I sit here at Starbucks wondering how many people around me are living in their own private hell, day to day, crisis to crisis, alone, no one to talk to, no one to share the burden of life with. To my right is an over weight kid probably 25, his laptop in front of him, almost as a sense of security so no one will notice him, he hardly glances up, his screen has been on the main menu the whole time. His face is so burdened. I have to wonder, "Why is he here?", on a Monday sitting by himself, staring at a computer screen, no one to meet. What has happened to him, as I ponder this question I see a wedding band, is he married, has he lost his job, does his wife know? I see him in my mind standing spinning in the same spot not knowing which way to go, just lost. All assumptions, but if you read the paper or watch the news, the odds are, he fits the criteria. I knew a dear lady who didn't know her husband had lost his job until he had committed suicide. He was just 30 days from getting his old job back. A lady to my left in her 50s reading a book, look of bitterness on her face, like life has zapped her soul, she has no look of life in her at all. She looks empty. Another couple, 2 ladies, middle class, chatting, the look of fraud, deceit, yet insecurity... what is so sad is you know they are what they consider "friends", as best they know how. But, truth be known, no true sincerity is there. Out of fear or insecurity or whatever, they have truly not become intimate friends. They have not really let their guard down with each other. They are still "putting" on for the other one. They have missed the true intimacy you get from having a true Friend, a confidant, a soul mate. I had just spent the morning having coffee with my cousin, and felt so down when I got here and by the time we were done and I had shared my heart with her, I felt a sense of connection, a sense of belonging to another human, a joining of our hearts for each others burdens. Isn't that what Jesus said, simply to join with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Simply to "Join" yourself with people. Never find yourself in a place when you lose empathy or the ability to see someones Else's needs over your own. I knew I had a true friend in my cousin, someone I could be my true self with, expose myself completely, without fear of rejection. She knows my faults and regardless of those faults, loves me anyway. Isn't that unconditional love? A valued asset in today's times. Something money, or a degree, or an address in an affluent neighborhood couldn't afford me. This can be a big lonely world if you have no one to share your daily life with. When we still lived in Tallahassee, to be closer to us, my Mom rented a lil 800 sq ft box. They would split their time between south Ga and North Carolina. Well, when I say box I mean lil box. This lil home had been occupied by my Aunts Father in-law and it was more like a gentleman's hunting camp than a home! The carpet was from 1970's and the kitchen was dreadful! As we started to see "things" go, we would pack the Denali up every weekend and head to south Georgia and spend the weekend in that lil "cabin" (it came to be called so fondly). That point in our lives the business and pastoring has occupied such a huge part of Kenny's time those weekends allowed us to connect and regroup and prepare us, as best we could, for what lay ahead of us. We would sit and watch the kids build forts, Mom and Bella had a garden, I even hung our clothes to dry on a clothesline. Something very therapeutic about being outside, seeing the cows graze, the garden to my left and one by one taking the care to hang my families clothes in the warm sunshine. I have to think of my Granny and the stories of her hanging her sheets to line dry, be ready to pop with another one(that is a baby), as she would say, and have a baby in the basket next to the clothes she was hanging out, whistling and singing. I am certain my Granny wasn't disconnected, or lost, life or circumstances had not separated her from the true source of her joy or her strength, which was knowing, even thru hard times, or brokenness, and let me tell you, my Granny had many, an alcoholic husband, loss of a child, work the fields by day, tend to her lil ones by night, yet as she worked for her family, she would sing hymns and praise, no there was no disconnect in her life, she was connected, connected to a source higher than all those things. She would say she owed it ALL, all to Him, all to Jesus. I must say I mean my Granddaddy no disrespect, I loved him dearly, he grew up very hard, and had his own demons to battle, which displayed itself thru the bottle. He and I shared the same likes for the same types of food, he would have Granny fix my favorites, greens and fried fish and holler for me to come over. He bought me my first tricycle. We lived next door and Mom would practically have to chain the door to keep me from him, he would