Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Relentless Love :: The Wrap Up

Our Relentless Love journey has come to a close, at least here on the blog.

However the life lessons that I have learned will stay with me for awhile. I think that is how I have seen His relentless love the most across all of these stories....through the people themselves....through the way that they bravely shared of themselves by giving their words as a gift - to me and to you - in this space.

Through Kamille's story of finding complete abandonment with Jesus as a little girl as well as how she did not mind going first in this series with short notice I discover such childlike acceptance, kindness and grace. In Katy's heart I find a woman whose deep feeling produces a giving heart so big that even she does not even know the capacity she possesses as she shares about the God who sees. With Christina's words, I see a woman who knows her weaknesses well, but acknowledges a Savior who loves her in spite of them, because of them and openly shares her story with the world.

As Cara weaves her morsels sharing of His indelible love, ink turning into blood, transforming us, I see a woman whose very nature exudes a passion for, a desire to know Jesus better. Sarah recounts the psalms with the heart of a poet, and I am enraptured into this Jesus that she sees and knows so personally, so intimately, and I am drawn into the love affair of a God who never quits. Paige comes clean about the time where her desire to be right and the busyness of life caused her communication to be a sounding gong to the ears of her listener, and through the sharing, she teaches me that telling our stories, even the mistakes, even when it is hard, can bring a world of healing to those around us.

In Jen, I learn bravery, to step away from the only life she has known to a life where she had to step into her dreams, to trust that the Father's love was bigger than even the limits she has placed upon herself, and she inspires me to have faith in the God of innumerable possibilities who persistently pursues our hearts. As Jennifer shares the words of the Father to her, to us, to me, I am enraptured by His breathtaking love, His invitation to trust Him, and I want to BE that little girl again just holding Daddy's hand, climbing into His lap, twirling & dancing & laughing with my Father.

Annie's courage to tackle love in the face of grief showed me his healing power not only in her life, the life of readers across the globe, but also in my heart. To be a part of therapeutic breakthrough and encouraging another to share their REAL, RAW stories just shows me the connection of His relentless love in and through each of us. Anna's raw grit always challenges and spurs me forward. Her words about battle scars and crooked toenails share life in the cracks, through the hard, in the yes, buts. Her encouraging words to me through this writing project remind me of how we can impact another's life without even knowing about it. And, Holley's heart always blows me away and hearing her own journey of struggle and chasing after something to find love and acceptance shows me the wrestling of my own soul and where it can truly find rest.

It has been my pleasure to host each and every one of these ladies this month. I hope you have learned from them, their lives, their choices, their setbacks, their love for Jesus and more. If you have, would you let me know? And what spoke to you? I would love to know. It encourages me to know that you have been encouraged!

May your life be a continual pursuit of a deeper understanding of His Relentless Love .... for you!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Chase {Guest Post :: Holley}

It's the end of February and the Relentless Love series is winding down, and I am happy to share the final guest post writer with you -- my friend, Holley Gerth. I have said it before and I will say it again, Holley, besides my mom of course, is one of those people that I would like to be when I grow up. She is a published author, counselor, life coach, Dayspring card writer, co-founder of {in}courage, Squee! business entrepreneur, dream weaver {and builder}, lover of people far and wide and so much more. Oh and by the way...she's MY age!! I have looked up to her since the first words I read of hers on her website months ago. When we met at Relevant, imagine my delight when she carved out time for us to sit together and connect for a few hours. What a treasure! Holley makes her home in Arkansas with her sweetheart, Mark. Her blog home is Heart to Heart with Holley {I mean doesn't THAT name in and of itself just tell you WHO she is and why I think she is so fabulous?!?!?}

The Chase

I’m born into a home that believes.
I start a relationship with Jesus early.
I’m the good girl in high school.

But somewhere along the line,
I confuse relationship with rules.
I weary of the legalism and when college comes, I rebel.
I’m the prodigal daughter who talks at parties about missing God,
who mistakes affection for love, who tries to fill the hole inside her
with anything but the only thing that can.

