The Last of the Letting Go

My daughter went to a bible school in Germany that was supposed to last only 6 months, that six turned into roughly 9 months. It was a long time but I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw her walking towards me in the airport. She was home and all was well.

But it wasn’t. Her heart had been left in Germany. She loved it there and knew that is what God had for her. Just a few very short months after she was home she received a job offer from Germany. A few shorter months later we were dropping her off at the airport for a second time. But it was only for a year….right?

The truth is her heart was gone the minute her foot stepped onto German soil. I knew that then, but I hoped.

She was the last of the mojicans. lol. And now she is coming home for a visit and I should be filled with joy, but I am not. She will clean out and pack up her life, her childhood, my memories of her, the physical things of her life as a child I am raising.

As each of my children grew up that severing of their childhood as they stepped into their lives as adults has always saddened me, broken my heart. Not because I don’t want my children to grow up and grow out and grow their own lives. I do want that for all of them.

I was given the privilege of being a part of something so incredible and so amazing. I was allowed to participate in creating and raising a human being, to give life. Wow, talk about getting to share in the inheritance of Christ!
I didn’t always recognize that privilege nor treat the raising of my children like that ….. I wish I could have a do over sometimes.

When my oldest daughter moved out I would go sit in her room and cry. When our son moved out I would sit in his room and cry. He never really came back for different reasons. I still pick through his few boxes that he left behind and remember a boy. Then my second daughter and now my third daughter, my fourth and final child.

We have kept her room for three years thinking that she would step back into this life. But it’s time. It is time for the final letting go of my life of a mother of young children, it is the final letting go of my life as the mother of a teenager, my life as a mother….

I am still their mother but it is different, as it should be, they are still my children, but it is different, as it should be. But I miss them. I miss my oldest sweet little giggle, her dirty little looks, her little blonde head in the sunlight. I miss my second daughter sitting next to me watching barney while I did the crossword puzzle, I miss my third daughter holding my hand in the car. I miss hearing my sons pre-teen shriek as he played with his friends. I miss it and them.

There was this sweet little moment in time when I was all they wanted in this world and they were all I wanted. But it cannot stay like that forever, it would not be special if it did. It would just be life as we knew it.

I wonder that God allows us to participate in some things with Him. I wonder that God gives us the ability to know Him better through our experiences with our children.

I am not sure that I can explain this well but I will try. God sent His only son. Not His first born or His last born, His only child. He loved Jesus but a point in time it was time to send Jesus out to accomplish what God has for Him. Every time I have to send out my children to accomplish what God has for them, to let them go, I get to share a little bit of what God felt as He gave up His son.

I am not saying my children are little jesus’s . I am just saying what a privilege to see a part of God’s heart and to know that He himself has felt what I feel now.

So, October is the last of letting go for me. It makes me sad, it breaks my heart but at the same time I have to wonder what is next? I don’t know, but if God has anything to do with it I am sure I will love it just as much right about the time I realize it is time to let that go also…LOL.

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Here’s to our 31st…..

So this is it…the big day…It is our 26th wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it because I don’t feel old enough to have been married twenty-six years. In my brain I still feel like I am in my 30’s so how in the world have 26 years passed?

Twenty-six years have passed like any other amount of time I guess, getting pregnant, raising kids, wiping noses, working, living, loving, fighting, crying, and just being. Twenty-six years have passed by doing life and doing it together.

Twenty-six years. I have to keep rolling that around in my head and on my tongue because it means something, it means everything. In those numbers are wrapped hopes and dreams and faith, some that have flourished and some that have gone by the wayside and sometimes faith has waned. But the interesting thing about sharing a faith is that usually at least on of us has faith when the other doesn’t and when we are both fresh out of faith, God’s faithfulness is there for us.

I should have felt like this at the five year mark, or at the ten year or the twentieth year mark. But I didn’t. Each year brings a wonder and an awe that we have been married for ________ blank amount of years, but for some reason it’s the in between years that really stir my heart.

You hear it all the time people getting divorced right when they make it to their big marks, the ones that end in zero or five. I don’t understand that, twenty-five years later and you really want to do this all over again with someone else?

