Monday, December 10, 2012

survival kit, pt2: Selah

I don't generally listen to the band Selah.  Honestly, I don't listen to contemporary Christian music much at all.  I find so much of it... well, nevermind what I think about that.

But, a friend (knowing what a sucker I am for tight harmony and how my heart gets healed by music) loaned me this CD during the first few weeks of the "twilight zone" (the 9-month period of time directly after "the day the world fell apart" and immediately following the "semester from hell").  I don't think the CD even made it into the house.  During the twilight zone months, my Suburban was my office.  There were many, many..... many conversations that I had to have out of earshot of my kids.  Things were insane in our world.  There were elders from 2 churches as well as RUF guys who I was keeping up with and the conversations were heavy.  There was lots of anger and fear and crying coming out of me at that time and these gracious men as well as their wives and many sweet friends listened to me for what turned into hours.

My kids got used to seeing me sit in the driveway in the 'burban talking and crying and listening to music.  They learned to leave me alone out there.  I'm sure the neighbors did, too.  It was nothing for me to stay out there for an hour or more at a time. 

One of the big things I had to work through was fault.  I was, quite frankly, obsessed with it. Whose fault was all of this mess?  I used to think everything that had happened for the previous 21 years was my fault.  It was not easy for my friends to drive this out of me.  But, while I was slogging through that emotional and spiritual swamp, I listened to this song over and over and it was a lifeline for me.  OK, not really the song itself, but the gospel in the song.  The song was anything but new to me.  But during those days something happened in my brain.  Phrases once commonplace began to mean something deep and personal.  There were no more cliches.

No matter what my fault was, I was covered because of the work of Christ on the cross.  This huge colossal mess could not erase my name from the palm of Jesus.  He had paid for my sin.  The sin I knew I had committed.  The "sin" others said I committed, but I hadn't.  The stuff I wasn't sure about.  It was all covered. 

But, it was not only my sin that was forgiven.  Sins done against me could be and should be forgiven because a Savior loved me enough.  How could I fall at the feet of Jesus and lay out my sin if I wasn't willing to reach over and grab the hand of the person beside me pouring out their own heart to Jesus in repentance.  It became the basis for forgiveness and reconciliation.  And was the beginning of the healing.




Thursday, November 15, 2012

tweet tweet

I signed up for Twitter a couple days ago.

I don't know.  Don't ask me.

I guess it just seemed like a good idea before I needed it and my name was already gone.  Actually, I signed up for two accounts - one for myself, and one for the business.  As if I don't have enough to do without blabbing my thoughts all over the place.

Not following anyone yet and, shockingly, no one is following me. 

Anyway my names were already gone.  DeniseKnorr is taken - probably by that Canadian bodybuilder.  I often wondered what would happen if a old high school friend googled Denise Knorr looking for me and THAT is what came up.  um, no that would not be me.  SweeterStill was taken too, dangit. 

So I landed on denisemknorr and sweeterstillpix.  Maybe one day I'll be famous. For now, though, it's just going to sit there until I figure out what to do with it.  I just don't see myself getting into it.  I'm so old.

Monday, November 12, 2012

survival kit, pt. 1: the jsb

In the past two weeks, two people have talked to me about how they have friends who are going through separation or divorce.  It's weird.  When people ask me, "What do I do?"  "How do I help someone facing divorce?" my brain often just comes up blank.  I know that I know things, but I usually freeze.  It's too big.  Where do I start?  I've said all along that pretty much all of 2009 is a blur to me.  But God used some strange and wonderful things to bring me back to sanity.

So, I've decided to put together a crisis survival kit.  More for my own self than for you.  But, really, if you don't know anyone besides me who has gone through, is going through or maybe should go through a divorce, then you just don't know enough people.  Look up and go find someone who needs you.  They're probably sitting beside you in the pew anyway.  just sayin.

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

I first learned about this book in the fall of 2008.  This is the period of time I lovingly refer to as the semester from hell.  A few friends were closely watching the apparent disintegration of my marriage and our ministry and meeting with me to pray throughout the semester.  It was a dark time.  The book came up in our conversation and afterward I went straight to the Christian bookstore and bought it.  I sat in the parking lot of the store for about 45 minutes reading and crying.  That evening at dinner I told everyone that I had bought a new book.  No big deal - we bought a lot of books back then.  But, even though I was obviously excited about this little book, I got nothing but skepticism from my family.  Being the good little reformed pastor's kids that they were, they had been taught to identify moralism and grace pretty well.  Ben, who was 16 or 17 said, "Read the story of Jonah - kids books NEVER get the story of Jonah right."  

