."

She is quiet, watching me.

"I don't know how I feel anymore. I don't know how to identify emotions. I don't know..." I sigh deeply. "That isn't true. I do know how I feel. I feel frustrated.  I feel...broken, and I wonder if it will ever really go away.

"You know, Rob had heart problems from the time I met him. I used to lie awake with my head on his chest listening to his heart beat when it was arrhythmic because I was afraid if I went to sleep he would be gone when I woke up. I can't do that again." My voice cracks.

I shrug. "It's hard to be excited about someone new in your life when you are afraid they are going to die."

 "I can't imagine what that is like, Jer," her voice is low, filled with compassion.

I finally look up at her. Her eyebrows are furrowed, and there are tiny lines around her eyes.

"I know," I say. "Prayer, faith, and time."

She nods, but we both know...

The same time that can be my friend...can be my enemy.

How much time will it take before that truth no longer scares me?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

And Then What Happened? Part 6--When It Is Just Okay

I spent the day in the garage--moving shelves, organizing, crying, and missing Rob.

Just missing him.

Every time I missed him I told the Lord about it, told Him what I missed. He listened. He didn't talk much actually. He just listened...and I told Him everything.

And somewhere in the missing and the crying and the telling Him, I was suddenly okay.

I cannot explain it. I won't try.

I only know that I really was okay.

I had reached the other side that I have desired for so long. I was out of the fog.

I wasn't delusional. I didn't think life was suddenly hunky dory, but my heart wasn't in torment anymore. My mind was no longer trying to play policeman over my heart or spirit.

I was no longer at war with myself.

I really was okay.

This week the children and I took a short trip. We had no agenda except to not be home. We decided to do what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it. Not our normal trip, but they decided it was "the best trip ever".

On the first day of the trip, I wasn't excited like I thought I would be. In fact, I was only doing the trip because I had told the kids we would. For whatever reason, I was melancholy laced with on-the-verge-of-tears.

In the past, I would have tried to suck it up and push through anyway, forcing myself to be happy and excited because that is what I was supposed to do. I would have driven myself crazy analyzing what had happened that had made me sad and figured out what I needed to do to avoid it next time. I would have tried everything in my arsenal to "fix" it so I had the "right" feelings.

This time, though, I pulled out my phone and sent a text to several friends. I told them the emotional soup I was in, that I didn't know why, but really wanted this trip to go great. Would they pray?

 My friend Leanna summed it up perfectly. "Sad days happen. Praying it is good anyway."

Sad days happen. Praying it is good anyway.

Sad happens.
Missing happens.
Grief happens.

Life happens.

But it can be good anyway.

And somehow...through ways I cannot explain...God took--takes--all that stuff that hurts and is hard and makes it okay...

...And somehow He takes the Here that looks nothing like I wanted it to be and turns it into exactly what I want it to be...

...And He leaves me humbled and loved...and overcome by His ways of transforming the ugly truth into beautiful Him...

...And that is what happened.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

And Then What Happened? Part 5--The Fifth Point on the Compass

My friend, John Perron, asked me once, "You know there are actually five points on a compass, right? Most folks only think there are four, but until you know the fifth point, the other four don't matter."

The four commonly known points tell a person where she is headed, but without the fifth point, they are useless and can, in fact, lead a person into worse terrain.

The fifth point, to which he refers, is the location of being, where a person is.

We people like to know where we are going. We want the path to where we want to get. What we neglect is the importance of recognizing and accepting where we are.

Too often we want others to believe we are in a high class subdivision with a great media room and nice car when in fact we are living on the edge of the city's favorite garbage heap. It stinks, is piled high with rotting garbage, and is shifted according to the latest thing that gets dumped out way. But we figure out the right words and the right ways to perform because we know what others expect of us. We know who we should be and what we should be, and we try to be that...even when we aren't.

So we fool people.

Sometimes...way too often...we fool ourselves.

And then we wonder why this compass keeps getting us right back Here.

The only way to get out of Here is to be honest about where Here is.

For me personally, I really didn't know where I was, I just knew what it looked like, and it looked dark.