I loved our twenty-third anniversary, we woke up in Milan, Italy and then drove to Venice for the day. Oh my!, I feel the thrill of excitement even as I write! Waking up in Italy was amazing, but more amazing was why we were waking up in Italy. Because it was our twenty-third anniversary, because we were still so in love and still loving each other, because we had just dropped our last child off at school in Germany, because we were starting the next part of our marriage off and we didn’t have to go through the awkward “oh what do we do with each other now” empty nest thing, we weren’t empty.

Most couples will make it to some of the big marks in their marriage and then for whatever reason decide they don’t want to or can’t do this anymore. I am not making a statement on divorce good or bad, I am observing a trend. So really making it twenty years is not the big deal, it’s the keeping it going at twenty-one years, twenty-two years, twenty-three years…….and still loving being married to each other.

We have made it past the twenty-five year hump and that feels wonderful to me. The big markers are wonderful but I love doing the stuff in between the twenty and the thirty because that is where the real work and the real life happens.

We have both been married to each other over half of our lives now. Wow! I love it, I love every second of it. I love that every year we get further and further away from the young selfish kids we were and closer and closer to truly loving each other unconditionally.

I have a wonderful, amazing husband. He saved my heart all those years ago. We have been through what all married couples go through, hurt, betrayal, anger and resentment but I tell you what, I would do it all over again with Chris. Every single wonderful, horrible thing, I would do it with him because he is worth it. And I believe him when he says the same about me, It has been hard and I am no picnic, but he never gives up and he never says this is too much, he just says I love you. and I say it back because I do.

So twenty-six years have passed and we are starting on the next twenty-six years,

So here’s to our 26th babe, and I can’t wait until our 31st!!

The Problem With Choice…

My heart is sad this morning and truthfully I am crying. Even as I go into my only other favorite season than summer. Fall is here and I love the fall. Fall is when two of my children were born, it is when I got married. It is the season that our two most loved family traditions happen. It is beautiful and the air feels crisp and clean, the smells of fall are amazing. I love the fall.

But after the fall comes months and months of cold and snow. It is days and days locked in the house because I can’t breathe in the cold. It is early nights and late mornings and weak sunlight. I am cold all winter long. I feel caged and imprisoned and deeply sad during these months. And truly in Colorado spring is no better.

I have tried to rally myself every single one of the nineteen years we have been here, and every year it get’s harder to do. Oh Jesus help me but I really do hate Colorado in the winter.

What makes it worse this year is choice. All this time I have begged God for a way out. I have felt my heart crush as friend after friend moved to their dream places. Moved to be near family, moved to be warmer, moved to a different country, followed their dreams……and I asked God please when is it my turn to be released?

And one day it happened. God said we could move….to Australia no less! Can you imagine the joy for a sun-bird like me? No more snow, no more ice, no more thick jackets, no more endlessly cold bitter days and nights. And the most amazing thing, an Ocean.

I am an ocean girl not a mountain girl. I feel hemmed in by the mountains, I feel like something is always blocking my vision, hampering me, getting in my way. But the ocean? When I see it my heart feels free, when I hear it my mind is soothed, and when I touch it I feel joy. In the ocean I see the vastness of a God and I know no matter how big my problems are God is bigger and His love is wider and His compassion deeper.

I wanted desperately to shake the dust of this state off of my feet and go. But I didn’t. We didn’t. My husband and I made a choice to stay here in Colorado in the land of the cold. It was one of those times when we knew God was saying you can stay or you can go, I will bless you either way. When we moved here 19 years ago though we knew God told us to leave our home and family and friends in California and come here. We knew that we had no choice but to obey.

This time though we had a choice to make. To stay near our children and grandchildren or to leave them. To choose whether our desires were more important than our family. We made a choice that we ( I ) love our ( my ) family more than I love the ocean and the warmth and the sun. We made a choice that chasing the adventure and being physically more comfortable was not worth the time we would lose with our family.

