“To Know You” on youtube

Something that is likely quite easy to guess about me is my love for honest, introspective work. I mean, I don’t try to hide it much, do I? 🙂

So..safe to say, when it comes to music, when I can feel someone’s heart in their voice and their words, I am most generally sold.

Such as it was when I first heard Nichole Nordeman on my WOW CD back in the day….

Loved the rawness. Loved the honest observations.

But, I feel I must freely admit some things:

At the time I discovered her, I had also discovered another female singer/songwriter that was on the rise at the same time that compelled me just a touch more. Maybe it was because she was from my home state. I don’t know. 😏

Anyway…that meant I didn’t rank Nichole as my absolute favorite then, but rather, as just someone I dug her style and a few of her tunes enough to listen to and relate.

One of those tunes was once found worthy to hunt the split-track cassette of (Oy. Showing my age again! 😏) in order to do it for special music one Sunday back when I was less petrified to do such.

But, when that lifetime got pushed aside by divorce, some of those cassettes and CDS also got put away.

Or trashed.

A couple of them smashed, to be honest.

Oh, I had my tried and trues I’d always cling to, yes. My comfort songs. My nights tuned in to the radio so I could get a shred of sleep.

But, others? Well, they were more or less just painful reminders of the hopes and dreams that had vanished, so away they went with old photos and my first wedding dress.

Even that other home state girl? My slightly more beloved singer/songwriter?

Well, she proved to pick up her guitar and vanish from the scene herself, only to come back years later professing a sinful lifestyle in the name of Jesus. I won’t say her name, but the story lays heavy on my heart and my prayer is she will recognize her folly before it’s too late.

But, back to Nichole and why I chose to share this song today.

In my year of introspection, I have begun to revisit many things. Many times, many places, each flavored with its own sound.

This one, this which I once sang with every ounce of emotion I had, came back to me recently.

And I realized more deeply than ever the beauty of it.

That it remained the cry of my heart.

To lay it out so bare as Nichole’s lovely lyrics and voice do. To admit, yes, I struggle. I doubt.

But, above all, I really want to know You, God.

May this be the cry of all our hearts, dear friends. Have a listen and be blessed. Much love and many prayers. ❤

Praise You In This Storm

I feel like I am posting a lot lately, but I recall promising to share another song or two that has long lifted my heart in troubling times.

All the current turmoil seems to indicate such a thing would be welcome at this point.

Now, this one begs a bit of background. It’s too beautiful not to tell, for it speaks to the way our God reaches out and holds us in the midst of our deepest sorrows.

It was summer 2005. My first husband had left in May to be with someone else. I was a stay-at-home mom wrangling two sons- a baffling toddler and a sweet, oddly mature baby- and expecting my only daughter.

I had been in the pits of despair, naturally, crying out for some sign of hope from God.

Nights were hardest. After my boys were tucked in, I felt so alone.

I would turn on the radio to go to sleep by-to try to go to sleep by, that is.

So often, this was actually more when I’d let myself cry. No kids to worry about disturbing, after all.

And in those tears was mixed my prayers, sometimes in words, more often than not just a verbal ache brought to the surface.

Oh, where was comfort?! I would wonder.

But, oh, friends, night after night, there came this song. God’s reply.

And, somehow, I could feel His wings draw around me then.

And, somehow, I would find enough rest to get through the next day.

I hadn’t thought of this song except perhaps periodically until the chaos and tragedy of this year descended, both on the world and in my own little corner of it.

May it speak to any who need its comfort. ❤ Blessings and prayers.

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! 😊

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. 😏

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. 😳😬

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

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!😉

Stay tuned. I will likely have Part Two for you by Friday. 😊

Thanks for reading! Blessings and prayers, friends! ❤

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. 😏

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!

Reconnections

I have had some interesting conversations on here lately about my differing comfort levels with people online versus in person. (Hi, Eclectic Contrarian, my fellow introvert! 😊) So…for the following to have happened to me is kind of a wow thing…

Something interesting occurred recently.

We were at a live Nativity someone in our community puts on every year.

It was the first time we have been able to make it. In the past, weather has been a concern for some of us with major cold sensitivities!

It still wasn’t warm by my tastes, but, it was doable. 😏

Besides, our intrepid 15-year-old son was going to be Joseph leading a heavily pregnant Mary to shelter.

