Uncategorized

Christmas Letter

No, not another Christmas letter! Really, it’s OK. I don’t really have anything to brag about from the last year. Nothing I did that was extraordinary anyway. Thinking about writing a Christmas letter got me thinking though about what I would feel was important enough to put in one.

Since this past year has been a slump year for me, all my thoughts at first were slumpy ones. I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, a dry faith, poor health, poorer eating, and other things I’d rather not tell the world.

What can I tell you that won’t put you in a slump too? Slumps don’t last forever. And even in the midst of slumps, there are some really funny moments. The coins come to mind right away.  I had emptied all of my coin jars into an ice cream pail, filling it up. It was super heavy so my husband was going to take it to the car for me so I could deposit it in the bank. He’s very helpful that way. He picked up the pail, I heard him start down the stairs and then heard coin hit the floor. My first thought was that he fell down the stairs.

He didn’t. That flimsy handle he was carrying the pail with, that pretty much everyone would know couldn’t handle the weight of all those coins, broke and the pail fell. And the lid popped off. We had coin everywhere. As I hurried to the top of the stairs, I thought to grab my camera. But standing at the top, looking down at my husband kneeling at the bottom of the stairs with coin surrounding him, all I could do was laugh. I laughed so hard I couldn’t get a picture of my little boy husband holding up the pail showing me that not every single coin fell out, “Look Hon, half the coins are still in the bucket.” “Yes, dear, they are” as tears poured down my cheeks. You can imagine trying to take a picture when your whole body is shaking with laughter. Those pictures were so blurred you couldn’t make out anything except the shine of coins in the light.

What a great 2017 memory.

Or the time I was cleaning the freezer and found a dead June bug loose in it. My little boy husband collects bugs in the summer time and freezes them for winter to feed his salamander “Cuddles” who was named by our grandson. I have never seen a cuddly salamander and I have no idea how Ben came up with the name but that’s what the little lizardy thing is called.

Anyway, I had to have a reminder talk with my husband. He was supposed to make sure that bugs didn’t get loose in the freezer after the grasshopper invasion. They were supposed to be in a container which was then put in a sealed ziplock bag so they had no chance of escaping.

That rule came about a few years ago. I had opened the freezer to get something out only to find dead grasshoppers all over the freezer causing me to have to clean out the entire freezer. How, you may ask, did grasshoppers get all over my freezer? Good question. Little boy husband filled up a frosting container with live grasshoppers, threw it in the freezer, closed the lid and walked away. Apparently when he closed the freezer lid, it popped the top off the frosting container and those little munchers were loose all over, looking for a way out.

Poor things. Imagine their shock. They were swiped from their tasty dinner in our cornfield, smushed into a little frosting container, thrown, then think they have freedom only to freeze their tiny tushes. People, I tried to revive them but apparently my pail didn’t work well for a cryonics chamber. Not a single one came back to life after being frozen alive.

That’s how that rule, bugs inside container, inside the sealed ziplock, came about. When I confronted my little boy husband about not obeying the rule, he argued that the June bug must have flown into the freezer when the lid was open. For sure!

Another funny 2017 memory.

At our family reunion in September, the organizer family had a fishing contest. You had to cast and get your bobber into a pail or something like that. Well, I have been fishing in my lifetime. I have even caught a few fish. I even, while closing my eyes, hooked a worm or two for my kids when they were little so they could fish. Granted, I don’t like fish, I don’t even like the way fish look, I think they are some of the ugliest creatures God put on this earth for us. But I was up for a casting contest at the family reunion because there were no worms or fish.

The fishing pole I got had a weird kind of fishing line winder thing though. I had never used one like that. Every time I tried to cast my bobber, the line just came out after my cast was over. I would have this big cast, the bobber would be at the end of my pole yet, I would lower my pole, and the string would unwind all over the place. I was pretty puzzled on what I was doing wrong. A kind person gave me a different fishing pole, thinking that might help. Meanwhile, it took him about an hour to fix my first pole. Sorry, Jerry!

That second pole had the fishing line winder thing that I had used before. Only it had been a really long time since I had fished. I had all kinds of people telling me how to cast that bobber. Really, it didn’t matter at all that there was no hook on the line. Because the line never went farther than a foot or so off the end of my pole. No matter how many times I was told what to do, or how many people were laughing at me, that line just stuck like glue to the turny thing. Of course, the more I cast, and the more that bobber didn’t go, the more I laughed, to the point of tears. I turned around at one point to see what was happening behind me and there was a whole line of people wiping tears from their eyes. Must have had too much sun in their eyes!

