Thursday, November 26, 2015


 "Know that the Lord, he is God!  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!  Give thanks to him; bless his name!
 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations."
Psalm 100:3-5

I'm struggling with how to start this post.  So I guess I'll begin by admitting that.  Today, Thanksgiving, has been a day of conflicting emotions, joy, pain, regret, love... and I'm having a hard time arranging my thoughts into a coherent idea.  But I suppose that makes sense in a season that is anything but easy to understand.

Let's start here-
Today is a day of thankfulness.  A day when we all stop to count our blessings, tell those we love how grateful we are for them, and profess the goodness of the Lord to all people.  Which is awesome. Thankfulness is something I am working on cultivating, because I won't let my heart grow bitter and cold due to circumstances beyond my control.  My heart is my responsibility, and God has called me to be thankful, to praise Him, to bless His name.  

So how do we do all of that when our worlds crumble around us?  It's a lesson God is leading me through daily.  One I certainly haven't figured out yet, and I am sure it will be ongoing for the entirety of my life.  But today, on my first holiday without my husband by my side, I realized one aspect of living a thankful life is to actively choose it.  Today could have been miserable; my husband is in another state with our daughter, enjoying time without me, and I miss them both.  A lot.  It feels wrong to go through the festivities of the day without them.  Unnatural.  It feels worse that he doesn't seem to share my sadness about the broken state of things today.  That certainly had the potential to knock me off of my feet.  But it hasn't. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly grieved that we all didn't get to enjoy this day together.  I'm grieved that we are continuing down this path of brokenness and sin and pain.  I'm grieved that my son had to experience his first ever Thanksgiving without his father there to see him shovel sweet potatoes and stuffing into his smiley little mouth.  I'm beyond grieved that the man I love is somewhere 8 hours away, enjoying sweet time with our daughter without me.  I feel all of it, acutely, but it won't push me under.  

God is doing something really amazing in my heart.  And it's totally God, because it's not anything that comes even remotely naturally to me.  He is teaching me how to be thankful even in the midst of loss and uncertainty.  He's teaching me how to lean on Him, call on Him, and bless His name in  the midst of the storm.  He is leading me gently and lovingly to a place where He is most important.  I wish I'd been obedient enough to learn all of those things without having something so incredibly important to me stripped away, but whatever it takes, He's after my heart.  

The Lord loves my marriage.  Marriage is important to Him.  He created it as a way to show, on a very small scale, what the sacrificial love of the father looks like towards us.  It is meant to show the faithfulness of the Lord.  The selfless love He has for us.  That's how He designed marriage to look. He never meant for husbands and fathers to walk away from their families.  He never designed it with the caveat that if we found ourselves in hard times it would be ok to seek comfort in another person that wasn't our spouse.  He never designed it to be impermanent.  It must grieve Him to see His plan perverted and broken.  But we are fallen.  We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Fallen short of His perfect design.  Fallen short even of the ideals we elevate above all others in our own lives.

So while the Lord loves my marriage, He also loves my heart.  He loves my broken, messy, grieving, angry, selfish heart.  And in the midst of this season of loss, I've also truly gained so much. Unfortunately, it seems easiest to lose sight of the goodness of God when things are simple, happy, and going according to plan.  We feel like we did something to earn the good times, you know?  We may not start out that way, but eventually our fallen hearts tell us to pat ourselves on the back, because we have got this figured out!  God becomes an afterthought.  A sunday priority.  A little less real.  But when the earth is shaking around us, we find out where our hearts truly lie.  Do we rage against the Lord when calamity strikes, or do we cry out to Him and ask for His presence and aid? Do we hide our face from our Father, or do we lift it to Him, tear-streaked and puffy though it may be?

If you're anything like me, it's not always either or.  Sometimes I rage.  But mostly, by the grace of my Father's goodness and heart for me, I have turned to Him.  I have lifted my eyes and my hands and asked Him to be my everything.  Seriously, none of that is meant to say how awesome and holy and spiritual I am.  It's to say that God is so good.  He gives me the ability to look to Him.  He brings friends, family members, and community around me to speak truth over me when I feel hopeless and discouraged.  He plays songs on the radio that answer prayers just uttered.  He gives me peace and strength to keep going.  He is so good.  Today, there is so much more to be thankful for than there are things to be angry about.  I am thankful that I have a God who cares for my heart.  Who uses even the crappiest of circumstances to remind me how faithful He is.  How trustworthy He is.  Especially when trust is a big struggle for me right now.  He loves my heart.  He heals it little by little.  He binds my wounds.  He gives me hope.  

