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Posts Tagged ‘God’

Hey Auntie,
How are you? How’s heaven?

Boy, I sure do miss you. A lot has happened since you left, and I can’t tell you how many times I wish I could just call and talk to you. Or come over to your house so we could play Monopoly and eat potato bread with butter. I’d even be willing to sleep on that old cot next to your bed again. Just to be next to you. Hold your hand till I fall asleep, like I used to when I was little. Have you draw on my back and say, “It’s something that runs across the road…”

Sometimes, if I listen hard enough, I can almost hear you say, “Hey, Kar.” Almost.

I hate that we don’t get to hang out. It’s been almost 10 years and sometimes it still feels like yesterday. Grief is a tricky thing, you know? Life goes on, but at the same time, we’ve all lost something. You were a huge piece of my puzzle, and most days, I can see the whole picture. But some days, the hole is so big I don’t know how to fill it.

Today is one of those days.

There is so much I want to tell you! I’m engaged. His name is Cody, and he came along when I least expected it. Guess that’s what love does, right? Shows up when you think you’ve sworn it off forever — becomes more than you’ve ever hoped for. I know you’d really like him. I think that’s what really gets me, you know? That you’ll never meet him. That he’ll never get to meet you. I have these moments, and he holds me. And all I can think is, this sucks. Two of my favorite people in the whole wide world and they don’t get to meet? How fair is that?

I want you to be at the wedding. I want you to be there when we have kids. I want you to be there to make cut-out cookies with your great nieces and nephews. (Okay, maybe not plurals but you never know! Verdict is still out on that one.) I want you to be here so we can have a glass of wine and really chat about life. I want to go for a walk with you, the way you and my mom used to. I want to take a drive in the hills. Or make a big bowl of popcorn and watch a cheesy Hallmark movie together. I want you to be here so I can hear your voice again – really. And give you a great big hug.

I want you to be here.

God, I wish you were.

It’s hard for me to watch or read anything associated with cancer. Sometimes I cry — at times just a little, other times a lot. It makes me so sad to see that kind of suffering, to be reminded that’s why you’re gone.

But I’m glad you’re with your best friend. I’m sure you guys are up there having a grand old time. And while I have some things I’d still like to do down here (more like a lot) I find comfort in knowing we’ll be together again someday. For God is not a God of destruction — but of hope and of love. He loved us enough to give us that gift, and He loved me enough to give me you.

I feel like I was so young when you died. Of course, at the time I thought I could conquer the world. Graduating high school? I was an adult for sure. But, the truth was, I didn’t know what that all entailed. I had a lot to experience. Places to go. People to meet. Heartaches to have. Growing up to do. Hard lessons to learn. I am far from the girl I was when you were here. But, I have held onto the important parts. Parts like you.

You were the mom I needed, when I didn’t like my own. Which is easy to do when you’re a teenager. You’ll be happy to know my mom is my best friend now. And we miss you together. I wish you and I had the chance to have the same kind of mature, honest, relationship now. But I want you to know you changed my life. And you will forever be that person. My role model. My crying shoulder. My hideaway. You let me be myself, and you were always there for me no matter what. You loved me unconditionally. You loved me like a daughter. You took me places. You made me feel valued. You made me feel special. You helped me believe in myself. You showed me that God should always come first — to have love in order to give love.

I’ll always remember you and Danny’s Bibles sitting open on the kitchen table. You planted seeds in my life, just by being you.

I want to thank you for loving me. For being my Aunt. For being the kind-hearted, caring, person you were. For laughing. For farting. For playing Christmas Trivia in the car. Pretty sure we knew every answer to Carols and Songs. For playing Scrabble with me. For making cut-out cookies with me, even when you were leaving for Christmas. For spending Thanksgivings with us. For your homemade pumpkin pies. For giving me a home away from home. For coming to my piano recitals, choir concerts, soccer games, and track meets. For seeing me off to prom my junior year. For taking me places — calling me on a whim and asking if I wanted to go shopping in Loveland for the weekend or ride with you to Sioux Falls. For playing cards with me. For being that cool Aunt who wanted to hang out with me. No matter how young or uncool I probably was. For taking me to church. For singing me songs. For rubbing my back. For listening. For laughing. For filling my life with happy memories I will never forget.

I love you so very much. And as much as I wish you were here, now and in the future, I am forever grateful for all the time we got to spend together. You made an ever-lasting impact on my life. Who I was, who I became, who I am, and who I have yet to be. I won’t ever forget you. I hope I’m half the woman you were “when I grow up.”

Now you are among the angels, and forever one in my heart.

