He goes before us.

Anxiety. Worry. Fear of the unknown.

We’ve all had it.

Some of us deal with it just on occasion. Others of us…well, we basically live in it. 24 hours a day.

And for those, it’s just exhausting.

And it’s a lie.

An illusion.

A tactic to steal our happiness.

To steal our security.

Our joy.

To steal our time. Precious, precious time.

We worry and we fret, and minute by minute it slips away.

Wasted.

On a lie.

But this is the truth:
God goes before us.
Whatever we are stepping into, He’s already there.
He has prepared the path.

Yes, our choices, and the choices of others may have set us on that path.

But no matter what turns that path takes,

He goes before us. 

When I found out about the affair,
One after another He put people and resources in my path to guide me through it.

Some I knew of, but didn’t really know personally, and they reached out and spoke words of hope and comfort to me. Others had been close to me forever. But they were all there for a purpose. As each one spoke into my life I remember being amazed at how they had been placed so strategically even before any of this happened.

Because He knew.

He knew I would need them.

And now I see how I’ve been placed in other people’s paths.

People that need to hear my story. People that I can give hope to. People that I never would have connected with otherwise.
Just last week, I got a message from a woman. She wanted to thank me for stepping out of my comfort zone and sharing my story. A few days after hearing me speak, she found out her husband was cheating.

God put me in her path, so that when she faced what I faced, she would remember the words I spoke and know that no matter what, whether the marriage survives or even if it doesn’t, if she will keep her focus on him, God will redeem her story and bring goodness to her.

He goes before us.
In another situation, I was dreading something hard that I knew I had to do this week.
I was filled with anxiety and worry about it, and about how the next few weeks would play out.

But when it came down to it, it went surprisingly well. It was still hard, but not in the way that I had expected. I know why it went so well.

It’s because He goes before us.

Jeff and I have prayed for new opportunities over the past few months. Opportunities to put our family in a better place financially. Opportunities to lower the stress in our lives.
And in the past week, we believe we are seeing those opportunities arise. I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone again, and make a decision in faith.

And we both feel good about it and have confidence that there is good stuff ahead in that area.

Because we know He goes before us.

He is making the way.

And not just in the big stuff.
In the little stuff too.

Last night we were headed out for a special early anniversary date. We got in the car after having dinner and headed towards Atlanta.
Suddenly, our headlights go out. BOTH of them…while we are driving on the expressway.

We can’t go to Atlanta with no headlights. And our tickets are date specific and non-refundable.

20 seconds later as we are preparing to pull over, I look up and on the corner at the next red-light, is an auto parts store.

We pull in, get the bulbs, and Jeff changes the headlights, and we are off safely to our special date.

If those lights had blown just a few minutes later after we left the expressway and gotten onto the interstate, it could have been disastrous. But instead they blew minutes before that and literally 30 seconds ahead of an auto parts store.

Because He goes before us.

I use to live in fear. A lot of fear. Of so many things. Of change. Of not being enough. Of worst case scenarios. Of what ifs.
But the past year has taught me a very important lesson. A lesson that is invaluable.

The lesson is this:
Anxiety is nothing more than a lie.

Worry is nothing more than a lie.

Fear is nothing more than a lie.

Because no matter what comes for us, He is there. No matter what hardship or sadness or pain our paths lead us through, He’s already there. He’s paved the path. He’s prepared the way. He’s put in place every single thing we need. All we have to do is trust Him.

He’s got us.

He LOVES us.

He works ALL things for our good.

We don’t have to worry. We don’t have to be afraid. We just have to trust Him. We just have to trust in His goodness.

And when we do, the goodness comes pouring in.

POURING in abundantly.

We can walk in the confidence that He has goodness for us.

That in Him we will find everything we need.

I am not afraid anymore. 
I don’t want you to be either.
Don’t let those fears hold you back.
The fear of change. Of worst case scenarios. Of not being enough. Of all the what ifs.

Some of you just need to let go of the anxiety and worry and rest in the fact that He knows the plans He has for you, and that they are always, always good.

Some of you need to take it a step further and step out of your comfort zone. Some of you need to know that there’s so much goodness out there if you’ll just get past taking that step. And that goodness may not be just for you. You may bring goodness to people that you wouldn’t have, had you not stepped out of your comfort zone. Scratch that. You WILL bring goodness to people that you otherwise would have never been in the position to before. That is a fact.
Stop letting the doubts and the worry keep you from becoming the person God intended you to be.
Stop letting the fear steal your happiness.

Your potential.

Your joy.

Your precious time.

Stop letting it steal the goodness of THIS day.

The goodness of THIS moment.

Don’t listen to the lies of fear and worry.

Listen to the truth.

Look for the goodness. Thank God for His love and His protection and His abundant favor.

It overwhelms me, this truth.
That He doesn’t miss a single detail.
That every single step we take,
He goes before us. 


