Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why, for me, Halloween = Love

When I was 6 years old my mom was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Cancer. When you're 6 you don't really understand the logistics of cancer.  I just knew that my mom was either feeling really bad or in the hospital all the time. And I was sad.  I was scared too.  When you're 6 and you're gone from your mom a lot it's scary. But I'm fortunate that I come from a very big family.  My dad has 5 sisters and 1 brother and endless cousins, and so even though I missed my mom and life was scary, there were family members all around us.  There was always someone there taking care of my brother and me when my dad was taking care of my mom.

When Halloween comes each year I can't help but remember my very first memory of going Trick-or-Treating.  It was that year--the year mom had cancer.  She had gone to the store with us the week before Halloween and let me pick out a Smurfette costume.  I couldn't believe she let me have Smurfette, but she did. (Some people back then thought Smurfs were from the devil.  I knew she wouldn't want people to think that we approved of the devil.) She came with us to the town Halloween party and I wore my Smurfette costume in the costume contest.  I remember smelling the weird scent of the plastic mask as I marched in a circle with all the other 6-year-olds.  Of course, my store-bought costume was no match against the elaborate, homemade costumes, but that was okay with me...that night we were going to go knock on people's doors and get candy!  But by the time we got home, mom was not well and dad had to stay with her.  Trick-or-Treating was not happening.

I'm not the kind of person who takes disappointment well.  That feeling, for me, ranks among the worst.  To be so excited and in such anticipation of something and then have it squashed..........
The 6-year-old me felt the same way.  But I tried not to cry because I could tell my mom really wanted to go too, but she just didn't have the strength.  I walked into my room swinging the Smurfette mask round and round by the elastic band and I heard the phone ring.  My mom called from the kitchen, excitement in her voice. Sarah, get ready! You're going to the farm!  "The farm" was our family's farm.  The Casey farm.  It went back a few generations and my older cousins Jessica and Margaret lived there.  I loved going to the farm because I loved the horses and cows, but most of all I loved Jessica and Margaret.  They were beautiful, they were allowed to wear lipstick, and their mom let them use as much hairspray as they wanted even when their Meme yelled at them that it was enough. Keep your costume on, my mom told me.  You're going Trick-or-Treating.  I don't think I could have smiled any bigger.

My dad took me outside and Jess and Margaret's mom pulled up in her car to take me to the farm. When I got there, my cousins were waiting for me.  I was kind of nervous because I wasn't sure they'd want a little kid tagging along.  But when they saw me they smiled and hugged me and told me how much they loved my Smurfette look.  I think Jessica had pink hair, and I wondered if my mom would let me do that next year...probably not.  As they finished getting ready, she and Margaret were arguing about what houses we were going to go to first.  I giggled because it didn't matter to me what street we walked or how much candy we got. Anything we did would be fantastic and fun.  If I couldn't go Trick-or-Treating with my mom, this was definitely the next best thing.  That night goes down as one of the best memories of my childhood...walking down the dark, country, Douglas, Massachusetts roads, holding hands with the big girls, screaming at the scary Halloween decorations, getting tootsie rolls stuck in my teeth.  I was loved and I felt loved. My cousins may not remember Trick-or-Treating that year, but I'll remember it for the rest of my life.

So for me Halloween isn't an evil holiday.  It's not the devil in disguise any more than a little girl in a Smurfette costume.  For me, Halloween represents a simple act of kindness that happened over 30 years ago that translated into a great big act of love.  It represents a time of joy for that 6-year-old little me who, at the time, had a lot of sadness and fear in her life.  I take Halloween as an opportunity to not only cherish that memory, but to remind myself to love like Jess and Margaret loved me on that crisp, New England, Halloween night. Thank you, Jessica and Margaret.  Because of you, Halloween = Love.

Many years with Margaret (middle) and Jessica in Boston Common

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Now that the stress and anxiety of launch Sunday is over, I've had time to just sit back, reflect, and frankly, be genuinely excited about our church. It's been a while since I've felt so....connected.  And it feels really good.

