Starting Over

I’m starting over.

In almost every way imaginable.

After 29 years, my marriage hit an impasse. (Insert sound of screeching brakes and then the car hitting a brick wall at nearly full speed.)

I moved across the country. Lived with family for four months. Bought a house. Moved in.

Here I sit, at my folding table piled with tools and a bag of snacks and various things that have no place yet in this celery green house.

It is a project, I tell myself. It will be great when it is renovated. I know this from past experience. But then past experience was in another life, another world, another existence and here I feel like I am walking on a frozen pond in the spring.

I want you to know something. I am grieving. I am not empowered or strong or striking out on my own. I am lost. I pray every single day for the restoration of my marriage. Every. Single. Day. So God is very clear that I don’t want this new life I am living and yet I am trying to be mindful that He is here. If I go down to the depths… still He is there. Here. Now. I say this because the most common response to my sharing about the hard thing I am going through is to tell me that I will be surprised by how strong I am and all I can do. I appreciate the desire to cheer me up, but it is misguided.

Any strength I have is God’s. Any moment that I muster the courage to do the next thing is only because the Holy Spirit lives in me and He gave me a shot of spiritual adrenaline. And when I fall apart (usually right in the middle of doing the next thing) He will tell me it’s okay to cry. He is not uncomfortable with my tears. He is not impatient with my grief.

I just thought you should know. Where I’ve been. Where I am now. What to expect when you click over to this blog. I need to write. I haven’t written much of anything for months, because the circumstances made it hard for words to form on the page. But I need to try. Because I need to remember who I am. Who I was before I was someone’s wife and mother.

It’s going to be messy. I’m probably going to overshare and then delete the next day a few times. I might be goofy one minute, angry the next. I’ll understand if you don’t know what to say, or if it’s too much for you. God willing, someday I will write words of healing from the perspective of one who is healed. To be honest, I’m hoping to find that secret path through this dense wall of grief-tangled vines with every word that I type.

I’d love it if you’d walk a ‘ways with me.

The Tree

I met this tree the other day
She came upon me
as I went my way
We nodded in gentle assent
The way that strangers do
But then I turned
And looked again

I asked in wonder
Or maybe it was
an anguished cry
From deep within
Or maybe those are
one and the same
Because what I wonder
Most often lately is
how long
do You even hear me at all?

And there in that place
Where the wooded path
Met the open meadow
He stopped my heart
And told me to see.

this lifeless tree
Cracked and twisted
Pain and anguish
Etched into her soul
bursting with new life

She’s given herself in death
I said to myself.
Allowed a new thing
To sprout from the ruins
Of all she used to be.

Wait, He said
His hand pressing on my chest
Look again.
She is not dead.
That new life is hers
That strength is hers
That hope is hers

I looked at her
From every angle
It made no sense
It was not possible
And yet
there she was
And oh my heart cried
She is so


A Bitter Thing

It is a bitter thing to realize you are wrong.


You would think, by now, it being such a common experience for me these last months, I would be used to it.

I’m not.

I stood there, in my shower, (my thinking place) and the advice my mother in law gave me some months ago came back. Advice that I swatted away because it was ridiculous and showed that she did not know me at all.

I am over fifty. When, I ask, am I going to learn to listen to those older and wiser than me?

Okay, she has made plenty of her own mistakes. And yes, I blame her in some small part for what I am going through right now. But oh crap, she was right.

What was the advice that I did not even give five minutes of thought to?

“You should buy a condominium.”

Y’all, forgive me, I am of a certain age, and the word “condominium” conjures precisely two things: the end of the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special (“my grandmother lives in a condominium”) and every older divorced woman on TV who is trying to “reinvent herself.” Like an unbroken horse I bucked that word right off and trotted away, smug in the knowledge that it was not for me.

I am a homeowner. I have lived in houses that we owned for the last 25 years. I don’t share walls. I have too much furniture (at the time of the decision, it was all on storage containers. I could not even remember all that was there, but I knew it was a lot.) I like privacy. I have a dog. I had many many reasons why a condominium was not for me.