So today, on a Thanksgiving full of loss, I can also begin to see all that I am gaining.  That the Lord is using this time to draw me into Him in a way that I have avoided for so many years.  The Lord is healing my broken heart, but He is also using the deep cuts where I have been injured to begin to chip away at the hardness I'd let build up.  He has good things for me.  I trust and know that He does.  

I will not let the devil steal my joy.  I will not let him rob me of my thankfulness.  My God is bigger than what is happening in my marriage right now.  My God is bigger than the anger and pain I struggle with daily.  My God is working all things for my good, because I love Him and He loves me. Certainly I have ideas and hopes and prayers for how I hope that "good" looks, but I'm learning to be thankful and trust Him even in uncertainty.  That's a big deal for me.  I hate uncertainty.  But I love God more. 

So happy Thanksgiving.  My prayer is that you would know and see the provision and goodness of the Lord today, and always.  It's always there.  Even when everything seems hopeless.  Maybe especially when everything seems hopeless.  That's something to be thankful for.  

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Today I am losing the battle against anger.  It feels raw and hot and a part of every cell in my body.  My tongue wants so badly to soak up the rage and fly at 1,000 hurtful words a minute.  It wants to rule me, and not the other way around.

I've always struggled with anger and having a hot temper.  It was something that, until I got married and then later had children, I thought I'd really gotten a handle on.  But marriage has a way of humbling you and showing you that you really don't have it as together as you thought.  When that marriage falls apart and crumbles at your feet, it brings all of your issues into much sharper focus. As hard as it is to be a loving, level-headed, emotion-controlling, tongue-taming person even in the best times of a marriage, it gets taken to a whole new level when the rug gets pulled out of from under you.  

My inner voice is suddenly the saltiest of sailors. 

It isn't always pretty.  

The bible tells us that we will be purified and refined by fire.  All of us.  Right now mine feels pretty hot, and there's a lot of purification happening, and a lot of it centers around anger for me.  A few weeks ago our pastor taught on the anger portion of the Sermon on the Mount, and it really hit me hard.  Anger, even when justified, can lead to so much sin.  It can feel like a way to justify our sin. And that's where the devil has really been trying to get me.  Justified anger.  I have a lot of justified anger.  A lot.  But I really only have two choices of how to deal with that anger, and only one of those choices can really be justified through the blood of Christ.  

I can bring my anger, my hot tearful anger and swelling breast to the Lord and ask Him to take it from me, or I can lash out and spew forth words carefully chosen to inflict maximum pain.  

I choose the second option far too often.  And I'm really good at it.  My words are targeted missiles, and they rarely miss their mark.  But it doesn't feel very good for long.  And it certainly doesn't do anything but fuel the fires of contention and strife that are burning so out of control already.  Then there's the guilt that springs up after I've had the chance to cool down...  Because launching verbal missiles in my anger is what the devil wants me to do.  He cheers me on loudly when I run my mouth in my weakness.  I hate the sound of his glee.  But rage is easy.  It takes no control.  No death to self. No strength.  It's instant anger-gratification, and it's always right below the surface.  I haven't learned how to stay silent in the face of baseless accusations and well-aimed insults.  Which of course makes me a fool.  After all, Proverbs 17:28 says that "Even a food who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent."  Ouch.  I'm not great at keeping silent.

When anger is mingled so closely and completely with grief and loss, it's a powerful thing.  It feels more powerful than me right now, that's for sure.  So I have to bring it to the Lord.  I have to ask Him to take it from me, and I know He will because He promises that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Now, I can't interpret that to mean that He will not let me go through trials- He also promises that we will be refined by fire- but if I exchange my burdens for His, I will be ok.  Right now what that means to me is that my burdens in this situation are overwhelming and heavy.  The fear, the worry, the heart ache, the loss... if I didn't have to get out of bed every morning to take care of my kids, I'm not sure I'd be able to crawl out from under the covers.  Those burdens are death.  But if I let the Lord take those things from me, and I'm not quite there yet, my shoulders won't be bowed so low under the weight of my circumstances, and I'll be able to look up in the face of my Savior, and His love will sustain me.

