30 Years Ago Today

I have always loved Valentine’s Day! From old-fashioned victorian-era post cards to those adorable tiny children’s classroom cards to just taking the time to let others know you love them. I love heart shaped candy, heart shaped jewelry and anything heart shaped… I just love it all!!

When my kids were in elementary school, Valentine’s day was so much fun! I passed down my love for those little sweet and funny cards. We would sit together and have the best time signing and addressing cards to their classmates. Long after the day was over, I would still find those cards among the treasures in their room.

So it would only be fitting that on Valentine’s Day 30 years ago, a certain young man would propose to me. I remember getting a postcard in the mail from the newspaper letting me know that there would be a message to me in a special section of the newspaper on Valentines Day. I remember going to my parent’s house that morning to read this special message. Of course, they already knew what was going on and watched as I looked through what seemed like millions of Valentines Day messages until I found the one that was just for me. And there it was. “Starling, will you marry me?”  I started crying and my parents, who acted like they didn’t have a clue, were asking me what the message said. I remember finally getting to talk on the phone to my boyfriend- turned- fiancé. He was working that Saturday morning and we wouldn’t see each other until late afternoon.

I never grew up dreaming of getting married or what my wedding would be like. But by the time Chris was off work that day, our whole wedding was planned! I remember going to look at rings that afternoon. Chris knew it would be best for me to pick out my own ring. I remember the sales person being so patient with us. Then we had to go to a friend’s Valentines party that we had already committed to going. We got to share the “big news” with everyone there, and it was so fun!

So here we are, 30 years later. And, Chris, I would say “yes” all over again.

 

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Brokenness

We all have things that break us. Things that just flat take us out and leave us in a state of confusion and bewilderment. Things that totally alter our life, our way of thinking and our emotional state.

But there is another type of brokenness. One that brings redemption, transformation and joy. One that brings the opposite of what we think brokenness is. It is brokenness through Christ. It is brokenness from this world and living through brokenness in Him. He is the Brokenness that we can take all of our brokenness to.

Brokenness through Christ doesn’t mean that we will never be sad. It doesn’t mean that things of this world won’t affect us. It doesn’t mean that we won’t have the hard things. But we can choose what or Who will break us.  We can choose a destroying brokenness or a healing brokenness.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

 

 

A Broken Heart

It’s been awhile since I have written. And it’s been on purpose.

While God is my main Bible study teacher, I believe that He has created people to help us with interpretation and understanding. Three women have been that for me. They have been that for others. Then, one by one, they all fell. Just like so many we read about in the Bible. Yes, we are all humans and certainly aren’t perfect. We fail others and we fail God. I am the first to stand in the “failure line.” But these women were considered to be spiritually solid. I never thought it would be them.

One went totally against God’s word in her theology, one aligned herself with those that give me a check in my spirit and one began marketing something that I believe to be wrong. All in the same time frame. It has broken my heart.

The day that I took all of their books off my shelf and said good-bye to their blogs and other teachings was a gut wrenching day. Yes, there is forgiveness. And people can make things right with God again. But they can no longer be my spiritual mentors. Trust with what they say and write will never be the same. It’s been hard. It has made me question  so many others who teach God’s word. And it has made me question my own writing and use of scripture.

I have said before that when God stops leading me in writing this blog, I will stop. So we will see if I am supposed to be done, or if I am just supposed to pause.

 

It Is Worth It

After being married for a long time, I’m here to tell you that it is worth it. There is something to be said for going through life, making a history and leaving a legacy with the same person.

Whenever you are first married, and you are going through the challenges of adapting to each other’s ways- it is worth it.

When you have obstacles and challenges coming from every direction- it is worth it.

When your income isn’t enough and you have sacrifices and decisions to make- it is worth it.

When your income gets better, and you still have decisions to make- it is worth it.

When you really want to leave and end it, but you stick it out- it is worth it.

When you can’t stand each other, but decide to live by your vows- it is worth it.

When you face the stress of illness, both yours and your family’s- it is worth it.

And yes, it is so worth it through all the joys and good times as well. But there is something about enduring the storms of life together and coming out on the other side together that speaks deep down into your soul. It brings you closer together like nothing else. I believe that is what is meant by “for better or for worse.”

 

 

Overwhelmed, Overcome and Over It

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the Belong Tour. This is not something that I would normally attend. But, 2016 is all about going out of my comfort zone.

All was good with the conference. All was not good with me. There were times when I was overwhelmed, times when I was overcome and times when I was just over it.

You see, this going out of your comfort zone thing is not for the faint of heart. It is not for carefree and careless actions. It is not for undermining the enormity of it all, even if it is something perceived as small.

However, it is for learning to let go. It is for learning about yourself. It is for pushing yourself to grow, no matter what stage of life you are in.

