PHOTO BY JODIE BRIM CREATIVE
Believe it or not, I’ve been “Keeping It Real” with you for ten years now! Crazy, huh?
So much has transpired in these 4,380 days together. Who could have imagined a world like this a decade ago? (Even the Jetsons missed the part about the world shutting down.)
I remember so well writing that first article in March, 2012. My family wrestled with devastating grief. My forty-eight-year-old sister (in-law), Kathy, left us entirely too soon. She was a true sister who doubled as my best bud. I felt completely lost as we tried to pick up life’s shattered pieces.
Kathy and I paralleled in uncanny ways. While living in different states, we often unknowingly purchased replicas in everything from fashion to interior design. For real! We even independently chose the same china pattern (collecting pieces together like we were protecting an endangered species).
Then, we trekked this life of ministry together. There was no abundance of female ministers back in the day. So when Kathy felt called by God to get in this boat with me, we had yet another reason to remain thick as thieves.
We laughed and cried together often, vowing to carry each other’s secrets to the grave like good girlfriends do. When Kathy left us entirely too early, that devastating season did more than jolt me. It tried my very soul. It sought to push me off my rock-solid foundations.
Just one year after we laid my sister in the ground, I put my pen to the page and began this ongoing conversation with you.
From the most difficult seasons of our lives, we often excavate the greatest meaning, don’t we? (We detest even reading that sentence, but if we’ve trekked through desperately dark places, we know it’s spot-on.)
This is the truth: I rose from the ashes of that season stronger in every way. Certainly, I still feel the “missing” all these years later. But it’s truly astounding how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve leaned into the learning.
What have you learned in these last ten years? Look, despite every crisis that tried to take you out, you kept trudging forward. You’re here, friend! YOU’RE STILL STANDING!
Perhaps you feel weak-kneed and unsure of what’s ahead. I get you! But this much I know, if we’ll lean on something stronger than ourselves, we’ll weather every storm and emerge standing stronger!
Through those initial months without Kathy, I learned what it meant to, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the One who will keep you on track.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG)
In other words, if you lean on your own understanding, you’re toast! You will fail every time. We’ve got to LEAN on the One who was here before us and will be here long after we’re gone, who carries us and carries all we carry.
God did everything He said He would do for me. He directed my path headlong into vineyards filled with beauty that I would have completely missed otherwise. For instance, I likely would have missed connecting with each of you monthly in “Keeping it Real.” For real!
While I’ve never met most of you, at least one of you stops me weekly. Your faces remain in my memory and help me feel deeply connected to your stories. I write like we’re sitting around the table together with good coffee (and chocolate to boot)!
I especially love when you write to me, giving me the opportunity to pray with you. What a gift each of you are! Our connection transcends distance or time.
Let’s keep chatting, “keeping it real” about life and navigating these unsettling times with God’s For-All-Time-Settled Word. It never needs updating, but we continuously need its downloading. Let’s keep downloading! After all, you’re still here, and you’re still standing, so let’s keep standing together!
Or, dare we run? On your mark, get set, Let’s GO!