Road to Zion

Hello, friends. I am sorting further through my ideas. Right now, none of my inclinations seem to want to be discarded, so my best thinking is to expand this space into a creativity blog on several levels ( Thanks, Tina, for the great verse. It really gave me a lot to think on. ๐Ÿ™‚)ย .

Of course, the goal of each will be to glorify the ultimate Creator. Without His hand to guide, none of this could even be.

Now, any thoughts of how to monetize anything feel so irreconcilable with my circumstances, this blog, and just plain who I am that I have pretty much taken them off the table until or unless God shows me otherwise.

I look at you all as my friends. Any post motivated by less than just purely interacting with you for the sake of fellowship in Christ feels disingenuous to me.

Perhaps, I am overly squeamish or overly principled. I don’t know. But, there it is. I am nothing if not honest. ๐Ÿ˜

So, leaving that aside, I will say from here you will still see much poetry, random thoughts, exhortations, music sharing…

But, interspersed will probably be some original recipes I have tinkered around with over the years. I am excited to begin introducing this venture a little down the road when I have the time to get in the kitchen and get good pictures to accompany.

I will also sprinkle in tidbits of trivia where appropriate, though I will attempt to keep myself from rambling too long. ๐Ÿ˜

And lastly, as you will see a few clicks down, I will continue my art.

To be frank, that pursuit is something I am not so sure was necessarily what a typical blogger would call a rousing success the other day, if I sank back into doubts and stats checking. I am chagrined to admit I did indulge a bit of fretting as I looked and saw response was perhaps a bit smaller than I was used to.

That said, I do appreciate the kind encouragements I received. They heartened my soul and renewed the feeling there is something in opening the door that is God directed.

So…the following is not attached to a poem but, rather, a song. As well as inspired by an image I spotted in the video to said song.

Now, to a bit on my introduction to the artists…

Petra was another of those groups I recall my folks introducing me to via vinyl when I was very young. Their lyrics appealed to my poetic sensibilities; their beautiful voices and instruments had my little self in awe.

I may have made brief mention before of pretend concerts my brother and I would put on to their records. ๐Ÿ™‚

Usually, in those days, it was thanks to my dad that the house had much spiritual music going at all, but it was a rare and lovely moment when my mom would want to play or talk about their song “Road to Zion”.

It was the one that really moved her and, in listening with her, a chance to see she really was seeking Him in her heart of hearts.

And so, from there, it obviously became very special to me.

And yet, over the years and all the layers they brought, both the painful and the good, I had not thought of it in a long while.

Then, for some inexplicable reason, there it was a couple of days ago, resting on my soul, playing in my head as though I were back at the old townhouse we lived in then, listening to the album on the old turntable we had.

And I just had to look it up, drink in the truth of those words. Next thing I knew, I spotted an image I thought was really cool and I picked up my sketch book and started doodling.

The following is the result. I titled it, unsurprisingly, “Road to Zion”. Hope you enjoy both it and the song. Thanks for reading, dear friends! Be blessed! โค

At the Well

It’s been a long while since I really spoke of my hurt.

It occurred to me recently that many of you newer readers may not even know that much about it beyond snippets still given here and there.

A dig through the more distant reaches of my archives would enlighten, of course.

And I can make it more convenient by indicating that you may click here for perhaps the best rundown, if so inclined.

But, overall, there are reasons I resist touching too much on it.

I haven’t wanted to feel as though I am eliciting sympathy or sinking down into the past and staying there.

I also don’t want to dip into any unfair comparisons from past to present.

Insecurity has a way of painting everything in dark, foreboding shades.

What may, in fact, be unintentional on the part of a loved one now looks like the same heart-shattering experience as before when glimpsed through the lens of an oft-wounded soul.

Still, I am nothing if not honest here.

The fact is, though I speak often of “Be still and know that I am God”-something I am truly striving to live in the light of every day-there is a growing melancholy weighing on my heart at present.

A deep-seated sadness settling in that is stealing at my ability to rightly express it.

Depression has long been with me, mind you. We are certainly not strangers.

More than once, it nearly snuffed the life out of me, in fact.

Now, it is something that hovers in the background and makes itself known by turns.

Right now? It’s a “making itself known” season.

I fight to go to sleep with this heaviness these days, reawakening frequently, an unidentifiable fear cloaking me in the midslumber haze.

Where it is coming from, I can cast about a few ambiguous notions, but, where there are some aspects of my life to definitively point to as a source, I can’t necessarily call too much of it concrete.

Is it all rooted in my past, so littered as it is by abuse and abandonment?

Or is it my ever-present anxiety over signs that such pain, real or no, is or is about to revisit me?

Angry shouts do ring in my head long after they have ceased and have an unfortunate tendency to visit me in my dreams.

It’s quite the challenge to rest my soul in any “it is well” feeling, even when life is managing fairly pleasantly, let alone when it is not.

For there is the nearly constant question mark in my head:

“When’s the next time the wounding will come?”

How will it come?”

And-“Will I be able to sustain myself following it?”

