To the weary mother in the waiting room,

 

I see you.

Staring at the wall.

Aching for the other moms across the room to make eye contact. Yet afraid of being noticed. Or drawing any attention to yourself.

Holding in each breath, waiting for someone to whisper,

 you are not alone.

I see you struggling to keep fear inside as it wears itself as anger across your face.

Sweet one, we both know why we are here.

I know that what brought you into this room is hard. It is not a quick twenty minute visit. It is not a prescription that needs to be refilled once.  This is something that a Band-Aid cannot fix.

I know the reasons you are here, and you cannot utter them out loud. No one is making a t-shirt or tying a ribbon for what you are living with. You wish you could speak of why you are here. You wish that you could tell those in your life the truth of what is going on behind closes doors.

But the thing is.

You can’t.

This truth is too much.

You can’t talk about why you are here. Or who is here. It is not your story to tell. It is just your story to carry on our shoulders every moment of the day.

I know you are exhausted.

I know you just want this to be over and it crushes your spirit that it is only beginning.

This is what grief does. It tires your bones. It wraps itself around you and pushes hope away.

I see you sitting there and for a moment when you are finally alone,

you close your eyes.

You need these moments to just be.

To not be in charge. To not make decisions.

You need this moment to search for a place of rest. To make sense of all of these thoughts and fears taking control of your mind.

To search for the lost part of your soul. The part where you knew what to do. You knew what answers to give.

I see you with papers laid before you.

Saying yes to questions you never thought you’d have to answer.

Filling in lines of history that shame tells you, you carried here.

Sweet one. I see you.

I see how tired and worn you are.

You long for just one night of peaceful sleep.

You ache for just one hour to feel “normal” again.

Breathing in that this is your new normal.

Hold close sweet one,

and exhale mercy painting a picture of grace.

I know today was hard. It was heart wrenching,

even many tomorrows this may not be restored.

But here in this room. In this room filled with magazines of lives we will never have, this is a safe place.

It is a silent space, where your pain is heard.

It is a place where no advice is given. No looks of pity or judgement.

We will not tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.

We will not lay shame on your shoulders only grace.

We have all carried in years of pain and we are laying it here.

We are leaving it all here.

We are laying all late nights

All the answers that we have and those we are afraid to hear.

You are not the only one sweet one. I know you feel like you are.

I know you feel like this is the loneliest room you will ever be in.

But sweet one look around. You are not alone.

I am you. And you are me.

My Unsexy Missional Life- a reflection and review of Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker

interrupted_banner_728x90
I wish I could say I had something profound to say. Something to say that would make you want to change your life. But today, at this moment, all I want to do is lay flat on my face before Jesus. I want to cling to his feet and beg Him to tell me that none of this is true. That the unthinkable suffering and death that we have seen in these last weeks is not true. I want to scream at God and tell Him to take it all away. To make Himself known on this earth. I want Him to stand before me and tell me that we will wake up from this hellish nightmare that continues to flash before us on every media avenue. I know it sounds arrogant and demanding. But there are some days I just need my Father God to hold me and take all the anxiety away.
But I know He is. He is here. He is in you. He is in me. He is the prayer that we plead. He is in the tears that wet our pillows at night.
I have been feeling helpless. II imagine that I am not alone in this feeling. Helpless in the struggle. I can read. I can watch videos or TV. (I didn’t, I can’t. Call me a coward, but I call it guarding my mind. I don’t need to see Satan to know he exists.)

But what can I do?
But what can we do?
We can do the next right thing. I know it seems obsolete. Like it will make no difference at all. But it does. I am not saying that to change the world, to take away its evil you need to join the Peace Corps or move to Africa ( my hippie self wanted to do both, and I still do) . But in the small and large decisions that we make every day we can be a part of the healing.
This summer I have been privileged enough to be asked to read and review a book that literally wrecked me. I have been ready for a change and especially these past few weeks I have been aching for it.

 

If you are plagued with tension or discontent or a nagging sense that there must be more- that there has to be a faith somewhere that rings true and hopeful and gracious, a faith other that this mean, ugly, partisan, judgmental, self- indulgent version of Christianity, which has to be total bunk-then get down on your knees and thank your lucky stars. God has blessed you with this inner conflict. He isn’t leaving you in complacency and boredom to check boxes and do church. He has enlisted you in the cause of your generation and is calling you forward. You lucky think. You will not be left and lost, wondering what all the fuss is about. Wishing things would never change. – Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted.

