What if I break?

 

A lot of sadness had covered our family this year. Our village. Our world. And when sadness comes I want to run.

But this, what has happened recently,could break me. I know this. I am fully aware that this might all be too much.

So I  texted my people and whispered “what if I break? What if this is all too much?”

And them, being the most life giving people I know said, you are not going to break. You are broken. You should be broken. But broken is beautiful. Broken can be put back together stronger than ever before. We will stay with you in the broken. We will stay until it doesn’t hurt anymore.

This is the thing. They know. They know everything. They know how many things hurt. They know all the shit that has gone on and the injustice of it all.

And still. Still they stay. They stay and wait until it doesn’t hurt anymore.

When I was younger, I remember finding my mom crying in the basement while she was ironing clothes. Standing over the ironing board with tears streaming down her face. I remember being so angry. So angry at who or whatever was hurting my mom. I know now. But then I really was more confused by the silent basement suffering.

She and I grew up in different times. Different ways of dealing with life. She grew up as a Dutch missionary kid. You worked hard, you went to church on Sunday and then you worked harder. You always brought the best casserole to the church function and you didn’t interfere with other people’s business. You perhaps had a handkerchief, but that was just to wipe your nose, not to show any public emotion other than happiness and lemon bars.

And then there was me.  I was born with all the feelings all the time. Teachers in my younger years said I was “a lot to handle”. But then life happened and me being a lot to handle turned into too much. And somewhere along the way the girl that felt too much started to believe that she wasn’t enough. She needed to stop feeling.

So I did. If it was bad for you I used it. If it was good for you I used it more. Anything and anyone to make these feelings I didn’t know how to feel go away.

That is what we do when we are scared. We numb.

I made a very conscious decision for my family this summer. We were going to heal. And to heal, you need to feel.

We decided that in order to heal we made the painful decision to bring all the kids home from school. All of them.

Early on, someone asked me what I was going to teach them this year.

Healing. I am going to teach them to heal.

When trauma happens our natural instinct is fight or flight. As an addict I am usually in flight mode. But this time. This time in our lives we are choosing to stay.

To choose healing.

And healing looks different than school.

This does not mean that we are not doing anything but art, therapy, yoga and oils, but that is a huge part of it.
I need to walk beside them as they learn who they are and how all of this brokenness fits into their world. I want to teach the that their is no freedom in basement suffering. I need to breathe life and words of love into them as much as I can.

I need to stay until it doesn’t hurt anymore.

A WARRIOR will rise….

When I was younger, my cousins and I all got under-roos for Christmas one year. It was either that or at one of our joint birthday parties. Because when you have 18 cousins, you have one party a year not 18 million. Because really, who has that kind of time or strength for that much piñata hitting?

My mom still has a picture of me with my siblings in the fantastic underwear that somehow transformed us into superheroes. Because nothing quite says “save the day” like red and gold undergarments.

I look at that picture now though and realize that little girl had no idea of how strong she really was.

Last week I had someone ask me when I started to believe that I  really was strong. I wish I could have said about the same time that the infamous under-roos picture was taken. That then, is when I believed that who I was included the word strong. But if I am honest, it wasn’t until my late 30’s. It wasn’t until then, that I started to understand what strong was.

I had returned from my third trip to Africa years ago more broken than I had ever been. My mind had shifted and it was in fight or flight mode. I really did not know how to function. I thought it was the hardest battle I would ever have to face.

I think the first time that I believed I was strong, was actually walking into that emergency room and asking for help. Splayed out with nothing between my dignity and a paper gown I had to start believing then that I was something else. That I was a warrior.

They say that you become who you surround yourself with. So if you want to be a strong person you need to find strong people. If you want to be brave, find the broken.

I found the people that I wanted to be more like and spent time with them. I signed up for a personal trainer and realized that my body was stronger than I ever thought it could be. I also marched my ass back into therapy. Well, one because I couldn’t make sense of what was going on and two because I am a feeler. I feel everything all the time. I am basically a walking kitten, well maybe a tiger. A walking tiger who likes ice cream.

Knowing I was strong did not come overnight. I did not wake up one morning and ka-boom I was a warrior.

I was warrior all along. I just didn’t know I was.

