I am leaving Urban Hallelujah.

Ricky in field

I am leaving Urban Hallelujah.

For weeks I have wrestled with how to say that, and then there, just like that, I said it.

For the last couple of months I have been MIA, I have prayed, eaten through an entire package of Double Stuf Oreos, and then prayed some more. Poring over and wrestling to death the question: What is it God wants from me?

Because I fondly remember the day I cursed a crockpot and blew up the blogosphere for reasons I still don’t understand – with half of a million people reading that post alone! And how I cried to the point of hyperventilation in the bathroom because of all the mean things people said about me. People, I would later name “Amy” in an attempt at humanizing ruthless internet bullies and making their words sting less. A sweet, but failed attempt on my part.

How Rachel and I had seriously considered shutting the blog down entirely after such unexpected traffic. Which always makes me laugh, because while some people strive for that level of attention, apparently we just cry. Its just not who we are. And for some reason I am insanely proud of that.

How what began with just 20 followers consisting only of grandma’s, our grandma’s to be specific, grew to a whopping 100 people we didn’t know and who were not genetically predisposition to love us. How shocked we were when 100 followers ultimately grew to nearly 1,600!

…But how cruel it felt when just months later my heart broke and my life cliff-dived into a horrific nightmare. Allowing each of the 1,600 followers to be front-and-center to watch as I screamed, questioned and threw punches at God. How even still, I made God a promise to write through the mess, and how surprisingly glad I am that I did. The writing part, not the throwing punches at God part. Though I am certain He would agree, I’ve got a wicked right hook.

How to my complete surprise, God used so many of you to speak into my darkest days and to pray for my family when all hope seemed lost. How you sent encouragement, care packages (with said Oreos) and friend requests on Facebook.

And how because of that, I am certain if we were ever lucky enough to meet, I would hug you. Maybe even exchange crockpot recipes with you and laugh about all the silly places I put commas, but mostly just hug you. Because mere words couldn’t possibly portray how genuinely thankful I am for each and every one of you. Prayers like yours, saved my marriage and quite honestly, my life.

Yet, I am not the same girl that started this blog with Rachel less than two years ago. Depression and heartbreak have a way of changing a person, I suppose. Yet even still I can feel God pressing, keep. writing. through. the. mess.

Because of that, I feel the need to venture out on my own – to obediently continue writing, all while unapologetically owning the fact that this life of mine is not going the way I told it to. And that the reality of that, doesn’t make my life wrong, it just makes it different. Different than I planned. Different even, than I wanted. But not wrong. And that it is my responsibility to love myself through that, and to mercilessly do whatever it takes to find God’s face in it.

And so after lots of prayer, I have decided to start my own blog which thou shalt be named kristaortiz.com – named in part because my name is the only thing that HASN’T changed about me in the last two years (Though believe me it almost did, if you know what I mean. Awkward pause… I make myself smile.)  And also because lets be real, Rachel is the more creative one of us and that’s all I could come up with on my own.

So my name is what it will be, and that is where you can find me.

I secretly hope to see you there. But in case I don’t, and given the chance our paths cross someday, please come say hi. And bring your best hug.

I’ll bring the Double Stuf Oreos.

Krista Signature

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When You Were Just About To Give Up On Love

R and K

Admittedly, I am not the greatest proponent of love these days. 

I’m nearly always the first to point out the romantic song by the debonaire man, was indeed written by a woman. That’s never been married. 

Never fearing to ask inopportune questions like: Shouldn’t we have more humble wedding ceremonies to get married? …And save the lavish celebrations for when we have fought insurmountable odds to stay married? Arguing that the day we look to our spouse and realize, Holy crap. We’re still married. is the ideal time to throw a party and spend exorbitant amounts of money to have people toast our union – With alcohol nonetheless!

Yep. I am that person.

Jaded and crushed, with a knack for making people uncomfortable with my (many) observations about love, and a heart – and a marriage – that has been shaken to the core. You can find me sitting in the back half of any wedding ceremony, bowing my head in heartfelt prayer for the lovely couple exchanging their vows like I did all those years ago…

A prayer they’d be blessed with the marriage I never had: 

An uneventful one.