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There is a difference between flaws and warning signs. The way he leaves clothes all over his room, and snores so loudly it wakes you up. Those are flaws. The way he criticizes you on your appearance or your tendency to over think things and the way he flirts with other girls. Those are warning signs. The sooner you allow yourself to accept the difference, the sooner you will save yourself a lot of heartache. You should be the only one on his radar, and you should be enough. Pretty enough. Skinny enough. Kind enough. Spontaneous enough. Smart enough. Fun enough. You should be worth fighting for. Every minute of every day.

And, even in the rough moments, the moments of doubt, he should still be committed to you. To working together to make it work. That moment you find out he went downtown with his friends and ended up with a bunch of other girls when you weren’t invited. Leave. That moment he calls you too emotional and doesn’t care to ask you why you feel the way you do. Leave. That moment you’re laying in bed with him and realize there’s something missing. Leave. That moment you feel like you’re the only one putting in one hundred percent. Leave. The first time he kisses another girl. Leave. The first time he makes you feel inadequate or question who you are. Leave.

It takes two people to build a relationship. A good one will never be built on lies and deception, on comparisons to other people and a blatant disregard for who you really are. You will never win when he has his eyes on you and everyone around you. You can’t change someone, as much as you want to believe you can. They have to want to change themselves. And, they can say everything you’ve ever wanted to hear, but their behavior will tell you the truth.

I know you can’t see it, because you’re in love. Or, at least you think you are. But love doesn’t leave you questioning your self worth. Love doesn’t cause you to fear whether or not they’ll stay another day. Love doesn’t stay on the surface. Love is not selfish. Love is not conditional. Love is not disrespectful.

Your friends see all of those things. And, they’ll tell you over and over again how much better you deserve. Listen. I know you think no one knows him like you do, and he is different with you, and all this other bullshit. But, do you really want a man who isn’t that way all the time? The people who truly care about you can see his true colors shining through. Pay attention. Even when you can’t. I know you have to figure it out on your own, but trust the people who know you and know him. I promise the truth really will set you free.

Most of all, believe in you. I know that’s cliché and we say it all the time like a song you know all the words to but wish you didn’t. But, it matters. You matter. Take a step back and look at all the factors. You have to be your own before you can be someone else’s. And the minute you become dependent on someone else is the day they win. You are no longer secure enough or confident enough to leave. Maybe you don’t want to be alone. Maybe he pays for a lot of things. Maybe you are just naive enough to think he’ll be who you want him to. At the end of the day, you are only cheating yourself.

You are beautiful. Any guy would be lucky to have you. You are intelligent. Which means you’re smart enough to know this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. You are brave. Remember the last time you lost someone? You’re still here. And you can walk away from this too. Life is too short to make excuses or to ignore the warning signs for the wrong kind of love.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only son… What would he sacrifice for you? Will he love you selflessly? Will he choose you over every girl, today, tomorrow, and always? Can you trust him? Does he respect you? Does he love you for who you are, inside and out? Does he care about every desire of your heart? Will he protect you? Will he stand up for you even when you lose your way? Would he choose you over his job, his money, his self?

You deserve the kind of love that moves the mountains. The kind of love other people can see when they’re around you. The kind of love that God created.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

May you believe that.

Always.

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I turned twenty-six on Thursday

I remember when I was in high school, I had all these plans about where I’d be at this point in my life. Dreams, really. Naieve notions about how old is old enough for this, that, and the other thing. I realize now I don’t know as much as I thought I did then.

Life isn’t a timeline of should have’s.

I’m not the same person I was last year. I’m not even sure I’m the same person I was a week ago.

I carry with me a lot of the same surface level dreams I did then: Get married. Have a family. Write a book. Travel to Europe. Run a marathon. Be a better person. But, my view of those dreams has changed and adapted over time due to the circumstances I have endured and the people I have encountered. They say, you become who you surround yourself with. I used to be a stubborn enough person to not believe that was true.

Now, I realize people change you slowly, melt you like a candle. Some people are cigarette breaks, others are forest fires. One day you wake up and realize your flame has burnt out. And you have no idea how to get it back.

I’ve learned that subtle compromises often turn into great risks. That first time you choose to be less of who you are for someone else is the first time you lose a piece of your heart. He should ask you about the tattoo on your ankle. Care about the fact someone you loved deeply died for it to be there. He should ask you about the tattoo on your wrist. Ask why you thought God’s grace was so important then. He should ask you about your heart. What makes you come alive. Why writing is so important. Why you haven’t slept with everyone like he has. He should care about loving you the way you love him. And, you shouldn’t have to ask.

I’ve learned that just because you’ve been friends with someone forever, doesn’t mean they will stay. I’ve learned that just because you want to get married and have a family, doesn’t mean you’re ready. I’ve learned that even though you believe in God, doesn’t mean you believe He loves you.