I imagine God running from me.
But instead, in that impossible way of His, he pursues me.
He sends people into my life that teach me about grace.
He forgives again and again and…again.
He whispers to me in the middle of the night
and tugs on my heart in the middle of the day.

He is relentless.

But I will not relent.

Until my choices break my heart wide open
and all the hurt pours out.
“Now, I’ve done it," I tell myself.

But God isn’t done with me yet.
It seems He takes all that hurt
and washes my feet with my own tears.

How can God love like this?

I keep trying to earn my way back.
I want to show that I will be a good girl for good now.

But God will have none of it.
Instead he simply wants all of me—just as I am.

And, finally, I begin to believe it.
I slow and let that love-that-never-stops-pursuing catch me.

When I do, I’m surprised at what comes with it too.


What I thought I had to chase out there in the world
turned out to be what was chasing me all along.

I’m so glad God never gave up.

(And that he never will.)

This month I have asked some of my fellow bloggers to join me here at The Little Missionary Girl All Grown Up to share how they have seen the Relentless Love of the Father in their lives in moments of brokenness, heartache, and valley-of-shadow moments. This post is the 11th and final in the series of that exploration into the passion of the Father for us across miles, across personalities, across hearts that are His. To read more of the posts, click here and here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Broken Dreams & Shattered Hope

So it was kind of a yucky weekend. I woke up Saturday morning with what I know now is the "infamous" stomach flu that has been "going around" although somehow I seemed oblivious until it crashed into my immune system full force knocking me off of my feet for almost 36 hours and still in rebound mode today.

But I sat down last night to recount my weekend gifts anyway, and I was amazed at how thankful I felt....

For my sister who came over Saturday night with supplies AND gave up her Sunday to sit with me.

For my husband who loves me at my worst -- both in body and mood. For the fresh realization that while I do struggle daily with chronic pain, I AM thankful that I do NOT daily have the stomach flu. #ShesNotInvitedToMyParty

And for the little things...that in the midst of being overwhelmed, overwrought, and overtired...the Lord's still quiet voice could break through.

I feel that I should explain further....
Please do not get me wrong.
I am not some Christian hero.
Finding joy easily.
Drawing laughter in all circumstances like a paid clown.
Delighting in the most hideous of moments.

I'm real.
I'm raw.
I get mad.

I fight...
No. Really. I do...
...myself husband family friends
...the changes

And every time that I get "sick," even if it is with a 24-, or 48-, or whatever-hour flu bug, a silly cold, or a monthly setback, I wonder if I am slipping back into the worst of days, if I will ever be "myself" again - the girl I was before chronic pain became a daily partner - if I can do the things I want to do, if my dreams will actually come true.

So I cry
and thrash
and rage.

Yes. Even this weekend.
My pride is wounded.
I need help,
but I DESPISE that need.
I want people to swoop in and help me, to magically and instinctively just KNOW
but I HATE the fact that their help proves "I can't handle it...."

You see....I'm a fighter.
Not like punch-you-in-the-face or have-to-win-an-argument fighter
but you know that fight-flight instinct people have...??
Well...9 times out of 10, I will come out guns blazing, ready for action...


{Imagine me as a mother...I might be a raging lunatic...but that's a story for another day....}

I fight the REALITY of this unknown silent predator stealing away parts of me bit by bit that I do not want to surrender.
And it's lonely.
And it's scary.
And sometimes I just want to be a little girl again.
I don't want to face broken dreams,
scattered hope. is in THAT place....THAT season....THAT sheer agony of life where I count my gifts, shifting my focus, reminding myself of what IS real, what IS possible, what IS still promised, what....or rather IN WHOM my hope continuously rests...

