Just “New” It

Hold me close – You know that You have to.
Tie me up; pin me down.
‘Cause I won’t fly in a broken-wing dimension.
You change the chord and the sound.

The lyrics above, from “Closer to the Edge” by the greatly-underappreciated Burlap to Cashmere, perfectly describe the process the Lord has been taking me through over the past few weeks.  He’s been holding me so, so close, even when I might have been pushing away a little bit. He’s pulled me out of the “broken-wing dimension” that I inhabited for so long, and He’s setting my life to new music even now.

What does that even mean?  Well, a while back, I was at a friend’s house, and we were having a conversation about how God is moving in ways we don’t recognize.  She went full nerd on me and broke it all down: “‘Re’ means ‘again,’ and ‘cognize’ has to do with perceiving…of course we don’t recognize what He’s doing because it’s all new.  There is no ‘again!'”  She was right, and as I drove home that evening, the Lord continued the conversation:

God: “Re” also means “back.” There is no going back.  There is no “renew,” just “new.” There is no “revive,” just “vive” (from the Latin viviere, to live).  No “re” anything in your life.

Me:  How do I know where to go, then?

God:  You know Me.  Keep your eyes on Me, not what’s going on around you.  I want you to begin to ask Me to “just ‘new’ it!” about every area you want to see changed.  And yes, it sounds like the Nike slogan [said with a wink].

So that phrase, “Just new it!” became my current leitmotif.  I found myself saying it anytime I was confronted with anything old – situations, thoughts, beliefs, whatever.  Dragged-out drama with the ex?  Just new it!  Feelings of inadequacy?  Just new it!  Bad eating/sleeping/exercise habits? Just new it!

And things are changing.  They are not rapid changes, but they are evident.  I begin to see signposting of my future, my purpose, my “me-ness,” all of which I understood in the context of the old dimension where my wings were broken, but none of which I’ve had a clue about in the new.  For the first time I can remember since about 2003, I have had moments of complete mental relaxation, absent the heaviness and stress that was my constant, unwelcome companion.  I feel like I’m finally, finally coming up for air.

This is not without its complications, though.  There is so much horrible stuff being exposed in our world right now that I’ve found myself feeling guilty that my life seems so lightweight and carefree, guilty that I can see great things happening even in the midst of chaos.  So back to the Lord I went just last night, voicing this concern. His response?

God:  Daughter, do not take on the false burden of guilt.  The way your life feels now – this is what it means to live in hope.  One of the most visionary things you can do is to stay in hope, even as evil continues to be exposed all around you.

Well, there you go.  Fellow believers, it’s about more than just escaping this earth for the streets of gold.  It’s about the purpose and plan and goodness that is for us EVEN NOW.  Maybe especially now.  How hope defies the logical reaction of despair, because yes, our world is a mess.  But hope looks beyond what our physical eyes see, and it finds the answers we need in the goodness of the Lord, which does not change and is not contingent upon situations.

If what I just said seems too good to be true, or if you have questions or want prayer, I invite you to contact me.  I would love to introduce you to this hope I’ve made my home.  There’s room for you there, too.

Onward, into the new!



They say a lady never tells her age. I never said I was a lady. And those years have taught me a lot, so I own them proudly.

Today, I’m staring down the barrel of yet another birthday.  It comes with breathtaking inevitability and astonishing swiftness; they all do, anymore.  Long gone are the days of proudly counting the months or the half-years (“I’m ten-and-a-half…and three days!”).  Instead, I just wonder where the time went, if I have anything valuable to show for it.

I don’t mean to sound maudlin.  It really is just a number that means very little in the grand scheme of things.  But the collection of experiences, the nuggets of knowledge gained, well, those merit examination.  There have been far more challenging experiences than lovely ones over the years, and even now I find myself starting over yet another time, with a completely new – and mostly unknown – set of parameters.  It’s enough to make a girl cry sometimes…and it has.  Oh, it has.

But it has also made me strong.  It’s made me cherish – and actively seek out – beauty in its many forms.  It’s cemented and deepened my faith in God in ways ease could never accomplish.  It’s taught me that honest communication is the single most important ingredient in ANY relationship.   And it’s shown me that the enemy of our souls uses the same tactic every single time because it WORKS, until we get wise to him and say, “No more.”

