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I believe a lie.

Unintentionally.

Or, maybe even intentionally.

I believe a lie.

Some part of me has accepted as eternal what I know is only temporary.  Some part of me has assumed that life would always be the way it is right now.  Or the way it was a little more than 4 weeks ago.

I know, a lot of folks would look at the death of a pet as just that, the death of a pet.  Rarely however, do we know the whole story of another’s life.

When you’ve been trying to get pregnant for the better part of 2.5 years and have had no success, when you see your wife go through month after month perfectly healthy cycles, when the doctors prognosis is “unexplained infertility”, a pet may take on a little more meaning.

4 weeks ago our world was turned inside out.img_2810

What was the two of us and our beautiful Bailey working through this thing called infertility became just the two of us navigating unexpected and uncharted waters.

It’s not been easy.

And it’s been harder on my wife.

She’s fought so hard to keep a positive attitude even when it seemed like every couple we knew were cranking out kids like I sneeze around cats, that losing our “little girl” hit her hard.

There have been lots of tears.  Lots of “why?”.  Lots of trying to understand how my wife, who wants to love a child with all her being would have the closest thing we have to a child taken so suddenly.

It doesn’t make sense.

But it does make me love her more.

5 years ago this month I asked her to marry me, and I can say without any doubt that I wouldn’t want to walk this road with anyone but her.

She is strong.  She is brave.  She is passionate.  She is powerful and beautiful and caring.  She is an amazing woman and an amazing mom to our four-legged daughter.  And it angers me to know I cannot fix what is now wrong.

Time doesn’t heal wounds.

Yes, it takes time for us to understand what broke, to deal with the emotions, to talk through and work through the mess, but time is nothing more than the road traveled on the path to healing.

I don’t know what lies next on the road ahead of us.  But I do know my wife will never walk it alone.

5 years ago I said “I Do”.  And I mean those words now more than I ever have.

I do love you with all my heart.  I do promise to be there through thick and thin.  I do think you’re cute even when you’re angry at me about something.  I do believe that God is still good and good will come of this.  I do know you’re so much stronger than you think.  I do know you’ve got a bright future.  I do want to wake up next to you for the rest of my life because

I do know we’re inseparable.

And with all the unknowns in life, I’m going to cling to what I do know.

I know I love you.  I know you love me.  And I know God loves us.

So wherever, whenever, anytime, anyplace

I do.

My wife and I went through a big disappointment recently.

I don’t get disappointed.

I don’t – because I don’t allow myself to hope, at least not too much.

Sure, I hope it’ll be sunny tomorrow, and I hope that package I’m expecting comes soon.  And I hope traffic isn’t bad tomorrow and that lunch is tasty.  But I don’t hope for the big things.

I don’t hope for friends.

For more.

I don’t hope for the relationship David shared with Jonathan.

I don’t hope for things to be really, really amazing.

Do I want those things?  Yes!  But do I allow my heart to get involved?  No.

 

But this disappointment, I thought this was a sure thing.  I didn’t think there was any way it wouldn’t happen.  I hoped.  And when it failed, I was heartbroken.  I got physically sick, twice.  I hurt.

I had opened my heart.

And it broke.  Again.

So, I don’t hope.  If I don’t hope, I don’t have to worry about heartache.  Because, quite simply, my heart isn’t in it.

 

My wife says I’m a hard-sell, difficult to impress or sway.  She says I’m suspicious of things that seem to be too good to be true. Suspicious And she’s right.  I am.  Cynical.  Closed off to keep the pain of the world out.  And to protect the pieces of my heart.

It is not a sad thing, it just is what it is.  I learned when I was very young that I was responsible for my happiness, so I found joy and peace in things I could control.  And many years later I learned that relationships were just another package that disappointment came in.  So I gave up on them.

I hit pause.  Found my happiness in what I could control, and survived.

 

My wife is a queen.

Because she was there when we ran into these walls I created.  She peeked over the top, and she didn’t run screaming after.  She was patient as I began to pick them apart. She is supportive, understanding, and she has shown me the me she sees.  And because of that, I like me more.  And I love her more.

 

We all run from things.  Sometimes those things chase us.  And sometimes our running is the decision to stand still and let things pass us by.

