15 June 2016

Three Truths I'm Clinging To (while waiting on the annulment process)

While it has been a little over 2 months since my divorce was finalized, it still like it happened ages ago. That same week I turned in a lot of paperwork to begin the process for an annulment.

While annulments are specific to only Catholics, I think they can often get a bad rap and can be confusing for folks to understand (both Catholic and non-Catholic alike). 

While a divorce is a civil judicial act that legally ends a marriage, an annulment is an ecclesiastical (fancy word for church) determination where what was believed to be a valid sacramental, Catholic marriage is declared to never have been a marriage in the first place. 

So really what that means is the day a couple got married, it looked like a marriage took place and it appeared they both had the proper intent and will to live these vows. However, in a thorough investigation, there can be found reasons and/or circumstances that can prove a marriage never really happened (making it null) at all.

Never really having known anyone growing up who was divorced or went through the annulment process, I wasn't really sure what to expect going through it myself.

It is mostly paperwork where one of the parties answers questions and tells the story leading up to and during the marriage. Witnesses are also submitted who share their own written statements. Think of it like a church court case.

After a case is submitted, you basically just wait, which is where I am right now. I am waiting for the Church to investigate and look into my unique situation. Annulments can take up to a year and sometimes they go a little longer or a little shorter. But I am in no rush. I am kind of grateful for the length of time it takes because it gives me more built in time to continue to work on myself and do my healing work.

As I worked on my annulment paperwork over the past winter months, I found myself clinging to the same truths over and over again. Wherever you are in life we all need some truth to cling to. If you're in a hard season of life that seems painful or waiting or scary or growing or changing-I think these truths are good for all of us wherever we are on the journey of life.
So here are the truths that I'm clinging to as I wait on the annulment process.

1. I'm believing that God is enough.

In April, I went to a day of formation for youth ministers. It was glorious. The priest leading it shared some words of St. Francis of Assisi that I had never heard before: "God, You alone are enough for me." It has stayed with me since then. I often find myself saying those words aloud as I'm driving or reminding myself when I am having one of those no-good-terribly-awful days.

God alone is enough. I really wish I could have learned this awhile back and not in such a painful way, but starting to believe these words to my core is changing me in the middle of everything.
And for that I can be grateful.

2. I'm believing God's plan is bigger and better than what I can see right now.

There are days I hate the reality I am in, days I want to be like Job's friends and not like Job so much.

Right now I am going through my favorite gospel, John. The other night I was reading the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I had such a new, fresh personal insight to this miracle. I used to always focus on the part where Martha chews Jesus out, "Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died!" How many times since and even more before my divorce did I ask God why.
I never realized the answer is in the rest of the story.

When Lazarus was dying, and the messengers came to ask Jesus to come and heal him, Jesus already knew he was going to let his friend die. He knew he was going to use Lazarus's death to work such a miracle that faith in God would be ignited all over the countryside. Jesus knew this terrible tragedy would be used for a greater good, for the ultimate glory of the Father. And Martha and Mary would not be able to understand this until later.
I cannot tell you how hard I cried (more like sobbed) thinking about this in relation to me, that God could use the pain of a divorce for a greater good and would even use it to glorify the Father. 
I guess that is the power of radical grace and mercy at work.

3. I'm believing God doesn't take me to the desert to leave me there. 

My all-time favorite book of the Bible is Exodus. I never get tired of reading and thinking about how much the story of Israel is my story too.

Like the Israelites, God doesn't take us to the desert to leave us there. He uses it to purify and strengthen us. God used those 40 years in the desert to break Egypt out of Israel's heart. And he uses the desert in our lives to break us of our control, pride, and teach us how much we need Him. 

It is not God's nature to bail on us. When He takes us to places of suffering or pain, it is to use it for our good and His glory. His plans are good, His ways are perfect.

The wandering years ended for Israel. And the desert for us is just a temporary place as well.

Whatever your present looks like, I hope you have lasting truths you're clinging to.