I’m talking about fear, y’all.  Sometimes he throws paralyzing, heart-stopping fear at us, you know, the obvious kind.  But mostly, he’s more subtle than that.  Mostly, it’s fear that masquerades as “wisdom.”  The refusal to open our hearts back up after being badly hurt, disguised as “protecting” ourselves – that’s fear.  Convincing ourselves that we’re happy with status quo, with ordinary, with unrocked boats, when really, we just don’t want to fail – that’s fear. Finding fault in everyone we meet so we don’t have to trust them – that’s fear, too.

I get so frustrated when I see people bound up in these invisible chains, believers and non-believers alike, but especially believers.  What frustrates me is not the people, but the fact that we should know better, should be able to identify this stuff, and so many of us are oblivious.  Some of us are so bound that we refuse to acknowledge it when we come face to face with it.

I heard someone say once, “There are facts, and there is Truth,” and that has stuck with me ever since.  We serve a God whose name IS Truth, so I began looking at the “facts” of my life against His plumb line, and I realized quickly that soooo often, the two do not mirror each other.  I want the Truth above all else, and I live by that tenet, no matter how difficult the process of getting it is.  That has pushed some people right out of my life, made others exceptionally angry that I wouldn’t budge, and has also brought me into relationships with the best people I know.  It has taught me that my identity can only be found in Him – and He is actively engaged in showing me every day.  It has encouraged me to live life in fullness and intentionality, not just endure until the sweet by and by.   And most importantly, it has taught me to quickly identify when fear is setting its subtle trap, to call it out, to throw it out, and to choose the better way.

I don’t know if I would have learned all that if the first 46 years of my existence had been cushy and soft.  Maybe I would have.  Doesn’t matter.  I’m here now.  And hard years have never dulled my sense of adventure, my optimism, or my goofy appreciation for the absurd.  I am more hopeful now than I ever have been, even though I have no idea what my future holds.  But as I’ve said before, I know Who holds my future – and Who holds me.  There is nothing to fear.

If I could have any birthday present I wanted, it would be for you to come live fearlessly alongside me – especially if you know Who holds you, too.  I’d want you to embrace the excitement of knowing that there is good, good stuff ahead, one minute down the road, 40 years down it, and every point in between.

Come celebrate the Truth with me!

My Requisite Coronavirus Post – Sorta

The world has changed a lot over the past few weeks.  I’ve been reading posts, blogs, and stories from people who, after moving through the various stages of grief, are discovering the benefits of their slowed-down lives.  TP shortage notwithstanding, it seems that with so many of our daily distractions shut off,  people are finding that they actually enjoy each other’s company, 6 feet apart, of course.  Families are becoming a little more nuclear again by dint of the fact that they’re all stuck in the same house together.  Parents are realizing exactly how much our society has relied on teachers to mold our children – those same teachers we’ve mocked for having “easy” jobs with summers off (newsflash: they don’t).  I saw one post that said it “felt like the 1980s again” in the poster’s neighborhood – people were outside taking walks, riding bikes, hollering to the neighbors across the street from the front porch.  I’m guessing there was no lemonade stand on the corner, nor a Slip-n-Slide party going on, but I understand what she meant.

Up here in Alaska, I can’t say my life has been all that impacted in these ways.  Alaskans have an amazing ability to be incredibly neighborly and leave you the heck alone, all at the same time – and with less than 1 person per square mile, social distancing is practically a way of life, anyway.  In fact, until Saturday morning, when the governor issued a couple of pretty restrictive mandates, I was still going into the office every day.  Starting tomorrow (today is Seward Day, a state holiday), I’ll be working from my spare room/library (finally unpacked my books after 4 years, once J moved out and I had a space for them!) while my kiddo does school at the kitchen table.  I really don’t mind, and M has two years of homeschooling under his belt, so he’s doing fine managing his education.  The stores are well-stocked, and spring thaw/breakup is in its beginning stages.  There’s not much to complain about.


(And I guess this isn’t really a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but it’s frustrating for me and feels like it’s never going to be over.)

…I got an email a few days ago saying that my final divorce hearing, which was scheduled for 6 April, was canceled – to be rescheduled at an unspecified later date –  because it was deemed a non-emergency issue.  I understand; the courts are considered “essential” but are still under the same restrictions as the rest of us – but maaaaaaan.

M and I have been diligently working through all the yuck that comes with our lives being upended, and if anything, isolation has given us extra time for really fruitful discussions, prayer, etc.  We’re both in a good place and ready to move forward, whatever that looks like.  I told a friend the other day that my entire future seems to be up for rewrites, so I really have no idea what it will entail, but in my imagination, it didn’t entail waiting interminably for a piece of paper that declares what I’ve known since 1 Jan – and really since about 5 years prior.