When I was in graduate school in the first year of my doctoral program I thought I was going to die. 12+ hour days combined with endless reading, writing, patient observation, and evil professors trying to weed us out every chance they could get. It was sink or swim, but swimming by yourself was a BAD idea. My classmates and I quickly realized we'd only make it if we stuck together. And stick together we did. We became family. We studied together, we worked together, we failed tests together, we laughed and cried together, we punctured eardrums together, and every once in a while....I mean like once or twice every semester....we'd have a moment to just enjoy the friendships we had formed. We'd go out for a real meal, plop ourselves into a booth, and I'd grin and hold up my Coca-Cola in a toast and say, "Here's to togetherness!"  They'd all laugh at me, but they would remember the next time we were out and I'd do it all over again. We're all still good friends now and we don't see each other nearly as often as we should but when we do I make sure we toast to togetherness!
Jen L., Alison, Julie, D'Arcy, Me, Jen D. circa 2002?
Last year we lost a dear friend, Tony (Anthony) Torres to a sudden and very serious respiratory illness. Tony was young. A husband. A father. His death was shocking. Tony was a member of our college church group, Quest. Tony's death caused us all to reflect about that time way back when, when we were doing life together.  It was really special because we had such a large number of people from all different ages, backgrounds, life stories, personalities, etc. who just simply loved to be together.  Those years were almost magical because all of these people literally became like a family. We'd do anything for each other. Of course life changed, people moved, people got married, had kids, did the things that people do. But when Tony passed away so many of us came back together to honor and remember him. And it was just like a family reunion. It was togetherness. And although the reason for it was so sad, the togetherness was awesome.
Quest togetherness, remembering our friend Tony Torres
Sometimes life gets crazy these days and it will be either Johnny or me who is "in charge" of Arlis on any given day. During the week it's mostly daddy and on weekends it's mostly mommy. But in the evening, when we're all home and winding down, he'll go and get a book, climb into our bed right between us, look up at us with those big brown eyes and say, "We're together!"  He notices. He notices when we don't all take the same car. He notices if one of us isn't at a meal. I never told him that togetherness was the way it's supposed to be. I never taught him to look for it or want it. He just knows.
An oldie but goodie of our family togetherness.
Togetherness is special. And we were created for it. God made us to have fellowship with other people. To communicate with each other. To share ideas, to create, to laugh, to cry, to feel, to be. To help and to be helped. To love and to be loved. Life wasn't made to be lived alone. It's sink or swim but you weren't meant to swim by yourself. We were meant to do this together. And now we have a new season of togetherness with Discover Family Church. For me it's exciting to have this feeling again. To be a part of this growing community, with friends old and new. My heart just explodes every week when I see all of these inspiring, talented, hardworking people who are now part of this togetherness.  It's real.  It's happening.  And, as Arlis would say, it's very very beautiful.  :)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I'm the wife.

So it's official.  I mean official official.  Discover Family Church is to be.  We have our location, our funding, our people--all the things that make a church plant...plant.  So....I guess that means that I'm officially a pastor's wife? I literally giggled to myself as I typed those words. It's absurd.  But it's the truth.

I'm not the stereotypical pastor's wife. Stereotypes, while society seems to resist them, are based on elements of truth.  But we just love to point out how we're NOT whatever we really are.  We're not just another sheep in the herd, right?  Well, like it or not, you and I fit into categories and we are judged accordingly. And I am now in "the wife" category and I will be duly judged.

It was made very clear to me as Johnny and I interviewed with churches last year that the non-stereotypical pastor's wife isn't really what most places out there are looking for.  I have a career AND I'm a mom.  I have interests, friends, hobbies AND I'm a wife.  I enjoy lots of different non-church places and activities AND I enjoy my church.  Most places didn't like that I really had those things before the big AND.  They didn't want anything, anyone, or anywhere to interfere with my pastor's wife duties and expectations, which varied depending on church and geographical region.

As we moved through that phase of our lives, the whole thing kind of took a toll on my self-esteem.  How could we accomplish what we thought we were meant to accomplish if we were rejected because of me?  I could try to make some changes......I could quit my job, pop out 6 more kids, homeschool them while posting 57 times a day on Facebook about how wonderful and perfect my life/husband/kid is, post Instagrams of the delicious gourmet meals I'm cooking every night for dinner, and devote all my free time to making casseroles for the "shut-ins" (LOL shut-ins, remember that term?  HORRIBLE!), all while having perfect hair, nails, clothes, and shoes. Oh yeah, and don't forget those picture perfect baby showers.