But I was terribly wrong…

I realized this the night my family and I gathered in our pajamas, around a 70-year-old man telling a story so touching, he had us hanging on every word that he spoke.

They had asked him about his wife. That’s all I knew, because from that point on he trailed off in a flurry of Spanish I couldn’t comprehend.

Yet regardless of the different languages we spoke, it became obvious by the way his eyes danced and by the way he gripped furiously at his heart, that him and I knew the same kind of love:  Intoxicating. Passionate… Heartbreaking.

Later that night my husband helped me piece the story together, and to my surprise I found it more riveting than I imagined.

… How his first wife had suffered a stroke at a young age while singing in church. I recalled how he bellowed the verses of the hymn that night, stopping at the exact place in the song where her health – and their lives – had changed forever.

…How she spent the next 8 days in a coma, stiff as a table, he said. And how each time he spoke to her – each time he leaned in close to whisper his love for her, in no doubt the same somber tone he spoke in that night – how her heart would respond. Literally. On the EKG! How he illustrated the rise and fall of her heart with his finger in the air, and gripped his heart describing the agony of having to let her go…

…How years after she passed, he got a second chance at love with an unlikely woman nearly half his age and living in Colombia, South America. Remembering how his voice livened and his eyes danced, making us laugh as we watched the 70-year-old man transform into that of a dopey young boy when describing the first kiss they shared. 

….But that this love wouldn’t be free of heartache either…

…How for years they were separated from each other, working tirelessly to get her a visa. Only seeing each other three times in the first three years of their marriage!!! Until finally, the day came where she was given permission to come to the U.S.

But there was a catch: He would have to come get her himself, rightthatsecond! Forcing him to put his humble job cleaning movie theaters on the line, and spend the great sum of money (he didn’t have) to drop everything in a moment’s notice to retrieve the woman he loved. How even still, he accepted the risks – traveling great lengths and sacrificing EVERYTHING in his attempt to get his wife back!

That night it was obvious to each of us, the frail man in the corner of the room had fought tirelessly for love …And, that by the grin on his face, He had won!

They’ve been together ever since… my husband concluded. And my heart jumped forgetting for a moment how jaded ‘we’ are these days.

And I realized,

I too, was set in a tragic story of unbearable loss and tireless sacrifice…But that like him, it was a love story nonetheless!

And what I learned that night captivated by the man I could barely understand was,

The love stories most harrowing, catch our attention and captivate our spirit in a way those void of all conflict ever could!

That just like the man who entranced me with the love story he had lived:

– It was in the heartbreaking final breaths of his first love that he learned what so few ever have – that her heart had always responded to the sound of his voice!

– It was in the unbearable miles and years that separated him from his wife, that she came to know the great lengths her husband would travel and the sacrifices he would make in order to fight for her! 

…That oftentimes, it’s amid the desolation the rarest treasures unearth.

Because maybe, just maybe, there is significance to be discovered in our most heart wrenching pangs, an unlikely strength awakened by our deepest sorrows. Uncharted territory we may never have wandered upon – A story never written had it not been for that wrong turn or the turbulent storm that blew us off course and shook everything we believed to the core.

And that’s when I realized how terribly wrong I had been…

The greatest gift in marriage would NOT be an uneventful one, free of all struggle and tragedy; but a marriage that has lived a love story worth telling!

A marriage that has basked in the grandeur of the uttermost heights, and who’ve crawled relentlessly on their hands and knees to get there. Whose eyes have danced in love’s intoxication, and who have gripped their heart in agony at love’s unbearable loss. A love that displays both the scars they earned in battle, and a smile on their face knowing, they won!

A love story worth telling huddled around in our pajamas until the sun comes up. For generations and generations. No matter the language. 

A love story so harrowing, it catches the attention and captivates the spirit, of even those like me –

…Who were just about to give up on love.

Krista Signature

On Divorce, Thanksgiving, And Sticky Fingers

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We will be divorced by Thanksgiving.

That wasn’t the answer anyone was expecting. I could tell by the way they squirmed uncomfortably in their seats upon hearing my response, how unbearable it became to maintain eye contact after such candidness…

They had asked what we were doing for Thanksgiving this year, and it was obvious to me that it didn’t matter – If we were still living in New York City by Thanksgiving, our marriage didn’t have a chance.