I don’t want to run any more.  No, I’m not suddenly an extrovert just dying to spend hours and hours in a large group of people.  But, I’m also no longer alone inside my walls.  And my wife did that.

She loved me through my walls

She was Jesus when I wouldn’t let Jesus in.

I have hope.  And I will never be the same.

 

Martin Smith – Angel: 

 

Before the great journey began, before the stories that would be regaled around campfires and dinners and celebrations could be told, before the younger generations would listen in awe; one humble, unassuming home is invaded by unwelcome guests.  One life is turned upside down.  And one invitation is offered.

Uninvited, unexpected and unquestionably dangerous, an invitation is made.  And in that moment, the seed is planted.  A calling is given.  A destiny once veiled, slowly comes into focus.

And inside the heart of the called, something reverberates.  Something deeper than he’s known before and more real than his fear awakens inside him.

As they sang, the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves.  Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.map_of_bilbos_journey_1

And the journey begins.  Our fearful little hero obeys the calling, leaves the paths of safety he’s always trod and steps quietly into the unknown.  Trusting his future to his fellowship, and to the one who called him.

On this journey he would face the unimaginable, be captured, lost in endless, dark tunnels and face death on more occasions that he would have ever wanted to.

On this journey he would also find his calling affirmed and himself equipped to be just what he was called to be.

“That’s right,” said Gandalf.  “Let’s have no more argument.  I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you.  If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes.  There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself.”

So Bilbo leaves all he’s ever known and begins an adventure that changes his life and the world, forever.

Maybe I don’t want to carry a sword (although that would be cool) and maybe my calling isn’t to be a burglar.  Maybe I won’t be accused of being a thief and find that accusation oddly fulfilling.  But there are things I haven’t done yet, places I’ve not seen, mountaintops not yet scaled, and waterfalls not yet swam in.  And there are things I want to be called.  Other words that don’t yet describe who I am.

Words like Daddy, Father, or Pappa.

Words that will undoubtedly force me into the unknown.

Yes, I may face the unimaginable.  And I know I’ll need to trust the future to my fellowship and the One who has called me.  But I step out knowing this;  I’m not alone, my calling will be affirmed, and I will be equipped to be just what I am called to be.

And even if this means leaving my quiet little life behind, I will see mountaintops.

Here’s my Heart – David Crowder 

I’ve begun to wonder if we’re sometimes given perfect moments on earth, perfect summers, perfect days, perfect friendships to give us a glimpse of what heaven was like.  Times we wish, hope, and cling to a fierce belief that if we just held on tight enough, things wouldn’t change.

I remember a summer when I didn’t want things to change.  I had a good job, wonderful friends, someplace to go and people to be with every weekend.  I had my family, I had friends, and I was loved.  An imperfect world momentarily paused by perfect moments.  I hoped it would never end….

We lose something important, something vital when we’re so hurried.

Early this year, Texas forced me to stand still for two days because of an ice storm that gripped much of the south.  We were not able to leave our driveway for days.  Part of me began to get a little stir-crazy.  But part of me also enjoyed the forced change of pace.  It was quiet.  The loudest thing we heard in those few quiet days were the neighborhood children sliding around the ice covered ground, living their perfect moments in an winter wonderland.  A rare treat for the south.

And as I sit here now, 13ish years beyond that perfect summer, I know that I cannot remember that summer without remembering what came next.  Without remembering the heartache, the numbing loneliness, the thoughts of suicide.  The perfect summer lead into 10 years that rocked my world, reshaped my world view and altered the very fabric of who I was.

I no longer see myself as the person, the boy I was at 21.  I don’t have the childlike heart, the innocent exuberance or the trusting nature I had then.  I worry more, I fear more.  I’m scarred, stitched together scraps that don’t fit exactly the way they should.  A puzzle with pieces missing, an incomplete picture.

I feel like a three legged table.

I may never have another summer like I did when I was 21, but I’ve learned that perfection is overrated.  My friends, my family weren’t perfect, I wasn’t perfect.  My imperfect view of an imperfect world lied to me.  Things were not perfect.  And they never will be.

