Forgiveness is Hard

Forgiveness is Hard

TobyMac has a song called Scars (Come with Livin’) that has been playing in my head for a while now. Michael recently preached a sermon on scars and we have been helping some of our kids through past hurts that have built up scars. It seems lately every where I turn scars seem to be in front of me. The thing about scars is they are a reminder of the hurt we have experienced. Truth be told, I want to forget the hurts, and I wish to take away the hurts my children have had. I wish I could take them all away and carry the scars for them. Honestly, it’s a tricky balance of forgiveness and not holding a grudge against those who have caused such deep hurt.

Michael and I are outside people and we enjoy doing things that get us moving. I’ve written about running, but we also enjoy bike riding. We are new to the sport, and have crummy mountain bikes, but we have found that we love where biking can take us, which is so much farther and faster than running. One day, we decided to go on a trail that was new to us, but we hadn’t factored in all the rain we had gotten the night before. We thought it would be okay since it is a paved trail. We pumped our tires, put on our helmets, I put on my new gloves my son got me for my birthday, set our phones to a bike ride and off we went. We were on this trail cruising along, wind in our faces and feeling so free. We were on our way back with under 5 miles to home when we came upon a boardwalk type bridge. I was in the lead and slowed down knowing the boards could be slicker than the pavement. This bridge was a bit longer than others and had a curve in the middle and as soon as I hit that curve my bike slid out from under me and I went skidding the opposite way. Michael was right on my tail so he bailed off his bike jumping towards the railing. My knees and legs got scraped up, my hands were sore and I was shaken up but felt okay to sit a minute and continue onto home. As we rode on, my left hand kept hurting worse and worse. I had gloves on so I didn’t think much of it but by the time we got home I just wanted to get those gloves off. As I tried to get the glove off, it was stuck between my knuckles. I slowly pulled it off through gritted teeth and realized that I had a pretty deep cut. (PSA: this is why we wear gloves while riding) This cut took months to heal. It was a constant reminder of my wipeout. Today there is a scar to continue reminding me of that day.

The scar on my hand is a good scar, it reminds me to be adventurous and to live every day fully. The scars our family has from living are harder to be happy about. We should look at them positively, but that is harder to do than a physical scar. The scar on my hand brings memories of a fun bike ride and the moments surrounding the crash. The emotional scars bring up memories of deep hurts that we all would rather forget.

Jesus has scars and those scars mean salvation for you and me. He got those scars through showing great humility, love and forgiveness. This is my prayer for our family, that we can wear our scars knowing we have learned humility and to love and forgive. The road to healing is a long road, filled with brokenness and lots and lots of bumps along the way. In writing this, I want to encourage you if you are walking a bumpy road filled with hurts. Forgiveness is freeing and we need to let our scars be reminders of God’s great love for us. You are not alone. I am not alone. We are together on this road filled with hurt, brokenness, tears and redemption.

For those of you that like completeness in stories, my bike crash resulted in a broken bike. I broke the gear shifter. The bike shop wanted me to buy a new bike, but that wasn’t in the budget. They also wanted me to do a complete tune-up, also not in the budget. The $17 easy fix was in the budget and has gotten me back on the road. As I am literally typing this I see the analogy of how eager I was to get back on the road after my crash. I should be just as eager to get back into relationships. Let’s not let our scars make us quit living, rather to get back on our bikes and feel the wind in our faces.

Don’t Be Offended

Don’t Be Offended

It is so easy to hear of someone getting offended or to be offended yourself. My name is Karen, a derogatory word these days. It would be easy to get offended about this. I would be lying if I said didn’t consider changing my name or that I dislike telling people my name. The truth is I am Karen because that is what my parents chose to name me, not because of my personality. It is people that chose to deem Karen to mean something negative, not because of who I am.

We have a choice to get offended or to let things roll off our backs. We all have a disposition of how we respond to things, but we also have a choice. I get random messages from people telling me sorry your name is Karen, or I can’t stand Karens, but am so glad you are nice. I choose to not be offended or bothered by these things. I believe I would be a very negative person if I let things bother me.

Jesus, of all people, would’ve had a right to be offended at the end of his life on earth. He was ridiculed and beaten yet he never once defended himself. He came to save us, to give us hope and forgiveness, yet he was treated like trash. In Matthew 27, the soldiers mocked Jesus and spit on him, yet he said nothing. He was going through all of that for the very soldiers mocking him. He went through it all so that all of us, even the soldiers that hung him, could have salvation in him. We get offended because of the smallest things and here the Son of God was beaten one lashing short of death, mocked, ridiculed, spit on and hung on a cross to die and he did not get offended nor defend himself. He could’ve saved himself but because of his love for us he endured.

