spiritual growth

That One Time You Had to Move Heavy Rocks in the Desert #Beautiful #Growth

This morning in an effort to encourage, my friend reached across the state line via text messaging and shared with me her daily devotional.  I had gone to bed the night before feeling restless and sad.  No one else knew how I was feeling, but the emotions had translated into a lot of tossing and turning in the night. Waking to her encouragement was timely, and I pondered on the passage she had shared.

As I sat with the verses, I could hear God calling me towards humility. I hadn’t thought of myself as being prideful, but suddenly, I could see my need to be humble before God. Alone at my kitchen table, I ate my breakfast and I communicated with God. I prayed out loud and admitted the areas of pride to which I have been selfishly clinging. I asked His forgiveness and sought His help to relinquish my self-imposed expertise on any matter involving my heart. My heart is an untrustworthy vessel, and it will only be through the transformation of the Holy Spirit that I will ever again trust its workings.

In this breakfast rendezvous with God, I remembered that His love is still greater than our failings. God’s mighty hand rules over us in pure gentleness. Like warm syrup falling across a waffle, his love embeds itself into us and into the crevasses we make available to him. The places we allow Him access to will be transformed by His love. The places we hold onto–will not change. We are incapable of change. He does the transforming–not us.

After finishing my breakfast, I looked at my list of things I needed for the day’s task.  My task for today was to begin the backyard remodel in our new home. The first step in our remodel is to move several hundred river rocks from the center of the backyard to the side yard. I was going to need some sturdy work gloves and a wheelbarrow.

Backyard pre-remodel

As I drove to the hardware store to purchase the wheelbarrow, something caught my eye. The streets had a different look about them. The rain had come to town for the last couple days, and now that it was gone–the flowers were in full bloom. When you live in the desert, you don’t miss a new blossom. I smiled at the thought of what the next year will be like–experiencing a new landscape with each new season.

Returning home I went right to work moving the rocks. It was a cooler day–92 degrees at 11:19 AM–so it seemed like as good of a time as any to jump in and make some progress. As I began to move the rocks, I was full of energy. I used each rock as a tool in my current challenge to memorize the book of James. With each stone I would say a word as I tossed it into the brand new wheelbarrow.

“James (clink) a (clink) servant (clink) of (clink) God (clink)…”

photo(2)I was certain that with each stone I moved, I was making a difference in the terrain of our yard. My husband would return home pleased with my progress, and he would be relieved that the heavy work was not all falling to him.

That lasted for about three loads in the no-longer-new wheelbarrow. I had just finished quoting James 2:13, Mercy (clink) triumphs (clink) over (clink) judgement (clink), when I turned to judge my rock moving, terrain changing progress.

River RocksNo change.

I slowly slid to the ground and sat on the hot stones. I used the back of my gloved hand to wipe the sweat off my forehead, and tried not to cry.


I could feel the heartache from the night before climbing back up in my chest. It was a determined climb–more determined than it had been in the morning. It was steadfast and mean, and it didn’t need help from a wheelbarrow to make the journey from my heart to my mind and then from my mind to my heart. The passageway was clear for travel. I began to survey the task I was attempting and compare it to what other people were probably doing.

My imagination began to build stories:

  • Other women, women of value, are dressed fashionably today–I am in a tattered, sweaty t-shirt.
  • Other women, women I admire, are spending their day accomplishing great deeds in the Kingdom of the Lord–I am moving rocks.
  • Other women, every other woman in the world, had the foresight to protect her household, to honor her husband, and to treat the people who trusted her with respect–I am a failure.

I sat on the hot river rocks and began to cry.

The tears were unpleasant, and because my hand was gloved, I couldn’t even wipe them away. The moment could have been lovely. In a field with flowers and shade trees–God could come and surround me and give me His comfort. But, not in this desert. There is no comfort among rocks.

“Humble yourself, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

And with the scripture came an image of the color purple. My mind reeled back to the drive I had made earlier in the day. When I had pulled into the parking lot at Home Depot, the shrubs that I had seen several times since moving two weeks ago were blooming with brilliance. It was stunning and I was so moved by the plants, I pulled over to take pictures.

What moved me was that in God’s timing–He had changed the plants. They seemed to have erupted overnight. I had driven through the parking lot two days prior and didn’t see one flower, but in God’s due time, He had created something beautiful. So lovely that I couldn’t help but stop in the middle of the hardware parking lot, among the contractors in their trucks, and snap pictures of the lovely shrubs.

Home Depot, ArizonaLike parking lot attendants promoted to Royalty, they stood proudly, displaying their new attire for the season. After a time of rain, the King had clothed them in splendor. 

Purple majesty in ArizonaHe didn’t require anything from plants for the beauty in which He had so lavishly splayed on them, but they couldn’t help but lift their delicate branches upward–reaching to Him and giving Him the glory and honor that was due.