And I didn't want to tell anyone that because I really didn't want to hear how I need to go see a counselor or how I need on meds or how there has to be some "fix". So you know, yes, I am aware my fabulous friends--and they are fabulous--are not trying to do a quick fix or plaster me with bandaids so I look good. They are truly concerned and are trying to help me find my way out either through a tour guide, ability to navigate the terrain better, or rescue ops. They love me. I know that. They wanted me out of my wilderness as much as I wanted out of it.

Sometimes it is hard to accept that the first step to getting out is embracing where you are.

You stop thinking about where you want to be or where you should be or where you hope to be. The other points on the mental/emotional/spiritual compass become mute. All the "should be's" don't matter, and you realize until you understand where you are, you will never have clear direction for where you are going.

I was in the dark.

I felt like I should be okay.
I felt like the holidays should have been the worst of it.
I felt like it had been ten months since Rob died, eighteen months since the split.
I felt like I should be able to pull it all together.
I felt like I should be able to determine big goals, break them into little goals, and identify a strategy to ge there.
I felt like...I shouldn't be sad or feel like something was missing...or miss...so much.

But I was sad, and I did feel like something was missing, and there was a lot I missed.

And I didn't know how to tell anyone because all of that was broken, and I didn't want to be broken. I wanted to be healed...and...

I was angry.

I was angry that God expected me to have so much together...anyway.

I was angry that He didn't care if I hurt or was sad. He had these grandiose plans that I needed to fulfill, and He had given these promises that I was supposed to be excited about. He had a hope and a future, and I should be thrilled.

Except no matter how hard I tried, I wasn't excited or thrilled. I was hurt, but I couldn't be hurt. I couldn't be sad. I couldn't...be honest about where I was...because after all, I knew what I should be, and I was trying so hard to be that.

About ten days after the crater, I decided to give myself a break. Instead of trying to keep it together, I hid in the garage. It has been in disarray for over a year as I added Mom's things and then Rob's things and shuffled things around and out and finally decided I couldn't do anymore. With camping season coming, the disarray needed to be organized, so I headed into the disorganized stuff dungeon.

I can't tell you what set it off. I honestly don't remember. I simply remember throwing the box and letting loose on God.

All the anger about His expectations erupted.

I let Him know how I was trying to be everything He wanted me to be, but I felt like He wasn't helping, and sometimes, it felt like He even went so far as to sabotage things.
I told Him how I was asking for help, and He was letting more hits come.
I told Him how much I hated everything that had happened, that I didn't understand, that I was trying to trust Him anyway, but He made it hard.
I told Him how I was trying to do and be...and I was tired.
I told Him I really didn't know what He wanted anymore...but if He would just tell me, I would do my best to be it just so I could have out of the pain.

I screamed and yelled and unleashed my human heart on a perfect God...

...and waited for Him to squish me like a bug.

Who am I to question or accuse a perfect God? Who is He to take it?

He is a perfect Daddy, and I am the daughter He adores.

Periodically, I hear Him speak with clarity of human voice, something so audible and clear that it fills the room. It was that voice He used when He stood with me in my garage and said gently,
"I just want you to be you. In every moment, I want you to be you and not fight it.
You hurt. Let yourself hurt and don't fight it.
You are angry. Let yourself be angry and don't fight it.
I created you to have all of these emotions. Let yourself be what I created you to be.
I created you to be angry, to be sad, to be lonely.
I created you to feel deeply. Let yourself...even when it hurts."
I sat on a set of low shelves and sobbed.

"I miss him."

I felt the presence of God sit beside me. "What do you miss?"

And I told Him.

I miss his laughter and his smile. I miss the inside jokes. I miss the smell of his cologne. I miss the familiarity of his kiss. I miss the out of the box amazing things he did. I miss the feel of reaching over and his being in bed with me. I miss...Rob.

And He listened. He listened to me tell Him how I missed the beauty of the masterpiece He had loaned me for twenty-three years.

He didn't question.

He didn't ask how I could miss someone who had hurt me so deeply, someone who had walked out and took "until death do we part" promises with him. He didn't think I was absurd for being sad or feeling a loss. He didn't give me reason to be ashamed or embarrassed that I loved someone who made mistakes, someone was broken in heart and did broken things, and I didn't have to explain.

I just had to be...

honestly...

in that moment...

And for the first time in over a year and a half, I was at peace...not with everything that had happened...but with being Here...even when no one else understood where I was or why...