How are you living your life? Are you so consumed with what you are going through that you forget there is something so much greater for you? I know I get caught up and forget the big picture. Reading Matthew 27 convicted me to keep my eyes focused on what truly matters. For me, it’s all about Jesus. Keep telling me how bad Karens are, how mean we are, I know it isn’t personal. I think it’s sweet when someone reaches out to tell me I am a nice one. Keeping my eyes focused on the cross keeps me from being offended.

A Little Bit of Grace

A Little Bit of Grace

Growing up I heard people say if you’re going to live in the United States then speak English. I get that logic, but from a different perspective. When we lived overseas it was important for us to learn the language of our host country. Important isn’t a strong enough word, it was vital. It was vital for us to shop, do business, make friends, attend church, lead Bible studies, work, etc. Without learning the language we couldn’t be beneficial to anyone, including ourselves. Learning the language was hard for us, easy for our kids, hard for us parents. We messed words up, got laughed at, struggled to communicate what we wanted to say, but most of all, we were shown grace. People were eager to help us learn their language and if we were somewhere struggling there was always someone that came along us to help us.

The other day I was running errands and I was at a store where you had to get your receipt checked at the door. There was quite a long line and as I stood there I realized there was a lady in the front that didn’t have something that was on her receipt. The store clerk was explaining it to her but she didn’t understand what he was saying. He didn’t slow his speech or try to re-word what he wanted to say, but instead he started yelling what he wanted to say. He clearly was getting frustrated because at one point he yelled and degraded her for not speaking English. My heart broke right there. As I passed by I paused to hear what language she was speaking to see if I could help her. I didn’t know her language and debated trying to come alongside her to assist. The store employee was agitated, she was agitated and there was a huge line of people and I was pushed along out the doors. I debated going back in to help her, but I wasn’t sure what I could do. Looking back, I should’ve done something. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t do something. I’m ashamed that I passed her.

We don’t know her story, she could’ve just recently gotten here and is only starting to learn English. I feel so convicted I didn’t help her that I will not pass by another situation like that one. We need to ask God to open our eyes to the people around us that need help. We can get so busy with our own tasks we don’t realize the world around us. People are important, and most times, tasks can wait.

I share this story because I hope someone else will not pass by a situation like that one. Let’s open our eyes to the world around us and be willing to step in for others. Let’s love the way Jesus loves. I’m reading through Matthew right now and there are so many times that he stops to help someone despite the pleas of his disciples to keep going. I want to be more like Jesus and see the people around me no matter what I am doing.

Scars

Scars

When you cut yourself you quickly clean it up and place a bandage on the wound. If it is bad enough, you may seek medical attention and possibly get stitches. Most of the time you heal and maybe have a scar as a reminder of what happened. I remember this time from when we lived in Guinea Bissau that someone came to our house with a machete wound. He had been out cleaning his cashew orchard and cut his ankle with his machete. He came hoping I could help him. I am not a medical person and I have zero medical experience. All I had was Betadine (an antiseptic for first aid), Neosporin and some bandaids. I did my best in cleaning his wound, luckily found some butterfly bandages and again, did my best in bandaging him up. He came frequently for me to check his wound and I would clean it and re-bandage if necessary. To be honest, I imagine he truly needed stitches as it was a pretty deep wound, but it healed. We got to travel back this past December and this same man was sitting on our veranda talking with us. I looked down and noticed his scar. It had been well over five years since that injury occurred. He had a reminder of that day, but it didn’t stop him, cause him pain or handicap him in anyway. It was just there as a reminder.

The story of that man was a physical wound, but how do we react when the cut we receive is emotional? There is no first aid established for emotional wounds, no quick bandaid or Neosporin. Emotional wounds are so much harder to heal. Emotional wounds can last for years without healing, especially if you are proficient at burying the wounds deep. I feel like the road I am on right now is a very bumpy road of emotional healing. It isn’t just me on this road but our entire family. We have been beaten and tore down but remain standing. On the outside we appear fine but every once in a while you will see our scars. I wish so badly we could just show up at someones house and they could bandage us and send us on our way knowing we will be healed quickly. Thankfully, we have Jesus that knows our wounds intimately and is our medical caregiver. At times it is easier to just sit in our wound, but in the long term, it’s not easier. We all have come to the cross begging for healing.

