The River

We glided down the serene stream, as he dug the oar into brisk mountain water. I splashed my fingertips along the gentle ripples. It was the perfect day! The morning spring sun flooded through the pine trees creating a glowing paradise.

“Should I help? You’re doing all the work.” I said breaking the silence we were both content with. This moment was beyond words. 

“I’m fine. Just take it all in. Enjoy yourself.” 

I leaned my face up to the sun and closed my eyes. It was warm without being hot, and a slight breeze smelling of wild flowers caressed my cheeks. I opened my eyes and became entranced with the clouds floating along. They were free, careless and free. I wondered if I could ever be as weightless as a cloud. Free to wander this beautiful wide world, uninhibited by my cares.

The tussling of our small kayak awoke my daydreaming. We were taking on speed. Ahead of us I could see a fork in the river, one path was peaceful and calm, the other was choppy and rough. I could see the white water and felt my heart jump, surely he would take the other path. 

We were on a journey, just the two of us. He knew the destination and I did not. But, he repeatedly reassured me that it was a great and marvelous place that we were headed.

But, as I peered anxiously at the decision before us, I had a suspicion we were headed for rough sailing. 

“Sit tight and hang on, we’re going to the left. I’ve got this. We’re gonna just go with flow.” He spoke loudly so I could hear him over the sounds of the quickening waves.

“Why can’t we go the other way, it’s so much easier? I don’t understand.” I gripped the side of our vessel and tried to stay calm.

“This way is best. It’s not the easiest, or the smoothest, but it gets us to our destination in better form. Trust me.” He said with confidence. 

Better form? What did that mean? This didn’t make any sense. We probably wouldn’t survive this trip! There seemed to be a waterfall fast approaching and everything within me wanted to panic. This was a horrible idea! 

“Why… why do we have to go this way. I’m scared.” I closed my eyes tight as our kayak dipped and swayed.

“Here we go! Isn’t this great! Whoo hoo!!” He hooted. “Here comes the falls, just make sure you hang onto me, I will keep you anchored.” 

I was so terrified that I couldn’t even speak. I reached my arms around his waste and squeezed, as I felt gravity release us. I clenched my eyes tight as we tunneled over the watery cliff. Then everything seemed to go in slow motion. I knew we were falling and falling, but somehow I felt safe. I knew I was okay. 

All I ever wanted in my life was to feel safe… to be secure. But, even in all my attempts to plan and predict a perfect life, I never felt truly safe. Surprisingly, here in a moment of pure, relentless danger there was a calm that came over me as I held onto him. A weightlessness that defied logic. I could perish at any moment, yet I trusted Him. When I had every reason to feel terror, I felt serenity.

After what seemed like a breathless eternity, we plummeted into the crystal deep. I kept my connection to Him. I held on tight. And there submerged in the cool quietness, I found peace.

I was safe, I was fine…. and then I realized I had let go of Him. I was floating free. I felt His arms wrap around me, pulling to the surface.

I let out a gasp, as air refilled my lungs. We made it! What a ride! I felt a strange sense of accomplishment. We both swam to the waters edge, his strong arms still supporting me.

“We’re here.” He said.

“Really? I can’t believe it.” I remarked, looking around at an indescribable landscape. “I was really afraid back there, but something happened when I came face to face with my fear. I realized it wasn’t so bad, and even if the worst possible thing happened and I died, I was still with you. Nothing can take that away. I just feel different. I know it sounds silly but, something’s changed in me.”

“I’m so proud of you. It was truly an amazing journey!” He grinned.

“So, where are we? You said we’re here, what is this place?” I wondered.

“This is our destination… You’re it! Right here, right now. Your freedom, your joy, your change, your growth. It’s the most important finishline you’ll ever cross. It’s not about getting to a better place, a better life, or an easier bend in the river. It’s about becoming a better, freer you!”

My eyes flooded with tears as I understood completely, “Thank you Jesus. This was the trip of a lifetime. And I am forever grateful. I love you.” 