Great 2017 memory.

Finally to my point, in the midst of great struggles, or small struggles, take out those funny memories and play with them again. They will help you endure the slumps until the sun comes out again. And it will come out again!

 

Uncategorized

Why Was I Still Here?

Three times I nearly died from the same birth defect, once as an infant and twice as an adult. I had to wonder why I was still here when not everyone gets that second or third chance like I did. I’m no one special. Just an average person. But maybe I was an average person with a part in a plan that had yet to be carried out.

As a newborn, I was hospitalized several times because I couldn’t keep any type of sustenance down. I became very thin and my parents feared for my life. My mom nursed me, I threw it up, they tried formula, cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and more but I threw it all up. Then one day, I didn’t throw it up. Whatever had caused the problem seemed to have resolved itself.

However, when I was about 30 years old, I began to have problems again. This time mostly with my breathing. In testing, the doctors found the birth defect that was causing my current problems and had caused the problems when I was an infant. The main artery to my right arm was supposed to branch off the aorta on the right side and go down. Mine branched off the left side of my aorta, wrapped my wind pipe and esophagus and then went down the right side.  My esophagus bent at about a 45-degree angle from the artery instead of being straight. That bend is what caused the problem as an infant. Food didn’t get past that bend and came back up. Somehow, it corrected enough for food to get past on its own.

When the defect was discovered, the specialist told me that if I did not have it corrected, it would eventually destroy my esophagus since food tended to rest at that angle. I was a single mom in college at that time. The surgery was a dangerous one. Dangerous enough I had to talk to my ex-husband about raising the children if I didn’t survive it.

Surgery consisted of opening me up from about six inches into my right front around my side and up my back about half way in a hook shape, removing a rib, stopping my heart and putting it on a bypass machine, cutting the artery on the left side, closing my aorta there, unwrapping the artery from the esophagus and wind pipe, then reattaching it to the right side of the aorta with a graft, a five-hour surgery.

I survived the defect as an infant. Would I survive the surgery to correct it as an adult? Continue reading “Why Was I Still Here?”

Uncategorized

Trust

TRUST BELIEF

I have been “working” on trusting God more. It’s been an effort since my dad was diagnosed with cancer and some other hard things have happened in my life and the lives of those around me. Listening to a sermon on Sunday, I realized that something that happened when I was married to my first husband has the simple key for trusting God.

Before we married, I remember telling my ex that we were getting married for life. We were not ever getting divorced. I probably used that word…”never.” I was in the marriage for life and he better be as well. No matter what. (Funny how I use “ex” as his pronoun when stating I was in the marriage for life. Kind of an oxymoron;))

Several years into what was an unhealthy marriage in nearly every respect, we were out together one night, at our usual place, a bar. It was crowded, loud, smoky and chaotic. I usually sat in a corner with my can of pop talking to my husband’s friends wives. But this night, I was talking to one of my husband’s friends standing at the bar.

I was upset. I had been told that his wife was telling people that my husband was having an affair. She was very drunk that night so I couldn’t talk to her. I told her husband that I didn’t want her telling people my husband was unfaithful. I told him that if our marriage was going to survive, and I wanted it to, then I had to trust my husband. I can still see the skeptical expression on his face. I was determined though. Continue reading “Trust”

Uncategorized

The Promise

Sometimes God shows up in the quiet whisper of the wind. And sometimes he shows up in the radiant beauty of the rainbow.

At a niece’s wedding on Saturday, we saw heavy rain and for a very short time, some very hard wind, otherwise, just a quiet whisper. As we huddled in the building watching the rain from doors and windows, we marveled at the strength of the rain coming down. But when the rainbows came out; “Wow” cannot describe the beauty that the Lord unveiled for us at that wedding. First there was one rainbow. Then two. Then on the lower rainbow pictured, there were actually five complete rainbows, one above the other. I didn’t get a picture of that because I was too busy marveling at it.

I can’t help thinking of the people in Texas, Florida, the Dominican Republic and other countries being bombarded by hurricanes right now and all the flooding that is taking place. They have to wonder if the end of the world is coming. In Genesis 9:11-13, after the flood, God makes a covenant with Noah, “I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow (ESV Strong’s definition for bow is rainbow, strength or figure of might) in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”

I’m not in Houston or Florida or anywhere near where a hurricane could happen. I’m in the middle of the country, far from oceans and hurricanes. All I can do is pray for those who are in the paths of these storms. And send what aid I can. And remind us all that water will never end our world again. Not even 60 inches of rain. God has promised.