So obviously these are exaggerations.  And I don't mean to belittle anything a traditional pastor's wife does. If she does all of these things and is truly happy doing them, great.  I mean to say that what you think of your pastor's wife and who your pastor's wife really is are likely very, very different.  And I think a lot of churches (not all, but many) put pressure on these women to be and do so much more than they should.  I can't imagine I'm the only person in history who has felt a little out of place in this role. Come on, you know it's a lot of pressure.  People are watching.  You watch your pastor's wife, right?  I've watched all of mine for my entire life-- What is she wearing? Are her kids behaving? Why is she sitting there?  Why isn't she at church today?   Is her husband crazy?  Is she crazy? Are her kids crazy?  Has she gained some weight?  Did her hair color change?  Does she really think she can sing?

I was so fortunate that in our ARC 3.0 training back in April that this very issue was addressed. I was able to listen to some wives tell their stories, give their advice, and let us baby church-planting wives's okay to be yourself. Don't try to live up to lofty expectations, because you'll fail.  You'll fail your people, your family, and yourself.  They also gave us some practical steps to take regarding the balance between church life and non-church life.  Yes!  You can have a non-church life and be a pastor's wife!  I felt SUCH a weight off of me after that session.  I don't have to be the pastor's wife pictured in other people's heads.  It's okay to be me.  Hm.  Kind of hope for all pastors' wives sake that this attitude is contagious.

I'm also so lucky that I had some great examples to refer to when I was in this little personal crisis.  I started thinking of one in particular because she and I share the same occupation.  Her name is Jenny Edgemon and she was the wife of the youth pastor at our church when I was in high school.  I thought of Jenny and how she was a working mom, a successful career woman, a loving and supportive wife, and a connected and involved presence in our church.  20 years ago.  Wait a minute.  Maybe I can do this. Then I thought of my mother-in-law, Betty Kelley.  Mom.  Grandma (or as she calls herself, Ya-Ya...she picked it folks).  Student. Hard worker.  Recently promoted at her job.  Successful.  She's going to be in charge of our nursery and preschool at DFC.  I have her wisdom...years and years of it... right there.

So maybe I can do this.  I'm not perfect--not even close.  I'm socially anxious.  I argue with my husband. My son enjoys sprinkling baby powder on furniture and floors.  He also screams and sometimes spits. My house is messy. My hair is messy.  My clothes are mostly boring.  I can cook but usually don't.  I occasionally have road rage....ok, more than occasionally but I'm working on it.  I get discouraged.  I make mistakes.  I mess up.  I am far from what you'd picture as a pastor's wife.  But I don't think I want to be doing anything else. Why? Because God put me right here.  I have watched this church miraculously form before our eyes one little piece at a time. I'm invested, heart and soul.  And as tentative as I am about this new role I am a million times more excited for the days ahead.  The friendships, the community, and the difference we make in each others' lives.  What an honor to be right in the middle of something so amazing.

So the truth is, I am a pastor's wife.  And I humbly and willfully am taking it, stereotypes and all.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Missing Baby Blueberry Part 2: Don't Compare

The day we found out that Blueberry was gone, I texted a friend.  She was one of few friends who knew about the pregnancy.  She also had experienced a loss of her own--only her loss was much later into her pregnancy.  I nearly cringed when I texted her about losing Baby Blueberry because, to me, her loss seemed agonizing and impossible.  Mine was tiny in comparison.  What would she say?  What would I say if I were in her position?  She texted back kind and comforting words.  And still I felt stupid.  I was grieving the loss of a tiny blueberry baby. She had to go through labor and give birth to her little girl, knowing she was gone.  I texted her back and thanked her and said something to the effect that my pain was no match for the pain she experienced.  No, she said.  Don't compare.  Grief is grief.

But I still felt guilty in my grief.  I have a healthy boy already.  Isn't he enough?  I never knew what Baby Blueberry looked like, sounded like, felt like.  I didn't know Baby Blueberry's personality.  I never felt Baby Blueberry kick.  It wasn't like I spent years with Baby Blueberry and had memories to mourn.  I never watched Baby Blueberry suffer through an illness and then die.  I never even actually gave birth to Blueberry. Who did I think I was?  I have a friend who gave birth to a son that lived only hours.  I have another friend who had a son who lived only weeks.  Those babies were held and seen and named.  My baby was the size of a blueberry.  My baby did not die under tragic circumstances.  As the doctor said, my baby probably had a serious genetic problem that was incompatible with life......I think they say that to everyone, by the way.

