Already There

Most of my time is spent in partial shock at the newness of everyday life. Comparing year to year is impossible and month to month still unrecognizable, but matching the changes between this week and last week, day to day are a little more manageable.

I imagine this is how Sarah, Rebecca, and thousands of nomads have felt. Where change is normal, nothing settled, and there is no knowing where I’ll be next week, much less what will be happening. I’m not used to it yet. I have yet to find routine outside of my surroundings.

Out of our first apartment, not yet finding home of our own.

Out of my old self, into this new body sacrificing stage of motherhood.

Out of my old emotions, even.

Our son’s kicks are a constant reminder of the daily changes. Last week I felt a few, now they are something I can set my clock by. As we come upon the due date for our firstborn, all of the fears and stresses pull at my heart and I’m left once again remembering that God’s plan is so much greater than my own. Even in the most difficult of times, He is already in the next day holding my life together. I am guided gently from one day to the next, no matter the frustration or change.

I read a book title yesterday with its entire message simply etched on the binding:

Do Not Worry About Tomorrow; God is Already There

Emmanuel – God with Us

More than just a Christmas song. Isn’t it funny that we ask the God who is with us to come to us? I am so blind when I think I have to ask Him to come to me, when he is the God who is already there.

– M

Distance

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Twenty First Birthday

The distance between me and myself one year ago is staggering.
Last year, on the cusp of twenty one,
more to be done,
the unknown yawned before me,
fear adorned me.

Now, almost twenty two
God has won.
He has taken my life and done remarkable things.

Often those things that bring Him the most glory are the things we dread the most to talk about.

What does it make me when I admit I struggle?
Small, not at all, undone and broken down before the God of the universe… who loves.

One year – battles and victories
Distance from the starting line and the battle line

Last year – struggle –
Bitterness, baggage, hurt and sadness bottled up for years-
Ache for lost family,
Bitter for not admitting my weakness,
Fear of being like the woman who gave birth to me.

553 Eric Kate-

Newly Engaged

I looked forward into my relationships and saw myself cowering, afraid to feel, distancing myself from the pain of loving.

Victory – Loving him, but the victory was not in loving him, but trusting that no matter the hurt God had a reason to guide me through the continuing struggle of my relationship.

I was ashamed of tears and now they are a release to me, a gift that cleanses.
Weeping heals sorrow.

From that moment of victory God took me through storms and fears, testing me. Then one afternoon I sat on a log and the man I loved said he loved me and the journey continued.

Three months – to finish school, finish childhood, and prepare myself for a life long vow.
I made that vow in my heart months before trusting that I was following God’s leading. (To be clear – there was the blessing of parents, pastors, friends, and family – All seeing the blessing God had poured on our lives. It just took both of us longer too)

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Six Months Ago

In February, I became a wife.

In sickness and in health was tested right away as I struggled with a kidney infection that had me bed ridden. I was resistant to all antibiotics except for one and my recovery was stilted at best.

In May, I was trying to work on a farm, run a business, be a wife. My husband was on crazy shifts – two weeks on nights and two on days, not enough days to adjust to one or another. I was still sick. We decided to try something new. It was radical.

A diet. At this point I was so gluten intolerant that if my husband ate something and kissed me, I would get sick

So we both started with only eating meat and vegetables for a couple weeks. No newlywed flab for us.
We worked at it – I cooked everything from scratch and E helped until I had enough energy to do it myself.

The purging process dragged through June, but finally in July I started to drastically improve. During this time E quit his job to help me expand my business and go to school this fall.

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Just Found Out We’re Pregnant

Then on July 19, I got a call. My brother, the person I had ached over, found me.
And by God’s grace I was ready. We’ve been able to talk and become family. A victory again over the fear and bitterness I struggled with. This story is another year long miracle. 

On July 21, I found out I was pregnant. We were so excited. The feeling of being a mom welled up inside me and I could hardly contain myself. We wanted to wait to tell anyone for a while.

