Category Archives: Dear Diary

The Open Gate (Part 2)

Read Part 1.

As the dream became more and more hungry, the girl became more and more desperate. Why would the servants not open the gate? Why were they ignoring her cries? Had she done something wrong? Was there something wrong with her?

Soon her desperation turned to anger. She kept beating at the gate, but the servants would not respond. Enraged, the girl decided to leave the hospital. She wanted the servants to regret their cruelty and wish in vain that they had opened the gate for her.

But despite her anger, the girl knew that her thoughts weren’t pleasing to the King. She believed the King had brought her to the hospital, that in His kindness he had provided a place for her to serve. She had served loyally out of love for the King and his servants. She didn’t want to throw away his generous gift because she was blinded by anger and pain.

So before she carried out her revenge, she went away to a secret place and sought Him. She waited quietly there for Him. And one day He came to her.

“Lord,” she cried,”You know what pain I am feeling! This hunger gnaws away at me, but your servants have refused to feed me! Why won’t they give me the small meal I’ve enjoyed all these years?”

The King sat beside her and touched her cheek. “My girl,” He said gently. “You have been blind! Look.”

Then the girl saw herself as the King saw her. She was facing the closed gate, beating at it with all her strength yet powerless to open it.

“Why do you think the food I have for you can only be found through that closed gate?” He asked.

And then the girl saw that behind her was another gate. One that stood wide open. One she’d never noticed, because all her attention had been focused on the closed gate.

“But Lord,” the girl asked with astonishment. “Are you saying it is okay to serve somewhere other than this garden, at this hospital? I was certain you would say that my desire was a wrong one!”

“Your heart was misled by revenge, this is true,” He said. “And I did lead you to this place. You have served here and you have grown here, and you have also found the food I left here for you. These are good things. But it was never my intention that you should serve me here–and here only–forever. Do you not know that all seasons must end so that new seasons can begin? Do you not know that you can serve me anywhere? Do you not know that I am able to provide abundant nourishment for you, wherever I lead you?”

Suddenly the girl saw how silly and afraid she had been. She realized the other gate had been open to her for a long time–she’d known this somewhere inside herself. But she’d been too afraid to turn around, too terrified to give the King the dream she’d hidden. She’d told herself she needed what was behind the closed gate, when in truth her King had awakened a hunger that could no longer be satisfied there. Through the open gate was the path to the land of her childhood, filled with flowers that bloomed colorful and bright, in beautiful defiance of the weeds and thorns. There in that beautiful land (called Faith) was a place for her to plant the seed of her dream, where it would surely die beneath the ground. Yet this was a chance for the girl to trust the King. He would be able to grow the dead seed into the new, living thing He’d always meant it to be. She knew He could: she’d seen Him do it countless times before.

The King wrapped His arms around the girl. “Will you trust me and walk through the open gate?” She nodded. And then the girl stood up with Him, encircled in His kind embrace, and walked through the open gate.

The End Middle.

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The Open Gate (Part 1)

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in a beautiful land where nothing was impossible. The King of that beautiful place had given her a seed for big, lovely dream, and with all the trust in her heart she awaited its blossoming. Because she was a child, the heavy seed and the big dream it contained didn’t terrify her. She didn’t ask silly questions like, “How will my dream ever blossom and grow?”

Then hard things happened, and to the little girl’s eyes, these hard things overtook the beautiful land. Her childhood home seemed overgrown with weeds and thorns. So to protect herself from the pain of a dead dream, she placed the dream in a tiny box and hid it deep inside her heart. No longer little, she hacked away at the weeds and thorns with tools fashioned from duty, responsibility and fear. But the buried dream somehow added depth and intricacy to her tools, so that sometimes she could use them to produce tiny, pretty flowers. She decided to use her tools to survive, forsaking the big dream. But the tiny, pretty flowers were incomparable to the dream she’d put away.

