A Time to Refrain

Had to dig waaaay back in my archives for this one, friends. It touched on a situation that was rather painful.

Then, it actually faded away for a time. I thought it was done.

Ah, but, now, in this last year, it has come back full force.

I find myself alternately weeping to God and aching inside with bitterness as I watch the one dearest to me, my second chance at life and love, put others ahead of me.

Not helpful in my depressive state, to say the least!

Perhaps, another major contributing factor, truth be known.

For my discernment still screams caution in big red letters while his seems to say plunge ahead. Way ahead.

And either drag me along or abandon me to my unkind little self.

Oh, just that word “abandon”…๐Ÿ˜”

My every fiber shakes at it.

Now, I fret at moments that it all does just boil down to my social anxiety and massive struggles to trust.

My dear one seems to attribute all to that, too.

Yet…there are things and situations clearly and not-so-clearly crossing boundaries that I feel I should be assertive enough to say are just not cool to me without accusations of inhospitality.

I have received advice from a dear friend or two stating as much, leading me to believe maybe it’s not just that I am crazy or antisocial.

Maybe there is something to it.

But, as the situation drags on….

And on…and my feelings feel more and more back-seated….

I find I am feeling too weary to fight and to try drawing more lines, knowing they will only be erased….

At any rate, enough jabber. Click the link and read on if you’re so inclined. And keep me in prayer as I continue to navigate this incredibly tricky season.

And my apologies if I seem really vague. I just can’t spell it all out here. It’s just…too much.

Anyway, thank you. Blessings and prayers as ever, dear friends. โค

https://alwaysajesusgirl.wordpress.com/2019/10/17/a-time-to-refrain/

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 Two

Well, hello there, friends! Ready for part two of this crazy tale?

If not, you can find part one here.

Ok. Ready now?

Let’s see…when we left off, I was fed up with being a lonely single mama.

First, I admit I did look around my church with a fresh eye, hoping someone I hadn’t noticed in my “waiting on a miracle” days might have possibilities.

But…

Honestly, even though there were a couple of nice guys, there weren’t really any leaping at the opportunity to date a hurting mom of three, two on the autism spectrum.

Well, understandable. It isn’t for everybody. ๐Ÿ˜

So, that idea dashed, I grabbed my phone one night (after about the umpteenth time bawling with deep-seated envy over old movies with “happily ever afters”. ).

I did the googly thingy and found one of the more famous dating sites, let my somewhat windy writing style have a field day, agonized through selfies and set up shop in the “looking for love” business.

A rather silent affair for a time, frankly. I reached out to the nice-sounding ones.

I found myself ignored.

I attempted aloofness.

Aloofness was what I got in return.

Go figure.๐Ÿ˜‰

And then, I think I really let myself get angry with God.

Not a good place to be with your Creator!

Because I found the most anti-God, albeit charmingly dark-humored sort I could and dared him to go out with the nicey-nice Christian girl.

He took me up on it, unfortunately.

And what followed was a horrifying few months, swinging between outright rebellion and missionary dating.

Either way, I plunged my heart in and felt pieces of soul begin to give way before he decided he was through with me.

And after he was done, I found what felt like the whole World Series of Mr. Wrongs.

To each I kept flinging out piece after piece of myself, hoping for some shred of love for my trouble.

Some were kinder than others, admittedly, but none possessed for me the love I craved.

I was too ashamed to introduce a single one to family.

To this day, I am grateful I never did.

I still carried the knowledge of God in those days, trying to straddle that proverbial fence but, of course, finding it painful.

And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I could feel the enormous weight of the grief He felt for the state of my life.

As time and the hole in my heart wore on, I stopped recognizing myself.

Though the specter of suicidal thoughts did seem dismayingly familiar.

It was about this time I decided I had had my last with this website.

The guy I was seeing at this time didn’t even make a pretense of being interested in anything more than convenience.

I tried to put on a jaded air in return, but it was like an ugly Halloween mask that didn’t quite fit.

Inside, I was crying out in my heart to God for an absolution to all this madness.

I didn’t want this anymore. Never really did.

So…quickly as I signed up, I made up my mind I was going to pull the plug on this demoralizing mess.

It was the only way.

Yet…an irresistable tug caused me to take one last scroll through these ill-fated, soul-crushing profiles.

And…all at once, there I saw him. My Joe. โค ( Told you he was coming! ๐Ÿ˜Š) Never saw him on the site before, though he’d been listed a good two years.

He had a sweet, goofy smile and twinkly blue eyes. He looked approachable and unaffected by any attempt to be something he wasn’t.

His profile spoke a lot of the simple things in life, something my complicated world begged for.

So refreshing was his write-up, in fact, that I forgot about pulling the plug.

Instead, there I was writing to him. I told myself I just had to tell him I appreciated his words.

I really didn’t expect a reply, reminding myself how the nice ones never did that.

They were too busy with the girls nicer than me.

And, for days, I heard nothing.

I thought I was right. The disappointment stung despite the vindication.

I had had hopes in spite of myself. Sigh.

And then, one evening after I had shoved the whole idea from my head, there went the little “bing” on my phone!

I had mail, it read. From some guy named Joe. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜Š

I had not been so eager to open and read something in a long while.

And what I read? Well, it truly floored me.

