Its been six days since I last sat down and wrote. Partly because of our thirty hour road trip to my youngest brothers engagement party and partly because too much has been running through my head to write. I have been in one of those places where I start a million things and only finish about one. I run around the house like I am in a huge hurry only to forget what I was doing. I blame it on ADHD although on my better days I claim to have outgrown that.
I was lonely and begging God for new friendships and he listened and came through. Heather was my youngest brothers best friends, she was also the girl he loved. They had bonded over a spring break mission trip and since she was two years older than him they were waiting to date. I had met her a few times but because I was so self involved we had never really bonded. Then she decided to come to Auburn and because she was a year younger than me she showed up around the time I was making huge lifestyle changes. We bonded over one long car ride back to Auburn and became fast friends. She was everything I had prayed for and I learned more from her than I ever thought I could. She helped me navigate through the bible and I kept her entertained with stories from my crazy past. I taught her to give grace and she taught me to be a Godly woman.
It is stories like these that make God so great, I could have never orchestrated that on my own but God could. He knew when I would need heather and he knew she would be a part of my life forever. God does what no one else can do, he works things out according to his plan to prosper your future. I could have fumbled my way through college and come out slightly bruised but instead I let him lead and I came out with a loving husband, great friends, and a family I would do anything for. God did that, not me. I had tried to live my life how I saw fit and it had ended up in shambles.
My first Christmas home was a great one, I had just started changing my life and had asked for a bible. Low in behold there was a tiny red bible sticking out of my stocking when I came down on Christmas morning. I skimmed through it and read the Christmas story while our whole family gathered around the fire in our living room. We had the first peaceful Christmas in years. Our family has a tradition that we do on all major holidays, we go around and say what we are thankful for. When it got to me my eyes filled with tears and I told them. I was thankful for their unconditional love. My dad was the first one to stand and he wrapped me in a huge hug and whispered, “you were easy to love”.
I promised my mom I would go with her to hear my brother at our church’s good Friday service as long as she would let me go to a party right afterward. I was suddenly regretting that decision as we pulled up at the church. It was already seven o clock and I knew most of my friends would be drunk with out me. As we made our way into the candle soaked sanctuary something came over me like a wave of relief, I could almost feel God in this place. I quickly pushed it out of my mind, God had no place in my life.
They had set up the stage in the middle of the sanctuary with chairs surrounding it, I saw my brother playing the guitar by the cross they had set up in the middle of the stage. We sat in right in front of him and I gave a tiny wave. He was the only reason I ever went to church, my pride in his talent outweighed my hatred of church.
He starts to sing and I try to ignore the words as they seem to wash over me, “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe, Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow”. I couldn’t help but wonder if he could really wash my sin away? I knew my sin was more of a black cloak rather than a crimson stain but for a second I wondered.. Could he set me free? Could he take this broken heart and fill it? Could he forgive the horrible things I have done to my family and friends? What about drinking? Well I have to drink, I don’t know how to be fun with out it and i’m in love, or am I? More words I try to ignore, “Oh praise the one who paid my debt, and raised this life up from the dead”. I knew I had a debt, that I knew. I knew I had too much sin for one man to take on. I needed my own cross. I needed my own Jesus and just like most men couldn’t I told myself Jesus could never help me.
I tried to stay strong and keep my thoughts on what I was doing after this but for some reason the tiny voice I had been trying so hard to destroy came to life. My heart began to quicken and I could almost feel forgiveness, I just had to ask. I didn’t want it though, I wasn’t ready to change so instead I let the tears fill my eyes and overflow down my cheeks. I cried for my broken heart and for the shame of my sins. I cried because I knew I needed Jesus but I wasn’t ready to give it up. I cried because I wanted to stay in this place forever, sheltered from the pain of the outside world. Sheltered from yesterdays broken promises and tomorrows failure. I cried because I wasn’t strong enough to make the right choice.
My mom reached her hand over and placed it in mine, a quiet reminder that she was there for me. I knew she was. I knew that one day I would cry because God had redeemed me. I knew one day we might be great friends.
