Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Today started out as every other day does in the Olachia home, busy. I'm up , followed by Johnny and then the kids. Breakfast goes on the table, clothes are laid out, backpacks readied, hair and teeth brushed, kisses all around and then all three of my boys head out the door in three different directions leaving me to tend to the chaos behind. Slowly I pick up the dropped clothes around the house, wash up the morning ( sometimes the left overs too) dishes, make the beds, and start the laundry. This is where my story begins today, in the laundry room, stuffing dirty clothes into our washer. I was caught off guard when I felt my heart skip a beat. What was so overwhelming, well it was a simple object, a beloved and prized possession I often push aside during my daily chores but today as my eyes caught sight of my husband Johnny's old, time-worn, dilapidated,crumbling, shabby, worn out, UT baseball cap sitting on the dryer I found my heart pounding strong in his absence, longing for him.
Johnny's old hat is one of his biggest treasures, and nope it doesn't matter how worn out, torn or falling apart it is, the truth is the bigger the rip, the more he loves that old hat. It has character, personality, and it's barely recognizable anymore but when you see Johnny in a hat ( and that is often) this is the hat you will see on the top of his head. He wears his old hat with pride, affection and reverence. Johnny regards this old, worn down, busting through the seams hat with respect and in many ways with tenderness. To Johnny his old hat is beautiful, he admires his hat, appreciates, and is extremely fond of each line, each tear, each stain. Johnny truly cherishes his old orange baseball cap, holding it dear, regarding this old hat as if it a crown jewel. It doesn't matter to him how old it is, how long he has had it, how many new hats come his way or how dusty and broken down it is: Johnny's hat is the only hat he cares about or for that matter to wear. So this morning when my eyes caught sight of that worn out hat, I was struck by my husbands loyalty. I picked it up, investigating each broken seam and visioning it on top of his head as the scent of him came sweeping over my senses from this cherished old hat. I stood there, realizing how blessed I am to be married to such a man as Johnny.
Sure, we have had our rough patches, we have had weak moments entertaining lives without one another, we have been chained to our pasts, turned from God and watched at times as our family has slipped away from us yet despite all the worries and the difficulties of this life, Johnny and I have endured the augments of our youth, the dark, grim, demanding days of breast cancer, and the trying, tiresome, tough, troublesome financial times of the recent years. Just like Johnny's old hat, we are committed to loving, nurturing and caring for our marriage. Even when we have been unfaithful to the Lord, He has been faithful to us, pulling us closer to Him, never abandoning our love or the family He created in us 16 years ago. All our pain, all our sweat, all our struggles are part of his old hat, they remind us how far we have come and just how much life we still have left to experience together. Just as Johnny sees his old hat, loves that old thing , Johnny sees and loves me.True I may not be the same young, beautiful, slender, full bosomed girl he married 16 years ago standing there glowing with the beauty of youth and young love , sealing the deal with an I do. No,the truth is today, all these years later I am glowing with a deeper love, a passion for a man who has become my strength , my lover and my husband, not my girlish idea of some kind of a knight in shining armor. I am unashamed to admit I have become the image of Johnny's old hat, worn, with developed character, full of rips and tears. But you know what, he still loves me, longs for me, desires me in spite of all the imperfections showing through all these years later. Even after being dealt the devastating blow of losing a breast, I know in his eyes I am a crown jewel. Despite the fact I may be busted up or need a good spite shining Johnny loves me just as I am.
Johnny and I have seen our shares of ups and downs, but I have to say this last year has been one of our strongest together. Together, we have found a faith in the Lord, a faith that has made our family complete. Our lives are far from perfect, yet we are resolved to raising our children in His grace, we are committed to reigniting our passion for one another, taking time to enjoy each one of our rips, tears and all. Falling in love is easy but staying committed to the love you share requires great effort and the ability to forgive, to bend. True love is bold, challenging, demanding, difficult, impressive and in many ways visionary. When I doubt my self, when I worry I am not enough for my husband I see his old hat, loved and cherished. I can hear the words of the Eli Young Band ringing in my head, as I hold his old ratty hat in my hands, "you crazy girl, don't you know that I love you. I wouldn't dream of going no where."
