For When You Feel A Little Lost (and God won’t hand you a map)

 

img_6063So a funny thing happened to me. Somewhere around Mother’s Day, I just stopped writing. 

One week away from my blog and my book crept its way into two. Two weeks spiraled to three, and three stole into four. I’d taken breaks before but never quite like this. This felt different. This was different. My words had packed and gone away. Dried up, disappeared, vanished.

Was something wrong? Was this okay? It felt so unlike me.

Writing is not just my hobby; something I do on a whim just for fun. It’s my life. My joy. My calling. Thus my confusion when my words just stopped. When the voice in my head that speaks in pages went mute. When my heart (Motivation? Inspiration? Muse?) for writing went MIA.

Again and again I asked God what was this all about. If He could shed some light? Clue me in? Help me out? I could get back to work or enjoy a long rest with peace of mind and heart.

Weeks turned to months (gasp!) but God didn’t answer. I asked and I waited and life went on. Our family’s business and home building project continued to grow a little each day. I kept on schooling my oldest two despite the onset of summer. We worked hard. We played hard. My best friend moved 1,000 miles away.

All kinds of things were happening in and around me but this only added to my confusion. Usually my writing is how I work through things. It’s how I make sense of life. So why the silence? Why did my words just up and leave when I needed them the most?

It would be nice to say a breakthrough came like a fireworks display. But that wouldn’t be the truth, at least not quite.

God did speak one late summer day while I prayed and asked once more…

Me (for something like the thousandth time): God, I feel like there’s all this stuff going on inside me and yet I can’t put words to anything anymore. They’re in me somewhere, but I can’t find them. I just can’t get the words out.

God (finally): Dearest, it’s okay. I want you to write when you find you can’t keep the words in.

Oh my sweet Jesus! He always knows just what to say. He didn’t answer all my questions but  in this little whisper of truth He gave me what I needed. Permission to wait and rest. Permission to fill up on all the things that make me burst with words.

Afternoons beside the lake

Golden haired girls with books in their hands

Teaching young minds

Reading good books

The dream of a house sitting real on a hill

The smell of hard work on his skin

The feel of her cheek against mine

Family

Friends

Fall tinged days

Fill up on these things,” He said. “Because filling on these things is filling on Me, and the words will come…”

This morning I heard it again. That voice inside my head. At first I didn’t even notice it as it scribbled out its pages. I was going through motions, just making my bed when suddenly I realized; it’s back! (And going on so nonchalant as if it never left.)

God? Is it time?” I asked. But the voice kept chabbering on. I could feel His proud papa smile on me as He answered, “What do you think, dearest?

So here I am, returned to this blog, to this little space in time. To this space created  by little me to tell of His big love.

I’m not sure what the coming weeks and months and years will bring. Having just gotten my words back I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m afraid they’ll scamper off…

But outside the trees are starting to turn my favorite color of fall. Books are stacked all over my house, and dreams are all around me. 

God is all over me. I’m full of Him and His spirit and no lack of anything can change that.

His mysterious ways while not always or completely understood are, in fact, always and completely perfect.

 And writing? 

 Writing feels like home. 

For When That Best Part of You Feels Lost

Computer DreamSo I did it! This week on a snowy Tuesday afternoon I sat at my desk and typed the finishing keystrokes of the second draft of my novel. 

Finishing the first draft was a major milestone, but this draft? This milestone? It feels even bigger. I pretty much knew without a doubt I would go to my grave before finishing this draft. It seemed to take for-e-v-e-r. And yet, somehow, I did it. I saw it through. I reached the end.

Finishing this draft has that down hill slope sort of feel to it. It’s like running a race, a long, long race and cresting the next to last hill. I’m not done yet; I’ve got one more to go (publishing…yikes!). But I can see the finish line. I’m almost there.

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what’s next. Draft number three? Professional edits? Book proposal, agent, publisher…holding my book in my hands? These are the steps that must fall into place and I have no idea how or when that will happen but there’s one thing I do know. This dream, it’s given me life. 

I recently had a chance to sit with a friend as she shared her vision for ministry. I wish I could convey in words the passion that poured out of her as she spoke about her dream. 

For months she wrestled depression, depression that stole so much. But as she shared her plans for helping women she couldn’t have been more alive. In her words, her movements, her eyes…all signs of depression were gone.