I am so ready for everything to be tied up with a neat little bow.  The last 15 years already feel like a lifetime ago, or like I’m looking at someone else’s life when I think back on them.  Being forced to have this ongoing connection to something so distant and broken and over is just wrong and rather rude!  I didn’t ask for this divorce, and I didn’t want it, but neither do I want to be tied to what is done and dead.  The Lord has promised me that over the next few years, I would find me again, and I can’t even begin to tell you how appealing that sounds to me.  It’s time to be 100% free of this mess that “helped” me to lose myself in the first place.

Okay, whining over.  All in all, M and I are doing well.  I mean, we’re introverts! Like the meme says, we’ve been training for this all our lives! 😀  I pray you’re good, too, wherever you are and whatever your situation.  Stay healthy – this coronavirus thing WILL come to an end – and reach out if I can help you with anything.  And maybe agree with me that, like coronavirus, this divorce process HAS to end, too.


Love, Laughter, Dan, and Norman

For a little over a month, I’ve been navigating the intricacies of “dissolving this thing,” what my soon-to-be-ex called breaking up our marriage.  I’ve had some tough moments, but really, it’s astounding how good I feel, how free.  As I’ve allowed the Lord to pull me through all the stages of grief, I have become lighter and lighter and lighter.  I had forgotten what that was like.

One thing the Lord has said to me during this process is, “Dare to feel things.”  Oh, boy.  To this thinker, the idea of not processing everything through logic was initially mildly horrifying.  But I know God always has a good reason for everything he asks of me, so I said, “Okay,” and jumped in feet-first.

And honestly, it’s a little unsettling.  It feels a little out of control.  But it’s also a little liberating, tapping into the creativity that has been so squelched down inside of me.  I’m not going to fight the process, and I’m definitely not done with it.  Ultimately, I think it’s about finding balance because I realized I’ve been so guarded against the lack I lived with that any and all joy that came my way just wasn’t able to land.  I’ve started experiencing these little bits of joy recently, and, let me tell you, they’re awesome.  Laughter is a delicious medicine, y’all.

Also, I’m pretty sure I’m actually a bit of a romantic at heart.  I came to this conclusion one day when I randomly thought, “What’s the ultimate love song?” and I had an answer right away.  That answer, for me, is “Longer” by Dan Fogelberg.  The idea of loving someone so deeply that it seems like you never didn’t love them; the celebration of bringing different, often opposite, qualities to the relationship; the picture of love mellowing through the years but never decreasing…those are beautiful images that make me smiley and nostalgic and sum up what I always hoped for in my life.  Who knows?  Maybe one day, I’ll have it.

A friend told me it’s not realistic to live a Norman Rockwell life, but I kind of don’t agree.  We live in a troubled world, yes, but I think it’s a mindset.  Rockwell celebrated the little moments that were often big moments.  He found the innocence and goodness in everyday life, and I think it’s possible to do the same even today. (And, side note in defense of Mr Rockwell: he wanted to address many social and political issues of his day for a long time, but The Saturday Evening Post wouldn’t let him.  If you look at his post-Post work, he did tackle some tough subjects, but even in those, he found and illuminated the good.)

There are lots of changes happening for me right now.  And you know what?  They FEEL really good. 🙂  At the risk of sounding cliche, but not caring if I do, I truly believe the best is yet to come.  Onward!

Living. Color.

Holy moly, have I learned a lot the past few weeks. Intense. But don’t worry; this post isn’t a total bummer.

You know that commercial for Claritin, the allergy medicine, where everything looks hazy, and then someone magically peels away the blurry film and suddenly, all is bright and shiny and clear (Claritin clear)?  Well, I think maybe I’m mid-peel.  I’ve still got a lot of stuff to figure out: some things I didn’t know I didn’t know, and others I’m relearning, but MAN.  So many other things have become crystal clear to me recently.  To wit:

1.  When someone makes a choice you can’t control but that affects you in a very large and life-altering way, hindsight will probably show you that this isn’t the first time.  Possibly (probably), many of that someone’s choices altered the way you might have done things, especially if you were trying to keep the peace, or if you saw glimpses of greatness that gave you hope until the next letdown.

