Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mourn with those who mourn

Tears flowed as news came, death has no bias or preference. It takes indiscriminately and leaves devastating voids in its wake. And some, with best of intentions, smiled through tear stained eyes, heads tilted to side, and spoke of heaven being a little brighter with its angel home now. Heaven was little more than a thief in the night, devious thief, taking that which did not yet belong there.

And they say that He walks through the suffering with us, but what do you know of her heart, the gaping wound blasted through, eyes pried bright like the deer on a highway just before impact; but the impact has not yet come, the full, devastating weight of this tragedy, and now slow motion torment of the oncoming breakdown tears us all apart. We were not meant to bury our babies; we were not built for it.

Oh heaven, you devious thief, she was not yet yours.

For the time being, love is keeping her afloat, drowning out the coming silence, keeping eyes moving rather than allowing them to fix on the empty bed or toys that have fallen still. Love is keeping her moving. Love will keep her heart beating.

We are laughing through tears and crying through jokes and stopping to hug and fall apart and remember these last 20 years as friends and how we are now called adults. We remember days of old and marvel that we are now old enough to have days of old. Salt and pepper has replaced lush brown, and we have said goodbye to babies who did not make it to our world and now bury a baby who graced us for too short a time. We laugh at body aches and cry for infertility and divorces and how broken we grew in the years since we last poured wine. But we are all still growing, some better and some wider and some just older, but we cannot help but to grow. And somehow in distance we have continued to grow together, and I still call you sister. Precious sister, lean in now.

Oh heaven you devious thief. She was not yet yours to take. You had no right to snatch such life, leaving empty arms and broken hearts.

So we will stand together now, arm in arm, hands interlocked, cheeks salty wet, bracing each other, bracing her, and there are no platitudes to lay thick the grief that hovers. Adulthood has steamrolled us, but somehow in the midst of it, we have smiled at each other and whispered "I love you."

I love you, friend.

Mourn with those who mourn.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Foolish Bird

Wounded wings stretched high, damaged feathers rustle in the night air. 
Toes to the edge; listen for the echoes of rocks tumbling down the canyon walls. 
Long, careless tumble.

You do not want me, and yet I am plagued by thoughts of you. 
Something was different. In your kiss, in your eyes. There was something different. 
I saw it, you saw it too. When you looked at me, you saw right through me, I felt it. 
Maybe I’ve imagined it all, but it felt so real. 
And then you pushed me away.

I’m terrified of being hurt, but I fear it is already too late. 
The heart burst forth from the chains of regret and leapt in to your outstretched arms, 
not realizing that those arms were already pushing away. 
You don’t want to get hurt, so you choose not to engage, 
deeming the risk of hurt as too great, not worth the risk of falling.

For the sake of knowing how it feels to fly, I would risk the fall.

But if you wanted me in your life, it would happen, 
and I need to accept that you don’t, no matter what I felt.

And I thought I could be friends with you and wait it out, 
but it turns out that I’m not that strong. 
I have held you and you have held me. 
We have laughed and shared stories; 
your eyes have seen through me and your fingers have traced my lines. 
Fingernails across a strong back, lips to neck, 
and I cannot separate it out, the having of that, and the not having that.

Toes to the edge, I tumbled down, careless and ridiculous, 
laughing till I realized I would not be caught, 
then cried the ugly cry that leaves swollen eyes. 
Free fall with damaged wings and bruised up heart. 
Careless, foolish bird.

But, oh, to fly again.
I would risk it all.

Monday, September 9, 2013

This Time of Night

It is now that I miss you the most.
The littles have slept, the house is quiet, 
save the tunes filling the space
and the smoke rising high from candles lighting the darkness. 
Twilight has settled in and my feet finally lift from the hard ground that beat them all day. 
Globe-carrying, battle-negotiating, nose-wiping,
arms wide-open to save their precious worlds. 
And I settle in, wondering where your arms are,
craving the warmth that only your embrace brings. 

It is now that I miss you the most.
There is no damsel in distress here, but how I long to be rescued, carried,
hoisted high on your white horse to rest there for a while. 
I am a sinking ship, weighed down by all that life has dealt
And yet your chest is a safe harbor, catching my head before it slips under,
safe haven of rest, with wings that fold me in. 
I melt into the crevice where arm meets chest,
and your strength overpowers me like a gentle wave lapping up the sandcastle on the shore.
You swallow me whole and I willingly surrender it all. 