I understood...and for the first time, I knew He wasn't focused on where I should be...I knew He was okay with my being...

...Here.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

And Then What Happened? Part 4--I Got Squished

She took me out for coffee. I love her so I went. Over cups of over-priced, calorie-packed designer java, she looked me in the eye and asked, "I read what you wrote. Why?"

I've been asked that several times, actually. Being a writer, I want to present it in some lovely, well-worded manner that leaves the reader with some profound truth. I really want to hand you a well-wrapped box with a lovely bow that you open and find this nicely organized gift of obviously connected items. Instead, it is more like pulling out the kitchen stuff drawer, dumping it on the table, and trying to tell you why the pliers, bread ties, plastic wine opener that I never us because I don't drink wine, and keys to who-knows-what are all there in one big lump.

What do they all have in common?

Nothing...except the fact they all seem unrelated to anything else...and they are automatically connected through the unbelonging anywhere else...

Here is my mental/emotional kitchen-stuff-drawer-dump-on-the-table attempt at explaining the battlefield...and what happened to all the stuff...

As many of you read or know through personal contact, the holidays were FABULOUS! So much better than I could have dreamed. We laughed...a LOT, enjoyed friends and family. They were perfect. Norman Rockwell would have asked to paint us. They were that good.

Then December 26th came.

I cannot explain what happened. "Crater" doesn't quite cut it. It was more like being in an airplane, flying wondrously above the clouds, and then being dropped out with no parachute. It felt like a free fall...again.

I really kept thinking it was just the adrenaline crash that comes from the big build up of anticipation for an event, and once the event is gone, so is the rush, and there is a crash. I know how to handle those. I have just finished one major event. I rest a bit, and move to the next thing.

Problem. I couldn't figure out a next thing.

I couldn't figure out a direction.

I couldn't figure out a purpose.

I couldn't figure out...anything.

It was like I had been teleported back to last summer when I was simply trying to make sure the kids had three meals a day, and my whole "goal" was to get through the to do list of the estate, except this time there was no to do list...and I couldn't create one.

I didn't want to create one.

I didn't want to get out of bed.

In fact, I didn't want to do anything.

I had always wanted to write, but I could see nothing in my writing. I could find no goal. I had been asked to submit some pieces for consideration for inclusion in a book. I could find no clarity for what to write.

For a few years, I've had ideas for books--fiction and non-fiction--rolling in my head, but I couldn't solidify things. They seemed like wisps of dandelion flouncing through the wind. No direction. No way to be caught. Just floating with the understanding they would land somewhere.

My desire for further training in emergency response stalled. What would I do with it? Where would I go? What was the purpose? No clue. Maybe it was just a nice escapism in the midst of the carnage. If so, why spend more time and money on it only to find it is not something God plans to use?

In fact, I suddenly didn't know if I wanted to be part of emergency response at all.

A few folks suggested I reconsider photography. And take pictures of what? I had no vision. Hard to get focus when there is no vision.

Homeschool was hard enough to wade through, and it felt like wading...through water thick with mud up to my waist or higher. Mentally it was exhausting. Did I want to do this anymore? Was it good for the kids? Could I really be effective?

Not like this.

But what was "this"?

I could see all the symptoms--the lack of vision, lack of enthusiasm, lack of joy, lack of...

And I was frustrated because I could see what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be, and honestly, normally, I would push right through and just do it anyway. This time, though, there was no pushing through. There was no second-wind. There was no one-more-try.

I had hit the wall...and then it fell on me and squished me.

There was no solution except to move the wall, but to do that, I needed to know what it was made of.

Where I wanted to be didn't matter until I really understood where I was.

Monday, January 30, 2012

And Then What Happened? Part 3--The Cavalry

During this hard journey and transition, I have often been asked what did help or what people said that strengthened or encouraged me. What words served as life preservers instead of hand grenades?

I usually didn't have a good example. This time, I have GREAT examples.

A few weeks ago I shared Jan's response. I didn't do it to embarrass her. Quite the opposite.

Her response blessed me, left me humbled, and bolstered my resolve.

