The Kind Of Man That I Am

” Even if I never believed in Heaven. No matter the circumstances, I would fight for you. I would honor my vows, I would love you still you, because that’s the kind of man that I am. “

You’re the good kind of man, the one who can confess  unshakeable love over your easily shaken wife. You’re the steadfast man. The one who is foundation, even through the storm. 

And when the past sweeps in like a tidal wave, you are  the lighthouse, calling me back to shore. 

And when I confess all of my shame, eyes to the floor in the midst of my broken, your soft gaze assures me that, “we’re not all that different.” It seems as though no matter what I have done, you are ready to love me through it. 

You’re the man that cleans up the mess your tornado of a wife leaves behind. When life gets messy and busy and loud, you are sure to never leave me behind. 

And even when I had been so unloveable, that morning I got home from work you  had flowers and chocolate and a card waiting. It was Sweetest Day, and I had forgotten. But you knew. I smiled and forgot why I was mad.

Remember our first year, we lived in a 36 foot long motor home with our dog, thinking we were going to travel this land, but your wife’s ever changing mind realized closet space just wasn’t big enough. So within a month God provided a beautiful home in the country owned by Jesus loving people. And I still believe it was so God could really meet us there, could pull me out of the pit. He changed so much out there in the country. I asked Him to go away but He wouldn’t ever go too far. Remember how we wanted to sell that motor home, thinking it would take awhile, but it was sold right away? And I spent some money and took up scrap booking. You let me get a kitten that first year and we learned love is a fight.  

Year two came by the ocean. It was hard and we both cried. Year two came and you learned the well of my soul. I thought this would be the end of it, but you loved me more for it. You learned I’m dramatic and I’m always thinking more than I’m saying and that I long to be a mamma. I learned that you’re willing to go the extra mile and unafraid to say the words that are hard to find and the love you give is a reflection of Jesus. And we spent some money on a real nice camera, ’cause I was gonna get serious about that photography stuff. You let me get a fish that second year, our cat ate him soon after, and we learned love is sweet. 

We hit year three in salty air. It’s true we weren’t sure if we would make it at times. Well, you knew we’d make it but it seemed like sometimes I’d made up my mind. Many times I wouldn’t say a thing but you knew by then the well of my soul overflowed. I wouldn’t say a thing so you would wait for me, to find courage. And you were always gentle. Many times I would run my mouth but you knew by now that I was just trying to get under skin. So you pull me in. Love me more. Even after how many times I’ve slammed the door, you pull me in. I crashed the car and you smashed your phone. I’m hard to love but you come easy. We’re still unpacking all of the luggage I forgot to mention I’d bring. But you don’t mind, you say ‘take your time.’ We’ve cried a lot but laughed more. And I spent more money and took up crocheting. Oh, and bath bombs. So there’s an unfinished scrap book, a really dusty camera in the closet somewhere, and an unfinished scarf waiting in the corner. You laugh when I mention a new hobby but you go along with it anyway. You let me get a puppy this third year, and we learned that Jesus is the core of love. You already had known that, but you walked with me through the valley to get to that truth, anyways. 

You never give up on me. Always pushing me. Standing like a rock when I throw the hard truth of my faults in your face. And when I think that God couldn’t be this good of a God, that someone like me doesn’t deserve someone as good as you, you continue to show me real Jesus love. You continue to draw me in closer and deeper to His love. That the past is rotten manna. And today is so much better.

Thank you for being you. For worshiping our Father so unashamed. Never changing for anyone, even when they treat you bad. You are sincerely the most genuine, non-judgemental, kind-hearted human I have ever met. Thank you for showing me our Fathers love everyday. Thank you for living out exactly who you proclaim to be. For showing me that we can live life chasing Jesus while being exactly who we are, despite what the “norm” is said to be, despite the looks we receive. Thank you for sticking it out with me. For being my anchor. I love you. And the kind of man that you are. 

 

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The Long Way Home

For 13 months we lived in a beautiful home in the country. There was a garden in the back with a rose bush that had overgrown. As I began to weed the garden, I would find roots sprouting from one end, that lead me back to this big rose bush. It had grown so strong for so long, without anyone tending to it, that the roots had overtaken this garden. Isn’t that quite like life?