I’ve learned that words really can hurt you. It’s hard to sleep alone, after. Sometimes, you won’t be the friend you thought you were. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Your family will love you even when your friends don’t. It’s okay to cut people out of your life. Music is still beautiful, even without him. You can be angry. You can cry. It’s okay to stay up all night, and call in sick the next day. Retail therapy is okay as long as it’s not your only therapy. Loneliness will either make you run toward hope or into despair. Life is a series of choices. Sometimes, you’ll make the wrong one.

I’ve learned that life is really hard. Often, you fight battles you can’t even see for yourself.

One of my friends recently said, I miss Kari.

I miss her too. In the past couple years, I’ve lost large pieces of who I thought I was.

I hope that twenty-six is about finding her. And not who she used to be, because I don’t think you can ever really go back to who you were. But I want to find who I want to be. The pieces of the girl I miss, transposed by the experiences of the woman I am. To something brighter than where I am right now.

We all have our own demons. And, to clarify, that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for my life or the people and blessings in it. Because I have an amazing family who love me unconditionally, friends that have stood by me through thick and thin, a job that challenges me every day, and a God who chooses to protect me even when I don’t fight for Him. I am blessed beyond measure.

But I’ve learned that it’s okay to not be okay. And to be honest about it.

I hope in the year to come I am able to share that with each and every one of you out there. May we all be honest with ourselves, and fight for who we are.

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A memory.

The sultry summer air is dancing on tip toe, caressing the space between our fingers. Yours grasp tighter, and I tingle. The sun has long fallen behind faded violet clouds. It is only us. Finally, us. The trees and the hilltops watch from afar. The dirt gives way to tired hiking shoes. Hidden creatures listen to cautious chatter. It’s the start of something unknown again. The way it always is when something begins. The uncertainty of what comes next. I wonder how you kiss. Or, how your hands will feel underneath my shirt, on my bare body, on places you only dream of. I wonder how you taste. I trace the outline of your lips in my head, imagine mine closing in and the way they’ll travel down your skin. I wonder if we’ll ever love, or if you’re capable of it. I know nothing about you. What should scare me turns me on. I get lost in the possibility of you, and hope for what I may never know.

A memory.

It’s Christmas time. I’m sitting in a pile of handwritten letters. All addressed to you. To the boy who stole my heart, changed my world, strengthened my faith. The long nights spent cuddling on your parents couch. The embarrassing display of tears and explicit stories told. You were the one person who saw me through every storm, even when I felt like I’d never find land again. It’s all there. In the torn pages from my journal. The typed on white computer paper. The small shreds of bible verses turned into poems. I gave you my heart in a manilla envelope, sentences and sentiments I will never get back. The same as you. Gone forever. A package never to be returned. Still, I thank you. You made me believe in unspeakable friendship. Proved it’s possible to live through devastating loss.

A memory.

One o’clock in the morning. We’re lying in the middle of a quiet highway, twisted between countryside and mountain air. The first time I’ve seen you in years. Now we’re beneath the stars. You ask me what I would do if things were different. I think about your girlfriend. The one I didn’t know you had. I don’t answer. You know that I would kiss you. I don’t, because I know you’d kiss me back. We just lay there. The music we’ve shared over the past six months plays softly on portable speakers, mixes with the gentle hum of crickets and fireflies. We talk about everything, as if the last five years never separated us. I fall in love with the promise of shared emotions, hope, and passion. This is not my fairytale. But it’s out there, hidden in genuine conversations and familiar songs. You never called me yours, but you gave me truth. The possibility to be wanted for who you are inside.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The hustle and bustle of buying gifts. The excuse to listen to every Christmas song ever recorded, good or bad. Indulging in too many baked goods. Celebrating in the form of ugly sweater parties and holiday drinks. Time set aside for friends and family. The anticipation of snow. Lights. Trees. Movies. Traditions. It’s the time of the year to celebrate all we have been given, and in return, give to others in whatever form we see fit. Peace on Earth, good will to men.

But did we really take all the good tidings of comfort and joy? Did we really only have one Christmas wish? Did we all get to be home for Christmas? Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year?

As I get older, or maybe as reality becomes more prevalent, I think Christmas becomes less of what it used to be. I miss the innocent anticipation of Santa, the hope in something that never existed. The privilege to play make-believe. Gone are the long holiday breaks spent only with family and friends. Reckless abandon. Carefree play. Joyful adventures. I miss the ability to spend time with loved ones who are no longer around. Hours in the kitchen with my Aunt Karen making cut-out cookies, cookies I now bake alone. The privilege of unlimited time. Christmas hasn’t been the same since, will never be the same. Instead, I see the future of more loss. Family members get older, and you realize you must cherish every moment you have. Time is not unlimited. It is growing shorter by the day. I miss my bubble of safety, being young and naive. The privilege to think everything is going to be okay. Our world is crumbling in front of us. Every day another news story screams of lives lost. Christmas comes in the midst of heartbreak and unanswered questions, and with it, some of the hope disappears.