I hate feeling like I have no control.  It's brutal for me.  Which makes this entire situation completely maddening, because I feel like nothing is within my control anymore.  Except my heart.  But shoot, even that is rebelling against me.  But if I let God take my burdens, if I choose to believe that He will work all things for good and take care of me, then losing control isn't such a bad thing after all. Because clearly I have't done the best job of keeping my life healthy and vibrant.

So I'm trying to let go.  Of my anger.  Of my need for control.  Of my picture of how all of this should play out.  My way hasn't been the best way.  And if there's one thing I've learned through all of this, it is that Jesus is the only constant.  The only unchangeable, unshakeable, un-corruptible thing in my life.  So I need to cling to Him.  Big time.

Anger will be something I struggle with for quite some time, I think.  There are a lot of wounds that will need healing, and a lot of broken promises that will require forgiving.  I'm trying to give it up to the Lord.  I really want to be able to say that, even in the midst of all of this, it is well with my soul.

I know the Lord will bring me there.  He'll never give up on me, even if everyone else did, He never would.  That's something to be grateful for.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


I don't think that if you asked me on a typical day if I thought I was courageous that I'd say yes.  I think courage is one of those words we use to describe the overcoming of great fears, selfless acts that put us in harm's way physically, and doing something that seems impossible because something important is at stake.  Would you call yourself courageous if I asked you to describe yourself? Would you say that you are courageous if I asked you? 

The dictionary defines Courage as


the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty,danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
Obsolete. the heart as the source of emotion. 

I think that definition one sums up what we all think of when we think of courage.  We think of extraordinary circumstances, great trials, and the overcoming of physical hurdles.  And courage totally encompasses all of those things, plus a great deal more.

But what about definition #2?  The definition that has been named obsolete?

The heart as the source of emotion.

It seems a curious way to define something like courage.  The heart.  As the source of emotion.  I'm not sure we typically link emotion to our worldview of courage.  I'm not sure we often even associate our hearts with courage.  I mean, sure, you need strength of heart to be courageous, but to say that the heart is the definition of courage... it feels a bit of a stretch, right?

If you'd asked me a year ago, I'd totally have agreed.  These days, I think that the "obsolete" definition is making quite a lot of sense to me.  Courage is the heart.  As the source of emotion.  The thing that strikes me about that definition is what is below the surface; what is implied.  Emotions are such fickle, tempest-blown, changeable things.  They are fleeting, and burn hot for a while, then change, evolve, and sometimes go out completely.  Emotions are inescapable, but unstable.  So to define courage as the heart as the source of emotion, it has to be saying something about the nature of the heart.

So here's what I'm taking away from all of this, based on where I'm at in life right now, where God has me, and what He's showing me.

The reason that courage can be defined as the heart, as the source of emotion, is because the heart must overcome emotions to be truly courageous.  Emotions can be crippling.  They can be liars. Have you ever dealt with anxiety or depression?  Those emotions may be real, but they are liars.  They tell you you are worthless, they tell you no one cares, they tell you that you can't go on.  Emotions such as grief can be utterly debilitating.  Loss and grief are emotions that can pull you down into the abyss faster than you can suck in that last big breath.  But life doesn't stop in the face of such big emotions. It doesn't give us a time out while we are consumed.  It demands courage in the face of such things. It demands we press on.  Take care of our children.  Go to work.  Feed ourselves. Even when it feels like our hearts have been split in two, life demands that we move forward.

So here's where the courageous heart comes in.  Courage is loving and living against all odds, in the face of emotions that would demand we crumble.  Courage is our heart crying out "It is well with my soul!" when our lives quake and splinter, and pain rushes in.  Courage is forgiveness in the face of betrayal and lies.  It is telling the devil "You cannot have my heart.  You cannot have my marriage.  You cannot have my spouse.  You cannot have my family."  when he has done his best to steal, kill, and destroy.  Courage is looking at a situation that seems hopeless and proclaiming "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." and standing on the promises of the Word, such as Jeremiah 29:11.  Courage is loving someone that is determined not to love you back.  It's loving your neighbor as yourself.  It's loving your enemies.  It's loving those that have hurt you, left you, mocked you, slandered you, and so on and so on.