Now here I am. In the house I bought with all the naïveté of a twenty-something. It needs work. So. Much. Work. Every where I look, something needs doing. I am buying tools I don’t know how to use. Coming up with grand ideas that I cannot in the least afford to execute. Things my husband would have done. Easily. And enjoyed the doing. We were a good team, he and I. It was fun.

Now it all feels unbearable. A giant rock that I cannot move an inch much less push up a hill.

Spring finally came. Sunshine. Glory hallelujah. And then I turned around and there are weeds. And the grass is very long in places. I don’t own any lawn care tools. “I’ll just buy a lawnmower” I thought. And then the next thought: “Will it come in pieces to be put together?” Because y’all… that literally undoes me. I have the spatial abilities of a toddler. Scratch that. My older son was a freaking genius at puzzles when he was not even two. Of a spatially incompetent toddler. It was when I was trying to work out how I will deal with the lawn that I suddenly thought, “If I lived in a condo I wouldn’t have to worry about this.”

That was immediately followed by, “Oh. Crap. She was right.”

I should have shopped for a condo. Or even a townhome for goodness sakes. I wouldn’t have to do all these stupid home improvement projects that make me cry on the daily. I could do what I wanted. Yes, it’s not where I imagined myself at fifty-something years old. Yes, it’s a stupid 1980’s stereotype of divorced women. But there’s a reason for those stupid stereotypes. Me. I’m the reason.

The thing is, it’s too late. I own the house. I’m knee deep in the home improvements. And if you think that’s going to keep me from shopping for a townhouse online you are one hundred percent wrong. Because my brain is looking for the escape hatch and it just keeps banging into walls. Frankly, it still can’t believe this is all real. It just feels like one long drawn out nightmare.

When I was in high school we read Waiting for Godot and we teenagers thought it was hysterical. Bizarre as heck and utterly pointless and straight up comical.

“Let’s go.”
“We can’t.”
“Why not?”
“We’re waiting for Godot.”

That? Is my brain on the daily.

“Let’s put this thing together.”
“We can’t.”
“Why not?”
“We don’t know how.”
“Buy a tool!”
“Which one?”

… and on and on it goes… and it all really boils down to

“Let’s go.”
“We can’t”
“Why not?”
“We’re waiting for a miracle.”

It’s a bitter thing to realize you are wrong.



The trees are barren here.
Harsh and unyielding.
As if they cannot bear
To be exposed
To feel.
To breathe deeply and
Let anyone in.
There are no soft downy paths
Through moss covered giants
No tiny mushrooms
No golden yellow snails
Making their way over smooth round rocks
And across a layer of age softened needles and leaves

The water here puddles in soggy dips in the soil.
Every step feels like an intrusion.
I miss the sound of water trickling over stones
I miss the way the sky reflected in the wet pavement
As we walked down familiar roads.

No stump here comes close in size
Or in personality
To my old growth friends with wizened eyes
Bearded in green velvet.
Where do the fairies live?
There is no magic here.
No joyful surprise around every turn.
No you.
No me.
Only the barren empty husk
Of all we used to be.


The Starbucks guy smiles as he hands the drink to the woman who is at least fifteen years older than I am. He smiles at her in a sweet way, a twinkle in his eye. I note it, because I know myself. I know that not five minutes later when he hands me my drink he will smile at me in exactly the same way and I will want to think he’s flirting with me.

I never used to consider such things. I didn’t need or want that kind of attention from a perfect stranger, much less someone so significantly younger than I am. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to feel this desperate to be seen.

I miss him. Every day. All the time. I miss our walks. I miss knowing that I would be missed, if I didn’t come home at a certain time.

(I’m already thinking of deleting this post. Because these feelings are so wretchedly vulnerable.)

The roots of this invisibility cloak go very deep. To the little girl whose world was turned upside down one evening before she had even finished the first grade.

Eight years later, the Holy Spirit spoke so loudly I couldn’t miss it. He saw me. He wanted me. And I was scared. Because I knew. I knew there was no such thing as a casual relationship with the Savior of my soul. But He was irresistible and so I stopped resisting.

Everything was different in an instant.

And everything was the same.