Deutoronomy 31:8

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Amy Thurston Gordy

Wake me up when September ends

September.
I used to love it.
Still enough summer left to enjoy the pool, but also just a hint of fall in the air. There was always a kind of crispness to September. New school routines becoming more settled, pumpkins popping up in front of the stores. Scents of cinnamon and spice and pumpkin and baked goods signaling the impending arrival of fall and all the comforts that season brings. Cozy nights with a fire and a fluffy blanket. Chili, hot chocolate, apple cider, candy corn, caramel apples, pumpkin cupcakes, football food, fall festivals. Planning fall vacations. Holidays.
(And suddenly as I read this back I’m realizing that almost all of that consists of references to food. Ha;)
So much goodness.
These are the things I used to think of in September.

But now…well, I still think of all those things.
But September is also a terrible reminder of the worst day of my life.

And I know that I have to choose to not focus on that. I’m doing my best. But if I’m being honest, it’s not always particularly easy. I’m trying not to think about it. But it’s there. Always under the surface. Sometimes closer to the surface than others.
I don’t choose to have thoughts or memories pop up, I don’t choose to feel the sadness those things bring. But when they come I have to choose to fight them.
It’s still a struggle sometimes. Those thoughts and feelings are a pretty strong adversary, but I AM stronger.
And getting stronger by the day.

Things are good.
Really, really good. I know this. I’m happy.
I’m thankful. So thankful. Rebuilding this marriage, what we have been able to do, I do not take it for granted.
God continues to pour out His blessings on us every day.
One of my favorite songs at the moment has a verse that says “I know you hear me, I know you see me Lord. Your plans are for me, goodness you have in store.”
And He does. He has nothing but goodness for us.
That’s what I want to focus on.

But despite that, sometimes the ache still gets to me.
It’s like an old injury that you can almost forget you had.
Almost.

Someone swings a bat, oblivious to anyone around them and it comes around and makes contact with your leg.
The sound is deafening.
Cracking, splintering, shattering. The pain is searing.
Nearly unbearable.
You go into shock. It immobilizes you.
Weeks and months pass. After many prayers, therapy, determination and hard work, you are back on your feet again. The fact that you are walking is nothing short of a miracle.
And the searing hot pain is gone….mostly.
Sometimes you almost forget about it. Except that there always seems to be that dull ache. You’ve become so accustom to it, that you almost don’t notice it.
It just is.
So you just learn to live with it. You learn coping mechanisms, some good, some probably not so good. But you just keep pushing through. You find a way to live with it. Because you decide, for you, there really is no other option. You could choose to wallow in the pain, which just intensifies the pain, or you suck it up and you push the pain away and focus on everything else so you can live your life.

And the person that caused you that injury, they are sorry. So very sorry. And you forgive them.
And it’s easy for them now. Easy for them to forget and live their lives. They don’t have any lingering pain or scars or after effects. They’ve become a new person. They aren’t that person that hurt you anymore.
Except for having to deal with the occasional moments you allow them to see your ache, they can easily wipe the memory of the person they used to be from their minds.
They are just a clean slate.
And you envy that.
You envy that so much that sometimes you secretly wish that you were them and they were you.
It’s so simple for them.

You want it to be that simple for you too.

The words ARE simple.
Easy.

You’re healed.
You’re walking.
Life is great.
Let it go.

But although that bone has healed so much, it’s not the same. The fracture lines are still there, and there’s always that dull ache. And sometimes, with just the slightest change in the weather, that dull ache can become so loud, and so insistent that you just can’t block it out. It doesn’t happen quite as often anymore, but still, you find yourself wondering sometimes if these episodes of increased pain will ever completely stop. And you find yourself wondering if that deep dull ache ever truly ends, or if it’s there to stay.
It’s a constant reminder.
And you wonder if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Maybe it’s a little of both.

Bad because pain is, well…painful.
And distracting.
Makes it harder to focus.
But it’s also a constant reminder that despite how bad things were, how truly good things are now.

It’s a reminder of the fact that you didn’t stay there.
A reminder of how far you’ve come.
A reminder that you don’t live there anymore.

You live in light and joy and redemption.

So maybe one day the ache will completely disappear, or maybe you have to learn to view that ache as Paul did when God wouldn’t remove “the thorn in his flesh”. Maybe you have to learn to let that be a reminder of God’s grace and your gratitude and “count it all joy”.

Either way, the goodness wins. Either way, the goodness defeats the ache.

The day is coming. D-day. The anniversary of the worst day ever.
I don’t want to let it be that. It’s a date on a calendar. It shouldn’t own me or my emotions.
So I’m trying to think of something to do or somewhere to go. Some way to fill that day up this year with fun and happiness and joy. Just something to create some new memories for that day. (Suggestions and ideas are appreciated 🙂 I have thought that one day we might even use that day to renew our vows. But if I decide to do that, not this year. I want a little more prep time to plan for that!)
I just want to find some way to spend our day focusing on each other and all the things we have to celebrate. Our new and better marriage. His one year mark of being porn free. The many, many blessings we have been given in this past year. I want to celebrate the goodness.