Part of our healing is forgiveness. We must learn how to forgive those who have caused such deep wounds. This morning I was reading in Matthew 18 about the king’s servant who was forgiven his debt, yet couldn’t go and forgive another who owed him. It hit me so hard that how could we not move forward from our hurts when God forgave us of our sins that are so much greater than the hurts we have experienced. We would be no different than that servant if we didn’t forgive those who have hurt us. Today I am choosing to forgive and move forward. I say choosing because forgiveness is not always easy. Forgiveness can be the hardest act to do. I forgive because they are also God’s children whom he loves and so should I. They may never even realize the hurt they have caused me, or my family, but I will still choose to forgive and to love them.

That all sounds so incredibly easy doesn’t it? If only it were as easy as typing these words. I realize the forgiveness road will be bumpy, and probably filled with some potholes that I get stuck in. What moves me forward though is the choice to forgive rather than to sit in my wound letting it turn septic. Septis kills and I choose not to let those who hurt me kill me, but rather I am choosing life and redemption through Jesus. We all are God’s children and we must love one another. I may not ever love them the way I love a friend, but I am choosing to love them the best I know how.

Is there someone you need to forgive? Why wait? Why not choose to forgive and experience the freedom from the chains that unforgiveness binds you with? I am thankful to be friends with the man I helped with his wound. This man loves the Lord with his entire being and is an example to me and an encouragement. Just like him, you may be able to look down and see the scar that remains after healing, but it doesn’t need to be a handicap to your life. We all have scars, but the scars don’t need to stop us, let them be a reminder of the redemption we receive through Jesus.

Just a Little Farther

Just a Little Farther

My husband and I took our dog on a 3 mile run. Our dog is a little dog, and he loves to run with us, but because of where we have moved (no sidewalks and a busy road) we haven’t taken him on a lot of our runs lately. Well, this particular run Jacques (pronounced Jock) was incredibly happy to be running with us and was running at full speed. Michael held his leash and kept up with him, eventually Jacques slowed down to a normal pace and set in for the run. While we were coming up on the last bit of our run Jacques kept getting slower and slower until I couldn’t even hear him behind me anymore. All of a sudden I see in my peripheral a fluffy white dog bobbing up and down at my eye level. I look over and Michael is carrying Jacques. I laughed so hard I didn’t think I would finish the last 10th of a mile. Jacques had given his everything and couldn’t go any farther, so Michael picked him up to finish our run.

Jacques was not moving the rest of the day

This story has been on my mind ever since it happened, which has been almost a week at this point. At first I just thought it was a funny story of the best dog dad ever. Backstory on the dog, Michael and I are cat people, but we got this dog because of our youngest and his prayer that God answered. That should be a whole different blog post, as it’s a pretty cool story. Anyways, this story of Michael carrying Jacques to the “finish line” has been bouncing around in my mind all week. Each morning while I have read my Bible and journaled I have seen more and more parallels to real life within this story.

When Jacques first started he was so excited he took off sprinting at full speed. When I first accepted Christ I was sprinting at full speed and I’ve had other times in life when I feel on fire and am just running full speed toward God. Then there comes times when, like Jacques, I slow down and just live life at a normal pace, settling in for the long run. These are the times that life feels easy and my faith feels strong.

If only that could be the way life always goes, but unfortunately there comes times when we slow down and things get harder. When the run was getting harder for Jacques he started getting distracted and stopping at light poles, signs, mailboxes, mounds of snow, really anything that he could make a distraction. This made our run slow as we waited on him before taking off again. Do you ever feel distracted in life? Distractions are everywhere, we can’t avoid them. Having a solid relationship with Jesus and a routine of Bible time is what pulls me through those distractions. I am able to remember where my focus needs to be, which is at the end of the race.

Sometimes, though, we are in such a hard place that we need to be carried. At first when I saw Michael carrying our dog I only laughed, but as the story set into my memory, I see it as an analogy of life. Jacques couldn’t go another step, he needed carried, he needed help to complete the race. These are the low times in life, the low times in our walk with Jesus. I am just coming out of a low time, a time that was probably my lowest I have ever been at in my relationship with God. I am so very thankful for the people around me that carried me, whether they knew it or not. I had a friend during this time that would ask me tons of questions. She would ask me random questions about life, cooking, parenting, about the Bible and more. She was younger than me, in age and in faith, but I learned so much from her. She was always so encouraging and her faith pushed me to Jesus.