If this kind of warrior is standing with me and is convinced I can still make it through this battle and take the Promised Land and somehow she finds some kind of encouragement from my being on the battlefield, I will not walk away. Unless the King clearly says I am needed else where, I will not leave the battalion where He has assigned me.

I know Jan probably felt like she was sharing her brokenness, and she did with beautiful bravery, but she also shared her courage. She didn't feel like getting out of bed. She didn't feel like she could make a difference, but she was going to give what she had, and THAT is where the battle is won. THAT is what encourages other warriors to keep standing and to keep fighting.

THAT is what encouraged me.

I thank God she did get out of bed that day and she did find her way to her computer, did read my white flag post, and did find me through the screaming sound of the assault against her. Who knew such a seemingly "simple act" could have such a big effect? And yet it did, and I don't know what effects are coming. What I know is whatever spoils of war come to me by keeping this blog open is hers as well.

But not just hers. There were other search-and-rescue responses...

"I may have been a stranger the past couple of months but please do know that you continue to be an encouragement to me. Your words resonate the deep longings and deep hurt along this journey I have and been going through when all I can say is 'I no longer can' and you lift my spirit in a way that only someone who can truly empathize, not just sympathize, can. I love you, Ms. Jerri and I praise the Lord for you!"
This made me cry. I have been there so many times. SO many times, and I just wanted someone to understand. For God to allow me the grace...the honor...to be the one who understands...no words...only amazed tears...
"It makes a difference, Jerri. Every blog you write makes a difference. Every time you share the deep, hurty places, it makes a difference. It is in our weakness that we connect and are seen by others in this place alongside you. Today, God gave me words for you. See my blog. Love you big! "
I read this, and my first response was, "SHE FELT SEEN!!!"

Have you ever been there? Where you just need to feel seen? I have. I have known the feelings of just needing to be seen. That God would use me to offer such treasure...more tears...

There are times when I read others' blogs, and they touch me deep, and I consider leaving a comment...but don't.

I'd probably sound like a dork. They probably wouldn't care about some stranger who can't even explain why this blog about the number of fish in a net made me sob. They'd think I was weird anyway. They probably have all kinds of folks leaving comments.

And really...

...what can my words mean to them?

 
They just wrote this amazing thing that was clearly God speaking through them to me. Surely they hear God...surely they know...

...They know the fatigue of standing when the assault is relentless...

Sometimes they see only the hoard getting closer...without realizing it is because of the ground they are taking.

Sometimes they are so focused on what is coming at them, they do not see the people they are defending standing safely behind them.

And sometimes...they get tired...sometimes the blood loss feels greater than the victory gained...if there is victory gained. Sometimes they don't know.
Dear ones, warriors know the battle. They see the onslaught. They see the enemy. They hear the shrill whistles of incoming. They feel the hits. They know the fatigue of standing when the assault is relentless.

Sometimes even warriors need the Cavalry.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

And Then What Happened? Part 2--When I Know It Isn't Just About Me

A few blogs ago I started to explain the interim of "I'm closing my blog" to "Guess what! I didn't." Then life got a bit busy...which is really just a trying-to-not-look-like-a-dork way of saying I was looking for words. I was trying to sort through it in my brain and put it in a reasonable sequence and explain things so they make sense. The fact is, not all things in life fit into a reasonably sequence. Sometimes life is a scatter shot, and sometimes, if you haven't been there, no explaining will make sense, and if you have been there, you don't need me to explain.

Even with this blog, I am writing this AFTER the blog is done. The way I started it is not the way it went, but a lot of my life is like that, and I trust God will take it where it needs to go to speak to the folks who need to hear it. He is just groovy like that.

But...about that interim space...

Honestly, when I said I was planning to close the blog, it wasn't so folks would come to the rescue. Honestly, I was at a mental place where I didn't expect anyone to care. The reason I didn't just close it is because the Lord spoke clearly to my spirit:
"You cannot just close it. There are people who find a place there, and if you just close it, it only feeds the sense of abandonment and rejection. You have to give them a warning, and you have to make sure they understand it is about where YOU are in your struggle."
I don't know about you, but I've been in places where non-personal things were hugely personal. I remember one day after my dad had died I went to buy makeup. I've used the same brand, same everything since high school, so fifteen or so years at the time.

They had quit making it.