The King was very kind. He often tried to show her that the beautiful land was still near if she would simply look beyond the weeds. He sustained the hidden dream with tiny rays of sunshine and little drops of rain. But the silly girl thought she had found a way to sustain the dream.

In her journey she’d come upon servants who were building a hospital on behalf of the King. She offered to help them build the hospital by sharing her tools with them. One day while she was serving at the hospital, the girl walked down a path and passed through an open gate. There she found a lovely garden. She thought, “My tiny flowers would thrive in this little garden!” The servants agreed, and from then on she would often pass through the gate and into the garden.

Each time she passed through the gate, she’d find a small, tasty meal that the King’s servants had left for her. The meal was just enough to sustain her hidden dream, and this made her happy. So she would regularly walk through the gate and eat the meal. She trusted that these servants would always feed her this way. She didn’t realize the meal was the result of the King’s tiny rays of sunshine and little drops of rain.

But then one day the gate, through which she’d always so freely walked, was shut and locked.

The girl despaired, but she decided to wait for the gate to be opened again.

Meanwhile, the dream began to starve. But rather than wither and die, it burst out of the tiny box and hungrily sought the King’s wonderful nourishment. At first she tried to ignore the hunger, but soon she realized this was useless. Desperate, the girl ran to the closed gate, begging, pleading, banging and crying for the King’s servants to open it again. But the servants ignored her. As the dream became more and more hungry, the girl became more and more desperate. Why would the servants not open the gate? Why were they ignoring her cries? Had she done something wrong? Was there something wrong with her?

Soon her desperation turned to anger.

To be continued.

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Joyful Moments

Have you ever done a vision board? It’s a tool to help map out dreams and/or goals. My friend first introduced the idea to me and another friend last January. We wanted to visualize our dreams and goals for 2010, and for us the endeavor involved prayer and the expected guidance of the Holy Spirit.

According to my 2010 vision board, I wanted to be creative and stylish, look good, be a great mom, get together with friends, write, be crafty, grow, spice things up in the bedroom, enjoy unguilty pleasures, get organized, travel, and more.

Looking at that board today, it’s so cluttered that very little stands out. It can barely contain everything I tried to cram on it. Of all I hoped the board would reflect about 2010, the thing it says most clearly is: There was entirely too much crap going on. (How apropos, although I didn’t notice it until after I did this year’s board.) 

I also realized that the old board held labels of what I thought I should be, or what I thought others expected of me, instead of what I hoped and dreamed for myself. This year I was determined that would not be the case. 

My theme for 2011 is “joyful moments.” Here’s the quote by Brene’ Brown that inspired it:

I think the beauty of twinkle lights is a perfect metaphor for joy.

Joy is not a constant.  It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments.  Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down the extraordinary moments.  Other times we’re so afraid of the dark that we don’t dare let ourselves enjoy the light.

A joyful life is not a floodlight of joy.  That would eventually become unbearable.

I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, and inspiration.

In that regard, I chose a black canvas to better display the bright words and colors I cut from the magazines. Each piece draws the eye away from the black. Frankly, the bright colors look better because of the black. That’s what I hope the joyful moments of 2011 will be like too. I also rejected words and images that caught my eye, and instead gravitated to the ones that caught my heart. The result:

  • I want to see my children and my family blossom.
  • I want to rebuild my ability to hope and expect good things of myself and in my life.
  • I want to walk with bravery and be wise and open.
  • I want to strive for strength in balance in what’s important.
  • I want to appreciate all of who I am. 
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Tiny Alien Imposter

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to be grown. I had lots of expectations:

  • I’d be a rich and famous singer, actress and dancer.
  • I’d be beautiful. I’d be slender and have big breasts and long hair.
  • I wouldn’t be afraid of the dark anymore. I wouldn’t be afraid of anything.
  • I’d have a handsome and dashing husband, and we’d live happily ever after.
Tiny alien directing an old man's body.

Inside it's a tiny alien.