{OK he was right about that!  How many kids books/sunday school curriculums/bible school programs have instructed our kids that the lesson to learn from Jonah is "first-time obedience."  Oh, precious people.  Please, don't teach your kids this.}

So I read it.  It was titled: God's Messenger.  And of course I cried because I cried at everything during the semester from hell because everything was so stinking tragic.  But here was hope and this time I was crying with hope.  Here was the true gospel screaming at me and my family.
SPLASH!  No sooner had Jonah hit the water than the waves grew calm, the wind died down, and the storm stopped.  Just then, when Jonah thought it was all over, when he was sure he was going to drown, God sent a big fish to rescue him.  The fish swallowed Jonah whole -- with one big gulp.  Jonah must have thought he'd died, it was so dark in there, like in a tomb....

Sitting there in the darkness for three whole days, Jonah had plenty of time to think.  Pretty soon he realized his plan was, well...a very silly plan indeed...

Many years later, God was going to send another Messenger with the same wonderful message.  Like Jonah, he would spend three days in utter darkness.  But this Messenger would be God's own Son.  He would be called "The Word" because he himself would be God's Message.  God's Message translated into our own language.  Everything God wanted to say to the world -- in a Person.
For the next year or so, this little book was the only Bible I read.  Judge me if you must.  I don't care.  My brain was sad and tired.  I needed Jesus.  I needed a Rescuer.  This whole book is about Jesus just like the whole Bible is about Jesus.  What a concept! A kid's Bible that actually teaches what the Bible says.  All the Old Testament stories told in the light of the Savior who would come.  Little pictures of the One who would come to rescue us.  Not just rescue us from divorce or abandonment or sadness but from our own sinful selves and the death we bring upon ourselves.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

sweet friends


When I was in college (the first time) I had two friends who spent every waking minute with me.  Or maybe they just put up with me, I don't know.  They were (are) very smart and beautiful and talented.  Both of them Who's Who and a slew of other honors.  I'm pretty sure they just let me hang around out of pity.  This picture was taken our senior year, as in '87-'88, and landed in the yearbook (hence the crease). I could explain to you why we were dressed funny but you wouldn't get it.  Had to be there.

Letha is the blonde.  I think she was already married in this picture - not sure.  She got married over Christmas break that year.  I sang in her wedding.  Three days before the wedding I lost my voice.  I mean, it was gone.  The day of the wedding, I was drinking fresh squeezed undiluted lemon juice to try to pull it off.  I don't remember much except thinking "whose voice is this?"  This year, she became an empty nester and a mother-in-law.  Time flies.  She was an accounting major.  Tonight I texted a picture of my online accounting homework to her.   HA! This is so typical...

Linda is in the middle.  She is incredibly intelligent and loves Jesus, who has blessed her with trips all over the world.  She eats the cake and leaves the icing behind.  Weirdo.  She is the principal of a middle school.  She was an art education major in college.  This is a piece I have from her Senior Art Project.  It's a print made from a metal etching and was originally a picture I took of a spring house on my grandparents property.  I wish I could find that picture.  So she drew the picture, then made the metal etching, then made the print.  It's really wonderful and this picture doesn't do it justice.  Come to my house and see it. 


So, anyway, here they are a few weeks ago when then they met up near DC.  I am incredibly jealous as I haven't seen Linda in several years.  (sigh)

It occurred to me tonight that these two set up my expectations of how the world is supposed to work.  We enter relationships and we are meant to keep them.  It's hard when it doesn't work that way.  I met Linda in the first few days of freshman year and Letha just a little while after that.  We ate nearly every meal together, met up between classes, played sports.  The summer after our junior year we took two weeks and drove from Greenville SC to Pensacola  to Detroit to Indianapolis and back to Greenville, visiting each of our families and seeing where we each grew up.  Priceless. Four years of constant face to face contact.  Laughed until we cried and sometimes cried until all we could do was laugh.

Tomorrow Letha and her family will sit through a ceremony in which her mom will be honored as an organ donor.  Her mom was precious.  I called her Mommy-poo.  She was also hilarious.  She sang "Davy Crockett" in pig-latin. "Avy -daaaaay, Avy-day Rockett-Cay."  Her death was not supposed to happen.  Letha and her sister and dad are not supposed to suffer like that.  You're not supposed to lose your mom unexpectedly and then try to be happy for the person who has your mom's heart.  It's not natural.  It's broken.  You're not supposed to get a call that your younger brother has died tragically either, as Linda did.  And your marriage is not supposed to end after 21 years.

So we have all suffered and still hurt. Those young girls up there knew so little of true pain.  We were so spoiled with happiness and sweet friendship and excitement in the future.

But now we have something dearer.  We have hope.  We know we are broken, that the world is broken.  But we know that God is good.  We can rejoice in other people's happiness and get surprised by true joy in our own hearts.  We can grieve losses but smile at the future.  We have Jesus.  He will be enough. 

 


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

big day yesterday


After 4 years, 5 months and 19 days Rachel finally got her braces off.  I remember when the girls were little I said that I didn't want them to get braces because I knew they would be so crazy beautiful.  Not that I don't want them to be beautiful!  But, with beauty comes...well, boys. The boys somehow managed to come before the braces and with the braces and will now, I'm sure, keep coming.  But I was right.  She is beautiful.  And she was so excited.