The problem with choice is that you no longer have anyone to be mad at. The problem with choice is that you often choose to do something that is uncomfortable or inconvenient in order to have something better. The problem with choice is that you are often asked to sacrifice something your heart desperately wants for something you know will be desperately better. The problem with choice is that there is no longer anyone to be angry at or to question why.
The problem with choice is that in the end you have to make peace somehow with your ugly selfish heart. The problem with choice is learning to be satisfied and hold nothing back from the choice you made. You have to deal with you. I have to deal with me.

And I am not sure how I am going to do that right now.

We could go play in the sun for the next 5 years or so, alone not having much of an opportunity to hold our grandchildren, hug our babies and do life with our friends. Or we can stay and live and grow and be a part of something richer than what we can be alone.

And now with winter waiting right around the corner ready to jump up and envelope me in it’s icy grip the choice we made is making me sad. I don’t want to be in Colorado . I don’t want winter and I don’t want cold.

The problem with choice is that in the short term it costs and it is hard. In the long term though I think the choice is a good one, to stay, to be a part, to love. I don’t think in the future I will regret this choice and I don’t regret it now, but it still makes me sad. But maybe this year knowing that I had a choice in this my heart won’t match the bitterness of the bitter cold outside

I could be in Australia right now…….I could be missing out on my grandsons smile when his eyes connect with mine and I could be missing out on seeing my granddaughter turn 1. I could be missing out on this wonderful, beautiful, cold and miserable at times, thing I call my life.

to divorce or not?

I ran into a couple of blogs that brought up a couple of different aspects of the big D word, you know the one, DIVORCE. One of the blogs ( Heather Kopp over at Huffington Post ) brought up the question that asked if we should promise our kids we would never get divorced. Apparently kind of a hot topic. I had never really thought about it but that is the promise we raised our kids on. We will not divorce AND we will do everything in our power to live a loving committed relationship.

Another post by Joe Pote stated that divorce was not a sin……….WAIT WHAT?……..this particular blog post was talking about abuse in marriage and was it o.k. to divorce someone who beats you. A lot of church’s out there tell a woman who is being abused she will be in sin if she divorces her husband. I personally would rather deal with my sin of divorce over getting the tar beat out of me, so it was not ever a question for me. Not that I have ever had to face that question, I am married to a pretty amazing guy.

But getting back to my jaw dropping find……divorce not a sin? The author of the post brought up that those who condemn divorce always fall back on the scripture that says God hates divorce. Which automatically makes it a sin. Right? But the more I thought about it the more I realized that nowhere does the word state that divorce is sin. Murder, hatred, adultery, fornication, stealing, lying, and tons of other stuff but says that even though He hates it in certain circumstances He permits it.

WHOA now just wait because I think that part of the bottom floor of my faith just disappeared. That is a scary thing, when you banked on a certain thought to keep yourself and your marriage in line and suddenly wonder if it was a false assumption after all.

So I did what I always do when I need to think about something, I stopped thinking about it and went to bed. What a difference a night makes! I woke up not thinking about the whole thing and glad that I wasn’t until a thought popped into my mind. I believe it was the Holy Spirit because I am not that smart, but I thought about that fact that divorce is not called sin. Then I thought about the fact that sex is not called sin either, in fact God says to do it and enjoy it.

AHHHHHHHH I think I get it. We Christians really need to be more careful when we discuss God’s Word because we always end up screwing it up for others leading to guilt, condemnation and all kinds of yuck.

And herein lies the question in the title of the post, do we as Christians get to treat divorce like a get out of jail free card, or do we need to adhere to a deeper law than just the written Word? You know that law which speaks to the junk and sin in your heart rather than the outer act of sin of divorce.

Sex is good and it is encouraged and it does not become sin until it is done outside of the parameters that God put around it. It’s not sin. Sex outside of marriage is sin. Divorce is not a sin. But it is only to be used under certain circumstances which God makes pretty clear.

