Sunday, May 24, 2015

Life ain't no fairytale!

It's marriage time. It seems everybody is getting married. I cannot help but think about the video I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago. It showed a couple just about to join hands in Holy Matrimony, but as if with a crystal ball. A make up artist aged them over the next 60 years or so. At different intervals,  the video showed them looking into each others eyes as they went through each stage of life.

The strange thing was… there was no adjustment period. This sweet couple didn't have time to gradually age together. The shock was apparent, & so was the love. For me… the video signified so much  more than just our physical changes that take place as we age. Yes… that's a huge part of the picture, yet somehow, there is so much more.

I don't really know what our expectations are as we enter into marriage. Many of them may have to do with our backgrounds, what we witnessed growing up, & then our determination to repeat or to break those cycles. I am sure our temperaments, our self esteem, our chemistry, our differences & our likenesses all play significant roles not only in our expectations but in how we live out our realities.

It makes me cringe to say it, but life is no fairytale. When you add daily stress, raising children, health issues, job issues, relationship troubles, & all the things of life that come our way, we don't always gel & work through our circumstances in a fairytale sort of way. We are human. Our endings are not always happy. Sometimes they are hard, long, & never resolved this side of Heaven.

Heartache is one of the many things we cannot account for when we stand before an officiant & take our vows. If we had a crystal ball, we would see things we couldn't bare. Some of these things would be a slow process that would evolve over time, & some of them would be total shock. Some of them would be mountaintop highs, while others would be bottom of the barrel lows. Either way, the fairytale is only a fairytale. What matters is our reality & how we accept it & live it out.

After almost 31 years of marriage, when I attend a wedding, I don't hear what others hear. In sickness & in health is replaced with specific words such as "cancer & anxiety." For better, for worse is replaced with words like "in a tornado." For richer, for poorer depends on the timeframe of our marriage. When we went through marriage counseling some 31 years ago, we were starry eyed. We had hopes & dreams, but as the bride, I know I didn't have a strong dose of reality. It would have broken my young heart.

My joys have been overwhelming. From raising 3 beautiful daughters to now being Grandma. The friends I've met along the way have poured so much into me. Words cannot express the special place they hold in my heart. Some of the curves that God has allowed if not caused in my life have been truly unbearable. If I'd have had a crystal ball on that day of Holy Matrimony, I would have told my husband to run.

Even though my fairy tale hasn't been a fairy tale, it has been so much more. It has given me depth of faith I never could foresee or even know was within reach. It has stripped me of every false security I clung to, & given me the ability to relate to others with heartaches of even greater magnitudes than my own. It has taught me to appreciate today whether it's a good day or a bad day. It has developed my core being & taught me to sort out what really matters. The life lessons I've received have been painful but greater than any fairytale.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

What if my place is...

Today I returned from a womens conference in Michigan at Miracle Camp. It was a first for me on many levels. I drove us there & back. I spoke. And… it was my first trip to Miracle Camp. We were blessed with gorgeous weather, a respite to my soul.

I think my favorite part of the weekend was getting to know other women from my church. Why does it take a 4 hour trip to bond with people I worship with on a weekly basis? I guess it's the busyness of life. I was deeply touched by the kindness shown by many of the women who attended this conference.

I didn't speak until 4 in the afternoon. I was fine until the five minute countdown. My heart began to race. It's an uncontrollable thing that happens to me. It's enough to take my breath away. Somehow, I managed to hold myself together & share my story. It was my story over the last 4 years of life. My audience consisted of 40 women.

I will never know quite what sharing my story did for others that day. I couldn't read the faces in my audience as I spoke. Yes… at the end, some of them touched my heart with words of encouragement. I was relieved, but at the same time drained. I felt like I had been crying for days (only I had not). Strange. I'm thinking it had to do with an adrenaline rush & let down.

My story was entitled Ashes to Beauty. It's a story of loss, a story of struggle,  a story most of all of hope & restoration. It's a story of thankfulness for my journey. The theme of the keynote speaker this weekend was "Take your place." The speaker, Teasi Cannon was remarkable. So funny yet full of depth. Her humor kept my attention. Her lessons have made an impression on my heart. It remains to be seen what their impact will do in my life.

It seems to me Teasi was saying that our purpose is to glorify God. Whatever our profession, our circumstances, our place, take it, & glorify God. The realization came to me that my place is unlike anybody else's place. The people in my group all seemed to be healthy. That was a big topic of the weekend. What if my place is to be the Survivor who glorifies God?