A painful event would happen to me and I would run from it. I would not face it, but let it root deeper. And time would pass and things would pile on my resume of things I majorly failed at, things I did not want to face. The roots were too deep. And my arms were too weak to begin pulling. So I kept running, finding anything to fill the space between me and those roots. Even now right before bed or a random place in time I can get a flashback of some long forgotten stupid night and cringe. Even now I can still fall back into the lie of the enemy that because of my past I am no good. But I am strong enough now to recognize his lie.

I don’t believe that God is angry with me for not choosing life. I believe He was deeply, deeply saddened that I didn’t know His Truth well enough to know that this was life. I believe He heavily wept over the fact that I was deceived into darkness. I believed in the lie – this was not life. The lie that I would feel relief, and this was something I would soon move on from as if it never happened. But this was my wildly unkept rosebush, overtaking the beautiful garden within me. I believe God felt sorrow towards me when I felt so alone. I believe God my Father deeply mourned for my loss, when I hardened my heart to avoid feeling anything. But greatest of all, I believe He welcomed my baby Home and that I will see my baby face to face in Heaven.

And that is just it: we’ve become so numb to what we don’t want to come to terms with. With what we would rather avoid. We want the easiest route and the easiest way out. But I’ve learned going the distance produces perseverance. I want to take the long way Home to Heaven, I want to stop at every detour. Walk up every steep mountain. To walk through pain and remember what it felt like. I want to take my time, to be completely raw in truth. I’ve grown to desperately love truth. To love on everyone lost. Everyone going through affliction. I choose the long way home. Facing our roots and pulling them out from within the deep produces an inner strength we never thought possible. Our past has no control over us unless we choose to let it. Because past things are passed things. Our past cannot harm us any longer if we choose to use it for good – in the helping of others.

Up until recently I would pray for God to break me away from my past. To let me forget. The memories. The pain. The embarrassment I still feel. But God did not. So finally I thanked Him for not allowing me to forget, because if I forget how can I be there for anyone else with similar roots? How can I help someone avoid growing these same roots? If I forget then there will never be a lesson learned. If I forget I will once again have taken the easy route out. Instead I’ve chosen to walk through it, root by root, room by room, with God holding my hand. Facing things I’ve been avoiding. Facing things I’ve been praying would just disappear. Decisions I have made. Forgiveness I have been withholding. Guilt I have bagged away. And it’s only then have I realized that the burden seems to grow lighter. I imagine my heart with these rooms full of filth, and God walking with me hand in hand, power washing the walls clean with each one we face.

So what roots have you been avoiding? What shortcuts have you been taking? If you’re wondering if the burden will ever get lighter the answer is yes. If you have been trying to work up the courage to face the painful fear of the past I challenge you to pull that first root. Take that first small detour. Walking through pain is not easy, but it is worth the Light. It is worth the freedom. Your face shines all the more beautiful in the freedom. I know you yearn for the freedom. And in your wild heart of hearts you were created to run in the freedom of the day. Choose today.

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Where Shore Meets the Sea

I hold on to things. I’m by no means a hoarder, but I definitely still have “Babs”, the stuffed-dog I got when I was two. (And I definitely still sleep with her, my husband has accepted this.) I hold on to memories and love and pain all the same. Like stepping away from relationships. All of those years I held knuckle-white tight. And learning to be independent and who I am as this person God created. If we let them, people will shape us into a shadow of ourselves, and when they leave we can’t recognize our own reflections. Sometimes we have moments where we have to choose whether to remain stuck in the waiting for change to hopefully come or we have to take the leap to reach change now.

I get lost in my own mind sometimes and relive moments with my grandma, I still have her number saved in my phone as if I could call her whenever I want to. I get lost in her memory and her goodness and her love for Jesus. I wish she could see me loving Him, too, the way she always prayed I would. I remember the night she made her way to Heaven and I wasn’t sure how any of us would continue to live. How would we make it without her? But tomorrow came and we had to choose to move with it. I’m so thankful I finally chose to move with it.