Courage is love.  And to love is to be courageous.  Out of love springs everything that we use to define courage- the selflessness that allows a firefighter to rescue a complete stranger while putting their own lives at risk.  The strength of a person that sees an injustice done and speaks up for someone without a voice.  I'd even argue that courage isn't a lack of fear, it's an abundance of love. After all, perfect love casts out fear, right?  So instead of focusing on the absence of fear, let's focus on what lets us be fearless: an abundance of love.

This is what I'm being taught in my own life right now.  It's not a super easy lesson.  In fact, love is often one of the hardest choices we make, because it can cause such intense pain.  To open our hearts to love is to open our hearts to the potential that we will be mocked, rejected, abused, and broken.  If the easy way out didn't lead to total emptiness, running away from love would look pretty appealing right now.  But running away would leave me empty.  And it would make me a coward.  And it would be sin, because I've vowed love.  I've promised love.  Against all odds, no matter what comes. So even though I don't feel terribly courageous, I'm choosing love.  Because real love is a choice, not an emotion.  It's forgiving all things, hoping all things, suffering through all things.  It's not butterflies and euphoria.  That's infatuation.  That's an emotion.  But LOVE... 

Love is courage.  Love is a choice.

Love is Jesus in unimaginable pain on the cross asking His Father to forgive us, because we know not what we do.  Love is our Father throwing banquet after banquet in our honor when we finally return home again, the prodigals.  Love is Jesus letting a prostitute anoint his feet with oil and her hair when others were scandalized by her actions, but Jesus saw her heart.  Love is risk.  Love is the laying down of our lives and our hearts and our expectations and wants for the good of another.  Love is hard.  It's so hard sometimes.

And that is why love is courage.  Because love leads to the death of our flesh.  A dying to self.  Love calls us to look outwardly at the needs and hurts of others, so that we may extend mercy and grace and forgiveness.  Love asks us to die.  For another.  Even if the person we are dying for despises us in the process.  Did Jesus die only for those who mourned him as he hung on the cross?  Or did he also die for the men jamming thorns on his head, and spears in his side?  He was despised and rejected, and still He loved.

Still He loved.

My heart falters often.  I've certainly not gotten to the place of death where anger no longer flares up when callous words are spoken to me.  I'm certainly not in the place where my heart no longer screams at me to just stop putting myself out there because it's just too painful.  My courage is of a small kind.  But God is working on me.  He's reminding me what love really is.  What it really looks like in the light and example of Christ.  I've got a long, long way to go before I am even remotely perfected in love, and therefore perfected in the courage of Christ.  But He's certainly giving me opportunity right now to practice.  To love in the face of rejection.  To love in the presence of pain. To love even when my flesh curses me for it.

The thing is, I love because He first loved me.  And if I had been there at Calvary when Christ was crucified, I would have been one of those He prayed for.  "Father forgive her, she knows not what she does."  And so I have to live the same way, and pray the same prayers even when it feels like I'm bleeding out.  It's not easy.  But if I closed off my heart and chose not to love, I'd simply be shoving another spear into the side of my beloved, because He chose to love me even though I put him on that tree.  Even though I mocked his pain, and spat on his sacrifice.  He still chose me.  He still loves me. So I will choose love, no matter what the cost.  It's what we are called to do, isn't it?

So if someone asks you if you'd call yourself courageous, next time answer that you are.  Because if you choose love, you choose courage.  You choose Christ.  And there's nothing better.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Life.  Life is so dark right now.  It's this thick, soupy blackness that, like an oil spill in a pristine ocean, covers and sickens everything good and beautiful.  Circumstances have never looked more hopeless, and I feel like as soon as I manage to scrub off some of the oil, a new wave covers me even more completely than before.

I don't know how to keep my head above it.  All I can do is call out to Jesus in my distress.  And He answers, He always does, He gives me encouragement or rest so that I can keep swimming, but what I really want is for Him to scoop me up into his arms and take me away from all of it.  To be taken care of in a tangible way.  A way that I haven't been taken care of in so long.

Marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ's love for us here on earth.  It's something that we are supposed to be able to count on as believers.  That someone will love us no matter how messy, how broken, how feeble and weak we are.  It's a promise, an eternally binding one, that no matter what- two people will fight for each other and with each other against everything.  I never ever doubted that that was what I had.  Someone that would see through the mess when I fell apart, set aside his pride, or his expectations for a while, bend down, and gently pull me up into his arms.  Someone that would tell me "You're worth it, Copper.  You're worth the fight.  You're worth the effort.  You're worth the pain.  You're worth it all, because I love you."

