• Megan Carpenter

7.05.15 Stripped

I have gone back and forth whether to share this entry, it sounds like an old counry song and edges on a pity party, a big no-no in my family growing up. These words are 10 days old, it's where I was over a week ago. So do I write about it? Is this a downer to read?

But today as I was reading a book by Shauna Nuequist, Bread and Wine: a love letter to life around the table and recipes, she said, "I began to pay attention to my tears..." And that was the nudge I needed to be totally honest and vulnerable on paper about where I have been, because maybe someone reading this may be there now. It's where God had me and still has me, and I am sure I will be here again.

This time last Wednesday, the only word I could use to explain the state of my heart would be stripped. My heart felt raw, vulnerable and for the first time I think I grieved things that were. I sat on my  blue couch early last Wednesday morning with hopes to spend time in prayer and to be with Jesus. I knew it was what I needed, but I found when I opened my journal to write all I could do was cry. The tears began to come and they would not stop.

My thoughts went to the life I lead three years ago. And I will admit, I looked back with envy. It was total comparison mode. I wanted that life, or atleast the life  I imagined I had. Its a known fact that hindsight is not 20/20. My closet friends/ Hunter  would probably tell me that I was a mess then too,  but last week my heart yearned for an era past.

From the rearview mirror, three years ago, many of the things I thought were important were happening: physically, I had finally gotten back in shape after 3 children and a knee surgery; spiritually, my world was marked by incredible prayer partners, prayer groups, Bible studies and times of ministry; relationally, I finally felt I had friends, that knew me spirit and soul; domestically, Hunter and I were in the final stages of remodeling our house-- a process I loved. I was making decisions, I was part of making something beautiful and new come from something broken and once glorious; parentally,  Lawler and Brackett had just begun at ECS, where we were surrounded by friends again and our adoption was fresh and new, there was hope to be matched to a child soon.

Life felt full and under control. I felt seen, known, heard and needed.

And then..... ever slowly, these "things" that I held in such high value, these areas of my life that I gained my identity from began to be challenged. I could feel God's thumbs pressing into me like a potter molding clay, pressing the pebbles to the surface, ever so gently, but constantly pressing.

Last spring, I remember Hunter and I sitting at St. Andrews hearing a visiting pastor say he felt that the body of Christ was about to experience a season of pruning. His words stayed with me, I can still see and hear this gentle soul saying those words. They were similar to words I heard the day Hunter and I got married,  that there would be seasons of pruning in our lives, but that God would use the other to act as healing balm in those the open places, and that the pruning was for our growth.

I know that pruning, cutting away is for further growth. Creation tells us that everytime we cut back a rose or trim our Hydrandra in the fall and they grow back more beautiful than ever. My daughter Brackett reminded me last week about how Aunt Debbie showed her how to trim the roses back to the place of 5 leaves. But who wants to really go through that? It is not a season of life you sign up for. In fact for me, it was something I feared and I would try to predict when and how God would "prune me." (I would not recommend this- its totally fruitless.)

Had I been writing the story, or predicting the hows, I could not, would not have crafted the details and circumstances with which He has used in this season. This time last year I would not have thought I would be sitting in Dallas, Texas rounding my kids up to go to a new church on Sunday morning.

But back to last week, as I began to journal and look back I was able to recall the impact the last year has had.

Between my 2nd knee injury, really my 4th, but 2nd in the last 10 years, limited activity, increasing stress, and the eating and wine that made me feel better, the physical body I put my value and worth in, began to change. Hunter and I have laughingly called our increased weight over this past year, the "transistion ten." Identity #1 - whack.

After several months of Hunter's work responsibilities swirling to epic proportions, our family life was more than out of balance, we were off the grid.  I could feel the battle for peace, not between us all, but just in the atmosphere.  There were many of those moments when I felt like I could barely breath.

I'll never forget sinking to the floor in my living room, calling our family doctor and close friend before we left for our summer vacation, asking if I was a candidate for anti- depressants. (You think? I had three close friends all recommend I think about it). I wanted to be numb. Life felt like funnel cloud and I wanted the storm to stop. Where was this balance I was asking for?

In that same time frame, Hunter was approached with the idea of being part of new private equity firm. It was a idea, a thought, a dream, nothing concrete. And yet over night, we were were in the place of asking what would life look like outside of Little Rock and the Stephens Group, a world we had been part of for 12 plus years. Where would this/that take us?  Was this God's plan? What was His plan? Financially what would it mean? How would it affect our adoption? Our family? Where would we live?  I had always said I would be fine with moving for Hunter's work, but this was not as clean cut as just moving to new town for a new job.

