Friday, February 13, 2015

Why the 50 Shades stuff is making me crazy....

Christians often get a bad rap for being "against" stuff.

Whether a particular brand of Christianity opposes dancing or alcohol or tattoos or certain kinds of music or Democrats,  being anti-things is a one-size-fits-all label the culture seems to have given Christians.

Sometimes, for good reason.

But it's a frustrating premise to have to overcome when interacting with people.   Even on the campus where I work, where people have known me for years, that anti-stuff label is hard to overcome.   Just this week a Freshman revealed she'd gotten a tattoo and was sure I'd disapprove.  I looked at her over the top of my pierced nose and asked,

"What world would give you the idea that I'd disapprove of a cross tattoo??"

"I don't know....".

 I know.   It's because I'm a Christian leader, and her view of Christian leaders is that they are always opposed to stuff.

Which is why I'm struggling to know how to talk about 50 Shades of Grey.   (No, I haven't seen it or read book, but I've read enough - and not all conservative, Christian perspectives -  to have a pretty clear understanding of the premise).

And it's not because I'm against sex.  I happen to think very highly of sex, which is the reason why the 50 Shades craze saddens me so much.  So rather than emphasizing what I'm anti, let me tell you what I'm PRO.

I am PRO sex.
I love sex.  I'm all for it!  I think sex, in the right context, is one of the most fantastic, sacred, intimate things a couple can share.  Outside of marriage, however, it has the potential to be a painful, complicated, confusing mess.  

I am PRO women.
The college women I work with are brilliant.  And compassionate.  They have aspirations and dreams to change the world.  The are beautiful and hopeful.  And more and more, by the time they get to the University, many of them have been wounded deeply.  Some have been wounded by fathers and grandfathers and other family members whose understanding of love has been distorted and perverted.   They've dated men who treated them as conquests or conveniences, rather than as children of the most high God.    Often, these men have had their understanding of sex and relationships shaped by magazines, movies and websites from an early age.   For many, it started with a simple image, but quickly spiraled into more graphic and more perverse kinds of fantasies.  And while the amount of shock value it took to give the same payoff increased more and more, finally, the line between reality and delusion got blurred in the face of their addiction.

Statistics among college women currently report that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their academic career.   Any movie that makes sexual abuse or assault look exciting or acceptable is an offense to the women who have or will experience such a violation.

I am PRO wholeness.
For women.  For men.  For families.  For marriages.  And the problem I have with books and movies like 50 Shades of Grey is that plays into a lie that instant gratification and selfishness in relationships is what will bring the most satisfaction.  That's crap.   Respect, selfless love, trust....those are the things that bring health and wholeness to a relationship.

For my college girls....
The 50 Shades of Grey movie isn't harmless fun.   It's degrading to women.  It's pornography, and any woman who has caught her boyfriend or husband looking at porn will tell you that it's not an innocent, benign activity.  Marriages have been ruined, families destroyed, individual men and women made slaves to the ever-increasing need for more.  It's not the perfect Valentine's Day movie and I would question any man's motivation to take you to something that glorifies a man dominating and abusing a woman.

A blogger friend of mine summed up my feelings about 50 Shades best:

"If you are a Christian, you have no business seeing this movie.  If you are a feminist, you have no business seeing this movie. If you are a Christian and a feminist, you really have no business seeing this movie."

But it's not because I'm anti-anything.   It's because I am PRO-something better.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Reading in 2015

I'm probably not the best person to be handing out book lists.

I like to think about reading.  I like to read other people's reading lists.  And I DO like to read....I just don't do it enough.   But since a few people have recently asked about book recommendations, I thought I'd go ahead and compile a list of some of the things I'm hoping to read this year.