I was still the same boy-crazed girl desperately wanting to be seen. Even as I got to know the Lover of My Soul, I kept looking to pubescent boys to tell me I was loved.

Eve was taken from Adam’s side. She was created to be his “help meet” – in the Hebrew, his “Ezer”. It means “one who helps”. The same word is used of God, as in Psalm 33:20, “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.” It is no subservient role that God gave to Eve. It is a holy calling. It is to image our LORD; to be there for someone, to meet them in their deepest needs.

God designed me to be that for my husband. I am bone of his bone. Flesh of his flesh. It’s not just about physical intimacy. It’s two souls entwined, stitched together. It is a grafting of one to another. Once a branch has been successfully grafted onto a tree, the only way the two will be separated is with the violent hacking away of the layers that connect them.

“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt 19:6)

That word, “separate”, is “chorizo” in the Greek and is more accurately translated “put asunder.” It is the same word used to describe the tearing of flesh in the Old Testament. It is a word that speaks of violence. This is what the prophet Malachi is referring to when he says the man who leaves the wife of his youth “does violence to the one he should protect.” (Mal 2:16)

I type all of this with no small amount of anxiety. I do not want to cross boundaries. Private matters should stay private. Please do not read too much into my words. I am speaking of an emotional, spiritual violence. All of this is to try to help you understand what I cannot really put into words. The hurt that never stops hurting. The grief that threatens to drown me in my own tears. The reason that I look to total strangers to tell me I am still here.

All those years ago, God spoke my name and I accepted His invitation. The Holy Spirit sealed me and I entered into a covenant that cannot be broken. I am His beloved. I know this. I preach it to myself throughout the day. Thank God. Thank you my God. Truly. I cannot imagine how much more lost I would be without You.

These two truths live side by side. The wonder and beauty of God’s love for me. And the aching horror of walking around as one who has been torn asunder.

This is what it is to live here in this fallen, hurting world. If you find yourself wondering, does being a Christian mean never feeling any “bad” emotions? No. Don’t let anyone sell you that emotional prosperity gospel. Jesus felt all of the feelings and He WAS God. And yet. Because He is my helper, I am not alone, even if sometimes it feels that way. Feelings are not facts. And even if I never recover from this grief, even if I feel the void until the day I die… it will get better. Because there is another life after this one that is infinitely better and longer. And you better believe I remind myself of that every single day.

Whatever grief you might be carrying, if you’ve gotten this far in my long sad ramble, please remember this above everything else:

If you are in Christ, better days are coming.

(If you have not recognized His voice calling your name yet, consider that this might be one of the ways He’s calling to you. And if you want to know more, please ask. There’s nothing that helps me rediscover joy more than to talk to people about the relentless love of Jesus.)

This Grace In Which We Stand

Martha’s brother is dead.

Jesus did not come, even though she sent word. He loved Lazarus. She only asked Him to do for His friend what she had seen Him do for total strangers.

But He did not come.

He waited.

For two full days after she sent word, Jesus did not take a single step in her direction. Because He loved her.

“Now Jesus loved Martha… SO … He stayed two more days in the place where He was.” (John 11:5-6)

How on earth could such a delay be motivated by love?

So many things in my life are dying. I have begged Jesus time and again to come and heal. Nothing happens. Nothing good anyway. Bad to worse? Sure. But not so much with the miraculous healings. I don’t understand. Other people get the miracles. Why not me?

When Jesus finally arrived, Martha’s brother had been dead and in a tomb for four days. Martha is all about doing the right things and so she greeted Jesus with all the faith she could muster.

“If You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now,” she says, and I imagine her choking back a sob, gritting her teeth to say the words that a good follower should say, “… even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”

Jesus says what she would never think to ask and cannot bring herself to imagine.

“Your brother will rise again.”

Oh don’t go there, Jesus. Don’t turn my pain into a spiritual metaphor.

But ever dutiful Martha plays along. “I know…” she says again. She puts on her “good faithful follower” face and says the right words to show she’s read her Bible.

Jesus knows Martha’s heart. She understands the scriptures better than the most learned Pharisee, but she is still on the outside looking in. He reaches His hand through the veil.

