Missing Myself

It’s all been a whirlwind. I’m sure you’ve been there, when life creeps in and steals…well, the life right out of you. Then suddenly I realize in the midst of the grind, the day to day, the chaos, that I don’t have to allow it all to get the best of me. I can choose to stop even when the madness doesn’t. I get the privilege of deciding what warrants immediate attention and what can wait. I get to decide that I’m important too.

I think mothers are so easily susceptible to what I’ll call the squishing. The systematic pressing down of oneself in favor of those you love and/or those who scream the loudest. Then suddenly, the music stops, the writing ceases in lieu of more pressing priorities. All that was placed in you by the creator is shelved for another time…a seemingly mythic day when there’s quiet, though you know the heart will cry when quiet comes because they have grown and you may have missed something.

I think at the end of the day, we can have it all. We can treasure the moments of motherhood, maintain some measure of order and cleanliness, actually shower, and still be us. I know, I know, sounds too good to be true. I still believe that God placed treasure in earthen vessels and that He never gives us a load too difficult for us to bear. We may need to exercise our faith muscles. We may need to work diligently to find balance. We may need to learn to say no or ask for help but it may be worth it.

Today, I’m making a resolution that I will make myself make time. I will read. I will write. I will sing. I will play. Yes, I’ll still clean and nurse and nurture and teach but I will make the time to be me. The world will be a better place and I will be a better version of myself. Today, I’m determined.

Though I’ve been missing in action for a while, I’m coming back to life, one decision at a time and I shouldn’t have to miss me much longer.

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Repairing the Well

The day draws close to an end and I feel pulled to page to open up the release valve and let it all go. Lately, I’ve filled the well with other things and stopped the flow of words. The difference in me is palpable. Tonight I’ve decided to dig. The sound of shovel moving earth resonates hope to my dry heart. I’ve been hiding under there too long. 

Seasons pass swift and furious without effort and I often leave myself behind sucking dust. Life isn’t found in the motions but rather in the movement. Spirit and soul drawn into deep breath moving me from who I’ve been to who I am. The lioness awakening, drinking deep. 

Tonight, as the earth moves, I’m closer to the spring from which the water begins to rise. Tonight, I’m a little closer to living and maybe that’s what matters. 

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the simple things 

Rest, weary eyes, I’ll keep watch

Breathe in deep while I listen

Among the noise, tune into the sound of my voice, carrying you high above the chaos to a place of freedom

Too mired you’ve been in the temporal

Mud sticking to your shoes reminding you who you were, ash formed into beauty

I see you lovely. 

Awake among the leaves and learn to fly

Dust Buster

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Photo credit: Arthur Rothstein, A young boy in dust storm, Oklahoma, 1936 PBS

 

“Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust” Isaiah 26:19

The dust hangs heavy in the air, swirling around hiding the light with haze.

It’s easy to become lost in the chaos, caught up as the torrent of fear flows by, catching us unaware, unprepared.

It’s easy to break and stumble. It’s easy to give in and crumble as the mud starts to cake, heavy, on our skin. We become a sculpture of something else, a figure we never expected to be.

The mirror betrays us. We can’t recognize the person staring back, glass eyes, with fire dimmed to ember.

But there’s a song, a melody resounding above the thickness and our eyes suddenly open to the wonder.

Open your mouth and sing along. Let praise emanate from within. Let it cleanse the air with the sweetness of Spirit. Let it wash the skin and mind with life.

Sing of His greatness, hear Him call you by name, and know that nothing else matters. He sees, He hears, and He adores you.

Figure of dust, know that you are a treasure, transformed by love song into beauty.

Give me some Sweetness!

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Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Words are powerful! They bring sweetness or mayhem, joy or pain. Our words can uplift and encourage or knock down and well, discourage. (Deep huh?)

I was thinking about this scripture today. A bee wanders around from flower to flower, collecting from beauty, working diligently to find sweet nectar and, at the same time, serving to pollinate the area. Then it brings what’s was gathered back to the hive and uses it to make honey. I’ve oversimplified the process of course, but I couldn’t help but think about what that looks like for us.

