Uncertainty

The scary part about exploring the dark places of the soul and taking lids off of boxes long shelved is never being sure what will be found inside. We have walked some shadowy places in recent years and we have doubted everything we’ve ever believed. Is God real? And if He’s real….is He good? (Which is a far scarier question in my mind.) Is there truth? Is there black and white? Or is it all varying shades of grey? What are the absolutes and how can we be sure? Everything feels entirely upended and out of sorts.

It’s been almost two years since the winter that undid us. I don’t really remember what our marriage was like before that. I’m sure I don’t remember it correctly. We are remaking us – as individuals and as a couple. And it’s hard. It’s messy. And it’s terribly unknown.

It’s uncomfortable living in all the uncertainty. Being take-charge people who like to have a plan, a direction, these years in shadowy places – wandering, wandering, endlessly, aimlessly wandering – they make me anxious. My skin starts to feel too small and my breathing becomes rushed.

I still have no answers. We still sit in the shadows. But one thing I know – most things are only frightening in the dark. Bring them to the light and our fears become smaller. And we find we are not alone.

So that’s what I’m doing today. I’m telling you that we desperately love Jesus, but we struggle with our faith in the goodness and trustworthiness of God sometimes. And we love each other, but marriage is hard and we want to quit sometimes. And we don’t need to be preached at, but we would love to be walked with. In honesty and grace. Because I know we are not alone. There are others who wrestle with the questions every day and sleep with doubt every night.

When Matt turned thirty, his mom took him out for lunch and told him to be aware, because this was the decade when our friends would start getting divorced. And almost ten years ago, I think we found that interesting and maybe possible, but a little hard to believe. But now, at the other end of that decade, we see it. And we know the struggle and the temptation and how hard you have to fight for and work on marriage. Daily.

Something similar is true with faith. It doesn’t grow in a vacuum. It must be fed and nurtured. But God is big enough for our doubts, so we bring them freely.

The internet is a much scarier place to bring those doubts, but you all know that’s how I roll. So I bring them, and I invite you to bring yours. Let’s create a safe place to wrestle with these mid-life questions and walk in the uncertainty together.

When Grace Shines Through

Barely old enough to buy the champagne we toasted with, we took vows and we promised forever and I felt safe and you had hope and we walked back down that aisle with grand plans but no idea what the future held.  And a decade and a half later we woke up in the middle of our hurried thirties with five kids and a business and a million responsibilities, next to a person we thought we knew too well but maybe didn’t know at all.

And we both broke vows and we broke each other’s hearts and you lost hope and I built walls to keep myself safe.  And we almost lost it all.

But hope holds on and safety can be found when we refuse to let go.  And for a year now we have fought, often with each other, but also for each other.  And we have learned that it’s possible to fall in love with the same person over and over and over again.  We’ve learned that forgiveness comes at a cost but it is worth the price because redemption is our reward.

And on nights when I want to give up and make my own safety behind those walls, on nights when you lose hope and we wonder if we will ever be us again, God reminds me that our surrender is to Him because our trust is in Him, and we must choose to stay soft toward one another and always assume the best.  Because this love is real and true and imperfect and broken, but in all those broken places, His grace shines through.

Sometimes I wake up with the sadness
Other days it feels like madness
Oh…what would I do without you?

When colours turn to shades of grey
With the weight of the world at the end of the day
Oh…what would I do without you?

A decade goes by without a warning
And there’s still a kindness in your eyes
Amidst the questions and the worries
A peace of mind, always takes me by surprise.

I feel like I’m walking with eyes as blind
As a man without a lantern in a coal mine
Oh…what would I do without you?

My imagination gets the best of me
And I’m trying to hide lost at sea
Oh…what would I do without you?

The difference between what I’ve said and done
And you’re still standing by my side
A guilty soul and a worried mind
I will never make it, if I’m on my own

So you’ve got the morning, I’ve got midnight
You are patient, I’m always on time
Oh…what would I do without you?

You’ve got your sunshine, I’ve got rainclouds
You’ve got hope, I’ve got my doubts

Oh…what would I do without you?
Oh…what would I do without you?
Oh…what would I do without you?

~ Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Keeping Vows

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Sixteen years ago, just babies ourselves, we took a vow and said “I do” and we promised all our tomorrows with barely any yesterdays behind us.

And we made a love and made a home and we birthed babies and birthed a business. And somewhere along the way our lives got busy. Yours with your work and your ministry. Mine with our house and our home school. And we had one of the strongest marriages I knew, yet somehow we lost ourselves and we lost us.

