Nuggets: What were you expecting?

So, my hubby comes out of the field for (what feels like) the 100th time today. This excursion was only a couple nights, but a quick glance back at the month of October and I realize the heavy toll I’m feeling is grounded in the fact that we scarcely had a single weekend together last month.

I’m sitting comfortably at my kitchen table, enjoying quiet time with Jesus and waiting for Eve to wake. He texts me and suddenly my mind is off, thinking about what our evening will hold, happy that he has tomorrow off and conjuring up a myriad of expectations for our window of time together:

I want him to enjoy Eve … I want to feel intimate and close to him … I want physical affection … I want a chance to talk to him … I want him to express an achy “I missed you guys” too … I want him to tell me about what happened out there and how things went … I want to talk to him about some ideas rumbling around in my head … I want to make fun plans for this coming weekend since he’ll finally be home …

Quickly, (thankfully) God stopped my musings.

Haven’t we talked about this before?

This single greatest danger I have allowed to enter our marriage through my own weaknesses is expectation. Expectation of another fallen human being is doomed for failure, reaps disappointment and breeds discontentment and ultimately bitterness.

Psalm 62:5 says, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.”

My expectations have no place but in God. There is no one else who will meet them every single time. There is no one else in whom they are safe. There’s honestly no one else who can handle them and no one else who can comfort me when they go unmet.

Where are your expectations today? What are you going to do when someone lets you down?

The Ghosts of Columbus

Why did she have to ask that? I stared at the blinking cursor in the little box at the bottom of my Facebook page. I had only wanted to leave a message. I wasn’t prepared for this conversation. I knew it was coming, But Lord, I’m not ready!

Are you still running? It blinked again. How on earth to answer? What would she think of me? I have a reputation to uphold!

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If you’ve been reading around here recently, you know that my husband and I just completed our PCS (the Army’s version of a move) to Columbus, GA. We’ve been here before. In 2006, we moved into a teensy-weensy, one bedroom apartment off of Moon Road. Partly by accident and mostly by deceiving myself, I found myself part of the local running club.

Surely, I can handle it, I told myself. I’m making such good friends here in the running club. All I have to do to “stay recovered” is eat more. 

And I did make such good friends, such very good friends. We didn’t stay in close touch when I moved away, but every now and then we bumped into each other on Facebook and said, “Hi.”

So I thought it was only appropriate to let them know I’m back in town and I’d love to see them again. Hence, my initial message to K, “Hi! How are you? I’d love to meet for coffee and catch up!”

“Love to see you again! Are you still running? We could meet for a morning run!”

How to answer? No, I don’t run much anymore. Leave it at that?
No, I can’t handle running emotionally. I tend to relapse.
No, I started doing other kinds of exercise, so I’m still fit! (justification)

We managed to sign off with a mutual invitation to coffee – sometime. But as I got in my car to go run a couple errands, my nerves stood on end.

When we lived here before, I got into crazy long distance running. I lost weight, almost back to what I weighed before my first hospitalization. Now, every main road, every side street, every gravel turn, bridge, public park, and roadside bush (for bladder emergencies) has a memory.

And they’re not all good memories. Even though I made great friends in the running club, in all honesty, that’s not what it was about for me. Committing to see the group on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday for whatever distance, gave me an excuse to exercise beyond what was good for me. When I won a race, completed a marathon, or was congratulated for my endurance, I pushed that much harder.

Relapse picked up speed.

Exercise addiction…is a chronic loss of perspective of the role of exercise in a full life. A healthy athlete and an exercise addict may share similar levels of training volume — the difference is in the attitude.An addicted individual isn’t able to see value in unrelated activities and pursues his sport even when it is against his best interest. (American Running Association)

Most streets in Columbus, GA, are haunted, for me. This first week in town, my dog andIMG_0656-1 I have made it our mission to banish the ghosts that lurk in Britt David Park, Flat Rock Park and on the Riverwalk.

We’ve walked their trails, stopping at every puddle, funny smell and potential pee-pole. We’ve sat on the rocks and watched other people running. I wonder what their motivation is?

There are still a lot of ghosts here. Like I said, I traversed most of this town in my running shoes. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that these memories scare me a little.

From my journal:
There’s a hole in my heart as I drive around Columbus. It’s such a weird feeling, like a cavern that’s been covered over, sealed and the healing of that gaping hole has felt secure and relieving and good. Or a wound that once scabbed over, healed and remains a white, filmy scar. A bone healed, that again bears weight and mostly, the pain is gone. I feel debris and water slipping beneath the crevices and trying to re-open the hole in my heart. Scar tissue pulls and growth hurts. The weather here is just right, making the bone ache, and I see how and where I was broken once before.