Josh got his driver's license yesterday, too.  He was so sure he would fail it.  And, I gotta tell you, I could see the parallel parking going on out the window and I thought he was a goner (he had only tried 3 or 4 times on Sunday).  But he passed it!  So proud of him.  It was nice but scary to watch him drive off with my baby girl to school this morning.  I told Charis that it was her job to tattle if he texted or talked on the phone or listened to the music too loudly while driving.  He assures me that none of these things will happen.  right.

And I got my scores back from taking the ACT.  Yes, I did.  Oh, and I don't think I told anyone but my kids about the day I took the ACT.  I walk into the testing center at TU and there is a small group of Josh's friends.  "Hi, Mrs Knorr - is Josh taking the test today?!"  "No," I said. "I am."  "Oh cool!"  ya.  cool.  So my score was 5 points higher than when I took it in 1984, so that's good.  And hilarious.  I guess all that homeschooling was good for something!  ha!




Monday, September 17, 2012

laughing it off

So today Charis and I were at a stop light behind a school bus.  We could see that the jr high kids were goofing off and trying to get Charis' attention.  Finally, one of the girls plastered herself up against the window of the back door, making sure to look me and then Charis straight in the eye and then... flipped a bird.  Not really a flip, though.  It was a long, drawn out are-you-seeing-this-rude-gesture-? bird.  Her mouth was open as if she were screaming the insult that the middle finger symbolized.

Ha!  What to do?  I just looked the girl in the eye, smiled and did a little shoulder laugh.  And then I looked at Charis and said, "alrighty then" and then we both looked the girl in the eye and laughed. And it was a good, long red light.  You have never before seen a young girl so deflated.  I'm not sure what she wanted our response to be, but clearly we didn't give it.  Eventually, they all settled back down into their seats.  We had a good time talking about why she may have done that and why she looked so sad when we didn't respond with shock or horror.

Oh, isn't it hard to not retaliate when wronged?  To take the insult and not give it back?   If only we could always laugh it off!  And when we were honest about how the meanness of others affects us, we had this familiar conversation that is almost now like our own little catechism:

Whose opinion of me matters?
God's.
What does God think of me?
He takes great delight in me.

alrighty then.



Saturday, September 15, 2012

john piper and the prosperity gospel

I may be the only person in America who hasn't seen this before today. I think its brilliant.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

my new favorite thing


A sweet friend gave me a groupon for The Vintage Pearl!  It took me weeks to decide what I wanted.  I even ordered something else and then went back and changed my order to this because its just so hard to decide.  This one is called the Circle of Love.  (great for one-stop online or in store Christmas shopping - just sayin') 

oh...now I get it

Not long ago I had dinner and went to a movie with a friend.  Ten years ago when we first moved to Tulsa, this friend was single and I wasn't.  Times have changed.  She's married and I'm not.  So weird.  That night I looked at her and said, "I'm sorry.  I thought I understood you then, but I didn't.  I thought I knew a little of what you went through, but I didn't get it."

She laughed, graciously, and looked me in the eye with a knowing.... pity?  No, not pity exactly.  She just knew.

I wasn't ever really single, you know.  Well, college.  But that's only partly single.  It's not the on-your-own-making-all-your-own-decisions single.  It's just not married yet.  

But now here I am and I'm just going to say it.  It's uncomfortable.  And, for all you girls who I told to read Paige Benton Brown's essay on singleness... I'm sorry.  Really and truly.  Not because of the essay - it's fabulous and worth the read.  But, I'm sorry I somehow thought it would be enough.  I should have listened to you a whole lot more.  I should have asked you hard questions about how you're really doing with it.  Because it's hard.  It just is.

On any given day, being single is fine.  But today I hate it and yesterday I hated it and,because I anticipate what the next couple days are going to be like, I'm planning on hating it until Sunday at which point Ricky will preach from Isaiah again and I'll remember again that God is my God.

Monday, August 20, 2012

donkey in lioness skin

I forgot how stressful the weeks just before and after taking your kids to college can be.  This is not a good thing to forget, but I did.  When you forget, you end up getting surprised when things go wrong.  And there are only about 127 different things that can go wrong. Plus everyone's emotions are on edge.  The ones going are nervous - either knowingly or unknowingly - about what's ahead.  The ones staying are trying to navigate the change of dynamic in the house.  It's all very unsettling.  All kinds of emotions.  I'm excited that they are growing up and going.  I'm so proud of them. But I'm sad.  I'm scared. I want to be the steady, un-flustered mom who keeps it all together.  Ha! I'm not.