Life in New York City meant demanding schedules, late nights, and season after season of poor excuses as to why this term would be “unusually busier” than the last… and the last… and the LAST! Each time at the cost of my little family that was already trying desperately to catch our breath.

…But then I learned a lesson about sticky fingers that changed everything!

It was during that same time in NYC when my toddler was running rampant in our apartment, getting her sticky – fruit snack and dried apple juice – laden little fingers on everything she could get her hands on … In her destruction she snatched spatulas, nail clippers, and earrings (one of them of course, to be EXTRA obnoxious!) …She abducted green onions from the counter, books that had been left on my nightstand begging to be read, and one time even, a stick of butter.

When I was just about at the end of my rope, I remember complaining to my mom and giving giving her excuse after excuse as to why I was merely helpless at the hands of her brutality, and this was her response,

“ You’ll see… One day she will get her hands on something of such value, you will realize if it’s important enough to you, you will find a better hiding place.”

 

Her words rang true when just days later, I found the little terror standing front-and-center at her Dora Kitchen making a mirepoix of her loot of mismatched socks, q-tips, the tv remote and MY WEDDING RING!!!  

Horrified, I quickly snatched the band from her possession, “OH NO YOU DIDNT!!! Listen up chick…You can have my spatula, my earrings, my books, but THIS is where I draw the line!!!!” 

I continued to sputter off accusations until they went far beyond what her 3 year old mind could comprehend. And as I held that ring in my hand, and all that it symbolized, I realized what I was saying was true for more than just the sticky fingers of that of my toddler…

… It was true for the demands of New York, for the 60+ hour work weeks that greedily demanded more and MORE from my family, and fiercely sucked the life and delight out of my marriage like a vacuum…

That day I decided, with Dora as my witness, Enough was ENOUGH!

Because my mom was right,

“If something is valuable enough to you, you will protect it AT ALL COSTS.”

 

… That sometimes even, what we value will demand it!

One thing is certain: Had we not learned that, I have no doubt we’d be divorced by Thanksgiving… (And THAT will go down in history as the most humbling sentence I have ever written!)

Thankfully though, that will not be case. On the contrary, we are in the process of rebuilding, often painstakingly brick – by – brick, but rebuilding nonetheless. And yet it has taken our time in New York, and even more LEAVING New York, for us to learn what we value most is our FAMILY, and that we must protect it accordingly.

You see, this Thanksgiving each of us will gather with family and friends, and express gratitude for all that is most dear to us. But realize:

While Thanksgiving is about publicly declaring what we are most grateful for, the other 364 days of the year are about protecting it. Relentlessly!

 

… to protect it from the stickiest fingers both in the maddening toddler form, and in the ruthless demands of every day life!

For us that meant trading the bright lights and excitement of the city, for the breathtaking sunsets, and the downright ordinary of the South.

It took a pay cut, an ego check, and it took smacking the greedy hands of the business world to proclaim that our family was UNTOUCHABLE, and that no amount of money could ever be offered in return for missed holidays and the simple pleasures of tucking your children into bed at night.

And now a word to the Sticky Fingers of this world…

Listen closely: There is a standing reservation in our home for Dinner each night between 6-7. You are more than welcome to come, but what you are NOT welcomed to do is make my family the sacrificial lamb on behalf of your most pressing deadlines or staggering seasons ( …And as a rule, the closer you push dinner to 7 the more likely you will be required to bring a bottle of wine!)

Why? Because FAMILY is what we value. FAMILY is what we will go to great lengths to protect. Relentlessly!

And given the chance that slips your mind, or worse, that you get your sticky fingers on my wedding ring and all that it symbolizes, mark my words: I will cut you.

On that note, Happy Thanksgiving friends!

May we vigorously protect what we are most thankful for, today and always!

