It's been forever. Since I've last written, I've visited Wisconsin, Illinois, Texas, and Michigan, and I've seen several states in between. The kids and I are having a wonderful summer--full of swimming in the lake, building endless sand castles, kayaking, visiting friends, playing with cousins, reading books, catching fish, coloring pictures, and being together. The television has remained off much of the summer, and it's just the way I want it. Sure, there are silly squabbles about so and so stealing someone's t-shirt or toy, and there is a lot of attitude that comes out when chores need to be done, but it's all within the range of normal, and I feel that so far summer has been a success.

I'm sorry that I've been absent for so long. As you can imagine, I have little to no free time so I am unable to work at all during the day, which means I have to work at night, and after I finish working at night, I have little to no brain power left to write or even upload pictures. Sorry dad....I know how much you wait to see your grandkids. And for the rest of you who happen to be more interested in my writing (if anyone is still there), I'm sorry that I've been gone.

Speaking candidly, pieces of my life feel very heavy right now. I am confident it will not always be this way, but right now, I seem to be stuck on a slow downhill progression, and no matter what I do to pull the brakes, the brakes squeal but cannot stop me. So even though summer has felt like a really good dream, I have to be honest and say that even though the dream is grand, there are still gray clouds looming overhead.

I think the darkest cloud that follows me and sometimes rains down on me wherever I go is the cloud of faith. I keep trying to feel God's presence but come up empty, and the distance makes my heart grow weaker by the day. There has been too much commotion in my heart, especially as of late and especially in regards to religion. I have felt so little peace, and so I find myself drawing inward and away from people.

The last time I struggled with anything in regards to my faith was after my miscarriage, when I grew so dark and angry at God and the world and finally just shut it all out for awhile. I gradually found new footing and felt the distance between God and me lessen, and I rebuilt my faith. And as shaky as it sometimes was, it was always there. I seem to be in a different place than I was 5 years ago. I am not angry. I don't really have any doubts about my own personal religion. I just don't feel anything for or against it. The absence of feeling has created this hole in my heart where loneliness and sadness just linger constantly. Constantly.

I don't really know what to do. I guess the only thing that keeps me going is the lesson that came to me 13ish years ago as an EFY counselor in Idaho. I sat in a room full of people discussing church topics that didn't interest me, so I opened my Bible (Matthew 26) to the chapter where Christ asks his disciples to "tarry ye here, and watch (stay awake) with [him]." Those words really struck me all those years ago because it seemed like such an easy invitation that he gave his apostles, but they fell asleep. This happened three times. I feel like this is so indicative of life. How many times does he ask us just to "tarry" or stay somewhere and not go away, even when it may seem hard? How many times does he ask us to stay awake? We can't feel anything if we fall asleep.

I refuse to go away or fall asleep. I owe the man who gave me everything that much. I may take a slight pause for awhile as I sort out matters of the heart, but I will not go away. I will just wait and do what I can to hopefully close the distance between me and heaven.

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"Be kind and considerate with your criticism... It's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book." Malcolm Cowley