Weary Wings

Thursday, March 29, 2012

To Darlene and DeAndre...

This next post is for two people who entered our home, and then our hearts and then our family. We love them every day and are so joyous in looking towards the future God has for them.

Dear DeAndre,

I can remember the day you were born. Your dad called me to tell me and I reminded him that it was also my birthday. Immediately you were engraved on my heart, special to me, someone I cared for and worried about.

I wondered at the time if your brother, Cal, would ever get a chance to meet you. It seemed so unlikely as we were all so far apart. I got bits and pieces of information about your life and every time I wondered, how were you doing, so little in the middle of such a mess.

Just three short years later I met you face to face. God had brought you and your mama to Texas and there you were in my house, needing some love for a time while the crisis in your life settled. So we attempted to do that. Love you. And you didn't always make it easy. I remembered a challenge that had come to someone else and heard it for myself, "Can you just love him." And so as best as I could I did.

Our time was short. You were snatched away and our hearts were broken and worried. We prayed for you and hope that we might be given the chance to be let back in. I believed that God had brought you to be a part of our family and I wasn't willing to give up so easily.

In time, you returned. We were overjoyed to have you back in our lives. It was a lot of work, true, but always you have been worth it. Week after week we were allowed to pour into you and try our best to teach you of a Love so far above what we could ever offer. Because we didn't know what the future held, we took each moment with you as it came, wondering if it would be the last.

For about two years we lived this way. Having you visit our lives every week and trying to be a source of stability and love when you were there. I wasn't always perfect at it, often I fell short and wished that I could have loved a little more. During that time we prayed for Jesus to restore your home to a place that would give you the love and support you needed to grow. And we prayed.

Without warning our family of 5 became a family of 7 when you and your mom came to live with us. Our apartment was bursting at the seems and you brought to it a life and love of fun that you obviously get from your brother Cal. It was precious to see how you took to him and I knew that God had meant for you to have that time with him. We worked hard to give you and Ephram a routine that was consistent and yes, it was hard, but we loved having you and loved, again, the chance to pour into you.

For five short months we were your home. I grew to love that you would complain about what I was making for dinner all the while knowing you would love it when it was in front of you. We became Power Ranger fans all over again. You reminded me of Cal when he was your age, so active, so agile and so open to being loved. We read our stories and prayed our prayers with you, investing as if forever, knowing that would not be the case.

And then it happened. You were gone again. My heart was broken, but, in a good way for you. The squabbles with Ephram stopped. The combing your hair. The tucking you in. It all stopped. And while I grieve that you are gone, I rejoice in what God is doing for you.

There are a couple things I want you to know though. First, we still love you. You have a place at our table and a spot in our hearts. Second, more importantly than that, Jesus loves you. He always has and always will. He has been weaving the story of your life through many circumstances. He has a plan for your life that is beyond your comprehension. He is mad about you. If you want adventure DeAndre, go with Jesus, he will take you there. If you want to be great, follow Christ until you know only He is great. Give yourself to him and watch what He will do with you.

DeAndre, we couldn't have imagined how much we would miss you. I still hear your voice through the apartment calling my name, "Miss Kim, Miss Kim..." You brought life and joy to our home and we will never be the same. You taught us much about loving and about being loved.

Life your life sweet boy. Ride your bike and make a new best friend every day. Don't complain too much about brushing your teeth or combing your hair. It's got to be done. And for crying out loud, eat all your lunch, yes, even the crust. And do not forget, even for one second that you are loved by many and our covered in our prayers. It is a joy to watch you grow and I can't wait to hear all about it.

Miss Kim


Where to begin? I guess at the beginning. I remember when you first came to our house in Dickinson. I remember thinking immediately that you were one of the most beautiful people I had ever seen. We had been watching DeAndre for you and you came to be with him.

As I observed you and your son, I was aware that you loved him immensely and would do whatever you thought was best for him. You wanted him to have a life that you hadn't had, the love of a mother that you hadn't had. No matter what I thought of the situation, that's what I thought of you, and still do to this day.

