stories in a plaid skirt

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I am a storyteller.

Since I was in third grade and got called into the office for being a  liar “storyteller” , I knew what I could do well. The Catholic school teachers had no time or patience for those with imagination. Or in my case survival. They had no room in between Mass and penmanship to focus on the little girl in her plaid skirt telling stories again. Consequences needed to be given. Punishment in the form of penance was the only reasonable result of an over active mind. Hail Mary’s were a sure cure for such a thing.

 I continued. Continued to tell stories. Whether true or not, stories were my protection. My voice. If you would listen close enough you could hear me. Hear me trying to tell you. Tell you I needed to be heard. I needed you to know that I needed….

So here I am years later realizing that I have continued to tell stories to myself. Stories that I believed were true.

My clothes are getting a little tight lately…..

The story: I am out of control. I will always struggle with my weight. I need to starve myself. I need to binge. I need to purge. I will never be attractive. I will never be enough.

The truth: I have been digging into some trauma in my life. Weight is my protection. Food is how I have protected myself. I am getting healthier from the inside out and the weight will come off again. My husband still loves me. Jeans come in bigger sizes.

My marriage is harder than ever…..

The story: It will never be saved. I just don’t know how to be a wife. He married a girl with U-haul of baggage. He deserves someone better than me.

The truth: We all have issues. We are working through them. We are getting help. We are facing our crap. God has us together for a reason. He is not leaving. I am not leaving. We will walk through any fire together. For the love….He prays over me while I sleep….

I need to say yes to you and to anyone that asks….

The story: This is how to make everyone happy. I don’t like people mad at me. I want to be the one to make you smile. I have the creativity and will power to accomplish this. I want to feel loved. I want to feel needed.

The truth: When I say yes I am saying no to the people in my home. I was not called to be a martyr I was called to be a wife and a mom. I am dishonoring my family by being so busy. It is not healthy to be busy. It is so much better for all of us if I say no. I have kids at such difficult stages and I need to lean into them.

My kids don’t want me around…..

The story: I have failed as a mom. I am too busy with other projects. I have lost my chance to connect. I will do better with the younger ones.

The truth: I have pulled away. I have not been present for a while now. I have a difficult time connecting emotionally. I am getting help. I am taking that next step. One moment at a time. Guilt is a useless feeling it does nothing to change a behavior.

The stories that I have told myself, the stories that have carried me are being let go. One by one they are being asked to leave. Being released. Filtered. With gratitude being sent away.

Stories have protected me.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Cor 3:17

 It’s time for the truth. Truth is safe for me now. Truth is where I need to remain.

Remain and heal.

this year, this year let’s tell the truth.

cropped-train.jpgSweet girl , I see you. Roaming aimlessly through the grocery store, legs heavy, wondering if anyone else can see. I can see that it took every fragment of energy you could assemble just to get dressed today. Trying not to make eye contact with the cart coming towards you. Inside screaming “please don’t talk to me, please just don’t”. I see you. I see you in the store wandering through aisles touching random clothing. Touching something that won’t drink anymore energy out of you. I see you. I see you driving through the Starbucks waiting for a stranger to smile at you with no expectations. A short conversation about the weather is all your soul needs to know it is still sane. I see you. I see you picking up your kids from school ringing your hands together, trying to suppress the anxiety that the other moms give you. I see you. Measuring yourself against them without ever exchanging a word. I see you sitting at dinner shoving food down your throat praying that it will all come back up. I see you in church. Sitting, pleading that the darkness that you feel is pursuing you isn’t evident to all. I see you feeling more alone in church than by yourself. I see you. I see you crying when your child asks what is for dinner and you don’t have the strength to think past cereal. I see you when someone asks you to make a decision and you claim that you just can’t. I see you when you the night seems to engulf you and you beg God for the sun to rise earlier that day. I see you when you hear your husband walk out the door to work and everything in you wants him to recognize that you should not be alone. I see you.