“I love you too, more than you can imagine. And my greatest desire is that you will trust me, through every difficulty, through every challenge, through every pain. I don’t create the rough waters, but I do use them to draw out a greatest and strength that you never knew existed. To set you free!”

I wrapped my arms around his neck and hung on tight. I looked up to the clouds floating above and I felt truly safe.


The Dream

Chapter 1

The Kick

His big golden brown eyes barreled into mine appealing for even a hint of mercy. He was still so handsome after all these years, looking younger than most men his age. Yet, I was unmoved by his charm and refused any option of grace.
How could I still love him and yet despise him in the same thought? He had betrayed me in the worst way. I had given him everything; my virginity, my youth, my girls, my love and my faithfulness. Now, I had nothing left to give except pain and anger.

He turned to leave the room and something empowering and vengeful took over . Before I knew it, I kicked him in an explosion of rage. My mind spun as pain surged through my foot. He seemed unmoved by my attack, looking down at me with confusion and pity.

Tears exploded from my eyes as I fell to the ground in a heap. “I hate you! I will never forgive what you’ve done to me!”

His head dropped, “I’m sorry… I’m so sorry.”

“No you’re not! You’re just sorry you got caught!” I said, wiping my cheeks. “Just go.”

He sighed and turned again to leave. I clutched my throbbing foot and began another self-pitying sob fest. 

My life was over. These little precious girls would grow up without their father and I would be divorced at age thirty-five. Is this really the plan God had for my life? I didn’t know— Nothing was the same anymore.

Chapter 2

The Broken

As it turns out, I broke my big toe. Who knew that breaking your toe would make it nearly impossible to walk? In all my married years so far he had never taken care of me; let alone taken care of everything. The dishes, laundry, housekeeping all became his responsibility, while I laid flat on my back. Talk about wanting to feel sorry for myself. I felt pathetic! A scorned woman, now unable to do the only things that brought purpose and worth to my life. Being a good mother was my life! Taking care of my girls brought me joy and comfort. They were so confused by all this, and now they would have to depend completely on their dad. My job was to heal. But, I had a feeling healing physically would be easier than emotionally. I was broken.

TV held no interest and novels no appeal. My mind raced with the facts, dates and details he had laid on me, only days ago. My stomach turned as heartbreak and panic began to consume me. I just wanted it all to go away; all the hurt, all the despair, all the thoughts. The silence in my head grew louder and louder until I heard Him. 

His still small voice quieted me. “You’re going to be okay. Trust me. Just breathe. In and out. In and out. Let go of everything. Put it all into my hands. I know you’re hurting beyond belief, but I do have a plan. I love you and I will heal your heart.” 

I exhaled and felt peace wash over me like a warm comforting shower. A peace like I’ve never known before. It by passes all my understanding.  

My eyes grew heavy, my body relaxed, and slowly I drifted off into a deep pleasant sleep.

Chapter 3
The Allegory

Then I saw him in my dreams. I saw my husband as barely a teen. He was in his childhood home, surrounded by chaos. His parents fought and yelled as he cupped his hands over his ears. 

“Shut up! Shut up! Stop it, just stop it! I can’t take it anymore.” He pleaded, but they couldn’t hear him over their own voices. They were masters at manipulation, and coursed between fits of anger and icy silence. He despised them for it.

I could see the pain and frustration on his adolescent face. He began to build walls around himself, to fend off the betrayal and loneliness. Like a castle, he built a fortress against invaders. 

Higher and stronger the walls went, isolating him from the hurt, numbing him to his own feelings. Their madness spiraled around him, but he felt somewhat safe within the borders he had erected.

Blond curls and a sassy smirk circled around him, “What are you doing now? Stop hiding like a baby! Don’t you see what’s happening here.” She instigated, glaring at her little brother. “They’re probably gonna get a divorce. I’m sure if you were smarter and did better in school, they wouldn’t fight so much. ” She said with a huff. Antagonizing him was her distraction against the tension at home.