Now, there are days I can rightly shove this aside and recall to myself just Who my sustainer is.

Most days, in fact.

But, other days?

Ah, other days, I find myself forgetting.

Perhaps, it is the old recordings in my head getting louder, stating in dismissive tones how try as I might, I’m still just no good.

A loser.

A wimp.

A tramp.

Unwanted.

Unworthy.

Unable.

And I know that I know that that is most emphatically not true-not in God’s eyes!

But…circumstances make my hands slow to switch off the tape sometimes.

So…what do I do?

Dig myself further in one way or another.

Either into deeper wells of sorrow, cranking up that ugly noise and feeding upon the slow death of it.

Not a good thing!

Or…the better part-

I dig in deeper to prayer.

To worship.

To His words-to me and for me.

The far superior well to spend my time in by far!

Full of Living Water ready for the drinking in.

Bread of Life to feed upon.

Brothers and sisters that come alongside and nourish you even further in encouraging words.

And, of course, The One who intimately knows sorrow to carry the burden of it beside me.

It doesn’t mean I don’t still feel what I feel.

There’s a funny little truth about hurt.

It does not disappear in a snap.

Painful memories are long and thoughts often remain reactionary.

Trust is a shaky rope bridge at best.

Time to heal is key and, even then, some scars are prominent.

But, in that gift that is time, wounds can be eased, joys resurrected, trust finds firmer feet, and life continues on…

With all its seasons of delight and grief, smooth planes and blessed bumps alike.

Not absent of hurt by any means.

But, perhaps, richer for it.

Whatever season you find yourself in, dear friends, may you find the well full of the riches of life in the Lord! Blessings and prayers! โค

When God Makes a Match Out of Our Mess, or the How Marisa Met Joe Story, Part Three

Hello, friends! Thanks again for all the prayers going up for Pastor Don, his wife, and church family. I will keep you posted as this continues to unfold…

So…in honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d lighten the heaviness in so many hearts and share my final piece.

This goes out in tribute to the man who went from single guy to instant father for me and my precious own. Love you, Joe. โค

If you missed the first two parts, check here and here. ๐Ÿ™‚

So…ready? Ok. Well, let’s see…

When last we met over this winding road, Joe and I had “met” over the mysterious space out there known as the internet and began paying our gratitude to Alexander Graham Bell for the spiffy invention of the telephone.

But-

We had yet to meet in-person, though the idea had been furtively nudged at.

Nor had we introduced my kids to him, though they did witness a lot of mommy giggling into the phone or merrily tippety-tapping keys on the computer.

They knew there was something to this.

Much more than the vague “dates” I was out on prior.

So…eventually the nudging formulated into actual plans.

And these plans became one of my first inklings this all could be for real.

Because, he wanted this first date to be all of us!

Oh, I still tear up nearly a decade later on this point…

Never had that offer ever been extended in all these long and troubled months of grappling with the nightmare of online dating.

Ever.

And, to top it all off, he wanted it to be the kids’ favorite spot.

So…we met at our neighborhood McDonald’s on one of his days off.

My mother dropped us off so she could get a gander. He immediately won her over with his politeness and good humor.

Ok. Good. Passed the mama check. ๐Ÿ˜‰

He was as fun and animated as he had been in our chats. My nervous self was definitely still present and accounted for, but had rarely banished itself to the background so quickly!

Part of what warmed me was that he became a kid with the kids, an avid listener to their tales( which were extensive in those days, especially for my oldest!๐Ÿ˜Š ), and quite the clown to their delight.

He also handled every sensory- issue-laden order with ease, ensuring Elijah’s burger was absolutely pickle-free, Timothy had his root beer, and Sarah had her usual pile of ketchup packets.

As if he had always been there doing this very thing with me.

It was…surreal.

I kept waiting for the bubble to burst. Fearing it. It always happened, after all.

Yet…it never did.

Our sweet Sarah, blunt autistic beauty she was at just 6 and still is at nearing 15, assessed the situation with a moment that is still one of the richest in our family history.

She slid in between us in the booth at one point, slipped an arm around us each, and with all the seriousness she could muster, stated the facts:

“You two on a date. You two gonna get married.”

Of course, we each laughed nervously, blushed like mad, and I think would’ve liked to have hidden under the table.

Her older brothers each had raised a brow then but did not comment. They were still in that boyish “eww-romance?” phase.

And yet…here we are. More than eight years later. ๐Ÿ˜Š

The night continued on in that same homey vein.

On so many points, though each of our stories had their own unique struggles and joys, we could match experiences.

Rough childhoods and painful rejections. Awkwardness, failures and triumphs in carving out places for ourselves.

Where I had struggled in abuse, abandonment and seeking self-worth in relationships, his foster care beginnings had led him to addiction,theft, and some youthful years locked up.

Yet, for us both, the best of what we could share was our respective new lives reborn in the Son.

