psalm 39

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It’s been a while since anything I’ve read has inspired me.  I’ve not read the Bible or truly thought about it in months.  It’s nothing against God.  I’ve just been overwhelmed with all the God talk lately.  Everyone has something to say about God or what He’s like or what the rest of us ought to be like with God in mind.  I’m not against any of this, just tired from it, I guess.  I sometimes feel like God gets talked about for the wrong reasons.  All the different voices have a tendency lately, at least for me, to cancel each other out.

I forced myself to read a Psalm.  Not a book. Not my phone.  Not Twitter.  A psalm.

I said, “I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth with a muzzle,
so long as the wicked are in my presence.”

I was mute and silent;
I held my peace to no avail,
and my distress grew worse.

My heart became hot within me
As I mused, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue;

“O LORD , make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days…

I never got past that line.  My eyes jumped down and were caught by a footnote on the measure of my days:

“about the intimacy of God’s attention to us”

The intimacy of God’s attention to us…

This is the God I know and love.

the double-take

All this time

I’ve been stuck in the past

Unable to move

To undo, to unlove

.

Stay away they all said

And I did

And I did

And I did

And I did

But not because I wanted to…

.

Then another one gave me

some different advice

“You have to allow yourself to be human”

.

So I did

And I went

And I tried

And arrived

.

He wasn’t there.

.

He wasn’t there.

.

Had I knew

This whole time

He’d moved on

He’s moved on

.

I could’ve said

with all my heart

in all the shock

the fleeting rage

in all the peace

in all the ways

.

Good for you

to my soul

to my soul

Good for you.

fifteen years

Yes, here I am,

having to process all these feelings again, dang it.

(I’m sorry, kids)

This past weekend our entire family traveled to Iowa for my brother’s wedding.  It was an incredible way to celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary.  My brother and I got married on the same summer weekend, fifteen years apart.  I can’t even believe it.

I love these guys so much.  If someone where to ask me to name one of the greatest and joy-filled experiences of my life, I would hands-down, without a doubt, say “my siblings”.

There is no one else in the world who has been through the things we have been through together.  We all have our own friends and lives, but only we share the bond of blood.

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While we were there, we visited the cemetery.  We stood there to remember Brandon, stare at his gravestone, and mourn the brother and wedding that never happened.

We love you, Brandon.

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I feel like I’ve entered a new season of life.  Four of my kids were sleeping-in while I got to hang out with my nieces and nephews so their moms could do stuff.

“Okay, kids.  We’re gonna have Lego-building contest.”

I love being an aunt.

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Those little glowing rectangles,

I mean, seriously…

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I love this picture of my brother-in-law and my Dad.

Love you, Dad!

My dad officiated the wedding and did a great job.

THE DAY AFTER MY WEDDING, my parents moved to Iowa (they don’t live there anymore–long story).  My dad spent a few years as the pastor of a small congregational church (he’s not a pastor anymore–long story).  That would be the year my brother met his future wife, Laura, who lived down the street.  I remember going up to visit them my first year of marriage, and my brother asking me, “Beck, how do you spell Laura?”

He was making her a blanket.

Last year for our fourteenth wedding anniversary I wrote:

“Fourteen years doesn’t seem like all that long, and by long I mean impressive.  Five felt long.  Seven felt significant.  Ten was monumental.  Since then it’s been a blur of added years.  Honestly though, the years you acquire are not achievements, they’re gifts.  It’s the gift that changes things.”

Fifteen years feels significant again.  I am ready to move on, and when I say that, I mean to move on from these past fifteen years of marriage and all the pain that it’s brought me.  My husband and I were 20-freaking years old when we got married and had absolutely no idea.  I have spent so many tears crying about the pain of marriage.  I am done with all the feelings that this was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life.

As recent as this summer I thought, this is the year.  This is the year we are ending up divorced.  This is the year I cannot take it anymore.  Before we get in any deeper, I’m out. I imagined going to my brother’s wedding and having to face the terrible reality that while we are celebrating the beginning of one marriage, we are also having to deal with the ending of another.  I’m sorry mom and dad. I’m sorry to ruin your incredible legacy.

I honestly never understood how tragic divorce is.  I don’t know why, but as time goes on, I mourn more and more the all the deaths of divorce.  Divorce isn’t something I EVER imagined could happen to me, but as I look around, as it happens to more and more people I know, as I hear from the ones who have lived and gone through it, it hits me.