We cannot live our lives looking for perfection, because if we do, we will miss the opportunities to freeze our butts off while sliding around an ice covered street in Texas, we will miss the chances to dance with our spouses in the kitchen, to play in the rain or get lost in a song.  If we hurry through life searching for those perfect moments, we will miss the beauty that already exists in our imperfect lives, our imperfect relationships, and our imperfect families.

I look back on that boy of 21, of the years between, and I have to remind myself that this story isn’t finished.

Tables can be repaired, tears can be mended, puzzles can be completed, and fears can be faced.

I no longer look for perfect situations.  I’m beginning to see the beauty in the imperfect.  And I will keep dancing with my wife in the kitchen and kissing her in the moonlight. No, life may not be perfect, but getting up at 2am to watch a lunar eclipse together is something I wouldn’t trade for anything.

I don’t have perfect, I have something better. I have life. And I’ll hold onto that with all I am.

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and talked with you like this.  Since I’ve come without a list of needs or desires, hopes or hurts.

Since I’ve come simply to say thank you.

Thank you for grace.  For your provision.  For joy.

For her.

I came home today and she and I just talked.

And then one of her favorite songs came on.

And we danced in the living room.

Our living room, in our little house.

Surrounded by our yard that our dog loves to run in.

Our lives, my life.

Thank you.

You didn’t have to send your Son.  You didn’t have to care so much.  You didn’t have to love me the way you do.

You didn’t have to give me her, but you did.

And secondly only to finding the grace that You so freely give, she is my most precious gift.

Thank you.

 

Angel – Martin Smith 

ticketsSome people collect photographs or records.  Figurines or stamps.  Coins or antiques.

Although I’m personally a fan of antiques, old postcards and good music, some of my most cherished collections are memories.

You can see them in the picture here.

Yes – I know they’re ticket stubs.

Little pieces of paper creased by time spent in my wallet, or faded by time spent in a drawer, a book or my bible.

They’re still memories.

The last time I saw Delirious live.  The birthday present concert-slash-road trip to Tyler from my sister.  The time my mom and I got to experience PBS’s Antiques Roadshow.  Taking my other sister to the movies.  Or the New Years Eve Symphony performance where I sat with my wife.  Only, I didn’t yet know she’d be my wife.

Memories.

Ticket stubs.  They’re not pretty, they’re not beautiful to look upon, or a creators greatest masterpiece.  But it’s not the paper itself that holds the value.  It’s where the paper takes me, it’s the stories the paper tells, it’s what the paper reminds me of, and its the hope these memories bring.

Memories of great experiences, of laughter and joy.  Memories of moments that moved me to tears, or brought me to my knees in worship.  Memories woven together with hope.  Hope, because I am reminded how beautiful my life is.  Hope, because I know I serve a God who loves me.

Hope.  Because He left a book of memories, of stories, of hope, for my wife and I.  For our families.  For our futures.

Hope, because we’re not alone.  And hope, because even when we face a mountain, we stand beside the mountain maker.

Jesus Culture Ft. Martin Smith – Walk With Me

Life is full of uncertainty.

I’ll avoid the clichés that tell us that the only thing we can be sure of is change or that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  Because I know they’re just that, clichés.  Poor attempts to capture in too few words truths we would rather ignore.

Uncertainty isn’t fun.  Fear is real.  Change is certain.

But we forget another truth that is central to life.

We are not alone.

And the more I realize this, the more my wife loves me, the more I lean into my Saviour, the more I learn that I don’t have to walk this life entirely self-sufficient.

It’s not an easy lesson to learn.  For a long time, I was my best friend, I was my confidant.  I was the only one I could count on.

But that’s changing.  The walls are slowly coming down.

And as they do, they bring uncertainty, fear and change.

But they also bring color, joy and laughter.  Peace, happiness and light.  Love, hope and life.

I’ve got a long way to go before the walls are gone completely, but that is what this blog is supposed to be about.  That is what life is supposed to be about.

When I look back on the chapters of my life I’m writing right now, I want them to be the pages I dog ear.  The pages I remember fondly as the beginning of the best days of my life.  The pages that make me smile.  Because these are the pages where life began to lose its gray hue, where color over takes black & white and where life overtakes simply being alive.

