Who Needs Eyebrows, Anyway?

I mean, Whoopi Goldberg has lived all these years without them…

Okay, so it’s not quite that bad, but last week, my smoker hurled a fireball at me as I was preparing salmon I harvested last summer (Fish Bonkers and Other Fun Stuff), and instantly, some of my hair and most of my eyebrows and eyelashes turned to black grit and removed themselves from my person. Thanks to a crazy adrenaline rush, I finished smoking the salmon and making the side dishes and didn’t realize until later that this was kind of traumatic. But finally, it hit me that I could have been blown into oblivion, burned beyond recognition, taken down the whole house – my mind would not stop replaying the moment the hot blast hit my face. I went inside and told M and S, who was sharing our meal, “Y’all, I don’t think I’m okay. I mean, it could have been worse – a lot worse – but…”

My 16 year-old looked at me thoughtfully. “You know, Mom,” he said, “this makes me think of the 4th man in the fire. God protected you.”

M was referencing a story in the 3rd chapter of the book of Daniel about 3 men who would not bow down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar, so he threw them in a furnace lit 7 times hotter than normal. But a 4th man appeared in the flames, and the men emerged unscathed. The king, astonished, saw that the 4th man “looked like a son of the gods” and realized the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had rescued them. The chapter ends with the king declaring, “No other God can save this way,” and promoting the 3 men in the province of Babylon.

Lots to unpack, there. And the last time I replayed the scenario, God changed it up. I saw it like I was watching a movie scene, and I saw a giant hand come between me and the smoker and block the flames from shooting out. All that actually hit me was hot air – definitely hot enough to singe my hair and redden my eyelids a bit – but no flames got near me. And that changed everything. My breathing slowed down, that sick feeling went away, and I started to remember the many times recently when the Lord made his presence known to me.

“So,” I said. “You were the 4th man in the…smoker?”

(Laughter) “Very good, daughter! And yes. I was also there when it looked like your life was falling apart over the last year and a half. I was behind the scenes, building, directing, and you are beginning to see the fruit of my labors. I heard very specific things you prayed, and I have honored those words – things you don’t want, things you do. I remember them all. I hear you, I know you, and I am always with you.”

I thought about being that 9 year-old kid lying on a driveway in Texas, trying to imagine the northern lights in the night sky above her, writing reports for school about Alaska, and then, as a teenager and later an adult, declaring, “I want to move to Alaska!” anytime temperatures rose or pollen counts exploded or she wanted to get away from crowds. I never really said it with any seriousness, or so I thought. But the Lord knew it was a dream in my heart, and in 2013, he asked if I still wanted to move to Alaska. He remembered. And I did.

And here I am, 8 years later, still in Alaska and loving it. My life DID fall apart, or at least, that’s how I would have framed it until very recently. What I’ve started to understand is that when you tell the Lord at an early age that your life belongs to him, he remembers. And he is quite intentional about keeping you with him, which means that things fall away. Bad things, even good things sometimes, that don’t align with his promises for you. Do we have choices to hang on to things? Sure we do. But my first choice was, is, and always will be him. I don’t want anything that interferes with that. So yeah, I experienced a lot of sadness over the past year and a half, a lot of mess, as my life became unentwined with someone who didn’t make the same choice I did. But God likes order, and he is cleaning up the loose ends quite nicely.

He has made me 3 promises recently. One has great momentum on it, one has a little bit, and one seems not to have started moving yet. His timing is beyond my understanding, and often my liking. But his words are not for nothing. So my Gwen-Stefani-circa-1995-eyebrows and I will continue to rejoice in the fact that the Lord is good, that he hears me, and he remembers desires and dreams and words I’ve forgotten I ever had.

I may not use my smoker for a while, though…

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!

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.


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?

A Long Post About a Poser Wandering in the Desert (and Maybe Learning a Few Things)

There are times I think I’m the biggest poser on the planet.  This past Saturday was one of them, at least at first.  I had this compulsion to get out to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and go on a hike through Palm Canyon to the palm oasis there.  I didn’t even want to do it as much as I felt like I had to do it, and that right there should have clued me in to the fact that the whole darn escapade was going to be a series of life lessons…

Indianhead Mountain. Palm Canyon is to its left.

The actual hike is 3 miles round-trip, but when you tack on the walk from the park Visitors’ Center to the trailhead, it’s closer to 6.  But the weather was in the unseasonably-cool low 80s, and I’ve walked that kind of distance many times.  I figured I could get away with about half of the strongly-recommended gallon of water per person since it wasn’t too hot, so I tossed a few water bottles, my camera, and my journal in a backpack, and off I went.