You are not alone sweet one. You feel alone. I know you do. You seem to think you are the only one.  Except that there are others out there who want to scream “Me too!”. They want to come alongside you. Hold your hand. And whisper so gently, I see you.

 

After suffering from post-partum depression after each of my children.  I have decided that I no longer want to let the darkness control my life. I will be a voice for those that depression and anxiety hold captive.

I wanted you to know that this is a safe place to say….me too.

Entering the darkness.

 

She lit a candle. Tall. Placed in a beautiful holder. She took out a large package of matches. The type that you buy knowing that unless you have a fireplace and live in the Midwest you will never use. But here in my living room she brought them. Here she lights the candle and says. “Look “. I look closely at the light the small candle brought to the room. She went on to gently remind me. The darkness you feel. The darkness you think you brought back with you does not exist here. Our God. Our faithful God is an all-consuming fire. He consumes all the darkness. He breathes and the darkness is gone. The darkness is gone. He will consume it. It cannot exist. You have been sealed. Sealed by the blood of Christ your soul has been purchased. The all-powerful the all-consuming fire has purchased your soul. The darkness doesn’t have you. It cannot. It will not claim you.

She then let me weep. Weep for the heaviness that I have been carrying in my soul.Wearing on my face. For the circumstances going on around me that I cannot control. The wounds and rawness that most conversations reveal. For the decisions that others are making that I am grieving so deeply about. For the relationships that are no longer that have left am emptiness in my being. She prayed words of truth over me as tears pulled down my face. She spoke scripture and reassurances that had been buried in my mind.

This morning I woke to light a candle. Carrying it into each room I enter. To remind me. That God is here. He is consuming the darkness. He is protecting me. He is healing me. In this truth I rest. And in this truth I seek hope.

This is the way God works. Over and over again He pulls our souls back from certain destruction so we’ll see the light-and live in the light.- Job 33:29-30 msg.

Holding you.

Last Sunday I was running in church. Not literally running although that would be pretty cool cause its heated with no chance of falling on ice. But I was running from bringing the kids to childcare to find a seat in the auditorium hoping to avoid all eye contact with anyone. Social anxiety is such a cakewalk these days. So as I try and avoid all human contact that is not necessary and scan the crowd for my few friends that know that whole truth and still let me hang around them, I make a beeline for the doors where my husband is hopefully waiting for me. As I pass through a woman touches my arm so gently and meets my diverted eyes with hers. She speaks with joy that she has been praying for me. She confidently states that she asks God daily to “meet me where I am at and heal whatever needs to be healed”. And in that moment I can’t breathe. I look in her eyes and know that she knows. She knows the face of struggle. She knows the silence of scared. She knows the fear of retreat.

I met her three years ago during a prayer week at our church. There was a tent set outside near the stream that runs by our church. It was morning and the dew was still on the grass as I stepped into the tent. I clumsy apologized for having brought my toddler with me at the time. Making excuses that didn’t need to be spoken about time of day and lack of childcare. She smiled and said she would be honored to pray with me and my little girl. She then bent her head and started praying aloud the names of God. You are the healer, my comforter , the only creator, you are the great I am . As she continued to pray I sat there with my head bent tears rolling down my sun kissed face. I could feel the spirit fill the room as she spoke. She then asked if she could pray for me. Me? A stranger you just met who looks foolish crying at the sound of your voice? And there she knelt and began to pray Jesus into my life. Praying for me as a mother, as a wife, as a friend that I would feel the comfort of God through it all.

I will never forget that morning. It made me believe again. Believe that when people say they pray they really do. That they intercede on behalf of those of us that don’t know what to pray can’t for fear of what may come out. She has since remained a woman that I still only know to be a “prayer warrior”. I don’t know her story. Or her struggles. But last Sunday morning when she touched my arm and her eyes met mine I knew I was covered. That the many days and nights when I feel so weak to even utter “help”. She is fighting for me. She is taking my needs and sorrows before the King.