It is now that I miss you the most, my friend.
The moon has become my lone night light, and the littles mumble through their dreams.
I stand at their doorway, in awe that they are mine,
little lips moving in incoherent giggles while eyes slumber tight. 
I stumble to a cold bed, all of my own dreams held in like a breath desperate to be let loose,
lungs aching tight. You are not here to share them. 
Victories of the day tucked away for only my complacent celebration,
defeats stashed in the dark corners of the heart.
It is all my load to carry alone. 

It is now that I miss you the most,
this time of night, when all around me has rested,
and yet my heart refuses to give in. 
It is in this time of night when I feel most alone, most lonely.
When all others have gone home with their loved one, hand held, supported, cherished, 
and my world is silent,
save this heart that will not let go of the hope of you. 
It is this time of night that I miss you the most. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Damaged Goods

My friends, they sit around me and talk about timing and when to call and when to ignore, and they have more experience at this than I do, so I try to listen, and then just shake my head. It's all spinning. I gave a solid 10 years of my life to one person, who tossed it aside as worthless, and so now I'm starting over. When did it get so complicated?

It is complicated now. Maybe it always was and I just never recognized it. I certainly had my baggage back then, deep wounds of bubbling hurt, parts of me taken violently, but I was much stronger then, or maybe just younger and more resilient. At least for a while. I had fight back in those days that has long since died out. And I just feel weak, scared, used up. And so now it's all very complicated, and I'm having to learn about timing and how to hold my cards tight and pretend that I don't care, when I do, and play a game that I was not built to play.

But when you kissed me, it didn't feel complicated at all. And in fact, it felt like you saw me, like no one ever has. And we talked on the phone for hours, like only teenagers do, and I smiled giddy and ridiculous as I drifted off to sleep. You commented on how beautiful my green eyes are, but I looked away because I felt naked and you could see through me. And you called me baby and sweetheart and cutie and I felt, for a short time, that Atlas could take the world back and give my shoulders a rest, that I could just be a lady around you and not a superhero, that I might have some rest. We talked for hours on a patio and laughed at silly things and took a walk just for the sake of holding hands. And it felt so good to be held again.

And I got excited and scared and insecure and was sure that it was all just too good to be true. I could only look away so many times before you really did see through me. I am damaged goods and continue to hear the words that laid me low for years, stole my fight and leveled me a to a pile of useless. His insults rattle in my heart like a pinball bouncing off of bruised chambers, and they lodge in my ears like a freight train, about worthlessness and unlovable and too big and too blind and too much of me to ever really be loved.

And a friend told me to be coy and ignore and be me, but less of me, and I don't know how to play these games, and I guess I've already lost because now you're gone. So I sigh a deep, resolute breath, hunch shoulders low and place the globe right back between the blades that bore them for so long. And yet this time, I am not buried. There is a burning in those bruised chambers, chasing down lies and strengthening walls, rebuilding what was once torn down, and I feel it.

Dare I call it Hope. I thought she was dead to me. I thought she was smothered in the wreckage of the life that once was, a total loss. And yet her embers burned the whole time. So while I have lost this round, she has been awakened, busying herself with the necessary repairs of damaged goods.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Beast of Redemption

"For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight; I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?"
Exodus 33:16
Oh, Moses. You beautiful beast of redemption. You who ran at the first sign of trouble, you who would rather start life over than face up to acts done. You, who quivered and quaked at a bush engulfed in flames, you who swore that your tongue would not work and your words would not be embraced, you who begged for a replacement, you who stood in shadows while someone else spoke your commands; you started out so small, cowardly lion, chirping monkey.

And then you changed, He changed you. You saw that He kept His word, that He moved through you and used you. You took down an empire, one plague at a time, unseated a god and pulled a people out of slavery. You were a conduit, and so you grew bold, dangerous, reckless even. Blood dripped from door frames, angels passed over, and Egypt wailed. You beautiful beast of redemption. Oh how he changed you.

It started at the sea. You stood at the edge and watched waters roar past, thousands of people doubting behind you, death pounding the ground in pursuit. He told you to step in, toe to water, staff to ground, you will not be swept away. And you crazy beast, you did it.

Did you have time to ponder, for even a moment, wonder at the dry ground so nourished by the sea? Your sandal had no mud, and the children gazed in wonder at the fish swimming on either side. It was the world's first aquarium, and the Great Architect used you to build it. Please tell me that you paused for even a moment in awe and wonder. Your feet were dry.