The walk to the trailhead is paved all the way to the campground at the entrance of the canyon, and it’s marked with signs detailing what kind of flora and fauna you might encounter on your way.  Easy peasy.  And then suddenly, you get to a sign saying “Palm Canyon Trail” with a little arrow, and you launch yourself into a vast expanse of sand dotted with creosote bushes and ocotillo.

I bet this jackrabbit knew where HE was going!

But what that sign doesn’t say is that you’re merely on your way to the trail, not on it yet.  You have to cross a campground parking lot and pass a toilet with no doors and apparently look lost enough that a passing park ranger rolls down his truck window and asks if you’re okay, and when you say you’re trying to find the trailhead, he looks at you dubiously and points, and says, “You mean where those 3 palm trees are?” and you just know he thinks your poser self is gonna die on that trail.

Just past those 3 palms I found another sign warning me that the trail is HOT and DRY, and PEOPLE HAVE DIED OF EXPOSURE HERE, and begging me to PLEASE TURN BACK WHEN YOU HAVE CONSUMED HALF OF YOUR WATER.  It might as well have said, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here,” because there really wasn’t a marked trail.  All I saw in front of me were downed tree trunks (which I later found out were remnants of palms destroyed in a huge flash flood in 2004) and boulders strewn haphazardly across the sand.  But the canyon walls formed a V shape ahead of me, so I figured it would be hard to get lost.  And I assumed the trail would be pretty clear…hahahaha.  First life lesson time!

1. Sometimes you have to learn to see in a different way.  And usually, you’re in the middle of a completely unfamiliar, potentially panic-inducing situation before you figure that out.

Most of the trail looked like this.

Based on past hikes, I assumed the trail would be clearly signed/mapped/marked.  It was not.  I had the hardest time even getting into the canyon, until slowly, slowly, it began to register that some of the rocks weren’t so randomly placed (TRAIL EDGES! HALLELUJAH!).  And some of the palm trunks seemed to form barriers (YO! DON’T GO THIS WAY!).  And, lo and behold, there were even a few, teeny-tiny, rust-colored arrow signs tacked here and there!  It felt like learning a new language by immersion, but I started being able to see the trail more clearly…unless I looked too hard.  Then I came to a standstill.  Life lesson number 2!

2.  In a life lived by faith, if you get too bogged down in the details, you lose momentum and bearing.  Keep your eyes on the prize.

I found it fascinating that if I didn’t think too much, my brain seemed to identify the trail with no problems, and I didn’t feel panicky from not knowing where to place my foot.  I heard the Lord whisper very clearly, “Just like following me.  Faith transcends your understanding and keeps you moving in the right direction, even when you have no idea where you’re going.”  However, life lesson number 3!

3.  Don’t get complacent.  That will get you off track, too. 

A few times, I found my mind wandering and then realized I’d lost the trail.  I had to stop, get my bearings, and backtrack.  I also had to revisit life lesson number 1.

Finally, I began to see desert willows, a sure sign of water, and soon there was an actual trickle of liquid in the creekbed.  I could see palm trees ahead of me, but I couldn’t figure out how to get across a very slippery boulder.  As I shot photos and thought, a couple caught up with me and asked if I had been to the palm trees.  I had to say no, that I couldn’t get across the rocks, and I turned to go.  A minute later, I heard the woman call for me.  Her boyfriend had been able to climb it, and they wanted to show me.  Life lesson number 4!

The seemingly-insurmountable boulder

4.  Sometimes you’ll cross paths, however briefly, with people who can figure out things you can’t.  There’s wisdom in being teachable. 

He found a way around a side I hadn’t seen, and he offered to give me a hand if I needed it.  His girlfriend took my camera so I wouldn’t accidentally drop it, and we all continued to the palm grove together.

Eventually, the couple took off in search of a seasonal waterfall, and I sat in the cool shade and wrote in my journal.  Then I began to head back toward the trailhead, and that’s when I learned life lesson number 5!

Palm Canyon Oasis

5.  Don’t think just because you’ve been somewhere or done something once, you’re an expert.  Stay humble, and remember past life lessons as you move forward.

I suppose it was silly of me to think getting back would be trouble-free because I did lose my bearings a few times.  Nothing ever looks the same coming and going; plus, I was getting tired and hungry, and I had to pee (guess I took enough water after all?).  But I did get back, and I had such a lot to think about.  I suppose I had felt like a poser because people are always telling me how adventurous/competent/in control I am, and I felt woefully inept on this hike, even a little nervous.  But as I trekked back to my car, the Lord whispered the clearest life lesson I heard all day:

6.  Courage is not the absence of fear.  It’s approaching full-on freak-out mode and going ahead into the unknown anyway.  It’s preparing as much as you can and then trusting Me with the rest.  Good job, daughter.  Go get a taco.  And drink some more water.  You need more than you think you do.