In Christ alone, my hope is found

He is my light,
my strength, my song

This cornerstone, this solid ground
 Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My comforter, my all-in-all

Here in the love of Christ I stand

The Joy Dare
1000 gifts in 2012

154) Netflix -> Arno and I just recently jumped on the bandwagon
155) Little bits of leftover snow hanging on
156) Fluffy popcorn
157) Safety in an "almost" fire -- Thank you, Jesus!
158) Falling asleep before 10, even if only for 1 hour
159) Change in schedule meant productive and fun time to myself
160) The way the sunset brightened with that special setting
161) The shadows from the tree and of me on the driveway
162) My mom's words, "I'm just as proud of you now..."
163) The starry night -- makes me feel closer to Him
164) "Thanks for the encouragement, Lindsey. It's always a pleasure to write what I love and have people read it ant to really get it. Thank you for that. What a gift!"
165) Newly colored hair
166) My quilt
167) Peppermint tea while sick
168) My sister bringing me "supplies" & fixing me things while sick
169) Arno's nursing me even though it isn't his forte
170) One of those good heart-to-hearts with Arno
171) Catching up on some of my favorite shows
172) The stomach flu - hitting both of us - letting us both be home together on a Monday
173) My ugly sick picture from Saturday - the beauty of real life
174) The way the light hit the ugly old wood paneling in the smoke filled house

Won't you join me? Take The Joy Dare!
Here is a list of ideas to daily help you to SEE in the midst of the busy days...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Project 365 :: Week 8

Day 50 :: I love my man; he loves his Mac
{Oh....and me too!!}

Day 51 :: Me - Retro Style

Day 52 :: So after I almost smoked out my house by forgetting
about what I was cooking on the stove, I opened the back door
(and the front door and half the windows...) and got this lovely
display of light in the midst of my coughing

Day 53 :: Still waiting on word about our "short sale" house purchase
{3 1/2 months and counting}
but continuing to slowly pack in faith

Day 54 :: My view at work {one of the jobs, anyway}

Day 55 :: I did my first PAYING photography "gig" {YAY!}
for a hair studio's website. This is just a little sneak peek.

Day 56 :: Keepin' It Real - I woke up with a HORRIBLE stomach flu
That's me...trying the BRAT diet.
{slowly on the mend 36 hours later....}

I'm on a journey to chronicle my life with a picture a day for a year. I hope to discover the world around me in my day-to-day life in a uniquely different way as well as learn more about my DSLR to better capture those precious moments. Linking up with my friend Paige and others who are taking this challenge too.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Battle Scars & Crooked Toenails {Guest Post :: Anna}

I met Anna my freshman year in college at Oral Roberts University. Anna was bffs with my floor chaplain, Alison, and getting to know someone in the light of a beautiful relationship, you always get to really see their heart. God placed her in a strategic position to be able to speak on my behalf to be a part of the chaplain leadership program for 3 years thereafter that truly changed my life in so many ways. Anna and her husband, John, walked through the infertility journey for 3 years before finally conceiving and giving birth to little Ayla, who just turned 1 last month! They make their home together in this nation's capital with Anna's bloggy home being Anna's Joy. Her fresh and funny way of looking at life, even in the hard, will remind you that it is possible to have hope, JOY, and even a sense of humor no matter the circumstances.

Battle Scars & Crooked Toenails

I have a few really messed up toenails. I brutalized them in years (too far) past by running a couple of marathons, causing them to die and grow back in lumpy and crooked. Even though they look somewhat normal when painted and pedicured, I know what they really look like and that they will probably always be this way.

That’s what my heart is sort of like, too.

You’d never know it by my usually hilariously awesome personality, but I had a broken heart at least one day a month for almost three years.

Anyone who has run the infertility marathon will know exactly what I’m talking about. The heartbreak on days of yet another negative pregnancy test, or not even needing to take one, is truly relentless (severe, harsh).

Like many newlyweds, my husband and I laughed and blushingly smiled at people’s insinuations of lots of children and carelessly answered when people asked what our plans for children were.

We were naive kids, jumping into what we thought would be an easy float trip down a scenic river. It turned out to be a test of everything inside of us as we fought our way down a rushing torrent tumbling by treacherous rocks.