We encounter words everywhere. Some from our own mouths, some from media, some from the lips of others. I think it’s our responsibility to dig through them for nectar. We don’t have to internalize or accept everything we hear. We can choose the Philippians 4:8 route and think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report. We can find the virtue, the things worthy of praise, the good reports. This isn’t the ostrich mentality where we choose to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the bad. It is living intentionally and making a decision to change our perspective.

Years ago, a single word became my mantra in the faith. “Focus!” I realized that I had the power to take my thoughts captive and focus on The Lord in all things. I would have to remind myself throughout the day by repeating it to myself, “focus, focus, focus”. At times it can be hard to see Him or hear Him over the noise. The ever-constant barrage of busy can steal from the things that matter. Suddenly, the to-do list pushes our quiet moments off into the abyss and we are left reeling by the time our heads hit the pillow.

Even there at the end of the day, our minds can go a mile a minute planning for tomorrow or beating us up for whatever we messed up or didn’t finish today. Therein is the moment of decision. We can dig deep in those moments for the nectar. We can find the good. We can cast off the things that bring us down and remember who we are and how we are loved. Then when tomorrow comes, as we dig deep for the marrow of life, we can’t help but spread that joy to others. It’s a side-effect of the intentional life. We pollinate the world with the light of truth and the goodness of God’s love. We speak life and peace to the tormented. We bring hope to those who struggle. Never diminishing the severity of sorrows, but offering comfort and healing in the midst of them.

We’ve been taught a lie. So often the contemporary, American church teaches that we shouldn’t suffer, that life should be lived wearing rose-colored glasses and never admitted that things are tough. This is totally contrary to scripture and, quite frankly, insulting to those who are suffering. We’ve believed if we only had more faith, if we were better, things would be okay. It’s just not true. The Bible says that we WILL suffer for Christ’s name sake.

Try telling Paul, who was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and (my personal favorite) bitten by a viper (AAGHHH!), that Christians shouldn’t ever suffer. The difference is that Paul made a decision to glory in his sufferings that the power of Christ might rest upon him. (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul was a diligent bee. He found the nectar and made honey despite circumstances few can imagine enduring.

I think what the world needs to see in us is perspective. We are deeper than our situations. We serve a God who is always faithful no matter what it may look like or feel like at the time. We have the power to choose to believe it or be overtaken. Dig deep and find the good. It’s in there, like a hidden treasure waiting to be recovered. And in it, we find our sustenance.

I Had an Unplanned Pregnancy and I Gave My Baby Away

I was 18 years old and had a brief crisis of faith. I’d been raised in church and had served God faithfully the majority of my life. Life is still “life” and sometimes hits us with curve balls we don’t expect. It just so happened for me that all those curve balls knocked me flat. I found myself suffering from a broken heart and things just weren’t working out as I’d planned. I vividly remember the day I told The Lord “I’ve served you my whole life and done everything right and look where it’s gotten me. From now on, I’m doing the opposite.” I’d decided to go the other way and try to find happiness on my own. It wasn’t my finest moment.

A couple of months later, I’d lost my virginity to a man I barely knew and found myself staring at a line on a stick. My friend and I examined it again and again.

“I think that’s a line.”

“Do you see a line?”

“It’s very faint does that mean anything?”

“Maybe it’s a mistake.”

“Surely my period will come any day.”

It didn’t.

A couple of weeks past, and I took another test, and it was DEFINITELY a line. I was pregnant.

Timing could not have been worse! I’d been kicked out of my parents house and was living with friends. Actually, I slept on the floor in my best friend’s bedroom. I’d planned on going to a Christian college to study music but seriously doubted they’d accept me now that I was an unwed mother. I worked at Wal-Mart and didn’t exactly have a grand salary. The “father” didn’t want anything to do with being involved. He already had a child for whom he was paying child support and he made it clear that he had no intention of paying for another child.

I had never known fear and hopelessness like I did then. There was no way I could tell my parents. So I hid it. Only my closest friends and my boyfriend knew what was going on. So I decided to run.