If I fill that day up year after year with new and better memories, then the negative memories will fade more and more and the goodness will overtake the bad.

One day this season in our lives will be just a season. Just a fact in the story of our lives. One day I will be so far out from this injury my heart has endured, that I won’t notice the ache anymore. One day when I see my scars, I won’t think of the pain anymore. Only the beauty that came after the pain.

So I’m gonna retract the title of this blog. Don’t wake me up when September ends. I’m not hiding out or sleeping through it.

There’s goodness to be found, and I don’t want to waste a single day of it.

Bring it on September.
I think I’m ready for you.

Amy Thurston Gordy

The sum of Joy

At the first church service of the year, our pastor passed out little slips of paper. He asked us to write down one word for the new year. One word that represented what we were asking God for. One word that represented what we wanted to have or learn or do or become in the new year.
At that point in time, we were in a very, very early stage of trying to put our broken marriage, and our broken selves, back together.

Jeff had only been back home a matter of weeks, and there were still more hard days than good days at that point.
As I sat and thought about what my word would be, there were just so many. The last year had brought me such terrible, awful words.

Pain.

Heartache.

Anxiety.

Sadness.

Insecurity.

Confusion.

Doubt.

Fear.

Anger.

Hate.
It was so hard to narrow down what I wanted this new year to be. I wanted it to be the exact opposite of all those awful words that 2015 had brought me.
I wanted happiness.

A mended heart.

Peace.

Clarity.

Security.

Stability.

Love.
But the one thing, the one thing I wanted most, was,

Joy.
I just wanted to feel joy.

I craved it with every ounce of my being. The sadness was just so overwhelmingly heavy and I just desperately wanted to feel the lightness that joy brings.
So that was the word I wrote down that day.

Now we have reached the middle of 2016, and our pastor revisited that sermon today.
On the curtain behind the pulpit at our church, hang large letters that spell the word “[be]ing.”

It represents Acts 17:28,

“In Him we live and move and have our being.”

It is a reminder that we aren’t just of Him, we are in Him and He in us and so we aren’t here to just talk about His mercy, His grace, and His love, but we are here to BE those things.
So today, instead of writing our words on a slip of paper, they took those big letters off the wall. And we all wrote our words on those letters.

It could be the same word you wrote at the beginning of the year, or you could choose to write a new one.

I kept hearing two words go through my mind.
The first word was:

Goodness

From the first days after I discovered the affair, when I was so entrenched in the pain of all that had happened, God kept telling me He had goodness for me. That no matter what happened, there was goodness waiting for me on the other side of this.
Throughout this past year, I’ve held tight to that. And not just as a promise for the future, but as something to get me through each and every day.

When things got bad, I’d remind myself to look for the goodness. And that’s what would pull me through. Sometimes it was little things, sometimes it was big things, but there was always goodness there, even in the darkest days. You just have to look for it. You have to acknowledge it, you have to be thankful for it, and then keep your focus on it.

It’s not always easy, and there were some days that have been harder than others for me to carry out this principle for sure. But if you focus on everything that’s going wrong, and everything that’s bad, you just end up with more bad. On the flip side of that, if you look for the goodness, the goodness grows.

Even when our lives aren’t going the way we wanted or expected, God is still so very good. He has so much goodness for us. We just have to choose to see it.
I see it everywhere, and I’m so very thankful. His goodness overwhelms me. And once we see His goodness, we can then turn around and BE His goodness for someone else. And so it grows, and it grows. His goodness knows no end.

Which brings me to my second word:

Expectation

Hope is a wonderful thing. It gets us through many heartaches and trials.
But I have found that I don’t just have to hope that everything will work out for my good.

I can fully expect it.

Because of God’s goodness.

Because He promises in His word that He will work ALL things for my good.

That He will take even what was meant for my harm and turn it around.

And that not only will He turn it around, but He won’t waste one single bit of it. He will bring His goodness and light into my situation and use it for His glory. He will put my broken pieces back together and then use that brokenness to bring hope and goodness to others.
I don’t have to just hope for the best.

I can come before God with expectation of the best.

Because that is what He promises. I can trust that He always has my best interest in mind and that He always has more goodness in store for me.

Psalm 31:19

“How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.”

So then, what about my original word, Joy?
I can sum it up this way:
Goodness+Expectation       multiplied by Gratitude=

JOY
That’s where we can find our joy. When we look for the goodness. When we trust in God’s promises and fully expect that He is who He says He is and will do what He has promised, and when our hearts overflow with gratitude for His goodness and grace and His infinite love for us.
That’s when He turns all those bad words the last year brought me around.
That’s where I’ll find my happiness.

My mended heart.

Peace.

Clarity.

Security.

Stability.

Love.