Last night I had an extremely difficult and painful conversation with my husband. I was surprised at how small I felt inside. Like that tiny alien on Men in Black II. Like a 5-year-old, dressed up in a 38-year-old body. A small imposter, very much afraid of the dark.

Do you remember that paralyzing childhood fear? I remember being terrified that something was under the bed or in the closet. The fear was so intense that I could not move–not even to avoid wetting the bed. It took all my willpower to cry out for my mother.  

I wonder if my maturity will ever match the years on the calendar. I wonder if anyone can see that I’m just a baby. Most days I try to hide it, but sometimes I want to be rightly seen. That way someone can let me be small and scared, and they’ll hold me and tell me it’ll be okay. And because I’m just a little one, I’ll believe it.

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He Picked Me | January 12, 2010

Today is my husband’s birthday.

This morning as we held each other, I thought of him when I first met him: A gangly 16-year-old with a gumby haircut! We were in 12th grade chemistry together. He had a crush on my friend; I had a baby-daddy, so I didn’t think twice about him. When and how did that change? I never dreamed he would be my husband the first time I saw him. (That skinny kid was destined to be my husband … so strange!) Yet he began calling me his wife two months after we met, at least four years before we started dating.

I don’t know why he chose to love me. I mean, isn’t that weird? To choose someone and love them? Why me? What a devoted man–mine for more than half his life, mine before I was even his.

This morning when I thought of him, I thought of our life together. So many valleys, so many fights and struggles and tears. How far we’ve come! How far God has brought us! So much has changed, and so much is the same. That gangly 16-year-old is 37 today, not so gangly anymore. He’s still funny and goofy. No man has ever made me laugh the way he does–that has never changed. And he’s so good-looking! I love it when women look at him with admiration. Go ‘head, look! It feels so good to be secure in his love. I couldn’t always say that.

He’s a grown man, my husband, the father of my children–all of them, even those who do not physically share his DNA. So strange to see him grown up now, fathering. He constantly tells me how much he loves me, how beautiful I am, how talented I am. He makes me feel special, and I’m not sure I deserve that.

He’s mine. He picked me. Wow.

Happy birthday my love.

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January 10, 2010: Re-Write

So I slacked my way through 2009 on my blog. What a slacker!

I started this thing so I’d write more. And I do love writing, too much to let it go. (At least that’s my claim–you wouldn’t know it by the dwindling  number of monthly entries.) So this year I’m embarking on my original lofty goal, the terrifying one that stirred me to become a blogger. You know, for practice.

I’m going to write a work of fiction! [Insert giggles, foot shuffles and a shy smile.]

The plan is to start a new blog dedicated solely to the story. Meantime I’ll continue to put up stuff on here from my everyday life … should you care to know. But really, I hope that by sharing this news here, I’ll make myself accountable to the general public.

That’s it. I am officially re-dedicated to write-ing!

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December 9, 2009: A Pivotal Moment

I met with a friend today about a life group we’re leading together. We had some great conversation and a delicious dinner (she’s such an awesome host), and we worked out lots of details. After that, we just started talking about life.

As I shared with her some of my “pivotal moments” since being saved, I realized 2009 has been the Year of Facing My Crap. I’ve been seeing a counselor for about a year now, and it’s unearthed a lot of bones. Among other things, I’ve had to be honest with myself about my beliefs and attitudes toward men in general and my husband in particular, and about my own role in forming those beliefs. I didn’t like what got dredged up. I’ve shared a lot of these things in my blog this year.

I also recognized a small shift in myself. For one thing, I was able to see very easily that my husband is quite wonderful. When I remember who and what he was before Jesus Christ came into his life, I realize I have so very much for which to be grateful! I didn’t have to dig deep to find that gratitude; it was right there, waiting to be discovered like a jackpot under the thin layer of silver on a scratch ticket.