You and I have a lot in common. I could tell you stories about myself and you would think they were you. You've lived in my home, you know how alike we are. In some good ways, and in some not so good ways. One way in particular that is similar is how we both grew up knowing of God's love but not really knowing how to experience it for ourselves. I've watched that change in you. I've watched you fall in love with Jesus in a way that I couldn't imagine and I have to tell you, in some ways I'm jealous of the newness you are experiencing with Him.

It's been touch and go for us. I've wanted to lecture so many times but I knew it wouldn't do any good. I've wanted to rush in and fix everything and you have to admit, we gave that a good try and it didn't work. But, all the while, Jesus was working in you and preparing you for what He had in store. I am so thankful that you allowed us to be as close as we have been. I am filled with gratitude that you have trusted us with your precious son. No matter how my heart hurts to let him go, I am so blessed to see what God is doing in you and how He is calling you to be the mother He created you to be.

You've been a good friend to me. You know me well, having lived under my roof. You know how my actual life lines up with what I say I believe and yet, you have loved and trusted us anyway. That means the world to me. Your friendship means the world to me. It was hard to let you go, to go back out there to find your way to Jesus, and I have missed you so, but, what He is doing in you is amazing. I would miss you a thousand times more just to be able to watch the plans He has for you unfold.

I am praying for you. I am praying for you to stick with the amazing love Jesus has poured out on you. I am praying for you to follow His plan and live in the grace He extends to us. I am praying for God to go before you and make a way for you. I know you have questions about what will happen, He's got it. He will take care of you.

No matter what, I will always consider you a part of our family. I hope you feel the same. I know it will change because you don't need us now, but, we'd like to be part of your life nonetheless. We'd like to walk this road with you as much as we can.

Just a couple of months ago you were asking us to do something that we would have done, but believed God wanted for you. I told you then that my prayer was for you to become the woman and mother that God planned for you to be. You couldn't even hope that far ahead at the time. I think you can now though. He's doing it, he's doing an amazing work in you that will change your life forever. I cannot say enough how proud of you I am that you hung in there for that. You have come such a long way in such a short time.

Please know that we love love love you. We are here, however we can be and can't wait to see what the future holds for you. You're amazing Darlene. Don't forget that.

In Christ,

Friday, March 23, 2012

Let me introduce myself...again.

I am taking a bit of a break from my series of letters for this. Don't worry, I'll get back to that (for all 2 of you who were worried about that). For now I just want to get reacquainted with you all. Or at least let you get reacquainted with me. I am thinking of posting a link to this blog on Facebook. That's where I am most public and feeling led to share myself more but, in the back of my mind I am wondering, do you all really want to know? Do you want to know what's REALLY been going on with my life over the last 10 years? Or are you satisfied with the pithy status updates I leave you with? I suppose if you're here you are wondering a little bit what all the secrecy is about. I'll get to that. If you stick with me that is...

For many of you this blog is the introduction to my adult life. You might remember me as the big busted blonde from high school. That was me, for sure, in part.

Some of you were friends of mine and remember a reckless and wild girl who couldn't turn away from a drinking challenge. I made sure everyone knew I could drink a lot. I'm not sure why that was so important to me, but it was.

Some still, remember a girl who couldn't decide between following a God who loved her or turning away from Him altogether. In truth, I am still that girl.

But, let me start where it matters. Where the rubber meets the road so to speak, where the cross made a difference for me.

In high school I thought I was supposed to party. I pretty much felt it was my duty to make sure that those around me partied as well and if there was any chance we were going to get caught, well then, all the more reason, better enjoy it while it lasts. The problem for me was that it always lasted. I was a product of a home that was in it's own kind of turmoil and frankly, as long as I wasn't pregnant or arrested, nobody cared. I managed to steer clear of those two fates and able to keep the party going for a very long time.

I burned a lot of bridges then. Some of you were there and might even remember. It was a tough time for me. As much as I wanted those relationships to mean to me, when I was faced with a decision, instant acceptance, immediate affirmation, I was quick to betray every time. I could not say no to whatever attention was in front of me and because of that I hurt a lot of people. I cannot begin to say how sorry I am for that. I would be cheap to even try. It's the truth about me and I have come to accept that it paved the way for me in my relationships as hard as that is to admit.