Not long ago a sweet friend called me a lioness on her blog.  A lioness - really?  A lioness is strong and fierce.  I don't feel strong or fierce.  (Unless of course by fierce you mean a complete psycho who starts barking orders to everyone with her eyes bulging out of her head in frustration that people still don't realize that, if I made all the decisions and everyone obeyed them, things could go smoothly {deep breath}!  But, that's not what I mean by fierce.)

When I read her blog post, I immediately thought of Puzzle, the donkey in The Last Battle of the Narnia books.  Puzzle gets tricked into wearing a lion's skin that his 'friend' Shift found.  Shift is an ape and wants Puzzle to impersonate Aslan so that Shift can manipulate the Narnians.  Puzzle, bless his heart, is just dense.  Shift says, "You know you're no good at thinking Puzzle, so why don't you let me do your thinking for you?"  And Puzzle listens to the lies and does what Shift says.

Most of the time I feel like Puzzle.  A timid, ignorant donkey who is only pretending to be strong and fierce while listening to the lies that get whispered into my ears.  But the truth straight from the heart of Jesus is that all the lies are just that... lies.  I don't have to believe them.  I don't have to listen.  I need to listen to Jesus.




Saturday, June 30, 2012

the singing of Jesus

So, I've had to answer a few questions about the post on custody.  What did I mean when I said that I choose to hurt?  Sounds odd, I know.  It's just this.  You know when you think about something painful and it stings you right to the pit of your stomach?  If you don't know what this means, I've got nothing for you.  You must have never suffered or you have learned to deal with suffering and won't learn anything here from me. :-)  I know this gut twisting grief well.  I lived in it for months.  What I learned (mostly from Bruce) is that when I face the pain I heal.

It's kind of like the difference between the Lamaze and Bradley methods of childbirth.  Lamaze teaches you (or it did 21 years ago) to pant, move toward a beautiful flower on the other side of the meadow or something, and essentially escape the pain. Bradley teaches you to embrace the pain, concentrate on breathing deeply, imagine what's happening in your body to bring your baby into the world.  Instead of teaching you to run from the pain, Bradley encourages you to engage with it and let the pain work for you.  As you can tell, I only used the Lamaze method with kid#1 and it was a total disaster.  There is no getting away from the pain and all the trying made the whole process more painful.  I'm hyperventilating and breathing into a paper bag and hating everyone in the room!  With kid#2, the hospital nurses didn't believe me that I was in labor, because I was so calm and controlled (thanks to Bradley).  One of them said, "Well, I'll check you but I doubt you're even in labor."  I was 6-7cm. ha!  Everyone started moving a little faster after that.  Still, I was in immense pain and there was no getting away from it.  It hurts. But it's there for a good reason and in the end, something amazing and beautiful comes.

Suffering is inevitable.  We try to get away from it because it doesn't feel good to hurt.  But when I ran from it, I only hurt longer (and more intensely) as I boiled over in anger or panic.  So, I learned to let myself hurt.  And it was painful.  But in the hurt, I found Jesus.  I prayed my tears.  I forced myself to picture what the gospel looked like in that moment.  I was like a toddler all curled up and crying my eyes out.  Jesus would see me, pick me up in his strong arms and gently rock me.  I would cry and cry and he would sing and sing.  And eventually I found that I heard Jesus' singing louder than anything else and began to heal.

I miss those days. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

adoption


I’m filling in part time at Mend this summer.  Some of the staff need to get away for some vacation time.  Working at Mend can be draining.  It’s sweet, honest ministry to those in need – emotionally, physically, spiritually.  But, draining. 

Yesterday I answered the phone.

“If I get my daughter on the other line, do you have time to talk to us.  She’s 18 and pregnant”
“Of course.” (oh no!  These kinds of set-ups rarely go well)
“We just want to know what God thinks about abortion?”  

In 3 years of working at Mend, I don’t know if anyone ever asked me that question.  It was hard over the phone.  She couldn’t see my face, and I could only guess at how she was responding to what I had to say.   My guess was that she’s listening and hanging on every word.

Life is so very fragile in this moment.   And it’s left to… me?  Ugh.  I’m not ready.  I’m out of practice.  I can’t communicate this stuff over the phone to a stranger.  

We talk about life at conception.  Psalm 139 – “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Risks of abortion, both emotional and physical. 

Adoption?

This is the point when most girls shut me down, claiming that adoption is not an option for them.  I’ve had girls tell me they “don’t believe in adoption” and that they “could never give my baby away like that.”  They won’t “give away” a baby in adoption, but they’ll abort.  Ironic. 

But not this girl.  I had her.  

“Adoption is a beautiful thing.  It’s a picture of how God deals with us, too.  He brings us into his family – not because of anything good that we do, but because of his mercy.”

We talked for 10-15 minutes.   Eventually it became more about her own adoption by God than about the baby.  It was as if she finally heard the gospel for the first time.   Precious.

