Saturday, September 28, 2013

I was a cloud.

I just turned 37 this week.

Let's let that sink in for a moment, shall we? Yikes. I don't "FEEL" 37... not sure what that's supposed to feel like anyway... but I think the years speed up after your early 20's and somehow you wake up one day and you're closer to 40 than you are to "young and stupid".

I was thinking about that this morning when I woke up.

I've come a long way, baby!

Once upon a time, I was a pissed-off teenager. I was the oldest of two, my parents divorced then remarried, I became the oldest of 5, and my inner control-freak was fuuhreeeaking out.
I was scared.
Fear looks like anger sometimes. At least it does with me.
They are my synonymous emotions.
Fear/Anger. Usually those closest to me can't tell them apart.
So, I looked angry.
I was mad at my parents, mad at their new spouses, mad at myself, mad at life, mad at God - whoever I deemed Him to be at the time, and mad... well, just because it was easier that way.

Pissed-off teenagers are even more stupid than regular, happy, well-adjusted ones. They make other people miserable. They ruin family events. They ruin the best days. It can be 70 degrees, sunny with a light breeze, great music playing and no pressing events to tend to... and one single pissed-off teenager can screw it all up.

That was me. The screwer-upper.
I remember when my mom coined the phrase "you are such a cloud!"
But it was so incredibly true.

My parents were worried about me, with good reason. I consistently made poor choices. I hung out with the wrong people. I stayed out too late, snuck out, broke rules and broke laws. I was your everyday, ordinary, cliche delinquent teenager.

I married my husband at 18. We thought we knew what love was. We thought we were SO smart and independent and wise beyond our years. We were both strong-willed, first-born, tough-as-nails, independent people. We thought we had this whole thing figured out.
He was far wiser than me and we had a conversation one night under the stars that amounted to "if we get married, it's forever. There's no exit plan. Deal?"
Yeah, I told you we had it all figured out.
Except not. 

For years, we struggled. We were head-strong kids playing house and learning that love is a decision and a choice. It wasn't always easy, but it has been worth it always.

However, every time we got together with my family - even though I was married, had kids, and was living differently for all to see - I was reminded of what a horrible kid I had been. I felt reminded of my poor choices, my poor lifestyle and all of my mistakes. It made me angry, it made me embarrassed, and it reminded me that my family hadn't magically forgotten all of my sins...any more than God had. And He knew them ALL, not just the public ones everyone could see. I'd never be forgiven. I'd never be able to move on. I'd never live down the junk in my past.
I was marked, sealed, finished.

Fast-forward a bit...
we were living in Colorado Springs, land of beauty so amazing you just look around and know that none of this could have ever possibly have just accidentally happened. Glorious blue skies - bluer blue than anything you've ever seen, giant mountains that seem to guard you from whatever is on the other side... it's very small-making.
One day I remember standing in worship realizing how screwed up my life had always been, wondering if I'd ever really meant any of those times I walked down front, got sprinkled, dunked or re-dedicated. I just knew I wasn't really forgiven.

I realized I was tangled, trapped, caught, sinking, drowning in the weight of my history and I was struggling to even gasp for air. Emotionally it reminded me of the time I was caught in an undertow in the Atlantic. The panicked struggle, the fight, the smothering weight of fear. It's so incredibly heavy.
I felt like a fraud.
I felt like a failure.
I needed help.
I needed a rescuer.
I needed a hero.
My husband couldn't save me. 

This is when if this were the Bible it would say "but God..."

Being an independent, strong-willed, first-born, tough-as-nails 20-something means you figure things out on your own. I didn't want to hear what the pastor said... he didn't know my story. I didn't want to listen to whoever was speaking at Women of Faith that year. She didn't know me personally.
I prayed. I listened. I changed my radio dial to the Christian Music station. I absorbed those truths like I was being marinated in them. Slowly, slowly, slowly... my frantic gasps for air became life-giving breaths. My panic began to slow. My brain could reason again. I was able to hear, feel and speak to the Lord. The Holy Spirit was audible and palpable in my heart. I heard him louder than my failures, louder than my doubts, louder than my fears. When I felt myself again sinking back into the waves of failure, inadequacy and regret... I would hear "Take my hand. I've got this." I would breathe deeply the truths I was learning. I would shake off the ropes entangling me, dragging me back into the depths, and I was just so thankful to be rescued.

So for those mommas and daddies out there parenting that first-born, strong-willed, tough-as-nails kid... don't give up on them. Love them in the middle of it. Speak truth into their lives. Tell them you love them anyway. And that you always will. Assure them of their value. Assure them they are worth it. Pray for them. Then pray for them some more.

And me?

This past summer my mom told me about how she had always been praying for me. All along. In the middle of the junk, the angry teenage years, and beyond. She told me that she'd given me over to Jesus and just asked that He wouldn't let me get hurt beyond repair. It was the first time I'd heard her heart in that way.
And she told me how proud she is of who I've become.

All of those years, I thought she didn't care. I thought the "cloud" she saw when I entered the room was a storm cloud. Maybe she did. But, now I see it was the cloud that was blocking me from being ME. It was a cloud of fear, doubt, anxiety, lies and anger. These things don't come from Jesus. They come from the enemy.

Now that I'm all old and junk  37  I can see that God TRULY does work ALLLLLLL the things together for good. It may not feel like it now. It may look hopeless. You may be saving up so you have bail money when you need it or just praying to get through each day with your child. You may still be that child.

I'm here to tell you... He saves.
He saves you, he saves me.
You call, He answers.
And... oh yeah, He forgives.
All of it.

I'm living proof.

And I'm no longer a cloud.

I was fought for all along. Not just when I realized I needed rescue, but before that too. Way back in the beginning. I was rescued and saved for a purpose. For a time such as this. I'm going to do something amazing someday... even if it's done in my every day... and at the end of that and in the middle of it too, I can say "all because of Jesus."

So, I'm sharing with you the words that meant so much to me, still do. The verses that bring me peace, that give me a sense of worth and value.

Psalm 18: 1-19
I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded. 
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me!


  1. I am more proud of this post than I can put into words. I love you!

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TIMES A MILLION!!!!

  3. I Love this post too. I've followed you for a few years and appreciate your example. I also appreciate your honesty and sharing part of your journey to peace with Father and our Savior. Thank you!

  4. Thank you for sharing your story!

  5. your story!! deserve even more confetti and give bigger hugs!!! xo

  6. You are so young. I know this because I just turned 40...


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