Then your boldness grew, with sweet water, quail flying in and manna on the ground, heaven rained down on you. Staff struck boulder and sweet water flowed, mountains burst open and carried the law to a wandering people.

But on that mountain, after a lifetime of growing into obedience, after failures and doubts, after scrapes to face and ego, after all He had done, you communed with the Creator of it all. He covered you in cloud and fire breathed and the people you led swore you had perished. But you experienced him as no other living being had. What happened to you on that mountain? Did your soul take flight? Did you glimpse eternity as His presence hovered thick? Because you made a move, wild in admiration, overtaken by love, and raptured by the desire for more.

You made one more request. Mad beast of redemption. Bold soul, reckless heart. Just as your toes brushed the water's raging flow, you set toes to the edge of a cliff that surely should have swallowed you in. You stood at a pinnacle, stuttering tongue long forgotten, and boldly made your demand.

"Now show me Your glory."

Show me the source of Your fame. Show me the full weight of who You are. Let me experience Your magnificence, welcome me in to Your  renown. You, Almighty Creator, You, who commands the oceans, You, who directs the insects, You, who reigns over life and death, You, who can cause the earth to open and swallow men whole, You, who takes down nations and raises up a people.

You, who are our very breath, Show. Me. Your. Glory. Show me You.

And He said Yes, and protected you, and showed you as much as your humanness could handle.

And at the end of it all, there was no reminder of how bad you were, or what a coward you used to be, how you were such a terrible sinner but isn't it great that God loved you anyway. God spoke to you in the beginning as He spoke to you in the end. Your hearing of His voice had changed, which allowed your actions to change. He commanded you as the man He created you to be. That's what He knew of you, because He made you. You knew a different version of you, tainted by the ways of the world, stained by blood, fractured by unwise decisions, splintered by emotions, separation from the divine causing jagged edges.

You see, God isn't great because He loves us in spite of our sinful, broken ways. He is great because He loves us for the us that He created us to be. It's not that we are hopeless sinners who will never get it right and God loves us anyway. He knows us in the fullness of His image, He knows us in the greatest potential that He created in us, and the redemption that has already flowed. He knows what we are capable of by His own design, if only our ears and our hearts would stay in tune. He is great because He can see me, even as I am not able to see myself.


He says, "You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you."


And I have put toe to water while the rapids rush by, and I have wondered if I was going to be swept away. I should have been swept away by all accounts. But I am still on dry ground, and my sandals bear no mud, and the walls of water billowing on either side are, at times, deafening. But it's been a while since I paused in wonder at what the Architect has built, and even longer since I dared step to the edge of the cliff and beheld His glory.

Too long.

Oh, Moses, you beautiful beast of redemption, you bold lover of God. How you inspire, how such humble beginnings morphed into such audacious inclinations. I. Am. Inspired.

Toes to edge, heart to sleeve, chin to heaven. I will not be swept away.

Now show me Your Glory.

Grace and peace, yall. 
Beautiful Emily is hosting quite a shin-dig over at her place. I am humbly joining in. Stop by to be in awe of some gifted writers.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

stand, fall, weep, carry on...

Sometimes I wish that God loved me more. More than it feels like He does. And I know the pat Christian answer is that He died for me, and what more could I ask for. Yes, I know the stinging rebuke of that response, but truth be told, in the cold, dark loneliness of this life, and His seeming silence over so many requests, I have not come to know Him as trustworthy and good.
I see the ladies bow their heads, beautiful, tenderhearted saints with voices who speak with Him often. The prophetess lays heart bare and I know that she has spoken with the Majesty many times before, I hear the Spirit wings on her voice as it rises to His throne. And I wonder what He does with the words when they arrive.
Do You not see our pain? Do you not see our tears? Do You not see that we are hurting down here? Some lonelier than others. And yet your ears seem deaf or our tongues seem mute or maybe it’s a bit of both. I have not seen You move in what feels like ages, and my bones are weary, and my heart is wandering, tired from such a heavy burden. And I wish that you loved me more, that I too may be loved.
And I remember Job and how You did him, how You let him suffer in some weird chess match, and in the end, when he was broken and crying, You rebuked his pain and he fell even lower. But I cried with him, because I know that pain, the pain of losing everything, of starting life over at a time when it was meant to be flourishing. I cried with him because he wept, and You stood by and watched. I know that feeling, the being watched while your world falls apart. The being watched, in loneliness and desperation, wishing for a Savior to do something, to save the day.
I do not understand Your ways, and though I cannot deny You in any way, shape, or form, I find the truth buried in my heart that I do not trust You. When I cry out, I do not believe that You will answer, and so I have stopped crying out. I do not call out with confidence that You will hear or respond, because so many prayers before fell on deaf ears, and so I have stopped calling out altogether. And yet I tremble still. I cannot help it. I cry in the darkness after the littles have slept and I have poured out all, empty and exhausted, alone. Your spirit has revealed too much for me to walk away, and yet Your silence and laissez faire approach to us is baffling. So I stand, fall, weep, carry on. And wonder. And believe still.