Premarital sex + unplanned pregnancy = salvation?  I don’t know.  And I don’t really get how that works, but… wow.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  ~ Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV

Thursday, June 14, 2012

psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

custody


Dividing things up during a divorce process is painful.  Of course, the first is the kids.  Nothing was scarier than the day I heard, “I want the kids to come live with me.”  Oh really?  I said, “Do you honestly think that’s best for the kids?”  “Yes, absolutely!”  I was stunned.  “I don’t believe you.  I don’t think that even you believe it’s best for these kids to leave Tulsa, their school, Redeemer….”  Not a happy conversation.  In the end, senses were regained (or overpowered?).  We kinda, sorta agreed to a plan.  ish.  Unbelievable.  Unbelievably painful consequences to really, really tragic decisions.  Those were the days in which I often said, “I’m living in the twilight zone and it’s getting comfortable in here.”  I didn’t think it would ever get better.  My friends said it would.  I didn’t believe them. 

But I’m not just talking about the kids.  There was the stuff.  Stuff isn’t that important to me.  OK, clarifying… my camera, my family’s 100 year old Victrola, my grandmother’s doughnut cutter – these are important.  But I can let go of the everyday stuff.  

Anyway we had to decide who would get custody of the stuff.  Much to the kids’ chagrin, I insisted he take the camping/kayaking stuff out of my sight.  I think my exact angry-moment words were, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in, on, around, or under this [stuff].”  (I may or may not have used more colorful, descriptive language at that moment.) Oh, that’s a whole ‘nother long story.  I kept the furniture except a table and our bed – the bed I helped design and he built.  I just didn’t want it any more. 

I miss some things that he got, though.  The tools.  I want to know that there’s a jig saw and a mitre saw in the garage in case I need them.  Which, honestly, I probably never will NEED need, but I could’ve used already.   And I miss the books.  This is messed up, I know, because I don’t even read much.  I have a huge stack of unread books my friends have recommended.  But, having a library of seminary and theology books is just comforting to me.  I don’t really know why.  It was very sad to pack them up and watch him haul them away.  Well, not all of them.  I snagged de Graff’s Promise and Deliverance volumes.  Don’t tell on me.

At one point, a friend said, “Well, at least you got custody of the friends.”  I guess I did, mostly.  There are a few who could never understand why I would be the one to file for divorce after he had changed his mind.  But, changing one’s mind and repentance are two entirely different things.  More on that another day maybe.

The morning that he walked out the door, I stood at the end of the bed and he stood in the doorway and said, “I don’t want to take anything away from you and the kids.”  I think he was talking about the stuff, but my head was swimming.  I wanted to run.  I wanted to scream.  I wanted to vomit and he was talking about the stuff.  Our life was apparently over and he’s thinking about the dining room table?  I didn’t care about any of it.  Whether he wanted to or not, he took plenty.  What he took away was our life -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, Christmases, camping, the beach.  None of it would ever be the same or normal.  This didn’t seem to matter in that most insane moment of decision.  But we feel it now.  

There is an abiding truth in all of this:  It doesn’t matter at all who gets custody of the stuff.  

What matters is this:  who gets custody of me?  Will Jesus have custody of my heart?   We have been through so much.  Do you know how easy it would be to stop caring about the gospel, grace or Jesus himself in favor of letting my heart be consumed with bitterness and anger.  Anger is power.  It’s easier to be angry than to experience deep hurt. Hurt is vulnerable and painful.  

From the early days until now, by the grace of almighty God, I chose to hurt.  I must do this.  Yes, I’ve been angry. I’ve been snide and sarcastic.  These are things to repent of.   If I had consistently chosen the bitter angry route, I would never have been able to stand at the communion table while my dear, repentant friend came back to the table months after offending me so deeply.  I would never been able to say, “I forgive you” to her and the man who took so much from me.  I said it, and I meant it.  It was a miracle.  It was a miracle of grace working itself out in my heart – the heart that Jesus is holding gently in his hand.
 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

teflon tape

The first time I visited the home of a widow in our church, I commented on the beauty of her wood floors.  "I just had them done," she said.  "It was the first big thing I did on my own after my husband died, so its a pretty big deal."  I had never thought about that before.

My first big thing after the separation was moving.  Of course, if you're reading this, you are likely among the 35+ people who showed up to help.  So, I can hardly claim that it was something I did "on my own."  But, I had to come to point of being brave enough to leave my home.  The only home that my 11 year old remembers.  The house with the breakfast nook where I sat with students and friends in the big, squishy, second-hand chairs. The home where we recorded the heights of the kids and many TU students on the door jamb.  It was kind of hard to leave it.  And, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

There are some things that I have always done - married or not.  For example, I learned early on that if I wanted an hour or two of absolute peace I could mow the lawn.  And so that has always been my job.  I'm sure now that I have done a great disservice to my boys and especially their future wives.  Because, in the boys' minds, no doubt mowing the lawn is not their job.  This is a practice for which I have been scolded many times.  I've heard, "you need to get those boys out here to do that" at least a dozen times.  I also knew that if I were the one driving the car on long trips, then I wouldn't be the one turning around to replace pacifiers, blow noses, threaten, or feed the kids.  So I drove.  everywhere.