Now, I know it is only makeup. Seriously. It is ONLY makeup, but at that moment, it felt like a punch in the stomach, and although this large makeup company has no clue who Jerri Kelley Phillips is, it felt like a personal hit. Except, I didn't feel personally dumped or dismissed by the makeup company.

I felt dismissed by God.

I mean, really? How hard was this? I had just gone through a hard end of illness time with my dad. He had died. My marriage was rocky, and how hard is it for God to provide my makeup?! It is JUST makeup! How hard would it be for God to simply make sure they made it long enough to get me through this?!

Some of you are staring at your screen as though you just read a lost chapter from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Some of you are laughing because you've had that moment. Some of you are misty-eyed because, "Thank God someone gets it!"

Yep.

Sometimes the little things are not little. Sometimes the little things speak volumes.

I didn't want my closing my blog to speak the wrong thing.

When I was going to close my blog, I didn't want anyone to feel like God had dismissed them.

As I said, at that point, I didn't see why anyone would miss my blog, BUT I knew what I had heard from God, and I didn't want anyone to feel abandoned. I didn't want anyone trying to find it and wondering why God let it get pulled down TODAY OF ALL DAYS! I didn't want anyone to feel like they had found some place to stand or something they could at least partially depend on, some semblance of normal when too much was changing too fast or they were just having a bad day, and then, POOF! It be gone.

So, I did what I felt like God told me to do. I gave a heads up.

"This isn't personal. It isn't God forgetting you. YOU are fine. I am not."

Really, that is all it was--my attempt to close the door quietly instead of jarring someone with a resounding thud.

And then what I never expected...happened.

God took these precious people whom I didn't want to feel abandoned or lost and created a search party to find me in my own darkness.

And then the Cavalry came.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

And Then What Happened--The Whole Story

Last week I posted part one of the explanation of what happened between my wanting to close my blog and my decision not to close it. I have finally finished the explanation, and starting tomorrow, I will post a series of five more entries that explain what happened.

I hope you will join me.

I hope you see the faithfulness of God in my journey...
...especially in my dark place...
...and I pray my story helps you see Him more clearly in yours.


With humbled awe of all He is and does,
Jerri

If I could give you anything...Freedom from Jealousy and Envy

If I could give you anything today...

it would be freedom from jealousy and the dead places that come from envying others.

Envy and jealousy are merely weight that
keep you where you are
instead of your moving forward
with courage, expectancy, and enthusiasm
into
who you are supposed to be
 and
what you are supposed to do.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Prayer for Today

This morning I was praying for a precious, precious lady, and the Lord spoke the neatest thing over her. He said,

"You are a life pitcher.
You spill it out and slosh it out all over the place."
Isn't that a fabulous way for God to describe a person?!
Have to confess, today, I'm praying to be a life pitcher, sloshing and spilling all over the place.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

And Then What Happened? Part 1

Last we left our author, she was struggling with what God is doing in her life, where she fits, what role she plays, and how to handle the rocking boat.

Lousy place to leave folks...especially loving folks who have hearts of gold and words of encouragement that bless deep.

I'm sorry to leave you there. I needed to have wrestle time with God to figure some things out and get through some things. I plan to tell you tons, but for now, I want to talk about YOU.

First of all, YOU rock.

As you know, one of the things I wondered is if I make a difference. If I went silent, would it matter. You had some things to say about that, and you wondrous people know how to lay out truth. So I want to share some of that truth and my thoughts with everyone.

Ready?


"The truth is I didn't want to get out of bed this morning.

The truth is I've been praying for you off and on for the past 24 hours!

The truth is that you put into words the lumps in my throat and the weight on my heart that I haven't been able to sort out enough to put into my own words.

The truth is that your words validate those of us who are feeling worthless, hopeless, guilty, forgotten, tired, broken, rejected, abandoned ... and all of the rest of the ugly mess.

The truth is that God is weaving us together for His purposes and plans and we have no idea what that is ... and it doesn't matter because His plans and purposes are always for good.

The truth is I'm glad I found your blogs.

The truth is if you keep writing, I'll keep reading, and we'll both be stronger because of it! "--Jan
 Jan, you humble me...encourage me...lift my exhausted hands up...and help me believe even as I am, He does wondrous things. Thank you, sister. You will never know...and I have no words...only heart deep gratitude...

