Through Thick and Thin

Sometimes it might seem that I go overboard on all this "God" stuff.
I mean, it is nice to talk about it in church, maybe at a funeral or perhaps if you are really hoping to get that job-but every day?
Every time we talk?
Yes and yes.
It isn't because I think I know more, or because I am trying to convert someone or push my ideas on them.
It's because He has been such a part of my life, not sharing would be keeping something back -like trying to keep my heart from beating.
You see, my life isn't all that different from most people I know.
It includes some struggles, some heartache, some broken dreams.
If you reach your thirties and haven't experienced some of each of these then either you have a secret I haven't heard of yet or I suppose that just maybe that your life-in-a-bubble thing is a bit too safe for me. (Yes, even me.)
Although I hate the heartaches and the struggle and disappointments (I'd much rather vote for life that needed none of such things!), I see them as catalysts for growth and I have learned from experience they are making me into a better person.
I knew the me twenty years ago and the I know the me now and I can tell you without any hesitation that my heart is much healthier now than it was back then. My prayer is that-God willing- I can say the same thing in twenty more years.
Grace by grace.(John 1:16)
Day by day.(Hebrews 13:8)
But the One Constant I have had in my life was God-the never changing God of the Bible. He has walked with me through thick and thin.
And never once did He expect anything of me but to believe that He is and then to trust and receive His love and grace. (John 3:16, Romans 10:9-13)
Like I said, through thick and thin.
He's walked with me through that day when-while working in the cafeteria in fourth grade, that sixth grade girl took her tray I was assigned to help clean and she poured milk all over it and then looked me right in the eye in the kind of way where she wanted me to know that I wasn't worthy to clean her tray. Like a scene straight out of a made for teens movie, she stood there mocking me as I had to clean the tray while attempting not to spill the milk all over me and the floor. She just laughed harder when I looked at her, confused by her actions.
My God, He has walked me through every day of fifth grade-when I didn't have even one friend until far into the school year. This was the year where I hid in classrooms and libraries at lunch because it was either that or deal with the wrath of more mean girls.
He walked me through sixth grade and that horrible hair and even worse-my attempt to become the mean girl so for once I wouldn't be the one picked on.
He walked me through high school and teenage drama and more bullying and nasty notes that I would find in my locker on crisp, clear mornings.
When a friend I thought would always have my back left me in the dust, I still wasn't alone.
When my parents didn't get me and I didn't get them and the space between us grew and awkward years passed-He was with me then.
When I was married and certain family members were busy with their own problems or heartache or something--anything other than making it to my special day--He was there.
When I had to make the huge leap of faith and become an Army wife. I had to leave every comfort behind and even the California sunshine-He was there.
When I had to move into my new house without hubby-he was always someplace training-God was with me.
When I said goodbye to my hubby. When I watched him pack his duffle and all that gear made for battle, when we talked of how I would take care of things while he was gone and what I would do if I ever got that call or that knock at the door. My 22 year old heart was so very thankful He was there.
When I felt so lonely as hubby was away fighting in a war that so many people, especially my peers, seemed to not even think about-God was there.
That day when the doctor found a lump where you don't want to find lumps and those months while I lived across the country from family and my hubby was still across oceans fighting in the war---those days that I had to go for test after test, scan after scan, and to finally hear those words-"It's "nothing""--He was with me.
That day when-finally!!-Hubby came home and then things just weren't the same and all the days and months and years after when we had to walk through the battle ground of PTSD and TBI and all those simple acronyms imply-God was with me.
That year, not long after saying goodbye to military life and I had arms full with a toddler and a newborn and  I was still trying to catch my breath after so many life changes in so little time, my parents and I found ourselves at a hard crossroads and words were said and hearts were hardened and pathways split-God was there. (Psalm 27:10)
When we bought our house-our miracle of a deal-God was there.
That night after our sweet Buddy (our boxer, the dog we adopted right after we were married) died and I realized that I had no connection to the life before the war anymore-God was there.
Those nights of anger and denial because of PTSD or TBI or LIFE-nights where I slept on the very edge of the bed and was so angry at  hubby for being a different man than who I married. I wouldn't even let my toothbrush face his. God was with me. (Deut 1:30-31)
Those sleepless nights where babies were sick and I didn't have a mama that I could just call and ask advice from without major conversations happening first-and then what about those nights when both kids were sick and hubby with his TBI complications were sick-they were all so sick and I wasn't sure if I could keep this all up-He was there (Psalm 3:5).
Eighteen months ago-when illness that was already lurking and showing signs from way back when-jumped out in full swing and punched hard at our lives and started attacking hubby's brain (and just when I though things were getting better)-God was still there.(Psalm 46:1)
Hospital visits and endless car rides not to vacation spots but to yet another doctor appointment... Dreams that are put on hold and futures left unplanned because that thing that everyone doesn't talk about- yeah, death-we get to hear about it more often than we'd like. God has still been here. (Psalm 34:18)
When people have gotten tired of our way of life-and I don't blame them- and they just walk out of our lives and move on--He's been here (Psalm 71:3)
When my aunt -who blessed me more than she ever knew and always more than I even knew-left earth to dance in heaven-He was with me. (Romans 8:35)
God has always been there with His never failing love and His everlasting arms holding me up and keeping me going just that next step. (Psalm 143:8, Deut 33:27)
This isn't to say that at some point during each of my moments God hasn't send some beautiful people to be His hands and feet.
That beautiful friend that will never get rid of me since that one cheesy lunch-He sent her.
That friend that moving day--helping me unpack my house-calling in sick to work even though we had met just hours before-always an angel in my eyes.
That friend that found out about my lonely series of doctor appointments for that scary lump and came with me to wait in the waiting room for my results-I will never forget that.
My hubby who shows me how to live life to the fullest, my sister who uses her vacation days to help me with the kids, my aunt who shows up whenever and wherever. God has used cousins who text and far away friends who send cards with encouraging words. He has used an uncle to send flowers to me the wedding anniversary while my husband was deployed. Those friends that filled my freezers (yes-both of them!), family who have watched the kids while we had yet another appointment to go to and those friends who said the right thing at the right time or said nothing when nothing could ever be said to make it okay. Neighbors and friends and family and community. All His hands and feet in some way.
And these beautiful people are so very special to me, but the one heart I can always, always trust my own with is His-The One Who knows me (Psalm 139:1) and loves me-all of me-the parts of me that He delights in (Zep 3:17) and the parts of me He died (Romans 5:6)
And in this world where relationships can often be defined by the shallow gestures and harsh demands of social media or even just the American way of moving on to something bigger and more flashy (or skinnier and younger) after two minutes of not holding your attention-a commitment of His kind is worth talking about---it is worth spending some time soaking in.
It is this relationship-so alien to everything the modern world idolizes-that gets me through each day that is often overflowing with things that I have to do. It gets me through the sleepless nights and it keeps me grounded and away from despair. (Psalm 28:13-14)
And so, although my daily prayer is to speak words that will encourage someone who might have found themselves in a dark spot, my ultimate goal is to speak words that share my (inadequate and completely imperfect) love of the One Who loved me first (1John 4:19)
The One Who made the moon and the stars (Psalm 8:3) and Who never demands that I prove my love to Him, but proved His love to me by the way He lived and died (John 10:18)---and the way He lives still (Rev 1:4).

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