By the time I was 22 I was the single mom of two BEAUTIFUL boys, but, by two different fathers. I was immensely ashamed of that. It was a fate worse than death for me to be "that girl." When my boys were very little I would drive across town after work on Friday afternoons to do my grocery shopping in Pacific Grove. It was my way of avoiding the people who knew me in the Safeway on Fremont. If you grew up on the Monterey Peninsula you know that going to the grocery store was like walking through the neighborhood. I couldn't take the stares, the questions. I couldn't begin to force myself to answer for the life that had become mine. I loved my children but hated that their mom was the kind of girl who would have two kids by two different dads. I wasn't ashamed of them, I was ashamed for them.

Somewhere during that period of my life I was introduced to methamphetamine. This was a glorious discovery for me because suddenly I could get everything done that was on my plate. I could work all day, clean all night, lose weight, take care of my kids and still have time for a visit with friends every now and again. I really felt that this drug was the answer to my dilemma and because of that I used it ferociously for two years. I could go into detail but suffice it to say that I was a wreck and two minutes from losing my precious sons by the time this addiction caught up with me.

At this time God used a series of events and some unsuspecting people to help get me on my feet. I have to mention Maria DiPretoro by name in all this because without her I would have lost my kids and then quickly lost myself. God used this woman to help encourage me and put in my the desire to get my life together for these beautiful sons of mine.

So, I did. With her and with the miracle that was Christ's love for me, I got my life together. I quit using drugs and started going to school. I earned my degree and moved to Texas to start over thinking that my life was in front of me and there was nothing that could stop me.

In some ways, that was true. Jesus had a new life for me and Cal and DJ in Texas. I started teaching and was surrounded by a loving community of people at Pine Drive Baptist School. It was a safe haven for us. We so needed it. I was still hung up on the fact that my kids had two different dads. When I interviewed for the position I only disclosed their first names. It wasn't until I was hired that I filled out their registration forms truthfully. I was afraid that I would be judged for my past. I still don't know if that fear was valid or not.

We started going to a good church in the area and soon I met James. We quickly fell in love and he began to make sure I knew his intentions were to marry me. I was thrilled and secretly hoped that this would be the final missing link to how I felt about myself. Marriage would legitimize my relationship and my children...right? However, in the back of my mind I knew that my insecurities were the same, my struggles were the same, I was afraid of how they would play out in my family once James moved in.

It wasn't long until we knew. I was a mess. As much as I couldn't handle the relationships that resulted from my promiscuity, this relationship, my marriage, proved far more challenging. If I was afraid to be left before, multiply that by one hundred. If i was afraid to fail, double that. I was in over my head and I knew it.

Four months after James and I were married I found out I was pregnant. I was horrified. If I couldn't leave before it was even more so now. I had to figure out how to make this marriage work. I tried, and tried and tried. And failed and failed and failed.

All the character flaws that had presented themselves before in my life were on overdrive in my marriage. I was rude and harsh and when I wasn't taking my frustrations out on James I was taking them out on my children. My family was falling apart and I was a major factor in that, I couldn't deny it. I just didn't know what to do.

Over many months of counseling the issues started to become clearer. I saw that I was deeply afraid that James would leave and often tried to leave first to keep that from happening. James was patient and I could see that he wanted our marriage to survive. After looking under many rocks, I was finally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. As I learned what this meant, so much of my life began to make sense. As a Christian, I accepted responsibility for the sinful choices I had made but I also began to see that some of those choices had been influenced by a set of behaviors that were imbedded into my brain. Not that I wasn't responsible, I cannot emphasize that enough, but, suddenly the pieces began to fit, it all started to make sense.

Shortly after my diagnosis I started a regimen of medication that has made a huge difference in my life. I no longer feel powerless over the self destructive behaviors that once ruled me. Minor conflicts no longer mean major abandonment for me, as was the case before. I cannot describe to you the ways that I have been changed by medication. I wish people would speak more positively of it when the situation arises because I can tell you that without the meds my marriage would be over, or worse. Worse.

So, why do I share all this, you ask? For many reasons. First, it's not about sympathy. My husband is a major source of love and encouragement for me, I do not need sympathy. And it's not about attention. I have refrained from linking this blog to Facebook because I did not want attention. It is about information. And redemption. And the love of Jesus in my life, more than anything the love of my savior in my life.

