What the Peanuts taught me about 2016.

The other night we were watching the “Peanuts” movie. Or ask my youngest son what we were watching and it may make you blush.

 

Those silly speech issues.

 

All seven of us were discussing who we thought each character would be in our family. Such a fun thing to do. Until they got to me. Then the fun and games were over. I wanted to be Sally Brown. Well, because of her impeccable style and come on….those curls. Who wouldn’t want to wake each morning and have those luscious locks? Yet my children quickly pointed out where I knew my heart was.

 

I was Lucy.

I was a “know it all” Lucy.

I have been for years now.

I had a solution and answer for everything.

Because somehow being a college educated, mom of five kids and married for 18 years, in a marriage that we can say is challenging, I seemed to take it upon myself to know more things than others.

 

I was a full blown Lucy, without the great dark hair.

 

Five years ago a dear friend of mine went through a horrible, life altering tragedy in her life. It happened to her. To her family. And yet what happened to her I thought I had all the answers for. I went into protective” I will kick your ass if you ever mess with my friend “ mode. I was not a good listener. I did not build her up. I reacted. I told her what I thought she should do and pointed out everything wrong that was happening. She would try crying to me and I would just get frustrated and tell her how to fix it. I sucked. I was a Lucy.

 

I look back now and think how many times in my life I have tried to control when others were in crisis. I have gotten behind my little advice booth and would gladly give it out, and didn’t even charge. It was really a lovely service I was giving.

 

I am embarrassed how many times I stood on my pride mountain and told those I loved how they should live their lives.

 

It was pretty lonely up there, on “Know it All Mountain”.

 

The more insecure I felt the more advice I gave. I felt so out of control that I thought I needed to take control.

 

And then this year happened. And  suddenly, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know who to ask or how to even utter it out loud. I googled for any article or book that could help make sense of our reality. Every time I looked for answers I kept feeling more shameful and not enough. I told my best friend there was no support group or t-shirt for what we were going through. No one was running a race or making a bumper sticker for the crap show we have been living through.

 

I thought I needed a Lucy.

 

And in reality my soul needed a Linus. A faithful friend who is quiet and sees the good in it all. Or a Schroeder who wants nothing more than to play you soothing music and help you at any chance he could get. I imagine he would diffuse essential oils, make you delicious meals, clean your house and then hold you while you cried.

 

Really the opposite of Lucy.

 

Not advice givers.

 

They are life-givers.

 

I have learned through this past year that what I yearn for. What we all yearn for are life-givers.

People who speak life and hope into our hearts.

 

When you are in the midst of realizing what you need to be healed and whole you need to surround yourself with those that breath life into your heart.

 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51:1

 

One of my friends in particular is amazing at this. She will tell me who I forget I am. Reminding me of who she sees in me. She calls out life.

 

This is who I want to be. A life-giver.

 

One who does not remind me of my situation or limitations. But one who sees more for others than I see for myself. One who unveils the courage that is waiting to be released. A foot washer, a hugger, a listener, a bring wine over and sit on your porch girl, a text you in the middle of the night because you can’t breathe girl.

 

I want to be a girl who gives what has been given to her.

 

As a result of what we are walking through, I  have become highly sensitive to others walking through deep pain and grief. Entering into the pain and sitting there with them until the darkness goes away. Finding it a privilege to be on such holy ground. Because suffering is holy. It is messy and lonely but it is also where you will find the barefoot Messiah.

 

Last night we went around the table and said our goals for 2017. Which if you have ever done with your tribe, it is quite enlightening to hear what they deam a “goal”.

 

Let’s just say someone at the table wants “better hair” this year. ( yes, it is a 13 year old boy)

 

Don’t be jealous at the level of depth in our family. It is a gift.

 

When I told my family I wanted to stop being a Lucy they all kind of giggled at me. The youngest pointed out that I couldn’t be in a movie on TV. Thank you dear child, another dream crushed.

 

I went on to explain that we have all had the privilege of being loved deeply this year. By those that have not run from our pain and mess but have come closer with mercy. We have experienced such a life -breathing, foot washing community around us, that we need to learn how to give what we have been given. So although my goal is not as deep as others around the table, I still feel that this is all I am called to give in 2017.

 

Life.

 

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Exodus 33:19
What would it look like if we all breathed more life this year and less advice?

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?

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/

What Donald Miller taught me.

I read an article not too long ago by Donald Miller. He was exploring the idea of who we would be in five years is in direct correlation to who we actually spend our time with now.

His perspective was not only convicting but revealing in how I lived and how I choose to live now.