When at last it was time to take our reluctant leave, Sarah begged for a piggyback ride on the stroll back to our nearby apartment. She was obviously officially sold. ๐Ÿ˜

The boys were also chatty and playful. They may’ve been “eww-romance” but they were also loving having a guy around to bounce their superhero discussions off of.

And…me? I was… full of wonder.

Still am.

At God’s astronomical providence.

His awesome love.

His astonishing attention to detail.

For He reaches through the messes we make of ourselves, plucks us up, and matches us with just who we need.

Not that all has been as easy as that, of course.

There have been falls from grace aplenty and graces extended once more.

I wish I could say our mutual hold on God had always kept us from spiralling into sin.

But, alas. I cannot. For we are human.

Banged-up, prone-to-sin humans.

For, the drawing together of so many scared and hurting souls naturally brings out the ache of scars and the risk of new wounds.

Both will press deep into the heart and bring emotions and wills to bear.

And…sometimes, we embrace the victory over sin He has given us…and sometimes, we don’t.

Without going to details best left to themselves, I will just say a bonus baby entered swiftly into the mix in our case.

He would be treasured, to be sure.

But, he was coming before we were ready, bringing us to a painful and needed place of repentance, reminding us of both the vulnerabilities and the joys of being human.

For there are so, so many of both, my friends.

And I could’ve either shrugged it off as “just the way of the world” or swept it under the rug unacknowleged altogether.

Or else lingered in the shame of taking His gift to me and misusing it.

I still could.

But, then, what would that say for His tender mercies to us?

That which indeed are new every morning.

Not at all that they should ever be taken advantage of!

But, neither should they not be allowed to do their miraculous healing work in our hearts.

So…we were set to marry as it was but the ceremony was somewhat hastened with this turn of events.

Still, it was beautiful. A bringing together of us all under one umbrella kind of beautiful.

And, indeed, what a beautiful way He has of taking the splotches our fumbling hands create on the sketchpad of living and etching out masterpieces!

For, here we all stand, over eight years later, a testament to His amazing grace.

With so many more stories than I could ever fill these online pages with.

Suffice to say, in my myriads of current struggles, this is what my heart must stir itself to rest upon.

And, so, where there is so, so much more I could say, I will end on that note, dear friends.

It’s been fun to share these tidbits with a new audience.

If you find yourself wanting more of this testimony in greater detail, I will fight my usual tendency to break out in a rash on salesmanship at this point. ๐Ÿ˜

Here is a link to my book from a few years ago:

I don’t know what God will do here. Don’t know if this is a resurgence of my work or just a rebirth of the joy in sharing it.

Either way, it’s in His hands. ๐Ÿ˜Š

At any rate, thanks so much for joining in on this reading journey with me! Blessings and prayers! โค

When God Makes a Match Out of Our Mess, or the How Marisa Met Joe Story, Part One

And now, for something totally different…

Inspired by my sweet blogging friend, Tina, over at Pippi’s Poetry and her recent wonderful posts on how she met her husband. Hello, friend! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Also, honestly, further fueled by the struggles mentioned here.

I think it’s safe to say I could really do with some sharing of this piece of my story at this particular point in time.

To be reminded of His unparalleled goodness to us.

For those who have travelled with me one blog to another or read my book, this all might not be exactly different. My apologies.

Still, with each writing, there are fresh insights to be had. So…there’s that. ๐Ÿ˜

Anyway…I have alluded in a lot of posts to having been married before.

It all figures into where I am now. Therefore, this portion impresses upon me to be told first, like it or not.

So…onto to laying the groundwork…

Husband #1 was my high school sweetheart.

The only guy I thought would ever stick around the likes of shy, dorky me.

The one I honestly assumed a lot of my identity through, as I had never felt much of my own.

I had grown up in the confusing atmosphere of a series of charismatic churches.

I had said a prayer to accept Jesus at age 5 that I didn’t really understand. No one truly helped fill in the gaps with anything more than to introduce the concept of being separately filled with the Spirit.

It was indicated such a “baptism” would bring me the “benefits” I witnessed weekly: supernatural healing, speaking a “heavenly language”, and the ability to worship in a “freer” (read: frenzied) fashion. Maybe even prophesy.

I could never figure out why none of that stuff came to me despite my sincere longing. I wilted in rejection.

At age 13, a lot of years of that later plus the abuse my mother administered at home, and I was back at the altar crying out to God to take my heart and change it.

To make me worthy. Because I sure didn’t feel much of that.

I did feel a change then, though again, there was a bundle of confusion handed to me with it when camp sponsors attempted to force me to speak in tongues.

However, older and a bit wiser, I tried to brush that aside this time and place my focus on that change I was feeling Him make within me.

I needed that change within me. I knew it was there.

Yet, I was still so unsure of His love in this process. Of any love, for that matter.

That was something, after all, so often given only to be snatched away when I proved less than pleasing, or so I thought.

I think that rampant insecurity as much as anything made it easy for me to latch onto this guy in my Drama 1 class.

He was funny. He was friendly. He said he believed in God, went to a church that was a lot simpler to understand.

And he seemed to like me.

