My Story...

Cool breezes and long walks with The Eagles and my iPod, movie nights with my man, Christmas lights (lots and lots and lots of Christmas lights!) and Grinch parties, Coke Zero and French fries, worship, my piano, Sunday naps, painting and decorating for anything and everything, a good book and a gloriously empty afternoon…these are a few of the things that make my heart grin. Pumpkin spice java makes it all out laugh.

Hey there! I’m Diane, and your name just got added to that list. Welcome to my online smile! Thank you for stopping by and stepping into my world.

My world is simple. I love to write! I love the power of stories and words that speak perspective and truth into dark places.  I love writing about redemption (it’s a beautiful thing for those of us who are messed up and trying to get it right). I love encouraging others to hold on, because Help is here. Right now. No waiting lines, no application fees. I love to write about second and fourteenth chances and ways to leave a lasting legacy for those who camp out in your world.

Faith, hope, purpose, creativity, perspective, loveliness…if you are in short supply of any of these, then please, don’t go anywhere just yet. I’m on the hunt, too. Grab a cup of coffee with me, and let’s chat.

A Little Bit More...

I grew up in a Christian home and became a Christ follower at the age of 8. My daddy was a preacher and my mama loved her preacher, with every fiber in her beautiful being. She loved her 5 kids, too, and stayed at home to raise us. We never had a lot but we never went without. When I was 13 I felt my heart tugging me into ministry during a revival service at church. (Remember those?) My parents are my heroes and I wanted to follow in their footsteps, so that night I asked God to give me a preacher someday. It truly was my life dream to be a preacher’s wife! I loved God and the Church passionately (it was all I ever really knew) and wanted to make a difference in this world, as far as my 13 year old uncluttered heart could imagine. My life dream came true in 1986 when I stepped into union with my new husband and walked across the threshold into an exciting, new ministry opportunity: Bethel Baptist Church in a little South East Texas town. I became a pastor’s wife at 19. Oh goodness.

So much to tell (I’ll save some for later) but over the span of 18 years we worked in church ministry. As pastors, counselors, youth directors, Bible Study leaders, worship leaders, camp leaders, carpenters (we actually built a church! that’s not a metaphor), and just about everything you couldn’t possibly imagine that ministers do on a daily basis (people are so needy). You name it, we probably prayed over it or baptized it. Along the way God smiled and threw 3 beautiful, blond-haired blue-eyed daughters into the crazy mix. We just went with it. We sowed and served for years with God-sized dreams lodged in our big, expectant hearts. And He blessed it. It was a hard journey but I was ridiculously happy. We were making a difference.

 

I’m not sure I understand this next part.

My life dream came to a screeching halt in 2004 in a collision that would leave my heart shattered into a billion pieces on a bloody pavement.  My marriage ended. My family became fractured. In what seemed like an instant, my life changed and would never be the same. The pain attached to this cruel, altered reality was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I suppose I believed I had built up some sort of God-immunity to the really bad stuff (I was serving Him, after all – I played keys every weekend). I was mistaken.  Life recognizes no religion. The depression that followed sent me begging for God to either rescue me or take me out.  I spiraled into a deep, dark pit, and stayed for a while.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. John 10:10a

The remnant of what remained forged ahead, trying to stabilize and grasp any semblance of a new normal. It didn’t happen overnight. It took a long, long time. I don’t think I shook my fist at God, but a lot of days I was a desperate concoction of angry/bitter/sad. Most assuredly, I had a lot of questions. Weighty questions.

I committed my life to You when I was a kid – what the heck is all this?
If You created marriage, why won’t You fix mine?
I know You love me, I mean I’m pretty sure You still do, but…?
What did I do wrong?
What’s wrong with me?
You can fix this, I know You can! Where are You? Why aren’t You?

I wanted answers, but maybe even more than that, I longed for a reprieve from just feeling. I craved stability and it was nowhere in sight.

And Then This...