2.  And maybe going around that mountain so many times began to have an effect on your outlook, your personality, your ability to express yourself.  Probably, you didn’t even realize it, except for that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that told you something just wasn’t right.  Perhaps your creativity dried up.  Maybe you couldn’t sleep or had constant stomach issues or felt stressed out all the time.

3.  But you kept going, kept believing, because God is good and merciful.  Until one day, God said to you, “Drop your sword and shield, take off your armor, and leave the battlefield.  This is no longer your fight,” and you knew that free will had won out over God’s will.  Because he is good and merciful, there were many, many chances to come into alignment, but also because he is good and merciful, he said, “Enough is enough.  My daughter isn’t going to be subjected to this anymore.”  And the next day, you heard about the very large and life-altering choice that someone made.

4.  And you were exhausted and in pain and sad and angry and sad again.  And you didn’t eat, and you didn’t sleep for too many days in a row.  And then God whispered, “You’re gonna find yourself again.  It’s gonna be good.”

5.  And then you remembered that you’re a thinker, not a feeler…which means that once you felt all the feels, your default was to process them through the question, “Okay, WHY am I feeling like this?”  And you were so grateful for the question because it made you take an honest look at every single thing, and it helped you to let go of a whole lot.  And you started to feel lighter, and dare you admit, free.  And you remembered how sensitive you are to what people carry around with them spiritually, so you drew up some very healthy boundaries.  And you taught your teenage son to forgive and then do the same.

6.  And your friends reached out…and kept reaching out.  One friend, in a far worse situation than yours, checked in every few days from across the continent and loved you through her own tears.  Another friend, back in contact with you after 25 years, reminded you to find joy in the smallest things simply by telling you about his days, and as you listened to him, you remembered what it felt like to be awestruck by a sunset or your child’s laughter.  Your closest friend made herself available to you night and day, knowing when to talk and when to just listen, when to make you eat something, and when to simply plop her giant purr-machine of a cat in your lap and let him do the work (that’s why she’s your closest friend).

7.  And then you remembered telling a woman you knew back in Texas how you felt like a greyscale copy of yourself, drained of color and life.  And you thought about your love for art, photography, cooking, and writing, and you wondered where it had gone.  You looked at the vibrant clothes in your closet that you hadn’t worn in ages and decided to change out of sweats.  You realized you hadn’t had a haircut in months, and you didn’t really like your stylist, anyway, so you found a new one who spoke your language and did a fantastic job on your hair.  And slowly, slowly, you began to feel the color seeping back into you.  And you felt God smile and heard him say, “See?  I told you it was gonna be good.”

This has been my journey since the first of the year.  There’s still paperwork to file, logistics to figure out.  I need to find a job.  Et cetera.  But really, all that is by the way.  The important thing is that I’m moving forward.  And honestly, even though the situation sucks and is not what I would have chosen, the reality is that it’s been a hard road for the better part of 2 decades.  I’m ready to not be dragged down, held back, or consumed.  And the thing is, God’s promises are for anyone who aligns with them.  I can’t imagine living my life any other way, but it’s not my choice to make for someone else.  So, okay.  Here we are.  I’m excited to see what the future holds, and I’m not looking back.


Thank You

I know an incredible number of good people.

We-e-e-e-e-e-ll, it seems that only one of us took the talk after Scott’s funeral seriously (Scott Stories).  We were going to slam the old book shut and start a new one together.  The old one has been slammed, indeed.  But instead of writing a new one with me, J decided he’s leaving, for the third and final time.  The Lord told me the night before J did that he’d made his choice, and so I’m currently dealing with all the unpleasant decisions that need to be made.  I could write thousands of words about the roller coaster of emotions I’m wanting to get off of, about the hindsight that illuminates the truth that I forgave many, many things over the years that were so not okay, but frankly, I don’t want to write about all that.  I’m experiencing it as it is, so why give it any more attention than necessary?

Instead, what I want to say is thank you.  Friends across the country reached out to me when I broke the news on Facebook, and many of you continue to check on me nearly 2 weeks later.  I am humbled and overwhelmed by the amount of support y’all have given me.  There’s such healing in just knowing I matter to people.

For most of my life, I have felt completely alone.  Well, okay, I’ve always known the Lord is with me, but in terms of people, that’s a different story.  There have been so, so many instances where I’ve walked through things that people had no clue about, or they couldn’t relate, so they just backed off uncomfortably.  It’s not a good feeling, and after time, it leads to not really trusting anyone, while at the same time, desperately needing someone to come alongside and be supportive.  That push-pull is exhausting, and I can’t speak for more extroverted personalities, but it tends to make us introverts draw inward even further.  Which further heightens the sense of aloneness and keeps us from reaching out even when we really should.

