Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Unceasing Brokenness

Brokenness and pain. Does it ever get easier to handle? Less impacting on the heart, the soul, the mind? Will it ever become a part of this life that doesn't tear at my emotions, causing a depth of sorrow that cannot be cured?

In my line of work brokenness is the day-to-day normal routine. As I have expanded my vision here in the White Mountains, I have simply increased the types of brokenness to which I am exposed. Instead of just working with abuse, neglect, and poverty, I am now seeing what happens when that brokenness from childhood goes unhealed. And it will break your heart even more than it has already been broken. 

A new facet of my ministry is in the world of drug addiction, a world I previously knew nothing about. As I get to know people in all stages of addiction, and as I read from those who have lived in this world so much longer than I, my heart swells with frustration that such depth of pain exists.

You can see the pain in the eyes of the addict. It isn't just the pain of a moment or one broken relationship. It is a pain that has become a part of them. The pain and disappointment defines them. To be rid of the pain is the greatest goal, but what are you without the pain that has defined your life? How do you live a life without that which you have become so accustomed to?

Drug addiction isn't just about making stupid choices. It is about trying to escape. What are they escaping? For a lot of people I have talked to it is past child abuse. I begin to tear up as I write this because it is so wrong and so not ok. Child abuse, especially sexual abuse, terrorizes these adults as they cling to anything that makes them not remember, not have the nightmares or the reminder of what happened to them.

What happened to them was wrong. And there has been no healing.

The question then arises, "Where was God??" "How could He let that happen to a little girl or little boy?" They ask with a frantic need for an answer, a need for some new truth to hold on to. 

But I don't have the answer. I can't fix a world so broken beyond repair.

But here is what I can do. Here is the one response I am capable of living out in response to their question.

I can show them where God is now

God holding them tight as they try to overcome their addiction. God surrounding them with people who will love them unconditionally, with no judgement for where they have been or what they have done. God giving them the strength and the ability to sleep through the night without nightmares, to say no to old friends and habits, to hold on when it gets hard.

And I can be a part of the new family, the new relationships, the ones that don't manipulate, lie, steal, or take advantage. And this new family can be the start of a new chapter, one with so much light after so much darkness. 

And it is in that love and support that I, at least, find my answers. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Big Tub of Love

If there is one joy in a wedding it is the love.

The love between a boy and a girl, the love between their families, the love of their friends.

Beyond all else, this was the most moving piece of our wedding day. 

The love made possible by our Savior was an aura throughout the event. It was as if a light shone from each person and into the world around us. I'm telling you as I look back this light of love permeated souls and made hearts swell (and I am not even being dramatic here. Ask anyone who was there). It was brilliant and beautiful and profound and it struck our hearts in a way that will impact us for years.

I am still overwhelmed by the love that emanated from that most wonderful day.

For Cameron and I, we have chosen to live in a small town in the mountains of Arizona in order to be faithful to the ministry God has called us to. A by-product of this has been finding it harder to have deep friendships that aren't the lovely teenagers we spend most of our time with. After a year of hard times, of feeling lonely and yet having each other, of struggling to find our place in this town that God has called us to, we arrived in Georgia to some of our closest friends all in one place. And trust me, being together with that many people who love us, it felt like coming home.

My goodness how we laughed for those few days. It came from deep down in our souls as we sat in the Bed and Breakfast we had rented with so many of the people we love so much, the ones who we don't often get a chance to see. Staying up way later than we intended simply because we refused to leave the fun, we basked in this unique opportunity to be surrounded by so much love. By the end of our time together our bellies ached and our cheeks hurt from smiling so much. It's the good kind of hurt though, the kind you never want to stop.

The fact that they were all there struck us with such love-force. Our friends had joined us from California, Indiana, Maryland, and Georgia to celebrate the love we had found in each other, and the love within these relationships was even more profound as our time together progressed and they supported us at every step.

And get this! Even more beauty was found in the fact that our friends began to fall in love with each other! (they were all there with their husbands and wives, so I mean this is an exciting friendship sense, not in a our-friends-will-marry-our-friends way). Our friends became friends and the laughter abounded and my goodness, it brought life to any place that we entered.

So as I stood on the stage of the sanctuary, looking into my eyes of the love of my life, I took a second to bask in the beauty of the moment. There was something so special about knowing that 4 girls were standing behind me with just as much excitement for this moment, a moment that God had made possible.

There is a movie called Stardust about a girl who is a fallen star and when she gets happy she glows. During our ceremony I felt like we were all glowing, a light of love, as we treasured this most important moment.

A big tub of love. That's what my mom called our wedding. And I would say that is a pretty accurate description. So many people stepped up to make it possible, and I am still filled to overflowing with all the goodness and joy. And as I wake up each morning next to my husband I am happier than I have ever been in my life. Because God has blessed me with more love than I could ever contain. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Katy Perry, Fire, and Marriage

Let me set the stage for you: Katy Perry's "Firework" is playing and I'm the only one on the dance floor. Granted it's my wedding, so I was in the mindset of It's my wedding, I'm going to dance if I want to! but it's a little weird to be doing firework hand motions all by your lonesome while a circle of tables sits around you. In fact, I had thought that my friend was going to stay, but she was all danced out so there I was, having the time of my life. As I lifted my arms into a sweet slow-motion firework motion I happened to spot Cameron right by the dance floor, so being as he was now my husband and therefore required to make a fool of himself with me, I pulled him in to join me in the spotlight.

In a split second, totally like in a movie, I watched as Cameron moved toward me. I'm clearly expecting him to just do some sweet hand motions with me but instead he grabs my waist and lifts me above his head. I'm not even kidding, it was a total Dirty Dancing moment, as if his super human happy marriage strength took over and all of a sudden there I was, floating around the dance floor in the air, like the magnificent dancer that I know in my heart I am. It was magical and hilarious and perfect all at the same time. I definitely felt like an ice-skating-firework-magical-princess.

It was one of my favorite memories of the party because it was so unexpected and such a hilarious moment, all to the background of Katy Perry's Firework. Hopefully it is a sign of what the rest of our lives are going to look like!

Speaking of fire, we definitely tried to light a Chinese Wishing Lantern at our reception, even though the winds were seriously higher than normal. But in the spirit of weddings and picture perfect photos I was determined. After 5 minutes of partnering with our photographer's husband to block the wind and the large flame that was beginning to flourish between us and the paper thin lantern, we decided she wanted to fly. With all the hopes and dreams and encouragement we could muster, we let the lantern into the air.

I guess the lantern is carried more by wind than good wishes, because it started moving straight toward a parked car. Let me remind you that this is a huge flame in the lantern, not a little sissy flame. So there we are- me, Cameron, 2 bridesmaids and 2 photographers- yelling and screaming at this lantern, "Go! Go! Up up up! Oh my gosh THE CAR!" The lantern misses the car by mere inches and heads straight into the road to catch the whole world on fire!

Cameron, full in his wedding suit, begins running toward the street as the rest of us contribute with a mixture of screams and laughter. When he catches the lantern he proceeds to stomp it out (in his fancy shoes) and then picks it up triumphantly. Little does he know, it's still on fire. Like flaming crazy fire. 

"Cameron!!! YOU ARE GOING TO CATCH ON FIRE!!!!" I am yelling as he looks to his side and begins to crazy stomp again.

"Mud puddle! Mud puddle! I found a mud puddle!" my bridesmaid yells and we finally avert all catastrophe with a bit of wet mud and a whole lot of laughter. It was a memory I will never forget as I realized that not every moment is like the Pinterest photos, but man, they can sure turn out a whole lot more fun.

Stay tuned for more details soon :)