For me, seeing that unbelievably beautiful rainbow on Saturday, I felt like God was saying, “I am here. I see you. I am involved in your lives whether you see me or not. I give you beauty because I love you. Remember my promise. The world will not be destroyed by water, no matter how many hurricanes or record rainfalls there are. See the figure of my might, the rainbow? See what I created for you. See the Creator. I love you.”

He is present in Texas, Florida, the Dominican Republic, India, and the world. We don’t know His plans, we don’t know why some die and some survive, why some experience hurricanes and others are missed. But we do know that God keeps His promises. He doesn’t leave us. He doesn’t forsake us. I’m guessing that many of the people of Houston feel He has forsaken them. I certainly could see myself thinking that. Deuteronomy 31:8 says; It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

I believe in years to come, these same people will be able to look back and see God’s presence and where God protected and provided through the people of this nation and world. In the meantime, He sends the rainbow to remind, to reassure, and to bless us.

Thank you Lord for rainbows in the clouds.

 

Uncategorized

I look fantastic

20170830_191801

Recently we spent an extended amount of time with our three-year-old granddaughter Ellie. She and her parents stayed with us for 11 days while work was being done on their home. Ellie has great self-confidence. And great joy of life. She also has some pretty good self-care already.  As I observed her, I wondered why she does and I don’t.

Some behaviors I observed in Ellie: whenever complimented, she agrees with the compliment. If I tell her she threw a good ball, she says she knew it. If I tell her she looks adorable in a shirt, she agrees. Her mother heard her singing to herself one day, “I look fantastic, I look fantastic…” She has a wild wind up ball throw. She tips her head as far back as she can and then whips the ball. It rarely goes exactly where she wants it. She has a new sidewinder throw that is even wilder. That one usually goes to an entirely different side of the room from where she is aiming. She doesn’t have the concept yet to look where she’s throwing.  So we laugh because neither one of us is looking for her to be perfect.

When she came to stay the first night, she could hardly contain her joy in staying with Grandpa and Grandma. Her face was full of it, her body couldn’t stay still. She’s a kid that when she gets excited, she moves. A lot. Her joy just overflows. She doesn’t hide her feelings behind a mask yet. She brings King David to mind for me. In 2 Samuel 6:16b, we are told that King David was leaping and dancing before the LORD. He leaped and danced so exuberantly that his wife was ashamed of him. Ellie dances like that but we are proud of her joy.

Ellie also takes the initiative to make sure her needs are met. If she wants to play, she just grabs my hand and says, “Let’s play, Grandma.” Or if she wants a drink or snack, she asks for it. If she’s tired, she falls asleep. If she needs a snuggle, she just crawls on someone’s lap and snuggles in. Self-care.

Her mother and I talked about how sad it is that as she grows, she will lose that confidence in herself. I’ve been pondering on the differences between how Ellie feels about herself and how I feel about myself. Life takes us from innocent little girls who believe we are worthy and can do anything to grown up women who question our worth and abilities.

I can remember having the joy that Ellie shows today. I can remember feeling worthy and able to accomplish anything. I can remember a time when I didn’t care what others thought about me. I knew I was OK. I was very young. As I thought about Ellie, I saw the differences between us. And as I considered the causes, I wondered if I had to stay this way. Jesus said in Matthew 17:20, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Another word for faith is believe. If faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains, why can’t it also bring back confidence and joy? If I believe Jesus’ words; nothing is impossible; even this.

It’s possible for me. It’s possible for you! Losing our confidence and joy, that’s a mountain. A mountain made up of pain, rejection, fear, lies, judgment, and every other negative thing said to and about us that we have internalized. A mountain may seem insurmountable. But Jesus says faith the size of a mustard seed can move that mountain. I say let’s move that mountain. We start with prayer, prayer brings faith, faith brings seeing God at work in our lives, seeing God at work in our lives gives us confidence, knowing He is moving that mountain for us brings gratefulness for God’s grace. And that, my friends, waters our mustard seed faith until it’s bigger than we could imagine coming from that tiny seed. And the mountain moves.