Tonight I went to the utility room for a hammer and nail and found the water heater spraying hot water everywhere.  I waded through an inch of water to try to find the right valve to cut the stupid thing off. 

First response, panic.  Then get a teenager out of bed - but neither of us could budge the valve.  Next, try a nearby friend.  Did I mention it was late?  No answer - call his wife, no answer.  Panic some more, because there's water everywhere and I. am. alone. 

So I nearly have a breakdown but then it hits me - I can do this.  Its just water.  Nobody is going to die here tonight.  I scramble around frantically looking for some Teflon tape because, even if it doesn't work to wrap a whole roll of Teflon tape around the pipe, somebody somewhere will be amazed and impressed that I even know what Teflon tape is and how to use it.  This situation, by the way, is not what you use Teflon tape for but I was desperate.  Can't find it.  I could take you to it in the old house - in my sleep and blindfolded - but I can't find it here.  Oh well, I'm smart enough to figure out how to contain a few gallons of water.  I can mop.  I can use towels. I need a 9x13 pan to fit into a tight spot, but that's ok because I have one.  I can find a 24-hour plumber online and call.  Its just a phone call and a nice, albeit sleepy guy with a truck full of valves and pipes and wrenches will show up at my door and make this little problem go away.  Took him 20 minutes.  

Moments of crisis make me feel like I'm alone.  I hate that.  Because as soon as I think I'm alone, I've added to the crisis.  What was just, "Oh grief, the water heater is leaking" becomes this wave of emotion that wipes out all reasonable thought.  But the reality is, I know what Teflon tape is.  I can do this.  And I'm not alone - not really.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

we rest


I sat across the table from a friend for an hour and a half.  We hadn’t seen each other in over a month so there was a lot of catching up to do.  She’s a good friend.  Her story is like mine… sort of.  In many ways, it’s much worse.  In others, not so much.  And that is why we are friends.  Sometimes I think it’s like perfect strangers who survive a plane crash.  I didn’t know you before my life blew all to pieces, but we’ll be connected forever.

They say that misery loves company.  I suppose.  But this friendship is not about misery, though we have misery moments.  This friendship is about…well…friendship, but it’s also about hope.  It’s about understanding.  I get her.  She gets me.  Every now and then one of us will say something, draw a word picture to explain how we feel and the other will have an ah-ha moment.  Yes!  That’s exactly how I feel and I just haven’t been able to put words to it. 

So anyway, we sat there and covered the past weeks of our lives.  About 5 minutes before she had to be somewhere else, we were lamenting the reality of our teenagers going off to college and moving on.  And she said, “I don’t want my daughter to get married,” and out-of-the-blue started to cry.  This was not a comment from a young mother talking about her 3 year old – something nostalgically cute and sweet about an event that could happen 20 years from now.  And, it was not something I laughed off as if to say, “silly girl, of course you’ll want her to marry when the time comes.”  It wasn’t an exaggeration. 

I knew exactly what she meant.  She may as well have said, “I don’t want my daughter to suffer as I have suffered.”  In fact, what she did say was, “I will kill him – I will kill any guy who hurts her.”  And I knew she meant it.  It didn’t matter that her daughter was not engaged or even dating seriously.  There was no pressing situation.  No real expectation that her daughter’s marriage would ever fail.  But the mere fear and dread of a hurt so deep and painful being inflicted on your child is overwhelming.  It would be enough to make a person chuck all the teaching on marriage and family that she had ever heard in favor of a life free of commitment and the pain that comes with it.

And this is the beauty of the gospel.  Christ coming in as the perfect husband to pursue what is his.  To bring us to himself.  If it weren’t for the gospel, I would have no hope for my children or my friend’s kids.  I don’t know how people cope with tragedy without knowing that there is a sovereign God who knows about all of it and will not stop coming after his children.  I can rest.  My friend can rest.  And our children must learn to rest, no matter what.  We rest on Christ.  He cannot love us more than he already does.  He will not choose to love us less.  

No matter what, we rest.

known

Tonight as I was putting Charis to bed she said, "You know what's frustrating?  At school everybody knows me as Ben's little sister, or Kali & Rachel's little sister. Ugh!  It's so annoying!"  "Well," I said, "in 2 years it will be just you over there and then...."  She interrupted, "Ya, and then nobody will know me at ALL!!"

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

i'm up.

I'm up.  studying for a final tomorrow.  My anatomy & physiology professor promised a 'Study Guide' on Thursday.  She posted it yesterday and I didn't get it until today.  It said helpful things like "know everything about the stomach" and "know everything about the pancreas."  OK, so... not so much helpful.  So here I am trying to make sure that all the little missed facts get crammed in somehow.