As I was riding home, I listened to the final message in Andy Stanley’s series about the life of Joseph called, “The Legend of Joe Jacobson.” When Joseph was presented with the perfect opportunity for revenge, he instead acknowledged that God had sent him ahead of his brothers–through separation, slavery, accusation and prison–to finally preserve their lives and millions of others’. Joseph was absolutely confident that God was with him and had been all along.

There have been many dark moments in my life, many good reasons to wield pain as a weapon. But as Andy Stanley put it, I can either look back, and relive the  circumstances and emotions that fuel vengeance, or I can look up and follow God’s lead. I can say to those who have hurt me, “Not only do I forgive you, but I’m going to give you what you don’t deserve–because that’s what people do who have received from God the very thing they didn’t deserve: forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life in his care.”

If I’m absolutely confident God is with me, how should I then behave? Because he is with me, and always has been. Even in the darkest moments when I was so overwhelmed by God’s silence that I overlooked his presence, and his promise to never leave. What a lovely and simple faith Joseph had. Could that kind of beautiful, persistent faith conclude my own story?

Come on 2010!

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July 12, 2009

Jesus said if you deny him before men, he’ll deny you before his Father.

I was thinking today about what it means to deny Jesus before men. My first response was, “I’ve never done that. I’ll never do that.”

But then I thought about every time I’ve had the opportunity to speak on Jesus’ behalf–to introduce him into the conversation. Not a conversation about faith or about religion or about politics, but just an ordinary conversation.

So let’s say there’s a way to succinctly and relevantly bring up the gospel in an ordinary conversation. And I’m not talking about one of those awkward cheesy segueways. “Speaking of minivans, did you know Jesus loves you?”

No, I mean there’s a real-deal opportunity. I’m fully aware of it. And I don’t take it. Did I just deny him?

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July 4, 2009

Do you ever just get sick of the fluff?

Aren’t you sick of Christianese?

Don’t you cringe when people “talk the talk”?

Aren’t you fed up with church as usual?

What does it look like to really follow Christ? Really follow Him?

Did He really die so we could be comfortable?

Did He suffer so we could raise our kids in a nice, safe neighborhood?

Do we go to church to get our varied needs met, or do we go there to find Jesus?

Do we really believe that His church is the hope of the world? That He is freedom?

What does a “prayer of salvation” really accomplish?

Why is worship a list of songs?

What can I do to further the cause of Christ in my life, and in the community of believers with whom I live?

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June 20, 2009

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes

That night after I watched the horrible movie (and I raged at my husband as the representative of all Men), I laid in bed and sobbed until I couldn’t breathe through my nose. While he drifted off into oblivious sleep, I considered.

That bitter, unforgiving itchbay I see in the mirror is only part of the picture. What I really am is a ball of pain, wrapped in multiple layers of self-preservation, and finished with an outer shell of spikes, rusty nails and barbed wire. Sort of like a Ferrero Rocher chocolate, except a little bigger and slightly less delicious.

I sat up in bed, partly so I could breathe again, but mostly to talk with Jesus. I said something like, “This is what I am, but it’s not what I want to be. It’s so deeply entrenched and so much a part of my DNA that I don’t know how to change. What am I supposed to do with all this pain? What can you do with me?”

Then I remembered a dream I used to have: There was an abstinence ministry in my heart. I dreamt of helping, loving, encouraging girls and young women, talking to them about abstinence, helping them live it out. I was willing to let my pain be like manure: Stinky, yes. But fertilizer for something much better. Funk with a purpose.

Then the weeds came. “You’re not even good at talking to people.” “Why would a teenager listen to you?” “What if it hurts?” “Who has time?” “What if it fails?” I was afraid, so instead of a garden, the pain became a landfill. The dream got buried under a bunch of distractions and life and crapola. Eventually and so slowly that I didn’t notice, it disappeared from sight. But it still stunk, except it stunk for no good reason.

Okay, I’m scared! I think I’m more scared now than I was before. Those same weeds are there, but they look more like trees now.

There’s the first step. It’s a doozy! Not sure I want to climb yet. Just … gimme a sec to mentally prepare.

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