Sunday, November 16, 2014

When Hope Escapes Me

I sit here trying to figure out a way to cleverly close out this series. To wrap everything up in a pretty little package with a beautiful bow on top. I truly have no idea how to do so. Nothing about these last weeks has been pretty or particularly bow worthy. I'm left with just as many questions now as I had when I started.





It seems I've lost my lifeline.

You know how you have days where nothing seems to go your way? Where you can't do anything right? Where everything you touch crumbles in your hands...and spills over into the lives of those around you?

This last month has been full of those days for me.

I lost my mother three years ago this past October. Grief carries its own agenda. You're never prepared for how it can sneak up on you seemingly out of nowhere. Our relationship was a complicated one and I think I am mourning the things we didn't have more than the things we did have. Do I have regrets? Yes. And I'm plagued with the they saids, and the should haves. Not one of which I can do anything about...

I hope my daughter doesn't have the same regrets when she finds herself where I am.

Until last December, my husband played guitar for 7 years at a large church. That July I wrote my OneWord mid-year update. I had been struggling with trust and in a moment of brutal honesty, I dropped the f-bomb, simply a guttural response to what I was feeling at the time. Nothing more. Someone in the church saw the post when my husband shared it on his FB page and called the minister of music. The post had to be removed from his page and he was asked to stay home that weekend. Two weeks later there was a meeting in which he was told they would no longer be needing him to play, assuring him it had absolutely nothing to do with my post, and everything to do with changes they wanted to implement. We found out a couple of weeks ago that none of the reasons given for no longer needing his services were ever put into place. So of course it's my fault. All because I was being honest. And the kicker is, not one person involved in that church ever asked if everything was ok...

I hope to someday find a church where I am accepted regardless of the words I use.

Then there is that pesky internal soundtrack we all carry around with us. You know, the negative one we try to avoid listening to. There are times though, that it is so incredibly loud that it is deafening. And then it's reinforced by things that are said about you. You are untrustworthy. You ruin everything. You're a liar. You aren't enough. You aren't important. You're words don't carry any weight. You can't...you aren't...you don't. That soundtrack is screaming at me these days.

I hope that this is not the legacy I leave.

I haven't been well for several months. Physically and emotionally these months have taken their toll. Last week it all caught up with me. My blood pressure spiked at stroke levels and stayed that way for days. A visit to the doctor finds me on meds for my blood pressure and an appointment next week to make a plan to address my depression.

I hope this is the beginning of better days for me.

I realize that this post seems like a real downer but look at the common thread throughout...hope. I hope for more. I hope for better. So I guess I haven't really lost my lifeline after all. Somewhere along the way I simply stopped looking for it. Depression will do that to you. Being physically ill for long periods of time will do that to you.

I think what I have learned from this series is that, no matter the situation, no matter the person, there is always that common denominator. It manifests itself differently for everyone but is always there when you take the time to look for it.

Sometimes when you can't find your own way it's okay to get lost in someone else's story. To find that me too moment and hold on for dear life. Sometimes that's all we can muster. Grabbing on to the hope someone else extends to us in their own story.

Hope. Hope seems to be the lifeline that sustains us through the hard things. It's the thing that keeps us getting out of bed every morning. The thing allowing us to be able to face our days, however difficult, one small step at a time.

When hope escapes me, I'll find refuge in your stories. I'll grab the lifeline you throw me and hold on for dear life...



I want to thank everyone who participated in this series. You truly have been my lifeline during this time. Your encouragement and your prayers have meant more to me than you can know. Thank you for throwing me something to hang onto, for allowing me to get lost in your stories.

You can find all of the posts in the series here, "Finding Hope in Our Stories Compilation". 



Finding Hope in Our Stories Compilation





Here you can find links to all of the posts in the "Finding Hope in Our Stories" series. 

Sometimes the most healing thing you can do is lose yourself in someone else's story. It's there that you find the lifeline that you so desperately need. To know that someone else found hope. That there is something better on the other side of the storm that you are in. That you found something to hold onto when you felt you had nothing.