“Leave me alone,” He said. He could feel his anger boiling, she was always picking on him. It’s true he wasn’t the best at school. There were always whispers about him being “not normal”. Writing and reading were a challenge, and social interaction an even bigger mystery. He was awkward and different.

So he continued to build. Overtime he grew within those walls. His upper lip now covered with stubble and his jaw more defined. He looked so handsome. A young man coming into his prime and taller now than the castle walls. It began to feel like a prison around him, like being confined to a playpen. He didn’t want to stay within the fortress, but he also didn’t want to be exposed and vulnerable to his parents.  

So freedom called to him. He was almost an adult, and the great wide world invited him to adventure. The dream of escape and thrill of a new life enticed him. 

 So he journeyed from a place of pain, away from his childhood. Out of the city he had always known and into the forest he went. Out to the woods. The fresh pine air awakened his senses. He had escaped! He was free! He would show them, show them all!

He had the skills to earn a living and build a life. He’d been building for sometime. He could do it all by himself. He was determined to succeed! And so his pride grew and grew. It blinded him from the truth, like another wall erected, this one over his eyes. Like very dark sunglasses, he could only see what glittered. Plain and simple things didn’t hold the luster and would easily lose his attention. 

 He was drawn to the bright and shiny, the pleasurable and parade worthy.

One day, as he walked through his kingdom of the woods, he came upon a gold-foiled wrapped object. It laid openly on a lush velvety bed of moss. It made him feel good just to gaze at it. He looked around to see if anyone else had seen this treasure, before reaching down to pick it up. It felt smooth and nice under his fingertips. He looked around again. Had someone misplaced this? There was no one there. Only him and his new golden friend. 

He unwrapped it slowly, as his heartbeat increased. It was a delicacy, unlike anything he had seen before. He so desired to taste it, devour it, to consume it. Finally, he gave into the foreplay and anticipation. For a moment he felt satisfied, and then the loneliness returned. He threw the empty wrapper to ground. He wanted more! He needed more! It had captivated him and now he was captured.

So the search began for more goodies to fill his appetite. It wasn’t hard to find them. They were everywhere. Shiny, sparkling candies glittering around every tree and shrub. Even through his dark glasses, he could easily see the sun light flickering off the gold coverings. Years went by and he continued to consume to his heart’s content. Needing more and more to get the same pleasure and always throwing away the wrappers when he was finished. The forest floor was littered with his conquests. After each treat, he had moments of guilt, follow by the rejection of gold wrapper and the momentary promise to never eat them again. He loved them, he hated them.

But, even with all this gluttony, it couldn’t satiate his emptiness. He was getting older now and needed security; a shelter of his own. His chin and cheeks now full with hair, his head showing signs of thinning. But, his body was still rugged and strong, full of ambition. So he began to search for materials and tools to create his home.

He came upon a very usable, newly formed rock, that had never been touched by other hands. He chose it to be his very own. He could see the value in it to serve his needs and yet cared very little for the rock itself. It was merely a tool to be used to build his life. It did however ease some of his loneliness, and therefore he decided to marry the little rock.

On their wedding day, the humble little rock wasn’t covered in shimmering gold or any material that shines. She was only covered in a clean white linen cloth, seemingly plain. 

And so, their life began, the little rock full of high hopes and romantic notions. She didn’t realize she was merely a tool, a device to serve and give.

He used the little rock to build his house. He used it to ignite warm comforting fires. He used it to throw at the enemies outside his door that would challenge him for his wrong-doings. He used it for cooking his food and cleaning his clothes. And he used it in his everyday work as a tool for efficiency and organization. 

The little rock was always in his hand, doing his work, but never receiving the love from his heart.

So as it was, the shiny golden objects began to call to him once more. The rush of passion and excitement stirred him. There was however the problem of the little rock. As long as it was nestled in his palm, he couldn’t reach for the objects he so desired. So he put the little faithful rock deep into his pocket, now he could have both hands open.