Slow Church:  Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus by C. Christopher Smith, John Pattison

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will by Kevin DeYoung

Sentness:  Six Postures of Missional Christians by Kim Hammond, Darren Cronshaw

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by BrenĂ© Brown

The Village Effect: Why Face-to-Face Contact Is Good for Our Health, Happiness, Learning, and Longevity by Susan Pinker

Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst

Let's All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have by Annie F. Downs

Jesus Prom by Jon Weece

I DID actually get a few books read in 2014.   Here are some great ones I would recommend:

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

Interrupted: When Jesus Interrupts Your Comfortable Christianity by Jen Hatmaker

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It's Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature  by Peter Scazzero

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist

The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller

What else should I add to my list?  Feel free to leave a comment with your own recommendation!

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Grief shows up at strange times.

Years pass.  Jobs change.  Life is full with kids' activities and personal challenges and new friends.   And then, one evening over dinner with another couple, I realize that things aren't as raw as they used to be.  As they share about their own brain injury story,  it brings back memories of drowning... flooded with sadness, confusion, and a complete loss of control.   The other voices at the table become faint as I think to myself,  "it's been a long time since I've felt that way", and silently pat myself on the back for coming so far.

Yet the next day I find myself in a tailspin.  Paralyzed and unable to make decisions, fearful and overwhelmed.  What in the world?!  Where did this come from?  I seriously think I might be losing my mind until I recognize my old companion, Grief.    It's come back to the surface after a night of remembering with friends.

The reality hasn't changed.  "The new normal" seems more normal.  But grief reminds me that
1) It's hard.  It sucks.  The world may move on, but this brain injury will always be part of our family.
2) God is good.  He has rescued me from the mirey clay and put my feet upon a rock.  We have hope.

15 years ago, everything changed.  I had almost forgotten until my mini-freak-out this week.    Thankful for a reminder to remember.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Just get in the stinking water!

I claim that I want to hear from God.

I pray to know him more, to know his will for my life and for every part of my day.

I think about how much easier my life would be if I woke up each morning with clear instructions on what to do and where to go.

And yet, I back-talk God like a certain 12 year old who lives at my house......

I see myself in the story of Naaman, a soldier with leprosy who goes to God with the request of being healed.  God answers him, and Naaman throws a hissy fit like a 12 year old girl:

Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” 11But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
How many times have I missed the healing, missed the blessing, because I wanted my own way? How many times have I told God I needed him, said I trusted him with the solution, yet when he told me what to do, stomped off to my room in a huff because it wasn't the answer I wanted?

The question is: Do I trust God or not? Do I believe he's the God of the universe, or do I think I have a better plan.

Maybe it's time to stop talking back, and just get in the stinking water!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Parenting Adolescents

A few weeks ago I was working with a Youth Ministry in Lima, Peru, and they asked me to teach a workshop for people in their community called "Parenting Adolescents".

As the mother of 3 of them, ages 11, 13, and 15, they thought I'd be an expert.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

This stage of parenting has me baffled.  And exhausted.  And fearful on occasion.  And I started the workshop by making the disclaimer that I am NOT an expert, and that if anyone tells you they ARE an expert on parenting adolescents, they're probably lying.   Most of parents stayed anyway.

Our 3 girls are totally different.   One is an emotional "gusher".....she gushes her love and need for her parents one minute, and then gushes frustration and distain for us the next.   One of our girls is the steady....she rarely shares emotion, likes to talk about things logically and rationally, but holds things close to the vest.    The other daughter is a never know what you'll get.

One thing I have learned in this season of parenting is that it's going quickly.   Our oldest is going to be a Junior in High School this Fall, so I know I only have 2 more years of her living in my house (hopefully?).  So we're kicking it in to high gear as we try to pour all of the important discipling lessons into her before we have to let her loose.

Moses gives instructions to the people in Deuteronomy 6:5-7:
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength. The commandments I give you today must be in your hearts.  Make sure your children learn them. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up.

The difficulty, you parents of teens know, is that life seems to be moving too fast to make this a reality in our homes on a consistent basis.  Kids are in and out of the house at crazy hours, "busy" on their computers, in their own worlds with the earbuds that seem to be a permanent fixture on their heads.

How do we connect with teenagers long enough to keep teaching the important lessons they need to learn before they leave home?