And I know, (oh, I know!) how she feels, her story so much like mine. 

How you feel like you’re losing that part of you. That beautiful, important best part of you and you don’t know how to get it back. How you feel this close to crazy.

And then He comes. There you are in the pit, and He comes and tosses a rope. He tosses you a dream and that dream…it pulls you out.

It pulls you out of the crazy, the dark, the sad, and suddenly you see. You see Him and His kingdom and people and places and this work He needs you to do.

This work only you can do.

I’ve been in that pit and He tossed the rope and I latched my heart to that dream. And now that dream is two drafts closer to reality.

There’s so much about this writing journey I have yet to learn. So much I may never grasp completely. But as I write my story, the writing itself becomes my story. Becomes my lifeline to joy and the person He created me to be.

With two drafts down and the finish line before me perhaps the one thing this journey has taught me the most is this: Sometimes we need the dream just as much as the dream needs us. 

And isn’t it just like Him to know this?  

And to love us like dreams coming true.

When You Find Yourself Walking a Broken Road

 

Winter 10The snow? It just kept falling all big and heavy and white. And we? We just kept laughing and dancing and shaking our heads that this beauty, this land could be ours.

Thirteen years (18 if you count the dating, doe-eyed, dreaming ones), three states, three major moves, four apartments, one rental house, two months that turned into seven years living with mom and dad, five employers, three children, and one self-started business led us to this.  

To a real life winter wonderland and a place to call our own.

Winter 4 Winter 7 Winter 8 As I held my baby close watching snowflakes melt on her cheeks. As little girls laughed and dug their hands in mounds of snowy white. As husband snapped photos of tears in my eyes and I craned my head back to catch flakes on my nose and eye lashes.

As we all stood for this slice of time and wonder, wonderstruck by the beauty of this first snow of the season, by the beginning of this season in which we leave one home and create another all I could think was: this...

He knew it would come to this. This is what He had in store, set aside, waiting, planned, created for us.

The jobs, the moves, the states, the dwellings some of them, many of them, broke our hearts. But now we see how He worked it for good.  How He made a broken road and blessed it to bless us.

Winter 9Winter 13Winter 12There’s a country song that says it: “that God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.”*

And He did. He has. He will continue to.

He takes the broken, the lost, the forgotten, and makes it new. Makes it good. 

New, as snow on evergreen branches.

Good, as the feeling of home.

*”Bless the Broken Road” Lyrics by Bobby Boyd, Jeff Hanna, Robert E. Boyd, Marcus Hummon

 

For When It All Starts Coming Undone

Running ShoesA few weeks ago while shopping I heard Lady Antebellum’s country hit Run To You played throughout the store. I found myself singing along to this song I’ve always liked but never really thought about.

This world keeps spinning faster

Into a new disaster so I run to you

I run to you baby

And when it all starts coming undone

Baby you’re the only one I run to

I run to you” (Run To You chorus)

These words, this song, they made me think of Jesus. I love when a song does that.

I recently wrote a post about my struggle with anxiety and my compulsion for sugary treats and online shopping. After writing this post I realized it’s in times of stress and fatigue that these struggles become real to me.

Isn’t it always true? That you can turn up the heat and find out who and what you turn to.

I run to sugar and shopping.

I run to my husband.

I run to my friends.

But God? Jesus? I’m sad to say He’s not the first place go. In desperate moments of loss, hurt, or strife I cry to Him, of course I do. I beg Him for help, comfort, and rescue.

But in the day to day, in the worrisome hiccups and squabbles, it seems so much easier, so much more gratifying to pick up the phone and text my best friend. To eat a handful of M&Ms or buy those cute shoes.

But God wants more than my frantic pleas. He wants all of me, my whole heart. He wants me to run to Him when my kids are driving me crazy. When my husband and I can’t stop fighting. When I’m tired, discouraged, and stressed.

When this world spins fast and disaster strikes He wants to be my One, my Only.

So often in times of trouble we turn to the people and the things that can do nothing. All the while resisting the only One who can do anything and everything.

So what does running to Him look like? For me it looks like worship, and solace, and thanksgiving.

It’s a playlist of songs that take me right to the heart of His comfort, His favor, His love. It’s listening to this playlist while getting dressed or cooking dinner instead of other voices, other noise.