Monday, January 16, 2012

What Can I Say?

Her name pops up in my inbox, and my heart jumps right into Happy.

She knows the hard stuff, the ugly stuff. She is the one who answers my phone calls in the middle of the night and cries tears of grief and confusion with me. She asks the hard questions, isn't afraid of the screaming rants, sees the light in the darkness.

She has walked through the darkest with me...and sees the light in it all...

She has a gift for validating the hard stuff and still believing in the great stuff.

And I love getting her emails.

Lisa Buffaloe is a writer, speaker, radio host, mom, wife...my friend, my cheerleader, my intercessor, my editor...my companion believer in the miraculous among the muck.

I have a whole file folder devoted to her emails.

And what does she say that is so profound? So heart strengthing? So...life instilling?

"Jerri, I am so excited about what God is doing in you and the children and your lives. It is so fun to be on this journey with you."

Yep. She even wrote me such things during the Year From Hell.

Change the words, but the statement is always the same--

I SEE GOD IN YOU AND YOUR LIFE.
I LOVE IT,
AND I AM THANKFUL TO BE PART OF IT.

WOW!!! Who doesn't want to hear that? Who would not want to hear that they see good things, GOD things? I would far rather have someone see me walking on water, or floating in a God-given dingy, than someone who can see nothing but the waves coming at me, the cup I'm dipping the water out with, or my sopping wet clothes.

There are times when people are so focused on the fact we are not where we used to be they cannot see where we are. They are so focused on the fact we are not "back to normal" (I could preach a whole seminar on the prison of "normal") that they can't see how better than "normal" we are, and honestly, sometimes I just want to scream...or delete email address and phone numbers, which I have done.

In the last few weeks, a few people I have chosen not to speak with in several months have emailed. The emails are the usual: "I am here if you need me. I can listen. If you need someone to encourage you, I'm here."

The rest of the emails convey how sorry this person is that the kids and I have had so much pain, grief, sorrow, and so on. The person is so sorry it has been so hard, so sorry about Rob, so sorry about my mom...so sorry my life isn't what it was...but remember God does good things despite...list all the negative things that have happened...and how my life isn't what it was.

I delete those. I don't even respond. I don't try to tell the person how inaccurate their perception is. I don't try to list the good stuff going on. I used to, but I became tired of the, "I'm so glad you are having a good day and thankful you can have a positive outlook despite everything..." Really? You want to encourage me, and I'm having to help YOU see the good stuff? Um...no.

And then there is Lisa and folks like her. She isn't the only one. She is the one who comes to mind because I received an email from her this morning, and she is excited about some travel possibilities for the children and me, some writing opportunities that have been presented, and some ministry opportunities opening up for me.

She isn't preparing invites for a pity party for me because of the roof or the garage or the computer issues or next month being February or....Nope.

She prays for all those things, asks me about all those things, but she never defines me by those things. She defines me by how she sees God working in our lives, blessing us richly, doing new and creative things.

And she is excited.

And that spills right over and dumps my heart right into Happy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Learning by Seeing

Dear God,

Please let my son watch closely. Please let him see how heavy the shelves, boxes of tile, and boxes of laminate flooring I carried are. Let him see my fatigue and notice how much my body hurts from caring and moving loads really far heavier than you made my body to carry. Let him notice that I asked members of your body for help...with no reponse.

And God, help him remember, so when he is older he has the godly wisdom to order his days for the important things, the relationship things, the God things of service, and give him wisdom to order his time so it does not center around LSU or Tide football or the World Series or the latest episode of whatever, but that it always includes time to serve you by serving your people. Help him remember tithing is more than a check. It is a lifestyle, and tithing time is one place your people fail miserably. Help him not to fail, but to ask you where you want your hands and feet that you put on his body to serve with his day, his week, his month...his lifetime.

Lord, when you called me to be his teacher, this is not what I had in mind, but if this is how you choose to teach him to be a man after your heart, then let him learn well.

Thank you, Lord.

Transition

Transition is the strangest thing,
but if you can get past the feeling of wanting to throw up when things you thought were going to happen crater
or the light-headed feeling that comes from the sudden jerk into a direction you never saw coming,
it's not so bad.