After a long silence, I am honored to link up with beautiful Emily once again at Imperfect Prose. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Worker is Worth His Keep

Acts 2:42 says this:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

My heart is racing and my palms are sweating as I think of the possibilities, the implications. This was not a people who gathered for a Sabbath Corporate gathering and a small group once a week. This was a people who LIVED together. This was a people who formed a village in the midst of an empire, who formed a counter-culture in the face of oppression, who stood together, daily, with arms linked and hearts connected, exuding the Light of Christ in a very dark place. This was a people who lived their lives focused on the vision of being Jesus’ witness. Period.

And so they cashed everything in, knowing that together, they would take care of each other. Together, they could stand and not be in want. Together, they could demonstrate the compelling nature of our Christ.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

The part that speaks a very powerful message is the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They were part of this early faith community, and they too wanted to sell their goods and contribute to the larger vision. So they sold a piece of property and brought the money before the apostles. Except that they held back a portion of the sale for themselves, without disclosing the full amount. They reserved part of the money and did not give it as a whole, but said that they were giving it all. And they were struck dead for the act.

Not a slap on the hand. Not a “well, they’re just not in the right place.” Not an excuse from the community. Not an acknowledgement that it is their money to do with as they please and so the rest is between them and God. Nope.

Struck dead.

I often wonder about Ananias and Sapphira. Did they get scared? Did they have a moment of doubt, or selfishness, and just didn’t see it prudent to give it ALL away? Did they have something in mind that they wanted to buy for themselves alone? Did they doubt the generosity of the community and think that they were going to be short-changed? Did they grow weary of interdependence of the community and wanted freedom to break away? Did they just want more, maybe for their home? Were their needs not being met? What fueled that decision?

Reason and logic of this day and age would say that they were being good stewards, wise to set some aside. After all, it was their money and they can do with it as they please. It is nobody else's business how they decide to use it. You never know when that rainy day may come and you find yourself in need. In fact, I have heard many Christians say, in the midst of discussing this Scripture, that if they were to give everything away, then they would be the ones in need, depending on others.

As radical as it sounds, maybe that is exactly where God wants us to be. Depending on Him, through the generous hearts of each other, knowing that He. Will. Come. Through. Then we boast in nothing but Him.

That was the model that He set for us. Remember, Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Jesus was homeless.

As He sent out His disciples to teach and heal and love, He told them, “As you go, preach this message, ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.”

The worker is worth his keep.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Cost is High

Three years ago, when the economy tanked, a husband and wife both lost their jobs. The man in his early 60’s, the wife in her late 50’s, both came home empty handed. The company that she had given years of hard work to laid off all their employees and closed their doors. The nationwide hiring freeze put his recruiting firm out of business. So this hard-working, middle-class couple found themselves with no jobs, and no benefits for their chronic health problems. He was cutting blood-pressure medication in half to make it last longer. She was skipping days of her thyroid medication to stretch it out. They were scrambling to put money together for non-negotiable insulin, and he stopped taking his cholesterol medication because they just couldn’t afford it.

So this couple, in the prime of their lives, found themselves starting over. But they were clever and creative, so they put their heads together and started a small business, making and selling tie-dye clothing and his beautiful artwork. They worked tirelessly throughout the week to get their inventory up, and then traveled every weekend, chasing after arts and crafts fairs to peddle their goods. There was no Sabbath for this couple, but they were growing weary.