I've come a long way. This blog is about that. I still fall short and revert back to old insecurities and behaviors so often. This blog is about that. I love my children. This blog is about that. Jesus redeems, more than anything, this blog is about that! It's my life, my days, my relationships, my heart. It's how I see things through the broken lens that I look through and how I love them through that same broken lens.

Most of all it's a place for me to be who I really am. That's who I want to be for you all. A sinner, saved by grace, being who she really is. A woman, who struggles with a mental illness, being who she really is. A mom, a friend, a wife...

And when you come here, be who you are. Be free to say what you say, do what you do. You're in good company. I hope to be a place of shared healing and a source of light. I hope to be a place where you find the freedom to love the Jesus that I love. He is everything, even when we're not.

Love to you all,

Friday, March 16, 2012

Letters from a Mom...

It seems I'm on a roll. This blogging might actually catch on this time...maybe. I try not to pressure myself but then that leads to, well...no pressure. A little goal is good every now and then and maybe if I can set a goal of a post a week, well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. I think I'll just enjoy it while it lasts instead.

Today's post will be four notes to my children (my three sons and my step-daughter). They will be written in the order of their birth first to Ashlee, then Cal, DJ and last Ephram. Without further ado...


It's funny, when I first met you I had all these ideas about what I thought our relationship should be like. It's such an immature thought really. How could I possibly know what it would be like to know someone I didn't know. I've learned that with my "non-step" kids as our relationships have changed day by day from the moment they were born. Yet, for some reason, with you, I thought I knew exactly what you needed in a step mom. I was so wrong.

I don't have to tell you that I tried to parent you too much. You were there, you remember. I also don't have to tell you that I thought I knew how your dad should parent you, I'll bet you remember that too. I knew everything ;). What I didn't know, or who rather, was you.

I am so glad I have gotten to know you instead of continuing to try to make our relationship fit into my mold. I have come to know an incredible young woman with big dreams and a generous heart. It inspires me to see how deeply you love your family and friends. You are compassionate, almost to a fault. Sometimes you forget to protect yourself and I hate seeing you get hurt because of that.

I can't tell you enough how much it means to me that you embraced Cal and DJ as your brothers from the very beginning. It was such joy to see the three of you make jokes and get along and make a real attempt to be friends. When you visit, it thrills my heart that the three of you stay up all night talking, even if I am dying to know what you are talking about.

You have always had a special love for children. You are amazing with them. It's like you were born knowing how to make each child feel special just by being around them. This is a gift that has been amazing to watch you use with your baby brother Ephram. I am always blessed to see that though there are many miles between the two of you, love has not been lost over that distance. You have made yourself very special to him and I know that the relationship he has with you is one that he will value for his entire life.

I want you to know what it has meant to me, too, to have a relationship with you. For starters, I am so excited every time you come because when you are here, I am not the only girl in the house. You bring the pink back into my life. I always wanted a daughter and I thought I wanted one to be able to dress and fix her hair. I didn't get any of that with you. You were way beyond anyone trying to dress you when we met. What I did get though, was much more. I had to learn to love a daughter who was already forming her own opinions about the world. I had to learn to love a daughter who didn't always agree with me. I had to learn to love you for who you are and to enjoy the times when you have let me in. I am so grateful for knowing you and for being allowed to be a part of your life, no matter how small or infrequent our visits are, I am always glad you were here.

I hope that as you grow and mature I can still be a source of friendship for you. I hope that I can be a good listener and, when you ask, I hope I can be a godly advisor. I pray that my words to you point you to Jesus and remind you that you are loved. If I could direct your path so you would do all the things I thought you should do, I probably would. But, that wouldn't be the journey God has for you. I want to be an encourager to you on that journey, your journey, wherever that takes you.

Most of all I want to thank you for having an open heart towards me. I am a better person for the relationship we have and I can't imagine what it would be like if we hadn't grown. It's been amazing to know you and I can't wait to see what God has for you in your life.

Steppy K


My firstborn. My eldest son. I can't say enough how much I love you. I should stop there because words are cheap, but humor me if you will. I have some things I'd like to share with you.

When you were born there was no way I could have begun to prepare myself for what I would feel when it came time for you to leave our home. It wasn't even in my thinking to look that far ahead. It was as if that moment would never come, except that it did.

