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I landed here in the 9th circuit of hell quite against my will some 45 years ago. My parents fled here, from Hawaii at the time. Hawaii really is my spiritual home, paradise, so the shift from the tropics to the grey, rainy, hostility of the PNW was a shock to the system already.

And by “hostility” I hope it’s quite clear I’m not just talking about the weather. Hawaii is (or was) very family oriented, a blending of cultures, everyone is your aunt, and kid’s sports matter. It’s a tight knit community in a way. Contrast that to a land where family, tradition, respect, roles, has now been totally replaced by politics, ideology, and shared beliefs. Rugged individualism rules the day. Family isn’t “family,” family looks like whatever we want it to, and you can choose your “family” just as you can choose your gender. Also, if you don’t believe any of that….. you’re out of the family.

I’ve escaped over the years, lived in other places, Alaska, California, Arizona, but I always wind up back here like being sucked into some kind of weird vortex. I call it the Twilight Zone.

My hubby was born here, but actually he worked in Alaska and together we dreamed of escaping this land for good and setting up elsewhere. Or perhaps, I dreamed of it and he simply fed my dreams to appease me, because I know now he’ll never leave. Him I could handle, him I could probably convince (or force) to move away. I think this land is in his blood and it would be a bit cruel to pull him away, but I think I could do it if I really put my mind to it.

But God. God is a different force entirely. God has so clearly planted me here, He has me here on purpose. I have an assignment. Heck if I know all the details, but I am supposed to be here and to stand. Seriously, that’s what God says when I ask “what, why, and when,” just stand.

This has been a bone of contention between God and I for a number of years now, but you’ll notice I am here, I am standing. There’s something to be said for some old fashioned notions like loyalty, fidelity, obedience, faithfulness. I have choked on all the bones however, every last one. Those bones of contention are nothing to sneeze at either, let me tell you.

How could a good God leave me here in the second most secular county in the nation, with a depressed economy, insane politics, and a raging opioid epidemic? I’ve thrown in the towel so many times, yanked my cross off and literally thrown it right out the window. That’s it, I’m done with you Lord, I don’t even care anymore.

Once I actually sat in the shipyards pondering stowing away in a shipping container bound for China. I could totally pull this off too, I’m telling you. I haven’t just read the book of Jonah, I’ve actually walked it out a few times over.

I think what makes it so painful living here is the constant rejection and total insanity. Do I get emotionally and spiritually beat up? Oh buddy, the Lord has to scrape me up off the ground with a pancake flipper so many times. I once called myself a chew toy for the enemy. That’s because I am all covered in slobber and there are bits of rubber missing and I don’t even make a squeaky noise anymore.

It’s kind of funny, most of us want to be winners, champions, we want to do something glamorous, we know the grass is greener right off yonder in the next pasture. We want to go kill giants! Go slay some dragons. God is going to promote us. We’re all singing the song from the Jefferson’s, We’re moving on up…

Right. So what do you do with yourself IB? Uhm, well, I kind of just “stand.” A bit like the Apostle Paul, my job seems to be more like trying to figure out how to be content in all things.

The other day I went and stood for the fact that blue lives matter. Let me tell you, the only people hated, feared, and rejected more than I am at the moment, happen to be cops. It was a good thing to do, a beautiful day out, and I needed to stand.

I just wish more of my friends, family, and neighbors would use all of their fingers when they salute me. Notice I said friends, family, and neighbors? What makes this area so bloody painful to live in sometimes, is that it is often going to be those closest to you who attack. In a small town, you know most everybody. Life is a whole heck of a lot easier if you have a designated enemy to slay, a giant to kill, and the bad guys all wear black hats.

It’s not so easy when that “giant” is your child, your spouse, your parents, your friends, your neighbors, the people you love. Fellow Christians even! Don’t even get me started about the fellow Christians. Oh brother, I could write volumes. I won’t but I could. The point being, it hurts, it is excruciatingly painful. It is just one deep betrayal after another and one never ending adventure in forgiveness. I’m reminded it is also just like Jesus to stand there with your arms wide open and welcoming, and to endure it in love, because that is who we are, that is who He is, and that is what it means to stand.

Let me tell ya, it sure ain’t for the faint of heart either. You have to be made of some tough, tough, stuff. This little meme cracked me up. I am not you know, made of tough stuff, but God is more like, Oh really? Now you are……

It doesn’t pay well, it’s not glamorous, and you sure don’t win any prizes. You don’t get to do any taxidermy either, nor mount any giant heads over your mantle, although I like to think God is storing those treasures up in heaven. Jesus went to prepare a place for you and perhaps part of that preparation involves hanging the heads of all those dragons you’ve slain that nobody ever knew about over the mantle in that mansion in the sky.

I like to think of Jesus pointing to those trophies and dad bragging. Did you see what she did? Two angels fainted! They were so gobsmacked they fell right over that day.

Sometimes I think I should adjust my attitude, stop referring to this area as the 9th circuit of hell, but then I think nah, let’s be real. This place really is dark, really dark, but it also ground zero for revival, and when the Lord moves heaven and earth to bring us revival right smack dab in the middle of the 9th circuit of hell, I want people to know just how bright that Light is really going to be.

When my faith fails me, which it often does, I can always just fall back on spite. Yep, sheer spite. Spite, to vex or displease the enemy.

I was heading down the coast one day, running away, trying to put as much distance between myself and this land, my life, family issues, the futility of it all, and talking to God. I was on my way to Sea World actually, because that’s where all the fish are. When one is going to Sea World to live with the fish obviously one’s psyche has totally fractured.

So I was talking to God and He didn’t say “where are you going” or “what are doing.” In fact, there was no condemnation at all, no criticism, nothing human at all, just this amazing unmerited favor, all this unconditional love.

This gentle plea that I stay put and this promise that He would fix everything.

He has made good on those promises, too. He has fixed all the parts that were completely unbearable. That really is a miraculous thing. God is good, He is worthy of our trust.

“Hope” is one of those words that in modern times has gotten all messed up. It now means to have a “positive expectation of receiving something you want.” The archaic definition of “hope” is so much better, it simply means to have trust, without a need to fully control the outcomes.

People should really use all of their fingers when they salute me. Or at least two. One gentleman I know always salutes me with two fingers off his hat and it’s very dapper. Just saying.