“I am the resurrection and the life… Do you believe?”

“Yes Lord.”

Yes, I believe You are who You say You are. I believe You will do what You say You will do. Someday. In the distant future that I can only imagine in the way that I imagine winning the lottery. Sounds amazing. But not likely to happen anytime soon.

And then Jesus really pushes it.

“Take away the stone.”

Martha tried. She really did. In the midst of deep grief and unbearable loss, she went to Jesus. She honored Him as Lord. Submitted to God’s higher plans even though it hurt her so deeply. But to open the tomb – to rip the scab off her wound in front of everyone – so that her loss was so unbearably real that it would turn the strongest stomach? This is too much.

“Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

Please don’t make me go through this. Leave well enough alone.

But that is the one thing Jesus will not do. He loves Martha too much to leave her with even the most theologically robust two-dimensional faith. He wants more for her. For us. It was because He loved her that He came exactly when He did.

“Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

Martha has no more Sunday School answers to give. Everything happens now quickly, in bold dramatic fashion.

(I imagine Martha and Mary standing to the side, holding hands, tears streaking their faces. Did they flinch as the stone was rolled away? Did they sob harder as Jesus prayed aloud thanking the Father for hearing His prayer? When He called for their brother to “come forth” did they want to double over in agony? Or was the air so electric with His power and authority that their tears stopped and their eyes widened in breathless expectation?)

And then, right in front of her eyes, the impossible happens. Martha’s dead four days and decaying in the grave brother walks out of the tomb.

(Honestly how did she and Mary not just faint dead on the spot?)

I do not know what to make of this. Like Martha, I know what the Bible says. I think I understand God’s plans and promises in a general sense. I know there is hope in light of eternity. But here? Now? Today? I’m speechless. In the world I live in, dead people stay dead. Not just people. Dreams. Relationships. They die and there’s no resuscitating them. There’s only grieving and finding a way to move on with a hole in your heart.

I look again at what Jesus said to Martha, just before He raised Lazarus. “If you believed… you would see the glory of God.”

Jesus did not come when Martha called. He did not perform the miracle she asked for. He went far above all she could ask or imagine. He brought the dead to life again.

I have no idea what Jesus has planned for me and all that is dead and decaying around me. It seems that God rarely performs the same exact miracle twice. Because, I am learning, it is not about the miracle. It’s about His glory.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
Romans 5:1-2

Stand Firm and See

There’s a prayer in the Old Testament that I find myself praying on the regular these days:

We don’t know what to do. Our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

“I don’t know what to do, God.”
This situation seems to go from bad to worse. This relationship that I have invested my life in is disintegrating before my very eyes. Everything I say, everything I do, only seems to make things worse. I have been brought to the very end of myself. I surrender. I lay it all down. I admit I am powerless.

My eyes are on You.”
All the fight has gone out of me. I am so very tired. The storm keeps blowing and I don’t feel safe in my little boat. You, Jesus, are my only Hope.

It’s there, in that place of total surrender, that God speaks. His answer to that Old Testament king had three parts. Three steps for every battle I face in this life.

“… Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you…Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged…. the Lord will be with you.’” (2 Chronicles 20:17)

  1. Take up your positions.
    Put on that full armor of God. Figure out who you are and what matters most. Boundaries have to go around something – what is worth protecting at all costs?
  2. Stand Firm.
    “…after you have done everything, stand” – with that belt of Truth buckled tight. There are days when standing looks more like kneeling. More like laying prostrate before my Lord, my face wet with tears. But in my spirit, I am standing on the Rock, the firm foundation that will never ever let me down. The earth may shake, but the ground beneath my feet is solid.
  3. See the deliverance the LORD will give you.
    Keep those eyes on Him. Don’t falter, don’t look away. And don’t confuse my ideas of how things should play out with God’s perfect plans. Sometimes deliverance looks like going into a fiery furnace. Like spending the night in the lion’s den. Those three men who took up a position to honor God at all costs came out of the furnace – without even the smell of smoke on them. And Daniel walked out of that den in the morning “and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed God.”
    “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” See the deliverance the LORD will give you.

    Hold on my friends.

