Friday, July 26, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Broken


Wow... I'll admit I had to walk away from this one when I first saw it at 1am.

Broken and beautiful... that's how we're supposed to be, right?  Broken by the weight of sin, but beautiful in the grace of God.

Not everything that's broken is beautiful.  Sometimes it's ugly.  Really ugly.  Ugly to the point that you don't think it can ever be repaired.  Broken so badly that you just want to throw it out, toss it in the garbage heap, turn your back on it and walk away, saying "I didn't need it anyway."

I find myself moving 30 hours away from the brokenness.  But yet, it will follow me.  Because its brokenness has affected me.  It will always affect me.  I may say "I don't need it.  I can do without it.  I've managed this long without, right?"  But it will always be a part of who I am.

Yet, nothing is beyond the grace of God.  Nothing is beyond His repair.  He heals the brokenhearted.  He has the power to heal broken relationships.  He has the power to take what we look at and say "there's no hope for that, it's shattered into too many pieces," and make it whole again.

Am I willing to trust Him to do that?  Not only am I willing to trust Him to mend the broken, but am I willing to trust Him to put me back in the midst of the broken?  Am I willing to maybe take one step and apply just a little glue, to one area?  Am I willing to trust that He won't cause me to be broken, shattered, into a million pieces yet again?  Am I willing to trust that if He does allow me to be broken yet again, it is for a greater purpose?


This is written as part of a community of bloggers who spend five minutes just writing from their hearts about a single word prompt.  This week's Five Minute Friday is being held on Facebook due to Lisa-Jo's blog being overwhelmed thanks to an awesome post she wrote this last week, which I wholeheartedly agree with!

5 years

I'll admit it.  

I nearly forgot our anniversary was today. 

I had stuck in my head it was Sunday.  I don't keep up with what day of the month it is anymore, but that's still no excuse.  I guess it's just evidence that I'm tired.

So... 5 years ago today, right now, I was working on the telemetry floor.  Yes, I worked the night before I got married.  12 hour shift.

There was no honeymoon.  There was no wedding cake.  There was no bouquet or garter toss.  No flower girl or ring man.  No matching dresses and coordinated tuxes.

The wedding party

There's no white picket fence.  There are no cookies cooling on the counter.  There are no flowers on the table.  There are no beautiful curtains on the windows, no softly lit reading corner, no Better Homes & Gardens worthy decor.

There are, however, two baby girls asleep in cribs, one who looks just like her Daddy, one who looks just like her Mommy.  And the one who can say something besides "nono" asks about her DaDa every day.  We've been counting down till the day he comes home.  This morning, when she wakes up and says "DaDa?" I'll get to tell her "today.  DaDa will be here today."

There are two dogs.  They are causing significant trouble with housing right now, and they aren't helping my to-do list get any shorter, but they are testimony to the effect a man can have on a woman's fears.

There are boxes.  And boxes.  And more boxes.  Boxes that signify a new life for us.  A life of having meals together, weekends together, worship together.  Not just half the time.  The majority of the time.

The Mechanic said it best when he said "It figures that the only way for us to be a normal family is to go to an abnormal place."

Have the last five years been what I thought they'd be?  No.  Nor have they met his expectations.  I didn't expect easy, but I didn't expect this hard either.  Would I change anything?  Yes.

The one thing I know I wouldn't change, though, is this.  My answer to this question: "Do you, Stephanie, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?  ... for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honor, and obey until death do us part."

I haven't always fulfilled my vows.  Actually, I've not fulfilled them more than I have.  That whole honor and obey part... work in progress.  I hope.

It's not the dreamy Prince Charming fairy tale little girls dream of.  In real life, unlike in Anne of Green Gables, you can't beat a guy down over and over and expect him to stay madly in love with you.  There's no mood music for those perfect moments.  And once you bring kids into the mix, any romantic moment you might experience has the tendency to be interrupted by a baby's wails or the sound of an exploding diaper.

But it's real.

Friendships in college were forged by facing the same trials together.  By dreading the same final, toiling over the same research assignment, dealing with the same 5 midterms within two days. Adversity drives you to lean on each other, to support each other, to sometimes scream at each other but come back later to share the carton of ice cream you bought together.

Marriage is the same way.  An easy, rose petal covered path would lead to a shallow relationship.  But when the road is rocky, when there are thorns and howling winds, that is when you learn who you can depend on.

Looking forward to the next five years of rocky roads with my Mechanic.

 I'd rather face dirt roads and blizzards with you than have a white picket fence on a neighborhood street with anyone else. I love you. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Weakness and Strength

Do you ever get to the point that you just want to quit?  You're so tired that you feel like you simply can't go on?  

I'm there.

But I can't quit.

My husband told me to have some optimism.  I told him I was optimismed out.  

I have a newfound respect for single parents.  It's tough.  It's beyond tough.  It's exhausting.  It's being on call 24/7 for weeks on end.  I know moms are always on call, but this is different.  The knowledge that if my child were actually to get into something dangerous, I'm the only one who can stop her can get quite burdensome. 

I said today that I was exhausted in every single way possible.  I'm sure there are more ways out there, but I'd rather not find out about them.  

One of Andrew Peterson's songs that I love says this. "...the first time you know you're not enough, the first time there's no one there to hold you.  The first time you pack it all up and drive alone across America, please remember the words that I told you... go back to the old roads."  

So back I go... to look at what God has brought me through.  Is that not what the Israelites were commanded to do?

Those many times I had no idea what school I'd be at or where I'd be living in a few months.  Those college days of Lyme and exhaustion.  The blur of the first 6 weeks of having two 11 months apart.  