 

Jen Hatmaker’s newest book Interrupted, revised & expanded, she suggests that to be the church, a world changer, a mission minded person you just have to do the next right thing. And sometimes the next right thing isn’t what you are thinking it is.
What does it look like?
This is it. We can follow our Jesus to every dark, scary, broken place He just insists on going, determined to heal and restore people, because He is a good Savior and we can trust Him. (Interrupted,xx1)
It doesn’t mean the next right thing that feels good. It doesn’t mean the next right thing that will make you more popular. It doesn’t mean the next right thing that will make those around you pleased.
It means quieting your soul and asking your creator what it is that HE wants you to do in that moment.
For years after I first visited Liberia, Africa with Samaritans Purse I assumed the next right thing to do was to move there. I came home and immediately started pestering praying that my husband would take a job with Samaritans Purse as a teacher. We would move our entire family overseas and I could raise my kids with red dirt on their feet. I knew that God would agree with my plan, He had to, it was His kind of work. But the next right thing, was my right thing. and God was nowhere in my motives, or at least my timing of it all. The next right thing was to wait.
We waited and I ended up traveling back to Africa two more times for two different reasons. Both were amazing trips and I felt like that is where I was supposed to be at that time.

And here we are, years later and a huge shift has occurred in my life and thinking. God has clearly revealed to me that my mission, my next right thing, is the seven people under my roof I claim to love. ( yes, I included myself, because self care is vital to healing).

 

There is no t- shirt for my mission that I have been called to at this time. It’s not sexy to say that I am in the trenches with a sick child we cannot find the diagnosis for, a child who self- harms, and a marriage that needs to be more than two roommates existing. No one is going to organize a fundraiser or create an Etsy page to pay all the medical and therapy bills. There is no “home from the therapists” gathering as we come home. It’s hard. It’s ugly. It’s lonely. And usually that is just my heart.
Me getting on a plane to Africa and serving in a third world country was easy for me. Leaving my family to fly across the world was safe for me at that time. It was safer for me to serve, than it was to face what was about to happen at home.
I needed to really look  and be honest with what was going on around me. To stop working with the big and sexy missions at this point in my life. The missions that get the attention, the blogs, and the t-shirts and start serving the ones under my roof. To pay attention to the disconnect. To acknowledge the silence in between commercials. To admit that I would rather be with my friends than try and connect with my husband.
The moment I realized that I only have two summers with my oldest home and that doesn’t sound like enough ice creams in my heart, I knew that this is where I am called to serve. It isn’t glamorous. It isn’t going to get any media attention. But that is the thing. To be the church. To be the church that is missional and different we need to just do the next right thing. And the next right thing for me is to love the people under my roof well.
What is your next right thing? How can you be a part of a missional church?
I am giving away two copies of this life changing book! In order to be entered into the drawing leave a comment below telling me what your next right thing or tell me that you have shared this post. I am telling you if you read no other book this fall this one has to be it!

 

interrupted_page-130

Buy differently this Christmas.

One of the first times I came back from Africa I stayed out of the stores for as long as I could. I was disgusted by how much we have. We all should be. Our kids do not NEED any more. They don’t. We don’t. Just the thought of going into “our world” made me sick to my stomach. After watching children my own children’s age walk barefoot in the red dirt for water each day. And play with a stick and a bike tire as a toy I wanted to exclude myself from participating in self consumption. It wasn’t long though I needed to buy cereal and milk. Cause that’s what we moms are supposed to do. Feed our kids. Yet so many mothers around the world cannot provide the basic needs for those they adore.

For a while I struggled with how do I live here while part of me is thousands of miles away? I still struggle with this. And how do I justify buying a five dollar coffee ( I still can’t come up with this one) while millions of children don’t have a full belly? Nights I would wrestle with the have and have not’s and I still don’t have answers. But that is why God is God and I am not. It is all for a reason. But I strongly. Strongly believe that those of us that are given much are required to love even more. And if you are reading this. You are given much. You are the elite of this world.

I thought I would share how you can love much this Christmas. By being extremely mindful of the gifts you buy this Christmas you can change the life of a child, a family, a generation. Be that change….