Now he was free again, free to explore all his wild fantasies. His pride continued to grow, and arrogance darkened his glasses even further. He couldn’t see the truth.

The little rock was so lonely deep within the darkness of his pocket. So lonely and needy in fact, that two small pieces broke off from herself. These small slivers became a great source of comfort and joy for the little rock. She was now aging as well and had grown so insecure and heartbroken.  

But, these little ones gave her life new purpose and meaning. She became so busy with all their constant needs that it was a distraction against her own neglect.

There were times when he would reach into the depths of his pocket and bring the little rock and her pieces to the surface. Mostly because he needed something from her, and occasionally to play with the little pieces. They fascinated him so. However, it wouldn’t last long, his walls were still up. He was living a lie, and their innocence only reminded him of that.

One day, he was stricken with a horrible pain. It was debilitating. He used the little rock to carve out crutches for himself, but he was furious she couldn’t do more to ease his suffering. His freedom was gone and he felt sorry for himself. Depressed and angry he retreated deeper into his shell behind his dark glasses, leaving the little rock and pieces to fend for themselves.

He desired more goodies to lift his fragile ego, so he hobbled along forest in search. His handicap limited his mobility and he began to lose his balance. He wobbled and grappled for something stronger to brace himself, but it was no use. He fell forward face first to the ground. The little rock and pieces flew from his pocket as he descended. Ironically, he landed in a big glittery pile of his golden wrapped treasures.  

Only when he opened his eyes he found that they were no longer the delicious and tempting candies that he lusted over. They had turned into manure, foul and disgusting. The stench was horrific and the rotten decay and waste oozed over his whole body.

The little rock was beside him and cracked and bleeding. She was no longer clothed in clean white linen, but had been soiled and stained from the Fall. Her wedding robes were ripped, and she had been damaged in every way. He strained to reach her, but was unable to pull himself from the muck and mire. He was helpless.

Then finally he cried out to God in desperation. “Oh Father, please help me. Please save me! Forgive me of my sins and free me from the filth of this world.” He removed his cracked dark glasses and laid them on the ground, opening his eyes to the bright clean light emerging overhead. 
God heard his cry and reached out his hand to meet his, pulling him from the depths.

“Son, I do forgive you . I will make you clean. I know you’ve been searching your whole life, for love and purpose. But, you don’t need to search anymore, you are mine now. And I love you very, very much.” The Father said as he wiped off all the years of defilement and shame.

He could see the little rock and pieces behind the Father and he turned to reach for them. “Oh Lord, look what I’ve done to my little rock and to our little pieces. I’ve hurt them so much. Let me get and heal them, they are broken. I broke them.”

“No.” The Father said firmly, as he covered them with his other hand. “You cannot help them

right now, only I can fix them.” The Lord picked up the little rock and its pieces. He cradled them in the safety of hand for some time and then slowly opened his palm for the man to see.

 The Father had not only fixed her, but he had transformed her into something glorious. No longer an abused, broken, bleeding little rock, she was now a beautiful glittering crystal.

“That looks like a—” He gasped, rubbing his eyes.

“A diamond— yes she is.” The father nodded. “Beautiful, flawless, precious and purified by fire. She is unique, she is to be treasured.” 

“Please give me the diamond Lord, I will care for her.” He said reaching towards the Lord’s hands.

“No son, it is not time yet. I will hold the diamond and her little pieces, until you are ready and worthy to care for them. You must walk with me and learn to obey. 

 All those years you chased after the shiny, golden objects and all the while the most precious and rare of all was right in your hand. Now you will learn what it is to appreciate her worth. And I will teach you about your own worth in me. I’m so glad you’ve finally let your walls down, I’ve been waiting for you.”