I was so young when you were born but so determined to do everything right. I had no idea that I couldn't have even guessed what that might mean. I wanted the best for you but unfortunately didn't want the best for myself, as a result of that, you had to live through much immaturity on my part and some reckless choices along the way. I cannot apologize enough for that. You didn't get the childhood you deserved and I am a big part of that.

Nevertheless, you have grown into an amazing young person on his way to being a godly man. I see in you the desire to live and grow and love people along the way. I love to watch the way you give yourself to knowing people and your life experiences have taught you not to judge when they could have made you bitter. Sometimes I even want you to be tougher on those around you because that is what I would do, but, you are like you, not me. I am grateful for that.

When you decided to move out I was so sad to see you go. You bring life into our family and your presence cannot be replaced. However, I have learned how much I depended on you to keep things fun and light and since you've been gone, I've had to grow some myself (with more growing to do) in order to not let the darkness I am often prone to take over. My life is forever changed by the time you lived under my roof. It has been a privilege to be your mother.

I am praying for you. I know that God is designing you to be a man worthy of His calling and I look ahead to how that unfolds in your life. I am grateful for the godly people God has placed in your path and can only hope that you continue to seek out those people as you make plans for your future. I pray to be a source of encouragement and wisdom for you, when you allow it, and am grateful for the ways that you allow James and I to speak into your life. It says something about you that you come home to discuss your plans with us. We very much appreciate it.

I want to caution you on something though. It is easy for people like you who are surrounded with friends to forget to reach out to Jesus. Don't forget Him. Ultimately He is your best friend and will go all the places with you that no one else can follow. He sees your deepest hurts and still hears the prayers your prayed from an innocent childlike heart. He doesn't forget those prayers and He is faithful. Trust Him with your life Cal. Let Him make you into the man He wants you to become even though it would be easy to just be your own man. He loves us too much to leave us on our own.

I love you Cal and am eager to see your life unfold. I so wish for that to happen in a place that is close to me but I know that no matter how far away God may take you you will always be a part of our family and you will always be my son.



As I sit to write this to you I am even now at a loss. So much I want to say and at the same time afraid of trying to say too much. We're just at this weird place in our relationship, you and I, and I don't always know what to do about it. Tonight, I pray that my words to you are encouraging and hope filled. I think that's what you need right now.

Just like Cal did, you had to suffer the pain of having a young, immature, reckless mother. I had lists of things that I thought I could check off that would make me a good mom and even though I earnestly tried to check those lists, I often fell short. By my choices, you were born into a family already broken. I thought if I could be tough and strong and make you guys behave that I could make up for it. Mostly, I just put a great gap between you and I that I try so hard so often to close.

Of all my children, you remind me most of myself. I wonder if that surprises you. I think you worry that I think you will be like your dad. I don't. I worry that you'll be so busy trying not to be like him that you'll end up like me. And the truth is, without Jesus, that's no better. Even with Him I am prone to failure. What I want most for you is for you to work hard at being who God designed you to be and for you to be confident in that.

You and I are naturally inclined to dark moods. Sometimes it's really tough on me to see you that way because I know it's lonely and difficult. I want you to know though, there are some benefits to it. You are a very compassionate guy. I am so proud to hear you tell me of the people who feel comfortable talking to you and telling you of their hurts and fears. You take those hurts into your very heart and I see the pain you feel with your friends. I want to encourage you to let that pain drive you to prayer. That's what it's there for. To lead us to the throne of God so that we might be broken for ourselves and others in His presence. Use that gift and trust that as you do Jesus is at work in you and in the lives of those you pray for.

One way that you are not like me though, one way that you are all your own is in how incredibly talented you are. You have gifts that I dreamed of and tried to cultivate. I see you pick up your instruments and play things you learn and make up and I am so delighted that God allowed me to have a son who could express himself through music. I hear you tear yourself down about all this and it breaks my heart. You have no idea how amazing you are. We hear the sweet sounds drifting from your room and are so blessed to have you here playing your music. Give yourself fully to this. I know God wants to use your gifts not only to bring glory to Himself but to bring you closer to Him. He has an amazing plan for you. Something that we could never begin to dream up, just keep working hard, on you, on your music and on your relationship with Jesus. It won't be worth it to go on the journey without Him.