On a live donkey, no less. ( Which he wryly called Eddie Murphy in tribute to the Shrek character. Love my boy. 😁)

He’d never done that before, so, being the excited sort of parents we are, we had to see him in action.

He didn’t dissapoint.☺

But, that was nothing compared to what else the Lord had in store for me.

I was in the barn where people congregated for the tour when I heard a voice call my name. A familiar one, yet I couldn’t quite identify it.

It was like a call from the past, a description which made sense once I turned around.

Because I found myself face to face with someone I’d not seen since shortly after high school-one of the few from those days I really did not mind encountering again!

She’d been a year behind me, an up–and-comer in drama class as I was winding up my time on the stage.

In a time I was especially uncertain of every move, yet longing to be pleasing to the Lord, this girl became a dear and kindred spirit in many ways, a kind of younger sister to encourage and teach.

There were few who professed a Christian faith in that circle, so it was so nice to know at least one I could interact with on that level as well as in theater.

After graduation, I remember going back to see her play the lead in “Once Upon a Mattress”. What a joy to see how her talent had blossomed!

I remember telling her something to that effect and the way her face lit up, like it really meant something to her.

I think she was at my first wedding later that spring, she wished us well, and, then, that was pretty much it.

She went off to college to study, I played at the married lady, and contact fell away, as it will.

And, then, about a lifetime later, there we were again.

I apparently was still recognizable, right down to my ever-present beret. A comfort to one feeling her age and then some! 😉

She definitely was recognizable, down to that same effusive glow. Time had scarcely etched but a few lines around her youthful eyes.

I learned she’d become a missionary, as she often wished for, married a Spanish pastor, and had three beautiful brown-eyed boys, all of whom were in tow.

It was fascinating to listen to her translate me to her brood with such skill!

To think she was once sort of under my wing…

So…we did that for a bit, and then, we found opportunity to get off to ourselves for deeper conversation.

The part I feared would be tougher was my side of things. In addition to my natural reticence, there was the fact she had also known my first husband quite well. We’d all shared a stage and student-led Bible study. She’d witnessed our oh-so-young, wholly untried promises to each other.

Yet, there was still that something of a friend in her expression.

So…in I plunged, hoping not to scare her off.

I tumbled through the high (and low) lights of my long journey from potential youth minister’s wife to struggling single mom of three, two diagnosed autistic, wrangling a class of toddlers and a dark depression alike.

And, then, to the better part-my God-given second chance at love and marriage, complete with my bonus boy.

I didn’t delve into the many adventures of restoring an ancient, Green Acres-style house or the roller coaster ride of assisting my husband in running a business.

I was a little breathless by then and conscious of possibly dominating the whole shebang!

So…I just aw,shucksed my way through the fact I was a published author if she was interested in the full breakdown of said journey.

Talk about your awkward salesperson. Shades of one I remember from Andy Griffith who “didn’t want to be pushy”. 😏

She was so sweet and enthusiastic about that fact, though, insisting on how to find and purchase my memoir, refusing one of my several free copies I had back home collecting dust…😊

But, it really wasn’t the unexpected possible sale that marvelled me.

Sales are done and gone in my ambitions. People are not about sales, after all.

No…rather, it was her utter kindness and warmth, the genuinely glad-to-see-me manner, the deep understanding of the road I wound up on and the shared joy in the way God redeemed my life.

Apparently, she had even been thinking about me recently after a chance sighting of my ex-mother-in-law at the church I attended in my teen years.

She was wondering where I was, hoping, praying to see me somehow somewhere.

And, she had this readiness that God would move as a result that I admire a great deal. I have had spurts of such in my life, but, honestly, it’s grown a bit…rusty.

I could really do with a resurgence of that eager expectation!

In the end, we hugged and reiterated how wonderful it was to see each other again, how awesome God is, exchanging phone numbers and the hopes to find time for future visits.

It was a blessed reconnecting of sisterhood I had not been anticipating or even realizing would be nourishment to this shy little soul.

Or that seeing me could be such to someone else.

Yet, obviously, God knew, as He always does, being the unparalleled composer behind the scenes that He is.

I don’t know yet what else He has in store for this reconnection, but I pray I can have that quality of readiness.

May we all find room for such in our hearts! Blessings and prayers, my friends!