That’s where I’ll find my joy.

It’s where you can find yours too.❤️

 

Amy Thurston Gordy

The Bigger Picture

I’m beginning to see it, the bigger picture. The bigger picture, in the every day, in the little moments, it’s something we cannot see.

In the moments of pain, of sorrow, of grief. In the moments of disappointment, we just can’t see it. We can’t understand why. We can’t possibly understand what purpose this incredible pain could have. And as I did, so often we find ourselves asking those seemingly unanswerable questions. The ones I’ve written about so much in my blogs. The ones I’ve found myself searching, desperate for the answers to. 

The questions of why. 

Why did this happen to me? 

And so often we find ourselves not only feeling heartbroken that God didn’t stop it, but angry. Angry that he allowed this thing we didn’t feel we deserved to happen to us. Angry that he didn’t use His almighty power to save us from this misery. And questioning why He didn’t love us enough to spare us this heartache. 
His answer to that question is that He couldn’t possibly love us more. His love for us is infinite and pure. But just because He loves us doesn’t mean He will always step in. 

Could he? Yes. He most definitely could. 

But does He always choose to? No. 

And we want to understand why. 
I’ve asked all of those questions. And for a long time I’ve believed that they don’t have an answer. But over the past few weeks I’ve come to realize that they do. 

The answer is the bigger picture. The one we can’t see. 

But He sees it. 
Jeremiah 29:11 says that He knows the plans He has for me, and that they are for good. 
The reason why He allowed life as I know it to be destroyed, the reason He allowed my heart to be shattered, is because He could see the bigger picture. He could see that the pain of that tearing down would allow something better to be built up in its place. He could see that by the testimony of our story, countless others would find hope and healing, and that they would see Him. 
Someone told me many years ago that God told them to tell me to read the story of Joseph. That I should read it because God saw me as he saw him, and our lives were very similar. I was intrigued, because what I remembered of Joseph didn’t stand out as anything I saw mirrored in my life at the time. 
So I read about Joseph. I read of how he was highly favored. I read of how he was mistreated, and how he was betrayed by the very people that were supposed to love him the most. The people he should have been able to trust. And I read of his forgiveness for those people. And how God took everything that was meant for his harm to bring blessings to his life. To put him in places he never dreamed he would be. To put him in a position to help others. 

I read all of that and… 

I. did. not. understand. 

I thought surely this person was mistaken. 

I was NOT AT ALL like Joseph. 

No one I loved had hurt me. I couldn’t imagine that anyone I loved would ever betray me the way he was betrayed. No one would toss me in a pit and then make me a slave, throwing away my very sense of self, everything that made me who I am. That kind of thing doesn’t happen to me. There must be some mistake, I thought. That message wasn’t for me. 

And so for all these years, I’d had that tucked away. Certain it had nothing to do with me. 
The story of Joseph has come back up in my mind on several occasions lately. Most recently in Cindy Beall’s new book. 

(Y’all should get that, by the way. “Rebuilding a marriage better than new”. You can order it on Amazon😄)

I know it was not by mistake that she included this story, I know that it was confirmation of what God has been speaking to me over the past few weeks. She wrote about the story of Joseph and how loved he was by God. She wrote about how God did not intervene and allowed all of the terrible things to happen to him. And she wrote about how God redeemed Joseph’s story. How He freed him from slavery and put him in a position of influence that he never would have imagined. How everything bad that happened was used for the good of Joseph, his family, and so many others. She wrote about how if Joseph had not gone through all those painful things, he would never have ended up in the position that he did, where he was able to bring so much goodness to so many. 
And now I see it. That story, Joseph’s story, it was not a mistake. It WAS meant for me. 
Jeff betrayed me. And I found myself in a virtual pit. A pit filled with despair, sadness, anger, self doubt, and fear. 

What he did made me a slave. A slave to anxiety, fear, depression, post traumatic triggers, sadness, insecurity, uncertainty and doubt. 

And it all seemed so wrong. So incredibly unfair. 
But just as God allowed these things to happen to Joseph, he allowed bad things to happen to me. Not because He didn’t love me. Not because He didn’t want to spare me the heartache. His heart ached too. And just as He was with Joseph, He never left me. He saw me through that heartache. He cried with me in that pit. And just as He did with Joseph, he’s used this awful experience to bring goodness to my life. To bring goodness to my marriage. And He is using my story to help others. So that others can see His goodness and His faithfulness and His love. So that others can see how He makes all things new. 
Joseph had a choice. He could choose to let his situation take the very best of him. He could choose to be defeated. He could choose to drown in the misery of the sea of “why me’s?”. 

Or he could choose to trust that there was a bigger picture. He could choose to trust that he would see the goodness of God. That the goodness of God would find him, even there, in that pit of despair. 

Joseph chose to believe God had his best interest in mind, he chose to believe in the bigger picture. 