Anyhow, all this middle of the night, doubleshot-fueled studying reminded me of the note I wrote on Facebook a couple months ago.  I wanted to re-post it here for a Facebook-less friend. 
I'm in college. Again.

Today I went to college.  I’ve actually been going to college for a month now.  But today?  Today I went in my grubby jeans and my favorite 10 year old, bleach-spotted, Covenant Seminary sweatshirt.  It occurred to me as I walked from my car to class that in all my previous years of school and college, I never wore grubby jeans and a sweatshirt.  Christian schools and colleges are funny like that.  They tend to like skirts on women – at least they did in the *cough* 80’s.   I never set foot in a public school classroom until last month.

So, anyway, here I am going to community college to Freshman Comp (yes, again) and Human Anatomy and Physiology in my jeans and favorite sweatshirt, and I keep running into my kids’ friends who look at me as if I surely must be lost.  Then we have an awkward conversation that goes something like this:

Me:  Oh hi, I know you.
19 year old:  Hi, Mrs. Knorr – what are you doing here? (as if my backpack doesn’t give it away)
Me:  I’m taking classes – haha – I know, it’s hilarious.  And you really should call me Denise
19 year old:  Wow! OK.  That’s awesome.

And then there’s the sweet guy who talks on the phone to his girlfriend in the stairwell before class every day and opens the door for me every day and calls me ma’am.  every.  day.

OK.  It could be worse.

Wait, it is worse.  I guess I need bifocals!  The Walgreen reading glasses work just fine except they give me a headache and I cannot get the book far away enough from my face when I’m sitting in those desks.  It’s hilarious.  So I either have to keep them down on my nose and look over them to see the teacher and PowerPoint, or I have to slide them up on my head like a headband for my hair.  Half the time they only make it to my forehead.  I cannot imagine how ridiculous I must look to these kids.

But I am doing it.  I’m going back to school.  I’m starting over.  I’m almost 46 years old, but I guess that’s ok.

And so Jesus is in the business of making everything new.  He has been doing it and he will not stop.  It’s fun to watch.  Actually, it’s often been terrifying to watch.  But he is good and his love endures forever.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

speaking of jeremiah burroughs...


"Objection. You will say, Yes, but you do not know what our afflictions are; our afflictions are such as you do not conceive of, because you do not feel them. 

Answer. Though I cannot know what your afflictions are, yet I know what your mercies are, and I know they are so great that I am sure there can be no afflictions in this world as great as the mercies you have. If it were only this mercy, that you have this day of grace and salvation continued to you; it is a greater mercy than any affliction. Set any affliction beside this mercy and see which would weigh heaviest; this is certainly greater than any affliction. That you have the day of grace and salvation, that you are not now in hell, this is a greater mercy. That you have the sound of the Gospel still in your ears, that you have the use of your reason; this is a greater mercy than your afflictions."

from The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment  Jeremiah Burroughs c.1599-1646

Friday, April 27, 2012

he smiles when he thinks of me


Some days, I don’t think I have suffered much.  Not like some friends have.

My two month old baby never contracted meningitis.  I never sat in my doctor’s waiting room, watching as every TV channel in the world reported that my office complex across town was under terrorist attack.  I never had to help a dear friend bury her drowned two year old.  I don’t have children who regularly berate and belittle me.  I've never had a baby in my home and then taken away because the birth mother changed her mind.  But, I have friends who live every day with these realities.

One time at RUF Summer Conference, I heard a series of talks from a campus minister about suffering and the role that suffering plays in our sanctification.  Basically, he said that sanctification happens primarily because of suffering. (OK, honestly, I think he said that it happens exclusively as a result of suffering but, let’s face it, I’ve slept several hundred times since then and I don’t really remember if he went that far.) Initially I balked at that, but now I think he was right.

I have suffered through a divorce.  And it was… terrible. 

But there’s something I want you to know.

I would go through it all again.  When you’ve been searching for a way to change for so long, and then all the sudden by no real effort of your own you find that you have changed…  it’s just astounding.   I wanted to change so badly.  I wanted to be better.

This ridiculous thing that I’m getting ready to tell you is the honest truth.  I thought that if I just read the right Jeremiah Burroughs book, or listened to the best Tim Keller sermons, or went through the right bible study, or found the perfect verse for every situation, I would be better.   But, I could never get there.  I knew the gospel.  I taught the gospel.

But at the end of the day, I didn’t get the gospel.  I kinda knew it was true, but I didn't get that there was no way to earn God's look of approval by doing better.  He already approves.  He smiles when he thinks of me. Y'all really don't know me all that well so I just need you to trust me that this is truly amazing.  Shocking, even.