Life moved me on. It has a way of doing that, eh? It may inflict unwarranted (and warranted) wounds along the way, but Time has a balm for that. So Time showed up and began the intricate process of mending; gradually my feet got stronger and my heart got better. In 2009 my dad went to the kitchen for a glass of water, slipped and fell, broke his femur, went to Longview Regional Hospital for surgery in June and went to Heaven in September. Mom joined him there less than 4 months later. So much to say here, but for the sake of brevity, I offer this. Their love was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed…for God, for each other, for us, for others. I hope I model it and never forget it. Their legacy spans hearts and miles that cannot be counted. Mom had suffered from dementia (it’s a brutal beast) for a couple of years prior, which in the end turned out to be a blessing in disguise. She kept forgetting Dad was gone. She grieved a dozen times a day, every time we had to remind her why she didn’t need to get him a glass of iced tea or check on him while he mowed the grass. That part wasn’t fun, but after a few minutes, her pain retreated and she was off in search for chocolate again. Cancer took its toll, and so we planned a second funeral before the flowers wilted from the first one.  And just like that, Grief bulked up and showed up.  As if I had forgotten its dreadful face. This time it stayed, in an uninvited guest sort of way. Honestly, it’s still here, but it dozes in the shadows and when it rouses, stings my heart quickly. Then it points a finger to the place where Eternity and Longing dwells, as it slips back to the place where it permanently resides. I can live with that.

Gettin' To The Good Part...

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10b

If I had a dollar for every time I quoted this verse, I’d own an island by now. CS Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” There’s something about pain that sharpens His gaze and tightens His hold. I can attest to this! He never left me. He never lost me. He never refused to cradle me. He never ignored my prayers. He never stopped loving me. And He never changed His mind or His purpose for my life.

About a month before Mom joined Dad, I missed church. I mean, I didn’t miss it, I mean I didn’t go. Which is odd, because I never skipped church; I didn’t want to miss anything that might help me out of the mess I was in. I wasn’t feeling well that morning, so I camped out on my couch and perused the internet. I’d like to say I landed on Sundaysermonswhenyoumisschurch.com but I didn’t. I landed on Facebook. I must have needed an encouraging word or a laugh, because an old friend from our first church in 1986 (way back when, at the beginning of this story) messaged me and gave me both. I hadn’t spoken to him in years and poof! there he was, in a tiny little box on the bottom right hand corner of my screen, saying hi. Sometimes a listening ear is all you need to get past the current hurdle, and in my case, it was Mom’s cancer, her failing health, and missing Dad. That day felt like a reprieve.

There were many chats with the listening ear after that day. Meaningful conversations about life, loss, food, movies, dreams, sovereignty, this and that. Encouragement after Mom left. Jokes about stupid stuff. Song lyrics and Bible verses and chicken recipes. Daily words that began to thread one reprieve to the next and create a new stability in my once again beating heart. (Yep, it was beating again. Fluttering, actually.) Our FB chats turned into phone conversations, and those conversations turned into a first date, and that first date turned into health insurance and a new last name. On September 4, 2010, my dad’s birthday, Corky put a ring on my finger and a giddy in my heart. Restoration rang the bell that day. It was loud. It was clear. It was beautiful.

Schalchlin. Hard to spell, but it does have a nice ring to it.

 

Today and Counting...

My story is still being written. Some pages might as well be in Greek and others are highlighted in yellow and dog eared at the top, but all are moving me toward the Epilogue of this series.

I have learned to love my story. Here’s why.

Any time I want to, I can skip to page 49. Here’s what’s on page 49: I am beautiful. I am wanted. I am valuable. I am unique. I am loved. And that’s just from my man. You should hear what God keeps telling me! I can’t wait to tell you about both.

And Now You...

This blog is about legacy: yours and mine. It’s about starting at the end and working your way backward. It’s about choosing. It’s about words. It’s about picking up the pen (again, not a metaphor) and creating something smile-worthy to be lived, loved, and left. It’s about your kids and your grandkids and the quiver-full thereafter who will come to know you on a personal level. It’s about yesterday, yes, and it’s about today. But it’s most definitely about tomorrow.

I am so grateful you are here.

Diane Schalchlin logo 2

 

We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders He has done.

– Psalm 78:4

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

– Proverbs 22:1

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

– Psalm 19:14

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