Don't compare.  Don't compare.  I think we are all about comparing these days. Jobs, money, kids, houses.....instagram pics.  It's a race to see who's the most beautiful, the richest, or the highest achieving...whose kids are the wittiest....who can post the sassiest comments on Facebook...who can shut down someone else in an online argument about this or that social issue.  And so then here I was comparing my loss to others.  Measuring up the loss of my baby.  How twisted is that?  I'm not blaming society or culture by any means.  I blame myself for getting caught up in the nasty game of comparing.  And it hurt me.

As I said in my last post, when I first wrote about losing Baby Blueberry I received so many messages and texts from other ladies who experienced a miscarriage or fetal demise, many of them friends.  But why hadn't I known about my friends' losses before?  I'm thinking maybe some of them felt the same way as I felt.  They were comparing.  They felt grief, pain, loss....but because they never met their baby they felt it didn't meet "the standard" for actual loss.  I'm thinking maybe most of them didn't have a friend like I had to say, stop.  Don't compare.  You lost something. You lost someone. Baby Blueberry was small and had a very short life.  But Baby Blueberry was.  And Baby Blueberry was mine.  The culture I live in says that Baby Blueberry wasn't a person. But to me, Baby Blueberry was a person.  A soul.  A creation of God. Someone I'll meet on the other side of heaven.

I'm not suggesting that everyone who loses a baby go and publicly declare their sadness as I have done....I'm doing it because there are ladies out there who need to find the grace that my friend had for me.  I'm saying be the grace for someone else.  Be life-giving! (I learned that at the ARC conference recently and LOVE IT) Don't belittle someone else's grief because you think you hold the title for "Worst Life Ever".  Validate it.  Help them through it.  And if you've lost someone...whether it be a baby or a child or a parent or a friend...sometimes it feels like no other human could ever give you the peace you're looking for.  And you're right.  Only your Heavenly Father can guide you to that peace.  But having a friend who knows what it's like........value beyond measure.

That's all.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Missing Baby Blueberry

This past Christmas my sister (in-law) Emily gave me the most meaningful gift--a necklace that she had made with a "B" charm, angel's wing, and a blue bead about the size of a blueberry.  It was to remember Baby Blueberry.  It was even more meaningful because it came from her...another mom who experienced what I experienced.  She knew how it felt physically.  She knew how it felt emotionally.  And not that I was glad that it happened to both of us--no way--but I was glad I had (and still have) someone who understood it--who understands it.  Because although time heals, it is becoming more apparent to me that a mother's heart doesn't forget.  I haven't really blogged about Baby Blueberry, but it's not because I've forgotten. I think about Baby Blueberry every single day. I don't ever want to forget Baby Blueberry--I won't.  But I have wanted to forget the pain of losing Baby Blueberry.  I have the kind of personality where I like to take care of business before I have fun.  I was the kid in the class who wanted to present my final project first so I could sit back and relax for the rest of the week, or who would do all my homework by the end of the night on Friday so that I had a carefree weekend.  I feel like I tried this method in dealing with the loss of Baby Blueberry.  Grieve, I said to myself immediately.  Deal with it now so it doesn't grow into an unmanageable beast.  And then it will be easier later.  You can focus on the things to come.  You can put it behind you and figure out what's next.  Right.

A few days ago I looked at my Timehop App and my Facebook status from last year was, "You hear the cry of the broken."  It is a lyric from the song Cry of the Broken written by none other than my most favorite lady, Darlene Zschech.  Personally, the song points me to Psalm 34:18--The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in me one of the most beautiful and comforting scriptures.  I remember the day I posted that status and what was happening in our lives.  Someone had hurt us so badly and I felt like my heart was physically breaking.  It was some of the deepest pain that I had felt in a very long time.  I immediately decided to deal with it because I wanted it behind me.  Gone.  It hurt and I wanted it to hurt no more. So I dove straight in.  Truthfully, it took some time...more than I really wanted to give it...and a LOT of prayer.  But I can look back and say that Johnny and I grew from that painful experience.  We dealt with it head on and then, in due time, put it behind us. Then 5 months later we lost Baby Blueberry.  And that.  That was not only heartbreaking, it was spirit crushing.