We walked down the beach tonight and there was a young boy with his mother, and I think of my child. I think of the way his memory used to be shut away, too painful, always taunting by the enemy. And I think of the way God has redeemed it, so beautiful, so thankful I can talk about it. He would be big enough to run alone and play in the ocean and laugh and talk with me about who knows what. It hurts for a moment but I think of Heaven immediately and the setting sun behind us. And I smile. I’m full of joy in heart at the thought. How much greater is it all on his side of Heaven?

And a year ago I couldn’t face this. The pain of growth and releasing of hands and moving forward. But sometimes God works in our time, when it comes to matters of the heart. He doesn’t rush our wounds to heal and He doesn’t push us when we aren’t ready. Because He knows it’s not easy being us. He came down on earth as one of us. He knows life can be ugly and burdens can be heavy and this bed seems far too safe compared to the world outside of our window. He knows people die and fathers leave and relationships end. He knows results come back a devastatingly positive and the rain seems never-ending. And so he doesn’t push us, but encourages us, that yes, the pain in your heart may be overwhelming some days but there is a sunset over the ocean painted just for you that he doesn’t want you to miss. Just a sunset over the ocean that can help our feet to move forward, even if it’s just one small step at a time.

And what’s on the other side of moving forward has been so worth getting out of bed. So worth the releasing of hands. So worth all-in trusting Jesus. So I will leave my pains right here, where the shore meets the sea. I will let it wash away with each wave. Because although there is pain, God is still good, the sunset is still so beautiful, and Heaven is surely worth it all.

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It’s Okay to Stay

I thought by now maybe we’d be somewhere new. Somewhere broke down on the side of the road in the motor home we bought three years ago that’s now probably been sold a time or two since we sold it last fall. I’ve spent time wondering maybe if I didn’t miss some turns then maybe we’d be somewhere far from here by now. But we’re still here, in our hometown.

Sometimes you’re called away but sometimes you’re called to stay. Just stay. And when you’re gone from everything, all that you know, in a new town and new faces, new street signs and stop lights, it takes all that you have to be brave. Brave to step on the new sidewalk outside of your new house. Brave to re-memorize where the closest Tim Horton’s is on the corner (you pray to God there’s a Tim Horton’s). Brave to say hello to new faces. To start over again. And that’s always viewed as honorable. You’ve made it, right? Getting out of your hometown. But sometimes you’re asked to stay. Stay planted in the familiar. You don’t have to use that old GPS in the center counsel because you’ve drove down Michigan Avenue a million times or two since you were a kid. Seeing a familiar face every time you go to the store and it all feels like home. A different memory at every red light floods your mind as your car comes to a stop. When did it become such a bad thing to say you’ve lived here all your life? When did it get written in the rules that we have to leave in order to really have lived? Sometimes life’s missed when we’re so busy saving up for the next bus ticket out. 

Yes, it can be brave to leave, to start over where nobody knows your name, but it also takes courage when we are asked to stay. Invest love and life right where your roots are planted. In the familiar. In the faces who already know you. What you have done in your past and the mistakes you have made. It’s brave to to pick up and start again, right where you are. 

Sometimes we’re asked to pack up our things and invest in a new place. But sometimes we’re asked to just stay.

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When Waking Up is Hard to Do.

Waking up isn’t easy when you don’t see a way out. There’s no way out of the hopelessness and depression you feel. Loneliness is just behind those covers and so you bury your face within them for just a few moments longer before the alarm clock goes off. You wonder what’s worth it. You wonder what’s worth standing out in the cold. What’s worth facing a world that continues to knock you down? Maybe you’ve lost a loved one and it’s still too hard to walk passed their picture hanging in the hallway. Maybe you’ve failed at something you’ve put so much effort into and you just can’t bare to try again. Maybe the bills are piling up and you don’t know what to do. Maybe there’s an addiction that keeps knocking at your door. Or someone has hurt you right down to the core and forgiveness seems so far away.

The snow falls and it gets hard to go out into the world. It gets hard when it looks dark out there. The snow falls hard but it melts away. The Earth doesn’t let the dark of the winter define it and so it makes beauty within the snowflakes. It always melts away and let’s new things bloom into life.