When people say that they are praying for you. Believe it. Believe that their are those who are standing in the gap for you. They are laying you before the feet of Jesus. They are covering you with the hope that the sorrow will lift. That the pain will end. That you are a part of a bigger story and may never know the ending but it is all for God’s glory. And that Christ is holding on to you. Sweet one. Holding you.

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

not a year of 8.

Last year I knew it would be the year of seven. I was turning 37 and we were becoming God willing a family of seven. Little did I understand to what magnitude we would have to endure to become that family of seven. But here we are a year later and I am blessed with five little blessings under my feet. I decided though that this year was not a year of 8. Lord help us all.

It needs to. I ache for it to be a year of calm. Not asking for things to be perfect or even things to be smooth. But for me to learn how to reach for those who bring me calm. To focus on the scripture that speaks calm over my soul .To cling only to the God who can change my heart. To surround myself with those who do not bring more stress than is needed. I am declaring myself a “drama queen free zone”. If I have to take a xanax to speak with you than probably will not be on my speed dial. Just sayin. I am learning to bring more peace into my home .I am intentionally slowing down. And then slowing down some more. Saying “no thank you” to invitations. To play dates .To coffee. To getting together. By being more fully aware of what is happening to my stress level each day. There have already been days I have had to cancel plans because I need to. I want to be here. I want to be with my children. I want to be in my home. In my own bed. I want to be able to hear myself think. To feel my heart beat .I am not being selfish I am being healthy. I want space to figure out what happened this last year. I need space to grieve the relationships that have suffered. The places of safety that no longer exist. I need time to believe in my marriage again. And I want to surround myself with people that believe in me. In my kids. In my husband. I want to know that I have those around me that have my back. And not just talk behind it. I am giving myself permission to want these things. To need these things. To have these things.To pray and yearn for a year of calm.

Isaiah 41:13

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear I will help you.”

love is not 21.

Love at 37. I never imagined that I would actually be in love with my husband. How many of us out there actually have the courage to say that? That when we walked down the aisle inside I was screaming that I didn’t think it was right. Or that I didn’t want to be a new mom and move away from my parents and start a new life with someone I barely knew. I wanted to slow down. I wanted to start over and take off that dress that had 100 buttons up my back. I wanted answers for why things had to turn out this way.

Who knew that at 37 it would all be explained to me. The past 15 years have been hard to say the least. More like sitting in a dentist chair having your teeth scraped simultaneously having your legs waxed. Just let that image sit with you for a while. Then imagine what it is like to enter into a marriage knowing that this was not your choice. But at 37 I am gratefully out of the dentist char. I am not even near the dentist. Or any waxing for that matter. I am humbled to begin to understand why God had me marry the man I did.

First he was a believer. As little as he knew about the bible at the time he knew enough that what God said he meant. That divorce was never an option. That if we were going to fight we would fight hard but God was always fighting harder. As time went on he has become the spiritual leader in our home. I have had the privilege of seeing him lead our children to Jesus more and more. His children adore him and want to be more like him.

Secondly he was calm. He doesn’t fight like I do. He is so much more passive than I am. Which let me tell you can drive this Irish girl right up the wall and back down again. Little did I know that later in life the calm was all I desired. I beg for it. I want nothing more than for him to hold me and tell me the calm is coming. That the anxiety that can paralyze me only makes him hold me tighter.

Thirdly we had a child together. When we first brought her home from the hospital he wasn’t sure what to do with her. He had never held a baby much less loved one. That child has grown to be an amazing “God speaking truth into her life” young lady and has her daddy’s heart on his fingertips. She would not be who she was without such a wonderful spontaneous fun example of a dad.

At 37 love is not Valentine’s day. Love is not the perfect gift on my birthday. Love is not remembering our anniversary. Love is not buying me flowers. Love is not the perfect neighborhood. Love is not the biggest diamond. Love is not what it was at 21.