Initially, I posted about this situation on Facebook because I knew it would get out eventually, and I didn’t relish the idea of having to talk about it over and over when the questions started coming in.  But instead of questions, people offered prayers and hugs and shoulders to cry on.  They sent private messages telling me about their own, similar situations, asking me if I’d slept or eaten that day, reminding me that I matter.  And I began to experience something that many of my fellow humans already know:  there’s a cushion of peace and acceptance in hard situations that comes from sharing your brokenness.  I guess there’s always the chance of someone being horrible about it, too, but that has not been the case here.

So, my friends, thank you again, even though the words aren’t adequate.  Your love has been life-giving to me in a time that I have questioned every good quality I have.  The simple act of taking a few moments out of your days to reach out has helped me breathe a little easier and keep moving forward.  The sleeping and eating parts, I’m still working on.  But it will all balance out eventually, and maybe I’ll get skinny in the process.  The Lord has been very, very present with me, and he said, “It may be over with him, but it is far from the end for you.”  So I’m hopeful for my future, and I am held afloat by the concern and care from so many good people in my life.

Thank you. ❤

Scott Stories

Warning: this is not an easy read.

Around 8 o’clock Thursday night, I was already in my pj’s and about to start a book, when my doorbell rang repeatedly.  J was at work, and M was whaling on his drums, so I got up to answer it.  One of the twins from next door stood there.  He said, “I know it’s late, but I need to tell you about my father.”  As I ushered him in, I asked, “Is Scott okay?” and the twin said, “No. He’s dead.”  I quickly ran to get M, and as the other twin showed up, they began to tell us about the events of the previous night.

The twins, their girlfriends, and Scott had gone “4-bying,” their name for mountain crawling, in Scott’s tricked out, yellow Jeep Wrangler.  The boys and their dad had done this a hundred times; this was the girls’ first time.  And all was well until a brake line got cut and the trip back down the mountain turned into a rollover that ejected everyone but Scott from the Jeep and crushed his skull under the roll bar, killing him instantly.  Everyone else walked away with scratches.

I listened, I hugged, and I offered the boys and their mom whatever they needed that I could provide, but there really are never any “right” words in situations like this.  They told us they would give us the funeral details soon, and they left.  And I spent the rest of the evening in deep thought.

Scott was what could only be described as “a character.”  He cussed like 10 sailors, lived loud, played hard, was constantly pulling his Jeep or snowmachine out of some absurd situation, and had an incredibly compassionate heart.  He had opinions about everything, and what I thought of as a “cowboy code” of morals he lived by.  I always told him that if I ever wrote a book about my life in Alaska, it would be replete with “Scott stories.”

From the moment we moved in next door, he looked out for M and me, even texting me whenever a strange car would show up in my driveway and I wasn’t home.  He taught M how to process salmon, how to use a weedeater, how to replace a dryer hose.  He offered a male presence to my son until J moved back up here, and then he befriended J as easily as he had us.  He treated me with genuine respect and chivalry, all the while spouting his very colorful opinions about everything under the sun, and looked at me with admiration when I disagreed or called his bluff, which I did often, and which his wife found hilarious.  I could only take Scott in small doses, and yet, I think he might have been one of my very favorite people.

Someone that loud, that colorful, leaves a huge void when he’s gone, and my heart hurts so for the twins and their mom.  Thinking about the difficult time in front of them led me to take a good look at my own life.  It felt very cliche, like a bad movie, but the truth is, humans start re-evaluating everything when there’s a loss of life.  We just do.  So I asked the Lord what he wanted to show me.  His answer was J and me.

The last post I wrote (https://pellucere.wordpress.com/2019/07/13/reunited-and-it-feels-so-weird/) addressed my concerns regarding J coming back to Alaska.  And I have to say, much of my hesitation was justified; it has not been easy, nor nearly as smooth or rapid as I had hoped.  But as I listened to the twins tell me about Scott, it hit me anew how none of us are promised tomorrow.  And when the Lord started talking about J and me, he said, “I’m not saying anything is going to happen, so don’t go down that road.  But it’s time to let your defenses down and really go a new direction.  The old stuff reeeeally doesn’t matter or fit with this new way.”  I knew he was right because I so wanted to be able to see a hopeful future, as opposed to an empty one.  In order to do so, I would have to trust him.  As I surrendered those defenses, I physically felt a mental and spiritual shift (I know that sounds weird.  If you haven’t experienced something similar, I don’t know that there’s any way to make you understand it).