How can we celebrate when so many are having Christmas devoid of loved ones? How can we feel joy when our lives are a mess? How can we give gifts when we aren’t whole ourselves?

It is the most wonderful time of the year. But only because there is a reason for the season. A hope given and sustained when we have none. A light shining brighter than any Christmas decoration. A gift given that cannot be taken away, that will never depreciate in value, that can be given to all who wish to receive it. It is the most wonderful time of the year because Jesus came to Earth as a baby so that we may be saved. Innocence restored. The lost given a place to be found forever. An answer for all the questions. A restored heart.

He is the only reason I can hold onto hope this Christmas. Even though sometimes it is really hard. Lately I feel as if I’ve been walking around in a haze, trying to comprehend what our world is coming to, trying to deal with the loss I already feel, trying to distinguish a path for the future. It’s hard to celebrate the spirit of Christmas when you feel as if yours has been crushed. But I know that no matter what, He is there. Waiting. Fighting. Pursuing. Saving. You. Me. This Country. This World. We may not see it. We may not feel it. But, I promise, He is working – in the hopeless, in the questions, in the darkness.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

May your hearts be glowing with the telling of Christ’s eternal cheer.

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The Greatest Love.

Imagine this: You have been given the greatest love in the world. Soul-mates. Best friends. Your other half. It is better than any fairytale ever written. More beautiful than the best love song. More sincere than any sonnet.

You have been given the greatest love in the world. Nothing can tear him away from you. No matter what you do, no matter how many times you try to push him away, he never falters. You break his heart, and he comes back begging for more. Through the pain, he remains strong. He would follow you to the ends of the earth. He would sacrifice his dreams to secure yours. He would stand in harm’s way to protect you. You can tell him everything. You can be yourself. Because he loves you just the way you are, in spite of who you are. He calls you beautiful, beloved, wonderfully made. He treasures you like a precious diamond. He holds you in his arms, whenever you ask. He woos you. He pursues you. He romances you.

You have been given the greatest love in the world. No one understands it, and no one ever will. There is intimacy that can’t be explained. There is a soul connection that will never be replaced. There is love unlike any other you will ever know. He is your world. You are his. You are his beloved, and beloved are you to him. Nothing you do can change the way he feels about you. If you leave him, he will wait patiently until you return. He will wait, and he will fight for you. Fight for the love you share, fight for your heart. For he is out to protect it. Forever. He would save you from anything. He would die for you.

You have been given the greatest love in the world. He never leaves you. He never forsakes you. He always fulfills his promises. He is always there when you call. Love is yours for all of eternity. Your wildest dreams come true. You are led into adventures you never even imagined. You see the world with new eyes. The colors are brighter. Devastating situations no longer seem hopeless. Because he is there, always there. Holding your hand. Drying your tears. Laying by your side. You are confident. Because he is all you need. No one else matters. No one else can tear you down. They can try, but he is always there to pull you back up again.

You have been given the greatest love in the world. There is nothing else you need. It is the best gift that can ever be received, and it has been given to you. He is real. He is here. He is yours. Taste the sweetness. Breathe in the joy. Bathe in desire. It is more than you could ever imagine. It is a reason to live. He is all you need.

Now, stop imagining. For you have been given the greatest love in the world. His name is Jesus Christ.

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I feel lost — torn between what I know I want (what I deserve) and what could be. The impending doom of possibility. If this is home, why do I feel as if I don’t belong?

I feel the pull on my heart-strings. The gentle tug of a Savior who wants to save me again — the way He always does. I feel Him reach for me in the dark and quiet places, the moments of lost morale and abandoned conscience. I hear Him ask me to listen. I hear Him whisper, “There’s more…”

I feel the gentle pull, and I pull back. And, it makes no sense. The only One I’ve ever wanted, the only One who’s unconditionally loved me for me. The only One worth living for…

and I pull back.

Drown yourself a little longer. Live without air. Eventually you’ll forget it was something you ever needed to survive. Until you are on your back, near death, gasping for Someone to save you. Again.

It’s still there. That deep passion for my King. I see it buried under broken promises and stolen trust. I see hope peeking out beneath the rubble of shallow relationships. I feel love in the darkness of heartbreak. It’s there, because He’s there.

Always. The Shepherd searching for a lamb. The Father coming for His daughter. A lover seeking His own.

I feel the pull on my heart-strings, and I know I’m not completely lost. Someone is there, trying to bring me home.

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