Love is being there. Love is redemption. Love is showing up. Love is catching my glance across the room. Love is laughing at the kids dancing in the living room. Love is telling me you will hold me till it stops hurting. Love is praying for me. Love is standing up for me. Love is praying me home. Love is being my defender. Love is being my leader. Love is loving me right where I am.

Doritos.Turkey.And why there is an elf hanging from my tree….

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Things have changed. Not like they change  white/green coffee cups to a beautiful Christmas in my mouth red. Or the way that every year we know that the enormous oak tree in the front yard will swallow the street with her yellow leaves.

No, changed like we had Doritos for thanksgiving. After being gone for 11 weeks in Uganda. 22 hours on a plane with a toddler. And my nocturnal clock being ahead 9 hours more than everyone else around me. I had no choice but to say yes to Doritos on the thanksgiving table. Nothing says Happy Thanksgiving more than chips next to the gravy bowl.

You see, when you spend 11 weeks away from your blessings. 11 weeks of no goodnight kisses. 11 weeks of not making school lunches or leaving notes in every one. 11 weeks of missing birthdays and birthday parties. 11 weeks of not being able to hold them when they cry, are afraid, happy, excited, scared. You allow Doritos on the table next to the gravy.

And when you spend 11 weeks in a third world country your perspective on what really matters turns your world upside down. I no longer care if the dishes match. I no longer care that my sofa is worn. I no longer care if my kids have all the best toys for Christmas. I no longer care what kind of car I drive, what neighborhood I live in, what school my kids go to or don’t go to. I no longer care who decorates the Christmas tree. I no longer care of they put all the ornaments in one spot and put on elf on the star at the top. And hold your breathe…it really doesn’t matter who gets a freakin rose at any ceremony. Ever.

What I do care about though is this. Clean water. Orphan care. Family reunification. Sponsorship. Safe families. Fish Farms. Farming. Strong Women. Jesus. Mercy. Grace. Sustainability. Goodnight kisses. Hugs that last all afternoon. Laughter. Authenticity. My husband. HIV education .Relationships that make me better. Giggles. Worship. Late night conversations. Bedtime stories. Long conversations over coffee. People. Truth. Justice. Family.

Its amazing 11 weeks can change your perspective on what your Thanksgiving table looks like. 11 weeks can change what you decorate the tree with. 11 weeks can change what your heart really cares about.

goodbye friends….

This week. Not in the plan. For peats sake I made a Google calendar people. Ok. Maybe my highly scheduled beautiful friend made it for me. But that is beside the point. The point it that this week was nowhere on the radar of things that were supposed to happen.

Just to back up a bit. This is what was supposed to happen.

Sunday- Church. Pack. Spend time with kiddos. Get girls school supplies.

Monday – Sleep in. Make fruit tray. Go to a pool party. ( Emme had her suit packed for days)

Tuesday- lunch with my best friends with a lot of laughing and crying. Spend evening with Kennedy celebrating her birthday a few weeks early. Clean house.

Wednesday- pack all day. Meet for coffee with one of my mentors to have some serious prayer time. Pack some more.

That was the plan. I even it color coordinated. (well,. She did). I was following the plan.

Yet this is now my weekend really went.

Sunday- wake up to a child wreathing in pain from her stomach. Tim rushes her to the hospital because of labored breathing. Take older kids to church. Worship for the last time with my church family. Get a text that Emme is being admitted and looked at by a surgeon. Drive frantically to the hospital. Leave kids with amazing family for the day. But they are not with me. Emme has emergency surgery on her stomach. I bawl my eyes out in front of the surgeon .Our friends come around us and completely love on us. And we pray for complete healing. I sleep lay in a chair that supposedly reclines to get no rest at all.