Sometimes, simply being able to say, "yes, me too" is all you need to be able to take one more step. If I have learned anything at all from these posts it's that this life is a journey. Beautiful and messy, and never the same for any of us.  The one thing we do have in common is that hope is the lifeline we all share. 

I pray you found hope in our stories...




"Finding Hope in Our Stories"







"We Have Hope" ~ Juan Lopez



"Hope Is" ~ Aaron Smith

"Hope in the Wilderness" ~ Andrea Osterberberg

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

About {Hope}

My next guest in the series is Ben Moberg. Even though our lives are on different paths we struggle with the same things; being accepted, being known and loved for who we are. His writing never fails to speak truth and encouragement to me and I am grateful we are friends. 


What I wish I could tell you is that it's simple.

I wish I could tell you that it comes from a few moving Bible verses sung over an acoustic guitar, written in ink on your wrist. I wish I could point it out to you with twenty-two images that will "restore your faith in humanity" and ten thousand proofs of how heaven is truly breaking through and a million photos of smiling children and old people and rescued animals. I want to wrap hope up, drop it in your hands like a gift.

If only it were simple.

If only hope weren't that vital drink of water in an endless desert, the bird there and then shooting away when you move. I should know. I've got a history of chasing after hope...and calling off the search.

White noise was all I could hear during the darkest days of my depression. I went about my days numb and half-asleep. During the nights, I cried, but with a still face, like it was no big deal, as if my body was keeping up the routines while I fell away from living in it. I would think: There's no hope for me. Then I'd stop thinking all together.

I was depressed, yes, but I was also, more importantly, devastatingly disenchanted. Early on, when the sad feelings were so strong and startling, I fought the good fight of faith. I pulled out every victorious scripture I knew, I confessed to my Bible Study that I was very low, I attended a church with a stand of  prayer candles meant to symbolize prayers made on behalf of others, and I secretly lit several for myself. I was so desperate. I was falling. I did everything in the Christian manual. I prayed long and exhaustive prayers into the night sky, holding out with a forced assurance that he would show up, he would heal me on the spot.




And after all of that, I ended up smudged out and silenced - a phantom of my former self. I went numb.

I watched, apathetically, as my life nosedived into the basement of a bar, soaking with spilled drink I could only faintly feel the wetness of. From the busy curb outside, I heard the sound of the dark siren. And I almost surrendered to it. I nearly did.

But then I didn't. By a mix of magical resolve and zero hour grace, I went home the next day and confessed everything. I came out of the closet, with both my sexuality and suicidal desires. Like a squeezed sponge, I emptied it all onto my people.

And it was a relief, yes, it was magical, sure, but I soon figured out that hope doesn't work like a light switch. I soon discovered that depression wasn't a failure in faith.

Here's where I think we get this whole hope thing wrong: We want it to happen in a snap. We want it to come after a dramatic release of feelings and honesty and hard truths. We want it to be fair. We want it to repay us for the courage we just shelled out.

But like the slow descending steps into depression, recovering hope is also a long winding process. It requires patience and pragmatism. It needs you to trust in the long way around, even when the quick answer seems just a few leaps away. It needs you to do the steadfast work of laying a foundation, brick by small brick.

Days after my big night, I sat at the kitchen table hovering over a cup of coffee, when my aunt handed my my first one.

She had done her time in depression, years ago. She knew that uplifting palatial proverbs about darkness before the dawn, and how God always works for those He loves were not what I needed to hear. She knew I needed a listener. And abider. And she also believed I needed something simple, practical.

"Make a list," she said. "Everyday make a point to write down ten things you are grateful for. Anything at all. And after a while, do twenty things, then thirty and so on. I know it sounds...well, small,but it really helped me."

Perhaps I would've been more reluctant to this had I been better, but I had tried every other way. I had nothing to lose.

That day I sat down, opened a fresh new notebook and wrote my ten things. I said I was thankful for beautiful things, like a partly cloudy sky, and funny things, like every film with Steve Martin, and privileged things, like having a car. I did it again and again, day after day, and it wasn't so much that this was the sure path to freedom, but it was the only bite I could really chew. It was a brick that I had the strength to carry.