1.  Meals at the table
I know, I's hard.   But one regular meal at the table every day, or at least a few times a week, gives us an opportunity to ask some open-ended questions like....
  • What was the best thing that happened at school today?
  • What did you guys talk about in Sunday School class this morning?
  • If you could change one thing about your schedule this week, what would it be?
  • What's something you wish you had more time for?
2.  Chores.  Together.
Even though our kids are busy, they still need to learn about responsibility.  They need to know how to finish a job you ask them to do, how to do their very best instead of just enough to get by.   They need to know how to keep an animal alive (okay, this one is optional, but it's been good for us).    As the parent voted "Most Likely To Be a Drill-Sergeant" in our home, it's easy for me to assign tasks to my kids to try to regain some sort of order at our house.    But when I do that, I often miss out on time shoulder-to-shoulder with my kids where they may be more likely to open up about life and friends and questions they've been having.      Assign your kid the chore of doing dishes, but offer to help them with the drying.   Weeding the garden is always more fun with a buddy (okay, it may never be fun.  Less miserable, maybe).

3.  Daily Routines
Find something to do regularly with your kid....something built in to your life that doesn't require a special invitation where their parent alarm goes off.    I started walking the dogs with one of my daughters recently.  Every morning at the same time we agreed to get up and walk the dogs - they need the exercise and so do I!    I mentioned that I had been wanting to do some scripture memorization, and asked if she could help me with that while we walk.     Sometimes we just walk.  Mostly I try to be quiet so I can hear what she's been thinking about.    Maybe you have a kid who needs to practice pitching, or one who wants to learn to cook.  Create some regular routines with your kids to be shoulder-to-shoulder with them.

I'm not sure how this is all going to turn out.   But I'm gonna keep trying, because these 3 beauties are the most important job God has given me.  I don't want to blow it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Dark Side of Mother's Day

What kinds of expectations do men have for Father's Day?

Is it the same kind of crazy that women struggle with?   The Dark Side of Mother's Day that we don't ever talk about?

That side that has you moping with disappointment and hurt even before you make it to church in the morning or feeling deep resentment and bitterness towards your spouse while smiling politely and opening the 4 bottles of anti-bacterial hand soap your children bought you....

Do they have the irrational belief that the rest of the world should stop on this particular day and their children should be singing their praises everywhere they go?  (Really.....I'd like them to be literally singing......)

I'm so thankful for my easy-to-please husband.

Me: "Any special requests for Father's Day?"
Todd:  "Oreo Ice Cream Cake (a family recipe).....and meat."

Easy.   AND he did the dishes after lunch.  Are there men who experience the crazy?  Not my man.

My spiritual guide/decorating consultant, Natalie, once told me that you should always make Mother's Day about YOUR mom....otherwise, you'll always be disappointed.   Expect nothing, and be happy when your kids offer to set the table while you slave over the Mother's Day brunch you're hosting.

Sounds like good advice.  Maybe I can eliminate the crazy and try that next year.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

5 Ways Your Church Can Encourage Missionaries

Being a missionary can be lonely sometimes.   Whether you're a campus minister at a local University or you serve in the African Bush, you can feel a little bit like the eccentric single uncle of the Church - you've got some cool stories at Thanksgiving, but you still get seated at the kid table.

In our campus ministry, we're lucky to be surrounded by many generous churches and individuals who are super-intentional about supporting and encouraging our staff and students.  Maybe you're on a church staff or part of a missions committee looking for ways to connect with the ministries your church are some ways our partners have loved and encouraged us!

1.  Let Them Know You're Praying For Them

One pastor friend of ours prays for us every Tuesday and posts his prayers on Facebook.  Not only do we appreciate the prayers, it also communicates the value of campus ministry to his congregation.  Another church will send us notes from their kids when their Sunday school classes have spent some intentionally praying for us.   I love knowing different people are praying for me and for the ministry every day.