But, it was never really what I could term as healthy. Lots of overattachment, plenty of push and pull.

Yet, I convinced myself we were destiny, as was the ministry we would unite in.

We married a year out of high school.

It proved a lot harder than anticipated. Neither of us was mature enough to sustain the necessaries of a God-centered relationship.

Children were born, responsibilities weighed, depression haunted.

And…we collapsed. Studies were abandoned and his dreams shifted another direction, with another person.

And the kids and I?

Well, we were left largely to fend for ourselves, beyond the very occasional visit, the very occasional financial contribution.

I was dangerously near suicide, saved by the love of my children and their need for me.

And…for a long while, the foolhardy hope he’d somehow come to his senses and come home, if only I behaved dutifully and prayed hard enough.

I really thought I was hearing from God on this, even.

In the meantime, I took up a new way of life:

Raising kids, discovering their autism and developmental delays, teaching a class of toddlers, learning to lean on God as my husband in that season, drawing my strength from Him.

It was brimming with opportunities for wisdom and fraught with fountains of tears.

New ways to find His joy were latched onto.

Yet, I also held onto my hope for a restored marriage-so tight the fabric of it grew frayed.

And on that fabric was written my mantra: Just waiting on a miracle here. I neither need nor want any other man.

Unfortunately, in the wake of the abandonment, I had found myself vulnerable to the teachings of my childhood and began to swallow the charismatic line whole.

However, as time and circumstance wore on without a glimmer, the words blurred to an unrecognizable blob in my hand, the fabric I carried like a security blanket long since past its use.

Until, finally, one day, I just decided.

I looked around and admitted it. I was lonely. Desperately lonely.

And quite fed up.

He wasn’t coming home because that wasn’t God’s answer to my many prayers.

The answer was I was a fool to believe God was speaking this false hope to me!

I had wasted six years of my life in unrequited longing.

I was done.

And, so, in this moment of revelation, where I wish I could say I had laid it all at His feet, I instead snatched a major chunk of it up for myself, pulled out my mobile phone, and signed myself up for something I never imagined I would do in a million years:

Online Dating. ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

And….whew. That took a lot more words than I anticipated, though I should know my tendency towards windy phrasology by now.๐Ÿ˜Š

That said, I think I shall have to stop there. Seems like a good spot, anyway.

All right. So, I know it is titled, at least partially: “The How Marisa Met Joe Story”. And…we aren’t even to anyone named Joe yet. For any dangling, I am sorry.

But, I promise, he is coming!๐Ÿ˜‰

Stay tuned. I will likely have Part Two for you by Friday. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Thanks for reading! Blessings and prayers, friends! โค

When Joy Gets Lost in the Gray

Hey, friends. I always try to come to you with raw honesty yet hope.

Not rah-rah-false-cheer, mind you.

That is just implausible.

Plus, it unhealthily glosses over troubles.

Of which, yes, I do admit to many.

But, I strive ever for that underlying joy of the Lord that rests in the heart despite hard times.

Yet…lately, I have to say I am having major struggles tapping into it.

Yes, between covid fears, grievious tension in our country, and grief striking agonizingly close to our church home, it’s not unfathomable to have reasons why.

Yet, all that I have been enduring and still finding reasons to praise.

No, the source of this growing grayness inside feels much more selfish.

However, I can no longer deny it’s there.

So, I will do what He has put inside me to do.

I will write about it and pray by the end the joy kicks in…

Eight years into my second marriage-that which I have counted despite every struggle a gift from a gracious God-I am lately feeling more and more broken.

Oh, I have had bouts of this before.

Coming together from our respective, extremely wounded pasts has not been the proverbial picnic.

Unless you count one with ants carrying your cake away. ๐Ÿ˜

But, this. This feels deeper.

Differing ideas, differing parental tactics, differing opinions, differing desires…

Things I should be mature and wise enough to figure out how to dovetail by now!

Yet, I am finding myself at an impasse to be able to do so.

And, I can see on the other side, my husband does, too.

Perhaps, it is the sheer weariness of the deadlock.

The idea that this is indeed how it will always be.

But, really, I also think part of why this is so hard is I have been here before. The eight year mark was my last the first time.

The last and then, he was gone to another.

Eight years of hopes and dreams crumbled-though I know the crumbling began long before I could recognize it.

Long before I could acknowledge my place in it, though I no longer blame myself entirely.

At any rate, it is always such an incredibly painful place to be.

And to be abandoned in

Alone with two tiny boys and a daughter still on the way.

I admit, fifteen years down the road, there are days the scars still twinge mightily!

Oh, but, we are not looking at that exact situation this time, I must remind myself!

Infidelity, frankly, is sometimes feared by me in my tendency to apply ugly past to present circumstances. But, it has not manifested in reality.

Divorce has not really cropped up in our conversations, though I do have disconcerting thoughts of wanting to be the one to run this time.

Not to escape so much but to provide escape to him, he who I view, rightly or wrongly, as too honorable to do so.