The Father closed his fingers around the precious stones once again, and pulled them close to his heart. With his other arm he reached for the man, who now looked more like a boy again. He was starting over in life. Young and new in spirit. Born again.
Chapter 4

The Beautiful
Then I woke up.

Just like that.

I quickly wrote down every detail so I wouldn’t forget.

I wish I could say everything was easy after that, but it wasn’t. We separated for awhile. But, then a year later we renewed our vows. 

I was being healed and learning to forgive step by step. He was being delivered and renewing his mind. We were both learning to trust God. We were both making Jesus our everything.

Now thirty years later, I’m blown away at our story. There were chapters of sickness and surgery. Chapters where tempers flared and hormones raged. Chapters where more pain and heartache threatened to sever us again. 

But, through it all, there were beautiful chapters of our girls. There was so much good, so much fruit. They were healthy, happy and whole. And we as a family were kept together by His grace.  

My husband is now seventy, and though his hair is gone, and his body is failing, his Spirit is stronger than ever. His heart is soft and he says every day, “I need more of Jesus.” I couldn’t ask for anything better. What a beautiful story I’ve had.

The hardest, strongest substance on earth is a diamond. It is extremely valuable and precious, forged through extreme pressure and heat. 

I felt that pressure, but it did not break me.  

I experienced that heat, but I was not consumed. Something beautiful and eternal was created in my life through that painful time.

I became a diamond in His hand!

The coin purse

She was just a baby when her glistening eyes first be held her mama’s purse. She admired it. Mama was always receiving coins of many values from those who came in and out of her life. 

It wasn’t long before the little girl was handed her first purse. She was five, and felt so grown up. She slung it over her danty shoulder and pranced down the sidewalk. She smiled, feeling sure that coins would be coming her way.

And they did… It started with her mamas friends. They came by her house in droves with coins and compliments. Her little, simple purse was full now and she liked the weight of it. It felt good… Good and heavy.

On her first day of kindergarten she dressed herself proudly. She made sure to grab her purse. Mama put her hair in a French braid, “You look so pretty baby girl.” She kissed her daughters cheek and slipped a coin into her purse, “For good luck!” She said with a smile. 

School was full of mixed emotions. At recess, some boys began picking on her, she tried to ignore them, but then one of them reached in purse and took several coins. She fought back the tears and stood there frozen in silence. She had been violated.

She ran back to classroom and was met by her new teacher. She had kind eyes and a welcoming smile. After some consoling words, she pulled out a shiny silver coin. “I want you to have this. It’s got me through some tough times and I know it will help you too.” The teacher said slipping the special coin into the little girl’s purse.

The weight of the silver coin replaced the weights of less valuable coins that had been taken.  The girl felt whole again.

Years passed as they do. The coins came and went. Friends would give them and friends would take them away. Boys would place many precious coins into her purse and then just as fast reach in and grab more than they contributed. They would leave her empty. 

Many times it wasn’t even real coins that were given. Sometimes they would slip in arcade tokens or crumpled foil shaped disks. They weighed almost nothing.

One boy grabbed the purse altogether, snatched the coins and discarding it on the ground.  The terrible incident left her purse damaged. When she went to pick it up, she realized it now had big hole in the bottom. She was heartbroken.

Life went on. The coins would still come, but seemed to slip through before she could assess their worth. She needed more and more to fill her purse and make it feel full. It was an insatiable quest, with a never ending void.

Then that day came. She was on her hands and knees gathering what little coins had just slipped through. He spoke quietly from behind her, “Are you okay? Do you need help?”

“Oh… no I just dropped something, its fine.” She grinned and went back to gathering.

He knelt down beside her and look into her eyes, “Those coins are never going to be heavy enough.”

She laughed under her breath, “Um, well… they’re all I got, so they’ll have to do.” She looked back and forth and quickly picked up her stuff. She hoped he wasn’t trying to take what she had left. 

“I’m not going to take your coins. I actually wanted to give you something.” He said holding up his hands to show good intent.