Here are a few of my favorites. What are yours?

Sixty Feet

The Cupcake Kids

Trades of Hope

Samaritans Purse

TOMS

Krochet Kids

Sseko

Noonday

Ten Thousand Villages

Sevenly

Whenever we buy gifts we try and purchase from these companies or at least try and buy local small businesses. Let your Christmas look differently this year….smaller, more meaningful. #lovedoes

an open letter to those thinking about adoption…

If there is one piece of advice I would give to those thinking about adopting it is this.

YOU NEED COMMUNITY.

You need a group, a group, not an individual that will walk with you through this. And not walk away.

You need people in your life that will stand in your kitchen after you have returned home after being gone for three months and say “you’re wondering why you did this, right?”.  And loving you in the answer.

You need people that you can lay on their couch and cry knowing that you don’t need to say a word you need to just be.

You need people that will bring you meals and not try to hold your child or give your child anything. They understand that attachment is holding on by a thread.

You need people who get what the trenches look like. They are an ugly dark place filled with loss and grief.

You need people who give you space to feel what you need to feel.

You need people who will fight for justice for the orphan not their happiness.

You need people who will cover your house with prayer and pray the darkness away from you.

You need people who will stop and actually want to know how things are.

You need people who know what to do with hair, skin, rashes etc.

You need people who are in your corner no matter what.

You need people to shower you with grace when make a decision that you stand alone in.

You need people who understand that the health department and the social worker coming on the same day deserves a good cry and a latte, if not a bottle of wine.

You need people who are not afraid of the truth. You need people who fight for your family.

You need people who know what it’s like to try and collect bodily fluids out of your child is draining every last ounce of sanity you think you have.

You need people who understand that you cannot spank your child when he misbehaves. Knowing and respecting that this just sends them into a tale spin of shame.

You need people who realize that adoption can bring out the ugliest part of you. Parts that even scare you.

You need people who love you through your own tantrums.

You need people who understand that at least the first year you are in your own bubble of adjustment.

You need people who understand not to take things personally when you don’t return phone calls, much less remember your birthday.

You need people who except that your family looks different. You need people who celebrate that.

You need people who continually lead you to the great Healer.

You need people who want nothing but healing for all of you.

This is my prayer for you. That before you decide to bring another child filled with trauma into your home that you would have these honest conversations with yourself and those you love. That you would ask God to begin to heal the hearts and lives of those around you so they can be your people.

In honor of Billy Graham- what is your legacy?

Today is Billy Grahams birthday. He is 95. 95 years of life on this earth. 95 years to leave his mark. His legacy. This got me to thinking. What kind of legacy do I want to leave? It also had me thinking that I am so relieved that I did not leave this earth before the age of 25. Lord knows there were many times I should have. Yet only by His grace am I still alive today.

When I was younger I remember my great- grandfathers both held certain men in high esteem. On my sweet Catholic great- grandfathers wall hung a gold plated framed picture of the pope. Next to it was a picture of Jesus. They hung on the right side of his rocker at the same level. I have to imagine that he believed that the pope was Jesus in the flesh and he wanted to always remember him in his prayers. While my Christian Reformed grandfather holds Billy Graham in the same esteem. To this day he will tell me stories of revivals that he has seen or heard and the eternal impact that Billy Graham has had on him and the way he has lived his life.

In 2007 I had an amazing opportunity to serve alongside Samaritans Purse in Liberia. Serving those afflicted with HIV/ AIDS it was my first time falling in love with Africa and realizing the joy we lacked here in the US. Although it is Billy Graham’s son Franklin’s organization I felt like I was getting to experience a part of the Graham legacy that my grandfather had experienced.

So today being the patriarch Billy’s birthday I have to imagine that as he looks over the birthday cake with his family singing him praises that he is filled with gratitude. Knowing that he has left a legacy that has changed the not only their lives but the lives of those all over the world.

So what kind of legacy will you leave?