You see, due to my limitations-some of which we really didn’t know he was signing up for at the time-I can feel like a millstone around his neck at times.

He will usually flatly deny this verbally, but actions sometimes-honestly, more and more-say otherwise.

And, in the heat of anger, his verbal will even sometimes slip and remind me of all I seem unable to fulfill.

I can feel like a shell of a partner in those times.

Even like he got a raw deal.

But that’s not a Godly way to think of oneself, Marisa!!

Yes, I know. I also am aware after counseling galore that my abusive past from childhood on points to deep-seated self-esteem quarrels.

It’s all in my book, even.

Meaning what, exactly?

That I should be better at all this?

Yeah, I think that sometimes.

Ok. Lots of times.

And, yet, I am reminded of my humanity.

Fragile. World-worn. Just not there in the well-muscled spirituality department, though I ever long to be.

And, maybe, just maybe, that is the place to begin in.

Admittance I am just not there.

That weakness needs a Savior.

That marriage needs more than two googly-eyed people who like all the same things and do things the same way.

That marriage is not doomed to impasses even when it involves two people marked up by hurtful, hair-raising pasts.

Not if we keep remembering this key thing:

1 Peter 5:7, NIV: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

It is not an automatic grayness-lifter, to be sure.

But, as I keep casting, He keeps listening.

And as He keeps listening, I do feel less alone in these gray times.

So…am I feeling that joy that abides just yet? Has it kicked in?

Perhaps a smidge more than when I began this ramble.

Rest assured, I will be all right in His hands.

Thanks for listening today, friends. Blessings and prayers to you!

The Before and After Tag

Thanks to Robert for the thoughtful tag. I so appreciate your blog. It is full of wisdom that blesses me daily!

Photo courtesy of the Canva App.

Now, the idea here is to discuss befores and afters through a series of questions.

For me, that means before the Lord redeemed my critically wounded soul and after that transformative work. I love the way the above photo communicates that! ๐Ÿ˜Š

So, on to the questions…

1. Who was family for you growing up?

Well, that is actually a weightier question to begin with than one would think! At least, for an (overly) introspective sort like me!๐Ÿ˜

So, I had a mom, dad, and one older brother, but, in between dealing with childhood abuse via my mother and a father that was rarely present, I would call my brother the most consistent form of family then. He was my safe place. My maternal grandmother also figures highly in there, though our visits were mostly during holidays. Those were among the happiest times of my younger years. Oh, and I shouldn’t neglect to note the occasional cats ( this was in the days I was blissfully unaware my constant sneezing and itchiness meant I was allergic! ๐Ÿ˜) and two funny little cockaboogle dogs ( My granny’s made-up term for Cocker Spaniel/Beagle/Poodle mixes ๐Ÿ™‚).

2. Who is family for you now?

Now, my family is my second chance at love, my husband of 8 years come March, our four kids, three of whom he adopted upon marrying me, the fourth my bonus boy from our union. And two rescue dogs, a Dachshund/Mini Lab mix and a Dutch Shepherd ( as best as we can estimate) . Also, much, much family added via my husband’s massive group of relatives, only some of which I have met. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ And, lest I forget, the family of God at large, many of whom I enjoy through fellowship in church and here on WP. โ˜บ

3. Where did you grow up?

I was born in Oklahoma, spent a few grade school years in southern Texas in various rental homes as my dad’s work prospects shifted. Then, after moving to Kansas at age 9, I stayed more put, only living in two different residences, the second of which was a crackerbox rental dubbed “the hot house” for its distinct lack of cooling capabilities. ๐Ÿ˜

4. Where do you live now?

I am now out of the city in a tiny township still in Kansas in a hundred years+ house we are in a perpetual process of renovating. It’s quite a lot nicer than its dilapidated beginnings, though.๐Ÿ˜

5. What did you want to be when you were older?

I dreamed of a few things, such as acting and various types of art, but writing has been the most constant ever since I figured out how to string phrases. I use to lean heavily towards fiction until I realized my truth was stranger. ๐Ÿ˜

6. What do you do now?

I taught preschool for a lot of years. Life and physical pain intervened, however. So, now, I stay home, fend for my kiddos, which takes up quite a bit of time, especially with two on the autism spectrum, and do lots of secretarial stuff for my husband’s repair/remodeling business. Oh, and I had a memoir published a few years ago. It was less than a roaring success in a worldly sense, but it has been a witness to those God intends. In that way, I guess you could say it’s a dream fulfilled.

7. Whatโ€™s your earliest memory?

Hmm… probably playing in the mud out behind our house with my brother when I was around 2. I remember it was a warm and peaceful day, a rare commodity even then. ๐Ÿ™‚

8. Whatโ€™s one of your most recent memories?

Sitting here sorting out phrases to type while my youngest and his school buddies play superheroes on this very snowy snow day. ๐Ÿ™‚

9. What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?

Most people would say my book, but, eh, that’s too pat a response. I’d say it’s making it through all the struggles set before me with sanity intact. But, truly, that’s owed to the Lord who carried me and carries me still.