Bethel Music – To Our God: 

I spent four days in the hospital this week.  Attached to IV’s.  Healing from something I didn’t even know had attacked me.  I didn’t know how to spell it’s name until Monday evening.  And Monday afternoon, when that stomach ache kicked in, I had no idea where the week was headed.

And yes – I could sit here and question why it happened.  But I’m choosing not to.  Because I know the answer.  There is an enemy that seeks to destroy us, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically.  He attacked.  We won.  Moving on.

I spent the large part of the first two days on morphine. sleeping between doses as my body learned to deal with dinner via IV.  The final few days I was more with it as my body was healing, I didn’t need the morphine, and I was better able to deal without food.

The hardest parts were the nights.  I was exhausted.  And I’d begin to doze off around 11pm but would snap awake at 12:30 and just lay there for hours.

In the middle of the night, when you’re lying in a dark hospital room unable to sleep, you begin to question, fear, and freak yourself out.

I didn’t want more medication to help me sleep.  I simply wanted to go home.

But each night, all i had to do was look to my right, and there she was.  My Eve, my Wife, my Bride.  She stayed with me the entire four days.  Burning through all the vacation time she had and some she didn’t.  Helping me put my socks on, tie my hospital gown, sit up, sit down, use the bathroom, take a shower and anything else that gets very difficult with an IV stuck in your right hand.

She was there.  She never left.  And through those nights, her presence, and the presence of my Heavenly Father kept me going.

My Eve,

I love you more today than I did a week ago.  I am more thankful for the time we get each day, and more conscious of the precious gift you are.  I will never be able to repay you for this week.  But I will spend every day trying to show you the same love you showed me.  

You were courageous this week and you conquered something we never saw coming.  You were gracious, forgiving, kind and gentle.  In a word, you were amazing.

And you were by my side.  

Thank you.  I cannot wait to live the next pages of our story with you.

You are beautiful.

And I love you.  Forever.

The deepest things in life are deep for a purpose. They are not meant to be easily found or happened upon. They are meant to be desired, longed for, searched for and highly prized.

We don’t value what comes easy.  And the deep things in life, the beautiful things in life are things of immense value. Their beauty is only truly appreciated and understood by one who has forged into the dark places and retrieved the jewel that laid there.

The pot of gold at the end of a rainbow?

No.

But the pearl at the bottom of the ocean.

The priceless painting in the remains of a home.

The diamond in the alluvial stream.

The dream in the ashes of your past.

Go there. Find the deep things. Your life wasn’t meant to be lived in the shallows. We were called to go deeper and to call others to what we find.

You have something beautiful, something of breathtaking value hidden deep within your heart. The one who is meant for you, the one you are meant to find is the one for whom you will plumb those depths. And they, yours.

But you will never find them, nor your purpose, nor the stunning breadth of color that life can instill in you unless you face the depths of your own life first. Find the beauty that is in you, that your Heavenly Father placed in you first.

Find that first.

And everything else will follow.

You are amazing, you are beautiful.

You have a purpose.

Find that, hold onto that, fight for that, and nothing on this earth will stop you.

Bethel Music – What Does It Sound Like  

I try to keep a level head and not to get so caught up in something that I no longer seem grounded. But this is Christmas, this is different. And all those Hallmark movies and Christmas specials aren’t just trying to sell us something. They are echoes of a deeper truth.

There is magic in Christmas. There is excitement, joy, hope. There is a deeper sense of worth, a call to slow down and see the value in each other, and to share what we see in them with them.

My family isn’t perfect. We have no white picket fence. We have our issues and challenges. We have our scars and stories. But they’re my family. And as my wife reminded me tonight, we are not broken. We are not perfect, but we are not broken.

Why? Why do I hold to such hope when circumstances have been so hard? Because there is joy. Joy because we are not where we were. Hope in where we will be and excitement in what lies ahead.

There is value in each of us.

Christmas was just the beginning. The beginning of the story of all stories. Yes, it’s a hard story with moments of pain and loss. But in the midst of this story, and in the midst of our stories, joy, hope, redemption, value, healing, adoption, peace.

Life. Abundant, everlasting life.

So I have hope. I have Christmas. And I am blessed.

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