What a lifetime of trying could not do, God has begun to do for me by stripping away all my security, my dignity, and all my hope in anything or anyone that is not himself.  I have been humbled and humiliated, scorned, manipulated and violently rejected.  But I have grown.  I have known Jesus better.  I have rested in the work of Christ.  Do I want to suffer?  Am I happy that I have had to suffer in this way? (hmm - trick question?)  No.  This sin, this terrible, terrible thing that has happened to us - it's not the way its supposed to be.  But, God will redeem what he is pleased to redeem.

Nothing in my hand I bring ~ Simply to thy cross I cling.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

thanks be to God

If everything is lost, thanks be to God
If I must see it go, watch it go,
Watch it fade away, die
Thanks be to God that He is all I have
And if I have Him not, I have nothing at all
Nothing at all, only a farewell to the wind
Farewell to the grey sky
Goodbye, God be with you evening October sky.
If all is lost, thanks be to God,
For He is He, and I, I am only I. 

~Dom Julian Stead

Monday, April 23, 2012

jane and the hero


I came to Downtown Abbey a little late.  A few months before Season 2 started, my friend Shannon said, “You have GOT to watch this series on Netflix!”  So I did.  Instantly hooked.

If you had asked me (and someone did) why I like it so much I would have said, “Because it’s just spectacular – the castle, the grounds, the wardrobe.  But the thing I like most is that the hero Lord Grantham truly loves his wife.”  I mean, they sleep in the same bed when the trend is for everyone to have their own room.   They are open about their love.  They confess, though, that when they first married, this was not the case.  But over time they began to love each other deeply.  He managed his estate with integrity, kindness and love for his family.

I just loved that.  I began to realize that, in my mind, HE is a hero.  A man who loves his wife.

Then Jane came.  Poor thing.  She really did nothing wrong except be a new servant in a rich man’s house, a young widow, beautiful, and in the wrong place at the wrong time.   We saw it coming, didn’t we?  First it was a one-on-one conversation, and then it was just tiny, almost imperceptible looks from him to her.  

And then, the kiss.  That’s all it was -- a kiss.  (Wait.  Did I just say that’s “all it was”???  Ugh.  Listen to me; even I’m doing it.  It’s no big deal.  It’s just a kiss.) 

But, it devastated me.  I slammed my laptop shut, and yelled “NO!”  (I know.  I’m weird.)  I was genuinely angry.   I just wanted a story with a hero who didn’t disappoint, you know?  Just one flippin’ story, for crying out loud.  Is that too much to ask?  All around me are stories about heroes who disappoint.  I hear it in country music (now that my kids are OSU cowboys, there’s a lot of country music around here).  I see it on TV.  I listen to my friends cry out in fear for their own marriages and in pain of marriage covenants already broken.  I hear the cynicism about marriage leak out of my kids’ mouths.  And I’m reminded about my own story about a hero who disappointed me, my children, our community. 

Sometimes it’s too much.  Make it stop.

But then I remembered.  Jesus came.  Jesus came to be my hero.  God breathed life into Adam and Adam was happy and unafraid until he sinned.  And when he did sin, God began a work that is still going on.  He sent out Jesus to rescue his children.  He sent out Jesus to be my hero.  His journey has been misunderstood and misrepresented and even been used to justify evil.  But he is the hero who doesn’t disappoint.  He is on a mission to rescue me and his mission cannot fail.  He will not be sidetracked by beautiful servants in his house.  He will not be lured by any idols in his heart.  He came.  For me.  And he never stops coming after me.

All other stories may mimic the redeeming love of Christ, but they all fall short.  Thank God, every analogy breaks down at some point.  Only Jesus can be the perfect hero.  He is the only one who can love us as we long to be loved.  He is the only one powerful enough to rescue us from everything dark – around us and within.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

and so I blog


I have a story and I don't know what to do with it. 

Part of the story is really sad. It's about a dream shattered.

But, a lot of the story is fascinating.  It's a story about a grace awakened. It's about communion and repentance. It's about friendship. It's about the beautiful, terrifying work of Christ as he is making all things new. It is not, however, a story about how the shattered dream pieces were picked up one-by-one and glued back together as if it had never been broken. Sorry. In one sense I would like to tell you a story like that, but I cannot. 

But, the grace is sweet.  And some of those broken off pieces are being redeemed like mosaic glass.

Anyhow, this is my story… sort of.   My story is also his and her and their and your story. It's our story. Oh, and trust me -- I never wanted this role in your story. In my mind, my role would be much more like... I don't know what.  But, I think it had something to do with curling up in big squishy chairs drinking hot tea from real china cups in my breakfast nook. Long talks in which my vast wisdom (ha!) bubbled out of me in sweet, gospel-driven advice on life,  on how to raise children, on how to make a home, on how to love people.  Like... your husband.

sigh

Oh, well. This is the me we are all stuck with - the broken, wounded, scared, blessed, ridiculous, stronger me. I am a photographer, a full-time student, a Behavioral Health Rehab Specialist, and a divorced ex-pastor's wife with 5 kids and I
want to do something with my story.

...and so I blog.