About 2:30am, I gave up trying to sleep and woke J.  I had called him after the twins left and filled him in, but he got home from work around 1:30 and went straight to bed, so we hadn’t talked.  And I needed to talk.  It turns out we had similar thoughts and experiences in response to the news.  As J said, “If something happened to me, I would want to be missed, not remembered for all the hurt I caused.”  He compared our past to a terrible book that no one wants to re-read.

So we both agree that the old book of our lives is finished.  It is slammed shut.  There are no new chapters to be written in that book, no old ones to be reviewed.  Instead, we are to start an entirely new one together, but rather than us writing on the pages, we will let the Lord author our story.

As I’ve written this blog, I’ve realized how unpretty the language is, but maybe that’s okay because the events recorded are not pretty events.  The sentences are choppy and stark because the reality is harsh.  Even so, I see evidence of beauty for ashes, at least in my own life.  And Scott’s family will be all right, eventually.  They will find their own beauty.  And we will be there for them in any way we can as they search it out.

Thank you, Scott, for your profound impact on all of our lives.

Reunited….and it Feels So Weird

I’ve just returned from a quick trip down to Colorado to drop my son off with J, so he can drive back up to Alaska with his father.  Yep, J is coming home.  And if I’m honest, I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about it.

DISCLAIMER:  I never want to dishonor J (or anybody) in these posts.  But he and I discussed it, and the fact is, we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in, had he not made certain choices.  To tell the story and not acknowledge that would be disingenuous.  It’s been a long, hard road.  People have had their opinions – some of his family finding it inconceivable that he could ever do anything wrong, so it must be my fault; some of my family insisting they knew better what God was saying to me than I did.  That’s fine; I learned a long time ago not to be too concerned with what other people thought.  The whole reason I started writing this blog in 2010 was to use my life experiences to hopefully illuminate someone else’s situations, help them find hope.  You can’t do that without telling the truth in all its ugliness AND beauty.

adjective    1. having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.

I suppose, looking at that definition, it’s fair to say that trust -or lack thereof- plays into it.  In my case, it’s trust in God that’s the important factor, even above trusting J.  Why?  Because God has been with me every step of the way.  It’s old hat for me to trust Him in times of difficulty.  But trusting Him in brand-new seasons that are brimming with His promise that things will never be the way they were again?  That, I find challenging.

About a month ago, when J first told me he had applied for a job in Alaska and it was looking good, I had a heart-to-heart with God that went something like this:

Me:  Do I even want this at this point?  I don’t know this man anymore.  I don’t want what was, but I have no idea what IS now.

God:  He is not where he was.  He is in a good place with Me.  His heart is tender toward Me now.  He made his “now or never” choice.  Daughter, I’m not telling you you have to stay with him.  But I haven’t given up on him, and this is still the best path for you.  Will you trust Me?  I would not have opened this back up if it was going to bring you harm.

Well, what do you say to that?  On paper, the obvious choice is, if God hasn’t given up, then I won’t.   In reality, I feel like I’m tiptoeing into a dark room, with no idea what it holds.  I’ve been going ’round the mountain for the better part of 15 years, seeing things get better for a bit and then go all to hell again.  Been there, done that, bought the tee shirt, ripped the tee shirt to shreds.  BUT.  What I’ve never had in the past was God’s promise that things were new and different.  That’s a VERY different paradigm from, “He’s got to make his choice, but I will strengthen you and be with you through it.”

So here we are.  In about a week, J and I will once again be living under one roof.  And I think I’m mostly okay with that, provided there are no illusions about picking up where we left off.  Nope.  This is brand-new.  So there needs to be a time of getting to know each other.  There needs to be pursuit, even courtship.  Everything has to be fresh.  I have to make the choice not to default to “but in the past, you always _______.”   He has to keep God – and me – in the places we belong in his life.  We will start there, and eventually, friendship and feelings will come.

Similarly, J and M will need to get to know each other.  M is not the little boy he was when all this mess came to a head, and J needs to know him as a young man, which is part of the reason they are on this road trip together.  A week together in a car will make or break anyone!