Will you be more concerned with what grades your child has? With what clubs they are in? How popular they are? Will you look back and say wow I am glad that every weekend was overbooked with activities that I never got to really know my children? Will you look at your bank statement and be pleased that you never gave extravagantly to someone who really needed it? Will you be calm before your maker knowing you believed 10% was not for you? Will you be filled with joy that you spent more hours at the gym than on your knees before the King? Will you be satisfied that you went to brunch with your friends or slept in on Sunday morning instead of worshiping the one who made you? Will you be at peace knowing that you never took the moments to share the love of Jesus with the little ones living under your roof? Will you be rested knowing that you continued to live like you were in a frat house every weekend instead of growing up and being the man of the house? Will you be content knowing that you never knew that your neighbor was in so much pain but your pride to walk across the street kept you inside? Will you be delighted knowing that your kids went to elite colleges but never learned what empathy was?

If I were to have passed before the age of 25 I cannot imagine the legacy I would have left. Be selfish. Drink whenever you want. You don’t have to be married. You can believe whatever you want to believe. You have no one to worry about but yourself. Spend money on things that make you look better than everyone else.

I want to leave a different legacy. I want to do better.

I want my legacy to say mercy. Love big. Love with reckless abandon. Give away. Give away everything. Things mean nothing. Create memories. Slow down. Say no. Serve. All the time serve. Serve someone who can never serve you back. Take pictures. Write stories. Tell your story. You are never too lost. Don’t be afraid. Travel the world. Make sure your feet and heart stay red. Sit at the feet of Jesus and let His love permeate over you. Tell others about redemption. Give grace. Receive grace. Fight for your community. Fight for each other. But don’t fight with each other. Reach out and feel the hand of Jesus. And most of all….know that you matter.

Take a moment and think. What kind of legacy are you leaving?

more elmo less emailing.-things I am learning from just being present.

Last night while riding in the car with my oldest she asked how she could be praying for me. Now before you go all “my kid never asked me that before! I can’t even get a full sentence out of my teenager!” You need to know that the youth pastor just minutes before had given all the kids an assignment that night to ask their parents the same question. And if they were too nervous or weren’t on the same spiritual walk as their parental unit that they could ask God to bless their household.

It wasn’t long after she asked that I knew what had been on my heart for a while now.

“To be present. With you. With all of you.”

I have a close friend who has five little bambinos. She has told me on numerous occasions that she does not volunteer for any projects outside of her home at this time in her life. And without even questioning it I completely agree with her. This sweet one has her hands full and then some. I have never viewed her as selfish or self -centered. She is basically the opposite. She pours her heart and soul into what is before her. That happens to be five precious blessings at her feet. In fact I would never think of asking her to head up a project or expect her to ever be on a team for anything.

A few days ago though the thought came to my head as I was dropping off my fifth child at school for 2.5 hours. I have five kids! No it’s not a surprise to me. I know how many kids I have. And although they are not all little they are still a lot of work. At times I think that having teenagers and toddlers at the same time is the ultimate parental test. Although the needs are different they still need me, the needs just come in hormonal waves. When I had one child I went to play dates, story times, watched Elmo, read book after book after book, and took naps. I did not volunteer to be any more than who I was. Yet now with five I seem to think that I can do all of that and take on any and every project that comes my way. While the projects may be good. I am learning again it is not good for my soul.And its not good for my families soul.

I have come face to face with the reality that I have limitations. I need breathing room. I need quiet time. I need to exercise. I need to lay my face on the floor before my God. I need to talk to my husband. And this is hard to do with the phone ringing, email sending, text answering life I have been trying to keep up with. I do not thrive on this. Others might. I don’t.

I need to do laundry. I need to clean the house. I need to prepare meals. Grocery shop. Make and go to doctor’s appointments. Sporting events. Concerts ( and yes that included the infamous recorder concert, don’t be jealous). Sporting awards. Mowing the lawn. Shoveling the snow. And try to catch the stupid dog that ran away again. Somewhere in there bring all the kids to school and remember to pick them back up again.

I need to be present. I crave it. To be all there. If I am not there and I am everywhere else I start to fall apart. I start to get anxious. I start to catch my breath. I start to get really ugly with myself and with others. I start to lose sleep. I start to forget things. I start to think that these other things are more important that the five little (some not so little) at my feet. So why is it ok for me to give grace to others who have multiple children and forget to look in the mirror and breathe grace in for myself?

It’s not. So I am choosing grace. Just grace.

assessments.