I’m choosing to believe there is a bigger picture for me too. 
There is a purpose in my pain. God will not waste a single one of my tears. He is redeeming my story, and He will redeem yours too. Yours may look different than mine, but in His way, in the way He knows will be the best for you and the good of others, you can count on the fact that it will be redeemed. 
We may not understand it, and we may not see it yet, but He sees it. 

The bigger picture. 

And it’s so much bigger than our minds can even fathom. 
His love for us is endless. His mercy and grace for us is matchless. 
We can’t be assured that we aren’t going to have pain and heartache in our lives. But we can be sure that He knows the bigger picture. He knows the plans He has for us. And they are always, always good. 

We can trust Him. 

This revelation has brought me so much peace. I hope it brings you some peace too. ❤️
Amy Thurston Gordy

Cleaning out the junk

I was reading back through my journal today, and came across this entry. It’s something that I wrote just a few weeks after the day I discovered the affair.

Jeff had moved out and my existence was full of confusion, sadness, anxiety, fear and mostly, pain. Emotional, spiritual, physical pain that I can only describe as nearly unbearable. The kind where you go back and forth between feeling like you are being torn apart to this feeling of numbness, of nothing at all, because your heart, mind and body can only stand the pain in increments, so you simply shut down.

Some days I just honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. I mostly wanted to lay in the floor and cry and hide from everything.

From everyone.

From the reality of the world that had so cruelly crashed in on me.    To just crawl out of my skin.               I suddenly understood why people want to lose themselves in alcohol or whatever their vice is. Anything to just make you forget. You can’t change what happened, so the closest thing to it is to be able to forget.

To drown it out.

But I had no intention of letting myself actually do it. I knew that those things, they can’t actually make you forget. Nothing can make you forget. They only dull the pain momentarily. Thankfully I knew that path only leads to more pain.

So I tried to find things to keep me busy. So that I would have something to focus on besides the fact of how devastated, heartbroken, scared and angry I was.

So on that particular day, I picked a room and started cleaning stuff out. I wasn’t sure at the time that I would be able to afford to keep the house after the divorce, so I felt like I needed to start getting things in order and cleaning stuff out so it would be less overwhelming when and if that time came. But mostly, I just couldn’t sit still.

Anyway, that is what inspired this journal entry that day.

September 26, 2015

“With all of the craziness and confusion that has been my life for the last few weeks, I have found myself feeling compelled to clean things out. To get rid of the clutter, put things in order, make my world a little cleaner, and more organized.
I don’t know why I’ve felt so compelled to do it.
Yes, I do.
I do know why.
Control.
I need to feel like I have some control.
Over something.
Anything.
Maybe because doing this gives me just a hint of the feeling that I have even a tiny bit of control over at least something in this mess that has become my life.
For this entire year up until that awful day, I had no control at all. I was in the dark. There were signs, yes. But I brushed them off. Until those last couple of weeks, there was nothing substantial that made me believe he had or ever would ACTUALLY betray me. And even in those last couple of weeks, before I knew the whole truth, I wanted to believe that it wasn’t what my instincts were telling me. He wouldn’t do that. He really wouldn’t actually do that.                                              But….he did.                                                         I had no say. Jeff had been living a whole different existence while I’d been oblivious to it all, just going about our life. The life I was living was a deception. The movie of my life that was showing on my screen only hid the play that was happening on the stage behind it.     I only saw the illusion.                         I had no control over what the reality was behind the scenes.            I only thought I was in control of my life. Of what happens to me. Of what happens to my family. Knowing now that I wasn’t, it’s disarming.

Everything about an affair is horrible.                                               But the deception, the deception is the worst.                                           And that loss of control leaves you feeling vulnerable and victimized and so you search for anything to try and get that feeling of control back.                                                        So that.
That’s what this is really about.

As I went through stuff today, I realized how symbolic cleaning it all out was. How cleaning out the literal junk was very much the same process as cleaning out the figurative junk. The junk in our minds. In our hearts. In our lives.

Something happens when you start to clean out the junk. You start picking away at the pile of stuff. At first it seems that you’ll never reach the bottom of the pile.
So. much. JUNK.
You see that there is stuff there that you had tossed aside. Out of sight, out of mind.
You dig a little deeper and you see stuff that maybe you had wanted to hold on to, although now you’re not really sure why.

And you keep digging, and you find junk that you didn’t even know was there.                                                 Where did this stuff come from? How did I not know that this was here, hiding underneath the surface?
And you realize that junk isn’t yours. You aren’t the one that put it there. Yet here you are, literally drowning in it.
You didn’t even know it was there. You couldn’t see it because it was hidden from you. It was hidden so well, and you didn’t have access to it before.                                               Yet somehow, without even knowing it, you had lost yourself in it.

Slowly, you start to sift your way through. You even find a few hidden treasures.                          Some bright spots.                      Tokens of light and memories of happier times. Proof that God’s goodness is there.                     Always.                                               Even in the midst of all the junk.