Then one day we both woke up and realized we were in bed with a stranger. A stranger we had been married to for a decade and a half. And we looked in the mirror and a stranger met us there too. And we searched, to find ourselves and to find each other again.

And this sixteenth anniversary feels a bit like that first year. Two people committed to life together, learning to know one another again. Two people trying to figure out who they are and where they belong in the world and in each other’s life. Two people trying to make a way together. To make a love and a life that will last.

And as we look ahead, I won’t lie, I look ahead with a little bit of fear. Because this year was a road I never expected for us and it was a year I thought “us” as we knew it might be over. And I know there is no iron-clad guarantee we won’t go there again, except grace.

But I also look forward even more with hope. Because God is a God of abundant mercy and He delivered us from that dark pit and He is doing a new thing in our marriage. And because He has called us to Himself and to each other and He will make a way. And because He has brought gifts out of that dark season, gifts we may not have received any other way.

And so I see beauty and grace rising from ashes. I see Him making a valley of suffering into a door of hope. And I see Him making two an even stronger one, all entwined in His love.

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For His Glory ~

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For When You Wear Regret Like a Robe…..

While on vacation Matt told me about an article he had read, written by someone who regretted saving herself, her virginity, for marriage.  And I laughed and said that was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. I read her article.  And my heart breaks for the bad theology she was raised in and for the broken religion she was taught because, based on her post, so much of it is so far from the gospel of grace that Jesus lived.   And as a church we have so far to go to teach our young people that purity matters but it does not define us and that we stay pure because we trust that the God who made us really does know what is best for us, not because of pride or fear or shame.  And this morning I read Ann’s words on why to wait and they were beauty and grace.

On that same vacation I read Just 18 Summers and pondered the caricatured pressure, anxiety, and regret these families lived with and how they were an over-stated reflection of what so many of us feel and it seems to me that Satan has two primary tactics in which he wages war – pride and regret.  And while the book and the article are unrelated, the messages of pride and regret go hand-in-hand.

We wear our pride and think we could never make those bad choices, do those awful things – never have sex outside of marriage, never drink too much, smoke, do drugs, yell at our parents / spouse / children.  Because we’re good people, rule followers, righteous, and we just.don’t.do.that.  Until we do.  We fall and we stumble and we sin and we wake up in the dirt and mess of our own choices.  And while all can be forgiven, none can be undone.  And regret climbs on like a weight we can’t put down and it follows everywhere like an ugly shadow.

Or our pride keeps us on edge, trying to put forth an image, make us something we know we’re really not – pulled together, controlled, prepared, practically perfect in every way.  Until we realize we’re not.  And we see the time that was wasted pretending when we could have been living real. And our heart breaks for the relationships lost and broken while chasing the wind.

And I know regret well.  I can’t fathom regretting saving oneself for marriage.  It just doesn’t register.  But I can I understand the feelings of how is this suddenly okay, when it’s never been okay before.  I get that.  But giving away pieces of one’s soul in the name of being more at ease on your wedding night seems counter-productive.  But I know Satan will use any method to keep us from experiencing the fullness of God’s love, even to the point of making someone regret trusting His word.  And I have bags full of stuff I could carry around and regret from my pre-marriage life, but I’ve never been a big fan of living with regret and I see how those things shaped me and changed me and life carries on because God is bigger than all of it.  And while my pride was totally stripped, regret never really haunted me.

Until I became a mother.  And the thought of how my singular influence could so shape a life and that latent perfectionist within has never been able to handle the pressure and Satan found a way to saddle me with that burden of regret early and I daily have to lay it down.  The things that should have been said differently, or not said, or should have been said that weren’t.  The time that should have been used more wisely.  The snuggles I skipped, the stories we didn’t read, the encouragement I didn’t give to my husband or children.  And the hours I could spend focusing on what didn’t happen…..that’s when Satan wins a victory.  Oh, I could invest so much time and energy into what could have been but what would be the point?  I cannot go back.  I don’t intend to have more babies just so I can try again.  God has given me this one marriage and these five girls.  He’s given me eyes to see where we need to go, not just what we missed in the past.  I can’t go back and re-do any of it.  But I can make the most of now – being present, being available, being real.