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13 June 2016

A Sermon for All Seasons (and for all people)

For awhile now, I've become kind of nut when it comes to listening and subscribing to podcasts. 

Over the last few months, I have been really enjoying the Saddleback Church Weekend Messages. The preaching series are awesome and I always am left thinking and relating Scripture to my life in new ways.

I recently listened to the first sermon (How We're Getting Through) Pastor Rick preached after the 16 week leave he and his wife took after the tragic suicide of their son Matthew in April 2013.
That sermon is a sermon for all seasons of life and for all people. While sharing their personal story of Matthew's lifelong battle with mental illness, they also offer hope, encouragement, and practical teaching for getting through the tragedies of life.

While I have not experienced the painful loss of a child, my loss is different. But the message of how to handle tragic pain in life still applies. 

Suffering is something I believe modern, secular culture fears greatly, and runs away from. For many people today, suffering puts you head to head with painful realities like pain and death and evil. And when we cannot make sense of those realities it can often lead to despair and hopelessness.

But knowing that God is with us and loves us and walks with us amid the most awful circumstances of life can bring hope and healing to those hopeless places. It can change our heart to who we see things, even if the situation does not change itself.

This sermon has really encouraged me lately. I am reminded once again that God is always good, and when life feels or looks broken that He always brings restoration.

Kay says, "hope may not look the way I thought it would, but hope is alive in me because of what I know." What she knows it what I know and remind myself of constantly (some days more than others): that God is good even when life looks the total opposite of that. We are never forgotten or abandoned.

I really encourage you to watch or listen to this sermon. Hold onto it for those moments when your hope feels empty or share with someone in your life who is walking through a difficult time.

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08 June 2016

We Need YOUr Art + Giveaway!

One of my favorite quotes on art and creativity is from Seth Godin: 

"Art is when we do work that matters in a creative way, in a way that touches people and changes them for the better."

Whether that be writing, painting, speaking, or designing, the world needs YOUR art. It will look different for each of us, but the world needs more beauty and goodness. However you make art in your life, we need it.

I am constantly inspired by men and woman I encounter online using their gifts to creative beautiful images and words. And Lindsay is one such artist. 

A graphic designer, she creates prints and home decor with the message of helping others experience and grasp the depth of God's love.

Lindsay has kindly offered one of you this gorgeous 8 x 10 print of John 10:10.

Beautiful right?!

Along with the giveaway, Lindsay has created a coupon code (GRACE10) for use to receive 10% off your order from her shop, Just Love Prints. AND the coupon code is good until the end of August!!!

So even if you don't win, you still have a great incentive to check out some of her lovely prints! I'm loving this print with advice from Pope Francis. #frankforpresident2016

Enter the giveaway over here on Instagram!!

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06 June 2016

Loving My Actual Life (right now)

One of the greatest regrets of my almost 31 years of life are the many, many times I wished away the season I was in. I would live for the next great experience or relationship, always thinking the best was yet to come.

I was never at peace with where God had me.
More often than not, I struggled to be content in the present moment. 

But what if the best was in the present moment? 
What if the best was loving your actual life (imperfections and all) right in the here and now?

I am slowly learning to love my actual life, right where it has me.
The one I am living right here and now. Today.

Life right now is a mixture of uncertainty, fear, excitement, and hope. But I know this current season I am in is preparing me and growing me for where life will take me.

I am starting to make a new life for myself, getting to know myself in ways I should have done 10 or 12 years ago. #hellotherapy

I am making new friendships and have some exciting opportunities coming my way.

I have some fun travel opportunities over the summer months like Poland and Nova Scotia for a conference with the church staff at work.

I am being more adventurous and taking risks, even it is something silly like getting my hair cut short or joining a running club or going out to eat at a nice restaurant by myself.
I am learning to be content in life even when life feels messy, scary, or uncertain.
Life will never be perfect. There will always be highs and lows but no matter what, it is possible to be content with your current season.

It is all a gift, even the stuff I wish sometimes I could switch out. And the more I choose to see it as such, the more I notice the gifts of right where God has me right now.

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