Finally, as the pile begins to clear, you see an open space. One that’s been hidden by all this junk for far too long.
You suddenly realize the weight of all that junk. You suddenly realize how it had been crushing you, how it had been blocking out all the light.
In that clear space, you feel a sliver of freedom.                               Freedom from the bondage of all that weight.                                        And although you can’t fully see it yet, and you don’t know exactly where this path will take you, you know that there is light ahead.     That underneath all this junk, there is a clear path.
That there is peace to be found beyond the junk.”

 

Reading that entry now, I’m not even sure how I was able to write that then. How I was able for even a moment to see past the pain and believe there could be peace ahead. There were so many more moments of darkness than light during that time in my life. But to read this now, and remember all the moments in that darkness that He spoke peace and comfort to me, it’s proof of how near God is in our sorrow. It’s proof of his goodness in the midst of our pain.

I’ve got a lot more cleaning out left to do.
It’s not an easy task. There are times that I feel like it’s just too much.
There are times that as I’m digging that junk out, I trip over it and fall.

How grateful I am that I have people to pick me back up. How grateful I am that I have people that not only pick me back up, but help me clear the path.
How grateful I am that we can set those piles of junk on fire, and that the ashes left behind can be replaced with beauty, and the burden of the weight of all that junk can be replaced with freedom. And eventually, hopefully… No…I refuse to only hope.
I have to EXPECT.
I have to expect that cleared path that I find will lead to peace.
Not only peace, but also joy.

We just have to believe it,
And keep cleaning out the junk.

Amy Thurston Gordy

Motherhood…aka: Oh dear heavens these are actual tiny humans.Dear God don’t let me screw this up.

I had a great Mother’s Day. I can’t remember a Mother’s Day before this one that I have been made to feel more special or appreciated. On Friday, I got to spend a fun afternoon with my Mom and sisters and a couple of cousins. Then Jeff and Anna Kate and I spent a night at the lake with his sister’s family. Fishing and camping. And by camping, I mean in my sister in law’s camper, which is basically like staying in a nice hotel. Because y’all know this girl doesn’t do tents or snakes or bugs.
My daughter and her boyfriend surprised me by painting my kitchen while I was away, and on Sunday, they made me a beautiful surprise brunch, complete with flowers, all the food made from scratch, and the table set with the good crystal glasses.
Jeff took me shopping and waited oh so patiently while I tried on EVERY item in the store. Then proceeded to tell me he had so much fun with me. And meant it. My youngest sent me a sweet Mother’s Day message. Several others gave me special gifts.
It’s one of God’s ways of showing me how He turns something bad into something better. One of the good things that have come out of this is Jeff’s attentiveness and appreciation for me. They all went out of their way to make it a special day and it was really beautiful and I was so blessed by it.

I had always wanted to be a mom, for as long as I can remember. I think it started with my little brother. He is one of my first memories in life. I was 3 and a half when my mom brought him home. I thought he was the best thing in the world. I just assumed he was mine. I carried him around, and dressed him up and put him in my little wooden baby doll cradle, right up until he was about 3 and wouldn’t fit in it anymore, bless him. 😂

Becoming a mom didn’t happen as easily as I had hoped it would though. Month after month after month would go by with negative test after negative test. So I was thrilled to find out that I was finally going to have a baby.
And then 4 years later, I was lucky enough to have another one.
I have two beautiful, smart, healthy girls. What an amazing gift that I’d been blessed with. And what an enormous responsibility.

WAIT…
I was responsible for them. For taking care of them. Making sure every need is met. Making sure they were healthy. Happy. Safe. Making sure they felt loved. Making sure they knew about God and how much he loved them. Teaching them right from wrong. Teaching them to believe in themselves. Keeping them safe.
Did I mention keeping them safe?

Wait. a. minute.

So they aren’t just cute and precious and smell yummy like Johnson and Johnson baby lotion and love me more than anything?
They are living breathing humans with bodies and spirits and souls and I’m expected not only to take care of their needs but also to NOT screw them up.

Umm.
Did you other Mamas that have gone before us forget to tell us this? Or did we just not listen because that darn tiny little itty bitty onesie with the monkey on the butt was so cute we couldn’t think about anything else?

Being a mom, it’s wonderful and beautiful , and there are no words to describe how fulfilling it can be, but it can also be downright terrifying.
Like many of you, I’m my own worst critic. As moms, so many of us second guess every decision we make. “Was that the right way to handle that? Am I getting it right? Should I have said yes to that? Should I have said no?”
Or we beat ourselves up for the times we know for certain that we failed. For the times that we responded to them in frustration, or just plain exhaustion. For the times we had a lapse of judgement. We wonder if we scarred them for life. Or if we broke their spirit. Have we caused damage that can’t be undone?
Oh how our hearts ache to go back to those moments and respond with wisdom, kindness, patience, and love.