On those days, I was not feeling the relentless love of God.
On those days, He was this giant stone face; present, but silent.

On the “not yet” days, I often begged God to tell me, “No.” The endless wait, the hollow ifs, the just-freaking-don’t-know-whys, were so hard on my heart. If He would just put me out of my misery and tell me that we weren’t going to get pregnant, I could get on with my life and start looking for other ways to start a family.

God would not, in fact, tell me, “No.” He actually (finally) said, “Yes.”

No, it was more of a, “Yes, but.”

Yes, we got a baby. But, she was born a few weeks before my husband was scheduled to be transferred overseas for a year without us.

At the risk of losing some of the dramatic moment here, I must ask you to not feel too sorry for us. We are very close to the end of the year!

I am still not out of that darned river, though it’s different now.

Over the years of infertility, even through the days of the silent God, He was lovingly, patiently teaching me how to swim. He showed me when to float, when to kick, how to navigate around dangerous obstacles, how to hold my breath longer, what to do with my arms and so on (I don’t know how to actually swim that well, so that’s all I’ve got for swimming terminology).

While giving me swim lessons, God was also building us a community. We had hundreds of people praying for us to have a baby. We took a risk by letting so many people in on our painful journey, at times we even wished we hadn’t been so open. It was necessary for us, though, to have this army around us. They were how God showed His love for us, a constant, present force, holding our arms up, pointing our eyes up to the hills, then rejoicing with us as our prayers and theirs were answered.

Now, these people are still lifting us up in prayer, seeking out ways to help us and making what could be a terribly hard time of separation a season of reaping with thanksgiving.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still really hard. My daughter isn’t the only one who cries in this house!

But these lumpy toenails of mine, I mean, my strengthened, battle-scarred heart can keep walking on abundance-filled paths (Psalms 65:11), where others wondered how the timing of this separation and baby could have possibly been from the heart of a loving Father, I cannot doubt it.

His relentless love led me, protected me and taught me in the days of waiting for a baby. I learned to trust Him wholeheartedly, to rejoice in the provision of Today and to hold on to the hands of others on the journey. Then was just one long training session for now.

I’m pretty sure even this now is preparation for what’s next, but we’ll take those steps when we get there, crooked toenails and all.

This month I have asked some of my fellow bloggers to join me here at The Little Missionary Girl All Grown Up to share how they have seen the Relentless Love of the Father in their lives in moments of brokenness, heartache, and valley-of-shadow moments. This post is the 10th in the series of that exploration into the passion of the Father for us across miles, across personalities, across hearts that are His. To read more of the posts, click here and here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Glory in the Grit

When I think of the word "grit," automatically my mind travels to my friend, Alece, and her blog, Grit and Glory. Alece inspired me in so many ways, including her post today about selah -- rest. She speaks my language, my heart, my soul.

I like people like that.
I have a lot of them.
IRL and URL.
Who hear my heart. Who hear my soul.

But during my gritty times, I didn't see that.
I felt alone
Wondering where "my people" were and where God was in all of this.

That was grit.

But now, I am starting to, little by little, see the glory.
They are sort of like little rays of light that you see here and there -- those glimpses.

Sometimes the light is more obvious because of the shadows.

I am finding that to be true for me.
The glory is more real, more obvious, more well...can I say it? Glorious
because of those gritty, doggone-hard, ugly-cry, shake-your-fist-at-the-sky places.

No one chooses the grit.
I mean, I sure didn't.
but somewhere in the midst of it all...
something weird and strange happens...