Move your mountain. I’m working on moving mine. Joy comes in the morning. Looking pretty bright out there right now!

Uncategorized

Regrets

What do you do when you have wronged someone in your past and they are no longer alive to make amends to? I had that situation when I was in my twenties. When I was in Junior High, I walked to school with a cousin who was just a little older than me. However, for selfish reasons, we would split up a couple of blocks before we got to school. My reason, she was bullied and I didn’t want to be bullied too. While I never participated in her bullying, I did nothing to stop it.

We hear so much about bullying in the news today. The internet has taken bullying to a whole new level. When I was a child, long before the internet, bullying was done in person. Bully’s didn’t hide behind a screen as an added dimension of abuse. I am thankful that cyber bullying didn’t exist when I was a child because when I was in grade school, I was bullied. Kids used to follow me and my siblings throwing rocks at us, calling us names, refusing to play with us, and just generally making our lives miserable. But none of that compared to what was done to my cousin.

She was a couple of years older than me but only one grade ahead of me in school. I can only remember attending the same school with her when I was in 7th grade and she was in 8th.  My cousin didn’t dress in the latest style. Her dark hair was long and kind of scraggly. She had a humped back from curvature of the spine. She was very thin. And obviously poor.  Her family was close to each other, a great family. They were very poor and looked down on in our community for that reason. Kids being kids, they teamed up to pick on her. They called her names. They spit on her. I remember being in one class with her, I sat behind her and the kids put tacks on her chair so when she sat down, she sat on the tacks. They all laughed hysterically when she screamed and jumped up. She would scream at them in frustration which just seemed to make them worse. All through school, she was picked on like this.

I never once stood up for her, never once told the bullies to stop. I was so afraid they would then turn on me. I had already been bullied. I was just plain scared of going back to that type of painful isolation again. So, I did nothing to stop it. But I did something worse.

Her house was on the way to school so in the morning, I would stop at her house and she would walk with me to school. Except we always separated a couple of blocks from school so no one would see me with her. I could be her friend as long as no one from school knew it. I didn’t acknowledge her at school and she didn’t acknowledge me. I think she was protecting me. In mine, I was protecting myself for sure.

As the years went by, we lost touch completely. I knew the school years remained hard ones for her and was glad for her when she was no longer in school. My mom told me she had married someone who loved her a lot. I was so happy that she had finally found happiness and acceptance. She lived far away with her husband. Then I heard she had a child and was even happier for her.

Shortly after she had her child, she died of cancer. She was still in her twenties. She had a very few short years of being loved wholeheartedly for who she was. After she died, the guilt came storming in for how I had treated her.  I couldn’t apologize to her. She was gone. After several days of shame and pain, I knew I had to do something. I wrote her a letter. In the letter, I told her how sorry I was for not sticking up for her. I apologized for making her separate from me before we got to school. I told her how glad for her I was when she married and had her baby.

A letter had to be enough. I couldn’t even go to her grave. It was too far away. About the same time, I accepted the Lord as my Savior. I had heard she had as well before she died. I asked Jesus to tell her I was sorry.

For years I held on to that guilt. I confessed it to Jesus and know He forgave me but I couldn’t forgive myself. I knew my cousin wouldn’t hold it against me. But I felt I had to punish myself. Finally, I understood, I was forgiven. I had to let go of the guilt. I have talked to my grandchildren about what I did and how I felt about it. I want them to be strong enough to stand up to bullies. Stronger than I was. I also want them to know that I made mistakes and am not perfect. I want them to know it’s best to make amends while you still can. But if that’s not possible, you can still find peace.

If you have something you did that eats at you, then make amends where you can. If you can’t do that, then write them a letter and share your feelings honestly and completely and apologize. You could burn the letter as a sign of letting go of the guilt. The task is to express what you did, apologize for their pain, ask for forgiveness, then let go of the pain. Do not keep carrying it around. You can’t go back and change the past. You can only change your feelings about the past. Accept forgiveness and move on.

I would rather have talked in person to my cousin. I can’t do that. But I did what I could. And I am forgiven. Someday I will see her again and I suspect I will get a huge hug from her. No condemnation. What a day that will be.

UPDATE: Since posting this, I have received comments about how special my cousin was. She was truly kind and had a big heart.

Uncategorized

Simplicity in the midst of Majesty

We spent five days last week camping at Jay Cooke State Park in Minnesota. Camping isn’t for everyone.

