Life in a new territory 


Winters here in Minnesota are a lot harder than they used to be. Before we moved to Colorado, winters were so normal. They were just another season, and life went on. I never thought about it. I didn’t hate the bitter cold and early nights – I was used to it. I mean, it did happen every year.

I always enjoyed and loved winter. I’d make my home cozy with candles, bundle up and go on walks, ice skate, ski…we just adapted!

In Colorado, the snow didn’t stick. The sun was out all the time. We would have plenty of warm days where we could hike in just a sweater. It was really like a cooler, darker fall than a winter. And I was never trapped indoors. It would snow, we’d have a cold spell, and bam: before you knew it we’d be out walking the trails again.

Coming back to Minnesota, I don’t know how I’m going to survive a lifetime of these winters.

I guess the saying is true: you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I fell in love with the great outdoors when we were living out there, so it’s been a real challenge, to put it nicely, to have to stay cooped up inside for four to five straight months.

There are some good lessons to be learned in this though, because the fact is that this is where God has us now. I spent my first two years here in Minnesota kicking and screaming, and it got me nowhere. All it did was prolong the pain and make life almost unbearable. Hindsight is always 20/20, so now that I see how my actions in the past affected me, I can begin to make a change. I don’t really know exactly what changes need to be made, but the first step has been taken. I know the problem. So I now I need to get to work on a solution.

It’s so important to press on through every tough situation, and to come to the point where you refuse to stay stuck. There is no way I am going to live the rest of my life thinking that the highlight is already behind me. There is another common saying that says: where He guides, He provides. I believe this is true. Some days I can say it with joy, some days I can only hold it close to my broken heart, but it is the phrase that needs to stay at the forefront of my mind. Because in the big picture, who am I apart from Christ? What is my life apart from his plan? To abide in his love, to trust in his promises, and to believe that he has a wonderful plan for me is all I need to do.

And of course, I’ve been enjoying my life here so much more now that I’ve accepted it and have begun looking earnestly and eagerly for what God has for me here. Maybe I’ll even enjoy winter again someday.

I’ll make it, and you will too, if we can encourage one another to keep our roots growing ever deeper in Christ, and to stay the course and believe in his promises. Keep your head up and enjoy the change. Excitedly look for the new things that will refresh your soul. The best is yet to come.

Remaining firmly, truly, solely in the Lord.

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Check out this photo. Take a good long look. How does it make you feel? What emotions does it stir up? Does it entice your imagination to run wild with thoughts of adventure where you’re the main character in an epic novel? Does it make you want to pack your backpack full of supplies, throw away all forms of technology, find a random horse, lace up your boots and set out to see what lies beyond the mist?

Maybe.

But maybe it stirs up fear. The fog concealing the lake and trees might remind you of the fog that’s been hanging thickly in your mind. It’s been making the truths and the lies merge in unthinkable ways, and with such fluidity that you can’t tell where one stops and the other begins. The fog has become so dense, and has permeated so much of yourself, that you’ve given up hope of finding the right way. You don’t believe the sun will shine again and the grass will grow lush and green.

Sometimes we all need a reminder to trust not in our strength, wisdom, or logic, but in the Lord. Firmly, truly, solely in the Lord. Because we’ll find that as we trust in him, though we face loss, hardship, confusion, and humiliation, we find peace. And somehow, as we press on, we even begin to find joy. Why? How? Because we are rooted in him and not in the uncertainty of this world. Read the passage below…

Jeremiah 17:5-9 NLT
5 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land.
7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.

I can’t help but think about the uninhabited salty land he talks about, and how much our life is like that when we trust in ourselves instead of God. Similar to the photo and scenario above.

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence…though they will see drought and heavy fog – financial, relational, literal – they are not worried. They are not bothered by the gloom and the pressure of life and it’s ups and downs. No, they stay the course and believe in the Lord, because they know that He is in charge and in ultimate control of all. As a result, their leaves stay green – their backpacks remain full of supplies and their shoes never wear thin – and they never stop producing fruit.

Make the Lord your only hope and confidence. Trust in his promises, and in all your ways acknowledge him. Whatever you may go through, may you remain firm and boldly stand in faith.

The summer we went to counseling

Let me open up by saying that the last few years have not been kind to us. We’ve had more challenges, stress, bouts with depression, and confusion than I’d like to admit. And the hardest part about it all is that none of it is easy to explain. In 2014, we wanted to move back home after living three and a half years in Colorado. We prayed for it. Pleaded. Waited and waited. So it should have been a huge blessing when we finally did. In many ways it was! But in too many other ways it has served us one challenging event after another.

This summer, two years later, it all became too much to bear. We were both broken. The beautiful thing about marriage is that when one person is weak, the other is strong. But what happens when neither is strong enough to help the other? Deeper depression. Frustration. Anger. Blaming. Pointing the finger. And the scariest of all, no longer caring.

I remember very vividly a conversation Luke and I had in our room. Luke was sitting at the foot of the bed, and I was standing in front of him. We were both in tears. We really didn’t know where to go. Counseling had been brought up in previous conversations, but I always pushed it away. But now…now I knew we needed it.

I did not enjoy the drive to our first appointment. Luke and I have always been close, and we laugh a lot. But this felt scary. We couldn’t help each other like we usually could, so we were seeking outside help. I’m not used to that. I had a hard time convincing myself that this is good, because all I could think about was how this wasn’t where I expected to be 7 years after our wedding day. It felt like it all just came out of no where and I was blindsided. I hated it.

If you saw us that day sitting in the waiting room, I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t have guessed that we were going through a tough time. We giggled, laughed, and had nothing but smiles for each other. And it was genuine. Our love for each other is very real and extremely deep. And that’s the very reason why we were in that waiting room. Something this special is worth doing something this scary.

We covered a lot that first week and the weeks to follow. Our counselor very aptly described us as having an “adjustment disorder”. The very act of putting a name to what we were going through was a start to healing!

We talked a lot about the events and circumstances that brought us to that place. It forced us to stop, grab each others hand, look each other in the eye, and start walking again. It set us on a path of healing.

The conversations that came after of those hour long sessions were almost more helpful than the sessions themselves. We starting talking again and discovered things the other person had been wrestling with that the other had no idea about. Instead of focusing on ourselves and what we needed to do to survive, we started to see the other person again. Started to care about their concerns and ache about their trials.

Everyone has something they’re passionate about. Something that can keep them up at night and something they are just dying to do more about. For me, that’s marriage. And specifically, going through life with your spouse as a team. The only way we’ve made it seven and a half years is by being for each other. By fighting the problems, not each other. By understanding the brokenness of my husband, and of myself, and offering grace to both. The more broken I realize I am, the more I love my husband through his brokenness, and the more I fall in love with Jesus Christ. He’s the reason I can even come to this conclusion, isn’t it?

So please, I beg you, never give up. Always give second chances. Always look deeper and give the benefit of the doubt. And if you need it, don’t be scared to seek help.

I don’t know what the next couple years have in store for us, but our trust in each other and the love we have is strong and secure. And I am thankful to know that we will take on whatever is next together. Hand in hand, side by side.