We all are. We are all warriors. We have all  had battles that have left us tasting dirt. And we have had battles that have left scars that tell more stories than we had wanted. We have run through battles unscathed and some have taken parts of us with them. We have fought armies of those in front of us and some of us it is the battles of our past that keep us chained. Some of our battles are on the public front and everyone’s cousin knows our business, while other battles, sometimes the hardest battles, are those we can barely whisper about. Some of us battle alone because we fear that others will view us as weak.

Whatever the battle we face, we become a WARRIOR when we realize we were never meant to go to war alone.

The battles that have left us bloody and raw have only made us stronger because of those around us who carried us to healing.

It is then that we are strong.

 

I realized that I do not want my daughters to know that they are strong, that they are brave, that they are warriors when they are thirty seven.

I need to them to begin to hear it now.

As I hug my middle one before she goes to bed, I have started to whisper into her ear

 You are brave. You are strong. You are a WARRIOR. And I adore you.

It is a small thing.  A simple thing. One thing I know I can do. I can tell her who she forgot she was. Who I never knew I was.

And yet who we were born to be.

I have to hope that they will start to believe it before they are my age.

It is time. It is time to start believing that you are a warrior. And reminding the women around us who they are. Who they were born to be.

A warrior asks for help. She takes her medicine. She takes that class she was afraid of. She forgives. She encourages. She delights in others accomplishments. She makes room at the table. She feeds herself well. She tells the truth. She walks towards healing. She doesn’t create drama. She is a listener. She lifts other up without looking for any credit. She lets others go. She is loyal. She is strong. She takes care of herself. She is a servant. She comes closer to the pain. She speaks life into others. She takes responsibility. She sits with the sorrow. She grieves for as long as it takes. She feels all the feels. She celebrates the movement of her body. She delights in the sunshine on her face. She welcomes the quiet. She waits for God to whisper. She follows what sets her heart on fire. She lets others love her.

And most importantly…..she WILL RISE.

A warrior will rise.

I remember one morning, months after I had been home from Africa. I was doing all of the right things. I was taking my medication. I was going to therapy. I was eating only whole foods. I had given up the nectar of the gods, caffeine and I was exercising my butt off. But I still could barely move from the couch some days. I felt like life was happening around me and I would never participate fully again.

Until I did.

Until I let my body heal. Until I let my mind heal. Until I let those around me carry me out of the battle.

And then I would rise.

So sweet one, today if it feels like the weight of fear has you breathless. If the battle you face is too painful to utter off your lips. If your scars have been reopened for the world to see. Remember this…

You are. You always have been, a warrior.

And a warrior WILL rise.

Palms Up- The Mudroom

I tell my kids all the time, they will become who they spend their time with. If you want to be a video gamer then spend your time with games and people that are not real. If you want to be mean, spend your time with the mean girls. If you want to be shallow spend time with those that care only of themselves and things.

But, if you want to be brave, find the broken.

If you want to be courageous, find the ones who believe that one day they will rise again.

 

You will find the rest of this post over at The Mudroom…..

Patches of Joy and Stretches of Sorrow

 

A few weeks ago I bought a new couch.

We had been needing another place to sit in our living room as it became apparent that asking your guests to sit on the floor was no longer cool when you are in your forties or not living in a yoga studio.

I had texted my husband and asked if he could find a truck to borrow because I had found the perfect one.

I had been looking for weeks. And then that Monday morning it was as if the thrift store gods were smiling upon me and the heavens opened up.

There she was. All seventy five dollars of her. Just sitting there waiting for someone to get butterflies in their stomach when they saw her.

When my husband and his friend went to pick up the couch they perhaps were not as excited about it as I was. They asked if I had seriously chosen this one, did I understand what color the couch was and asked what in the world was this going to match.

Nothing. It matches nothing. But it makes me smile. It bring me joy.

couch

I believe that God gives us glimpses of joy everyday if we are quiet enough to see them.

But I also believe that sometimes you need to actively bring joy into your life.

As soon as the couch was in the living room I texted my girlfriends and told them it was supposed to rain every day the following week so we needed to have an emergency coffee date on my new yellow couch to bring sunshine to our lives.

We needed a patch of joy.

What we didn’t plan for was what would happen between those days.

That Monday morning our world was pulled out from under us. Someone we love was in crisis and suddenly nothing was the same.

It was as if someone knocked the air out of my lungs. Out of all of our lungs.