But most of all, it is for increasing your faith. It is for giving the whole situation to God, and being ok with where He takes it. It is for glorifying God while humbling yourself.

James 4:10- Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Conquering Those Mountains

I have been facing some mountains in different areas of my life recently. You know, those things that are so overwhelming. Those things that you look at and think that there is no way to have accomplishment. Those things that seem so impossible that you don’t know what to do.

Then God brought to mind a passage of scripture that my pastor spoke on awhile back.

“What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!'” Zechariah 4:7.

I have begun praying this verse over those mountains in my life. And only by God’s grace are those mountains becoming level ground.

 

My Breakup Letter

Dear Hot Weather-

I have tried breaking up with you so many times this last week.  You just won’t get the message and go away.

I am so over you. Sure, at the beginning of summer we had a great relationship. I could wear all sorts of fun outfits and hang around the pool every day. But now I feel that you are dragging things out. You are no longer fun. You are exhausting and I am no longer comfortable with the relationship we have.

So, this is it. I am officially over you. Please move on, as I have. It will be better this way.

P.S.- How is your cousin, Autumn, doing?  I would love for her to come visit and hang out for awhile.

 

Once Again

Once again God is patiently and gently teaching me through my children. It happened again early this morning.

And it humbles me.

And it makes me want to cry.

And it shows me how deep is His love for me.

And it makes me want to be better in my relationship with Him.

Then on the drive in to work, He brought the words of a David Crowder song to me:

“He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, And I realize just how beautiful You are, And how great Your affections are for me.”

And I know the teaching isn’t over.

And I know I’m so stubborn to learn.

And I know all the more how much I need Him.

 

 

“The” Call

This Father’s Day weekend my mind has been going back to “the” call. You all know “the” call. The one we hope to never get, but it’s inevitable that one day we all will.

Through the years I have received many calls that my dad was in the hospital, again. And every single time he defied medical odds. He was amazing. Best known in our big, extended family as “Papa”, he was the well-loved and wise patriarch of the family.

But this time, I somehow knew that this was “the” call. Every time before, my mom would call to let us know that dad was in the hospital, and when I said that I would be right there, she always said that there was no need. She just wanted to let us know what was going on.

But this time, she didn’t protest. I remember the car ride to the hospital with my sister. We talked about what we thought we would find when we got there. We wondered if they were keeping him alive until we all could get there. I remember walking down the hallway and seeing my mom. I remember that in this most awful time for her, she had to tell her daughters that the love of her life had already left this earth. I remember my brother getting off the elevator and watching him receive the news. Then, as we had many times before, we walked down the hospital corridor to my dad’s room.

But this time, it would be our last. It would also be the last time the five of us would physically be in the same room together. Ever. We cried and said our good-byes. But how do you say good-bye to someone who is no longer there? No matter how well prepared we were for this moment, it. was. hard. How do you start the day as five, and end the day as four? Eventually, it was time to leave and make the familiar drive back to my mother’s house.

But this time, there was much business to attend to. I remember his watch being taken off his arm. He never went anywhere without two things- his watch and his pocket knife. I remember my mom trying to locate the library book he brought to the hospital so it could be returned without penalty. It’s funny the things that need to be done in times like this that you never would think of. So many phone calls to make and receive, so many crazy details to attend to. In the midst of everything, there were also many prayers said, like so many times before.

But this time, the prayers weren’t for dad’s healing; for he was already eternally healed and in the presence of our most Holy God. This time the prayers were for our healing. Healing of the sadness we had because we already missed him so much. Prayers for our mom, who was suddenly very alone even though people were all around her. Prayers for the entire family who had to find the way to continue on.

This would not be the only time I would receive “the” call. A few years later “the” call would come again about my mom. And to my surprise, that call put my entire life in a tail spin. And once again, it. was hard.

So, now I am on the other side of “the” call. And even though I wouldn’t want my parents to leave heaven to satisfy my selfish desire of one more day with them, I miss them. And even though I know that I will one day see them again, I miss them. And even though I am so very thankful that I had the privilege of being their daughter, I miss them.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s All About Relationship

I absolutely love the relationship that my children and I have grown into. I know I’m a bit biased, but they are such great people! One of the things that keeps our relationship strong is the many different ways we communicate. We talk in person, we talk on the phone, we text, we message each other on Facebook… It’s almost a daily thing.

But what if my children treated me the way I treat God?

What if they only talked to me when they wanted something? What if they didn’t talk to me at all? How about if they told others about me, but didn’t actually communicate with me?

What if they kept me at arm’s length? What if they said that they knew enough about me and that our relationship didn’t need to go any further than that?

Oh, we would still have a relationship. But it would definitely not be the same.