And I think this concept of regret is a fairly Western, 21st century problem.  I don’t imagine my grandparents or great-grandparents or yours sitting around the fire at night lamenting all the “quality time” and “experiences” their children didn’t get.  They didn’t feel pressured to provide swimming pools or elaborate fire pits or elite sports teams or study abroad opportunities to make their lives full.  They lived their one life the best they could.  They loved, cared, and provided for their families the best they knew how.  Our generation has the luxury of worrying about the quality of time we spend with each other  or activities we are involved in and we’re killing ourselves because of it.

There are so many many things that could have been done differently.  I don’t want to spend this one life looking back wishing for  a do-over.  I want to look ahead with hope and joyful anticipation of all that God can make out of the ashes of a messed up past.  He makes beautiful things….
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For His Glory ~

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*image source – Pinterest; original source unknown

A Decade and a Half

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Fifteen years today.  Fifteen years of marriage.  Fifteen years of life and love and chasing dreams and chasing kids.  Fifteen years of working through struggles and laughing about them later.  Fifteen years of friendship and intimacy, the depth of which I didn’t know was possible.  Fifteen years – five kids, four houses, a business, and memories to last a lifetime.  Fifteen years of learning to lean on each other and lean harder on God.

So much has changed in a decade and a half.  And so much has stayed the same.  We’ve both grown and matured.  Our preferences and opinions have changed over the years.  We’ve struggled through petty conflicts and big decisions.  But our love, our commitment to each other, our faith in God, those remain and have grown deeper and stronger and I can look forward with faith and confidence to the next fifteen (and even fifty) years.  Deo volente.

For His Glory ~

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Fourteen Years

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Fourteen years ago today we promised the rest of our lives. We stood and said forever and through all circumstances.  And God has been abundantly good.  We’ve walked many dark and lonely valleys and we’ve stood on glorious mountain tops.  We’ve watched God grow our family, our business, our marriage, and maybe our pants sizes.  But most of all, He has grown our love for each other.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugWe do not know what tomorrow holds.  We watch as life takes sharp and jagged turns and we know it is all grace and every day is a gift.  You are my rock and my soft place to fall, a steady voice and a ready laugh.  Fourteen years down the road, and I am more in love than ever before.  It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s always been worth it.  I don’t deserve the goodness God has shown, but I am oh so thankful and I look forward to what He has planned for us next.

 

By His Grace and For His Glory ~

Love, Me

Things That Haunt

There are sins and scars that we carry around with us, no matter how often we repent and forgive and make new.  They are sins that were committed against us, against our will.  And they are sins committed against ourselves.  Both leave scars and marks – brandished with a scarlet A – never to forget.

Time fades the marks, but sometimes the demons that created them cut them back open.  There’s no preparing for it.  They follow you everywhere.  Even to tropical, peaceful places, where you think you should be able to escape.

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I lay in bed, fighting against the one I’ve hurt, fighting against myself.  I battle the lies in my head and silently ask God why.  The silence answers back.  Perhaps He doesn’t speak because He doesn’t need to.  We’ve hashed this out before.  I know the truth.  But sometimes….sometimes the lies shout louder than the truth.  Too often it seems the truth whispers.

The one I love fights his own battles on the other side of the bed.  His own demons and lies fill his head.

This is not how it was meant to be.  This is not what we were made for.  But broken people in a broken world hurt and in the crucible of marriage where we are laid bare and torn open, we can hurt even deeper.

We sleep.  It’s late.  We’re both tired.  Nothing productive will come of further discussion now.

Wounds still bleed in the morning.  Scars are still raw.  But talk comes more easily.  We know the enemy of our souls, of our marriage, is the one who started this battle.  It is him we rage against, not each other.

We pray and reunite, our hearts still wounded, but our resolve strengthened.  Things of the past cannot be changed and decisions made long ago will follow us forever.  But we serve a God who makes all things new.  He is a God of second chances.  He forgives and never gives up.  And we must be the same to each other.

I was nineteen, you were twenty-one
The year we got engaged
Everyone said we were much too young
But we did it anyway

We bought our rings for forty each
From a pawn shop down the road
We made our vows and took the leap
Now fifteen years ago

We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

“I do” are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard
Is a good place to begin

‘Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price
For the life that we have found

And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

So when I lose my way, find me
When I loose love’s chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith, till the end of all my days
When I forget my name, remind me

‘Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
So there’s nothing left to fear
So I’ll walk with you in the shadowlands
Till the shadows disappear

‘Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos, baby,
I can dance with you

Dancing in the Minefields / Andrew Peterson