And here is what Abba said:
Abby, those days are long gone. See, not only have I changed your body, I am changing your desires, changing your vision of beautiful.
There is no one like me who has doused you with life. Even in accepting your limits you feel more free than ever before. I have brought you far love. Rest and enjoy wide open spaces, green pastures and fresh water. Love, Father

Broken Hallelujah: SheLovesMagazine

Broken Hallelujah. For a while now, I’ve been whole, or healing. Sure, I have a long list of cracks, dents and crevices. I fought with anorexia for a good 14 years. That left my body broken. Even after I had recovered mostly once, some of the weak spots began to leak again, letting in fear and old habits. The ache of brokenness came back. Many, many days I found myself dissolving on the floor in tears. The agony was fissures of helplessness, starting rivulets in downward spiral. I was sliding down the mouth of death’s cavern. My soul hurt even more than my body.

And I cried out in brokenness.

Hallelujah means “Praise Yahweh.” And I recently learned that “praise” actually means “to project” which is one way that it differs from worship. Worship can be silent, internal song, wonder and fellowship with God. But praise is vocal. It declares the glories and sufficiencies of God for others to hear.

Goodness knows, I cried out. Sometimes I screamed at God. Sometimes, on a lonely walk I sang an off-tune song of prayer. My praise came in waves of despair, but that despair was matched and surpassed by knowing Yahweh Rophe, the God who Heals. When my voice broke and my heart broke and my will broke, my praise might not have passed the litmus test for a church chorus, but it was my broken hallelujah.

Thankfully, those days are slipping farther and farther behind me. Their shadows finally don’t stretch long enough to darken today. But then, I break in other places. For sure, I know that I am not independent.

Ragged relationships have cut and scarred me. My husband’s own brokenness and sharp edges have wounded me, much as I have wounded him sometimes. Love is like that, you share your wounds and bleed on each other – and bear their burdens and salve their scars. But mostly, I’m healing from those wounds. He and I are closer than we’ve been before. A bone heals stronger where it was broken, that’s us: stronger now.

So, when the put the question: Broken Hallelujah, I thought – not now. Oh but it only takes a moment for a storm to strike and wreak havoc on a well-ordered heart. The lightening strikes fast and touches flame to old hurts. Dark clouds press down, nearly suffocating the tender ground. In one afternoon, my heart succumbed to storm surge and I found myself dissolving on the floor again, in tears.

We’re moving. My husband is an Army officer, so after 10 years of this, you’d think I’d be used to it. I thought I was. I thought I had puttied the cracks from past moves. All the severed relationships, the quick goodbyes. All the special places, kissed so-long and overnight, they’ll never be seen again.

I didn’t really want to bring God in on this hurt. This was something normal, just a circumstance, a career path. Moving with the military is simply my life, not a problem to be solved or anything that requires a solution. It shouldn’t break me, in fact, it’s a good sign that my husband is progressing in his job. We only crack under bad things, right?

Last night, a very broken me sprawled face first on the floor beside my bed. And a broken hallelujah, a broken declaration, an agonized announcement of my need for my very Good God, came out in a whisper.

God, it hurts to start the goodbyes. Weeks and months out, I start minimizing my impact on my community. I convince myself that I’m not needed here in this city, this church, this small group of friends will all go on without me. And soon, I’ll be in a new place with no one, so I might as well begin adjusting now to loneliness.

And I fear the moments I am alone, that they mean I’m getting too comfortable by myself and will lose connection with… And God I know you’re enough, but you didn’t intend man to be alone. But…

And there my hallelujah stops. It breaks off without closure or final seem. Instead, the hallelujah still leaks from my brokenness onto the floor. And I’m still murmuring this broken hallelujah.

‘Cause all that I can sing is a broken Hallelujah

And my only offering is shattered praise

Still a song of adoration will rise up from these ruins

And I will worship You and give you thanks

Even when my only praise is a broken Hallelujah

How to Get Happy

“The joy of the Lord is my strength!”  Can’t you just hear a chorus of young Bible school voices singing off key?

Funny, it just struck me today what that song really means.  I re-read the verse the way I actually believe it, “When I feel strong, then I am joyful.”

“I’m so proud you.  You are so strong to be happy and functional when your husband deploys for a year,” numerous people have encouraged me regarding my husband’s Army career.  However, God’s joy makes me strong, not the other way around.  The feeling of complete satisfaction in Christ enables me to feel strong in difficult circumstances.  So where do I get this joy, so that I can have strength to endure deployments, deaths, economic downturns, weather-related tragedies, fears and physical pain?

Jesus said, in John 15, that we must obey His commandments in order to abide in His love.  He said these things so that we could have His complete joy.  So, this joy comes from Jesus and I stay connected to Christ by obeying Him.  Then, if I have His joy – I am strong!

Obedience = Abiding in Jesus = Joy = Strength

In the entire equation, there is no addition.  Nothing added to Christ can complete our joy, make us strong or give us salvation.  Christ and Christ alone has accomplished all that concerns us.

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.  Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Ps. 138:8

“O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works.” Is. 26:12