A therapist not too long ago told me that when you are in crisis you need to imagine that you are in a figurative ICU. You are being isolated and all the rules have changed.

So what can you do for another or for yourself if you are in crisis or a figurative ICU?

-Quiet your world. Unplug and connect to only life giving music or words. House of Cards is not healing. Worship music is.

-Make your circle very small. You need to make a decision who you are going to trust with your tender heart. You may have a lot of “friends” on social media. That does not mean that they need to know that you are in ICU or why you are in it. Creating boundaries is one of the safest and most healing things you can do for yourself and those you are protecting.

-You can take people off the visiting list. This was one of the most freeing lessons I have learned lately. You can change your mind and decide that unless those around you are only listening, being present and offering healing words, they do not get your energy. Your time needs to be spent being affirmed and supported. You have no room in your heart to carry another person’s story or advice. While this may seem harsh you would never walk into a hospital room and ask the patient to also take the wound or disease you had as well.

-Say no. I have been saying this a lot. Even to really good things. Yes, I want to read to my son’s class every week. But right now I can barely muster going to the grocery store. Your new normal is enough and no one needs to understand why, except that unless they want to see you have a complete meltdown in the middle of story time, no is a complete sentence.

-You need a break. Yesterday I sat in my therapist’s office as he told my husband and I that the most healing thing we could do for our family was to go to a hockey game. Now maybe you are not a Midwestern girl with a huge crush on the hockey players. But whatever you need to do to take care of your marriage and yourself do it. As hard as it is to walk out of the ICU it cannot consume you. ( I am still working on that)

-Accept help. I know this seems to go against everything I just said about boundaries. But there is boundaries and there is chicken noodle soup. Some moments you are going to feel like you have it all together and you can make a freaking meal. And then the next moment you can barely breathe because fear has paralyzed you in the middle of Trader Joes. So when your precious friend walks in the door quietly and sets down a tray of homemade bread, chicken noodle soup and granola for the morning, you hug her tightly and tell her she is healing a part of you.

-Pray. I know. You don’t know what to say. It’s ok. You don’t have to say anything. Ask those you trust to pray for you. I called on my tribe to utter the prayers I didn’t know how to pray. Every day I get a message or a card in the mail reminding me that we take care of each other. There will be a time soon when someone else will need you. But right now. You need your people. You need prayer warriors storming the gates. You need those you trust to hold up your arms again.

-Grace. People are going to mess up. You will too. I mess it up every day. I say the wrong thing. I don’t say anything at all. I forget to say thank you. I say thank you for the wrong thing. I am learning to see every person and every situation as this. We are all doing the best we can in this moment. We are all stumbling through this with grief on our backs and we will fall. It is mercy that meets us and grace that brings us to our feet again.

-Find the patch of joy. When we are suffocated with pain and grief we have a hard time seeing anything much less joy. Sometimes we bring it to others and sometimes we have to create it. This afternoon I went to the grocery store to get fruit. I came home with flowers and jelly beans. They made me smile. When you have been in the ICU for an extended period of time or realize that you don’t know when you will be out you,  you need to pull joy in.

Sometimes joy will come in prayer.

Sometimes joy will come in homemade soup.

Sometimes joy will come in a nap.

Sometimes joy will come in prozac.

Sometimes joy will come in a long walk.

Sometimes joy will come in letting other in.

Sometimes joy will come in flowers.

And sometimes  joy comes in a yellow couch.

 

 

This song has been on repeat in my car I thought you might need it too.

Enough by Sara Groves.

In these patches of joy

In these stretches of sorrow

There’s enough for today

There will be enough for tomorrow

Upstairs a child is sleeping

What a light in our strain and stress

We pray without speaking

Lord help us wait in kindness

Fridays are for Grace.

I live my life unlocked. At least I try to. When we were first married my husband and I took a trip to San Francisco and did all of the touristy things. Except for the prison. I just couldn’t get on a ferry and end up in prison. But we did the chocolate and the pier and the trolleys and the bridge and all of the not going to prison things. One of the days after waiting in line for a bazillion hours for the trolley to come, I started to pass out popcorn to people.Random people. Every people. I had a large bag of popcorn and figured if my stomach was growling than theirs was too. This was the first glimpse that my husband had at my “there is no stranger in this world” policy. He stood back and watched me walk around and just offer to feed people. No strings attached, just buttery caramel hands and hungry bellies.