Johnny and his old hat have taught me many things about my husband, but the biggest thing I have learned watching him wear his favorite old hat day in and day out is this: Johnny is truly captivated, crazy about, enchanted by, fascinated and in love with me. He really cherishes me, he has chosen, delighted in, dotes on, longs for, and has lost his heart to mine, and together we are thriving , finding our treasure in one another. God has truly given us this love, this marriage we share. Yes, tragedy can bring you down and yes there is always a fallout zone when two people come together as one. Let me assure you there are gonna be some fairly major bumps in the road, you may even suffer engine failure but I can tell you it is worth the ride! Love and marriage are never easy, neither are absolutely simply or perfect but we carry on, don't we? Not because we have to or because the kids need us to or the world expects us too. No we persevere, endure with all we are, because in the journey we ultimately find love and understand marriage brings out the best in us, even if the worst has to come to the top first. That silly old hat sitting in the laundry room right now to most folks would be ugly, ready to be burned, thrown away but in Johnny's eyes, his old hat is splendid, marvelous, wonderful, incomparable and he delights in wearing it. Holding his orange hat in my hands this morning, I was puzzled by the large rips as I ran my fingers across the hard, black, plastic form bursting out from under the skin of that crazy hat but you know what, I realized how strong Johnny's old hat really is and just how strong Johnny and I together as well.
Honestly, like Johnny's old hat, just as he knows each and every crease, I know his touch like the back of my hand and even when the lights go out I know he sees my beauty, despite the creases and this torn, worn out deteriorating body of mine he is captivated with the mileage we have made together. Without each other we would be lost, and in the end, past the craziness of youth, the insecurity of middle age and the unknown future of the coming years ahead of us, love and the journey it leads you on makes you stronger, creates a fire that burns even stronger, brighter as the years go by.
Happy Anniversary baby! I love you more today than I ever have. And by the way I love that old hat of yours too.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Sometimes life just starts falling apart and no matter how hard you try to super glue or chase your life around with a hot glue gun, your life is still going to end up shattered on the floor. Plain and simple our lives are going to crack one way or another. Without a shadow of a doubt, each of us are going to face the darkness and end up falling to pieces despite our best attempts at keeping it together! I like to think of these moments like eggs, cracked, broken and scrambled inside the frying pan.
No matter how hard I try, or how much time I spend trying to appear I have it all together, the truth is I am very human and because of this one word I am imperfect. I spend many days racing around like a crazy woman. Goodness knows I may even have one of those famous Lisa Lampanelli break down moments as she often does on the Celebrity Apprentice. Without even realizing how we look or how insane we may be acting we all have those breakdown moments surrounded by complete mayhem from time to time . How many times have we all battled with ourselves, strangling our own necks with our very own hands? Feeling kind of like the Keystone cops, in, out, up, down, running all around? The whole ugly, terrifying emotional spectrum comes up to bat while we helplessly watch our lives fall apart from the sidelines.
Life can seem too hard, in fact 9 out of 10 days we may be ready to throw our arms up and hand over the deed of our souls to the enemy because the battle is just too much for us to cope with. Seriously as soon as the day begins the battle is pushing our defense lines further and further back, as the enemy advances. I don't know about you but those are the times I am be ready to slam down my sword, my beaten to a pulp shield and retreat. But God is so much bigger than our fears, stronger than our shortcomings and mightier than any uncertainty we are holding onto. This I know: On those terrifying days of panic and fear, I am wrapped up completely in His mercy, I am captured by this one of a kind, beautiful, precious grace ready and waiting on me to just open the last unopened door I have been cowering in front of all along.
I can fuss about it all I want but sometimes I am just not privy to the map or the stories ending He has knowledge of. Fear and doubt sadly come naturally and our short falling can seem impossible almost too much for redemption but the truth is we are never a hopeless cause! These tight, painful, at times unjust and more times than not un-necessary chains we are bound to hold us down, surround us, crushing us under their weight. How many times do we call out for help? Sure sometimes folks hear us and run through the door but then there are those days we just sit alone, in a dark, lonely corner crying over the split milk of our lives.