Krista Signature

Believe It Or Not, God Doesn’t Care

god doesnt care

While there once was space in my life for festive crafts, immaculate tablescapes, and the exchange of small talk over beloved recipes at holiday dinner parties, my mind has been preoccupied with far more pressing issues this year…

Like managing the wave of anxiety that rushes over me when I step into a room of new faces… the overcoming need I feel to BREAK for the bathroom – anywhere! – in order to retreat from the ‘holiday cheer’ and uncontainable joy that seems so distant, almost offensive, to me these days… To sit amongst the Charmin and to weep with abandon all while asking God the most poignant questions, ...What are you doing in my life?!? …Why am I here – both on this Earth, and like a loser, hiding in the bathroom right now?? … And what’s it going to take to put Humpty Dumpty back together yet AGAIN??

So this season, you’ll have to excuse me. While I realize how incredibly thankful you are for the Pumpkin Spice Latte held warm in your hands, those cozy nights spent sitting ‘round a cracking fire, and the crisp autumn walks you share with your loved ones in tow- MY gratitude lies in only one thing:

When my life is in ruins, and the state of my heart is seemingly unsalvageable, God doesn’t care!

… He fights for me anyway!

This year I am thankful God doesn’t flinch at what I am up against, or cut his losses and deem my life a lost cause – because believe me, He should have! This year, I am filled with gratitude knowing the Lord has never left my side and that He will continue to use my darkest days as a platform to show He is bigger than my most daunting circumstances!

Even better, is the fact this same God is available to you – and He doesn’t care how hopeless of a situation you have found yourself in today!

3 Reasons Your Most Devastating Circumstances Aren’t Worrying God:

1.  He Knew People Would Let You Down  

Growing up my Mom always taught me, “it’s only you and God in the circle…” because the truth is, Every. Single. Person. no matter the relationship built or the bonds forged, has the capacity to let you down. God on the other hand, NEVER will.

In Psalm 118:6-8 it says, “The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? The Lord is for me, He will help me… It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people.”

He knew we would put our hope in people, and even more that they would fumble carelessly with our hearts and let us down in ways we could never have imagined. Yet when we choose to put our trust in Him – and only Him – we have no reason to fear, only reason to wait expectantly for Him to help us.

2. God Has A Plan To Give You Victory Over What Is Threatening To Take You Down

In Isaiah 43 the Lord says, “…For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness, I will create rivers in the dry wastelands…”

God sees the perilous journey ahead of you, He sees what you are up against and promises to make a pathway through the desolate state of your life, and to create rivers in the most ravaged parts of your heart!

I love how David describes his journey through the wilderness and even more, how the Lord rescued Him,

“ … They surrounded and attacked me… But the Lord!

They swarmed around me like bees; they blazed against me like a crackling fire… But the Lord!

My enemies did their best to kill me, BUT THE LORD RESCUED ME. The Lord is my strength and my song. HE has given me victory.Psalm 118:11-14

Swarming problems…unrelenting opposition…unbearable circumstances that ‘blaze against you like a crackling fire…’ those are the stakes God likes to play at! A journey SO perilous, that WHEN He rescues you, you would know with complete certainty it was the Lord who gave you victory – because ONLY He could!

3. God Promises To NEVER Stop Rescuing You  

Joel 5:19 says, “From six disasters He will rescue you; even in the seventh, He will keep you from evil…”

Know this: The Lord isn’t giving up on you anytime soon (…or EVER!) He doesn’t care how bleak your future looks or how many times your marriage, your finances, or your sanity have been on the verge of ‘disaster.’ The Creator of the Heavens and Earth – who effortlessly made a way through the impossible when He parted the Red Sea, and who breathed Jesus back to life – is the same God that is working on your behalf. And you can rest knowing when you place your confidence in Him, He will rescue you time and time again (and that He doesn’t need anyone’s help in doing so!)

So this season be thankful God doesn’t care. He doesn’t care what you are up against, how you got there, who let you down and what you did or did not do to deserve it. He loves you… He sees you… and HE’S NOT DONE until you are standing victorious over your darkest days!

…Now, THAT is something I can be thankful for!  #Holla

Krista Signature

The Prayer I Will NEVER Pray Again

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I attempted to stand to my feet but fell to the floor as my knees buckled under the pressure. I grabbed frantically at anything in an attempt to steady myself, until everything suddenly came still.

I surrendered. Placing my head to the floor and holding my knees tight to my chest, I was convinced this was going to kill me

Hands clasped and gripping my heart, I sobbed knowing what no one else knew:

I had asked for this!