When we moved into our 100+ year old house ten years ago the first thing that I pointed out to him was how old the doors were. They were the original large plated glass doors with the original, maybe Abraham Lincoln touched them, door handles. Don’t judge, I am not good with history or numbers, I am just guessing.

Anyways, I made it very clear that we could not lock our doors. I didn’t want anyone breaking in and smashing the windows. So in my mind it was better to always leave our doors unlocked. My mother thinks I am crazy but I think it just is how I live. How I want to live. And how I want to teach my kids to live.

That our doors are always open. We live our lives unlocked.

As someone who had to wear her friends mothers clothing for an eighth grade dance ( yes you read that correctly) I know what it is like to not quite fit in. To stand on the outside looking in.

So I always wanted to make sure that my home was always too small to fit all the people I love.

And then this summer happened.

I felt like someone punched me in the stomach and then held my head underwater.

Parenting became the hardest it has ever been. The ugliness that Satan wanted to kill and destroy everything in my marriage and family came boiling up to the surface. We felt like everything we had ever read in stupid parenting books never had a chapter on what we were facing. ( I also think that if you have not lived through teenagers you should not be writing parenting books. Ok. Now I will step off my soapbox).

Oh right, and then we left our church of twelve years.

Maybe not the perfect time to make that choice but it is where God was pushing us and everything in me wanted to pull back.

For the first time in my life I wanted safe. I wanted to lock my doors and stop sharing popcorn. I wanted to hide under my covers and binge watch every episode of anything on Netflix just to disconnect.

When my soul was aching to connect.

I was feeling all of the feelings. I had just started reading “Searching for Sunday” by Rachel Held Evans and was screaming from the underneath the covers and locked doors “AMEN”!

I wanted someone to talk to and understand all of the feelings that felt to shameful to say.

When the kids went back to school and I was left by myself for the first time in eighteen years I realized that the pity party I was throwing for myself was getting lonelier and lonelier.

During all of my un-showered partying time I read over the years of therapy notes that I had written, hoping that something I had heard would make me want to get out of bed.

And then I read this….. “ Create what you need…….do not wait for others to give you what you expect…..create it”

It was also during this time that everyone had started arguing about whether we should allow refugees into our country. I may or may not have lost friends online and had family members block me. They had forgotten where I lived. That our block is filled with refugee families and some of our dearest friends are from other countries with stories that they could never fathom.

So it made me feel even more feelings. And a lot of them were anger.

And then one day I showered. And I got out of bed. Well I got out of bed first.

And I created what I needed.

I needed community.

I needed a safe community.

I needed grace.

I needed people who owned their brokenned.

I needed a space to be heard.

So I unlocked the doors and I started making popcorn.

Well, I made coffee. But you get it.

I made coffee and tea and bought pastries from a local bakery and I prayed over my table that people would come.

The first week eight people came.

And since then every week there have been more people.

More people and different people.

It is one of the most sacred times of my life. Opening up my home and gathering others around the table.

No expectations. No agenda. No judgement.

Just grace and caffeine.

Since I started this I have gotten so much feedback. Friends from around the country wishing they lived closer. People loving the idea wishing they could come. Wishing they could do the same.

You can.

We all can. We can find one morning a week to open our homes. To not worry about the crayon on the walls or the dust on the lamp that has been there since the first Bush was president. It doesn’t matter.

People want to feel welcome and welcome doesn’t mean clean.

In fact when people’s houses are perfect and clean I feel really uncomfortable. Maybe that is just the type B in me but for the love throw some cheerios on the floor!

One of the greatest gifts we can give people is hospitality. Jesus met the people he loved at the table. Not a perfectly set dining set. He met them in their brokenness. He met the outcasts and the prostitutes. He met the confused and frustrated. He met the questioning and the seeking. He met them all.

I want to be a home that mercy draws you in and grace finds you a seat at the table.

Will you join me? Will you be brave and unlock your doors?

Do you create what you need?

Last night was New Year ‘s Eve and I was alone. Not usually a big deal.Me being alone. I actually like to be by myself. It reenergizes me. But for some reason last night really bothered me. My husband had been gone for a few days with the littles and the older two were gone working. So being alone wasn’t the issue. It was for how long I had been alone. When he is home, I am home. For some reason it triggered a fear in me. I woke up feeling frustrated and sad.