When I was little my brothers and I had a game we would play with my dad on our family trampoline. I was, of course, the princess and my three brothers were the villans trying to capture me. I would sit in the middle of the trampoline while my dad circled around me knocking all my brothers away. We would play for hours, my brothers trying desperately to get through my dads barrier but he was always stronger (although now I bet that game would go much differently). I was never worried, I always knew that even though my brothers out numbered my dad they couldn’t beat his strength. If they would start to come too close all I had to do was call out to my dad and he would come to rescue the princess.
I imagine life isn’t a whole lot different, God standing in front of me protecting me from the evil in this world with his strength. He may be out numbered but he can never be outsmarted or over come. All I have to do is call out his name and he will come running to my aid. He won’t leave me stranded to fight alone. He knows things will try to attack but with the power of his hand I will not fall. He places me, like a princess, in the middle of his binding love and tells the evil things in this world that I have a place at the foot of the cross. I have a place where nothing can harm me. I have a place in my fathers arms. I may not be eight anymore but the principle is still the same.
The Lord will fight for you: you need only to be still.
I decided I was going to post a few exerts from the book I am working on!
Feel free to comment and give feedback!
It feels like home
I still remember the feeling of driving up to Auburn, rental car packed to the brim with my life from the past 18 years. I nervously picked at my lip, a recent habit, and watched as we got farther from the place I had always called home.
It was nervous excitement, or at least that’s what I told myself. It was time to start a new life, one where no one knew that Stanfill was sononmys with bible studies and Jesus freaks. A place where I could finally be me outside the shadow of my family.
87 miles to go, my mom talked in a quick chatter like she always did when things were changing. My dad tried to make jokes about all the cow pastures he was seeing and I tried to look like this wasn’t the biggest change I had ever made.
An hour ago I had said goodbye to two of my best friends, both headed to different colleges. We weren’t emotional girls but this goodbye warranted tears so we cried and then made fun of each other for it. We hugged and promised things would be the same but part of me knew they never would. I watched as they pulled out of my driveway, we were as close as the sisters I never had and I couldn’t believe I wouldn’t have them for this next phase of my life.
80 miles to go, my mom is still talking about dorm colors and my dads wondering if anyone will think he’s in college. Sorority rush starts in a few days and I pray that no one knows my tainted reputation. I go over my outfits in my head, praying no one bought the same Jcrew dress that I had. I know rush means I won’t be able to party for a few days but I think my roommate brought some wine to ease the pain of move in. My thoughts wonder on until we finally reach exit 51, home for the next four years.
We pull our ugly rental into the dorm parking lot where parking attendants are directing us to the nearest parking spot. I wish we had brought my mom’s Lexus it makes us look so much cooler than this ugly rental, I make a mental note to mention its a rental to whoever my new suite mates are.
I know my best friend has already moved in because I see her car parked in the parking lot where we stop. The moving in process begins one heavy box at a time. I don’t like manual labor, sweating makes my make up smudge. I begrudgingly help as we make it up the three flights of stairs, no elevator. The dorms are old and smell like sterile cleaner. I hug my best friend and roommate and thank God to see a familiar face. The next few hours fly by and before I know it our room has become a home, a tiny TV sits at the top of big shelf, dressers crammed with clothes, and a desk full of computers and school supplies. This is the part i’m dreading, saying goodbye. I hate goodbyes, they have never gone well for me. I look at my mom who has tears spilling over her eyes.
I wrap her in a huge bear hug, the kind that says things will be ok. Despite our many differences or should I say biting similarities I know I will miss my mom deeply. She may not agree with my decisions and I don’t agree with her faith but she is my mom and in that there is a bond that binds us. She tells me she’s so proud of me and I can’t think of any reasons why. We don’t say a lot just hold each other and hope this isn’t really good bye.
I look at my dad, my eyes blurry. He holds me and tells me he will see me at class on Monday, I try to laugh but my tears are choking my throat. I don’t know what i’ll do with out my daddys protection but I try not to think about it.