Freedom From the Danger of “That’s Just How it Is”

This post will be a little different from what I usually write, and some of you may take umbrage at it, but it’s something that’s been on my mind for a while now. Please read with an open mind and heart.

We live in a confusing, chaotic world.  Every day, we’re bombarded with relentless input telling us who we should be, what we should like, how we should dress, etc.  We’re told what’s “normal.”  We’re told what’s “exceptional.”  Some of us grow up being told we are nothing, and we internalize it.  Others of us grow up being told we can be whatever we want to be, and when our 4’11” self tries to be the next Michael Jordan, we realize we might have some unrealistic expectations.  Our parents, our friends, our cultures – each has a different idea of what we should be.  And all this noise leaves a lot of us feeling like abject failures.  Like we won’t ever succeed or fit in.  Like we’d better just accept that that’s just how it is and move on, doing the best we can to get through each day.  That acceptance stops our destinies in their tracks.

I watch so many people I care about living this “reality.”  They either try to become whatever they’re told they should be, or they rebel and end up somewhere equally disastrous.  Either way, they’re living a lie because they don’t know the truth of who they are.  And I just have to say something about it.  Because back in 2009, I got heartily sick and tired of all the noise, and I decided I was going to cut through it and get to the truth.  And I did, and I grew so much over the following years, and I’m still growing.  That’s how it works when you taste the truth – you’ll never, ever be able to get enough of it and will go after it for the rest of your life.

It came down to a single question.  I turned the Lord’s own query from Matthew 16:15 back on him.  “But you, who do YOU say I am?”  And, y’all, I am telling you that this is THE way to find your true identity.  He Who knew you before He formed you in your mother’s womb (see Jeremiah 1:5) WILL tell you.  It won’t be an overnight process, and you’ll have to be willing to set down every single preconceived notion you have about God, about yourself, about EVERYTHING.  But He will lead you gently; He will bring people to speak into your life; He will heal all the broken places, and then you will understand that “that’s just how it is” is not a phrase He ever, ever utters.

It’s an incredibly brave choice to ask this question, especially if you’ve had a rocky or nonexistent relationship with God.  I don’t want to preach at you or try to convince you of anything because honestly, no one can do that except for Him.  I just want you to know the option is there for you, and it is an absolutely fruitful one if you are willing to go into it wholeheartedly.  If this post has piqued your curiosity in any way, I am more than happy to talk with you, pray with you, steer you toward resources that I’m aware of.

Today is a great day to never again have to believe that “that’s just how it is.”


Part II, aka, “The Details, or, at Least, as Many of Them as I Know”


On 29 May 2013, I stood near this marker and looked out over the roaring Little Su River, just outside Wasilla, Alaska.  As had happened many times already, I was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the place, nearly to tears.  I texted the hubby something about how incredible it was, and he responded, “I guess we’d better move there.”  Now, anytime I travel, he says things like that to me, but this time was different.  I had found myself constructing a whole life for us in Alaska, mundane stuff like, “If I lived here, I’d drive such and such a car.  I’d go to such and such a grocery store.”  But I hadn’t said anything to J because while I was fulfilling a 30 year-old dream, he was back home in Texas working crazy hours and bearing full responsibility for our child.  I didn’t want to rub my joy and freedom and exhilaration in his face.

But it dawned on me that this was the fourth time he’d texted or said this to me during this trip.  And something clicked.  My heart started beating faster, and I prayed for a phone signal.

Me: You keep saying that.  Are you saying what I think you’re saying?

J:  Do you want to live there?

Me:  Yeah…kinda.  Yeah.  Do you?

J:  Yes!  Let’s do it!

Me:  But you haven’t even seen it.

J:  I don’t care.  Let’s do it.  What do we have to lose?

Me:  Nothing, that’s what.

Both of us (and God – I heard it very clearly): WHY THE HECK NOT????

I mean, what do you say when God asks you something like that?  We started talking details, and J wanted to move right then and there.  But I felt like there was a timing to it all, so I made it back to Texas a few days later, and we began to plan.

Ah, plans.  The fun-to-make, well-thought-out, just-makes-sense framework for all that is good in the world.  Yeah.

From the start, not one thing turned out the way J and I planned it.  We sent out resumes.  We went on interviews.  We priced houses and U-Haul trucks and plane tickets.  Resumes went unperused.  Interviews got to the “you’re one of two candidates” stage and fizzled.  U-Haul was not the way to go – anyway, who wants to drive a huge moving truck 4096 miles, over mountains and on gravel and tar-based highways (did you even know there was such a thing?)?  God made it very clear to us that HE was going to be the one to make this whole thing happen, and it has been an unnerving, faith-stretching-to-the-breaking-point process.  He’s called us to take one step at a time and promised that each step would open up the way for the next step.  Translation:  we haven’t known much of anything for the better part of a year.