Not long after, I became an artist again, building sculptures with my hands, mixing colors into new exciting tones, stretching canvas and hammering frames. I swallowed my pride with a couple egg-shaped "happy" pills and began weekly therapy. I prayed for awareness. I prayed for strenth. I prayed for patience. Patience. Patience.

And gradually, gently, I became hopeful. The world softened and balanced and soon enough, I was not afraid to live.

What I want you to know about real hope is that it doesn't just come in a tiny tract or a good book or a session with a therapist. It doesn't come all at once. It takes time. It takes perseverance. It takes months, years, and there's never a point where things click and you suddenly have hope, but there is a point when you realize how much stronger you are. How much wiser. You know the fragility of circumstances to throw you back in the pit, but you also know the way out by heart.

You know the path, and you know the transformation that comes, if only you walk it.


Ben Moberg is a Christian gay man and is becoming less and less anxious about saying that. After spending his life in the closet, behind the lines of conservative evangelicalism, Ben, at last, came out and found only love and freedom patiently waiting for him on the other side. It's been a beautiful last few years for him and his.

Other than that, in much more interesting areas of his life, Ben is a lifelong Minnesotan, a brother to four siblings, a son, an uncle, a world traveler, a slow writer, a Netflix binger, and he works at a high school as a paraprofessional. He has been hit by evangelicalism like a hundred thousand times, and he is a sluggish forgiver, but grace is having a go at him. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

You can read his whole story here at his personal blog Registered Runaway and at A Deeper Story where he is a monthly contributor.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Hope in the Wilderness

Up next in our series is Andrea Osterberg. She is also one of my online friends. Her walk in the wilderness is something that resonates with me in a very real way. I see myself in her writing so often. It's encouraging to know that someone, even someone you haven't met, has your back. Maybe you will see yourself in her story.



About 6 years ago, I climbed a mountain in very southern Mexico, perhaps we were even in Guatemala at times. I had never hiked in mountains before but thought, hey, they say it's an easy hike, so I'm good. What was failed to be mentioned was that really, it was an expert type hike. Like major inclines for basically 70% of it, and that it would take hours. Or that I'd be in the clouds, in ankle deep mud, and that I'd truly question if I was going to die. That I'd ask God to take me home more than once. (I'm a little dramatic...it happens.) I wish I were exaggerating. At whatever 1000's of feet we were at, I'd also not been prepared for the fact I wouldn't be able to take a deep breath of air, or that when crying and hiking hyperventilating does indeed occur.

Obviously I survived.

That hike changed my life. But I remember on hour 3 or 4, the intense disappointment for every bend we went around, that there was another bend. I got to the point where I would feel this intense hopelessness at every bend because still, STILL we were not at the top. When we finally came around the very last bend and I saw a village, and I saw people, I began to weep. And by weep, I mean ugly crying. The relief that flooded over me that this was over. I didn't have to walk anymore. I could catch my breath. I could let my body relax. I have never felt a relief to the extent that it created such strong emotion like that.

I compare my relationship with hope with that hike.

I am in the wilderness and I walk a long, dusty road right now. Twice I've dreamed about this, and while I'm not a huge, oh hey...God gave me a dream type, I think these were. It looks like the Sahara and the trail is windy. It's dusty. It's dirty. There is not water. Everything is brown. And worse, I'm alone. Or at least seeing with my eyes in the dream, I look alone, with the occasional person in the distance that I always watch, and I never call out to them. I feel hopeless for every bend that I turn on, because there is more road. And hope leaves me. I feel hopeless for my dreams that I always felt were from God, and if I ever really heard his voice. I feel hopeless for my family as they struggle with so much, and I wonder if prayers do any good at all for them. I mean, I hoped for healing for my dad to the end, and that didn't happen. I feel hopeless in this faith. Some days I wonder if anything of what I have believed is real. Simply, my life feels hopeless right now.

Maybe this is it. My life will always be the wilderness. Maybe.

But here is what I do know. Hope, at least for me, stubbornly refuses to let me go. And I have fought her, I've wrestled with her, and over and over all I hear is this very till small whisper..."Hold on a little longer, sweet girl. Walk...just walk a little longer. If you can't walk, then crawl. Sit, take a breath on the road. You are not left alone."