In true Stanfill family tradition we exchange envelopes, their letters to me and my letter and CD to them. I have made a CD full of songs that remind me of our life together. Eighteen years full of memories packed into one tiny disc. Home by Michael Buble is the first song and my mom told me later that when it came on they pulled over on the side of the high way and held each other as they cried. Michelle branch is also on the CD, Goodbye to you, its a song from the CD my dad and I listened to on the way to father daughter camp my freshman year of college when my great rebellion was just starting. Fleetwood Mac’s, Landslide is also on there, when I was ten my dad told me he was about to show me the greatest song ever written, I took it literally and was sorely disappointed but it still made it. My daughters eyes by Martina McBride is also on there, my mom and I deemed it our song when it first came out, she said it reminded her of how alive I was as a child.
It was one of those days where you put all of your issues aside and love each other despite yesterday and the day before. I was hoping I would be stronger in this day, that I wouldn’t feel so connected to them but you can’t erase your childhood and more importantly you can’t shake unconditional love.
The next few days seemed to pass in a blur and I was more homesick than I ever thought I would be. I thrived though, surrounded by so many new people I loved making new friends. We quickly bonded with our suite mates when we all shared a bottle of wine and even met some girls from Atlanta down the hall. I was ecstatic to start sorority rush, it didn’t even occur to me that it might be a life changing event.
Just like there are times that we have to look above and say how great is our God there are many times that we have to know that Satan is alive and well. Every time we hear of another rape, suicide, shooting, death, or kidnapping we know that the king of lies has deceived even more than yesterday. Its days like this that we need to know how great our God is. Its times like this that God will remain good only when we remember who to blame for evil. Often times we look around our perverted world and want to shake our fist at God. We hear of another hurting nation and ask God, where are you? He sits where he has always sat, in heaven weeping for the people he created to live with him. Separated by a barrier of sin he has to watch as the course of time takes its toll on our world. Satan will be able to rule until Gods plan for earth is complete, so he seeks to kill as his dying wish. He wants our world to suffer as he has to suffer and in that he convinces people to act as he would see fit. He is the ultimate example of misery loving company.
Just the other day I heard another shocking story of one of my parents friends taking his own life and that of his wife. My heart broke a little bit, I don’t know this person or the family but I know that Satan has wreaked havoc in their life. Part of me wanted to blame God but then I remembered God only wills good for our life, he doesn’t cause bad, he tearfully allows it so that we may have our free will. Each day the news seems to grow worse because each day Satan gets a little closer to his death. We must reach the worst of days before God can make his glorious appearance, never doubt that he has stopped watching though. He hurts like we hurt, and his tears are laced with the sins of this world. Like a father weeps for a lost child our God weeps for a lost world. He made a way for us to be with him but only in our free will. He will never forcefully turn a heart to him because he lives off of our sincerity and let me tell you there is nothing more sincere than having a heart renewed by God. So when you are tempted, like me, to look around and ask God where he is, remember he is with you in your sorrow and also in your triumphs. He is with the dying and the brokenhearted and just because we refuse him access doesn’t mean he won’t stand with us and weep. God triumphs in good but he also triumphs over evil, in his perfect time.
I just had to write a quick post to say what a tremendous honor it is to actually have people read and comment on my writing. I have wanted to be a writer ever since I figured out how to work a computer and could play with the hundreds of fonts and colors that come on word. The only thing stopping me from pursing my dream was a lack of confidence. I have always had a hard time letting other people read what I write but this year God pushed me to start this blog. What an amazing response to being obedient! All of you have given me the confidence to pursue my dream and Lord willing I will be attempting to publish a book this coming year. Putting my heart on paper has never been an easy thing but I have an intense desire to help others who are going through what I went through in high school. I want to provide a glimmer of hope in this very dark world. I know the Lord gives us each special gifts to bring glory to him and his kingdom and I am praying everyday that his will be done in my dreams. So thank you for your support and please feel free to provide feedback/comments as you so feel led. I have no problem with criticism!