I grew up camping. Some of my best childhood memories are from camping, some of my best adult memories as well. I have funny memories and sad memories both. All the memories are surrounded by a feeling of being loved and loving.

One sad but poignant memory was the time I burned my marriage license after my divorce while camping with my children, parents, aunt and uncle and a few cousins. As we sat around the campfire, I took it out and threw it in, symbolically ending a chapter in my life as family cheered me on.

I have several funny memories. One time, several of us kids, my siblings and cousins, were swimming in the lake. My uncle was supposed to be watching us as he lay on the folding lounge chair on the beach. Instead, he fell asleep. And his false teeth fell out and onto the ground. All of us kids laughed and laughed at those teeth lying on the ground while he blissfully slept on. Continue reading “Simplicity in the midst of Majesty”

Uncategorized

Alone?

Placeholder Image

A lonely beach. We weren’t created to be alone in our pain or challenges of life. Yet, I find myself walking a lonely path so much of the time. That path brings anxiety and is riddled with lies.

I know I’m not the only one that chooses to walk alone at times rather than reach out to others. Why do we do that? Here a few reasons I find in my own life:

I can do this myself: my mantra. I am exceedingly independent. My husband calls it stubborn! Yup. There is nothing wrong with being independent as long as I remember I wasn’t put on this earth to be alone. Whether we are married or single, we still aren’t meant to be alone. That old poem by John Donne, “No man is an island” is as true today as it was when written 400 years ago. We are all a part of this planet we live on, dependent on each other for survival.

I can do it better: sometimes maybe. But who am I doing it better than? Or is it my pride stepping in and saying no one can do it like I can so I better do it alone.? I have a wealth of pride, too much of it in my opinion. It’s one of my greatest weaknesses. I would rather struggle with fear and anxiety than admit I can’t handle it by myself and ask for help.

I don’t want to be a bother: we can be but we can also be a blessing. We need balance. Handle life when you can. Ask for help when you need it. When I can help someone who is especially challenged by circumstances in their life right now, I am blessed to know I helped make their life a little better. I need to let myself be a blessing to others who help me.

No one has time or wants to help me: poor me. Really, I say that because when I get into this type of attitude, I’m not even willing to see the people who want to help me and will make the time to help. I know there are people who live in places where they don’t know people, don’t have a lot of friends, but I have to believe there are still people who would be glad to help. It’s just a matter of finding them. When my three kids and I moved to a city two hours from anyone we knew, we had to find people to help us. We found them at work and at church. But I had to learn to reach out and ask for help. Not easy but worth it.

It’s all up to me: at times it feels that way but is that the truth? Because of post-par tum depression, I get anxious whenever I take care of newborns. I actually get scared of those tiny babies even though I love being around them. And where my anxiety gets highest is when I’m thinking I’m all alone. I have to look at the truth, I may be alone at that second with the newborn but its parents will be back and we’ll all be OK until they are back. I am good with babies. That is the truth. It’s all up to me is the lie.

I am alone: not true at all. I think this is the biggest lie of them all for me. Whether someone is physically with me or not, I am still never alone. I know others think about and pray for me. Most important, I believe God’s promise found in Hebrews 13:5 where He says He will never leave or forsake us. He is always with me. Whether I acknowledge His presence or not, He is still there. All I have to do it remember and take comfort in that knowledge. Prayer! Opening myself to feel Him. Trusting Him even when others have let me down.

If I am alone, I can’t be hurt: been there. It’s a very natural reaction to pain, but maybe not a good place to make your bed and lie down in. Reality is humanity is not perfect, not a single one other than the God-man Jesus. We hurt people and we are hurt. Risking, taking a chance, opens the door to joy as well as hurt. Would we miss the joy because of the fear of pain? I took a chance on a second marriage. Yes, we have had pain in our marriage. And we have had great joy. I would not want to have missed the joy because I was afraid of the pain.

Satan would love to have us all believe we are alone because he can do his worst damage when we feel alone. He can convince us his lies are truth. He is the father of lies. We have to expose his lies for the lies they are and then embrace the truth of God instead. Recently, when I wasn’t spending time in prayer or feeling God’s presence, I let Satan convince me I was all alone in the worry over my aging parents. I was anxious when I would visit them. It was all up to me. That was such a lie. I have five siblings who all spend time with them. We all help with them as we can. It’s not up to a single one of us but to all of us and them together.  Seeing the lie and replacing it with truth has lessened my anxiety tremendously because I am truly not alone at all.