This past week Ephraim’s teacher came for a home visit. The program that he is in for early intervention has it as one of their requirements that they visit the homes of their students. There is a higher risk of child abuse and neglect when the child has special needs or is labeled “at risk”. I was looking forward to her seeing how well he has integrated into the home environment. What I wasn’t looking forward to was the acting out that occurred the entire time she was here. He kept covering my mouth telling me to be quiet. He wanted her all to himself. He asked her to move in. It really was a highlight of my mothering career. My two other children home at the time then proceeded to answer the phone and play the bongo drums at the feet of the teacher. It felt like I was being taped for my own reality TV show on a network that no one would watch.

The report from the visit wasn’t what I was expecting. She mentioned several times how she was concerned how far behind he was. His language fluency as well as his social skills in comparison to his age was not measuring up. At first I was a little disturbed by her assessment of our sweet boy. And I wanted to say yes I know he is not at the correct developmental age. However, he is not even close to where he was a year ago. In this mama’s eyes he has come leaps and bounds from where he started from. And to compare him to a child the same age that was born and raised from birth with two parents in a first world country is just unfair.

Yet, this is how I compare myself. Daily I compare myself.

I love reading blogs. I am a bit of a blogaholic . There are blogs that I run across that I make a note to read later and then there are blogs that my smarty pants friends post and write that I learn so much from. But then there are the blogs that I follow religiously .They make me laugh and contemplate life and faith. For a long time though I only read adoption and mom blogs. I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone in the struggle. But you know what I kept feeling? I am not good enough. I don’t homeschool my kids anymore. I am homeschool dropout. I must not love my kids enough then. I don’t make my own detergent. Therefore I must not care about the environment or the stench of store bought detergent on my children. My children also do not match. Like ever. I shop at thrift stores and clearance racks. That is it. So I must not care if my kids never make the GAP adds. I also am not a size 4. I think I was a size 4 in elementary school for a month or so but I will never be small. So that means I must not care about my health or how attractive I am to my husband anymore. I know this is not true. I do.

But this is what I do, I compare myself to standards that don’t make sense. They are not even in the same ballpark. Making assessments with women I don’t know. Trying to assess where I am today with women that I discovered are at least ten years younger than me. Here I am sitting in my self- examination pity party trying to mirror the lives of people that I have no business holding my worth up against .

I am basically telling God that where I am today is not good enough. That how far He has carried me . Emptied me. Healed me. Transformed me is not enough. And that is just not acceptable. Where I am is not where I’d like to be. But from where I was a year ago is only by His grace. And His grace is enough.

she teaches me grace- Unraveled.

If there is one thing that has brought me to my knees this year it is grace. Grace that has been poured over me. When I have deserved it least, grace has been given freely to me. I have been humbled and convicted by how much grace I have received yet how much I choose to give it to only those I think deserve it. I am embarrassed and ashamed at times how frugal I am with grace. I’ve learned how exhausting it is to live under the law and not under grace. The law is where anxiety, fear, judgment, anger, resentment, jealousy, control and idols live. Grace is where I desire to live. Grace is freedom. Grace is where truth lies.

One of the most grace filled people I know released her newest book today. Elisabeth Klein Corcoran has taught me through the years to give myself grace, speak truth, and love Jesus more than anything. I have been honored to watch her walk through the most difficult time in her life. I have seen her defend her children, her faith, her heart and her honor.

If you are in a difficult marriage or know someone who is I recommend this book. She has written with clarity and truth. In her words you find healing. She is the story of grace. Grace given. Grace received. And by grace saved.

sweet ones.–dreams for my daughters.

Dear sweet ones,

I watch you growing into the girls I always wished I could be and it makes me pause for a moment and think. I wish someone would have told me so many things when I was your age. Although maybe someone did and I was already so far gone that I just closed my ears to what was being laid out before me. So this is my advice to you now. Feel free to Tweet or Instagram it, whatever you need to do to remember it.

– Never color your hair. Seriously don’t start. You have gorgeous hair and once you start you end up spending hundreds of dollars to keep it up. You have your aunt’s gorgeous hair and I am a bit jealous. But if you do color your hair don’t do it yourself. I beg of you it will cost a lot of money to correct. And it hurts and is painful. Make sure you want photos of yourself taken with that color. Don’t try to convince me that purple will still look classy in 15 years.