It is safe to say that they way that I love people I need them to love me the same.

It was earlier in the year that I had the realization that I needed to realize how much I carried the disappointment card around. How many times I was hurt or frustrated that things did not turn out like I expected them to. I would find myself being a part of events or functions and left feeling drained and not filled up. Or I wasn’t invited to a party or event that I was sure everyone else was at and my feelings were hurt. It brought me right back to eighth grade and never being good enough or popular enough or skinny enough. Nothing like a little middle school drama trauma to be triggered. Next thing you know I will be back in braces with a plaid skirt and knee highs and taller than some of the teachers.

When my youngest started kindergarten this year it was a grieving process. For the first time in eighteen years I was home alone. I had no one to have lunch with. No one to take to playdates. No one to tuck in for a nap. I soon discovered that I had forgotten who I was without kids. Since I was a junior in college I have had a child. And here I was forty years old with no one to take care of. ( I know a lot of therapy sessions here)

The first month I filled my days with everything and anything. I threw myself into my work and soon found how much I loved working for a fair trade company. I also was pitching articles to places I had only dreamed about. While these are both good and healthy outlets I still felt unfulfilled.

I thought then that it was up to me to create what I needed. It was time to orchestrate what filled me as a person.

Being an extroverted introvert it was a very obvious thing I was missing. I was missing quiet conversations around my table. I was missing adult conversations that were real and hard. So I started opening my doors on Friday mornings to anyone and everyone who needed a place to be heard. A place to enjoy a cup of coffee, a local pastry and real conversation. A sacred space of truth.

It is not glamourous or fancy. I cannot even guarantee that the floors are not sticky or there is toilet paper in the bathroom. But it is real. And it is what I need.

I discovered quickly I was not the only one craving a place to exhale a place to be loved.

This past year has been a year of truths that are hard to write about much less talk about. We left our church of twelve years and it has been hard. Grieving and questions. Wrestling and crying. Loneliness and frustrations. I felt it all. It has been a year of parenting that I would wish on no one. Decisions and truths that we had to crawl our way through. There were days when I begged Jesus to show me how to even take the next step.

In all honesty there were days when I questioned if any decision we made had been the right one.

I expected things to be like what I thought I needed.

Yet I soon realized that I needed to push into what he had put before me. He brought us to the sweetest village of believers. A community that is passionate about the city we live in and not afraid to stumble through the mess of loving broken pieces. They are a community of healing and the arts. Two of my favorite things. Jesus brought us from a church that we had grown in, been broken in, raised children in, cried in, laughed in, found our people in and told us to go. He told us to move.

I thought when someone told you to obey that you would then be in the land of honey and unicorns or something biblical like that.

Instead we found ourselves in a place where the stability we once knew was gone and every fear was once again brought to the surface.  A place of healing.

New challenges had resurfaced in our personal lives and all of a sudden we had a choice to make. Do we run back to what we know? What we have always known. Or do we trust that where we are at is where he needs us to be.

We pushed in. We fell flat on our faces before our new community and begged for God’s mercy over us.

There is nothing more humbling then to be surrounded by an entirely new tribe of people and admit just how broken you are.

Jesus was showing me. Showing us. We needed to create what we needed. He was creating what we never knew we would need. We needed to stop grieving what we had left behind and realize what we needed was quietly gathering a place around us. They were pulling a chair up to the table and saying you are not alone.

So this morning when I was frustrated that I was l all by my lonesome self it was again an opportunity to realize that I had not created what I needed and expected others to do it for me.

As we start 2016 will we be brave enough to tell the truth? The truth about what we need? Will we be aware enough of those around us to see that they are creating what they need? Can we push into those feelings of discomfort enough to discover that this is just what he wanted for us?

Be brave in 2016. Gather people around your table and hear what heals them.

Why you need to send out fat Christmas cards.

I love getting Christmas cards in the mail.

All the time I wish that for the month of December the mailman would only deliver packages and Christmas cards. He could hold onto all of the bills until February, because if I am honest that is when I will pay them anyways.

I string the cards up across the walkways of our living room with clothespins and twine. I like to think of it as a display of those from near and far that have carried us as a family. And that we vow to carry too. A tangible glittery display of our village.

One thing that that bothers me or just stirs my heart when I get cards though is when the whole family is not in them.  It is just a picture of a perfectly behaved GAP dressed child/children.