Whatever it may be that makes waking up hard to do, whatever burdens or failures that are pressing against you, they don’t define you. You can lay in bed until 3pm because it’s safe, because there you won’t fail. There you won’t walk passed that picture in the frame. There you won’t get hurt and you won’t feel the cold, brisk air burn your cheeks. But there you miss out on falling in love. You miss out on meeting someone new for the first time or helping someone who needs you. There, hiding in that bed, you are safe but you miss out. Put on your scarf and face the cold and make something of the day.

You can rejoice in the memories of your loved one and when the missing gets too heavy to carry you can lay it at Jesus’s feet. You can cry until snot drains from your nose but you can laugh hard until your belly aches and know that the world is still turning. A failed test doesn’t reflect a failed life. Just because you haven’t met “the one” doesn’t mean you have a terrible love life. Love is in helping an elderly woman find her dogs in the freezing, cold weather. Love is holding your newborn niece for the first time, staring at her in awe because you can’t believe God put this all together. Everything doesn’t always go as planned. Life isn’t always perfect. We can stay miserable or we can accept that we don’t always get the life we think we deserve. We aren’t perfect but we can accept that because He already has.

Waking up can be hard to do and things aren’t in our favor. We try our best and sometimes we fall down and it hurts. But sometimes we don’t. Sometimes it goes our way and we are waiting for something bad to happen because life just isn’t this good to us. Sometimes the stars align for us so we wait for a meteor to come crashing in but it never does. The stars align and our babies laugh and our cups overfloweth. We are just a week sober and that is enough to make us dance. We truly forgive and we forget why we were ever upset. We see someone in need so we give them all we have to offer and feel their overwhelming thankfulness in a hug. All because the chance of something good happening finally outweighed the bad that is keeping us in our safe beds. We faced the brisk, cold air on our cheeks for a chance that our stars might align, and eventually, without fail, they align. All because waking up was hard to do but we did it anyways. And for this, we rejoice.

  

 

Misery Has No Hold On Me

Your alarm goes off and you hit the snooze button, but today is different. You don’t fall back asleep for a half hour longer, risk running late and having to go 10 miles over the speed limit. You get out of bed (you might even make the bed) with a little pep in your step. “Today is going to be different.” You tell yourself. 

You make yourself what you believe will be the best pot of coffee you will ever make, and you smile at the rising sun and the way the light is beaming through your window. Usually you would push your cat away as she snuggles on your lap while you try to read the morning paper, but today is different. And the way your cat is purring over your now crinkled paper brings you back to being a small child. The way you would sit on your mothers lap as she read her favorite magazine. Her breath smelled like morning coffee as you lay your head on her chest and hear her heart beating. Yes, this is a memory of joy. 

Now you go outside, thermos in hand, and face the world. You’re singing to every song on the radio and you smile at strangers at the gas station. You give change to the homeless on the corner of the street and you don’t think twice about what they will do with the money. “Today misery will not overcome me.” You tell yourself. “Today I choose joy.” Because the routine of getting caught in rush hour has finally outrun itself and allowing others thoughts and opinions and allowing others problems affect you severely has run it’s toll. 

And even when your boss asks you, “Can’t you do better?” And even when your friends would rather not be by your side. Even when you can’t afford that beautiful coat I’m sure you deserve. Even when for once your spouse lovingly tells you “No.” Even when things just aren’t going your way. Yes, even when you aren’t treated with respect. And even when the entire universe feels as though it is laying all of itself on your shoulders. You choose to sing. You choose to skip through the grocery store with your small child. You choose to kiss your mate in public because you are shamelessly in love. 

When you spill your morning coffee all over your pants while you’re already running late you choose to laugh instead of cry. You choose to dance in church because you finally let the glory of The Lord permeate your entire soul. And instead of always venting about your problems you choose to put effort in changing them. You choose to be the best friend, mother, father, sister, brother, lover, that you could ever possibly be. Not because you want something in return but because today you decided to choose joy. You decided that no matter what disappointments came your way today you would choose to be happy. That you will not react out of anger. And today you choose to not let emotions control you. 

  You choose to seek wisdom and answers. You stop wondering why things aren’t in your favor or why you haven’t found a husband or wife yet. You stop worrying about money and you stop posting all of your dilemmas on Facebook. You break the bondage of misery because it has no hold on you. You have that choice. Yes, today you choose joy.