Once "Redbird," Hunter's new partnership, became official and it was decided that Dallas was the place, we put our home on the market. I did all the things you are supposed to do with a smile on my face. I had my moments of crying over the roses we had planted around the garage, but I could not stop long enough to be sad. Even when friends would ask how I was doing, I was good, this was good. And I really was ok, God was and is so good to me. Constantly reassuring that He was in this, giving me affirmations and friends encouragements along the way. And there was too much to think about, to do. My children needed reassurance this was OK. The house had to be cleaned, showed, maintained. I wanted desperately to spend time with my friends that I knew I only had months to soak in. The pace felt constant. The long months of transition from our old life in Little Rock to the new one in Dallas had started and all those things I had placed my identity seemed to be going one by one.

Fast Forward to last week...

June 2015: Words from my journal,

"I sit on my blue couch in tears. My friends, those faces I can imagine but can not see face to face are 5 hours away. My dog, my ollie, has died. I could not get to him in time to rescue him, and make it all right.  I have lost the the body I thought I could maintain. My home, my forever home that I poured my heart and soul into is now someone else's home. 

Do I sound like an aweful country song yet? Or what???

By no means are we desolate. We have a beautiful house in Dallas. We have the most incredible neighbors and new people have been so kind, so wonderful. I should be thankful not crying. right?

But I sit here and weep. I am hanging on desperately to the thing I have tried to control for 23 years- my weight/my body because it feels safe and familiar. Will this struggle ever end?

I feel stripped. 

I wonder where is the girl that dreamed of writing books, leading Bible studies, speaking. Where is she??? I know nothing.  I have zero to offer anyone right now.

I am stripped.

Jesus, I have to believe You knew, You know.

Jesus, are you disappointed with me, have I brought this on myself because I have refused to let go?"

The tears were past hyperventilation at this point. I was wiping my nose on my blanket. I did the only thing I knew to do, I turned on worship music and I made myself start reading in the Psalms.

I want anyone reading this to know, this is not easy. I had one ounce of want to that enabled me to open up my Bible that morning, and I know that came only from the Holy Spirit.  And so I read...

Psalms 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my impenetratable shield; my heart trusts in, relies on and confidently leans on Him and I am helped; therefore, my heart greatly rejoices and with my song will I praise Him."

More tears, but I read it again.

"The Lord is my strength and my impenetratable shield; my heart trusts in, relies on and confidently leans on Him and I am helped; therefore, my heart greatly rejoices and with my song will I praise Him."

Something small began to shift in me...

"I look up the words for heart--- the hebrew defines "heart" as  the will, the intellect, the center of anything...

I look up the word for "trust in"-- the hebrew means to trust, to be confident or sure, be bold, to make to hope, to make to trust."

I kept writing and reading, my tears turn to sniffles...

"My center will be confident in Him and I am helped (I am surrounded, protected, helped) therefore my heart can greatly rejoice and with my song I will praise Him."

"The Lord is my, Megan's strength and my impenetraetable shield. My, Megan's heart trusts in, relies on and confidently leans on Him and I, Megan am helped; therefore my,  Megan's heart greatly rejoices and with my very own song, I, Megan will praise Him."

And like a pin prickled ripple in a pond, there was a change. My heart was still raw and  stripped, my eyes were still puffy from tears, but His presence was there. The familiar presence of the Holy Spirit was with me.  The only way I can describe the feeling is that it was like I was being  wrapped up in a huge fur coat. I felt safe in His presence.

 I remembered the words from John Schuster last spring about pruning, I remembered what Debbie taught Brackett about cutting back the roses, I remembered the words spoken at our wedding 14 years ago, I remembered that when pruning/ stripping comes it not an indication of wrong, it is for growth, it it is for becoming.

There is so much more I long to share in regards to the adoption, life, the move... and I hope to have more time to write in coming days, it fills me up in so in ways.

Please keep praying for our adoption. The Congolese Government has begun to review the dossiers (all of our legal documents surrounding our case) of the 400 plus families that have adoption judgements-- we are among those. This is enormous progress on the Congolese side. After reviewing they decide if they will issue the next round of papers for us to apply for passports and an exit letter.

However, last week we realized that we will have to  provide DNA samplings of the biological mother and the twins to prove she is actually their mother. This is being required by the USCIS case workers, in whose hands lie the power to issue or deny Visas for the girls.

Our attorney in the DRC will have to facilitate the process, once the sampling kits we sent arrive at the Embassy in the DRC.

This is another part of the story, and I know God knows how it will all work and that it lies in His hands, but I also know He is calling us to keep our friends and family in the loop and ask you to pray, to partner with us and with Him in our pursuit of Ruth and Dorcus.

With all my heart,


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