I am unable to give up hope, and I have wanted to. Others would have by now.

So I am limping currently down that dusty road, and lately, I have run into others there. Friends have come alongside me, and they offer to carry hope for what I struggle hoping for. I'm not foolish enough to say I have my shit together anymore, I'll tell you I struggle. Oddly, I've found these tears to be something that frees me, even though I think they make many uncomfortable. I can't care about that anymore.

Lamenting in this place has been freedom for me.

Isaiah 40:31 in the NIV version says, "they that hope in the Lord shall renew their strength..." and today, that verse and the surrounding verses to that, have been some water in a dry, dry place for me along with those friends who have helped me keep walking.

I struggled with a way to end this, I always struggle with a way to end my ramblings, but for fellow wilderness walkers, I'm on that road with you. I understand the frustration and the tears, and the anger and the pain. I do. My prayer for myself lately, is the simple statement asking for hope to arise in me. That she would be bright like the sun. I offer the same simple, maybe ridiculous prayer to you who I may never meet or talk to. That hope would arise. Whether that road ends tomorrow, or the walking goes on for years.

That just as the sun rises every morning after the dark, that hope would so the same for you and you would hear the whisper that you aren't alone there. 

I'm not alone there either.


But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31






I am a woman living life in the state of Oklahoma where I'd call myself a wilderness walker, lover of people and truth seeker. I love writing, deep conversations over coffee and my dog, Oakley. If you'd like to read more of what I have to say you can find me at The Honest Wanderer.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hope Is

My next guest is Aaron Smith. He is part of my online community of friends. His writing inspires me because of its rawness and honesty. He's not afraid to say what he really thinks and I find that so refreshing. I love how he wrestles with hope in the face of depression and struggle in the everyday.


I don't really know what to say about hope.

I could talk about the weird relationship hope and cynicism have in my chest.

I could talk about the ways I want to be a hopeful man, even though I have been let down time and time again.

I could sermonize about hope as the one thing we Christians have that sets us apart.

Like I said, I don't know what to say.

Hope is this weird thing in my life. It's something that I have, and it's something that I lose quite frequently. Depression will do that to you. So will life.

So I have hope, I lose hope, and I find it again. Most of the time I find it in god-inspired ways: money from friends to cover rent and bills. Medicine that actually changes my brain to work in a healthy way. My son. These are a few of the places I find hope again.

Hope seems to be like an ocean in my life, coming in wave after wave, growing deeper as I let it wash over me. It also becomes shallow and dry as I run from its crashing breakers. I long to live in the deep, but it's dangerous out there. There are undertows and currents, tides and deep depths.

Hope is a dangerous, ferocious thing.





Hope is also a warm, welcoming place that I need to be to find healing for my battered, cold heart. Fierce and welcoming. Deep and comforting.

Hope is a weird thing.

But hope is something that I need in a desperate, hungry way. I need to hope that I will write that damn book someday and pitch it and get it picked up and maybe get out of customer service. I need to hope that my children will grow up to be more than I am. I need to hope that my bipolar and anxiety will come under control so I can live a normal, full life. I need to hope that my wife will find the treatment she needs for her emotional wellbeing and mental stability.

Above all of that though, way out in the deep depths of hope, I need to believe that all things will be made well by Jesus. I need to believe that there is something deeper and richer that we were made for, that we can begin to lean into that life now. That someday everything will be in its place, the sad things will come untrue, and that goodness will be seen by all.

I need  that hope to survive my days, to make them meaningful and alive. I need that hope so I don't kill myself, giving up on everything and everyone.

Hope is an important thing.

Without hope, life tends to wither and die. Without something to believe in, we lose our bearing and become so disoriented we can barely find our way through our days. Hope gives us a map, something to believe in, something to strive for.

Hope is something we need.

We may not always know what to say about hope. After all it is a big thing, a dangerous thing, a necessary thing, a desperate thing, a nurturing thing. There is so much to say about hope, so much to believe, so much to look for and strive for and move towards. More than something to believe, hope is something we must live into, live with, live through.