During the first part of August we drove up to Washington and tied up loose ends before E started school last week. We have been married six months.

Last week, August 27 our latest struggle began.

I lost our baby.

Our first child is in heaven.

So, here I am one year later.

Twenty one seems an eternity away.

From college student to wife and mother…

Who knows where the next year will take me?
Or even the next six months of marriage.

-M

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

How One Moment Can Change Your Day… and Your Life

Have you ever been burdened with glorious purpose?

Woken up knowing what you needed to do and having the ability to do it?

What if that isn’t the dishes in the sink?

Sorry , Mom

No, I didn’t rinse them before I dropped them in the sink. 

What if it isn’t to finish the now hypocritical “How To Be Super Organized with Pegboard” post?

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What if it is to ease the burden in your heart that you feel for a plan, a future, and a hope?

What if in learning to be a wife, to listen better, I stumbled upon something I have missed for years.

How to listen to God better.

Or maybe learning to listen to God better in deciding who to marry has helped me listen as a wife more.

A dirty house does not make me more spiritual (It can make me much less). However, learning to, “Do whatever He tells you.” has been my prayer. The framed verse on the wall is more freeing than anything.

So, I stop and I pray.

I remind myself of the praise words from morning.

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Is prayer my ministry right now?

Is this the foundation I’m laying for our future?

It is important and difficult.

– M

 

 

The Sinfulness of Sin

One of the more strange stories I have to tell is a year and a little bit when I was on an anti-fungal diet. I could have absolutely nothing with any natural or artificial sugar. Carbs were out from the get go as were most fruits, some vegetables, and anything processed. The goal was to completely starve this symbiotic entity out. The problem was the more I starved myself the more sensitive this thing became because as it was ‘dying’ the tiniest bits of sugar would be like a shot of adrenaline.

This morning I was thinking about how sin is so much like that horrible symbiotic thing. It attaches to you growing slowly painlessly as long as you feed it, but as soon as you try to fight it you realize it has become such a part of you that large pieces of yourself are going to have to change if you want to get rid of it. The more you fight it, the less it needs to get a momentary grip and inundate you with guilt or frustration in hope that you’ll give up.

If I was fighting on my own I would lose. Pride, anger, fear, idolatry, disobedience, covetousness, lust, and selfishness would make me a spiritually broken, utterly helpless person. Those sins are as horrid to God as Ebola, AIDs, the bubonic plague, polio, cholera, and malaria are to us. Imagine being infected with every single one. Even if you could get one cured, another one would kill you and that’s assuming anyone would risk helping you. There would be no hope. That’s how it is with sin, a horrendous offense against God.

He could have left us in our hopelessness, but instead he sent his Son, Jesus, to save us to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Our Savior who simply wants us to love him and in that love, act. How could we do anything else but love the man who died, took our sin upon himself, and saved us from absolute torment. The pain of those earlier diseases combined is nothing compared to the fires of hell and that pain will have its source in separation from God’s presence.

Jesus saved me from that and I love him passionately for it.

So, why would I still go back to those sins that are so horrific? Because Christ cast them so far away it would be nice if we never had to fight them again. The problem is susceptibility. We do not have to sin, but because our lives before Christ have not changed, we are put back into our old environment. The wonderful part is that the change in our lives can be a testimony to everyone there and as you see problems, you can clean your lifestyle up to be more like Jesus.

We don’t live in a sin free world, so we have constant contact with it. It is naive to assume that we can detach ourselves and live like monks on a hill somewhere.

But we are still without excuse, we need to take sin seriously and not treat it as lightly as the world wants us to. Making it seem unimportant is half the battle.

-W

Faithful with Little

When I think of those who did well with the little they had been given, I think of David and his sheep, Joseph and his jail cell, and Ruth and the laws that allowed her to glean. None of them were able to skip the humbling tasks and the repetitive dedication that it took to become the well known people of faith. It took time – faithfulness to the task at hand.