I haven't let you know enough how much I appreciate how you've stepped up as a big brother since Cal moved out. You have done a great job of pouring into the kids and letting them know they mean something to you. It's hard to have a sibling so much younger than you, I realize, but you are handling it with grace and love in a way that my teenage self would not have been capable of. You mean the world to them. You mean the world to all of us.

Most of all I want you to know that I am on this journey with you. Until it's time for you to leave our home I am taking each step with you, sometimes graciously, sometimes not, but always here. I hope and pray that you come to know what you mean to me and to trust that I see you as Jesus sees you, fully redeemed.



Boy, you were my second chance at mothering a small child. I had no idea what I had missed the first time around until you came along. I am so grateful to have been given that chance with you.

You're still little in my eyes but oh how the time has flown. I was just looking at some baby pictures of you yesterday and I can hardly believe you will be six in just two short months. It's gone too fast for me. I want you to be tiny and helpless again so I can be your mommy forever, but that isn't how it's going to be.

Ephram, you were the glue that put our crazy family together. You are still too young to understand how Cal and DJ have different dads and Ashlee has a different mom. That just confuses you when we talk about it. One day in the not so distant future you'll understand. When you do I will explain to you that you coming into our family was God's way of giving us all someone we would love and be connected to before we were even connected to each other. You're the one who belonged to all of us and we all belonged to you. You are quick to remind us of this all the time.

I am so enjoying watching you learn about a God who changes everything. I hear your questions and watch your face as we learn about Him. It's like falling in love with Jesus all over again. I hope that your daddy and I create a safe place for you to learn about Him and grow and ask questions as they come up. I hope we make it safe for you to fall so we can teach you to fall into the arms of Jesus. I hope that we live a life that makes Jesus attractive to you. I hope you see Him in us as I hope to one day see Him in you.

I fear for your little heart sometimes. It is so easily frustrated and broken. I can relate to that but long to direct those feelings in you so that they come out in healthy productive ways. It's not easy to feel as deeply as we do little man and it's even harder to learn how to manage that. I pray that as I learn, I teach you well.

Ephram, you are the youngest and although I think we have many years ahead, I know better. In no time you'll be gone and I will be wondering where all these years went. I pray that until then I can fill them with a childhood that is joyous and eventful. I hope to help you use your gift of loving people so much so that you can grow into a man who continues to love and is not afraid to show it. You bring joy to many sweet boy. You bring much joy to me, I love you.


Y'all still with me? It's getting heavy I know. I promise this letter writing thing wont' last forever and maybe I can throw in a few lighthearted posts every now and again to keep you with me. Until then I hope that peeking into my heart towards those I love will encourage you to dig into your own so that you can let those you love know what they mean to you.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dear James

Disclaimer: Obviously the person who means the most to me in my life is Jesus. This goes without saying. However, I don't think he needs me to blog a letter to him in order to know what's in my heart for him. He knows how much (or how little, depending on the day) I love him.

That being said...

Dear James,

This first letter is for you. It's fitting because you are my husband and my relationship with you should be the top priority as far as human relationships go. I know, however, that that is not always the case. Sometimes, in the business of life, you come in dead last. I am sorry for that, please forgive me.

I want you to know that I am so glad God gave you to me. I often find myself thinking of how fortunate I am to be married to you. Only God could have known that I needed someone as fiercely loyal as you. He knew what challenges I would bring to our relationship and he choose you for me, knowing you would stick it out in spite of how difficult I would make that for you.

You are an amazing provider. I have watched you stay with a job that takes it's toll on you knowing that you do so because you love our family. I know that you often wish you were making more money but I can't tell you enough that I have everything I need and am so grateful for the past 6 years I have been able to be at home for our family instead of working a full time job. You have valued our family enough to let me be available to them as much as possible.

I know that I don't show it enough but I truly enjoy you as a friend. I love the time that we spend together and am glad that you express how much you enjoy spending time with me. It took me a long time to understand that our trips to the grocery store could be more than a chore. I was often just trying to get the job done but you saw it as a chance to be with me even when I wasn't so gracious about it. It's been that way for much of our marriage. You have come alongside me to do things that I would normally do alone not because you didn't think I could do it, but so that we could have the joy of doing those things together. I didn't always get that and I still sometimes forget but I appreciate that you see the opportunity and seize it.

