It's been quite the journey to be here - in this place. But each and every step has been significant. We've skirted questions and inquiries like mad, only leaving enough of a trail as if to say... "we're still here." Present only enough to leave markers in case of disaster - markers to lead us back to what once was, if the path got too hard.
As hunters and seekers of light, the darkness was a hard place to be. For darkness feeds fear. And then fear strangles the willingness to fail, it stands in the way of your view of what could be, and it shuts down that part of you that soars with innovation and change. Instead - you begin surviving. You walk just one. step. at. a. time.
It's important to me - that you walk with me through that darkness. To see how important the light is... To see how we made it here... To see how it all came together... To see how we are WOVEN together, masterfully, and lovingly, and with great purpose.
The telling scares me. I know it's going to hurt. So let's get started.
If truth be told, we'd all put our best face forward, all the time. Our appearance would reflect expectation. And the excess - It would go into a vault. A real life recycle bin. Wouldn't that be easier? But what we don't consider - is that our recycle bin, is connected. To people, to places, and things beyond our control.
That's where we'll start today...
Let's start with the light, and when it all went black beyond our control.
For me - it came slowly, in stages. With a force that left me powerless. But as painful as it was, you have to realize - that with each taking, there was a giving. An increase in faith. A letting go, a giving in, and the fight changed. It became easier. Like floating with the current along a sleepy, lazy river.
The first bit of the loosening, the dimming, was the knowledge that we - my husband and I - are complete opposites. Try as we might, we couldn't force each other one way or the other. And the forcing was humiliatingly painful. For both of us. Somehow - we found a common thread beyond the ones with long blonde hair... We discovered that we could create our own language with images. We could speak to each other more lovingly, we could share more intimately, we could communicate more tenderly. We could start over - there. THAT is where our romance began. THAT is how we love, and how we make up, and how we make it through. It's what saved us.
The next few blows were quick little dings in the grand scheme of the taking, but at the time felt like an onslaught of knives, right in the back. Friends became strangers. Security became a liar. And jobs became scarce. Every time we would claw our way to the top of the hole, to even ground, we were dropped back down to the bottom, beyond where we'd been before. You can imagine what this did to my husband. To his pride, to his need, as a man, to care for his family. You can imagine the pressure that was shifted onto my own shoulders, and my need, as a woman, to do everything to completion, with perfection. The shift did unrepairable damage to the opinions of the one's we cherished... the final blow to our already isolated path. But as we struggled, we relied on each other more. We strengthened our tiny little family, and surprised ourselves, and we became masters of using what we'd been given to make something so much more. We grew hearts of gratefulness. We looked further - into educating ourselves about food, and where it comes from. Here - was born a passion for all things grown in simplicity, and wholeness. Here was born a passion for living as an example to our children, and teaching them at home... Here was born a lifestyle, a way of slowing down, a way of doing things more thoughtfully, with intention. Here - we could breathe. Here it was twilight.
We went from just barely breathing, and being thankful for what we'd been given, to stunned, in complete darkness, inside a glass bubble afraid to blink or exhale for fear of what might come next. So much death and so much disaster in the matter of months... my mother's mini-stroke, my aunt's death, my father's heart attack, my cousin's suicide - and the onslaught of secrets, gushing from the collection of overflowing recycle bins gathered together in mourning. It was here, in the mysterious glass bubble, that life flows in disconnected slow motion. The bizarre piecing together of what you thought was truth, the terror-filled show of everything you had hoped was not, and the things you could never have even dreamed up - making an appearance as your now, and deciding to stay a while. The rest of the taking was severe, each step, but we were already in that glass bubble. In the dark. To experience each of those things individually would have been complete devastation. But we were in the bubble. The bubble with no air. The bubble with no escape. The bubble of shame and exhaustion. The bubble of lies and heartache. The bubble of grief - for the loss of what you thought was true, for the people you thought you knew, for the life you thought you lived. The bubble is where everyone is watching you... watching in amazement, every little move you make, thankful they are on the outside looking in. There is no recycle bin there - it's all out in the open. There's no covering for your tear-stained face. There's no denying the absence of hope. There's no pretending that things are ok. There's no faking it until you make it. So you just close your eyes and disappear. It's the only thing you can do. And you wait. Floating in that swirling whirlpool of things you cannot control. You wait. For the light. For a break in the glass. For a hand to help you that's stronger than your own - or one at least willing to try. You wait for morning, you wait for peace, you wait for the dust to settle. You wait until things get easier, you wait for the madness to stop, you wait. You wait for the sadness to give way, you wait for sleep, you wait for your thoughts to quiet, you wait. You wait.
And then - you open your eyes. And you realize that your eyes have adjusted to the darkness. That you've adjusted to the darkness. You're drunken by the light-filled moments, the flashes of hope, the glimpse of what might be... And you resign - to let that be enough. You resign to float in the soft waters. You resign to the not knowing. You resign to things beyond your control. You resign to a more beautiful plan. You resign to just wait and see.
It is here - and only here - that the taking can be complete. When you let go. When you stop fighting for the reigns. When you stop fighting for a life YOU think you are supposed to be living. When you give it all back - willingly or not. When you finally see - that you are beautifully and wonderfully made. With a purpose.
I was so very wrong - about most everything... About my husband. About my career. About my family. About what I was capable of. About what I was being trained for.
For you see - I was being pursued, lovingly and fiercely, by a God who had bigger plans for me. But I needed to be strong. I needed to BELIEVE I was strong, for he already knew. But I'm so stubborn. I had no idea what strong was until I saw myself survive - and thrive - with a blank slate, in a glass bubble, in the darkness, with nothing left to lose but my fear.
So this is where we are now...
Waking up. Opening our eyes to a bright new world. We've floated out of the darkness, down a winding lazy river. Carried by grace, and by a love so overwhelmingly amazing that we hope you feel it radiating next time we meet.
This first step - this space - it is the fruit of the waiting. Of the taking. And of the giving.
We're so excited to finally be out of the glass bubble. And to be able to show our face - in the fullness of who we really are ...
And we cannot wait to share what happened next.
amanda + james