get to drinking and want me to come to him and sing, and I loved every minute of it. We had a special relationship. Back to the cabin, Mom and I cleaned and scrubbed, tended to that garden, kept fresh flowers throughout that lil cabin, and made it warm, made some of the best memories we have to this day. We had the least amount of money we had ever had, yet ,we had the best bonfires and parties, the kids remember to date, because we used our imagination, we played games, told stories, had true intimacy as a family. And the kids absolutely loved it! It's funny how God provided, we ate like kings!!! We spent afternoons, walking and talking, just like hanging my clothes to dry in the sunshine, it was therapy for my soul. We had, because of 'life,' become disconnected and now "life" had made us reconnect again. Isn't that the beauty of God, He always gives us exactly what we need. What if God's blessings come thru raindrops, our healings come thru tears, just what "if" the trails of our life are His mercies in disguise. I instantly broke into tears when I heard this song, because I knew it was meant for me. I was talking to a friend I had just met and she was telling me she had been transferred with her job and once she got here, the job didn't work out and how lost and disconnected she felt. As she spoke of her job, and how she had always had a job, and had always taken care of herself, I had a real sense she had grown up hard. She Had to depend on herself, "I", and now she was at a place in her life, much older, now displaced and her trust had to shifted from "I" to Him, where true security lies for any of us. And let me tell you I completely understand her dilemma. As I sit writing this post it's odd that I would be behind this screen, so not like the roll I'd had for 24 years of our marriage. So odd for me period, you see I had always been extremely insecure about academics, I went to college at a very young age, and I was not received too warmly by my fellow classmates. They used bullying and sarcasm to demean me and make me feel dumb and less smart than them. I was always on the outside, never really accepted. I was taught to be gracious, accommodating, not mean spirited, not be braggadocious, so what I did was withdraw, not exercise the gifts God had given me, which are not too many, but, what I am best at is loving people and sharing myself with them. But, it created doubt, doubt even in that serving part of me, something I knew God had instilled in me at a very early age. So, I certainly never saw myself in this light, behind this computer or behind a podium, speaking to women, I had always been in the background with Kenny in the forefront. And I was completely fulfilled with that. I also was fulfilled being home raising my children, but, God had other plans. How do you start something at 45 years old, basically starting over. It just makes no logical sense. Just a few years back, 2008, Kenny was underwritten (completely paid for) to start a television program out of Tallahassee, and in a city of almost 50,000 college kids between two universities and a local college, and a surrounding area of 250,000 people, it seemed life would go differently. Then, through a very odd and unsolicited turn of events, the program was taken to Knoxville, Tn., the heart of the University of Tennessee, so you can understand that I thought our lives were headed in a MUCH different direction. My role was set, and I loved being in it, little did I know!!! Kenny and I were talking yesterday and timing is everything, seasons in our life are everything. One thing about seasons is.....they begin, but they also end. I couldn't have a season of harvest, which is sharing my life with other women without the season of hurt and devastation. Our family could not have the impact it has had without the trails we have gone thru. Would I have rather had a big church and have been the pastor's wife on the front row every Sunday, gone about my business saving the world and tragedy never having touched us? Heck yeah, but, that's not MY life, and I wouldn't want anyone Else's life but my own. I have found true connection in my life, Emma has found true connection in her life, by sharing her hard earned monies with her siblings, something called sacrifice, most 22 year olds know nothing about, the little ones have found true connection by earning money, yet spending it on each other, something we could never have taught them with our financial situation. Kenny and I have found true connection, on a level that is far greater than a home or a boat or tennis bracelet. You know Life has forced us into this tight situation, and I have come to believe, come to accept, even embrace God has even allowed it, He is Sovereign , Omnipotent, all knowing, He controls our destiny, and even though forced, we as a family go willing because we trust the One true connection in our life, the most important one is our connection to Him.