The thing about life friends is it's really not just a destination, it's truly in every sense of the word a journey. That means we have to pass through the bad lands just as many times as we take the exit into the Promised Land! Our scars are simply reminders of the strength we found, and were given in the middle of so much chaos to each side of us during the journey. Sure we may experience days when we feel left and broken down on the side of the road but help always comes. Maybe not at the exact time we feel it should come charging our way , grabbing us up and giving us a first class seat into paradise. Nope many times we take the first ride that comes along and we either end of dumped on the outskirts of town or we are pulled along, drug along at the back end of a horse screaming something along the lines of this not what we signed up for!
What we have to do is slow down, not worrying about the weather today or which way the highway bends. As we pray for blessings, for peace and gentle winds we also have to understand we may have to go through need, through betrayal and harsh storms to reach those gifts on the other side of this turbulence. I myself have had to comprehend and accept the fact all the trails of this life are just detours guiding me along this amazing, frighting and adventurous destination. Personally I have had to allow the Lord access into my deepest, darkest, most abandoned places. When I think I have nothing good to bring to this life, He becomes the deliverer of my pain. As the strife and confusion rages around me trying to hammer away at what's left of my life, reaching for the deep wounds of betrayal and hurt, I am unmistakably and beautifully put back together again. Then emerging just like a butterfly after a long stay in the cocoon, tucked away we spring back to life just like a stained glass window replacing a shattered, missing pane in the architecture of this life we are all part of. Truly let us become courageous in this life we live, may we raise an anthem of beauty, of joy, let our song rise above the loud banging of our pain for He alone has entered into our brokenness to make something new and beautiful of our cracked up eggshells of lives, ensuring we are beautiful, works of art in His sight. All we have to do is believe because faith is already in motion, in all of us, inspiring us to take the next step.
As I close I want you to think of the brokenness as an eggshell, the color drab, the top missing and the yoke gone. Of course we could just throw it away and be done with the mess but with just a bit of determination we can bring it the broken egg back to life, give it another chance to offer hope, joy and happiness to others. Our lives are exactly like the broken, cracked, egg missing the yoke of life inside. God sees a second chance and with tender hands, He replaces the emptiness inside with confetti, splashes some color and adds a touch of beauty to what was once broken bringing joy and happiness to not only your life but to the lives of those surrounding you. I know on a practical note, those egg shells are broken all over again, but think of the joy they bring, the happiness they add while bursting confetti everywhere! I want to be like that! To become beautiful in spite of the hand I been dealt, to share joy and happiness, hope and bursts of laughter along the road. Sure sometimes life falls apart, but I am a living example tender of His grace. When I think a bout it, I am the Humpty Dumpty no one said could be put back together... the truth is the King's men couldn't do the job but the King could!
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
My life was made new this last weekend, on Palm Sunday. How was this done? Well, at age 38, almost 35 years after I first said yes to the Lord, I re- surrendered my life fully and completely to His unconditional love. Easy right? Um, not so much. That is until I decided I was through running. Sunday night, I was baptized, along side of my youngest Micah. I stepped into the horse troth ( yes you heard me right) eager to let go of the past, of my frailties and insecurities and ready to allow all my grief to be washed away. I surely didn't see it coming last April but when the Lord walked our family through the doors of Thrive in 2011 He put a plan in motion. He cleared the dust, swept out the closets,that is of course after allowing a wrecking ball to collide with the front door of our lives to make a way inside. Everything we had come to know as church was suddenly and pleasantly pleasantly tossed out the window and as a family we began finding our way back home, to a place where He could fulfill His promises and where we could be reminded of who we really are.
As a child I used to sing Jesus loves me every night before I went to bed. I loved the idea of knowing His love for me was so great, so wide in spite of myself. I knew as I laid my head down to sleep Jesus was all I needed, all I wanted. Jesus knew my name personally, held my hand inside of His and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt He was there right beside me. I would sit at His feet, listening to the heart beat of my Father. I wanted to be like Him, to show His love, His gentleness, His grace and perfect acceptance to the world around me. I never doubted His grace and mercy, my suffering did not matter because He was right there walking with me through every tear,every pain and every life threatening moment I endured as a child. Yet as I grew into a woman, as a wife and a mother I somehow lost sight of this very important fact... I was redeemed by the name and grace of Jesus.