Monday- Wake to hearing Emme crying in pain and nurses poking her. Spend the day watching pbs with a five year old high on morphine. It does make for some great stories. (ie. Why is the spoon my neighbor mom?) Friends come and love on us and family calls from hundreds of miles away wishing they could be there. Once again sleep in the most amazing bed. I highly recommend it if you are looking to visit the chiropractor more frequently. Not tell Emme that her friends are swimming without her. Take a nap in the same clothes I had been wearing for 48 hours. awesomesauce.

Tuesday- Released from hospital. Clean up urine all over the floor for hours seeing that Emme can’t make it to the bathroom in time. Completely miss lunch time with friends. Forget to return texts and phone calls. Fall asleep on the couch and forget to wrap my daughters present. Fall asleep literally at 8:47pm and wake up in my own bed. Halleluiah.

Wednesday- Back to the doctor for Emme. Her pediatrician tells us that she cannot go back to school for weeks. Weeks people. Um. Ok. Pray on my way home from the doctors that my children have seen the list of things I asked them to do and actually rolled out of bed to do them. oh. and killer migraine.

So this week is not what I planned. But this whole adoption journey has not been what I planned. But Jesus has, He knew from the very beginning that things would end up this way. That my Google calendar was nothing but a laughable piece of paper.

But here we are. In 48 hours I leave to see my son for the very first time. To hear his voice. To count his toes. To kiss his sweet belly. To feel his heart next to mine.

And as I pack the last bag I just needed to say thank you. Thank you to all of you who have supported us. We have felt the love and prayers from all over the world and we are so grateful . You are all a part of his story and therefor apart of God’s story.

And as I pick myself out of the ugly cry that has been going on for weeks I know that God has this planned out. It is not my plan. Or Google’s. Or anyone else’s. This whole journey has been God’s plan. And we are so blessed that you have all been a part of it.

Thank you.

I will not be blogging while away. I will update as soon as I can….blessings my friends….

$6.70+ a Panera card

 

It’s been what seems like forever since we stared the process of adoption. First God had to break my heart and turn my world upside down and then he smacked Tim in the face with the reality of the father less child. It took a while. But God is faithful.

And as we head out in a few days to travel thousands of miles away from our children that is what will remain in my heart and on my lips. God alone is faithful.

His faithfulness is so evident.

A few weeks ago a family friend came over for lunch with her kids. Her eight year old daughter announced when she came in the door that she had something for me. She then promptly emptied her pockets in front of me. There on the table was all she had. $6.70 and a Panera rewards card. As I sat there with tears streaming down my face her mom told me that all she wanted was to help bring our little one home. So she gave. She gave all she had. As I hugged her so close and cried overwhelming gratitude. I told her that her gift means the most. She gave out of a pure and innocent heart. She gave with joy. She gave with no guilt or regret. And she gave all she had.

She humbled me that day. She continues to humble me. How many times do I give with a pure and innocent heart? With joy? With no guilt or regret? How many times do I give all I have? And hold onto the promise that God alone is faithful.

once upon a time….

Once upon a time in a faraway kingdom of unit studies, in the territory of Charlotte Mason, lived a homeschool dropout queen. For weeks she had been hanging her head in shame as she would encounter other queens in the kingdom. She shamefully had been more worried about their judgment of her then the wellbeing of the prince and princesses in her castle. The entire year her castle was filled with poster boards, manipulatives and art supplies galore. Yet a new little one would soon be entering the kingdom from a farther away land and the queen needed to travel to get him .And although they would be well taken care of the queen understood the challenges that this offered. She had presented all of the options to the king the royal jester and he agreed that a few changes had to be made. The king and queen agreed that these changes would not be written in royal stone but in a broken crayon. He had assured the queen and her subjects that some adjustments needed to be made so sanity could remain within the castle. Although many other homeschoolers in the land began to baulk and raise the red flag against her the queen knew that the kingdom rules could be changed with the coming of a new year. Until then the prince and smallest princess would embark on the royal adventure of public school. And the kingdom of homeschooling will be delayed and live happily ever after…… IMG_1255