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If she silently waited with her hand open and heart racing for your fingers to intertwine with her own,
and let you follow her to her hometown to see where she grew up, to see all she’d ever known,
If she wrote her heart with paper and pen, using a stamp to communicate while you were away,
If she tried new tastes and no matter what for, always let you pay,
If she burst into tears the moment your arms wrapped around hers after weeks of waiting,
and held on tight when she felt you fading,
If she stood against the wall, nervous and anxious, looking into your eyes before you touched your lips to hers,
If she endured hours of sickness to learn and experience your love of lures,
If she sat by the river next to you, listening and sharing,
and drank more water cause you were only caring,
If she climbed a tree with you and named the geese,
and loved her meal but let you try a piece,
If she stood under the stars with you, watching the lights float above,
and stood by the fireflies and told you of her love,
If she introduced you to those closest to her — her family and friends,
If she let you braid her hair, all the way to the ends,
If she jumped on a plane without any planning,
and, knowing you didn’t like it, decided never to go tanning,
If she spent months collecting photos and memories in a book,
and could tell you what she was thinking with only one look,
If she giggled and laughed and smiled a lot,
but burst into tears when cooking in a pot,
If she went to the game and became a fan,
and thought you looked best after a Florida tan,
If she went to the zoo and heard the lion roar,
and missed you all the way to her core,
If she cried every night thinking of the end,
and asked God to take her heart and mend,
then you can be sure one thing is true,
that girl right there, she truly loves you.

Two is better than one, for they can help each other succeed. -Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT

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I picked up my friend Abby on the west side of Indianapolis. We were excited to see some of our friends, but first we had to get to the east side of Indianapolis. I’m being completely serious when I tell you that we were lost for over 2 hours. I think we drove back and forth from one side of Indy to the other at least 4 times. It was a disaster. I was incredibly frustrated.

I needed a GPS.

I was driving home from work late at night, and it was pouring down rain. As I came over a hill on the highway, flashing lights met me. A man motioned for me to turn onto a county road. It was my only option. I had never been on the county road before, and I had no idea where I was going or how to get home. As the large raindrops smashed onto my windshield, inside the car teardrops began running down my face. I was scared and alone.

I needed a GPS.

I was supposed to be at an interview in 10 minutes. The directions I had printed out told me to take Lake Drive. I drove and drove, but Lake Drive doesn’t exist. I turned down every other road possible searching for the right building or a sign that I was at least in the right area. I was supposed to be at my interview by now, and I still had no clue where the place was. I was confused and frazzled.

I needed a GPS.

In all of these instances, if I had only had a GPS system I could have found my way easily without the frustration, fear or confusion. As I laid in bed the other night, I pondered all of this. I realized not only do I want a GPS system for my car, I would really like one for my life.

You see, I’m at this point in my life where I don’t know where to go. It feels like there are about five different roads in front of me, and I have no idea which I’m supposed to take. I just know I don’t really like traveling on the road I’m on now. But which way do I turn? It would be so much easier if God would just give me a GPS to say “Turn right in 2 miles.”

Another thing I love about GPS systems is that they show you your Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA).  I love knowing when I’m going to get somewhere so that I’m not late. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our life GPS also showed our ETA? It would make the “construction periods” a lot easier, because we’d know exactly when we would get the “new pavement.” We could count down, making the hard times easier. There wouldn’t be any fear of a never-ending hardship. We would know, without a doubt, the trial will eventually end.

But that is not reality. We can’t have a life GPS. And we can’t know our ETA. God doesn’t promise to reveal our futures to us. He doesn’t promise to show us what our paths will look like. We won’t always be certain about which direction to turn or what will be around the next corner. But God promises to be a lamp for us as we walk the path of life. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

Here’s the thing though, have you ever actually walked in the dark with a lamp? It’s nothing like a flashlight. You can only see enough light to take a step forward, but the lamp does not show you what’s ahead after that. It doesn’t show you the entire path or when the next fork in the road will be. There’s only enough light to take one step at a time. We have to trust God. We have to have faith that He is leading us in the right direction and that He won’t let us fall into a pit.

I don’t need a GPS.

I only need the God who loves me enough to show me the way, even if it’s just one step forward at a time.

In this season of my life, everything feels uncertain and overwhelming. Before all this brokenness, I thought I knew my purpose in life. But now, I’m not sure of anything. What I thought was my purpose seems incredibly far away, and maybe even nonexistent.

Last year, my word for 2011 was “secure.” I have decided my word for 2012 is going to be “purpose.” This isn’t a New Year’s resolution. It’s just my focus for the year. At first, I thought of it as trying to find my purpose. Where does God want me? What does He want me to do with my life? What is my purpose? I was going to figure out the answers to all these questions. Ha! Good one, right?