Life is not an easy burden, not even for those with the easiest load. Life in general has a way of making the absurd a reality and normal the absurd in our lives. As I grew older my body gave way to failing health,over and over from my diabetes, to the bells palsy to the mini stroke and even the breast cancer I found my body buckling under the stress. I wanted to believe Jesus couldn't let this happen to me, as folks walked in and out of my life, leaving me many times to carry the heavy loads of pain and suffering on my own, judging me. I wanted to to cry out, to scream to the Heavens, where are your people now Lord? In the end I found myself wrapped up in life, trying to be brave, to be everything to everyone and ultimately forgetting that sweet little song I would sing myself to sleep with as a little girl. I had real problems, real issues in a real world. I was all grown up, making my own way, with a wondering heart, far from the cross where I had surrendered my life as a child. His fullness seemed lost to me, not because Jesus had taken His grace away from me, nope what I had done was tied my homemade swing to a whole other tree, in a completely new yard miles and miles from where I knew Him to be. I had picked up my bags and set out on my own way and in my own fear, in my own desire to take the steering wheel had taken a different direction. For such reasons as discontent, disappointment and feeling of abandonment I had lost sight of that one simple song I sang as a child.
Without wanting to I had become the prodigal child. I longed to feel His grace, oh how I longed for His freedom, but I had allowed my life to zig zag, to become deaf to the love with open arms reaching out to me. As the cancer came, my body began fading, my hopes felt as if they were failing. I was weak, weary and felt as if many of God's people had passed me by, as if I was unseen to those I wanted most to connect with, to be part of, to be loved by. I felt unworthy, like a stray cat no one wanted in their house. I became a walking disaster, dissatisfied, in need of something new, keeping my life just out of reach as I watched my whole life being demolished and leveled to the ground. Then breast cancer slammed into my life full throttle sending me spinning into a wall of denial and despair. I had to make a choice: keep my fists clenched or walk towards the arms reaching out to me.
I won't say everything was right as rain immediately because it was far from it. I would fret, over think, under estimate and allow my insecurities to run away with me more nights than I can count. I would toss my heart in the basket and then snatch it right back again. I was so convinced His grace couldn't cover me again or could it? Could He still love me, could He still want me as one of His own? After all, I had been a prodigal child, whether I meant to or not. I had done things my way, and in many ways because of it my life had fallen apart. I can't tell you it was easy allowing God to turn my upside down life upright again, because the truth is it was one of the most painful things I have ever had to submit myself to. Coming back, after being lost in the abyss of never never land was a bit over whelming. Yet grace was His to give, all I had to do was simply embrace it. His love was ready to cover me, and such compassion was waiting on me, pleading with me to accept, no strings attached.
Breast cancer was truly the turning point in my life, and it almost did me in from an emotional point of view. I was weighted down with fear, worry, what if's, consuming me from the inside out, as my soul cried out for a reason for the pain, for some kind of hope, something more than the brave front I desperately tried to portray to the world around me. I started questioning my eternity, where God did or did not fit into my life. He came to me through and into the depths of my own physical disfigurement where I eventually found myself in Him once again. No longer was I just a number in a service or a bench warmer on some random pew in some judgemental church, no, I was being called to action, and it was personal. My fire may had begun to die out, but the spark was still there, all I needed was to allow Him to stoke the flames once again.
I was broken, shattered into more pieces than I can even comprehend but the simple truth is His grace found me, kicking the door down in a radical attempt to jump start my stubborn heart, and began the process of putting me back together again! I called and He answered even when my faith was literally on life support Jesus loved me! He rescued me even when I fought against the current pulling me under. What I know is this: I did not overcome breast cancer, fear, or uncertainty alone. I was never alone, I just had to be willing to lose my soul to a plan bigger than myself. Honestly it wasn't as hard as I wanted to believe it was going to be. It's not like God said, halt sinner you can't go there, nor did He demand I jump through hoops to find refuge in His grace. Like the Jason Gray song, Remind me who I am, " in the loneliest places, when we can't remember what grace is, help me remember I belong to You." God loved me so much He took the time to remind me who I am... I am not weak, rejected, no amount of regrets can keep me from His love, I am not a victim, used or abandoned. No, I am more than that, and the absolute amazing reality is we are all made for more than that, it's just a matter of stepping out in faith! And that is exactly what I did Sunday night, I stepped out in faith and took the plunge in a horse troth!