It has not been easy loving me, I know. I am moody and often distant for reasons I mostly can't explain. I am prone to giving into those moods instead of pushing through them. I know this has been hard on you. I know you often feel the weight of that and even wonder if you are responsible. I am sorry for those times and am sorry that I don't always know how to tell you to help me. I imagine it must be lonely when I shut myself off. I know, however, that during those times you are praying for me and trusting God to see me through it. Those prayers mean the world to me and I know that they are a huge part of the healing that has taken place.

I wanted to write this letter to you mostly because there were these things in my heart that I often fail to say to you. I am too quick to point out your faults rather than being the kind of wife who builds you up. Please forgive me. I do want to speak loving words of encouragement over you and will work harder at doing so. You are my best friend and as much as we've had to learn about how to live together, I cannot imagine my life without you. Thank you so much for taking this journey with me.

I love you so much,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Break

Well here we are in the middle of Spring Break and although I have thoroughly enjoyed our staycation (we haven't left the apartment since Sunday) I guess I am getting a little restless and wanting to do something creative with my time. I've brainstormed and searched through Pinterest and even checked out a couple of sights for crafts for kids for something I could do with Ephram only to come up with nothing so far. Maybe this warrants a trip to Hobby Lobby.

Usually when I am feeling creative I end up in the kitchen. I do love to cook and nothing makes me feel better than serving up something delicious for my family. However, lately I just haven't been that inspired in the kitchen. I find myself making the same things over and over again and when I sit down to plan our menus I end up putting those same things on the list. Ah well.

I used to scrapbook. I think everyone used to scrapbook. The problem with that is that was before all my pictures were on my phone. I actually have some pretty extreme guilt about this because I have photos upon photos of Cal and DJ when they were little and some of those photos even made their way into said scrapbooks. But for Ephram...nothing. Very few actual photos and not a single one of those have been scrapped. Needless to say, this creative bent I'm on won't lead me to the scrapbooks.

It did lead me here again though. I've been saying that I wanted to blog more and maybe in fact I will. I have some ideas of this I'd like to write about and share so if they can keep my attention for more than two minutes then they just might show up here.

For starters, I have several lists running in my head that might be mildly entertaining for some, or maybe just myself, anyhow, that's one idea. The other idea that I have is a bit more sentimental but appropriate I think because I tend to have a really hard time expressing my appreciation for the people in my life unless it's through writing. That being said, I have decided to write a series of letter to some of those people and post them on here. Nothing that would break confidence of course but my way of letting them know how I feel about them. Some of these letters will be addressed directly to the person they are written to, others might be a bit more anonymous to protect the interests of others involved. Again, nothing too shady I promise, just trying to be respectful of what others might want to keep private.

Other than trying to write to those closest to me first, they will come in no particular order, just as I think of a person and find that I have something (hopefully meaningful) to communicate to them. I will share these letters in different ways depending on the person. Some I will simply direct to the blog, some I will sit down with at my computer and have them read it in my presence, others still I might read to them or even print our and put in a card. I will force myself to share these letters because so often I write the encouraging positive things I have to say and only voice my negative criticisms. These letters will give me a chance to pour in where I might have previously dug a hole of discouragement and disrespect or just plain "cut to the core" harshness I am often known for.

Pray for me as I set out to do this. I have a habit of starting these projects and then losing interest fairly quickly. I desperately want to avoid this as I think it's super important for me to find the time to write these letters. I want to share the tender parts of my heart with people who often have to deal with my moodiness and agitation that comes along with who I am. I want to share something else with them and maybe learn to do that more, in person, face to face. One can only hope.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I'm back...

At least I think I am. I seem to get the blogging bug every few months, write a couple of posts and then my interest wanes. So much for that book I've always wanted to write.

Anyhow, on to what's on my mind...

I have a sweet friend who is really going through it today. She is recently married and things are not going well. My heart is breaking for her because I've been there. Marriage is hard. Even more so in the beginning. So much more so. I wish we could sit over a pot of coffee but we can't do that today. Instead I'll write what I would say.