Weeks before my heart broke – before my marriage and sanity buckled under the pressure like that of my knees – my husband and I were asked to share our story, to divulge our most private heartache with hundreds and hundreds of complete strangers.

Though I cringed at the thought of how my voice quivers when I’m nervous, my husband knew I’d do it. No questions asked. Sharing our hurts and mistakes were always worth it to us if it meant others could avoid what we had endured early on in our marriage.

But almost as soon as we had raised a hand to volunteer and share with the “class,” the nightmares began.

Each night, I found myself tormented by the same horror…

The outline of my figure, standing high atop a hill, smiling uncomfortably and holding in my hands what I prepared to share on behalf of broken marriages, men chained to secret addictions and the women who stood tirelessly beside them.

Yet as I began to speak, I strained to make out the faces of the people I was speaking to. I searched the crowd for eyes to connect to, but there were none. Only countless faces marred beyond recognition with dirt and blood. I watched in terror as they inched their way along a vast field laden with barbed-wire, I watched as the daggers tore into their flesh, causing them to writhe and scream out in desperation.

I looked on as my most heartfelt words of encouragement echoed to the heavens… unheard by those struggling… seemingly unfit for their agony….

Startled, I would awaken to the most cold-hearted truth: I had forgotten

Though I bear my own scars from my time in the trenches, I had forgotten the misery and desperation that had engraved them into my existence. I had forgotten how it felt to be surrounded by darkness and affliction – and even more, how God had rescued me from it!

So I prayed a prayer I will NEVER pray again,

Remind me.

….and God would, in what seemed to be the cruelest of ways…

By forcing me to hunker down in the trenches. All. Over. Again. – thanks to heartbreaking confessions made on one bitterly cold night, admissions that callously ripped open the wounds of the past, leaving what was left of my heart mangled and gaping… and to my demise, I had asked for it! 

Just hours before I had struggled to find words on behalf of brokenhearted women and shattered marriages, and now I was one… When I begged God to remind me, I could have never imagined He would reply by placing me front-and-center to my own hopelessness set in barbed wire and complete desperation, all while equipping me to find words for those hurting if I so chose to write through the mess.

You see, this hopelessness I have found myself in, is quite literally an answer to prayer – and because it has cost me EVERYTHING – I will do whatever it takes to make sure I NEVER forget again!

If it means I have to publicly scream, question, and beg the Lord to deliver me with every last ounce of fight I have left, I can assure you I will never hesitate to make a scene….

If it means airing my heartache, my faithlessness, and my darkest nights, so that you can see the same loving and all-powerful God is available to you in your’s, than I welcome your curiosity, and even your judgement –

Because I made God a promise to write through the mess,

…and I will be damned if I forget!

* Follow my ‘Journey Through The Barbed Wire’ 

Krista Signature

Weeping With Jesus

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Perched high on a balcony, taking in my last New York City sunset, I admitted to God what I could no longer hide: that in spite of everything I was eternally grateful for, I really was just so, so sad…

That in simply a mere year and a half of living on the East Coast – the place where God had so clearly led my family and me – I had seemingly lost everything I held most dear.

With tears streaming down my face, I watched as the setting sun painted majestic hues above the East River sky, and I questioned aloud if such beauty could ever be restored in my life…my home…my heart…or my marriage…

But it was then that I realized: God wept with me.

There’s a story told in the Gospel of John in which Mary and Martha lost something precious to them also – their brother, Lazarus.

In their desperation they had sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick and they needed Him to come. Yet upon hearing the news, Jesus did something surprising…

Nothing!

It says, …Although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was…”

Though admittedly He loved them, Jesus did NOT rush to their rescue when they felt they needed Him the most!

And in doing so, He single-handedly allowed what Mary and Martha held most dear to be lost!

When Jesus finally did arrive, Mary was overwhelmed with emotion and fell to His feet saying, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died…” Oddly enough, her words echoed much of my prayer overlooking the city that night:

…Lord, if you had only been here…my marriage wouldn’t have crumbled…my health wouldn’t have deteriorated…my life wouldn’t have imploded…

…Lord, if you had been here, maybe then I wouldn’t have lost EVERYTHING…

But then it goes on to say, “When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled within him, and he was deeply troubled…

then Jesus wept.” 

