Drinking in God’s Beauty – Celebrating 10 Years of Marriage!

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We’ll be gone for awhile on an island enjoying and drinking in deeply God’s beauty ❤  We’ll also be gone during our 10 year anniversary!  10 years have flown by so fast, and it has been beautiful and such an incredibly journey through life’s ups and downs, yet clinging to each other and God always trusting He’ll get us through.

Even though things feel dark – my husband’s coworker who was shot in his chin is doing better, and we’re still praying for the family of his other fellow police man who was shot and killed a few weeks ago.  We’re so grateful that the one he regularly worked beside is still alive after being shot like that in the face – he has a very young daughter who looks up to him like he’s the world.  These men that protect us daily from evil and fulfilling God’s Romans 13 calling… it is such an honor to be a wife to a man God’s called to fight against that kind of chilling evil.

This may be a bad season for us, but this morning I felt God’s strength when I put on the armor of God – it felt so literal and powerful to get me through another day for our kids, to be their support.  Even though the fog of exhaustion is at times overwhelming, God’s given us so much joy and beauty… even in difficulty.   🙂

Looking forward to going back to one of our favorite places.

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Trusting God

The past couple of years have been hard emotionally.  I haven’t wanted to write about any of it really, because I usually want to try to learn something – or at least understand it – before writing about it.  I think it was Hemingway who said “Never write about something until you’re through it.”

Well, what if it doesn’t have a clear “end?”  What if you still haven’t learned anything profound from it?

What if you’re never really “through” it?

Losing my dad has been so horrible.  I don’t write about it, but I think about it often.  Sometimes I become extremely depressed when thinking too much on it.  Which is partly why I gained weight last year.  Remembering how much my dad wanted me to enjoy life in it’s fullest with a healthy body – and to be happy with my body, is why I started being healthy again right before we got pregnant with our 3rd.

He’s gotten much better, but the stroke (if that’s what it was) really changed his personality, and I miss him so much.

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And then on the blue line side of things, seeing so many innocent men and women die – seeing the public generally not understanding or thinking “this is what they signed up for” – that they literally signed up to be assassinated in a country that used to be free – has been hard to understand heads or tails of.  I didn’t want to write my thoughts on all the police deaths for many reasons: the anger, the depth of heartache, facing the truth that most of them are racially motivated, the ugliness of it all, and just plain not being able to understand it.

Something that HAS really helped, has been leaning on God, even when I was extremely depressed or terrified.  Trusting Him and trusting in His goodness even though knowing He allows the worst to happen has been healing.

The only thing I could find that’s close to explaining what I’ve been learning about God’s protection, even when He allows murder and death of good people, is this audio of Elisabeth Elliot.

She explains it well and it brings peace to me to know that no matter what happens in this life, our ultimate ends are safe and secure in Him.  Which is why it’s better to trust in God, even in times like these.

Life & Loss

We’ve had a somewhat difficult week or so, I haven’t posted about it because I’m naturally a very optimistic, cheerful person, and I knew a post like this would be anything but positive really.

Our sweet neighbors brought a very small, young puppy home with them from Mexico, their niece, who is a vet down there, was taking care of it, but gave it to them since it was sick and needed more hands-on care.  My son and I were over at their house and fell in love with the sweet puppy, it was a poodle – chihuahua mix, and had the sweetest temperament.  Our neighbor who was doing the caretaking for this little puppy, the mother of the family, is getting older, and didn’t really have the time to devote to round the clock feedings, etc. so I offered to take care of it for a month until it was old enough to adopt out.

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It was so fun taking care of it, bottle-feeding it puppy formula, keeping it in my purse everywhere we’d go – my son and I both fell in love with it.  My husband even gave us the green light to keep it, he was even becoming enamored with it’s sweetness.

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We had it 3 days… and on that third day, we came back home from my son’s soccer game that his team had won, he was full of joy and felt like a champ – having made 2 goals for his team that day.  I told him once we got in the house to go check on his puppy, it was the first time we’d gone out without him tagging along in my purse.  He went to go see his pup, and laughed saying he was sleeping really weird, “Mommy you’ve got to see this!”  When I came into the bathroom and saw him, I knew immediately something was horribly wrong – his little body looked twisted, and when I picked him up to check on him, I could tell the Rigor Mortis had already set in.

My son handled it ok, he was devastated that evening, but we explained that the puppy was sick and more than likely was in pain. I had thought the puppy was getting better, but in reality he had still been vomiting and unable to really keep very much down.  When death comes, the suffering of this life stops.  He wasn’t in pain or sick anymore, but this was still not a lesson I wanted my son to have to learn at such a young age.

That feeling of loss… of devastation is simply part of life, as natural as the highs we feel when a new baby is born, or when we’re surrounded with family and loved ones.

This past week, my father was admitted to the hospital for a few days as they tried to figure out what was wrong – he was dealing with severe symptoms from a bad reaction to a new medication he had just been put on, and ended up staying for a few nights.  He’s always been so rational, so logical, but under the influence of the drugs and their reaction in his body, I witnessed him reduced to a man talking nonsensical, and irrational… someone I didn’t even recognize.  I faced for the first time, the fear of wondering what on earth I would do without him in my life anymore.  I feel so young to lose my dad – he’s almost 70, but both his parents lived well into their 90’s almost reaching 100.  I can’t imagine not having him and his witty humor, his wonderful nature, around for the next 20-30 years as I raise my children.  I can’t imagine them not knowing him.