Next time you feel anxious and alone, pray first, feel God’s presence, expose the lie and see the truth. You are never alone and without help. Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30,  “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” When you take His yoke upon yourself, He is yoked with you. You are together. 

The definition of yoke is: a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull. Picture Jesus on one side of that crosspiece and you are on the other. You are both attached to whatever is causing you to feel alone or afraid. Learn from Him. Rest in Him. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. Yoked to Him you share the burden. You are not alone at all. Neither am I. Ever.

Uncategorized

A Heart Healed

jim-and-me

One dark cold night in November, my heart was crushed beyond repair. Or so I thought at the time. Christ said in the first half of John 16:33 In this world you will have trouble. He made a statement that all will have trouble, not just some. My trouble came on that cold dark night in November many years ago.

Through seven years of a difficult marriage, my first husband had many affairs and one-night stands. He enjoyed the conquest and the notches on his belt. During those years, I confronted. I cried. I died a little inside with each of his conquests. I let him convince me his affairs were in my imagination. But in my heart, in the deepest, loneliest place, I knew the truth. That truth chipped shards from my heart just like a pick chips shards of ice from an ice block.

For medical reasons, I took medication that caused weight gain; 70 pounds in six months. Five years later I had lost all but 13 of those 70 pounds. I was excited to be close to the person I was before the medication and was regaining confidence and joy in life. I was finding that girl who loved to bike and dance again. Even my husband’s affairs had not been able to completely wipe out the anticipation of becoming who I had been and would be.

But on that night in November, as my husband and I argued once again, the weight of the house seemed to settle on my shoulders; so heavy that I had to get out of it. I grabbed a blanket and went outside. I sat on the cold stone steps, wrapped the blanket around me and tucked my bare toes into its folds. I wept.

After a few minutes, my husband opened the door, and like a frustrated dad with a young toddler, demanded I come back in the house. I went because a part of me hoped he still cared enough about me that he didn’t want me to be hurt by the extreme cold. But as I would soon learn, that was not the case.

I sat on the couch with the blanket still wrapped around me while he continued to berate me. He beat me with words and I sank deeper and deeper into the couch until I lay on it. Then his final words came like a whip, slicing my body, scarring my soul. He said, “Some men can love a fat wife. I can’t. Some men can make love to a fat wife. I can’t.” That block of ice he had been chipping at shattered into tiny shards. Those shards all melted and ran out of my eyes as I wept on the couch. I covered my head with the blanket, curled into a ball and died. He left.

I knew I was deeply flawed. My husband had shown me my greatest flaw. To make sure no man ever got close enough to me to destroy my very soul again, over the course of the next year, I went from a size 14 to a size 28. I hid in the very fat my husband used to get out of our marriage. I hid in that fat for years.  A heart is a funny thing. It can be completely closed off but in the most terrible pain at the same time. I held my heart in tightly bound fists that would allow nothing to reach it.

But the Lord would not leave me in what I believed was my flawed condition. He pursued me relentlessly and I ran marathons away from Him. But every time I stopped, he was there. He was chipping away at my protection and my heart beat fear. His arms carried me like a child. Time after time, the pain would try to dig its way out and time after time, I climbed up into the lap of my Savior and shook like branches in a tornado.

He held tight to me. No matter how badly I shook, Christ never lost his hold on me. He held me securely and loved me every single time I needed Him to.  Because He taught me to trust Him, I am learning to open up my heart again. I see two hands that have been clasped so tightly the fingers are bloodless slowly loosening their hold and opening up. I see those hands deliberately spreading wide and before me stands the Savior who says in the second half of John 16:33 take heart for I have overcome the world. He had overcome my world of hurt.

This savior walked with me through the circumstances of my life, he saw the scars inflicted, when I wept, he wept and when I uncurled from the fetus position on that couch; he had his hand extended to help me get back up. He walked with me on the path to find my heart again. He truly had never left me. I had not been alone in my pain.

Now I am within two sizes of my first premarriage weight. A few weeks ago, my seven, eight, and nine year old granddaughters were discussing my weight loss. The seven year old said, “But I don’t want Grandma to lose weight. I like her just the way she is.” A babe said words that healed the remaining scars. My second husband loves me no matter what I weigh. His only concern is that I be healthy enough for us to celebrate our fiftieth anniversary someday. I hope we can. Best of all, the Lord still carries me.