And then there’s that whole keeping them safe part. And not just their physical bodies, Lord knows that’s not easy. Emily once stuck a metal key into the electrical socket and nearly electrocuted herself, and Anna Kate flipped right off the bed into the edge of a bedside table and left more blood all over our Disney hotel room than a scene from CSI.
Dear baby Jesus.

But their minds and their hearts. We especially want to protect those.

When our family fell apart last year, nothing broke my heart more than seeing how their hearts were broken. The one thing I had always been so intent that we would spare them was a broken home. And as hard as I tried, I couldn’t protect them from that moment.
And I hated myself for it.
Because they are my sweet, sweet babies and I couldn’t keep their world from crumbling around them.
Sometimes even when we try our best to do everything right, even when we do everything in our power to keep them from pain, even though we do everything we can to control what happens to them, sometimes things just happen that are out of our control.
The truth is that we can’t protect them from the world. We can’t protect them from experiencing pain.
And sometimes that’s the hardest truth to learn as a Mom.

Because they aren’t really in our hands. They never really were. They are His. They always have been. And although it’s hard for us to imagine it’s even possible, He loves them even more than we do.

We can’t keep bad things from happening to them. We can’t stop them from having their hearts broken. We can’t spare them pain or disappointment or sadness. All we can do is just be there to love them through it.
But we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when they experience those things, they have a heavenly Father that will be there to comfort them, and who promises to work ALL things for their good.

I couldn’t keep their world from caving in. But since that happened, they’ve learned about forgiveness. They’ve learned what humility, and what true repentance looks like. They’ve learned about grace. They’ve seen the difference in just having love for each other in a relationship and BEING love to each other in a relationship. They’ve learned about redemption. They’ve seen firsthand the goodness of God, and the way he can take something so ugly and so painful, and replace it with something beautiful. They’ve seen what it means to push through the hard stuff. To have faith and to have hope that the good stuff will just keep getting better.
They may not even know it, or realize that they’ve learned all these things yet. But in their own lives, they will have those things stored up to draw from should they ever need it. Instead of what happened to us harming them and their ability to trust or affecting their future relationships in life badly in any way, I have faith that these bits of goodness and lessons in love will be what sticks with them. I can believe in that because God promises He will redeem everything. Every bad situation or circumstance. Not just for me. Not just for Jeff. But for them too. For ALL of us.

There’s another important thing that we need to remember.
We are all human. We aren’t perfect. We make mistakes. And holding ourselves to this unattainable picture of parenting perfection, well, it’s just not realistic. Or healthy. And while we are busy criticizing ourselves about our failures, whether they are just perceived or real, we are teaching our kids to do the same,and soon enough we see that they become all too critical of themselves too. Second guessing themselves. Never feeling like they are enough. That’s not something I want to pass on to them.

Sometimes as parents we worry over making the right decisions and instilling all the important stuff in our kids, and we beat ourselves up for every time we feel we may have failed at getting it right, and we wonder “Are they getting it? Are they getting the good stuff?”
Then God gives us the gift of these little moments where we get to see who they are, and who they are becoming. We get to see the way their hearts and minds are open. We get to see the sweetness of their spirits and the kindness in their souls. We get to see who God is in them. They do get it. They get what God and love is about more than a lot of adults I know, and nothing blesses this mama more than that.

So rest easy tonight sweet Mamas. You aren’t getting it wrong. Because you love those babies with everything that you are.
And love always wins.
So when our precious babies fall down, or when their hearts are broken, we will scoop them up and love them the way only a Mama can, and then we will watch God bring goodness to their lives in a way that we can’t. ❤️
Amy Thurston Gordy

The girl that used to be mine. 

Some days, I kind of miss her. The person I used to be. She was light hearted. Funny. Like really funny, although most people outside her inner circle didn’t necessarily get to see it. She was quiet, except for with those she felt most comfortable, then you could hardly shut her up. 😏

 She was independent and smart. She was silly. Easily amused. 

She was laid back, rarely anxious. She honestly couldn’t even understand what an “anxiety attack” was. I mean, like everyone else, she had her issues that she had to deal with in life and in marriage, but mostly she believed that things were good, and were surely going to get even better. She didn’t really know what pain and heart ache was. Not really. 

She was hopeful. When times got tough she always tried to believe for the best and know that everything would be ok. She could find at least a little something good in everyone. She certainly never despised or hated anyone. Her heart was fairly shiny still. The bright pink color of it only dulled slightly by the normal wear and tear of the few real issues that life had dealt her.

And sometimes, I really miss her. I miss the girl that didn’t know that feeling of anxiety. That ‘heart racing, knot in your stomach, can’t sit still but also can’t move, just need to escape but there’s no where to run from this feeling’, feeling. I miss the girl that had never held hatred in her heart. I miss that kind, joyful, easy going, funny girl. The one who’s heart wasn’t broken. 