Understand this: Jesus didn’t weep because he was overwhelmed at the magnitude of what Mary and Martha were faced with. In fact, He knew with certainty that the story wouldn’t end there and that the plot would change dramatically once He entered the scene. (Which He proved, when just moments later, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead!)

Nor did Jesus weep worrying that His timing was off and that He should have come sooner…He knew devastating circumstances would come, and He allowed it!

Instead, Jesus wept because He saw their pain, and because He loved what was lost just as much as they did…

And though it may not feel like it at times, God sees the extent of the pain we are faced with today.

‘Deep anger wells within him…’  when He sees the broken promises you have endured, and the scars you bear from your heart being trampled on mercilessly.

‘He is deeply troubled…’  when your most sought-after plans derail, and everything you love has seemingly taken a nose-dive into a dark abyss, obliterating your every hope and dream upon impact.

…And it is then, that He weeps with us.

Not out of fear of what we are up against or because He’s worried He doesn’t have an elaborate plan in place to rescue us. Jesus weeps because He sees YOU.

He sees you falling at His feet like Mary, defeated and wailing at the thought of all that is lost. He watches as you writhe and question where He was when your heart broke, and whether His plan for your life can be trusted moving forward…

And just like in the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, ‘Although he loves us…’  there will be times where God stays where He is – even when we feel we need Him the most!

Times when it would seem He has let our most frantic and desperate calls go straight to voicemail. And other times where He allows us to take a few wobbly steps on our own, watching as we grasp at anything in an attempt to steady ourselves, only to have us fall to our face before sweeping us up in His sovereignty.

BUT – and you can mark my words – while Jesus may not arrive IMMEDIATELY, He will come to your rescue EVENTUALLY! And when He does, what God allowed to be taken, HE WILL RESTORE!

So until we are standing in awe of God’s deliverance and basking in the intricate way He has pieced our lives back together, rest assured knowing we do not weep alone…

We are weeping with Jesus.

Krista Signature

A Reward For Listening In The Next Week (Part 2 of 2)

A REWARD

Tuesday

– Stand Still –

This was the promise:

“….Don’t be afraid. Just stand still, and watch the Lord rescue you. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm…” The promise I have desperately clung to for the last 212 days.

This was the fortune:

…You will be rewarded for listening in the next week…” A fortune opened on Tuesday, July 29th, the day before I was headed home to NYC.

The following chronicles the events of the next week, a week I wont soon forget…

Wednesday

– The Calm Before The Storm –

Between bouts of turbulence and handfuls of Cheez-its, I scribbled down a rough outline of some of the things God had been teaching me that week. Titling it ‘When God Drags You Through The Wilderness,’ I considered for a moment if it would make a good blot post someday…

As the turbulence picked back up again, I quickly jotted down the things I had found in Exodus 13-14.

God saying,“…I know you thought you were in the clear, but it’s going to get BAD! … And then its going to get WORSE! Even more surprising, I planned it that way!

I continued, paralleling the Israelites cornered by the Red Sea, the idea that, “the circumstances you are up against are equally hopeless as they can be potentially miraculous.”

The seatbelt sign dinged on just as the turbulence sent my ginger-ale spilling over onto my notebook. Furiously I scribbled one last sentence into the corner.

Barely legible it reads, “What God has led you to, He will walk you through…”

Tucking my journal away in my carry-on bag, I could have never anticipated that 8 hours later those thoughts hurriedly written on a soda-splattered sheet of notebook paper, would be the only things holding my crumbling world together…

Thursday

– Complete Devastation –

Only God knows how close I was to giving up on everything; the complete devastation, and shocking revelations that had been awaiting me once the wheels touched the tarmac the night before.

It’s all such an intense fog; my Dad pleading with me over the phone to get some sleep, my thoughts held captive by …who would get the bedroom set? …the TV? … Sweet Jesus, the toaster? …. the two Tylenol Pm’s that had finally put my tormented thoughts to rest.

I had only one question left for God, “…How did I get here?”

His response was exactly like I had written on the plane, “…I know you thought you were in the clear, but it’s going to get BAD… and then it’s going to get WORSE. And I planned it that way!