The more I thought about it, I realized no one probably has one specific purpose for their entire life. God has multiple purposes for each person, depending on where they are at in their journey through life. So instead of trying to find my one specific purpose, I’d like to spend 2012 trying to put purpose into everything I do. Whether I am writing a story for the newspaper, baking cookies, reading a book, teaching a class or visiting with friends — each area of my life should have purpose. Instead of searching for purpose, I want to put purpose into everything I do. I want everything I do — whether big and important or small and silly — to be for God’s glory, to somehow further His kingdom, to bring me closer in my walk with Him. And shouldn’t that be everyone’s specific purpose?

Dealing with a break-up is, in a way, similar to dealing with a death. In both situations, you are dealing with a loss. You’ve lost someone important in your life. And not only did you lose the person, you probably lost dreams of the future too. So after a break-up, you need time to grieve — just like you would if you were dealing with a death.

There are 7 stages of grief.

1. Shock and Denial

2. Pain and Guilt

3. Anger and Bargaining

4. Depression, Reflection and Lonliness

5. The Upward Turn

6. Reconstruction and Working Through

7. Acceptance and Hope

Most people don’t work through these stages one-by-one. Instead, it is a winding road. You may go from stage 1 to 4 and then back to 2. You may hit stage 3 multiple times before ever moving on to stage 6. An important thing to remember is that grieving takes time. Everyone grieves at a different pace.

A lot of times you can begin to think you should be over it by now. There will be people in your life who don’t understand what you are going through. They might say things that make you feel stupid for hurting. This happened to me the other day. Someone said something that made me feel dramatic and dumb for hurting so much.

Don’t let them take away from this process. Don’t let them make your loss seem unimportant or insignificant. If it mattered to you, then you deserve to grieve the loss of it. And if it mattered to you, then it mattered to God. So take your time. Grieving doesn’t have a timeline. It can take you a few weeks or a few years to ever get to the acceptance stage. But no matter how long it takes, it is okay to feel sorrow. And no matter how long it takes, you will eventually heal.

So it’s been awhile since the initial heartbreak. I want to share something I’ve learned through this season in my life. There were days when all I wanted to do was cry. There were days when I wasn’t sure how to get out of bed and go about my day. There were times when it was very difficult to put a smile on my face and pretend everything was okay.

I felt constantly haunted by memories. I found myself asking God for temporary memory loss. Seriously, I kept picturing God flashing that little Men in Black do-dad in my eyes. But it’s hard to forget things that are so worth remembering.

What I realized is that the only way to make those memories fade was by creating new ones. I had to stop crying. I had to get out of bed. I had to put a smile on my face. Healing can only happen when you keep living. I had to keep living, keep moving. That’s the only way to step out of the darkness and into the light. It’s the only way the tears will stop falling. You have to move forward, even when all you want to do is go back.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be sad. You need time to grieve. But eventually, it’s time to move forward. Don’t let yourself get stuck in the grief.

Every day is a day to start over. Every day is a chance to take a step forward. So what are you waiting for? Move. Brighter days are ahead. Keep smiling. Keep dancing. Keep living.

As a child, did you ever fall off your bicycle and scrape your knee? I bet most of us have. We’ve all had some sort of scrape from a fall.

I’ve been thinking lately about how getting your heart broken is kind of like scrapping your knee — except obviously way more painful. When you first get hurt the skin is scrapped off, making you bleed. The shock of the fall and the pain you feel at that moment is intense, usually causing you to cry and run to someone close that you trust.

Eventually the bleeding stops after you’ve put a band-aid on it. That band-aid is like the distractions you give yourself to try to ease the pain. The TV you watch, the conversations you have, the work you pour yourself into. It doesn’t really do much, but knowing it’s there somehow makes you feel a little better.

And then the wound begins to heal. The crying eventually fades, and it doesn’t hurt so bad. But underneath the healing skin is a bruise. On the outside, you can go about your normal day. You can hang out with friends again. You can laugh again. But deep down, you still feel the pain. You still feel black and blue and maybe a little purple. And the wound is tender. If you touch it, you feel the pain again. It’s like when you are going about your day, finally feeling okay again … and then someone says something, not meaning to, that brings it all back. And maybe you have to go hide in a bathroom stall to cry a little.

It takes longer for the bruise to heal. Eventually it does though.

Then you are left with a scar. A mark that will be there for the rest of your life. Your heart will never be the same. It’s now been hurt. It’s known pain, and pain is a hard thing to forget. That means for the rest of your life, you will remember this time. But just like a scar — you see it and remember the pain that put it there, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. The only thing left is the memory of it.

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