    The night is nearly over.

    The day is almost here.


We don’t grope for things in the light. 

Grope is a word we use for struggle. 

For when we are lost and cannot find our way. 

When the darkness is so thick it’s palpable and our usual way of seeing fails us. 

In the black of the darkest night or the deepest cave, you can open your eyes as wide as you want, you still won’t see a thing.  

When he preached to the Greeks in Athens, Paul used this word – pselaphao – which the New King James Bible translated to “Grope”. Other versions say “reach out” or even “feel their way” and these are good, but I don’t think they go far enough. The Amplified translated it “grasp” and that comes closer I think. Grasping implies holding on for dear life. Like if you let go you will fall. Sink into the depths. 

I know the feeling. The world has shaken, hard, and the ground around me has fallen away. A storm blows through and there is wreckage everywhere. At times like that, it doesn’t feel like enough just to “seek” God. I need to grasp Him. With both hands.

And if we can’t see God – maybe we don’t even know where to look, or our eyes are utterly useless because all around us is deep, overwhelming darkness? We turn to one of our other senses, the one that usually takes a backseat when it comes to belief. “Seeing is believing” we say.  But when our sight fails, we need to feel our way.

The day that Jesus rose and walked out of the grave and appeared to the twelve in the upper room where they sheltered, disillusioned and asking themselves what comes next… they looked at Him and did not believe their own eyes. They saw Him die. Saw His beaten and disfigured body taken down from the cross and buried in a tomb. It was impossible for Him to be there, in their midst. They must be having a shared delusion. Perhaps He was a ghost. It was not joy they felt in that moment, but abject fear. 

And so He gave them a gentle invitation: “Handle me and see…” 


In your darkness, reach out. 

Feel your way. 

Grope for Him. 

Grasp His hand.

Paul told the Athenians that God made us so that we would seek Him, “in the hope” that we would grope for Him and find Him. He will not leave us alone in the dark, blindly waving our hands around, grasping nothing but air. “He is not far from each one of us,” Paul assures those who will look, “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” 

He is not a figment of our imagination. He is real and He is near. 

As close as your next breath. 

As close as your very heartbeat. 

In Him we live. 

In Him we move. 

In Him we have our very being.  

“And Lo {see!},” Jesus whispers, “I am with you – ALWAYS.”  


She was not especially ladylike.

Her laugh was big, full, boisterous. She loved a good joke. She danced around the kitchen her arms open wide – she was never one to fade into the background.


Martha embodied the word with her fiery red hair and rebellious freckles. All of life was an adventure – from the time she was run over by a local priest, to the day she accidentally set her house on fire – her childhood was the stuff of stories.

Growing up with a grandma like her filled me with a sense of adventure. Possibility. I want to write stories about a girl like her. She inspires me. Ignites my imagination. Her zest for life and her ability to laugh at the days to come are just the spark I need right now. In fact, I think the world needs as many Marthas as it can get. She’d love the idea of sparking a revolution of Joy. I can hear her laughing at the very thought.

*This week I’m participating in Hope*Writers Instagram writing challenge. Each day has a one-word prompt. Today we were encouraged to think about what sparks our creativity and imagination.


“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28

“Come,” He says. It is an invitation. One that requires no special outfit or preparation. “Yes, my soul, find rest in God” the psalmist says and the word he uses for Rest is also translated to be silent and still. To be astonished. Stopped in our tracks.

I think back to a day when my Beloved invited me to follow him down a narrow trail into a wood hushed soft with thick moss and years of gentle decay. A delicate fog enveloped us and I was certain we must have stepped into a dream. The only rushing came from the river that accompanied us. The noise in my mind settled and I breathed in air so fresh and filling I felt doubly alive. Every few steps I would stop and look up at a huge fir with branches that filled the sky. Astonished. I could not help but smile and even laugh aloud, so full was my joy. To be there, in that magical place with one who loved me walking just a few steps ahead; joy indescribable.

That is His invitation. To walk with Him. Let go of all that weighs us down and follow Him down the path.

Look up.

Be astonished.

And in that place, I discover where my Hope comes from.

And I find Rest.