You find, maybe even for the first time in your life, the true meaning
of His glorious grace.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Finding Love's Roots through Grief {Guest Post :: Annie}

Oh, yay, it's time for Annie! That's the name of my truly lovely friend that I get to introduce you to today. She and I {also} met at Relevant last October, the very first night. In fact we met in the lobby with a conglomeration of newbies before the conference even began, and somehow over the next 24 hours, gravity seemed to continuously draw us back to each other. By the time we were all leaving on Sunday, less than 48 hours after we first met, discovering her and Cara was seriously like finding missing puzzle pieces that just helped to complete the picture, in the words of Anne of Green Gables, kindred spirits FOR SURE. Being an ENFP like my sister, knowing Annie is like knowing someone that I have known my whole life. She is smart and funny and wise and quirky and artsy and deep and loving all in one package. Annie makes her home with her love, Ted and their two beautiful princesses. When she isn't busy being a wife and mom, you can find Annie's poetic prose at Annie at Home, where she share her heart as a parent, her artistic ventures, and most of all, how all of that spurs her on in her journey with Jesus. You also MUST check out Annie's latest venture where she conceptualized and created the entire art decor for a local cafe. It's amazing!

Finding Love's Roots through Grief

Relentless love can mean a lot of things. There's a deep mercy in a heart rescued, and sweet mercy, too, in the protection from the shackles in the first place.

And I grew up in sunshine and sweet places, and His love pursued me: in wind whipping straight through my soul as we raced bikes down to the farm, in soul friends who knew my heart and loved me anyway, in a million little nothings that reverberated with goodness, whose sweet music drowned out the flat notes and off keys.

And I have felt heartache and wrestled with God over injustice, His existence, and all the blurry lines that a legalist detests. And over and over, He has quieted me with His love.

But it wasn't until my sister died, tragically, that my real unraveling began. It's been two years now, and it's finally sinking in that I will never know the hows and whys of her last moments, only the date her body was discovered, and the finality of her death.

And how do you tell a story that's missing half the ending? How can the beauty and tragedy of such a complicated life be captured in simple lines of letters and sentence structure? Even now, I cannot do it.

But I can speak of the falling apart that happened at the very center of my heart. It was my own voice that taunted me. All those words and lessons and heart-cries about the God who is always about the work of making new, restoring and redeeming: they blew up in my face.

Because death is pretty final, and there was no redemption story here. And that grated against all my understanding, my deepest hope, the very foundation I'd laid my life upon.

And I made it through the cruel words of well-meaning folks and I made it through the eulogy, and I spoke the truth that seemed to mock me: I said it through tears, that her life was complicated, but Jesus' relentless love for her was constant. And I longed to believe.

But I spent every night for I don't know how long, slipping out of bed, so my husband could sleep, only to wake him with my uncontrollable sobbing. And we moved closer to home a few months later, a plan in the works before any of this unfolded, and I, the raging extrovert who couldn't have enough people in my life, I cocooned.

Those months were the darkest in my life. Quiet, full of silent ache. I kept it bottled up inside, until I couldn't keep it up, couldn't stand the tension of a heart desperately clinging to hope in a God who redeems, and mocking itself for doing so at the same time.

I was curled in a ball in the corner of the upstairs bathroom the night I caved. When I admitted I just couldn't work it out, that her death and the ache that now lived inside of me was too much to reconcile, I thought my world would split apart.

But, friends, the opposite happened. Not in that moment, and not by any certain magical formula. But months later, I would sit, weeping again, always the tears, and tell a friend how the very redemption that I had shaken my hand at heaven and demanded, a glimmer of that redemption was unfurling right in the midst of my brokenness. The words shocked me as they rolled off my tongue, and rung true to my core.

In her death, my sister gave me the gift of a faith shaken, and the slow awakening to a God bigger than my ability to comprehend, full of mystery, and there is rest in simply knowing the One who knows the unknowable. Her death, and my inability to handle it, revealed broken places that He yearned to heal, parts of myself I did not know had died, and the opportunity for new life after years of dormancy.

And I do not pretend to understand the ways this all weaves together. I do not believe we can draw simple cause and effect lines to understand the complexity of loss, and I despise the simple answers offered to squelch grief: "Maybe she died so that..." But I do believe that a thousand things can happen in just one thing. And know in my heart of hearts, that God's relentless love, it has wrapped its roots deeper into my soul.