We are given strength to match the tasks presented to us.  It's not just physical strength.  It's mental and emotional strength.  

It's strength to withstand the constant "need" that pulls and tugs until you feel you're going to snap.  

It's strength to find patience when there are no naps, when the shrieking seems like it will never stop, when you are interrupted from your packing to try to interpret what "elpa elpa elpa" is referring to, only to realize the box you were halfway through packing has now been emptied and she needs help (elpa) to reach her Wubbanub that is now in the bottom of the empty box.  

It's strength to believe where the Lord leads He will provide.  

It's strength to believe there is a reason for all, even if it's something as simple as needing to have two cars totaled so they could be replaced by SUV's better suited for dirt roads. 

It's strength to realize it's okay to fall apart. To admit weakness.  To admit that you need a break.  

It's strength to drive to Sonic to splurge on a watermelon slush.  And then realize it's National Hotdog Day and be refreshed with $1 chili cheese coneys.  

It's strength to know the best thing you can do for yourself is to curl up with a book and a brownie and start the day fresh tomorrow. 

It's strength to have confidence that one day, I will know a young family moving.  That I will recognize struggle.  And that I, because of all this, will know what to do.  That I will be able to look that young mom in the eye and say "I know what this is like, I've been there.  Let me help you."

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has not might He increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The God of the 9th

I found myself saying a few days ago, "God, I starting working my way through Grudem today!  Can't You give me a break already?"

I'll admit, I'm tired of this God of the 9th scenario.  Why can't I get things taken care of during the 7th inning stretch?  All I ask for is a place to live, with my dogs preferably.  It doesn't have to be nice.  Just with working heat and a solid roof.  Is that too much to ask?

I wonder if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego ever felt like this?  God could have stopped the guards from throwing them into the fiery furnace, but He didn't.  He let them be thrown into the flames.

Wonder if Daniel felt like this?  God could have stopped the guards from throwing him into the pit with the lions, but He didn't.  He let him be given to the lions.

Wonder if Abraham and Isaac felt like this?  God could have provided the ram right after the alter was built.  But He didn't.  He had Abraham put Isaac on the altar, tie him down, and raise the knife.

Wonder if Joseph felt like this?  God could have stopped his brothers from throwing him into the well.  But He didn't.  He could have stopped him from being sold into the slave trade.  But He didn't.  He could have prevented him from being sent to prison.  But He didn't.

The centurion's daughter was allowed to die before Jesus "healed" her.  Lazarus was allowed to die before Jesus "healed" him.  Christ Himself was allowed to die, and be buried, before being raised again.

The widow was down to her last flour before Elijah stepped in.

I'm pretty sure there are other examples of this.  This is what God does, often, apparently.  Why?  Why not show us His power ahead of time?  Why not save us this worry and trouble?  Why not prevent a few headaches and the worsening of my TMJ?

Because then it wouldn't be faith.  "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

When there's plenty of money in the bank... I don't really trust God.  When my children were healthy, I didn't really trust God.  When my marriage was perfect... well, that's never happened. =)  But when things are going smoothly, when everything is stable, when life is easy, trust is easy.  Because it's not really trust.  My girls don't have to really trust me to hold them when they're sitting on my lap on the couch.  It's when I'm tossing them up in the air that trust comes into play.  It's easy to trust me when they get to happily play in the tub, uninterrupted. But when I'm dumping water over their heads... that's when trust is needed.  (And that's still a work in progress.)

Actually, that's a good example.  I'm working on getting Ladybug to not kick and scream and flail while I rinse her hair.  I need her to trust me, that she'll be able to breathe with the water running down her face.  I need her to trust that it's not going to go on forever, that even if she doesn't fight me it'll still end.  That I have a purpose in doing what I'm doing, even though she doesn't like it.

Maybe God's the same way.  Actually, in a lot of those ways, I know He is.  I know He has a purpose behind what He's doing.  I know He'll bring me through this.  I know He'll provide.  Yet still, I kick and scream and flail.  Which only makes it worse.

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.
In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Phil 4:11-13, 19

Friday, July 19, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Belong


When I think "belong,"  I think of walking into the grocery story and seeing familiar faces and chatting while buying milk.  I think of recognizing the cashier and her asking how my babies are doing, and me asking about her grandkids.  I think of waving to people while walking the dogs down the sidewalk, greeting the same people in the park every day.  I think of knowing the name of the person taking my order in the McDonalds drive through.  I think of knowing when there is a visitor in church, because I know everyone that's normally there by name and face.

I think of inviting people over and they know where I live.  I think of having people nearby that I can call and say "can you keep my kids while I run to the store?"  I think of having my children's friends over after school, providing milk and cookies and helping with homework, and having their mom call and ask "is my kid at your house?  Can you send them home?"

I think of people who know my story.  Who understand if I cry on certain days.  Who know enough of my history to know what to ask and what not to ask.

In this time of transition, it's very difficult to feel I belong anywhere.  I'm not staying here.  I'm not there yet.  I don't even know where "there" is, beyond a city.  Which is more than I had a week ago.

But like all, I desperately want to belong.  I want friends.  I want a community.

My next agenda on the prayer list, after a house, is friends.  Perhaps I should bump that up the priority list, and realize that belonging is more about people than a place.


This is part of a community of bloggers who spend 5 minutes just writing about a single word, and then sharing their thoughts at Lisa Jo Baker's blog.  Come join us and be prepared to be encouraged, convicted, and wowed by women. =)