I had a melt down yesterday – tears were shed over weeks of frustration, boredom, and literal sickness over the last few tests of school.
I have found another way I am a flawed human being.
When I am bored, almost nothing can keep my attention. The only thing that roughly compares is Sherlock’s adolescent fit in the BBC’s serial… You know… This one…

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Except instead of a violin, I bang on my piano and mom doesn’t like it when walls have holes in them. It could be that I’m less brilliant and better behaved or just cause of the Southern Belle lessons I received early in life, but I respect that. Either way I understand this concept of absolute boredom because nothing can interest you enough to bother.

And when I get to that point I am sinning. I am failing to steward the time I have been given, to be grateful, and to do the task at hand excellently. In the last post I talked about chasing time trying to do so many things that don’t matter. Now I have been thinking about my failure to do things that do matter, to be faithful with the absolutely mind-numbing tasks.

This thought sent me back to Numbers. Is it slightly ironic that the book that has one of the best examples of faithfulness is considered one of the dullest books of the Bible?

When God is assigning tasks to the families of Levi, He gives one family the tent legs and poles, Nothing from the holy of holies or altars, just tent frames.

“They must carry the bases, the tent pegs, the ropes, and everything that is used for the poles around the courtyard. List the names and tell each man exactly what he must carry.”
– Numbers 4:32

Their family’s legacy was carrying something that does not seem very important. In fact, their family name, Merari, is never talked about beyond their task and placement in Israel. That would drive me crazy, just carrying a bag of ropes for forty, fifty, or sixty years, passing it down to my children. If it wasn’t for the direct command of God, I wouldn’t do it. I like prestige too much. Even then, I probably would grumble about it every now and then.

I failed to see the honor of being given a task by God, any task. Now I have worked through it in my mind, I have to go do the mind-numbingly dull things I have been avoiding, procrastinating, and making worse by putting off. The thing is that if I intentionally work on these tasks, in my case, 10 tests, I will do better on them and it will ease the stress I’ve put on myself by waiting for last minute panic to inspire me.
One of my favorite quotes is, “give me a challenge and I will meet it with joy.” Sometimes the challenge is to be faithful with the easy things.
-W

Just Another Love Affair

One of my oldest memories is planting sunflowers and pear tomatoes at the bottom of a steep hill where my parents had built a garden. Everyday I would climb the fence (because gates are boring) and run down the hill to see what had happened since the night before. I loved the dirt squelching through my toes, under my nails, and seemingly embedded in my scalp. I would go inside after a day of mud houses and reading in trees to hear, “Kate, did you roll in the mud or are you just magnetically attracted to every floating piece of dirt?”

As I grew older things didn’t change. In school I was the first one with my shoes off running through the fields of weeds during recess. I could never stay clean. A smudge of dirt on my face, streak of mud on my knee-highs, and busted knees constantly betrayed me. In high school, my teachers realized that it was better to just let me study and write outside on sunny days than to watch me pine for the fresh air and fidgeting in my seat. I would stand in the rain, read in the tallest trees, weeded the wildflowers in April, and picked them all in May.

And I read – Caddie Woodlawn, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and many biographies about prairie wives, missionaries to India, and adventures. When my body wasn’t having adventures, discovering Jerusalem crickets and rattlesnakes, my mind was surviving in the arctic tundra or saving slave girls in the slums of India. I never wore shoes and built worlds of my own in dugouts where I would spend afternoons reading.

Wild, idyllic childhood gave way to a more calm adolescence. I spent most of my time reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. I loved the outdoors and spent much of my lunches reading outside, but the pull of words was too strong. Fortunately, my English teacher understood my thirst for knowledge coupled with wanderlust. He expanded my mind with a biblical perspective in every area of writing – theology, history, philosophy, literature, science, and the arts. This was what drove me back outdoors.