When Michael and I worked in youth ministry a common question we got was how do you keep up with reading the Bible and being close to Jesus when it feels so empty, or when you’ve gotten off track. I recently was asked this again and this time my answer was more from my heart then my head. I experienced five long years of silence from God. I would read my Bible and it felt like empty words. I tried journaling, which is my favorite way to pray and process with God, and there was nothing. I felt empty inside. At one point, I even wondered if I was truly saved. Then one day, like flood waters, God started speaking to me. I couldn’t get enough, I filled a journal with words that were stuck inside for five years. The best part was I started recognizing ways God was in those five years. Is God silent in your life right now? Do you need to be carried? You are not alone. This, I feel, is a normal part of our walk with God. Keep pressing towards God. Remember how you would feel God’s presence at the dead sprint of your relationship and keep doing that until the flood waters break through. He’s there with you. He’s probably carrying you right now. I wish I had a picture to show you of Michael carrying Jacques, but you can paint the picture in your mind. That is how I imagine God was carrying me those five years, and many other times in life.

This Might Hurt

This Might Hurt

Since I became a Christian, I have always had a close relationship with God. He saved me as a teenager and guided me until I completely surrendered my life to him. Yet, when I am with other Christians that have grown up in strong Christian households I feel intimidated, I feel judged. I feel like I don’t belong, but I am just there. This is probably only me putting this feeling on, but it is something that I am always aware of. There’s a look on their faces they get when they hear I grew up in a broken home. My question is why? If Jesus came for everyone doesn’t that include the broken, messy and lost.

We recently binged watched The Chosen. If you haven’t watched that show, get the app and watch it. What stuck out to me is how Jesus went to the broken, messy and lost and he healed them. He didn’t shy away or avoid them. I catch myself wanting my kids to only surround themselves with Christians, but then it is only for a split second. I think of the people in my life when I was a teenager that chose to come to me and be my friend. I went to a Christian college and my friends there greatly shaped my life. They didn’t judge me or shy away from me because I was messy, they surrounded me and pointed me to Jesus. Why is it that adults in church can have a hard time doing this?

I think of a specific church we went to once that made me so uncomfortable with how perfect they seemed to appear. When someone messy came in they avoided them. If you dressed the part they would speak to you, but if you didn’t look the right way, it was obvious you were not welcome. Why do we do that as adults? If that is the way my peers would’ve treated me, would I truly be as sold out for Jesus as I am? Sometimes, we need to be uncomfortable in order to reach others. We gave our hearts to that church, I was uncomfortable almost every Sunday, yet I feel like we made no difference. Is that why we, as adults, have quit trying? We have quit going to the unreached, the messy, broken and lost to maintain our state of comfortable. It is hard, that’s an understatement. It can be spirit-breaking. It was at that church that I was at my lowest spiritually, I was broken.

This past Sunday during worship we sang “Jesus Loves Me”. There is a girl that can’t speak but really just makes sounds. We were sitting on the opposite side of the church and during that song I heard her voice over everyone else. I couldn’t help but look at her as she signed the song and “sang” at the top of her lungs. She knew the song, she knew what she was singing and she had no inhibitions. Watching her I saw Jesus. I saw why he came, who he came for and how we should praise and worship him with our entire hearts, with no inhibitions.

I realize this post is raw, it might hurt you, please know that is not my intentions. I am merely trying to speak what is on my heart. Let today be the day you sing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of your lungs with no inhibitions. Love people with your whole heart the way that Jesus came for the lost, the broken and the messy. A prayer I often pray is that God gives me eyes to see others as He sees them. What I teach my children is to be kind to those that are different from you, you never know how God might use you to change their life. Get messy today, so that someone else can become clean.

From Walking to Running

From Walking to Running

Several years ago our teenage daughter made the comment that her dad and I were getting chunky. At first I was hurt, but it was the truth. Michael had started running already but nothing too serious and I would go out for an occasional walk. Running sounded atrocious to me. The idea of putting myself through that was not my idea of fun, but her comment resounded in my head. The other big push was having a house full of teenagers that all eat like, well, teenagers, and I wanted to be able to eat with them. I love food and the idea of limiting myself of this pleasure sounded worse than running, so that is exactly what I started doing. In October of 2019, we, as a family, signed up for a 5K and thus began my running life. It was more of a run/walk, but I was out there doing more than I had before. After the 5K, I was hooked. I wanted more swag, more races and more running. My mantra during the runs were ‘I hate running’ but afterwards I loved the feeling running gave me. It really was a bipolar relationship.

In December I stumbled upon this crazy challenge called Run the Year. The idea is to run however many miles are in the year, so in 2020 we would run 2,020 miles. I convinced Michael, my ever loving husband that goes along with every crazy idea I come up with, to sign up, as well as our daughter that called us fat (yeah she was getting dragged along for this adventure), and a few others to join our team of five. 2020 turned out to be a year none of us will forget, but in the end we had ran, walked or biked 2,020 miles.