10. What is your biggest hope in this life?

That I will see my children live for Christ and fulfill all He has instilled in them.

So, that’s it. Thanks again, Robert! Good questions!

So, on to tagging. You know, I am never sure on this point, so I think I will leave it open to any reading this that are game to try. Just answer the above questions, remember to use the image in your post, and give me a tag so I know it’s out there to read! Blessings and prayers to you, friends!

And P.S. I break out in hives when it comes to selling. ๐Ÿ˜ But, I do occasionally find myself being asked more about this book I allude to off and on. So, for any who want the fuller scoop on pieces of my testimony, here’s a link:

Iron Sharpens Iron at the Family Table

Coming back following holidays left my mind tired yet full. This thought rose above others tonight…

Sometimes, it’s difficult to be with family after a long absence.

Well, duh, Captain Obvious. ๐Ÿ™„

It’s also difficult to leave them when time draws nigh.

Also pretty much a well duh statement. ๐Ÿ˜

There are the numerous delights and countless challenges alike to our spirits in coming together after extended months apart.

You’re no longer a child and your tendency is to attempt earnestly to prove it, all to varying degrees of success.

For, there is also the something of being in their midst that pulls you back to that place of littleness compared to the elders in your life.

In my particular case, there’s a lot of shadows to that former existence, some areas stepped into tentatively, others not at all.

Apprehension can seize my soul if I don’t take care to surrender it to His hand.

Now, forgiveness has been flowing in abundance among us for decades now, and, yet, must still rise up to be met again in entering into one another’s presence.

Past is not swept under any rugs, by any means, but, in looking back, love softens the edges of the pain.

Hearts don’t necessarily forget all the twinges, but they do connect afresh through the knowledge Christ makes all things new.

Including each other.

And, then, we get to share that newness of being. What a wonder that is!

Thoughts fly back and forth across the table. Struggles are examined in a different light, growth is noted, wisdom imparted.

Each moment, both the tender and the hard, threads itself to the ever-changing tapestry of our existence, tethering us tighter together.

Iron sharpening iron sounds sort of scary at first glance, but, how it shows itself in our lives can be incredible.

Home can be a great place to see this at work, for you get to surprise each other with what God’s given us to bring to the table.

You get to witness the learning you each have done and become that safe place to reach across said table with it.

It may not exactly feel like light family fun at times, yet these times the Lord affords us to deepen our walks, both with Him and with one another, are vital.

Hence, the observation at the beginning.

Difficult to be there, difficult to leave…

But, this truth I hold fast to to keep me going:

God grants us fond memories to soothe the bittersweet and carry us through to the next day we meet.

In Him, we are never truly apart.

I hope your Thanksgiving was a blessed one, dear friends. May we ever seek those iron sharpening situations, whether by family, by friends, or both.

Things

Possessions have somewhat an odd history in my family.

I grew up witnessing an avid, almost compulsive search for certain items, repeated again and again, regardless of lack of funds.

There was a rather manic sense of the never enough, as well as an extraordinary amount of reverence for some objects from select people.

The church of the “name it and claim it” we attended was not particularly helpful in this matter, to say the least.

Oh, and heaven forbid anything should ever happen to these things, even accidentally.

Also, heaven forbid you didn’t show the proper level of admiration for them, unless and until the purging cycle would begin.

Then, your insights might briefly be welcome…

Even though they were not even your things most times, but, rather, something you were just watching someone else have, love, discard of, and often regret the loss of down the road.

Frankly, the whole process frustrated me intensely at times.

Oh, not out of jealousy, mind you.

I had my physical needs met and then some.

I also received many a “guilt gift” after the worst altercations at home.

But, that is another matter altogether…

All this to say that, along with my ever developing faith, these baffling ways have influenced much of my current views on the subject of things.

Which is that things are just that.

Things.

Some are wonderful, some you might even consider beloved.

Gifts from others should indeed be appreciated, particularly when knowing the heart behind them.

But, in the end, not a single possession can we take with us, save our salvation in Christ.

Therefore, nothing should ever be elevated above that.

It’s an ongoing problem, of course, but I do think specifically of this:

Shortly, we shall see in our country the yearly avarice escalate as it tragically always does at this time.

People will sacrifice family to camp out for the “best” deals.

They will scramble, claw, and scratch for the latest greatest whatever.

Or, they are, in fact, home, but not present as they scour the internet for their elusive prizes.

Either way, they will max out credit cards, fling away savings, and drain accounts in the pursuit of what?

To impress someone with their extravagance?

To keep up with some arbitrary standard?

To prove something to somebody somewhere?

To try and buy what can never be bought?

For, if I’ve figured out one truth, it’s this:

Joy cannot be found in any store.

It doesn’t exist in finding that one particular, physical object you have always longed for.

Because, as I could clearly see over my growing up years, the feelings were always so fleeting.

Hence, the dissatisfaction would begin to nag once more like a tickling throat, the throwing aside the old would commence, and the hunt for more would begin again like a desperate search for refuge.