His two chief priorities in life: Christ and family. He hoped I felt the same.

He was a regional truck driver, hence he had not had opportunity to reply till now (Aha! Little Cynic, my brain chided). Feel free to write back, he added.

In fact, he hoped I would.

And, naturally, I did, with fingers flying. ๐Ÿ˜Š

These exchanges kept up for quite a few weeks. Phone numbers were added to the mix.

We discovered we both had a thing for nostalgia and that we could neither one dance.

We shared the hurt of a failed marriage and frustration with the whole dating scene.

Most importantly, we shared Christ and the redemption to be found only in Him.

In fact, I attribute this momentous meeting to reawakening my heart to this truth.

But, still, in all the goodness was yet a rather pertinent question-

What about my kids? Hmmm…

And that, dear friends, shall be covered in part three…๐Ÿ˜‰

Thanks for reading. Hope you are enjoying. 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! 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

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:

When Need Comes Knocking on Your Door

Visions of youth ministry have always played large parts in my adult life.

I think it comes of the fact that, despite my introverted ways, I longed to reach out to help those who’d hurt like me.

Now, there were several opportunities in the “traditional” molds over the years. For a while there, it seemed it would be THE mission.

Most chances were dashed to bits, however. Often the catalyst was immaturity– my marriage’s, my first husband’s, and, yes, much to my chagrin, my own. ๐Ÿ™„

Following our separation and eventual divorce, I drew big red lines through such dreams like mistaken passages in a manuscript.

Obviously, I was wrong about the call on my life. Apparently, I didn’t do anybody any good, least of all myself.

I adapted my hopes to teaching toddlers, but that was more or less so my children and I could continue to have a roof over our heads.

Ministry was no longer really on my mind then.

Though, looking back seven years after my retirement from the classroom, I see that the way God allowed me to love on those kids was, in fact, ministry…

And that brings me to the point I wish to make now. But, first, a little further background. Bear with me, folks ๐Ÿ˜‰:

Nearly eight years ago, I found myself sinking in the mire of online dating and a gripping depression I’d not experienced since the earliest days of single motherhood.

I was near to throwing out my profile and, honestly, my computer altogether when God allowed me to see one more profile-the unique and Godly man who eventually said “I do” to me and the hectic world a single mom of special needs kids naturally inhabits. Not just “I do”, really, but an “I do” replete with generosity and good humor. ๐Ÿ˜Š

He, too, had seen much pain, some of it in ways similar to my own, some in ways I can never fully imagine despite the years of knowing his story ( Would love to tell it here at some point with his permission. ๐Ÿ™‚).

Anyway…safe to say the Lord came through as only He can, offering us a second chance at love!

Ah, but not just in marriage. But, also, as it turns out, in co-laborers who have a yearning to minister, especially to the young.

So… suddenly, there was a rebirth of old dreams, a uniting of one another’s.

Oh, it wasn’t necessarily a let’s-drop-everything-and-go-to-seminary stirring.

He was a truck driver in those days; I found myself rather quickly a stay-at-home mom out of necessity.

But, there was that knowing there was something He had for us to do together.

We didn’t know exactly how or when, but we felt sure of a call.

Many events tumbled out over the years. A blending of families, a dilapidated country home, job loss, a business begun, a lot of writing…

And yet, no definitive answer to the question of ministering seemed to show itself.

We had hopes of a property behind us being transformed into a big youth center, but lack of money and an abundance of windstorms begged to differ. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh, we’d volunteer at children’s church, sometimes VBS.

In the last two years, we have even begun pitching in with our small community youth group.

Mostly doing the meals and clean up after, occasionally taking the opportunity to share some testimony, as well as lending our middle son to percussion for our rather modest worship time.

Doesn’t necessarily sound like everything we dreamt of.

And, yet…

What constitutes a ministry, anyway?

Is it a state-of-the-art building?

A worship band complete with strobe lights and smoke machines?

Is it crowds of teens enthralled by your words?

An activity-filled roster or a fancy camp to take them to?

Or…. is it simply meeting the ones He brings to you where they are?

Feeding the bodies of busy latch- key kiddos and listening to the anxieties of the day?

Giving them an encouragement from scripture for the week?

Supplying them a new song to sing to the Lord?

A phone number to call or an open door to knock on when those anxieties crop up beyond their capabilities to deal?

Ah. The seemingly small acts of life. ๐Ÿ™‚ But, all necessary components in His kingdom, I am learning.

For, you see, beyond the Wednesday to Wednesday, this dilapidated house of ours has become a lot less than the Green Acres it was ( literally, thanks to my handy husband โ˜บ๏ธ) and more the place for drop-ins.

A safe space to have a cookie.

A conversation.

A cry.

Not to mention jam sessions, acting lessons, building projects, and, best of all, deep Biblical discussions. โ˜บ๏ธ

Many things I love to be sure, but things that don’t really look like the norm of ministry or what I expected His call on us might mean.

Even a few things, despite the love I just professed, that the introverted me has had to make room for at times, to be honest!

But, suffice to say, I am finding He will direct us to the places He can use us most and equip us for the call, whatever it looks like.

When we are obedient to answer the need knocking on our door, that is. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What needs are knocking at your door, friends? I pray we can all discover what they are and seek His strength to answer. God bless!