I used to do this. I would send out a picture of my angelic, straight “A”, prodigy children to all of my family and friends. After skimming through dozens of photos where the kids would look their best and no one was picking their nose I would put a stamp on it send it out. I purposely did not include a picture of my husband and I. Telling myself year after year that when I lost weight or had my hair a better color, then I would consider putting myself in the Christmas card. When in reality the reason we were not in the card is because we were sending a picture out of what our family really was. It was our kids.  Our children were holding our family together. Our children were the center of our world. And if we were honest if it wasn’t for our kids we would not be together.

And I thought no one wanted to get that Christmas card.

No one wants to know that you can’t stand the site of yourself and you are embarrassed to show the world. No one wants to know that you’ve put on thirty pounds and you’ve never felt so empty.

But the thing I am understanding. They already know. If you have a village of people around, a healthy village, they want your picture. They want to see your people and YOU. Your village does not care what the scale says. They do not even care what your therapist says. They want to see you. They want to cover their walls and their doorways with you. They want to pray for you. The not happy with yourself you. The your marriage is falling apart you. The you are in so much debt you can’t afford Christmas you. The your spouse is struggling to get out of bed you. The your child has been in and out of rehab you. The you are not sure you even believe in the church you.

I think that if your village only wants to see your kids and your perfect marriage then you need a new village. It took me years to find my village. It has wavered very little in the last eight years though. When we were first married I had no idea we needed people. No idea we needed a village. I just looked in from the outside at the Christmas cards people were presenting to the world and I thought that we must be the only ones who wanted to tear each other apart. We must have been the only ones who looked up the cost of divorce lawyers and cried themselves to sleep.

We were not alone and neither are you.

Your village wants the truth. They want to know that they are not alone and want to help carry you.

It wasn’t until later that I realized that our village is what heals us or destroys us.

Be a village of truth and healing.

So when I open the cards and see that only the kids are on them I think….sweet one, they are not your world. Your world needs to be bigger than what you brought into it. I learned this the hard way and many therapists later. I learned that I my schedule and my days revolved around my kids. I learned that I forgot who I walked down the aisle to. I learned that my marriage was and is hard and is a daily decision to choose my spouse OVER my kids. I learned that the truth I present to the world is the same truth I am presenting to my kids. If I show the world that my world is my kids I am showing my kids that they are the world.

I don’t want that for my kids. I want more. I want to show them that their dad is what matters. That our marriage is the most important thing under our roof. I want them to know that their dad comes before them in every moment. To show them that our family means all seven of us. I mess this up all the time. I get wrapped up in five kids with five different schedules and then wonder why my marriage is struggling. I spend money on their activities and making sure they have everything they need rather than saving it so the husband and I could go on vacation together. I make these mistakes all the time. I still do. But I want to do better. I need to do better.

I want to hang truth over my doorway this year. In turn I want to send truth out to the world. Even if my truth is messy and a little pudgy this year

 

Christmas did not come on a stage.

I remember that Christmas like it was yesterday. Tragedy is like that, it weaves itself around you like a tangled mess of fear. Body covered with a paper gown that could hide nothing but the clean underwear my mother always told me to wear. I wasn’t in an accident. My mind was leaving me. I was becoming who I feared I always would be. The girl who walked towards the darkness. One exhausted from running anymore so she let it swallow her. Here I was naked in powder blue room with my dignity being written down on the clipboard the nurse held.

That Christmas we had Doritos on the table for dinner. It explained where we were. Where life held us.

When sadness comes and presses down its weighted blanket over you, Christmas expectations leave you paralyzed.

Yet when we realize that we are expectant of misconstrued things,

we realize our souls ache for the stable and not the stage,

it is there we hear the babies cry.

On days like today.

Weeks like we’ve had.

We pray to feel the straw on our knees. To be waiting for the King to arrive.

On nights where the pillow holds our prayers from the wrestling of his sovereignty all we can do is

wake and whisper honest truths to the one whose breath we breathe.

That Christmas from years ago still haunts me and draws me closer.

Closer to the stable. Closer to the cry in the night. Closer to the waiting. Closer to the peace that came. Closer to the pain that needed to come first.

Dear one, if you are in the pain. If you are crawling with the agony that pushes you forward and pulls you back in. If you feel like you are the only one looking for a place to rest. If you can’t catch your footing on the cobbled road.