I put the weight of my head in my hands, “…You planned THIS?” I questioned, surveying the wreckage left of my life.

My thoughts then turned in disbelief at the events on the calendar for the following day…

… How was it possible that the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth could have such horrific timing?

Friday

– Don’t Give Up –

The events scheduled for the weekend of August 1-3 have been on the calendar since October of last year …Long before my life imploded!

It began as a favor for a college friend; a speaking engagement at a summer camp that would have us traveling down to South Carolina: the land of sweet tea, barbecue, and our favorite church in the universe. Interestingly, a church we had never actually been to! But this would be our chance, and we were ecstatic to think that once the camp was over, we could make the few hour drive to one of their services (along with 30,000 other people) after being touched by so many services online over the years.

Come December though, the plot thickened.

The pastor of that church in South Carolina – the church we were already SO excited to be visiting the following summer – was (coincidentally) on vacation in NYC of all places! Even more exciting was that he was looking for someone to give him and his family a tour of the city, and the duty fell effortlessly into my husband’s lap!

Even better, was that this well-respected public figure and my husband hit it off so well they agreed to meet once a year, every year. To say we were ecstatic was an understatement, and whether we ‘happy danced’ in the kitchen is something I will neither confirm nor deny! 🙂 In every sense of the word, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! 

When asked when they should meet first, my husband thought of the camp he was scheduled to speak at (…the camp that was in the same state as the church, if you remember) so they both marked their calendars for the first weekend of August.

Weeks later though, the camp got cancelled, leaving just this chance opportunity.

It seemed perfect, almost divine…

….And for that, I was enraged at God!

This trip that had us giddy with excitement, this opportunity that magically just fell into our laps months ago, also had us scheduled to leave TODAY, and just hours after we had been faced with unbearable heartache! Anyone looking in would agree, this dream opportunity seemed unfit for two people living in a reality that resembled more of a hellish nightmare.

As I continued to question God and throw punches at His horrendous timing, a text came in from my friend. A devotion in which God addressed my greatest concerns head on,

“As you journey along your life path with me, refuse to let your past define you or your expectations of what lies ahead. The future is in my hands and I can do surprising new things with it. Your gravest danger is giving up; ceasing to believe I can do wondrous new things in you and your world. [For I have said] I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

I felt the weight of what God was asking, but questioned if I possessed enough strength to listen. I was beat to a bloody pulp, on my knees in surrender, my circumstances crushingly hopeless…

Again I was reminded of what I wrote on the plane just days before; that just like the Israelites up against the hopelessness of the Red Sea, “ the circumstances you are up against are equally HOPELESS as they are potentially MIRACULOUS….”

I thought of the curious fortune, the promise of “ A reward for listening in the next week…

God had my attention. And in the end I would give in to what He was pressing me to do and go to South Carolina, but not without a final proposition: He had only till the end of the week.

And my demands didn’t stop there-

As I packed my bags I outlined two requirements to my husband for our impending trip; that if given the opportunity we would be honest…

… And for the love of all that is holy, that we NOT celebrate our wedding anniversary…

Saturday

– The Defeat Of Unworthiness –

Somewhere along I-95, between pit stops and Starbucks runs, somewhere after the bustling city skyline faded into the rearview mirror (and with it the horrific events of the last 48 hours) somewhere along the endless stretches of trees and Cracker Barrels paving the way towards a dream opportunity we in no way deserved, my most incapacitating insecurities started to surface.

….What were we thinking? ….Who were we kidding? God was done with us …and seriously, who could blame Him?

Even during dinner with the Pastor and his family later that night, the thoughts never let up. It felt like a circus; wrangling monkeys… and elephants…and the roaring feelings of unworthiness that were being blared over the megaphone. Despite the outstanding performance, lighthearted conversation, and hugs goodbye, only we knew the chaos going on behind the red curtain….

The last thing I remember before closing my eyes to go to sleep that night, was asking God to hold me; to calm my restlessness, and to speak louder than my greatest insecurities….

…. almost instantaneously I drifted off to sleep…

Sunday

– The Power Of His Providence –

Sitting in our seats at church was everything and more that I thought it would be, and yet I couldn’t get past how unfit – how incredibly undeserving – we were to be experiencing it.