A refuge refusing to be found…

Because it’s not there in the temporal, physical realm!

Not a bit of this stuff can ever be our rescue.

Not one iota will count towards what we are building for eternity.

Some will build with hay, straw, wood, stubble.

Others with precious jewels and gold.

( See 1 Corinthians 3:12)

In the end, we will answer for what we’ve prized, what we’ve built as believers.

And, it will be our living for Him that counts, rather than living for the sake of things.

I pray I can keep this in my heart this season and always.

May we each be able to do so, friends.

Blessings to you!

Seasoned

Bear with me while I repost again. My comment button is once again on the fritz. ๐Ÿ™„

Time.

Itโ€™s in His hands. So, why can it feel like such a cruel taskmaster?

It moves so swiftly some days, aging us all the more swiftly in the process.

Like my beloved George Bailey, I have always felt, in many respects, I was born older.

Couldnโ€™t bypass a photo of his earnest prayer here. Courtesy of cinemaarchives.com

Not necessarily just due to my attraction to things of a bygone era, though being the only twelve-year-old I knew with an antique display worthy of the PBS roadshow was somewhat a clue. ๐Ÿ™‚

Admittedly, that is a piece, but, really, it goes deeper than that.

Even beyond the childhood abuse that can simultaneously stunt growth and drag one to premature adulthood, though Iโ€™d be remiss to not acknowledge that role as well.

I canโ€™t say I never had innocence or naivete of any sort, because it was there, in some manners and forms.

My older brother, for example, could persuade me of a lot of things that had not a shred of truth in them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But, inexplicably, almost paradoxically, the eyes of one who can see through the world to the unseemly underside were also often there.

And, needless to say, looking at the world through such eyes can be a weighty prospect at best, whatever your age.

Itโ€™s honestly hard to remember a time I didnโ€™t feel a certain amount of heaviness in my soul.

And, coupled with it the unfortunate tendency to look for some way to safely unburden it, or, as bashfulness rose up more pronounced the more rejected I felt, to at least long to.

I became quite the quiet, grave little soul as a result, only unwinding some of which had me so tightly wound around said brother, who mostly understood the unusually oldish creature in his younger sister, though even he could become baffled and annoyed at times! ๐Ÿ™‚

This heaviness stayed with me over the years, by and large, like a shroud, lighter sides of me only breaking through at rare moments or upon being on stage. ( Ah, for I wasnโ€™t me then! )

Such an asset in socal gatherings, let me tell you! ๐Ÿ™„

For a long time, I walked about with this odd duck label.

So serious. ๐Ÿ˜

The wallflower. ๐Ÿ˜”

The overthinker. ๐Ÿค”

Almost always feeling the need to apologize for it.

For, surely, it must be a shortcoming.

I think of Amy March describing- in hushed tones- her sister, Beth, in โ€œLittle Womenโ€:

She has an infirmity. Sheโ€™s shy.

It was much, much later I pinpointed my autistic tendencies via my childrenโ€™s diagnoses. This did help shed quite a new light on what I had coped with all those years.

Undeniably helpful.

But, whereas it is in fact integral to the human makeup He created me with, itโ€™s not the be-all end-all of me, either.

Itโ€™s why, where I appreciate deeply recognition of special needs, I no longer feel it need always be what I personally talk about. But, I have tread this road before, so, let me stop circuitingโ€ฆ๐Ÿ˜

All this to say, all those pieces, all that weight on my shoulders, the harshness of life and the rapid beating of timeโ€ฆall so acutely evident in my sight, neednโ€™t become an unhappy, isolating thing.

I donโ€™t have to apologetically stammer how Iโ€™m older than my years, subject myself to a burning silence, or consider myself a lonely curmudgeon, an embarrassing oddity of nature for all time.

For, what the world calls odd, He often calls seasoned.

Matt. 5:13 says:

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under peopleโ€™s feet.

Seasoning is a necessary part of the Christian life. Without the salt to preserve our faith, this world can quickly contaminate it.

To be seasoned, to me, means being able to recognize the true from the false.

Even when itโ€™s uncomfortable or unpopular.

For, when we can taste and see that the Lord is good, it ruins us for all other flavors.

And thatโ€™s a good thing! โ˜บ

As is the burden, if you will, of helping others recognize this fact.

It has been such an irony to me, honestly, that God directed me to places seemingly contrary to my rather old-fashioned ways, both in previous years and now.

Teaching toddlers and ministering to youth would seem to call for a child-like energy and some level of, shall we say, โ€œcoolnessโ€?

Where I did and do allow myself some youthful zest where able, no one could ever accuse me of โ€œcoolnessโ€. ๐Ÿ˜

Yet, I feel God tell me not to assume what they have need of.

For, who am I to say they donโ€™t need the sort of seasoning He has uniquely called me to help provide?

In seasoning should also come a growing confidence in His goodness and wisdom, after all.

And, as I referred to last time we spoke here, beautiful bridges can be built between generations.