Hope is an element of life that makes life worth living.

So don't give up. Live into your hopes. Believe in the risky things. Hold fast to your faith. Hope is waiting to carry you into deeper places, where life comes alive.






Husband, father, believer, writer, nerd, coffee chugger. Just a typical Jesus obsessed, question everything, bipolar, poet-punk-theologian. You can connect with Aaron on Twitter and on his blog, Cultural Savage.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Hope...The Savior of Despair

My next guest in the series is Rachel Freeman. We have been friends for 36 years. We met our junior year of high school and have stuck with each other through thick and thin. She is one of those rare forever friends and I am thankful that she is mine! She typically only writes for her own personal pleasure and I am especially honored to be able to share this with you.


Hope is the savior of despair. It rescues us in our spirit.

When the turbulence of emotions threaten to overtake us and fling us into the pit of darkness...hope flickers its light.

When the noise of life convinces us that we cannot go on any longer...hope whispers an encouraging word.

When the cancers of this world invade our bodies and threaten to steal our last breath...hope shows us heaven.

When all that we have worked for is lost and we stand in the echoing emptiness of what was home...hope offers a window to see beyond the barren walls.

When the people we love throw us away as if we were trash...hope offers to show us a greater love and reminds us we are treasure.

Hope never dies, even when we feel as if we are dying inside...




Hope offers to write the promises of tomorrow on the pages of our lives...but often we neglect to accept the offer and we continue to live in the narratives of despair.

We all have times of feeling hopeless...but hope is ever present! We simply do not claim it. We carelessly let the webbings of our pain and stress and mundane existence trap it and hold it hostage from the abundant life we can experience. Hope does not cease to exist. We cease to look for it. We forget to hold on to it. We do not allow even a hint of its presence to exist for fear we will be disappointed if the outcome is not what we had imagined.

"I dare not hope" gives despair its stronghold.

We let despair have its victory in our lives when hope is hidden in the shadows just waiting to be embraced.

How do we find this hope?

The same way we find water. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find it...other times we have to listen for it...sometimes we have to look at the world around us and see it...sometimes we need a map to show us...sometimes another person will offer hope to us. No matter how we find it to quench our thirsty soul, we need to know the source of it so that we will never run out again.

I am confident that the source of hope is God alone.

God is eternal. God is infinite. God is absolute love and truth. God is our creator. God is our provider. God is our healer. God holds our future. God is the source of the hope that will sustain us through anything this life can throw at us...but we must hold on to that hope...we must hold on to God.

God is that light in the darkness.
God is that encouraging word.
God is the one who offers us heaven.
God is the shelter from every storm.
God is the one who promises you are loved unconditionally.
God is the one who declares that you are precious.

Hope is not wishing on a star. It's looking up at the stars and seeing the majesty of heaven and knowing there is more to life than this earthly domain...

Hope is not crossing your fingers...it's God crossing His heart with the promise that ALL things work together for good to those who love Him.

Hope...the savior of despair.


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, 
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13






Here's the proof that we have indeed known each other for most of our lives...and that nothing much has changed. Here's to love and laughter and forever friendship!!




Friday, October 24, 2014

While There is Hope

The well-known maxim, "While there is life there is hope," has a deeper meaning in reverse:
"While there is hope there is life."





Hope comes first, life follows. Hope gives power to life. Hope rouses life to continue, to expand, to grow, to reach out, to go on.

Hope sees a light where there isn't any.

Hope lights candles in millions of despairing hearts.

Hope is the miracle medicine of the mind. It inspires the will to live. Hope is the physician's strongest ally.

Hope is our shield and buckler against defeat. 

"Hope," wrote, Alexander Pope, "springs eternal in the human breast." And as long as it does we will triumph and move forward.

Hope never sounds retreat. Hope keeps the banners flying.

Hope revives ideals, renews dreams, revitalizes visions. 

Hope scales the peak, wrestles with the impossible, achieves the highest aim.

"The word which God has written on the brow of every person," wrote Victor Hugo, "is Hope."

As long as we have hope no situation is hopeless.

Wilferd A. Peterson


Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless.
Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.
Psalm 10:17 (NLT)