They filed for every government benefit available to them at their age, fought against red tape and middlemen, and even still, were just scraping by. Even through all of their toil, though, they were falling further and further behind. So after three years of just trying to keep their heads above water, they made the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy and let their house, their home of 13 years, go to the bank. They had run out of options and energy. They would move to a different state, and share a home with their aging in-laws who were in need of live-in help. Humbled and torn, they began the process of selling off all that they had left.

In late September, my family and I returned to the states from Africa, just in time to help that couple, my parents, neatly arrange all of their possessions on tables in the carport of their home, with paper signs that read “25 cents each.” Family heirlooms, memorabilia from around the world, gifts from family and friends; each item had a story, and piece of our past attached to it. And a person walks up, bargains it down from a dollar and walks away with it in hand, never knowing where it came from, the stories that made us laugh when we talk about it, or the family that we remember when we see it. All of it gone for a couple thousand dollars in two weekends’ worth of yard sales. And then my parents loaded up what was most dear in a small truck, and headed east for Texas, 15 hours away from children and grandchildren, trusting God for guidance and peace.

And I mourn it all.

Probably more for selfish reasons than anything else. And I know it is only a season. But I mourn it nonetheless. To know how hard they have worked throughout their lives, how they have struggled and toiled, I just wonder if we could have, should have, stood together better. The community failed. We failed.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the rich young ruler who approached Jesus, and the early Church community described in Acts, and the modern day Church, and my parents, and countless others just like them, and the lost and broken, and the call to be set apart, be a light, give everything, no poor among them, thousands added daily, addictions and pain, and the power of the Holy Spirit to change it all. And this stirring and this reading and this praying and seeking has left me with a solemn conclusion.

I cannot fully reconcile my life to what Jesus taught because I have spent my life picking and choosing what of it I want to follow. It's just easier that way.

Ugh. I hate putting that out there because it solidifies, confesses, acknowledges the nudging that the Spirit has been doing at my heart.

Yes, I hear you. I just didn’t want to hear you. Because the cost of discipleship so very high, and I. AM. SCARED.

But You, in all of Your unpredictable moves and unreasonable requests, You are good. You do not make sense, as Your ways are not my ways, and You are not safe by the standards I know. But You are good. 

And so when You told the rich young ruler, this master who owned everything he could possible need, that he lacked one thing, You didn’t mean that just for him. And Your early church, full of the Holy Spirit, with Your words still ringing in their ears, they knew that. You told him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” There was no payment plan, no easing into it, no baby steps. This rich man, this religious leader, knew all the commands and boasted in keeping them, even approached Jesus in boldness to let Him know that all the commands had been kept. So now the next act of obedience, the next step in discipleship.


And Your bride, in the zeal of her youth, did just that.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Work of Community

You may not have known it when I darkened your door for the first time. Maybe you knew and just didn't let on. You were always so gracious. When I came to you first, my brokenness was too profound to call even broken. Shattered might be a better word. Tiny shards blown like chaff in all directions. Too small to even pick up with my fingers. Cuts like that usually don't stop bleeding. Disillusioned. Doubtful. Terrified. I had done this before, showing up with the high hopes of being accepted, of belonging. I had tried before, and just never fit.

Early on, I had to talk myself into going, every week. A small pep talk as I drove, willing the steering wheel towards your house. I knew it would be good for my heart in the long run, even if a bit uncomfortable in the present time. I would do my best to sweep up all the remaining pieces of the heart that could be found, dump them into an inconspicuous baggie, and carry them with me into the small gathering of smiles and warm hearts, hoping that you would be the glue. I know you didn't know about the tears as I left your house, feeling useless and spent. I carried with me a fear of being disqualified for service, no longer useful for anything. Too broken. Too damaged. But you, your warmth oozed and my fragments began to come together.

I tried to hide the times that I would excuse myself from the laughter and joy, slip into the bathroom and cry. I felt lonely, alone, even in the midst of you. I tried to hide it, but my red eyes would usually betray me. But you, you were so gracious. You allowed me to just be, to absorb, to sit silent. You allowed the Holy Spirit to use you, and wounds were washed out by the outpouring, and I began to recognize some of the fragments that were being pieced back together. And you, you just loved.