-Don’t ever date anyone that is not as amazing as your dad. You both adore your dad so much and he feels the same about you. Don’t forget that. When that boy or man child starts paying attention to you talk to your dad about him and listen. If you can’t or if he doesn’t even have the courage to talk face to face with your dad then walk away. Better yet run. Because sweet girls you think your daddy hung the moon and the man you marry needs to hold it in place.

-Don’t go to college. Ok. Hear me out. Don’t go to college if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. Just because you have a college degree does not make you any better than anyone else. Believe me some of the people I love and respect the most are changing the world more by never stepping in a college classroom. You don’t have to spend $30,000 a year to figure that out. And debt sucks. Travel the world. Go on a mission trip go on many! Ask tough questions. Follow your passion not the crowd. And if the crowd is your passion than we have another problem. I want you to see and know other countries and other cultures. I want you touch the oceans with your toes and see the evidence of God in the face of devastation.

– Open your heart to the possibility that God has something more than just high school drama for you He will meet you there.

-Throw away the credit card applications before you even walk in the door. They are liars. They do not want the best for you. They want the best for the world. And you are not of the world.

-Don’t fight with your sister. Love each other well. Learn her love language and speak it to her. Don’t wait until it is too late to make amends. Your siblings are your blood and they deserve all of you. I messed up in this area and I don’t want you to have the same hole in your heart like I do.

-Say no. Say no before you say yes. I want you to know how to balance your life. And just because it is good does not mean that it is always a yes. Good things deserve a no too.

-Know God. Explore Him. Claim Him as your own. Read His word. Soak in His Presence. Sit silently and hear His voice. Know that He is pursuing you so stop running and let Him catch you, hold you , and love you.

-Learn to change a tire. Grocery shop. Know how to cook all of your favorite meals and your siblings meals too. Give money away to complete strangers. Write thank you notes. Always have stamps on you. Know your family’s history. Ask questions. Tell your story. You never know how your story will heal another’s.

-Come home. You will leave at some point and I will sob. It will probably be an ugly cry and very embarrassing. But after you leave and start your own life. Come home. Visit. Call. Write letters. Skype. Facetime. Whatever you need to do to stay connected. If you need gas money I will send it. I will eat cereal all week if it means that I get to see your sweet face. Home is where we are. Home is where you began and the two should always matter to you. And if you don’t call. Don’t worry I will.

I love you to the moon and back,

mom.

When you check every box

Massie Family-Massie Family-0018

This morning we had our first OT ( Occupational Therapy) appointment for our youngest daughter. Of course with a first appointment comes with it a file of papers to complete. Asking questions such as what her birthdate and insurance coverage was. It then turned to more pressing questions such as what was my diet like while I was pregnant. Did she lift her head at the appropriate developmental stage? What prenatal testing did I go through? What was her weight, her Apgar score and other things this mommy brain could hardly remember? By the fourth child I am lucky I remember her name much less to actually keep track of anything in a baby book.

Towards the end of the questions they asked if there was any additional information about “the mother” that they needed to know. I sat staring at the question. Wrestling with my thoughts whether the truth at this moment was something I could look over. Whether or not I could suggest something but not quite say it. After what seemed endless I wrote these words- “ After Emerson was born I suffered from postpartum depression and did not attach to her for quite a long time” I wanted to add…”I’m sorry, I blame myself for all of this”. Instead I signed at the bottom and left it at that.

This morning at the office I was handed more questionnaires, specifically about where she is right now. Asking questions about her social skills, her auditory and sensory processing and other issues that interfere with her learning and being six. As I read and began to answer the questions I realized how many boxes I had checked “frequently”. For a brief moment it was a sigh of relief that perhaps someone understood the issues that had never been given a name. That she finally would be given a language we could all understand. Yet as I sat there with tears streaming down my face another voice was going through my head…” This is your fault”;” You should have gotten her help years ago”. “It is your depression that did this”.” She doesn’t deserve this.”

Believe me I have enough guilt in my heart I didn’t need to carry anymore.

I sit now with Truth in front of me. Trying to remind myself that the words are not good, and pure and holy do not come from God. And all I can utter is “Jesus please.”

I fully comprehend that this is only the beginning of our journey with her. And to many of you this seems so minuscule. But for today. For where we are. I ask for grace.