Hope and Soiled Hands

When small seeds of hope, planted in fresh soil, are stolen by the ravens it’s easy to become weary.

We toil in darkness on hands and knees. Prayer lifted in desperation can seem to hit empty air when the harvest waits.

Still, I’ve found hope doesn’t lie in seed. Hope lies in the waiting soul and the hands of the sower.

Tomorrow will grace us with newness and we can plow and dig. We can take life in our hands and cover it, willing, in the dirt and start a revolution. We can wet it with tears wrought in prayer. We can wait hoping for rain. We can harvest the rewards of diligence.

My hope isn’t in one seed. My victory not taken by one theft. My hope is bigger, stronger, cared for by work, and harnessed in faith. My hope, the anchor of my soul, is in the giver of life. I will win and I will rest in Him.

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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. 

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

Hope

Water Drops on Slab

Steady rain pelts, swift and monotonous, on the roof above me
I feel the water purify, washing away the old, carrying with it the promise of hope
Standing singularly like a monument on the horizon
Lingering long enough for me to reach
Long enough for me to believe

Hope, that droplet swiftly coming near
Waiting for me to see it
Impact, as it falls to form in my soul a place where ignition can take effect
As lightning follows the particle to the earth
A blaze begins with a solitary moment
Hope springs from the cleansing of past colliding with the promise of now.

Autopilot

eagle_flying_bird

Autopilot – when I go through the motions

Head down, resolved, ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen

And then I sometimes break as resistance pushes me to realize I’m not built to maintain; I’m built for greatness.

Not greatness I’ve built with the persistent efforts of my hands, but greatness that comes only when I let go of my ambitions and allow yours to take over.

I ask so often for you to take all of me and then I feel injured when it’s pointed out that I can’t do everything on my own.

Why I allow the stubborn me to crawl off the altar of sacrifice and proffer a vote, I’ll never understand.

So today, once again, take it ALL.

Take my rights, my self preservation, my emotions, my ambitions, my plans.

Make them yours and use them for your glory.

I will fix my eyes firmly where they should stay, on the prize of the high calling of Christ.

There my feet find wings and fly, above the clutter, into your presence.

There, I find peace.

Blue skies

Crash Course

I was in a car accident about fifteen years ago. It happened on a Sunday afternoon on my way home from church. I was pulling in my driveway when she hit me. I never saw it coming. Apparently, she didn’t notice me slowing down to turn until the last second. When she did see me, she swerved INTO the driveway instead of away from it and consequently, nailed the side of my car right there in my driveway traveling around 45 miles per hour.

Everyone was okay, despite some cuts, bruises and a little whiplash. It was definitely one of the scariest parenting moments I can remember. My daughter was in her car-seat in the middle of the back. I remember it taking me a moment to realize what had happened and then hearing her screaming. My best friends little sister was with me also and the impact was very close to where she was sitting. She was 8. She looked completely dazed and blood was pouring from her face and mouth. It was in that moment, when it all hit me, that the panic set in. Suddenly, nothing else mattered but the kids. I didn’t even notice my injuries until later after I was sure everyone was okay. My car was totaled.

This morning I was thinking about how life can feel like a colossal mess sometimes. You’re traveling along enjoying the ride, when out of nowhere, it hits. You didn’t even see it coming, and you’re stunned by the impact. You spend some time trying to process it all. Maybe you feel your pain first, maybe you notice the others around you. Maybe you realize what you’ve lost right away or maybe it all comes in pieces, little by little, you take it all in and you break down a little more over time.

Often, we wonder why it happened. There’s usually no readily available explanation. Sometimes the hurt is so extreme that we turn heavenward demanding answers. Sometimes, the heavens are silent.

Some react with rage, others sorrow. Some weep while others remain locked in uncomfortable numb. We all have our ways of dealing with the aftermath.

I don’t have answers to the question why. I try to figure it out sometimes like we all do, but in the end only God knows the plan and we are called simply to trust him. But maybe sometimes he’s hoping when life hits hard, we will turn outward first. Maybe the trials of life are intended to train us to think of others and not just us.

Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

It’s not always our natural reaction to think of others in the midst of our greatest pain and loss. But our greatest comfort often comes when we do just that. Whatever your reaction is, it’s most important that you get up and keep going. Don’t let anything stop you from fulfilling your destiny. You were created for greatness. Don’t let anything stop you from believing that.

I don’t know what you’re going through. Maybe life is crashing around you as I write this. Maybe your cruising along loving the journey. My greatest desire is that you would know that you are in His hands, He has a plan and that someone out there needs you to get up and keep on going. You are not alone. Look around. Look up. Keep moving forward! It’s going to be okay as long as we keep our eyes on Him.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28