I am cautiously optimistic because I have seen many times that what God puts together is always SO much better that what I can imagine.  So I will go forward with that knowledge as my strength on the days I don’t feel it wholeheartedly.  Thanks for standing with us and for us, those of you who have prayed and been privy to the inner workings of this crazy, past season. ❤  Would you continue to pray as we make this new start?

March Madness

It’s time to start breathing again.

Y’all.  I don’t know about yours, but my March was filled with some crazy stuff.  So many things shifting, changing.  It’s left me a little tired, a little breathless…

  1.  My father died.  This is a man I hadn’t seen or spoken to in over 20 years, a man who caused no small amount of stress and horror and terror and issues for every person in my family.  He was not a good man by even the most generous definition of good.  I spent a lot of years working through all the yuck and was truly able to come to a place of forgiveness.  And I’ve stayed there, at peace.  But I felt nothing when informed of his passing.  It wasn’t like I was trying not to feel; there really was no connection and no reaction, except maybe a little pity that he died senile and alone in a VA hospital.  Messages of condolence came rolling in, and I had no idea how to tell people how completely unnecessary they were, so I just said, “Thank you.”
  2. A family member called me confrontational, said all of us were, and we just needed to sit down at a table together and hash it all out.  No, no, no.  First, there’s a huge difference between being confrontational and standing on the truth.  Think about it.  The first conveys a sort of aggressive forward motion, a loud voice.  The second conveys a sense of stillness, being immovable, quietly holding one’s ground.  A big part of the difference between the two is knowing when to speak and when to keep quiet.  I’m not confrontational – I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination – but I will defend the truth.  Second, I know my family members, and they are all very set in their own opinions, which is fine.  I don’t know what this particular family member expects to magically happen, but all that table session would be is a lot of yelling and negativity and no one budging.  As with the stuff with my father, I worked through the family drama, and I forgave and moved on.  And for that matter, I moved 4000 miles away.  How much less confrontational can one be?  A pastor friend once told me, “You can forgive someone fully, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit and eat apple pie with them.”  I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that statement, especially when you don’t live your life from the same place as the other person.
  3. I reached my limit with the terrible job I talked about in my last post.  I got tired of not being able to sleep, of having a heavy weight on my chest at all times, of the dread of going to work, of being constantly undermined.  J and I talked, and his exact words were, “None of this would be worth it if you were making $200K a year,” (which I’m not).  So I resigned, and you would not believe the number of coworkers who came out of the woodwork and said things like, “Good for you.  I’m afraid to leave,” or, “99% of the staff on center feel like you do, but we’ve all got reasons we have to stay,” or, “Did you ever notice how no one ever volunteers their real feelings in the management meetings because they’ll just get shot down?” or even, “I hate to see you go.  You’re one of the good ones.”  I know I made the right choice, and while it’s stretching my faith in a totally new way (scary), I know I need to take some time and, well, decontaminate.  That’s really what it feels like.

I have no idea what April is going to hold, but I know Who holds me, and things are going to be okay.  If you’ve just come out of a tumultuous season, I really encourage you to seek the Lord for direction.  The direction he’s given me is to rest, heal, play, create, and get in the sun, and while a huge part of me feels like I’m not doing anything productive, the smarter part of me knows that I’ve had a really rough few years, and if the Lord is telling me to take care of myself (and providing a way for that to happen), then it’s the most productive thing I can do.  So today, the temperature hit 51 degrees, and I laid outside on my deck and basked in the warm sun, and I’ll probably do it again tomorrow.  And I will paint and write and take it one day at a time until I know the next step.  And then I’ll do that one.

Stay tuned…

A Bad Case of “This Ain’t What I Thought it was Gonna Be!”

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Sometimes my optimism really annoys me.  I tend to go into things expecting them to be 100% wonderful…or at the very least, function like they should.  And then, when they aren’t and don’t, I stand bewildered, then frustrated, my sense of justice and rightness raring up indignantly.  The cynics point and laugh and say, “You’re kind of an idiot, you know.  What were you thinking?”