I want this marriage to last.

I WANT this marriage to last.

DAMN IT.

The past five years with its blur of added years.

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The past fifteen years and all the ways you went wrong,

from the very deepest depths and the bottom of my heart,

Thank you.

hearts and letters

Maybe some of you can relate to this, but I really do live in two different worlds.  There’s the world I have to live in, and then there’s the world that exists no matter where I go or find myself.  Outward circumstances change.  Time goes on.  And I’m still here.

I don’t always–EVER–know how to get out of the world inside my head.   I have dishes to do.  A house to clean.  My brother’s wedding to travel to this coming weekend.  I need to get online and start looking through books for the coming school year and my head doesn’t care about any of this.  It’s like I’m caught in the middle between two worlds.

I’m stuck in here.   There’s like an itch in my brain that makes being all here, as in, all there, completely impossible.  The hot water heater busted yesterday morning, so I’m not washing dishes til the water is hot.  The house is a mess within hours of me cleaning it.

Sometimes the stuff I write about here has absolutely nothing to do with my actual life.  It’s not that I’m lying to anyone.  It’s just that part of me is starting to realize that how I experience a particular given moment may not at all be what someone else experiences.

(Yes.  “Duh.“)

My kids, if they were to look at me now, would see a mom staring into the computer.  They see me at the kitchen table typing.  They have seen me doing this for hours upon hours over the past five years since we got the internet again.  The image of mom on her computer will be permanently fixed in the skies of their memories.  These were formative years in their lives that are forever a part of their personal family history.

I say this as if I’m experiencing guilt.  I’m not.  I am, quite simply, just thinking out loud.  At some point, as my kids grow to experience their own realizations, as they look back and see their own past for themselves, they will come to understand the truth about me.

My brother is getting married this Saturday.  I’m excited for the wedding and to see my family.  This wedding has been a long time coming, for my brother, for my almost sister-in-law, and for everybody who has followed them and their story.  My brother has loved this girl since he was fourteen years old, and though they have both also loved other people in the past, on Saturday, they will pledge their lives and love to each other.

Camp is over for the summer.  This is another one of those things where my experience differs from the experience of others.  I’m really not a part of the camp family in the same way the counselors are, and even my husband and children are.  It can be sad, particularly since camp, in the past, was the place where you instantly fit in as family.

I still love the staff and campers.  The difference is they don’t love me, at least not in the same, reciprocated way.  I miss them, but I doubt any one of them today–right now–is thinking back and missing me.  And honestly, I’m okay with this.  Camp is not about me anymore, about the life-changing experience that I am having.  It’s their turn now.

And yet, here I am, still blessed by it all.

Does Graceless Abound?

The Transformed Wife’s post today was called Does God’s Grace Allow Me to Sin?  Here are the first two paragraphs:

Some women have told me that I don’t show enough grace in my posts. I focus too much on teaching women how they are to live their lives: be sober, love and obey (and submit to) their husbands, love their children, be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, and good so that “the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4, 5). I teach women to not teach men nor be in authority over them and to be silent in the churches (1 Timothy 2:11, 12). If they have a question, ask their husbands at home since it is shameful for them to speak in the church (1 Corinthians 14:34, 35). I teach them to be modest, shamefaced, have meek and quiet spirits, and if they are married to husbands who don’t obey the word, then win them “without the word” (1 Peter 3:1) by their godly behavior.

Many women don’t like being taught these things and being told what to do, even Christian women. They cry, “Where is the grace?” and “You are judgmental!” Grace doesn’t give us the license to sin. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1,2).

It’s not like I have a problem with any of these verses.  What I’ve started to notice, and what I don’t like, is that in this particular kind of Biblical womanhood, these verses are taught exclusively.

The Bible is a ginormous book.

So you’re telling me that in great God’s goodness, love, and generosity to women, He took this mammoth piece of written work, and gifted us with four to five verses that are special–just for us.

And those are it?

These verses are terrifying when they’re taught by themselves.  That, I think, is one reason women think this Biblical womanhood lacks grace.  It’s not courageous, strong, or faithful to take something that terrifying, that cut-off, that exclusive and excluded, and then never acknowledge or be able to understand anyone else’s fear or discomfort.

That’s graceless.

But it’s not even that.

And I don’t know where to go from here.

I honestly have no idea where I’d even start to tell another person about Jesus.