J can do his job from anywhere in the world, so there’s that.  But we didn’t have the money to ship our stuff, which is what God told us to do.  In fact, we still don’t have all of it.  But he has promised us that he does, indeed, finish what he starts, so we’re shipping it.  The resources will be there.  The same goes for a place to live, a school for our son, a job for me — he’s going to provide.  That kind of faith looks like utter foolishness to most of the world, but we can do nothing else.  We know and believe what he said.

This last year has been a year of purging and reassessment.  The Lord made it very clear to us that nothing old is to go with us into our new lives.  (This even includes some things we’d consider “good.”  They just don’t fit the picture anymore.  S-T-R-E-T-C-H.)  We’ve made 6 trips to the Salvation Army to give material items away, and there’s at least one more trip that needs to happen.  I think the most fun giveaway happened a couple of weeks ago, on a perfect last day at the beach.  M and I had decided to leave our boogie boards on the sand with a sign saying, “Moving to Alaska!  Don’t need these!”  But we happened across 2 young girls and their parents, so we just handed them over.  And then we asked if they wanted our pop-up shelter and three beach chairs.  It turns out the mom leads an area Girl Scout troop, and they just started learning about camping, so these things were definitely useful to them.  We left the beach with huge grins on our sunburned faces.

Did I mention that along the way, a friend of the family decided she wanted to move with us?  So she’s gotten to go through her own faith-stretching, and “family” has been redefined in a brand-new way for all of us.

Old ideas, old beliefs, old ties and relationships – especially toxic ones – all of these came under scrutiny, too.  It’s been intense.  But I don’t even know if I can explain how this move feels – it’s like not only is one chapter done, but the whole book is closed, and a new one is opened, full of blank pages just waiting to be written on.  There is such a sense of life about to start, like everything up to now has just been a shadow of what’s to come.  I am more excited about this than I’ve ever been about anything  in my life.

So…in approximately 8 hours, my friend and I will be on the road.  We’re taking 10 days to make the drive, and J and M will follow us on the 1st of August.  Our stuff should get to us a few weeks later, at which time we will hand the movers a check, and they will be paid in full!  For my Facebook friends, I’ll post as often as I can, but I’m pretty sure internet access will be spotty once we get into Yukon Territory and such.

Squeeeee!  Onward and upward!  North to the future!!!!!!

PS — Did you catch the significance of the “shift” happening on top of an active fault line????

We Have a Big, Gigantic, Humongous, Enormous Announcement

success-really-looks-likeI’ve been mentally writing and re-writing this blog post for about 6 months now. Why? Because when the hubby and I had our big idea a little over a year ago, I just knew how the whole thing was going to play out. We would make the decision, agree on the details, and move forward with executing the plan flawlessly. The story would be sequential and VERY entertaining. My narrative practically wrote itself…


Ahem. Sorry.

It’s just that not a single thing has happened as we envisioned. Our end goal is still the same, but the getting there has been all kinds of “not what we imagined.” Really, I should have known better, because in our household, God is not only IN the details, but he writes them. And our best-laid plans gang aft agley because we still haven’t learned just to go with the flow and trust his process.

[Side note: The Lord has been teaching me about the difference between dreaming and imagination, and what his giving us the desires of our hearts REALLY means. It’s not about “if we want it, he’ll give it to us.” It’s actually about one who knows us better than we know ourselves and offers a dream – a desire – he knows we’re gonna love. When we say yes, he gets to work making it happen, but the deal is that it’s like writing an outline. We “dream” – come up with the idea, or more accurately, discover what he’s put in our heart. We say yes. Those are the Roman numerals in the outline. We get to choose what goes there. But the little abc’s are the details, and if we have truly given him authority over our lives, those letters are not ours to fill in. When we do, THOSE are imaginations, and they’re most often in vain. I realize this seems to be in direct contradiction to all that stuff we’re taught about going after our dreams, making them happen, etc. But years ago, someone told me that if I could accomplish the things I dreamed without God, I wasn’t dreaming big enough, and I took it to heart. Dreaming, in my mind, is the single biggest way to deepen my trust in the Lord. And that is very much what this season has been about.]

Okay, so the announcement:

We are moving to Alaska at the end of July. Yes, the 49th state. Yes, for real. Yes, we know it gets cold up there.

I’ll give y’all the details in Part II, which, in and of itself, is exactly 0% how I thought I’d break the news. But there it is. And we are super-excited like you wouldn’t believe. We just have to see a few more things fall into place, and then I can tell you everything. But for now, I need to go cook supper for my family, which will be served on paper plates, as all my dinnerware is packed. 🙂  Until next time…