So my world quit rocking I had an answer. Divorce is still not anymore of an option for me to choose as having an affair. That is not what I promised when I got married. “I will stay married to you ….as long as I feel this way….”. However if my husband hardened his heart and left me there would be nothing I could do at that point, he can divorce me whether I want him to or not. So divorce is not optional in my thinking but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

The problem with people is that we tend to interpret the Word according to what direction we lean. I lean more in grace, so I tend to see the merciful side of things. I could easily lean in the direction of “get out of jail free card” But I also love justice. I want sin dealt with. I want consequences. I want things in place that say yes you can do this or no you can’t . And I want it to be the same for everyone. PLUS???? I don’t want to stand before God ever and have to see that I played fast and loose with the things of God. That I took lightly things that were oh so important to Him.

We were part of a ministry that taught that divorce was always sin no matter what. No matter in the case of adultery or abandonment. No matter if you were divorced against your will, you were in sin. If you got re-mmarried? double sin. Because now you were in a sinful marriage. Better repent or you will never have a good marriage.

I could never quite reconcile that. But I also couldn’t reconcile the free for all—-I’m just not happy anymore.

I am not in a place in marriage where I have to weigh out the factor to figure out my next step. So I can say with confidence, no we will not get a divorce. But knowing I can’t control everything and everybody I have to know that God’s grace will show me the way IF my marriage ever gets to that point.

So for now I guess I really don’t have an answer. But I do think we need to be much more careful of being the kind of christians that shovel horse poop on to people who are already trying to figure out their own muck and maybe offer them an extra pair of hands to help them shovel.

Finally Moving On

I recently joined my high school group on facebook. I am not sure why I did that my high school years weren’t exactly the best days of my life. I was the opposite of popular, in fact I am sure that about 99.9 percent of my graduating class didn’t even know who I was. If they did I was just the weird new girl that was picked on during middle school. Fortunately for me high school brought bigger fish to fry for my tormentors.

Every time I go on the page I feel that old angst. I feel that “always on the outside looking in” feeling. Reading the experiences of my classmates makes me sad. We went to the same school at the same time in history and yet our stories are as vastly different as the Grand Canyon is wide. While my classmates are remembering camaraderie, fun and the best days of their lives I am remembering never fitting in or being asked on a date, much less a dance. I am remembering the ache of lonliness.

I guess in some way I wanted to see the girls that made fun of me turn ugly and fat. I wanted to see the cute couples broken up. I admit in my jealousy I wanted to know that in some way they had experienced some of the hurt I still carried with me.

But tonight it is different. Maybe because I am turning 50. But for the first time I don’t care anymore. When I first joined all I could see was all I missed out on. But tonight I know that really I only missed out on four years of my life. High school wasn’t my whole life but I have lived as if it was. When I put up my four years of high school against the 30 years of being a mother, 26 years of being a wife, decades of loving and being loved by friends and family suddenly it just doesn’t sound so bad anymore.

I don’t know how most of my classmates have fared since high school but I know how I have. I know that my life has had ups and downs. Moments of absolute wonder and moments of debilitating pain. It has been life and it has been a good life.

I married a man who adores me and I adore him. I am in love with my girls and I have gorgeous grandchildren. I have friends to laugh with and cry with. Friends who have walked with me through some pretty tough stuff and who have given me the privilege of walking with them through their tough stuff.

I am blessed. I have a blessed life. Perfect? not even. But I think the older I get the less I feel the need to achieve perfection.

Every where I look I see God’s amazing love and redemption in my life. I see where I came from and where I am now is so……redeemed…… I should be one of the statistics of a pretty bad upbringing. I should be an addict or alcoholic, possibly a hooker. Definitely a sinner not even knowing my own filth.

But instead? I am a good wife, my husband tells me so. I am a good mother. I haven’t always been a good mother but my girls love me and they tell my how much better I am than what I was, than what I learned. And I know it is all because of the Lord’s work in my life.

I am redeemed. Every tear, every fear, every hurt, it’s all been redeemed by a love that is limitless. Because of this love I have compassion for those who are hurting. I have courage for those who are afraid, I can dry the tears of those who weep all because of a redeeming love.

I don’t have the great answer for why we suffer and why we go through horrific things. All I know is that I have a choice to either let those things make me bitter and angry or I can let God redeem those things so that I can help someone else going through the same thing.

Today I am moving on and I am choosing redemption.