I had visions of romantic bliss leading up to my wedding. I had been a single mom for 10 years and somehow, in my mind, getting married was when I felt I had arrived. I saw it as the goal, not the journey it was to become.

We had our first big fight on our honeymoon. I quickly realized that my expectations were not going to be fulfilled and I was disappointed and angry. I blamed James mostly. I felt like he should be doing more to please me even though I know now he was doing all he could.

The early years were hard. Very hard. I felt like a failure and wondered what was wrong with me. I was erratic and emotional. I questioned my decision to get married. Many days I wanted out. James and I both agree that the fact that I got pregnant soon after we were married probably saved our marriage. As much as I hated being married, I hated the thought of being a single mom again more. Noble, I know.

There were nights that we fought until the sun came up. I was prone to locking myself in the closet and crying for hours on end. James was at a loss. We know now that I was dealing with some other heavy issues but these issues rose to the surface when I got married. I had been able to function as a single person, but, with the constant struggle and disappointment of living in a close relationship with another person, I was simply unable to hold it together. Thankfully those issues have been resolved and for the last couple of years we have been able to really work at having a relationship that actually does work.

I have learned a lot from my marriage to James. I have learned that love and respect are not emotions. They are actions. They are the words I say. They are the things I choose to do to show love and respect. And to be honest, I still have a lot of work to do in that area.

I have learned about forgiveness in a way that is unmatched by any other relationship. James and I have hurt each other lots. We have honed our ability to speak devastating words to one another. I can hurt him like no other and likewise for him. Thinking back over the things I've allowed myself to say to him shames me. I can also think back over things he's said to me and begin to creep towards anger once again. But, forgiveness changes that. In marriage, forgiveness is the key to being able to start over each day. I have had to learn to forgive James when I most wanted to see him punished. I have had to forgive him when he didn't even think he needed to be forgiven. I have had to forgive him more than any other person I have had to forgive. I long to be more forgiving of him as he will surely make more mistakes.

The really beautiful part of forgiveness in our marriage though is how much I have received it. It's easy to dwell on how much I've been hurt but what springs me to gratitude is the reality of how much I, myself, have hurt him. So so much. Yet he forgives me. My husband has endured the very worst of me. He has been the target of much anger and even hatred, most of which he isn't even responsible for. Yet, he forgives. And not just me. I have watched him practice forgiveness with our children when they hurt and disappoint us. He has grown into a man of grace, by God's grace. It wasn't always like that. He wasn't always so gracious and neither was I. It was so hard then, feeling like you could never make up for the wrong you'd done. I praise Jesus for the work he's done in us to give us a forgiving relationship. It is nothing short of a miracle.

Marriage has revealed my sin more than anything else in my life. I am more convinced now that I need Jesus than when I first got married. I have been shown just how ugly I can be to another human being. I have been reminded of how deeply I have sinned against God and of how deeply He has loved by even to the point of death. I don't know that I really thought I needed Jesus to die for me before I was married. I was still blaming others in my life for my past mistakes and looked at Jesus as someone who rescued me from those people, not myself. But, in my marriage I've been confronted with who I really am and how incapable of love I am without the love of Christ in me. I needed Jesus to help me truly love and to help me learn to be loved.

If I could say anything to my dear friend I would say that it won't always be like this. I know she wouldn't believe me. People around me told me the same thing but I believed the lie that my marriage was worse, that I was worse than anyone. I want so much to replay old tapes from our early years for her. I want her to see that she isn't alone in this time of suffering but that it will pass. It's so hard, I know, but it will pass.

For now, just stay. Don't give up. Sometimes that's all you can commit to. And as long as we are letting Jesus do His work, that's enough. He will change you. He does that. He loves us too much not to. And when he changes us, he changes our relationships. Even if the other person isn't changing as far as you can tell. It's enough that you are.

Pray for my friend. Pray for the marriages of those around you, especially those new marriage. Those marriages so filled with hopes and dreams that are being crushed. Pray that Jesus would do a work in those couples, to save them, to change them and build their families. And, pray for me and my marriage. I long to become a woman who blesses her husband. I have so far to go but I rest knowing that Jesus longs to make me into that woman. Until then I will keep on learning to love and respect and forgive in the hope not only that my marriage would be good but that people would see Jesus in it.