It’s prayers whispered in the heat of the moment. In those times I don’t feel like praying. It’s grabbing my prayer journal or taking a walk, a quiet moment just me and God.

It’s filling my heart with the good things He gives me. Scribbling down words of thanks, writing time, a cup of coffee with a good and godly friend. It’s treasure troves of scripture pinned throughout the house. A breath of fresh air from a book that inspires, a sticky-note glimpse of His truth.

And isn’t it also true? That any of these things can become idols, and any of our idols can become conduits of His love.

The difference is who and what we’re running too. 

When the heat turns up, turn to Him.

 Run to Him.

 Only Him.

 Just run.

The Truth About Suffering

Fairyland QuoteThis past June my husband and I found out we are expecting our third baby and while I was excited to share this news with our family and friends there was one friend I couldn’t tell.

Within days of discovering our happy news I received an email from my friend, Caye. In this email Caye openly shared the devastating news that she had just lost her baby at seventeen weeks.

I have journeyed with Caye through one miscarriage and to hear that she was now facing another, when she had just started to grab on to the hope that this pregnancy would last, broke my heart for her and her husband and their dream of having a family.

In a desire to be sensitive to the grief and loss she was going through I decided not to tell her that I was pregnant until I knew she had some time to heal. It was hard to keep my news from her. I didn’t like the feeling of not being open, of hiding something so important from a friend I felt so close to, but I couldn’t stand the thought of hurting her, of adding to her pain.

A few days ago I had the pleasure of spending some time with Caye. After weeks of not being able to get together it was good to see her and I could tell that something was different. Instead of sadness she was full of joy. Instead of grief she had hope in her eyes. I sensed in my heart that the time had come to share my news with her.

“Caye, I have something to tell you but it’s kind of hard.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “What is it? Tell me.”

“I’m pregnant,” I said with my hands literally covering my face.

“Oh my gosh!” she said. “I had no idea. How far along are you?”

“Nineteen weeks,” I said with an apprehensive smile.

“NINETEEN WEEKS!” said Caye.

Together we laughed and hugged and I know my sweet friend well enough to understand that she was genuinely happy for me. I explained to her why I waited and how I’ve wanted to tell her for so long.

“Thank you for waiting,” she said. “It would have been hard. There was a time when it would have really hurt but now…”

I watched as tears filled her eyes.

“But now, I’m over-the-moon happy for you. God has done such a work in me through this suffering and it is so, so good. I can’t believe what He’s done.”

For a moment we were both quiet, because really, sometimes there just aren’t words. But there is friendship, and there’s this way that two hearts that know Him and love Him and love one another have the ability to understand.

I’m not sure how to express what her happiness meant to me. What her words spoke to my heart. What her courage and openness inspire in my life. I am honored to be her friend, to walk with her through suffering, to walk with her through joy. And my own joy feels more complete now that she is a part of it.

Caye’s words on suffering remind me of what Mr. Beaver says about Aslan in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe:

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis pg. 86)

When we make the choice to walk with God through this life on planet earth we are not choosing a God who is safe. On the contrary we’re choosing a path that is marked with pain and suffering. There are pitfalls, and trials, and tests. There is adversity, darkness, and danger. But even in the wild, even in the pain, even in the darkest night He is there, working in us, molding us, shaping us. Creating something beautiful, creating something good.

And in the end, isn’t it the good we’re after? The beauty? The wholeness? The satisfaction of staring down adversity and finding what we’re made of?

The satisfaction of finding Him?

I’m currently reading a book by Catherynne M. Valente titled, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship of Her Own Making. (Awesome title, I know!) And in this book Valente writes of her main character, September:

“There must be blood, the girl thought. There must always be blood. […] It will be hard and bloody, but there will be wonders, too, or else why bring me here at all? And it’s the wonders I’m after, even if I have to bleed for them.” (pg 36)

This life, it is hard and bloody. And sometimes we’re left wondering why. But in it all and through it all there is One.

There is a Lion, who isn’t safe. There is a King who is always good.

There is a Savior who went to the cross, to prove once and for all, that there are wonders worth bleeding for.

For more on Caye’s story please visit http://www.cayeser.wordpress.com.