And there is an undercurrent to all this sunshine and heartache, and it is His constant pulsing heartbeat for His glory being revealed and the beautiful redemption is unfolding even now...

... even when our circumstances scream raw in defiance to His goodness

... especially in our brokenness

... beautifully in the mended places.

This month I have asked some of my fellow bloggers to join me here at The Little Missionary Girl All Grown Up to share how they have seen the Relentless Love of the Father in their lives in moments of brokenness, heartache, and valley-of-shadow moments. This post is the 9th in the series of that exploration into the passion of the Father for us across miles, across personalities, across hearts that are His. To read more of the posts, click here and here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What it Looks Like to Walk {Guest Post :: Jennifer}

Jennifer Camp was a kindred spirit that I met at Relevant. You know how in the Austen-like wording someone might say something like, "She has a way about her." THAT is definitely Jenn. She has this quiet, kind, generous, giving "way" about her. She just listens, but really...she REALLY listens. Do you know what I mean? She is the kind of person that listens not just to be polite, but she listens with her soul. She hears your heartbeat. I believe it is because she is listening with the heart of the Father for you, for whomever crosses her path, whomever reads her blog, You Are My Girls. Jenn has an amazing story of healing and restoration that you will NOT want to miss. Jenn's family consists of the-love-of-her -life-man and three truly-beloved kids. Check out Sisters in Bloom for more of Jennifer's life-giving words.

What it Looks Like to Walk {With Jesus}

I know what it is like to complicate my relationship with God. I know what it is like to believe that my actions control His affections, whether He loves me more or less. I know what is is like to try to be my own savior and walk alone, forgetting that He has named me, designed me in His image . . . that I am adored, perfectly made.

I am good at making my relationship with my Savior seem complicated Are you?

And I am grateful that He comes to tell me -- and you -- this:

Nothing comes between us. There are no chains, no heavy load. My girl, I don't make things complicated. I long to spend time with you, and I don't want anything to come between us. There are illusions that there are barriers between us, but they are nothing that My love can't penetrate.

Trust in Me, even if you don't feel like it. Want to love me, and I will help you to love Me more. Desire to believe that I am enough, and I will show you that I am. Long to listen to My words in you, and you will hear Me speak.

Do you want this life? Do you want freedom, peace, joy, surrender in My arms? I know you feel compelled to do things on your own. And it is difficult for you to see Me then. Although I never leave you, I let you choose to see My face.

I can stand before you and you can be blind and not see Me. I can whisper to your heart, and you can be deaf and not hear. My creation sings around you -- a life to celebrate and participate in and bring more love to, in My name.

Listen, My child: My love for you is a river that swells, its river banks overflowing. It never dries. This is the course of the path where we walk, hand in hand. We follow the course of the river, My love leading the way. My sweet girl, My bride, we walk by the river bank, My Father's love uniting us. We participate in this love of the Father together. What I have, is yours. There are no chains, daughter. How is your heart stirred? I long to remind you that there are no chains.Any rising up in you is My heart pressing into yours, reminding you I am enough: you are adored and chosen. You wear no chains.

Give the small amount of love that you feel you have and I will multiply My love in you. Give what little trust you feel you have and I will lead you to surrendering more. Open your fists that seek to keep holding on to earthly things. Take those weights off, child. There. Now look into My face. Stay here, child.

{Jesus, now that I am here, looking at You, I don't even know how to turn away. . .}

But you do, when you forget that things are simple. There are no strict laws to follow, nor heavy loads that wear you down. There aren't. It is simple: I love you. I am with you. I am enough for you. I love to look on you and have you walk with Me. I have a special place prepared for you but My life with you is not something you have to wait for. Although there is more for you in store, I can't wait to be with you, and My Spirit fills you now. Accompany Me, friend, My bride. We walk with the Father, in His love. What is mine from the Father is yours. No separation, no holding out.