What I saw as an opportunity presented itself in another state so I moved. My best friend moved with me and we kept the secret to ourselves. I broke up with the boyfriend and didn’t even tell him where I was going. I would have nightmares of him coming after me, showing up in the middle of the night to take care of the problem and get rid of both me and my baby. The only thing I knew was that I needed to make a good life for my child.

I ended up working at Wendy’s making $4.75 per hour. When I told my boss about the pregnancy, she cut my hours. Things went from bad to worse, until one night I found myself in a puddle on the living room floor of my apartment crying out to God. I decided to come back home. I was 8 months pregnant, and I moved back in with mommy. Something I swore I’d never do.

My mother was a godly woman and she showed me grace instead of condemnation. She welcomed me home like the prodigal, arms open and willing to help. Not everyone was so supportive. I received a lot of negative reactions as well from people who were supposed to love me and that was heartbreaking. It’s funny how some sins are looked at differently than others. People who had admittedly had promiscuous pasts looked down on me as if I were a leper. It drastically changed my perspective on how to love others and I strive to show others unconditional love now regardless of the messes they find themselves in, but I digress.

God took my ashes and made beauty. I looked into the eyes of my daughter for the first time that summer. I found a love I never knew existed. She was my world. Raising her alone would be hard. I worked hard! I enrolled in college and took on a full-time class load while working full-time and mothering full-time. It wasn’t easy but it was SO worth it. The truth is that God is faithful. He knew exactly what my wayward, aching heart needed to draw me back to him. He gave me exactly what was best for me, my precious girl. She changed me in more ways than I can list. I have never regretted having her. I’ve never thought I messed up my life. Sure it changed my plans a bit but ultimately, it just brought me new plans.

A few weeks ago, I walked my girl down the aisle in my backyard on her wedding day and gave her away to a wonderful man. She was brightness embodied, the most beautiful bride I’d ever seen. She has grown to become everything I could have hoped for and more. A high school graduate, now a wife and a college student, she’s beginning her own life. She’s serving the Lord.

I know firsthand the fear and confusion surrounding an unplanned pregnancy. I know the anxiousness of wondering how on earth you could ever provide for a child when you can barely provide for yourself. I know aloneness and what it’s like to be in a bad relationship or be carrying a child whose other parent wants nothing to do with you. I lived it. I’m not here to pass judgment on “choices”. But I want to offer this, often what we feel is the end is really the beginning. Sometimes the “bad” things we go through are really God’s perfect plan to bring us to something better and propel us towards his purpose.

I hear so many debates these days about abortion. I am fundamentally opposed to abortion but I understand the emotions that would draw someone to a place of such desperation. It breaks my heart. Some rant about “rights” as though they are talking about getting highlights or changing dentists. We spout overpopulation arguments or talk about how no one should bring a child into a situation where the parent can’t provide for it. That would be unloving so elimination is a somehow more humane decision. We could be advocating to prevent unwanted pregnancy in the first place rather than using abortion as a means of birth control, but somehow such arguments are deemed hateful and unrealistic. I’m often appalled by the callousness of the human heart when it comes to this topic.

So rather than argue about those things, I offer you this, my experience. I chose to have my baby and it was the best decision I ever made. What felt at the time to be overwhelming and impossible turned out to be such amazing grace! God knows what we need better than we do. He proves it all the time. My girl was the best gift he could have given me. I want to encourage you to look beyond your circumstance whatever it may be and find the hope that is hiding in it. It’s there somewhere even when you have to dig for it. And when it comes to abortion, don’t forget that you’re talking about more than ideology. You’re talking babies and mothers and fear, hopelessness, desperation, anxiousness, and the desire to do the right thing for everyone in the face of the most monumental situation. Don’t forget to be kind! But never negate the possibility that there is a purpose for that child and that it might just be the miracle you’ve been hoping for.

I chose life and I got to give away beauty to the world. You’re welcome!

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Image by Kaitey Brawley Photography

Image by Kaity Brawley Photography