To say that I sewed my wild oats in my twenties would be a gross understatement. Only those that somehow miraculously survived those years with me can fully grasp how gross it is. I look back now and though a piece of me is sad for the wasted years, ashamed of the choices I made, even disgusted at how I abused myself, I am thankful for those years. Without those years the blatant grace of my Lord wouldn't be so obvious. Without those years the mercy that He extends wouldn't blow me away. Without those years His love wouldn't be so overwhelming as I look at my life today, at the four blue eyes that I spend most of my moments with, at the dimples that I sleep next too every night. And as I write I think of one of my favorites.....
You see I realize much more than I care to admit what it is like to live, ignore God, abuse myself, see myself as unworthy, and then be humbled by the mighty hand that made me so severely that there is nowhere else to turn but to Him. I remember my moments. The ones when He spoke and I turned a deaf ear, the ones when He spoke and I heard only a whisper, the ones when He spoke as if through a mega phone...and I heard....and I acknowledged....and my life was changed forever. I remember being lonely, lost, sad, ashamed, drunk, tired, angry, did I mention lost? I remember a failing marriage, a tired body, poor choices filled with people that didn't love me enough to steer me away, bad relationships, hating mirrors, lots and lots of coffee and cigarettes and whatever my drink of choice may have been. And then one day I was 28. It was as if I had missed 24, 25, 26, 27....they were gone. Blurred by hang overs and tears. Wasted.
And so I woke up and I dusted off my tired abused body that wreaked of cigarettes and old booze and there was life. Right where I had left it before I began my descent into hell where I imagined I deserved to be. Everyone was there, everyone was the same, only I was different. I made a different choice, and then another and another...and I realized that following the pattern of my family or my friends wasn't how it had to be. And slowly I saw Him. Of course He was there the whole time...but for the first time I could see Him. I saw Him in my sister's babies, in the eyes of the kids at church that I reluctantly sat with every Sunday trying to keep myself out of trouble, I saw Him as I watched my friends grow their families. And as I got healthier, His presence became even clearer. It was as if I was blind and now I could see....literally.
And then one day, as I sat in UpStreet teaching those sweet second graders, the Lord said "here you go, you followed me and now this is for you"...and there he was with the best set of dimples I had ever seen. And it was then that I knew. I knew that all of my sins were washed away, that He died and bore every one of them. Because if He hadn't I would never have been worthy of what was to follow.
You see I have not earned all that I have. I have not earned any of it. It is a gift. All I did was wake up one day and say " I can't do it without You, I am lost, please Lord take over". And He, just like any daddy would, said "okay baby, you just follow me and I'll get you where you need to be". And He did. And I am. And now....now I have six blue eyes, 8 dimples (yes 8 Kat has 5), three hungry bellies, one big one growing a baby, and the three best smiles I have ever seen that I get to spend the rest of my life with. Do I wish it had started when I was 20 instead of 30? Yes. Do I wish I could get back those years and spend them with my chiropractor? Yes. But I wouldn't trade how I got here for anything. Because in those moments when He showed me, when He led me, when He blessed me, I was blown away. And so my faith grows stronger everyday and when life hits me, hits us hard we are able to stand together as a family and endure.
And so I say to those of you that are still treading water, trying hard to keep your head a float and not drown in your past and present mistakes......call out for help to the only One that can save you. He will pull you to shore, dry you off and lead you to safe, healthy, beautiful ground filled with more than you could have ever imagined. His grace is truly amazing and it is yours to have if only you will take it.
One of my favorites.......
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.