When I first blogged about losing Baby Blueberry the response was overwhelming.  I cannot tell you how many messages, texts, emails, etc. I received not only from ladies I didn't know, but from ladies I know and have known for years who have experienced the loss of a baby, and I never knew it.  My mind was blown.  I promise you there are friends, family members, acquaintances, and co-workers who have experienced this or who are experiencing this situation now.  They are suffering broken hearts and crushed spirits--all by themselves.  And I've learned this year that this isn't the kind of heartache that you confront and "get it over with".  It's the kind of grief that actually confronts you and does so when you least expect it.  Like last month when Baby Blueberry was supposed to be born.  Like this weekend as I was driving to Alabama to attend our advanced training session for church planting and felt that little blue bead around my neck and rolled it between my fingers and traced it along my lips. Blueberry.  My baby.  Gone.  Ouch.  I miss Baby Blueberry.  It's been 7 months exactly and I'm not done facing it.  I'm not drowning in it, but you know, it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

So I'm going to talk some more about this.  About this grief with a mind of its own.  About how we who experience this kind of grief all need a sister like Emily who understands this experience.  About how a girl's spirit can and will survive.  And about the grace and peace that is so beautifully and unexpectedly present in the midst of it all.  More to come....

Thursday, April 3, 2014

There's something about that Parkway.....

When I was a kid I used to get pretty annoyed when the Sunday School verse was Psalm 37:4--  Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  I never liked that verse.  Because the desires of my heart were the following: candy and soda every day, video games all night long, a swimming pool, a puppy, a kitten, a large collection of Trapper Keepers with Lisa Frank folders, a bunch of those shiny dolphin and rainbow stickers, a new box of crayons  for every day (Crayola only), and a 24 kt gold flute.  I also felt like I was pretty delightful.  We went to a fantastic church where I enjoyed myself, had a lot of friends to be delightful with....and that's where the Lord was....and I'm sure he could see how delightful I was....yet my heart's desires were nowhere to be found.  I was fortunate enough to have parents and Sunday School teachers who emphasized scripture.  I memorized a LOT of it through my elementary years....mostly to win contests....but nevertheless, I memorized.  And this was not for me.

It's been a while since I've written.  I haven't forgotten about my blog.  I've actually written 2 or 3 posts and then subsequently deleted them because they just weren't quite right.  The beginning of this year has had me more in a thinking and pondering mode rather than an expressing mode.  I've been thinking a lot about how incredibly different life has become.  I have this app called TimeHop on my phone.  It syncs with social media and every day it tells you what you were doing/saying/posting on this very day in history.  I think it's one of my favorite things to do every look back and see what was going on then and compare it to now.  When I think back to about a year ago, it was when Johnny got a call from a Dallas church regarding a position.  He had been approached several times before by the same church and I was so adamant that I wanted to stay here.  Florida.  Home.  But as I sat at my desk at work, on the phone with him, staring at the pattern on the carpet in contemplation, something inside said, let's go for it.  No, I didn't necessarily want to move away...but I didn't want to stay and continue doing what we were doing either.

We were stuck in a rut.  I was in a job that I enjoyed most of the time, but was high demand, high stress, topped off by a grisly commute.  I was putting all the energy I had into that and giving my family the leftovers.  I know I'm not the only one who has done or does this.  It was difficult, it was ugly, and it was unfair to my husband and to my baby.  Johnny was home taking care of Arlis, working part-time as a youth pastor, and his goal of returning to full time ministry was nowhere in sight.  This...Dallas...moving away....could be our chance.  And maybe the persistence of the job propositions Johnny was receiving was a sign  I could take a break and cut back on working, spend more time with Arlis, and he could take a full time position at a church.  We would switch life around a little bit....maybe a change in scenery would be good too?

But really, the desire of my heart was to be in Florida.  The desire of my heart was for Arlis to be near his grandparents.  And yet the desire of my heart was to allow my husband to lead our family and explore a change in his career.  The desire of my heart was for him to have the desires of his heart too.  The desire of my heart was to give this a chance, because maybe God was trying to tell us something.

So onward we went.  Once the interview process with Texas got serious I was so incredibly unsettled.  Sometimes it is really hard for me to separate intuition from emotion.  Sometimes it is hard to find God's voice and direction in the noise of my emotions.  I consider myself a pretty emotional person....I prefer the word, "passionate".  But here we were making a huge, huge decision and inside I felt like the world could possibly be ending.  And then the arguing with myself began.....

You feel unsettled because this isn't right.  No, you just don't want to leave, you're being selfish.  And you're the one who told your husband to do this.  Yeah...and what else was I supposed to do?  We were running out of gas and there was no other option on the table.  So you do this?  This was stupid.  Texas is not the answer.  Texas is not where you should be.  Um, is that you God?  Or is that my other personality......hello?......God?