Soโ€ฆif you feel older than your yearsโ€ฆ

Feel good about it. To be seasoned is not a bad thing.

And if you feel younger, or, maybe even just your age, thatโ€™s okay, too.

Your seasoning can still be there.

And when we surrender to its aging us, we can see it’s not actually done cruelly, though it might seem to be, but, rather, beautifully in its time.

And guess Who has it all in hand?๐Ÿ˜‰

Blessings and prayers, friends. May we each embrace who we are in Him and season the earth with His truth.

Seasoned

Time.

It’s in His hands. So, why can it feel like such a cruel taskmaster?

It moves so swiftly some days, aging us all the more swiftly in the process.

Like my beloved George Bailey, I have always felt, in many respects, I was born older.

Couldn’t bypass a photo of his earnest prayer here. Courtesy of cinemaarchives.com

Not necessarily just due to my attraction to things of a bygone era, though being the only twelve-year-old I knew with an antique display worthy of the PBS roadshow was somewhat a clue. ๐Ÿ™‚

Admittedly, that is a piece, but, really, it goes deeper than that.

Even beyond the childhood abuse that can simultaneously stunt growth and drag one to premature adulthood, though I’d be remiss to not acknowledge that role as well.

I can’t say I never had innocence or naivete of any sort, because it was there, in some manners and forms.

My older brother, for example, could persuade me of a lot of things that had not a shred of truth in them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But, inexplicably, almost paradoxically, the eyes of one who can see through the world to the unseemly underside were also often there.

And, needless to say, looking at the world through such eyes can be a weighty prospect at best, whatever your age.

It’s honestly hard to remember a time I didn’t feel a certain amount of heaviness in my soul.

And, coupled with it the unfortunate tendency to look for some way to safely unburden it, or, as bashfulness rose up more pronounced the more rejected I felt, to at least long to.

I became quite the quiet, grave little soul as a result, only unwinding some of which had me so tightly wound around said brother, who mostly understood the unusually oldish creature in his younger sister, though even he could become baffled and annoyed at times! ๐Ÿ™‚

This heaviness stayed with me over the years, by and large, like a shroud, lighter sides of me only breaking through at rare moments or upon being on stage. ( Ah, for I wasn’t me then! )

Such an asset in socal gatherings, let me tell you! ๐Ÿ™„

For a long time, I walked about with this odd duck label.

So serious. ๐Ÿ˜

The wallflower. ๐Ÿ˜”

The overthinker. ๐Ÿค”

Almost always feeling the need to apologize for it.

For, surely, it must be a shortcoming.

I think of Amy March describing- in hushed tones- her sister, Beth, in “Little Women”:

She has an infirmity. She’s shy.

It was much, much later I pinpointed my autistic tendencies via my children’s diagnoses. This did help shed quite a new light on what I had coped with all those years.

Undeniably helpful.

But, whereas it is in fact integral to the human makeup He created me with, it’s not the be-all end-all of me, either.

It’s why, where I appreciate deeply recognition of special needs, I no longer feel it need always be what I personally talk about. But, I have tread this road before, so, let me stop circuiting…๐Ÿ˜

All this to say, all those pieces, all that weight on my shoulders, the harshness of life and the rapid beating of time…all so acutely evident in my sight, needn’t become an unhappy, isolating thing.

I don’t have to apologetically stammer how I’m older than my years, subject myself to a burning silence, or consider myself a lonely curmudgeon, an embarrassing oddity of nature for all time.

For, what the world calls odd, He often calls seasoned.

Matt. 5:13 says:

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

Seasoning is a necessary part of the Christian life. Without the salt to preserve our faith, this world can quickly contaminate it.

To be seasoned, to me, means being able to recognize the true from the false.

Even when it’s uncomfortable or unpopular.

For, when we can taste and see that the Lord is good, it ruins us for all other flavors.

And that’s a good thing! โ˜บ

As is the burden, if you will, of helping others recognize this fact.

It has been such an irony to me, honestly, that God directed me to places seemingly contrary to my rather old-fashioned ways, both in previous years and now.

Teaching toddlers and ministering to youth would seem to call for a child-like energy and some level of, shall we say, “coolness”?

Where I did and do allow myself some youthful zest where able, no one could ever accuse me of “coolness”. ๐Ÿ˜

Yet, I feel God tell me not to assume what they have need of.

For, who am I to say they don’t need the sort of seasoning He has uniquely called me to help provide?

In seasoning should also come a growing confidence in His goodness and wisdom, after all.

And, as I referred to last time we spoke here, beautiful bridges can be built between generations.

So…if you feel older than your years…

Feel good about it. To be seasoned is not a bad thing.

And if you feel younger, or, maybe even just your age, that’s okay, too.

Your seasoning can still be there.

And when we surrender to its aging us, we can see its not actually done cruelly, though it might seem to be, but, rather, beautifully in its time.

And guess Who has it all in hand?๐Ÿ˜‰

Blessings and prayers, friends. May we each embrace who we are in Him and season the earth with His truth.