And when selfish jealously, and self pity tried to creep in and destroy what you were pouring in to, you smiled graciously, and mourned with me. And you didn't know, but your silent presence was life-restoring ministry. And you don't know, but you should know, that the Almighty is using you and you are giving me courage and hope. I watch how he esteems his bride and looks to her where he is weak, and he is not scared or proud, but boasts in what God has done and what God has given him. And I heard how he made decisions based on his adoration of the girl to whom he gave forever after, and how he edified her and she will respect him forever for that. And I see how you talk with my little ones, as if they are yours, and I have hope for them, and me. And I see how he pours out his heart in absolute vulnerability and speaks of a desire to lead his family well, and she, well, the stars in her eyes shine even brighter when she gazes at him. And I am proud, and humbled, and honored to sit in the midst of such a gathering of brethren. And those undecipherable pieces that I was sweeping up before can now be carried to and fro.

And you don't know, but I have prayed for an increase in capacity, an earnest desire to be used again by You, for You, that I may be restored enough that You may be poured out of me. Filled, to be emptied. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. And I have cried, wept bitterly. Will You not use me again? And last night, you blessed me to love on your little ones, and God's grace poured out on all of us. A simple act, and weeks prior I would have dreaded it, knowing that I had nothing left to give. I could barely keep up with my own little people, much less 8 others. But I have asked for strength, and increased capacity, and last night, You. Said. Yes.

And no one cried, and we laughed and danced with princesses and silly squirrels and talked about choices and honoring mother and father, and wiped runny noses, and pranced with ponies, and we played and built. Yes, we built. And I was built by the grace of little ones as we, many, cuddled, all lap space and arm reach spoken for. And they leaned in with trust and precious eyes of innocence and heaven. You graced me to love them and showed me that I could.

The warmth of the Holy Spirit has poured out its healing upon my shattered heart, and you are the glue being used to bring jagged edges back together, warm glue allowing pieces to find their way back to rightful places, and a sense of wholeness restores the soul. You are purifying the air that I breathe, and refining my vision for the graces of God, and I am seeing Him everywhere. I no longer carry a baggie with broken pieces because the grace of my Redeemer has placed a restored heart back in its rightful place, beating in my chest, and your fingerprints are all over that glue that has bound it up.

I am eternally grateful.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mourning will one day be dancing...

Seven years ago tonight, a boy and girl stood in a church before a pastor and a slew of friends and family, and said forever after. There was euphoria and bliss, but there were also doubts from onlookers, wondering how long it would really last. Questioning eyes and slight shoulder shrugs said, "we'll see how it goes and how long it lasts." So I dug my heels in, determined to prove them all wrong, that we would make it. I painted on a smile in hard times, and boasted loud in the good times. I was sure that my love and determination would be enough for both of us.

There was a night when this boy and girl strolled, hands intwined, on a moonlit night through a nearby canyon while conversation flowed of the future, of family ministry across Africa. Statements were made of family priorities, boldly pronounced that the order would always be God first, then family, then ministry/work, then all other demands of life. But lines are blurred when God and ministry/work take on the same face, and family is bumped further down the line. I wished you had loved me as much as you loved her, or them. I wished that the ministry would be poured into the family as well, but all was spent elsewhere, and we got what little was left.

There was a time that someone spoke to you, saying that "Your pride would be your downfall," and you laughed it off and I chuckled nervously, wondering when. But I dug my heels in and repainted the face whenever it began to droop. Maybe if I were thinner, or more spiritual, or prettier, or nicer, or quieter, or more submissive, maybe he would love me more. I was sure it could all be saved.

But alas, it would not be saved. I have struggled to separate God from you, and was told to be quiet and submissive to the man who is the representation of Christ to his family, but if that were so, then I hate you both. I remember through the years, women would say to me how blessed I am to be married to such a spiritual man, and I would bridle my tongue and nod my head with a forced grin. What is that like, really?  Because in my house, it meant abandonment, neglect. Is that what God is like?

I have learned that that is not true. And in God's hate of divorce, His love of mercy is much greater. For the six years prior to this one, this would have been a night of celebration, though hope forced and waning with each passing year. For years I heard pastors talk about the effects of divorce, the ripping of flesh that had been melded into one. Tonight I know that pain. There is no comfort, or balm to soothe the ache, dreams lost and family sacrificed on the altar of ministry.

And so today has become a day of mourning. Mourning for a life that could have been, dreams that could have flown high. But You have said that You turn mourning into dancing, and ashes into beauty, and I am believing and clinging and looking forward to a future, even dreaming again. It is a reclamation of life, and so tonight, amidst the mourning and sadness, I will pour myself a glass of champagne , maybe cry a little, and rest in His Goodness. Even now.