I ache for community. I have since I was little. I wanted to know that I belonged.That I mattered.

I was the oldest of the five children and like a million cousins so I always had people around me. Yet at times felt like the loneliest girl in the room.

As I got older I would surround myself with those that had the same desires and likes as I did. Even though they were not healthy or sustainable I still felt a sense of belonging there. We tend to flock to those that will keep our dysfunction functioning. So that is where I stayed.

Throughout my twenties I was a young mom who had no idea how to birth a human much less parent. Unless parenting meant finding the cutest outfits at Baby GAP and then dressing all of my children the same, then I guess I nailed it.

I was so consumed at the time with all of the loss in my life that I paid no attention to who I was spending my time with. I remember being drawn to people who were older than me and somehow knew what they were doing. But I did not have many friends who were the same age as me. Probably because they were still in grad school or serving in the peace core. Who am I kidding they were following around Pearl Jam and Lilth Fair.

In my thirties I found faith. Or more like faith found me. I had three little ones at home, had just quit my full time job and had never felt less of who I was. A mom at school had asked me to go a meeting at a church where other moms sat around a table and cried about exploding diarrhea and Jesus. I was more interested in the diaper situation than Jesus but I kept coming back.

That was a game changer.

This Jesus thing.

I began to realize that who I wanted to spend my time with acted nothing like who I used to be. They were by far not uppity Christian soap box people. They were more like “ I will wash your feet and then have a beer with you people”.

Through the years I have not always decided who I wanted to spend my time with. Circumstances and apathy decided it for me. It wasn’t until I realized that who I wanted to be was in direct correlation to who was around me.

If who we want to be in five years is determined by who we spend our time with now, then who will you be?

Are you surrounding yourself with people who are arrogant and self-absorbed? Are you having playdates with moms who are consumed with every thought and action of their child? Are you going out with those who are rude to waitresses and those around them? Are you friends with those that make racist and sexist remarks? Are you consumed with your work that you forget your family at home? Are you choosing to be with those that make judgmental statements like it’s their job?

The other day I was not having a good day. At the time I could not pin point exactly what was wrong but I felt so off. One of my best friends sent a group text and asked us to name three things we were grateful for.

I was in no mood to be Pollyanna that day. I wanted to stay in my pity party and invite everyone else to join.

Yet here is the thing. That text. Those friends. Those are my people. The people I choose to be around. They are the funniest people I know. I actually think Jimmy Fallon would think so too. ( We can send you a video Jimmy). They are also the kindest most generous people. They give of themselves every day to make sure that our friendship is fed and healthy.

I look at them and think, yes they are who I want to be.

I want to be a woman who knows who she is. I want to be mother who fights for her children. I want to be a wife who puts her husband before her children. I want to be a generous giver.I want to be fully present to those I love. I want to speak hope and life into people. I want to know that taking care of myself physically is important. I want to be a truth teller. I want to be an encourager. I want to be an author. I want to be funny. I want to be available. I want to say no to things that do not bring me life or joy.I want to be the best friend I could ever be. I want to be a gentle soul. I want to be healthy. I want to be always wanting to serve more. I want to take risks. And most of all I want to ache for Jesus every day.

That day I had a hard time coming up with what I was grateful for.

They pushed me. They pushed me to find what was needing to be spoken.

 

You need. We all need people in our lives who see more for us. Who push us to see things we forget to see. Who know that we can be more than we ever imagined.

We need people around us who remind us that where we are is not who we are.

Ham, peas and organic family

We called a realtor.

We made the decision to call her after another shooting happened within blocks of our house a few months ago. And I say another because people make bad choices and sometimes the media chooses to only show the choices made in certain areas. And before you get on your privileged soap box and pretend that it doesn’t happen around you. take a step down. Suffering and pain happen all the time. Money doesn’t take away emptiness. Horrible things  happen all the time and patterns of expressing it happen too. It sometimes just looks more politically correct but just as devastating. We just happen to live in the second largest city in Illinois and we live in the most populated part. With that said, we also live in the most beautiful part of the city. The part where no one looks the same. Where many different languages are spoken. Where many different countries are represented. Where there is a celebration happening on any given night till any given time. This city is filled with voices that are all trying to be heard. And if we are open enough to receive it then we are blessed enough to hear it.