I found myself needing space to think and absorb the knowledge my teacher and parents had given me. I could sit outside for hours dangling on our tire swing watching the world spin around me, completely lost in thought. I would read and then go outside and think. Sometimes I would walk around the school grounds alone or hide in a tree during breaks just to process. The land became my sanctuary.  I would read and think and read more. I loved hammocks, porch swings, grassy hillsides, and high rocks.

Then I graduated.

I had worked since junior high, so I knew the reality of getting more work was coming. I dreaded being locked indoors for days on end, limited on reading time, and slowly losing my mental agility. I drifted from job to job enjoying aspects of many and being mostly miserable for a solid year. Then, on December 14, 2010 one of my best friends and I decided to go on a mission’s trip. We worked on a farm for three months which I loved. I thrived there – Learning a new language, working with in dirt daily, walking miles daily, and focusing on others.

I came home and thought I knew my direction – dirt. I started working towards my degree in Anthropology and soon after got a job on the farm I work at now. I read as voraciously as ever and the hours of silence in the field gives me time to think deeply about everything.

My writing is just a by product. In my case: Reading + Dirt = Grounded Thought

Its a system that characterizes me. I am so grateful for it because it not only brings fulfillment but peace, a peace only found in dwelling on God’s Word, the framework and foundation of my world. I work the land He created and think about what he created it for.

Thats my secret to happiness.

-W

Grief: The Presence of Absence

“No one told me grief felt so like fear.”

This is the first line of C.S Lewis’ A Grief Observed. Originally written under a pen name, it was his means of dealing with the madness of grief after his wife’s death.

For years I’ve struggled with understanding the how’s and why’s of grief, death, and the hundreds of things that cause it. It’s not just the knowledge that someone is eternally or even temporarily parted from me; it is the watching and tearing of a bond that wasn’t as strong as I thought. It comes with the words, “brain tumor,” “late stage cancer,” and even “never woke up.”

Let me get one thing strait. I am not scared of death. I am confident in both my end on earth and my beginning in heaven. Fast or slow, sudden or expected, Christ has a plan for me in death as surely as he did in  saving me.

That’s not what I’m talking about. Others’ deaths lacerate my soul leaving gaping wounds I can’t stitch together. I am not found only in the body I currently steward, but also in the lives I touch. I love giving of myself, leaving pieces of my heart in that love’s wake. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, mentors, close friends, and family have large pieces of me. When they die, that piece is taken, ripped from a weak earthly link, and can only be found when I follow them. I think that part of our treasure in heaven will be reuniting with those pieces and the people that own them. No more grief. No more loss.

Grief: The Presence of AbsenceYou can see it. When people lose loved ones, it is worse than losing a limb. The elderly die of old age partly because so much of them is gone. They fade. The times have changed and those that made the time worthwhile have gone.

Lewis also wrote that, “the pain now is part of the happiness then.” Pain, grief, is a growing monument for the love we shared. If we did not love so much, we would not feel so much.

It never goes away completely; thats the nature of loss. You learn to live without loved ones, but it is not the same as being immune to it. I grieve those who have died and are dying. My heart rends itself again and again as I go to funeral after hospital room after bedside. I have seen death creep in, turn a body white, and let it rot.

There is a new presence when someone is gone, absence. Nature abhors a vacuum. It is always there mocking you with what will never be. A childhood friend will never finish a game of war, my grandmother will never know my little sister, and my grandfather will never see my wedding.

There are always more  – gone.

Family, friends, girls from Bible studies, teachers – some never to see again.

I am left wondering if I could have changed something, if I could have made something better.

That absence catches me suddenly – when I play my grandfather’s favorite song, when I realize I will never get to tell her the Gospel, when I’m asked what I miss the most about my childhood.

At first the pain knocks the wind out of me, then come tears, sometimes years later. My grief is my own; I don’t know how to share it. Last Sunday I cried for my grandfather for the first time, really cried. He died seven years ago.

As more and more of my soul is pulled from me, I feel the urge to follow. I am fading. Each storm, trial, trouble, and grief feeds the my own ache for heaven. Grief rouses my thirst for the eternal.

“Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

-W