Again I pleaded with God to speak louder than my inadequacy. I knew how hopeless my marriage and my future looked, and how unworthy we were of this dream opportunity, but I desperately needed to know what He thought…

Moments later, the Pastor spoke these words that I will never forget,

“…You may feel too messy, and like you don’t deserve to be here, but here you are! And it’s not coincidence, it’s providence!”

Instantly the tears welled in my eyes, remembering this weekend that had been put on the calendar long before I could understand it’s purpose. There was no controlling the tears streaming down my face as I thought of how close I had been to giving up… the strength I could barely muster to continue listening to what God was asking of me; to trust Him, even if only for one. more. week. I placed my hand on my heart thinking of all the times I had wondered if the Lord saw the state of my broken heart, the times I wondered if He would do what He promised and fight the raging battle before me.

I looked to my husband and found him wiping tears from his own eyes, and it became apparent we were right where God intended for us to be; broken, messy, and standing in awe of a God who continues to bless his people, even when we are most undeserving.

It wasn’t pretty, but like the pastor said, it also wasn’t coincidence… it was providence!

That day I rushed out of the service, my fingers dialing my mom long before I could even make it out to the parking lot. Some time later and after I’d given my mom the play-by-play of the last few days, my husband opened the car door in a fury, speaking fast, and demanding that I drive!

I looked up to find him pale, and stumbling to sit down and catch his breath…

“…Th-ey’re… gonna… offer me a job…”

“Mom, I gotta call you back.” I said dropping my phone to my lap before I could even finish my sentence.

Monday

– Be Honest –

Nearly everyday I am reminded of the influential man that sat across from us that day eating Chic-Fil-A and discussing a mind-boggling job prospect like it wasn’t THAT big of a deal.

Every day I see his inspiring quotes being retweeted, and his motivational blog posts being shared on Facebook, and I am reminded of all the years we had spent watching his messages online from across the country, how him and my husband (coincidentally) got to meet in NYC…

But above all else, I remember this moment in time, when between sips of sweet tea, we told him our marriage was crumbling.

He had asked, and unfortunatly for us, we had promised to be honest.

I can remember my husband and I smiling nervously at each other, for a moment fearing the outcome if we were “exposed”… nodding in the direction of my husband, I gave him permission to answer honestly, and listened as he spoke words of brokenness, and burn-out, mistakes, and a desperate need for restoration in our family.

My eyes watched the man across from us, listening intently to my husband as he spoke.

He never flinched.

And I realized something powerful, that God doesn’t flinch either….

God sees what we are up against and upon the surveying the wreckage that is left of our lives, He exposes us for the mess we really are. And yet upon hearing our sob story, our slip-ups, and greatest shortcomings, He looks on us with love and sees the potential greatness in us even still!

Oh, what a great day that was! Calling friends and family with praise on the tips of our tongues; praise of a new job (…a DREAM job nonetheless!) but even more, praise thanks to a new revelation that came just days after our world came crashing down;

That God was not done with us yet!!!!

Tuesday

– The Lord Himself Will Fight For You –

The last 6 months have been best described as waking up each and every morning wondering, praying even, that it was all just a horrific nightmare…. but on the morning of Tuesday, August 5th, exactly one week from the fortune promising, “a reward for listening in the next week,” we woke up for the first time in 6 months wondering, praying even, that our reality wasn’t just a DREAM!

…And on our wedding anniversary nonetheless!

A day that will go down in history as the best anniversary we never celebrated!

The day God confirmed that we are a mess, but that He was not done! That while the damage is devastating He is a God who makes pathways through the wilderness and rivers in the dry wasteland. He doesn’t flinch at what we are up against, and even when our past is most agonizing, He is able to do surprising and wondrous new things in our future! No matter how brutal or hopeless, The Lord will fight the battle before you as long as you stand still, stay calm and NEVER GIVE UP!

My friends, there is SO much more I wish I could tell you, and so much more hard work ahead of me and my family, but the most important thing I want you to remember is that What God has led us to, He will walk us through.

He is not done-

….So NEVER underestimate what God can do in a week!

Krista Signature