But people are broken.  People lie.  People cheat.  People steal.  People let you down in ways you could never even imagine.  People are sinful.

It's hard to put into words what I am feeling.  What I am going through.  Because, while I am an ever-open book, and while I want to let it all out and spill my guts, there's another broken person involved in this whole mess that, no matter how much I feel let down or hurt by, I still love him more than anyone else.  Life is funny that way.  Well, maybe funny isn't quite the right world choice... but life is perpetually messy that way.

So this blog is going to be for me to look back on someday.  Maybe my kids will look back on it too.  Maybe you'll read along, I don't know.  I just know that I have to keep track of what God does in this time of utter brokenness.  Because He is moving and working, I know He is, but sometimes I am just too focused on my circumstances to look at Him.

So here's the deal.  The crappy, messy, broken deal.

Nick and I are separated right now.  It was out of no-where for me, but not for him.  I don't know what the future holds.  It's never been so uncertain.  I know only where I am at.

I want restoration and healing.  I want to fight for what matters.  Family.  Love.  A covenant that shouldn't be broken by any man.

I don't know if that is what my future holds.  I pray unceasingly that it is.  But here's what I do know.  As alone as I feel right now, as betrayed, abandoned, and tired as I feel-  God wasn't taken by surprise by all of this like I was.  He was ready.  I believe that this is why our house didn't sell this summer.  He knew.  He was protecting us.  Protecting me.  Protecting our kids.  A bigger house with a bigger mortgage would have been a stone tied around our neck in the midst of all of this.  He knew.  He's taking care of me.

After all, He says in Matthew 10 "26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.[g] 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?[h] And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."

I am of more value than many sparrows.

Nights are hard for me.  They are quiet, lonely, and far too full of my own thoughts.  So if you notice darkness coming from me on social media at night, that's why.  I'm broken.  In a million tiny pieces.  I've never felt so much pain, uncertainty, betrayal... the list goes on.  But in the midst of the darkness Jesus is here.  He's in small gestures, the worship of my three year old daughter, the light of my son's smiles.  He is teaching me to look not at the night, at the darkness all around, but at the light ahead of me, no matter how faint it looks.

I fail at that a lot.  A lot.  I'm sinful, broken, and angry.  I'm hurting, and often illogical.  I'm having a hard time seeing how He can work any of this for good, but I know that He will.  He promised, after all, to work all things for good for those who love Him.  It may not be the good I would choose, but he will work it all for good.

In the mean time, I'm going to pour out my fragmented heart, because I can't help but feel that someday this part of my life will provide me with the words or compassion to minister to someone else who is hurting.  I'm going to try to proclaim the goodness of God in the midst of desolation.  I'm going to speak out into the world that His light, His promises, His love is enough.  Everything else is secondary.  Everything else just adds to the beauty, but it's not the meaning of life.  My marriage isn't what makes my life worth living.  My husband isn't the one who should bring my heart meaning and fulfillment.  If he is and has been those things, it's because I've made him an idol.  And if I'm being honest, I had.  And I'm sure he'd done the same with me.  And God loves us both too much to let that continue.  I hope we can both re-find the Lord as center, as all, as life.  But as for me, I'm determined.  And what else can I do?  What else do I have?  What else do I have to offer my children if I don't?

Sin sucks.  The devil sucks.  I hate them both.  I hate my sin.  I hate what sin has done to something so beautiful.  The constant warfare.  The constant attacks.

But the thing is, sin and the devil, they don't win.  And they won't win this one.  The battle is the Lord's.  And so am I.  So is my husband.  So are my children.  One day I will look back on this first entry and praise God for His provision.  One day I will look back and thank Him for the works He has done in my life out of this heartbreak.  And that deserves to be documented, because it's all too easy to forget how truly and unfailingly faithful God is, even when we are faithless.  Maybe especially when we are faithless.

I covet your prayers, if you feel led.  To lose my love is something I never imagined.  To raise my children in a broken home is something I would never in a million years have thought would be our reality.  And it doesn't have to be.  God has this.  But I'll certainly not scoff at extra prayers.  Some nights I can't find the strength to say them myself, but I know others stand in the gap for me in those moments.  Because God is faithful.

And that's what I'm clinging to.  That the darkness and the light are alike to Him.  Both bow to Him.  Both obey Him.  Neither is out of His reach.  And neither are we.  Praise God.