Well, I was thinking the best of everyone and everything.  It’s my default, and it means I get disappointed a lot…

Take my job, for example.  I had wanted to work at my current place of employment since I first moved to Alaska in 2014.  I believe in their mission and thought it would be a great chance to impact young people’s lives.  The opportunity came in May 2018, but even getting the job was an odyssey.  I applied and never heard anything, but the position stayed open.  So I called and was told I didn’t qualify, which made no sense.  I had clearly heard the Lord tell me that was where he wanted me, but it seemed to dead-end.  And then one day in August, a friend told me the company was holding a job fair, so I showed up with a couple of copies of my resume.  I was the only person who attended that day, and they could see that I had applied but couldn’t find my resume anywhere on the recruiting site.  They couldn’t imagine why I was told I didn’t qualify.  They interviewed me the next week and offered me the job.

Yay!  Or so I thought, until I understood the maelstrom I had walked into and was now ostensibly in charge of:

  1.  My department’s office moved from Anchorage to the Valley in June.
  2. The entire team quit.
  3. They left behind over 300 files that hadn’t been touched, some since February.
  4. All of my subordinates’ positions were filled before I was hired.
  5. They never got much training.
  6. I never got much training.
  7. Because we were scrambling to deal with the files, I had no time to build team relationships.  I was on cleanup duty for a mess I didn’t make, and there was an expectation that we’d all produce as fast as possible.  The human element didn’t seem to matter to the higher-ups, and we didn’t gel as a team from the start.
  8. My immediate manager didn’t hand over the reins on far too many things I was responsible for, even though I asked and asked and asked.
  9. When the contract changed at the beginning of this year, he was let go, and the director started to understand just how much I didn’t know.  (“Whoa, maybe she’s NOT just a crappy manager.  Maybe she’s just untrained!”)
  10. Half of my team quit right when the contract changed.
  11. We’ve been EXTREMELY short-staffed but expected to produce at the level of a fully-staffed team…and no one is applying for the open positions across our center.  Word on the street is that we don’t have such a great reputation as a place to work.
  12. Numbers and stats seem to be more important than people.
  13. The general air across the whole center is soooooo negative, tense, and stressed.  You can feel it in the air.

I have never worked in an environment like this before.  I have never cried so much or been so exhausted by a job.  And on top of that, I have had the hardest time figuring out why I’m even there because when I asked the Lord to help me hit the expected numbers, he said, “No.”

“Wait, what?” said I.  “So you’re setting me up for failure?  This is extremely uncool, and I don’t understand.”

“Daughter.  Chill.  I am not setting you up for failure.  I will protect you, and you know that.  What I AM doing is giving them a chance to realize how unrealistic their expectations are and to change them.  In the meantime, speak life every opportunity you get.”

Okay, then.  First, I had to make a Herculean effort to climb out of the sludge of negativity that just consumes that place, and I realized the only way to do so was to crawl up in the Lord’s lap and let Him wrap His wings around me and not move an inch.  I had to choose to see things from His perspective, rather than focus on the chaos around me. Most days now, I do pretty well.  What still gets to me is seeing/feeling the frustration others carry, but that’s where His directive comes into play.  I have been looking for every possible way to speak life over people.  For many, it’s as simple and basic as a smile and finding something positive to say to them (although the Lord asks me to pray for them in my own time).  For a few quietly like-minded believers on site, I get to ask openly how I can pray.  For two, maybe three, I can go a lot deeper.  There’s one who’s on a journey to discover the Lord, and I feel incredibly honored to be even a small part of that.

So, in hindsight, I guess I really should have realized that it wasn’t going to be what I thought.  The Lord sends me into places on assignments – he’s always done this – for his purposes.  I suppose I assumed, since the job description looked like someone wrote it based on a list of my experiences and qualifications, that I was going to make an impact through the job itself.  But y’all, I am not a “numbers trump people” kind of person.  I’m actually a pretty terrible manager, if you go by their definition of management.  I could not care less about being number one in the nation, or meeting quotas, or writing monthly reports, or or or…

I’ve got some future dreams burning in me, and I’m thinking they’re going to come to life pretty soon.  But I’m to stay in this job until the Lord says the assignment is finished.  And if I’m the only one in the entire company who believes that people are more important than stats, so be it.  I think about the stars, how from our perspective, they’re tiny little pinpoints of light in a vast blackness, but in reality, they’re quite large.  And to me, those little positive words are like the stars.  A small word of hope or kindness or truth can be a HUGE thing in the darkness of someone’s life, and I might never know because from where I’m standing, all I did was say, “Hey, you’ve got great hair,” or, “You are doing an awesome job, and I appreciate you.”

So there I go again, being all optimistic.  Sorry, cynics.  In the end, I know who’s got me, and I want to see things the way He does, always.  I choose life.