Walk forward. Keep expecting the inn.

The stable is there.

Look around dear one.  You are not alone. The others are waiting there quietly crying with you. Bended. With knees bloodied from the pain that brought them there. Pushing through the straw to see that Peace has come.

Hold yourself there.

Quiet your mind and hear the voice this year you’ve been aching to hear.

Your KING has come dear one. He has come.

Draw closer to the stable not to the stage.

With stages all around us. The productions. The crowds. The money. The more. He is not there.

 

Christmas came through the pain and suffering of a mother.

With miles traveled in fear.

Christmas came through a doubtful father.

Dirt on their faces.

Christmas came with doors closed and strangers gathered closer.

Christmas came seeking a foreign place of safety when the world was sleeping.

 

Christmas came in the anguished screams on a silent night.

 

So sweet one. If you find yourself searching and alone. If you find yourself with doors closed and being turned away. If you find yourself foreign in a land that does not welcome you in. If you find yourself traveling thinking this is your forever. If you find yourself crying in anguish or doubtful that things will never change.

You have found Christmas.

Hold close. The angels will be singing soon.

RAW- guest post by Elisabeth Klein

 


excerpt from Elisabeth Klein’s Holidays for the Hurting: 25 Devotionals to Help You Heal

 

I know of a woman whose beloved dog died the day after her wedding. Life is funny like that. Every day, we gratefully hold in one hand joys and blessings that are immeasurable, and in the other hand, we begrudgingly hold life’s deep hurts and blinding disappointments.

 

Life does not wait for good timing to bring something our way.

 

And Christmas is no exception.  You may have just entered into a season of pain as the holidays started up. And the newness of the situation has left you not just unsettled and unmoored but raw.

 

You are raw in that you do not know how to process what has swept into your life.  Or you might be raw in that this thing – whatever your thing is – has rubbed you down to your core. It’s like wearing new shoes for a long day of walking and you can feel with every step that skin is being removed.

 

Or, like me, you find yourself raw because an old issue that you thought was either worked through or healed or at the very least buried down deep enough to be a non-issue has resurfaced, and it hurts, and it’s uncomfortable and you do not know what to do with it.

 

We cannot fix ourselves. We cannot heal ourselves.  We want to, because we don’t like to feel unpleasant things, and because we like to think we’re in control.  But we cannot.

 

I think of Mary in those very first moments after the angel left her, before she told anyone of the news of her pregnancy.  She must have felt stripped bare.  She must have been beyond confused. She must have been in awe.  She must have been raw.

 

And yet, bless her heart, her kneejerk reaction was to submit in obedience.

 

Let it be to me according to your word, she said.

 

In her rawness, she obeyed. In her rawness, she laid down her dreams for her life.  In her rawness, she turned her heart to God.

 

…Let the bones you have crushed rejoice. –Psalm 51:8

 

God, I am without a way to heal myself today. I cannot take away my own pain. I am bare before you, I am weak, I am raw. I need you. Please cover me and heal me.  Amen.

beth

 

Elisabeth Klein is grateful new wife to Richard, and mom and now stepmom to five. She writes regularly at www.elisabethklein.com/blog and desires to help hurting women by bringing them hope. You may order your copy of Holidays for the Hurting: 25 Devotions to Help You Heal here.

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Heart Matters- Guest post by Sarah Wilson

I decided to write this book, not because motherhood has been a breeze for me, but because it hasn’t been. In fact, this book has been borne out of my struggles, rather than my successes. These struggles are common to most mothers, yet they remain unarticulated. A conspiracy of silence seems to exist around motherhood, yet the well-being of mothers is worth talking about. If we were to believe what we see on television or social media, we might be forgiven for thinking that motherhood is all about apple pie, roses, and rainbows. We are probably all familiar with photos of a smiling family dressed in white on a white couch in an immaculate living room. I don’t know about you, but my family doesn’t look like this! And no one I know with children has a white couch!’