Even the feeling of imagining him gone leaves me feeling dead inside.  Empty.  And I have to consciously remind myself that it would not be the end.  That when God takes him, it will be his time.

He’s back home now, and slowly recovering, but the incident has brought home to me, the severity that everything can change in an instant.  The only thing constant in life is that there will always be death, there will always be loss.  At least in death, there is no more suffering, and we can look forward to eternal life.  We have a hope that those who don’t have faith never will understand.   When we grieve, it is different… we don’t grieve as those who have no hope, we grieve with the encouragement that we will someday be with our loved ones forever, in a place where there is no more pain, no more growing old, no more tears, and no more death.

Death, where is your sting? Oh Hell, where is your victory?

Death & Judgment

I am a nerd… a geek… hopefully not completely a “dork” – call it what you will, but I truly do embrace my inner geek-goddess.  I completely mesh with my husband concerning a variety of books and movies, even tv-series.  Whatever it is that leads me to adore Harry Potter (if you didn’t read the books – yes, all of them – you’re sorely missing out!), Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings, I’m thankful to be born like this. 

Growing up, my brother and I would have episodes of these movie marathons, usually Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.  We would watch them for days, relishing each part, repeating epic lines!  Geek goddess?  You have no idea….

I love the deep lessons hidden in these works of art, all kinds of life lessons, if you’re attune to them.  One of my hands down favorite lines is from Lord of the Rings when Gandalf is explaining to Frodo how to accept crisis – how to deal with things that happen in life that are devastating & unwanted.  He also explains possibly one of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve ever heard on why we shouldn’t judge others. 

Frodo: It’s pity Bilbo didn’t kill him when he had a chance!
Gandalf:  Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. And some that died deserve life. Can you give it to them Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.”

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

 

Loss & Betrayal

Horrible and devastating things happen in life.  There is no way to escape them.  People will hurt you, hate you, despise you, ridicule you, even if you are a genuinely good person.  Even if you are a devoted friend, employee, or advocate – these attributes to your character will not always stop someone from betraying you and turning completely against you, or pursuing to harm you.  Even if you are the one helping them the most!  There are two things which I personally think are the hardest to bear in life: the pain of betrayal & the pain of loss.

When I was barely 14, I went to the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C.  I’d never seen such human cruelty, and even though I’d read about it – Corrie Ten Boom’s survival through a death camp in The Hiding Place – nothing could’ve prepared me for the stories we heard and read and the things we saw in the museum.  There were tv’s playing footage of Nazi officers dragging naked women’s bodies over te rough ground – the piles of the dead, literally piled on top of each other scattered everywhere – these things are burned into my mind. It was beyond inhumane – it was insanity. 

There is one Jewish psychiatrist, Victor Frankl, who truly amazes me.  He was trained in Freudian psychology, which deemed that the experiences in your childhood are what determined your character – for the rest of your life. He was among the people seized by the Nazi’s, and who had to endure their horrific and torturous death camps, and through his experience, changed psychology forever.

“His parents, his brother, and his wife died in the camps or were sent to the gas ovens.  Except for his sister, his entire family perished.  Frankl himself suffered torture and innumberable indignities, never knowing from one moment to the next if his path would lead to the ovens or if he would be among the “saved” who would remove the bodies or shovel out the ashes of those so fated.

One day, naked and alone in a small room, he began to become aware of what he later called “the last of the human freedoms” – the freedom his Nazi captors could not take away. They could control his environment, they could do what they wanted to his body, but Victor Frankl himself was a self-aware being who could look as an observer at his very involvement.  His basic identity was intact. He could decide within himself how all of this was going to affect him.  Between what happened to him, or the stimulus, and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response.

In the midst of his experiences, Frankl would project himself into different circumstances, such as lecturing to his students after his release from the death camps.  He would describe himself in the classroom, in his mind’s eye, and give his students the lessons he was learning during his very torture.

Through a series of such disciplines – mental, emotional, and moral, principally using memory and imagination – he exercised his small, embryonic freedom until it grew larger, until he had more freedom than his Nazi captors.  They had more liberty, more options to choose from in their environment; but he had more freedom, more internal power to exercise his options.  He became an inspiration to those around him, even to some of the guards.  He helped others find meaning in their suffering and dignity in their prison existence.” (Covey) 

You have the chance to choose.  You can’t control what happens in life – what other people may decide to say or do to betray your trust in them.  You can’t control death and the excrutiating pain of loss – loss of life or loss of a relationship, a love, a family member, a friend.  Even if injustice is occuring to you, you have the ability to move beyond it – even when you’re currently enduring it! 

Only you hold the power of your self-awareness and choices, if you choose to realize it. 

You hold the key to decide how it’s going to affect you – if it will run you into the ground, or propel you beyond your wildest dreams.  Let the pain of betrayal or loss inspire you – God will take care of vengence, it is not your’s to dwell on – however tempting that may be – vengance is a double-edged sword, the moment you plunge one end into your perpetrator, the other end also plunges into your own heart.  Do not harm yourself and be distracted by revenge, instead let your pain inspire you and develop you – and teach you lessons you never would have learned.