Bee in flight on lovely purple Arizona flowering shrubEven the smallest creatures were drawn to the beauty of the flowering shrubs. A bumblebee mid-flight snapped shots of the new blossoms, so that later he might Instagram his find. #newnectar #queensdelight

It amazes me how feeble our hearts can be. If we put our trust in the emotions that we feel throughout the day–we can find ourselves in a hot whirlwind of confusion. Lost in the desert, while holding a map and compass. Everything that this world offers proves to be untrustworthy. If we put our faith in the stories we conjure up in our imaginations, if we spend even one moment comparing our lives to the unrealistic life of someone else–we are doomed.  God wants to be involved in every step of this lifelong journey, not so we won’t fail. God isn’t afraid of our failures. He expects them, allows for them, but never, never turns away. He is on His throne in the midst of all that seems insurmountable, and He is also in the dirt lifting us up during those same insurmountable trials.  Through His methods He is transforming our lives from something hard and uninspired into something useful and lovely.

Moving rocks in the heat can feel torturous–but it is, yet, for a season. There is no reason to strive and worry. This is but a season, and each season has its own kind of beauty.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1



affair recovery

His Love > his Love

If you want to see a small social media riot evolve, simply write a tweet in support of the Common Core Math Standards and watch your Twitter go viral. The controversial math standards have been in the headlines for months, and with the start of the new school year they have become the topic of many frustrated parent’s Facebook status updates.

Understanding Common Core is not a necessity in my life, which is probably a good thing because in my limited research for this post, I didn’t find much that left me feeling enlightened. I even visited a site that was Pro-Common Core, thinking they would do their best to explain the elementary school problems in a simplified way that made it easy to understand and thus gain supporters. No such luck–I was more confused after visiting blamecommoncore.com than before I read their featured article.

Perhaps I am atypical in my understanding of the new learning style, because to be fair, I am not a woman who is known for her love of math. Rather, I am a lover of words.

math meme

As a lover of words, I was in one of my happy spots last night when I was able to listen to Amena Brown create beauty with her words. The gifted poet was the key-note speaker at an event I attended at my church in Chandler, Arizona. While her husband, Matt “DJ Opdiggy” Owen, skillfully stylized music in the background she shared the truth of God’s love with her own stories and original spoken word poetry.  She shared briefly about her marriage, and she talked about how her understanding of God’s love was enhanced by the love of her husband. She said that she had realized that even as she enjoyed the fulfillment of her husband’s love in her life, God was still trying to get her to understand the magnitude of His love. She shared that God was saying to her,

Your husband’s love for you is just a tiny fraction of the love I have for you.

Amena Brown at Remix

As she shared the words, I felt a lump rise in my throat. It is true for me as well. As great as my husband’s love is for me–it is but a tiny, tiny fraction of the love that my Heavenly Father, who does not change like shifting shadows, has for me.

And my husband’s love speaks volumes.  You see, my husband’s love is obvious.  My husband’s love is tangible. I can feel it, I can see it. Others can, too. This is not a new love of something nearly lost. For years, if there was an attribute that defined my husband, it was his affectionate love for his wife.

At times my husband’s desire to be close to me, to engage me in conversation, to spend time with me has been “a force to be reckoned with” and those desires send this girl, who once replaced real intimacy with sex, running for the dark places in her mind.

To imagine a Heavenly Father who loves me more than this man is…well…unimaginable. And yet, it’s true. God’s love may seem unimaginable and unfathomable–but it’s real and it’s demonstrated in ways that are equally obvious and equally tangible.

Several months ago I received a piece of hate mail that spawned my entitled Stop Being Happy on Facebook post. In the article I shared that I had received a letter from a woman who was offended that I had been sharing my story of surviving my own infidelity on my blog.  She wouldn’t have a problem with my journey if I were “the victim” but since I caused all the pain, my thoughts and my journey were an affront to her.

In the letter she stated, “…you think you are above reproach for what you did just because your husband forgave you.” Apparently, it was an assault to her that I was moving forward and that I was proud of the way my husband had behaved when he discovered the truth about the relationship I had been cultivating with another man. Fortunately, the words didn’t stick on my skin for more than a few hours. I woke in the early hours and realized that I don’t THINK I am above reproach for what I’ve done because my husband forgave me. I KNOW I am  above reproach for the sin of adultery because God forgave me. Even without the love and the support of my husband–my sin is abolished.

I am grateful every single day that my husband chose to stay with me, but the reality is, even if he had asked me to move out, I would still be forgiven and I would still be above reproach for the sin I once chose. My repentance is what leads me to a new life, not the love of a man. Christ took my sin away, and it doesn’t own me anymore.

It’s a concept that can seem confusing because my husband and I are experiencing so much hope. Because of my husband’s forgiveness towards me the love of God has been penetrating our lives and His Grace has been transforming our marriage. The restoration of our marriage is vital to us, as it is to our children, but the restoration of me as an individual is the core of what makes the marital restoration even possible. God had a strong call on me to turn away from my sin and confess it to my husband, but He had an even stronger call on me to turn away from my sin and turn in repentance towards Him.  Understanding God’s love, and not running away from intimacy with Him and into the dark places in my mind–is something that I have to learn to sit with and embrace or I will never be able to fully embrace the love my husband wants to give so freely.

It’s not as confusing as trying to solve a simple math problem using common core and it doesn’t raise the same controversy, but when I write honestly about it, it can certainly raise a few comments in my inbox. People like problems that are easy to solve–the kind where one plus one equals two. But, for my husband and I–that equation didn’t add up, and now I have to daily decrease, so that God can increase. With less of me and more of Him–the math that works is one plus one plus the One equals one.