“I’ve been given lots of coins by men, and they always end up taking back more than they gave.” She said with a hardend glare.

“I’m not like them… and what I have to give doesn’t go in a bag. Everyone tries to fill their purses with worth from other people, but it’s a flawed system. And I see your purse is damaged as well, so how’s that working for you?”

“Yeah well, it is what it is.” She smirked.

“Doesn’t have to be…. Give me your purse and I’ll give you a treasure far more valuable than anything you’ve ever had in there. What I have is a true reflection of your worth and your weight in my eyes.” He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out large solid gold nugget. 

Her eyes sparkled and then a puzzled look washed over her face, “But, I need my purse to hold it? How will I carry it? And what if someone tries to take it? My purse is broken!” 

“It doesn’t go in a purse. It goes in a place no one can ever take it. It’s the safest place.” He said with a nod.

“Where does it go?” She wondered.

“In your heart, where it can never be stollen or be lost. In your heart, my gold belongs. To always remind you that you don’t need the reassurance and coins of men, you only need the weight of love.”

Rainbows and Unicorns

On occasion, my hubby has been known to to say, “Life is not all rainbows and unicorns.”🌈🦄 (Loved that both those emojis were available!)😜

And of course, I know this. But, it doesn’t stop me from striving and expecting life to be easy and “feel good.”

My daughter is obsessed with drawing unicorns! Every day when she unloads the crumbled treasures out of her kindergarten backpack, I find at least 1-2 unicorn portraits. Always different colors and styles, but none the less a horn is included and a SMILE!

This particular unicorn picture, gives us the perspective that even being a mythical magical creature, doesn’t make things perfect! She’s a little overweight, and definitely has some “cankles”! But despite those issues, she’s rocking a rainbow coat and a winning smile.

We can learn something from this gal! What if we embraced our weaknesses, challenges and uncomfortableness? (Whew that’s a long word! But, what a good word!) So much about life can be uncomfortable! But, it’s not a bad thing, it’s actually where we grow and bloom. If we anticipated that difficulties and set backs in life are normal, we could go through them without overreacting. 

I’m sure this unicorn has her insecurites, and I’m sure she struggles huddling rainbows. But, she’s the star of her own life! 

Although my hubby doesn’t always entertain my fairytale notions, he does something better. He makes me laugh! He helps me to not take things so seriously. 

And that can be magical!🌟

Where to Begin?

This morning as I went for a “wog” (walk/jog), I was struck with the sense of needing to take my writing to a therapeutic level. I’ve been struggling over the last couple weeks with the fear that my OCD, anxiety & depression are trying to return. Which of course puts me in a state of panic.
My stride and thoughts were interrupted with moments of trying to yank my yoga pants back up to my waste. Sometimes the hardest part of exercise is getting comfortable enough to follow through. It seems that either my pesky bra strap or inching up soccer shorts are going places I just don’t like. As it was today, my pants continued to slip down to a saggy crotch level whenever I got a good pace in my jog.
(So totally off the subject, but still related…a lady in Walmart today caught me doing a full pull up on my leggings. It was quite the scene! She chuckled and commented that there were cameras everywhere! I just laughed. I really must have a problem with my clothes fall off! Maybe because my butt is so darn flat?!

All of sudden it seemed clear, between all the rearranging of my active wear clothing. I needed to blog. To chronicle my journeys through mental illness, vent my emotional & relational ups and downs and share my victories and challenges. I want it to mean something! Something more than just overcoming for myself. I want to help other women who agonize in their minds, hearts & marriages. To be a voice of hope and honesty. To share my pain, so they might find purpose.
God is my ever present help in time of need. His love is what calms me and makes sense of things I can’t understand. I believe He has given me a voice and a vision. And I hope others will join me as I share my vulnerable moments, I hope they will be lifted up and know they are not alone.
And maybe we’ll laugh a little as well….. Sometimes the journey comes with saggy crotchety yoga pants, and that’s ok.
We’ll yank them up together…