2.  Be Generous With Office Supplies  

What you take for granted in your supply closet, we see as luxury.   Post-it notes, big writing pads of paper, software, and "the good pens" are mostly out of our budget or are paid for out of pocket by staff.  When we mentioned this need to one of our supporting churches, a church secretary said, "It wouldn't be hard at all to pick some things up for CSF when I buy our church supplies!".   They blessed us with a basket full of stuff as the new semester started. 

3. Share Staff Training Opportunities   

Is your church staff going to a ministry leadership conference?  For some of our churches, the cost of bringing a missionary along would be minimal (in the big scheme of things), and the impact it would have on their ministry would be huge.  Or maybe someone at your church is an expert on technology or productivity or something else that would be useful to a campus ministry staff....offer to do training for your missionary and their staff if they're closeby.   Or, maybe a team from your church would even be willing to travel to their mission field to do the training.  We've been blessed by someone from a local church staff who used their expertise to take our staff through a strategic planning process during a difficult transition.  

4.  Adopt Their Family  

A small group from our church has adopted my family and intentionally remembers and blesses us throughout the year with treats like a Family Movie Night basket, flowers, encouragement cards, or the occasional meal.  I know they are praying for us, and if I need help getting my doorbell fixed or need last-minute cooks for our college students, I know I can count on them.

5.  Come to their stuff
If they have a fundraiser, come.  If you can visit them on their turf, on the mission field, do it.  It shows you're interested beyond just sending a check and gives you an opportunity to really be part of what they're doing.  It's sometimes hard for us to "brag" on the great things happening in the ministry, so come and see for yourself.   I guarantee you'll be amazed at what God is doing, and the staff will be encouraged by your interest.

These partnerships between the local Church and missionaries or para-church organizations can be a little tricky sometimes.  Here are some practical ways the local church has blessed us and encouraged us as we work together for the gospel.  I'd love to hear YOUR ideas about partnering with church workers outside the church walls!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

When God says "Go"

UPDATE:  We're so excited about how God has provided for this trip!!  As of June 1st, Sarah is only $60 away from her goal, and I am about $400 away.  Thanks to all of you who are partnering with us!

This Spring we've been studying the book of Acts with our college students with the theme: Do Big Things.   We've been challenging them to all kinds of things - talk to their roommates about spiritual things, fast from food for a day, fast from excess and consumption and give the money they save away....and we also challenged them to go on one of the CSF Mission Trips.

As I stood in front of them and pitched our Spring Break and Summer mission trips, I challenged them to ask God the question, "Is there any reason why I shouldn't go?"   I think we often do the opposite and expect God to give us a big sign if we should do something, even though he's already told us to go in his Word:

"Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:19-20

God's given me an opportunity to lead a team of students on a trip to Lima, Peru this summer to work with a youth ministry, teach in the public schools, support the local church, and help encourage a new college ministry there.  We'll be working with native Peruvian missionaries and partnering with New Mission Systems, International.   I'm so excited to be able to share what we know about campus ministry with these young students and youth workers, and learn from what they're already doing.   In addition, our oldest daughter, Sarah, will be joining us on the trip.

Quite honestly, I can think of a long list of reasons why I shouldn't go - the biggest of which is that there is no money in our budget for a trip like this.   But we know that isn't a big deal to God!  We will spend 9 days in Peru (July 5-14) and the cost is $1,600.    I know God's called us to Do Big Things, and trusting him to provide this money for both Sarah and I is a BIG THING!

Please pray for us as we prepare for this trip.  Pray for our team of college students, for the ministry in Lima, for the funds to be raised quickly (plane tickets must be purchased in just a matter of days!), and that disciples would be made in all nations.

If you would like to give financially to the trip, you can do that directly through the NMSI website and search for my name.   Or you can write a check with "Peru - Gretchen Magruder" in the memo line and send it to: 

Thanks for partnering with us to DO BIG THINGS!!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Big Things

Doing big things is scary.

Asking people to JOIN you in doing Big Things is even scarier.