There’s a song whose lyrics describe so accurately what it’s like to go through something, and realize how it changes you, and the struggle of coming to accept this new and different existence.

“She used to be mine” by Sara Bareilles:
“It’s not simple to say

That most days, I don’t recognize me.

It’s not easy to know

I’m not anything like I used to be

Although it’s true

I was never attention’s sweet center

I still remember that girl

She’s imperfect but she tries

She is good but she lies

She is hard on herself

She is broken and won’t ask for help

She is messy but she’s kind

She is lonely most of the time

She is all of this mixed up

And baked in a beautiful pie

She is gone but she used to be mine
It’s not what I asked for

Sometimes life just slips in through a back door

And carves out a person

And makes you believe it’s all true

And now I’ve got you

And you’re not what I asked for

If I’m honest I know I would give it all back

For a chance to start over

And rewrite an ending or two

For the girl that I knew”
But there is no rewriting. And the me that I am now, the me after all that pain and heartache…well, I like her too. She’s not as quiet. She’s more open, easier to connect with. She is bold. She is brave.  She refuses to let fear win or keep her from doing the things she is meant to do. She’s still independent and smart. Although sometimes because of that independent streak she tries to handle too much on her own.

 She is stronger. She has strength, SO much strength, that she never imagined she had.  
She can still find the good in most anyone….ok, if she’s being honest, maybe there is ONE specific person in this situation that she has yet to really find the goodness in. The jury is still out on that particular resolution. Definitely lacking closure in this department I suppose. But alas, that’s a blog for another day. 🤔😕

There is almost always a heaviness, like someone placed a concrete block right in the center of her being. It’s less heavy than it was at first, and some moments it’s heavier than others, and there are even a few blissful moments now occasionally where it’s light enough that she almost forgets it’s there. 
She knows all too well now what anxiety feels like. How there are certain triggers that incite anxiety, and heartache as if it was all fresh again in just a moments time. But she pushes past it. She has hope that over time, that concrete block will crumble and get lighter and lighter, and those triggers will fade and lose their power, to some extent at least. She has a stronger faith. A closer relationship with God. And she’s still funny. Just ask her friends. Or her coworkers. Or her family. They’ll tell ya. 😜😘 She’s still quiet at times, but certainly not because she’s afraid to speak. She has a husband that no longer takes her for granted, that loves her in a way she’s never known before. She has the capacity to forgive. She has hope, and faith, and knows exactly how surrounded by love she is. She knows the countless number of people that showed up for her in her darkest days. The girl I was before had no idea just how well loved she was and what a large network she had of people that truly cared. The woman I am now, bears the scars of betrayal and brokenness. The woman I am now still has some wounds that aren’t fully healed. But she also sees so much goodness. So yes, I do like her. I am thankful for her. I wish sometimes that becoming her had not come at such a steep price. But I really like her. 
The more I think about it, I know that the person I was and the person that I am now, are not all that different. The qualities and the imperfections of both have all been there the whole time somewhere inside of me, hiding beneath the surface. The things we go through are sometimes just the necessary tool to bring those things out of us. The qualities and purposes that we hold back, and the ones that we weren’t even aware we had. And sometimes…no, most times, the price of getting there, to that person you are meant to be in it’s fullness, comes at a price. 
As that song says: Would I like to rewrite it all, and create a different ending for that girl that used to be mine? The answer is, yes. And the answer is also no. 
Yes, I would love to take a giant magical eraser and wipe out all that heartache, and erase all of the unbearable grief. To live without that heavy concrete block of pain and sadness. A million times yes. But it’s made me into who I am now. And this new me , she has qualities that I wouldn’t want to give back. 
This new life I have has blessings that I wouldn’t want to give back. It brought me a better husband and a better marriage. It brought me a heavier hearted me, but it also brought me an improved and more authentic me. This story that I didn’t want, has also brought me purpose. This story that I didn’t want has allowed me the ability to bring hope to others. So the answer, yes or no? The answer is both. In a perfect world I would write myself a story where I get all the goodness of this new life without any of the heartache. But then I wouldn’t know what a treasure this new life really is. I wouldn’t know the depth of love and relationship I have in my marriage now. And I wouldn’t know the tenderness of the way God loves us through our heartache, and that is a precious, precious thing to experience.

So, the answer is really that there is no answer. The answer doesn’t matter. The question doesn’t even matter. Because I can’t rewrite any of it. And honestly, God can write my story immensely better and more beautifully than I ever could. He writes a story for each of us that can be more than we could ever imagine or dare to hope for, but we have to let go and let Him write it. For any of us that are going through a tough season in life , the only question that really matters is:
Will you let this situation take the very best of you, or will you let it make you your very best? 
We can’t rewrite our histories, so for every one of us, perhaps the biggest question is: 
 Do you want to keep trying to rewrite your own story, or are you going to let God do what He does best and write you a masterpiece?
Let’s choose wisely, my sweet, sweet friends. 
Amy Thurston Gordy