But we called a realtor. And if I am honest my fear called her. Gratefully she is friend and so she overflowing with grace. Because this is a hard decision. We had a list a list of reasons why we should move schools, 4 bedrooms, a garage that closes, maybe a bigger kitchen, safety. None of these reasons make sense. They feel very superficial to me as I type them. Very first world problems. Very princess like. So we make the list and let it sit in our hearts. Months have gone by and we looked at other homes. We dreamed of a place where the kids could ride their bikes around the block and I wouldn’t have to follow them or say a Hail Mary every time they played out front.

And so we looked. We joined Zillow and got daily updates about homes that we were drooling over in a neighborhood not too far from where we were at. We talked and imagined what it would be like to have five children in their own rooms. Or a kitchen that more than two people could be in at the same time.

We also applied for jobs in Michigan. Again. Because if you know me at all you know that I am a mitten state girl who has been misplaced for the last 17 years. My feet feel planted when they are in the sand and I really want my kiddos to grow up with their cousins. My cousins are some of the most beautiful people in the world and I want my kids to feel the same way when they are forty. I also want them to have matching monogramed wool sweaters but that is a whole other story. So the husband applied for jobs that replies never came back from. And it is the middle of July and we are still here.

There is no for sale sign in our front yard. There are no signs of DE hoarding. Although I am pretending I am on an HGTV show and getting rid of everything….don’t tell the kids.

When we got married my husband was let’s say “ a bit overwhelmed” with the time my family spent together. And by family I mean grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. As husband likes to say if someone sneezed and we had a party. We did a lot together. Of course they came to all the sporting events. Every recital. Every emergency room visit. Every Sunday after church we were together.

Grandma would make a ham, frozen peas, peach jell-o salad, candied yams, and mash potatoes. Oh, and don’t forget the rolls. The rolls sopped up all the gravy. And then grandpa would be called into the kitchen away from watching golf and start up his electric knife. I would sit on the stool next the phone by the junk drawer and just below the police scanner and watch each week as he carved the ham with pineapples and maraschino cherries on top.

Every Sunday we knew where we belonged.

As we got older I am sure we complained. We complained about having to eat ham every week or playing with our cousins or only watching golf on the television.

I miss that now. Being hundreds of miles away from family I miss those Sunday afternoons. I miss pretending I was sleeping on the davenport while grandma gently scratched the back of my neck and into my hair. She would tell the same story. How when I was a baby this is how she put me to sleep. I miss that.

After moving to Illinois seventeen years ago I would cry every time my family in Michigan got together. Which was all the time. Or when I would call and happen to catch them having an impromptu pizza night. I ached to be home. To be around those that new me and the familiarity of comfort. The peace in the known.

This past Sunday I was laying in our backyard in a hammock we bought for me husband for Father’s Day. I was exhausted. It had been a physically and emotionally draining few weeks. I was texting husband that there was another job posting in Michigan that had just come up. I asked him to look into it and send his resume right away. Because that is what you are supposed to do right? Make a rash decision because that has to be from God. Why wouldn’t he want us to move back after seventeen years, it’s what I have always wanted.

And then husband said he would apply but…how can we move from this.

View More: http://snohling.pass.us/massie-vow-renewal.

This is what we have. We have a tribe. A village. A community.

A family.

Yes I adore my mitten state family. I miss them every day. I call them almost every day. I still ache to be there at every birthday and every baby being born and every softball game or even just someone sneezing.

But then this happens. Your family people become something so organic that you cannot imagine living anywhere else. So this is where we are.

View More: http://snohling.pass.us/massie-vow-renewal

We squeeze in a little tighter. We pray a little harder. We work through the hard emotions and opinions of why we live where we do. But where we are placed is beautiful. No it is not gated and not everyone believes the same things. We don’t all look the same and celebrate the same. We don’t all have the same education or the same bank accounts. But we do have this.

We have each other.

 

( all photos by Sabrina Nohling )

Bacon Wrapped Jesus.

 

I love bacon. On everything. My love of bacon went to a whole new level when someone introduced me to bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese. Take a moment and let that soak in. Yeah, it’s that good. It is like pork candy in my mouth. If I am invited to any invent this summer that is probably what I will bring. So if you don’t like bacon, don’t invite me.  I think anything can taste better wrapped in bacon. Except maybe jelly beans. Those stand by themselves.

So here I am a forty year old woman who loves bacon and may or may not have an issue with jelly beans. But I am realizing my heart has been wrapped in other things lately besides bacon.

I am struggling. Struggling watching my daughter trying to date. The push and the pull of it all. Trying to figure out who she is and how she relates to the world. And how the world treats her back. It has nothing to do with the guy. Any guy.

It has to do with me. And me and her. And how she is a huge part of me. Part of me made her. And so I am half of her.

And that scares me.