2 months ago, our staff felt like God was moving us to challenge our faith community to something MORE.....more than attending....more than a good feeling....more than a campus club....and so we started a study on the Book of Acts.    We wanted to be inspired by the amazing things that happened in the Early Church, and start looking for God to do amazing things in our community.

As God began forming the vision for this, we knew we needed to give students a way to see this in action.  Students needed to do something BIG.  They needed to step out of their comfort zone.  Stretch.  Sacrifice.  Face failure. Lose control.  See something only God could do.

We talked about all kinds of Big Things we could do.....but in the back of my mind, there was this nagging voice that asked, "what if we fail?".

What if we teach students that God moves powerfully and that same power is in us, and if we issue a challenge to do something that allows God to show up in a big way......and God doesn't do it?

2 weeks ago our students started a 2 Weeks of Nothing fast.   For 2 weeks we would fast from purchasing anything that wasn't Starbucks, no movies or meals out, no Polar Pops or car washes.  The challenge was to collect that money and to bless our ministry partners in Peru.  Our goal was $2,500 to help purchase a laptop and projector for them.    We ended the 2 weeks with a DAY of Nothing, a 24 hour food fast.  We met together and prayed for the Peru ministry and talked about how hungry we were.

Then last night, as we broke the fast together, one by one students got up and shared testimonies about what God taught them during these past 2 weeks. They talked about excess and self control, about using money to fill insecurities and voids.  And they gave.  Sacrificially.  At last count, they've raised over $1800.

As I drove home last night, I could barely contain myself.   God did it.  He showed up.  His Holy Spirit is working in our community.  Students are being changed and are on mission.  Thank you, God!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

2 Weeks of Nothing


2 Weeks of Nothing doesn't sound like a big deal for someone who doesn't do much shopping....but I've been surprised to see how quick I am to spend money on the "little things".  

Today's tally of things I DIDN'T buy:
  • .85 Polar Pop - Side note: the gas station that carries my favorite ice got a new machine.  NO PELLET ICE.  
  • $7 brush - We went out of town this weekend and I somehow lost my brush.
  • $3.50 - Lunch (I found some trail mix instead....need to get better at packing lunch!)
  • $8 - Car Wash - After our road trip to Wisconsin, the mini-van is'll have to be dirty a little longer.
Today's Total:  $19.50

What was YOUR total today?

*This weekend we started 2 Weeks of Nothing, a time of prayer and fasting for a ministry in Peru we'll be working with this Summer.  2 Weeks of Nothing means no extras:  no lattes, no movies, no eating out for 2 weeks.  Each day we keep a tally of the things we've given up, and on March 7th, students will give that money towards purchasing some special things for the ministry in Peru!

Thursday, January 09, 2014


Galatians 6:2

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ

I'm not always great at the long-term.  I have alot of enthusiasm about the start-up and the launching of's the sustained, ongoing work that isn't so exciting to me.   Seriously, I think Jesus and my marriage are the only 2 things I've successfully continued to be committed to (and there are some seasons where use of the word "successfully" might be a stretch...).

Several years ago at a conference, my friend, Dean, asked about a former student.  "I wanted to know how Kacy is doing.  I've been praying for her for about 2 years now".   Dean met Kacy at a workshop he taught.  He met her once.  Truth be told, I'm sure he had prayed for my former student more than I had in those 2 years.  

Our family has a New Year's Tradition of reflecting on the past year and looking ahead....and looking back on old reflections, I notice for the last 3 years, my goal has been "become a prayer warrior".
I think of a prayer warrior as someone like Dean, who is faithful to prayer for people over the long haul, not forgetting after a week or month, but sustaining people in prayer, bearing with them.

There is a small group at our church that is teaching me alot about bearing.    Back in November, a member of their group called and just wanted to let me know that their group had decided to "adopt" our family - - to pray for us, encourage, and bless us.  Some consider November to be "Pastor Appreciation Month", and we often receive extra love from people in our church.  But our family was so touched and humbled by this group's commitment to us.  Sure enough, a few days later someone showed up with a casserole.  A week or so later, an encouraging card.  Each week a different member of the group cared for us in some way.    

