Where God Still Dwells

A little note to let you know, I’m still me. 

And the blog is still the blog. 

She just has a different name,

Home and Beyond.*

The Cross

 

I so enjoyed One Word December.  I hope you took time to ponder, too.

While I’m here ending the old year with a name change and more than a word, something’s been nudging my heart, but I haven’t been quite sure how to say it.

Here’s the best way I know how  …

My blog bio under my picture used to say:

I rode out the occasional – and chronic – storms of life, waiting out the doldrums with joy and a sense of adventure.

 

Sort of True

Well, that was true.

Folk Art Day

Yeehaw!

Childhood Memories Revisted

Sully and Suz Having Fun!

But not totally true.

Sad Day

Sometimes joy didn’t bubble up like a fountain in a park.

Sometimes joy was a hidden spring I had to look for.

 

Writing a “Homeschool Chuckles” column for Home School Enrichment magazine helped through these years.  If I was going to meet the deadlines, I had to look for the humor in the midst of heartache.

Humor Hides in the Midst of Heartache

Joy was there all along,

not always riding the surface of the wave.

Many times, I remember finding it

on deep dives

into the foundations

of the muddy bottoms of life,

where God still dwells.

 

Uneasy

This last autumn, I felt uneasy about the joy part of my bio.

The Eye by Winter But My Eye Suz

It didn’t tell the whole story.

I referred to riding the seas of life and homeschooling, but life wasn’t all peach pie and geography quizzes.

I was having fun, but I was also angry.  And I was hurting.  And I was depressed.  And I was angry.  (Oh, I already said that.)  And I was afraid.  And I was sad, so so sad.  And I was anxious-ridden.   And I was in pain – physical pain and other kinds of pain.

Tired, So Tired

And I was tired.

 

Positively

The flipside of the burden-dumping world insisted I remain positive.  At least outwardly.

I have a story to tell.  I’ll make it short.

Years ago, I was overwhelmed, overburdened, overstressed, overtired, overstretched and ready for it to be all over.

In a certain form of social media, I shared an anxiety, a frustration in general terms. Very general.

I got a barrage of input.

No one asked about my pain.  No one asked why I shared my anxiety.   No one inquired about the overwhelming circumstances I was facing.

Creamed for a Word

I got creamed for a one-word choice.   A word, in my thinking, appropriate to my emotional state and considered [so I thought] generally acceptable.

Online compassion for in real life pain was non-existent.

I was put in my place to suffer.  Not only the circumstances, but also the judgment and the multiplied loneliness for a single typed word.

I was rejected for feeling.

Mud, Meet Waters

That was the day I realized I was alone.  Really alone. 

But it was also the day I realizedI will never be totally really alone. 

I found God again where the mud meets the waters and He lifted me up from my tears.

 

The Face They Want Us to Wear

But I also began trying really hard to be the face everyone wanted me to wear publicly.

In a sense, that was good for me.  To find out that I could keep the smile going.

But in another sense, the positivity became a lie.

I thank God for my Sunday School class who let me be real.  Was it scary?  Of course.  Was it real?  Yes, it felt good to be real, if only behind closed doors.  Real and loved.

At some point in this struggle between reality and positivity, I wrote my blog bio.

 

This Last Autumn, I was Asked … The Question

The Question

My daughter and I were shopping in a nearby outlet store when we saw a woman who had been in a group we were involved in a few years before.  She asked me this question:

 

“You look good online, how are things in real life?”

 

I love her for that question.  I just love her for it.

 

Challenging the Duplicity

She challenged the duplicity.

She loved me enough to care about my real life.

Art as a Reflection

Life Reflected Art, at that Moment

At that very moment in real life, however, everything was lovely, just like online.

I was out with my daughter, shopping, giggling, playing spy at the perfume counter.  Life was written in the perfect font on color-coordinated pages, and the dust bunnies weren’t in view.

Life Changes by the Tick of a Clock

Give the clock a few moments to turn the page, and life was kind of hard.  Not as hard as it had been, but still, kind of hard.

Her question kept me wondering if that little nagging sense of misperception about my blog bio was really conviction.

I didn’t jump on the condemnation wagon right away because I’ve been learning that not everything in life is wrong.

But I did put it in my ponder basket for review.

 

Post-Reflection Apology

I apologize for coming across biographically joyful when IRL (in real life) I wasn’t always so.  Maybe I’m being too hard on myself looking back, or maybe not hard enough yet.  And maybe my bio will change again over time.

All I do know now, is that during those hard, hard years,

God did give me joy.  But to Him all the glory.  Not to me.

 

Art Reflects Life

I changed my bio under my picture a wee bit ago.  Did you notice?

Now it says:

I have walked through the occasional – and chronic – storms of life, as well as waited out the doldrums. Through it all, God has been faithful to show His heart and His sense of adventure both at home and beyond.

That’s more betters.  It’s more honest.  It’s more real.

  • GOD has been faithful.
  • GOD has shown His heart.
  • GOD has a sense of adventure.
  • GOD has walked with us.
  • GOD has given me joy.
  • And GOD deserves all the glory.

Even when I’ve been trying to be positive at the expense of being honest.

 

What I Learned From This

We are not to boast in our ability to remain positive.  We are to boast in God’s ability to bring good out of bad.  Doubt me?  Just look at the cross.

Please forgive me.  And please glorify God for all He has done.  It’s been much.

 

REALITY CHECK:  There is a difference between omission of factual gory details and altering the factual details to make the gore look good.

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*More about the name change later, as I wanted to end the old year on the right foot.  The foot that Jesus saved.  Thankfully, He saved the wrong foot, too.

Comments

  1. Maggie Hogan says:

    And yet again, I am reminded of how many times your words have touched my heart. But this post? It is beyond beautifully written: it is Christ centered (because You are) and it speaks truth. A truth very near and dear to my heart. You are loved, my friend. By Christ. By me. Thank you.

  2. Oh Maggie, how thankful I am for you in my life. You are one who has touched my life in the real places, who has walked with me in the real places, and who knows from life experience what it is to walk in real places herself (I’m thinking spoons.). You encourage me. To be real. AND to lift His name high. And that those two are not diametrically opposed, but singularly connected.

  3. This was amazing! I’m sorry if I was one of the ones who hurt you by not asking about you or by using harsh words or any of the things you mentioned. My personality type is such that I’m not very good at perceiving emotions or even just listening without trying to “fix” whatever the problem is. As such I’m not a very “good friend” type, but know that I do think of you and pray for you and love you!

    For the record, I never thought you were fake. I don’t think it now, either, about then. Focusing on the rare oasis of joy when surrounded by a desert of pain doesn’t seem fake to me whatsoever. I see why you changed it, but don’t feel one iota of guilt or anything negative about having that up there even when you weren’t feeling it.

    *big hug*

    • Tears … “the rare oasis of joy when surrounded by a desert of pain” … tears and wordlessness. Really, wordlessness. And lots of tears. And thankfulness. Lots of thankfulness. And thankful that you are one who is real, and have taught me that real is ok. Even in social media statuses. 🙂