Fast forward to 2022 and we are signed up for our third year of Run the Year. Our team has finished every year so far, it helps that one of our teammates is a marathon runner. Our team also completed a sprint triathlon in 2021. Our daughter had planned to do one with one of our teammates but 2020 happened. Then we came up with the wild idea that we could organize one right in our town and all of us could do the tri. It was hard, especially the swimming part, but we were a little running community and we did it. We struggled together, we celebrated together, we pushed one another and to me, that is a picture of church.

I’m not a good runner. I’m mediocre at best, but I’m doing better than I would if I never would’ve started. My body hurts, but I have more energy than I did before and the endorphins I experience after a run is better than any drug. If I am tired or having a bad day, running always perks me up. I’m so thankful for our daughter and the motivation she was to me, as well as all of our kids who have supported me and encouraged me with each and every run. Another daughter of ours always ask how far we will be running that day. If it is anywhere near 6 miles she always says, just go for a 10K (6.2 miles). I love it that her face lights up when I tell her I did a 10K and thank you for the encouragement. Our children have been at the end of races cheering us on and huge supporters to us. Running isn’t a me thing, it’s a family thing.

As we have begun to heal running has been a big part. We have gone from walking to running physically, as well as emotionally and spiritually. When emotionally I was struggling, physically I was learning to push my body farther than I had ever before. Through all of this I have learned that emotionally and spiritually I can also go farther than before. Running has been a reminder to me of the race we are running as Christians. Leaning on God through the hard parts makes the highs so much higher.

Why the Broken Road?

Why the Broken Road?

Life is not perfect. We have ups and downs all along the way. I see my life as a broken road. I am traveling along and there are bumps, cracks, and imperfections, but my road keeps going. The creator of my road is Jesus and as long as He is driving me, I will ride along.

Before we went overseas as missionaries I was content. I liked where we lived, the people, the church my husband worked at, I was very content. We had no money, we rented a house, our vehicles were old but what we had was love. We had so much love and support in our lives that it all outweighed having no money. We lived in a state of complete trust in God that He would provide our needs and He always did. We worked hard, pinched every penny we could and lived simply. Our goal for going overseas was to be out of debt and the Lord provided that goal.

When we lived overseas we didn’t concern ourselves with money so much as the things that were right in front of our lives. Life was content at times, but also quite difficult. Our marriage got bumpier and life was physically harder and more demanding. Our road wasn’t as smooth.

Coming back to the states was, to say the least, hard. We moved to a completely new area and it was emotionally hard. Our physical life was easy, but emotionally and spiritually our road got bumpy, no, our road got broken. God was still providing our needs but our road got broken and more broken as we lived there. We are so incredibly thankful for the friends God brought into our lives while we were there, for without them I feel like our road would’ve gone off a cliff.

We are now in a new area and it seems our road is still broken but there are some smoother parts. That is all why the Broken Road has came to be. Life is a highway (yeah that’s a song) and I’m gonna ride it as long as I’m on it. Have grace with me as this blog comes into what it is and know that I’m just a broken, God-loving woman trying to ride along my broken road.

A Little Introduction

A Little Introduction

I am a homeschool mom. If someone asks me who I am or what I do, my response is a homeschool mom. Is that my identity? My identity is in Christ. I am a Christian homeschool mom. There is so much more to me than just being a homeschool mom. I’ve lived not a boring life. I would say a crazy life, but others may just say it’s a life. I’ll let you decide what you think of my life and maybe through this blog you can see that our identity is so much more than the first thing that comes to our minds.

According to my youngest, I am old, so incredibly old. I feel truly like I am just entering life. I’m in my 40’s, married to a man that I wouldn’t trade for anything and have five kids. I’ve lived in four states and two countries on two different continents. No we are not a military family, we are a Christ abiding family that is just crazy enough to never tell God no. I could just say we are a missionary family, but shouldn’t we all be missionaries if we are Christians? I have homeschooled for 14 years now, in four different states and two countries on two different continents.

This blog has been on my heart for some time now. When we were missionaries in Guinea Bissau I blogged, but it was for our supporters to know what was happening in our lives. Coming back to the states I have had a blog on my mind, but let’s be honest here, re-entry wasn’t pretty for me. I wasn’t in a state of mind to blog. What would’ve come out of me probably wouldn’t have been to pretty. So here I sit, almost 6 years after coming back to the states and I am starting a blog.

In starting a blog you are supposed to have a focus of what the blog will be about. Honestly, I have no idea what this blog will be about. Can I just say life? It is going to be about life, my life, our life, what is happening, what I am thinking, and what I might be struggling with. So, if you are interested, jump on this wild ride I call life and gather what you may from what comes from these fingers.