I miss you, sweet one. I want only you. Be with Me today.

Will you accept His invitation with me -- trust, in faith (the little or much we have!) to believe that our relationship with Jesus is profoundly and beautifully simple? We are loved. Despite what we do, we are loved. He gave it all and gives us everything because of His love.

Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden in Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3: 1-4).

Girls, let's walk: His love will let us walk with freedom, holding His hand. There are no chains.

This month I have asked some of my fellow bloggers to join me here at The Little Missionary Girl All Grown Up to share how they have seen the Relentless Love of the Father in their lives in moments of brokenness, heartache, and valley-of-shadow moments. This post is the 8th in the series of that exploration into the passion of the Father for us
across miles, across personalities, across hearts that are His.
To read more of the posts, click here and here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happiness Is Overrated....or is it?

Happiness is overrated.

I found myself not only uttering these words to one of our spiritual children two years ago, but fully convincing myself of their merit in my soul.

I guess I should explain.

I was ALWAYS a happy child. In fact, my grandmother even called me her "joy" because she said it radiated from me. It was like that for years and years. Honestly, in spite of the minor tragedies that every child faces as well as the constant goodbyes of the life of a missionary kid, happiness pretty much defined my life.

That is until I turned 30.

I was not worried about turning 30 like a lot of people I knew who had hated it. I felt like Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30....Thirty, Flirty {with my husband anyway}, and Thriving. I enjoyed my birthday bash and stepped into the new decade with a full vigor and passionate embrace of the future, leaving stupidity behind, according to Bill Wilson, ready for all that "adulthood" would now bring me.

Little could I know that in the three and a half years since that day, my life would hold more sorrow than the 30 years before combined -- sickness, longings, heart break, loss, and even death.

And while I have never believed that happiness and joy were synonymous....happiness depends on what is "happening" around you and joy is from peace with the Father and His plans for you....I had taken for granted how easy happiness had come before.

Before adulthood came full force.
Before I embraced being a grown up.

And so....happiness is overrated....became my motto.

I figured. God never promised us that we would be happy, just that He would be with us. And He was always with me. Of that, I am sure.

But lately, as life has calmed, as His healing balm has moved into the deeper recesses of my soul, I have been pondering this happiness thing, what makes me happy, and what His role is in all of it.

I find myself understanding Paul's words a bit more....

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content...
Philippians 4:12

There thumps restless longings in my heart.
There thrashes unfulfilled desires in my soul.

I am learning, yet, to be content
in the gifts He gives to me
in the grace He showers upon my life
in the happiness that He breathes into my spirit.

And so maybe happiness is a bit pompous and pretentious.
But maybe, just maybe, in spite of that, BECAUSE OF THAT....
she might just be one of my best friends after all.

"Some days there won't be a song in your heart. Sing anyway." ~Emory Austin


The Joy Dare
1000 gifts in 2012

133) His love through friends who do not have to love me, but do anyway
134) His love through His daily grace
135) His love through the man He gave me who kisses me with passion still
136) In losing some of my independence, I am finding art.
137) How my heart can break over children I have yet to meet
138) Turkey burgers
139) The look on Morris' face as he snuggles close for some love
140) A job with the ability to come and go at my own pace
141) The satisfaction of organized office space

142) Pretty Art Show
143) Enjoying photo shoot with my sister

144) Taking pics at Jake Ray's party
145) Time with my love -- just being together

146) The Vow -- OH! What a beautiful story!
147) My pretty Joy Dare book
148) Getting to pack a little at a time because of the short sale wait

149) Health stuff that brought forced changes in my life as well as the artist in me
150) Lots of free time for myself and with my love because of the infertility wait
151) My favorite NEW show this season, Once Upon a Time
152) Tweeting thoughts and loves about another favorite show, Downton Abbey
153) TWO job opportunities to use my love of photography -- coming soon!

Won't you join me? Take The Joy Dare!
Here is a list of ideas to daily help you to SEE in the midst of the busy days...

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