But here's the thing.  

It didn't stop.

Pastor Appreciation Month came and went.  In December we received notes and gifts and requests for specific ways they could be praying for us. Already in January we've heard from group members.   It has been so generous, so loving, that a couple of our kids started to get a little concerned.  
"Are we poor?    Do people feel sorry for us?"    "Dad's not dying, is he?"

No, they're just bearing with us.

Due to health reasons, in July my husband transitioned out of his campus minister role of 20 years, and we are still trying to understand what that means for the future.   Some days are sad.  Many are frustrating.  There are moments that are scary.  But dishes still have to be washed, tests studied for, and life goes on.  Seasons are sometimes long, and it requires bearing things for more than a day or a few weeks.  What has blown me away is the faithfulness of our friends and family.  This small group has not forgotten.  We have wonderful friends who love and encourage us.  Family who reach out to us even when we're terrible at reaching out to them.  People who are walking alongside us.  

Bearing our burdens.  

I still want to be a prayer warrior.  That's part of bearing someone's burdens.  But there are people dealing with things much harder than mine....loss of a spouse, or a friend, or a child.   This morning I'm reminded of the people in my life who simply need me to remember the things they're carrying. 

Who can you bear with today? 

Friday, September 20, 2013

He's got the whole world in his hands

This morning I heard the most beautiful prayer from my daughter.  And, since I want to remember this, and I don't want to embarrass her by posting it on FB, and I'm pretty sure only spammers read my blog anymore, I'm putting it here:

On Fridays our family prays for the WORLD.  Yep, the whole thing.  Well, it's different every week...we pray for people we know in different countries, we pray for conflicts in the middle east and missionaries in Southeast Asia, and for Selah's birth family in Ethiopia....As we went around the table, my oldest prayed for the country of Japan - that God would move there to open their hearts, and that He would one day use her to be a part of it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

I'm trying to learn how to celebrate better.

I don't know if it's my first-born, practical child syndrome....or laziness....or a desire to not make a mess or create extra chaos.....but I have to admit, I'm not great at extravagant fun.  You know, those big, complicated, fun occasions that require extra time, work, and organizing.

I see it in my uncomfortability with the craziness of Children's Ministry and my generally tidy house.  I rarely send birthday cards.  Or if I do, they're usually late.  And if I'm honest, one of the most important things I want my children to learn, after loving God, is to clear the table, load the dishwasher, and clean the kitchen after a big family meal.

Which is why I think Romans 12:15 is so interesting.  Paul is describing what love looks like, and  instructs us to "rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."

Rejoicing with someone who is rejoicing means entering into their joy.  It's not a momentary congratulations, but it's a's busting out the tablecloths and chocolate fountain (even though it's a bear to clean)'s putting everything else on hold, even if only for a few minutes to acknowledge God's goodness.   And honestly, sometimes I need to see God's goodness in someone else's life in order to help recognize it in my own.

In the same way, mourning takes time.

I was studying this passage with some friends right after the Boston Marathon bombing, and we talked about how easy it is to say, "oh, how awful", and then go on with our day.   But mourning with those who mourn means pausing to enter in to the pain and sadness of someone else.  It means asking ourselves, "I wonder what it would feel like if I had been the one to lose my son?" or "I wonder what kinds of guilt or regret or anger they must be experiencing?".   It means walking with people for longer than a day or a week; it means reminding them they're not alone, being "joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer".

I want to be a person who feels deeper and celebrates bigger.   Because that's what love does.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I hate my tears.

I hate my tears.

I can feel completely rational and clear-headed, and then start talking and almost immediately feel them welling up in my lips start to quiver as I talk and I'm distracted from my own words long enough to whisper to myself, "just hold it together".

I hate feeling out of control.

But for some reason, this is how God made me.   And I have known seasons so dark, so difficult, that tears would not come.

And so I smile through my tears and thank the Lord I'm not in control.