 

Many who have experienced early motherhood might agree that it is a life-changing rollercoaster journey full of highs and lows. Hang on tight and enjoy the ride! It can be enjoyable, exhilarating, exhausting and terrifying. Early motherhood can be a deeply fulfilling experience, yet it can also be a testing time for many women. Motherhood is achingly beautiful, yet it can also bring pain and heartache. Matters of the Heart in Early Motherhood is an honest look at the joys and challenges of early motherhood from a Christian perspective. It’s a motherhood myth-buster, melding psychological research with spiritual nourishment. This book is about getting to the heart issues of motherhood. The heart is the seat of who we are. Yet many heart issues can arise when we become mothers. ‘Heart Matters in Early Motherhood’ discusses how we can recognise and process the emotions that surface, and how we can be encouraged that we are not alone in this season of life. In this book I also offer clear-eyed elements of my story and the stories of other mothers, including the scrapes and bruises we have acquired on our journey through early motherhood.

 

Why another book on motherhood? Well there seem to be many pressures on families today. New mothers have to navigate a minefield of conflicting advice and often parent without close support networks around. Consequently, many mothers of young children sometimes feel unable to trust their instincts.   This book offers hope and healing to mothers of young children who have overwhelmed hearts – those, like me, who have sometimes felt alone, fearful,  discouraged, or just plain weary in their journey through early motherhood. This book discusses what it is like to be a mother of young children today, and encourages mothers to trust in God’s abundant grace, developing confidence as they parent their little ones. Each chapter invites the reader into important discussions, from the pressures and expectations that mothers grapple with, to mess, miscarriage, marriage, and postnatal depression. This book aims to minister to the hearts of all mothers, whether they are married or parenting alone, staying at home or going out to work. A must-read for any mother immersed in the terrific yet testing time of raising little ones, and for anyone who wishes to thrive rather than just survive in the trenches.

 

What others are saying about ‘Heart Matters in Early Motherhood’

‘Each chapter is a breath of fresh air.’

Trina Pockett, Author of Unexpected: Grit, Grace and Life “In Between.’

 

‘Sarah presents an encouraging, balanced study on what it means to be a mother today, and it is an excellent companion in the challenging years that accompany mothers of young children.’ Mary Crosson, Children’s Author, Midwife, Pastor’s Wife and Mother of three.

 

‘Sarah writes with transparency, insight and encouragement of her early parenting experiences. She offers a frank and supportive message to parents and a word to the Church about it’s role in caring for today’s family’.

Robyn Appleton, Children’s Pastor, Nurse and Mother of three and Grandmother of three.

 

Questions & Answers:

Q: Why did I write the book?

A: When I had my first child 8 and a half years ago, I longed for a book that put into words what I was feeling and experiencing. Of course I loved motherhood, and it was amazing, but it was also much harder than I ever imagined it would be. It was a steep learning curve! I decided to write the book that I needed to read in my early years of motherhood.

Q: Who is the book for?

A: Anyone in the trenches of early motherhood. If you are a Mum that has it all together, then you don’t need to read this book. But if you have ever felt weary, struggling, or in need of encouragement (isn’t that most of us?) then it is my hope that this book would be a balm for your soul.

Q: How would you sum up this book in one sentence?

A: This book aims to encourage the heart of mothers in the early years.

Q: What was the hardest part to write?

A: Being vulnerable hasn’t come easily to this private person. Sharing my heart in the pages of this book has been a brave step for me.

Q: How do you find time to write a book when you are a mother?

A: I’ve squeezed in writing in the small pockets of time that I have available – when the children are at school & kindergarten, and late into the night.

What is your next book going to be?

My next book is going to be about ‘Restoring Hope in Depression’.

‘Heart Matters in Early Motherhood’ will be available in paperback and ebook through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and ‘The Book Depository.

By purchasing a copy of my book you will help free people from slavery. All royalties will be donated to A21 campaign – a campaign to abolish modern day slavery. See www.A21.com

 

sarahwilson

Sarah Wilson is a wife and mother to three little lovelies, a ‘Director of Domestic Affairs’, currently living in Dunedin, New Zealand, but about to move with her family to England! A psychologist by training, she practised in special education before her children were born. Since her children arrived on the scene she has taught a little at the local university. She has also completed Christian counselling and prayer ministry training, and has led the prayer ministry at her church. Sarah is a keen blogger and a member of the Redbud Writer’s Guild. Other interests include playing music, and having fun with graphic design, photography and all things creative.

Social media links:
Blog: www.latteslacedwithgrace.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/lattegracelaced

Facebook: www.facebook.com/latteslacedwithgrace

Instagram: https://instagram.com/lattegracelaced/