Because I am pulled into the belief that because I was the girl that everyone should have stayed away from for years, that she will make the same mistakes I did. I know. I know. She is not me. She needs to write her own story. Blah. Blah. Blah.

But this this the thing. When fear creeps in, it wraps itself around you. Around your mind and images of your past soak into parts of you that haven’t healed yet. The parts of you that are creative and vulnerable and raw.

I am twisted in memories of a past that would like to keep me there. I am overwhelmed with the fear that the life I lived will be repeated by my daughter. That she will be haunted for years about the choices she may or may not make.

And here I was on a Tuesday feeling it all over coffee with one of my best friends. This friend has a way of reaching inside my soul and drawing out whatever I am concealing. Or maybe I don’t hide it well and she just has the courage to ask. She asked how I was doing. How I was really doing. The space in between the person that you want everyone to see and the one that exists so life can function in a normal manner. That space. She asked how that in between was.

She listened.

She let me be understood.

She didn’t interrupt or offer advice.

She didn’t counter the story so she could be heard.

She waited. She listened.

And then, when the tears started to fall, she reached across the table and touched my hand.

The words she spoke next brought such freedom to my heart.

You know she gets the best version of you right?”

“What?”

Sweet girl, she gets the YOU wrapped in Jesus. She gets the best part of you. The YOU that is fully and completely wrapped in Jesus.”

“She gets to be raised by one who has been forgiven and made new”

So many days I forget who I am.

I have no problem remembering who I was.

I look in the mirror and the scars are still there.

I can find things to wrap myself in every day.

Fear. Control. Anxiety. Shame.Pride. Jealousy. Noise. Busyness. Food.

We need people in our lives to remind us what we are called to be wrapped in.

Fully forgiven. Fully made new. Fully at the feet at the one who pours mercy over me.

Fully wrapped in Jesus.

I want to raise a Hosea not a David in this world.

 

I watched you today.

I watched you, with your day off of school, wandering around the house looking for someone to talk to something to do. I watched you walk into the kitchen and start making lunch.

Laying out your bread. Turkey. Cheese. Sorting the pretzels and starting to count them out.

This used to drive me crazy. You with your counting and sorting and neatness. And then I took a breath and realized this was God’s fingerprint on your heart. You need order and crave sameness.

Your mama hears you. I see you.

I watched as you reached to take your plate from above and noticed that your hands held on to two. Two sandwiches laid out before you with equal amounts of cheese, bread, turkey and pretzels.

You showing me what thinking of others looks like. You making lunch for the sister that made you feel less than just hours before. And in your quiet eleven year old way you poured mercy over her.

Setting the two plates on the table to begin to eat waiting for her to join you. Not leaving it on the counter but placed right beside you. Two plates where they should be side by side showing me where grace should be placed.

Next to us. Inviting those to the table to join us who have hurt us. Who have bruised our hearts. Inviting them to the table to hear who they are. Where they are. To forgive and rebuild.

I capture my breath and realize that this moment is to be breathed in. This is a Hosea moment.

Again on the couch. Watching you watch a movie that your younger sister has watched a thousand times. Laying your head on your dads shoulder who is sleeping off a cold caught this weekend. I see you reach for your dads hand and quietly hold on. You think no one is watching so you continue to hold close. I snap a photo knowing that this moment is fleeting and needs to be remembered. This is a Hosea moment.

I was scared when I found that there was a boy in my swelling belly. You coming after two of your sisters, who were just a ball of hormones wrapped in a bow, I had no idea how to handle what you would bring my way. You brought soccer balls and scuffed knees. Frogs in the pockets and angel kissed cheeks. Your torn overalls and dinosaur songs. You brought life that I was missing.

The emotions that you stirred in me all I could do was fall in love. I fell in love with your sun kissed cheeks that carry angel kisses every summer. Eyes with lashes that brush the sky. And a heart that sees deeply what others miss.

I pray to raise you not as a man who gets what he wants. But man who leads with forgiveness. I don’t want you to grow thinking that if you work hard you will get what you deserve. But a man who leads with confidence filtered only through the lens of grace. I want to teach you to show mercy to everyone you meet. And those that you don’t even more. I want to learn to be a servant to your wife, your children your community. And serve them even abundantly when they don’t deserve it. I pray you to stand up for justice in your actions and not your prideful words. I want you to know the face of God because you have served the least of these. And if the least of these happens to be your wife I want you to lavishly pour grace over her like your father has done to me

. I want you to be a Hosea and not a David.

We have enough David’s in this world.

Sweet boy be brave enough to be a Hosea.