I texted my dad.  He is wise and he is a source of calm for me during the most turbulent times of my life.  What do I do dad?  I can't figure out what I'm supposed to do?  He texted back to me an aviation analogy (of course!):
Continue on your current heading and you will know when to land.  

At the time this frustrated me.  I don't want to continue on this heading!  This heading is ugly and hard and confusing.  But I held on to his advice, because my dad has never let me down.

I've told a few people this... when I pray on the Polk Parkway, I get some real clarity.  Amusing, but true.  When Johnny was working at a church in Winter Haven I drove the Parkway a lot.  And I had a lot of praying to do during that period in our lives.  So I'd pray on the Parkway.  I'd sing and I'd pray.  There were 2 distinct times that I feel like I heard from God on the Parkway.  One of them was regarding this situation.  I was struggling with the events that had taken place that day regarding the details of Johnny's interview process.  He was on a plane home as I drove to get Arlis at my in-laws.  We were both confused and I (the passionate one) was angry.  So God, if this was for us, why was the process so very confusing and convoluted?  Shouldn't this be a bit easier?  More peaceful?  At the same time I was "discussing" this with God, I was also resisting with all my might the concept that this was the wrong path because I knew that if I tried hard enough I could find fault, because I didn't want to go.  And I wanted to do right.  I wanted to be uncomfortable if this was going to make life better--if this is what God had for us.  And then....finally.....I allowed myself the justice of considering--as objectively as I could at that moment--what if?  What if this isn't it.  So I said to God, what if this isn't it?

Instantly I was settled.  Nope.  This wasn't it.  I took a deep breath and felt instantly peaceful.  I don't know what was "it", but this wasn't it.  I knew now with a pretty solid degree of confidence that it just wasn't right.  There are a whole lot of other things I could talk about here....about how Johnny and I had to figure this out individually before we could collectively move on.....about how in a marriage sometimes you have to allow things to happen at a pace that you may not necessarily want to move at, for the greater good of  both of you....about how we would go through this process together over and over again before figuring out what was "it."  We came incredibly close to leaving Florida on several occasions over those next few months.  And I mean as close as, we packed up our house and rented it out.  But then ultimately when it was time to pull the trigger, something would stop us.  It wasn't yet "time to land".

Something's missing, I said to Jonathan.  I don't know what it is, but something's missing.  I know we aren't supposed to continue where we left off before we started this process of change, but I know that something is just not right.  Funny enough that "something" was the other thing I talked to God about on the Parkway, months and months and months before.  The church that my husband would start.  Something about that Parkway....

Clearly we are still here.  Lakeland, Florida.  Right near that Parkway.  And we are on such a different path than we were a year ago.  The hindsight is coming now, slowly but surely.  We had to go through a lot of difficult days to get to this point.  And the difficult days haven't ended...they're just different now.  When I sit and think about it, it's really hard to believe that all of it happened, and all in such a short period of time.  Most of 2014 (so far) has been spent trying to sort through it all, and figure out how to express it.  We've started a church.  A real church.  And people actually come to it.  And WANT to come to it.  And me.  I'm a...pastor's wife?  ME?  I'm not a pastor's wife.  I'm a professional and a wannabe lifetime student.  But now --I'm a pastor's wife.  That's scary.  This isn't completely unknown territory for me.  But it is uncomfortable territory.  (More on that later!)

When I was willing to get uncomfortable and leave Florida I think God may have been saying, are you willing to be uncomfortable for me?  And when it came down to it, I was.  I was willing to give it all up in order to allow him to work in our lives.  In the midst of it, I didn't like it.  It was flat out misery.  But I did it.  God gave me the desires of my heart because I was and I still am willing to get uncomfortable.  Taking delight in God is trusting in him, talking to him, and listening to him.--having a relationship with him.  Not to get your way...your way is irrelevant.  Not to spare you pain or discomfort...this is earth, not heaven.  Not to load up on Lisa Frank folders and golden instruments....haha!  But to truly, in your heart, want to do and live in his will.  Ultimately that is all that matters.  This doesn't spare you from heartache and hurt. I know this firsthand.  But when those painful days do come you have a really awesome friend to lean on...the one who made you, who loves you, who knows you inside and out and who, more than anyone else (including yourself!), wants what is best for you.

So it looks like the Kelley family has "landed".  :)  Thanks, Dad.

I don't drive on the Parkway as much as I used to.  But you better believe that when I do, I'm talking to God!