Bumper Sticker Christian – She Shares Truth

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I have always wondered if anyone came to Christ from a bumper sticker? If they were riding along on their way to Trader Joe’s and had a ”come to Jesus” moment while at a stop sign. While sitting at red light, all of a sudden seeing a fish sticker or “choosy moms chose Jesus”   made one make a highway conversion to Christianity. If anything bumper stickers make me more uncomfortable as a Christian than inspired. While I understand and am sure some have the purest of intentions with sticker evangelism, I am wondering if we are as bold outside of our vehicles. If Jesus called us to go and make disciples I am not sure that hiding safe in our cars with a latte  all the while “being bold” on our bumpers is what He envisioned.

 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,f baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,g20 and teachingh them to obey everything I have commanded you.  Matthew 28:19 -20a

I am the first to admit that I have no problem telling my story of redemption through the stories I tell or the words I write. But get me on the other side of my computer screen and I hover back into my introvert self.  To look someone in the eye and tell them how broken I have been and the only complete healing I have found is in the blood of Christ poured over me, makes my break out in hives.

 I wonder too if we are as bold inside the car as we are outside of it. That if we have it on our souls to reach across the seat and hold the hand of our teenager silent with secrets. If we can look our spouse in the eye and confess that we are as scared as he is. If we can ignore the traffic around us long enough to tell our sons that Jesus changed our lives. I wonder if we let our lives tell the story of redemption without ever crawling into the darkest crevices of pain around us, if we are really making disciples or just living our own story?

I not only want my life to scream brokenness and redemption but I want my words to point to the only One who saved me. For there to be no doubt for those around me to know who I belong to and how I came to believe it.  I ache for the courage to tell the truth and not rely on a sticker to tell my story. To tell His story.

. And surely I am with youi always, to the very end of the age.”j Matthew 28:20b

#SheReadsTruth

I didn’t come to Jesus from your Facebook posts.

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I have a hard time with Facebook occasionally. Don’t get me wrong I love to post selfies of a new haircut, Instagram my kids being kids, or take an occasional test to see what Downton Abbey character I would be (Anna). But my problem lies in the public bashing of sins. I thank my lucky stars that Facebook was not around before I accepted Jesus. Or that my kids even now do not have Facebook accounts. Because I don’t know if I ever would have been drawn to Christianity. If I would have seen Christians dropping sponsorships of children, telling me I was going to hell, and calling out my sin in a public forum….I would have walked away. I would have run away.

I didn’t come to Jesus because of what you said. I came to Jesus because of what He did.
Not too long ago I got into an argument heated disagreement over my views. At the time I was so emotionally charged by the conversation and topic that I couldn’t back up my views with scripture.

When I come to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony of God. 1Cor 2:1

But then again, I didn’t want that to be thrown in this persons face. I didn’t want them going away from the conversation feeling like once again the Bible being thrown at them. As one who didn’t start following Jesus until my mid-twenties, verses thrown at me just built the wall higher between me and Him. I just wanted to plead into the phone that I don’t know the exact verses of why I believe what I do. But this is what I am absolutely sure of.

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1Cor 2:2

Jesus is my redemption. Jesus is my everything. Jesus pours grace over me daily. Jesus loves me like no one ever will. Jesus fights for me every moment of the day. Jesus pulls the chains and brings me freedom. Jesus protected me countless times in my life. Jesus thinks that I am worthy enough to save. Jesus changed my life…..and can change yours.

I believe that scripture is powerful and is our guide and lifeline to God. I believe that it is the air inside of me. However I believe that if you don’t believe that you are worthy, or even have a relationship with Christ, scripture that others preach at you is just words. Nothing more. It is like reading a rule book for a class that you have never taken. It means nothing.

This past summer was my twentieth class reunion. I wanted to go so badly. But being the mom to two teenage girls the Taylor Swift concert won over that option. I know most are not eager to return to the place that caused them so much trouble and pain, but I really wanted a chance. I wanted a chance for those in high school to see me now.

I came to you in my weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with demonstration of the Spirits power, 1 Cor 2:3-4

To see the girl who was sloppy drunk more times than not walk through that door as a new creation. To see the girl that clung to her boyfriends like they were her savior to see that she laid down her life for a God that loved her like no other. To see the girl who struggled with eating disorders and addictions continually breaking the chains and run towards redemption.

So that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. 2Cor 2:5

I didn’t come to Jesus because of what you said on Facebook. I came to Jesus because of what He did. What He does. Who He is. Who He always will be.

#SheSharesTruth