19 Jan

That Time I Wrote About the Poop in the Corner

poop in the corner pic

There’s a pile of poop in the corner.

Feels like the appropriate ending to this afternoon.

For the record, the poop belongs to our pet ferret who was playing in my office yesterday while I cleaned. apparently he didn’t get the “we’re cleaning” memo.

This afternoon got me thinking about Facebook — what I post and why. My motives were questioned by someone and at first I was REALLY angry (truth is I’m still sorta ticked).  I have been accused of being fake. If not putting my drama on Facebook makes me fake, well then, I’m fake.

Do I have struggles?? Um, yeah, I breathe air and live in a messed up world don’t I? Nothing is perfect in my world, except my Savior and His grace. Beyond that I’m just a girl trying to get it right. And along the way I post things to remind me what we’ve done as a family, funny moments and just snapshots of our life. (I LOVE the TimeHop app that reminds me of those things on a daily basis!!)

So I post things like….

timehop app pic

Facebook holds some of the sweetest memories of our everyday life.

 

 

Or this….

Because one day the will both be so big I forget the days when they were lil and best friends.

Because one day they will both be so big, and I’ll forget the days when they were lil and best friends.

And truly I apologize. If here, or anywhere, I post something that makes one feel that I am bragging or trying to front about our life. I’m not. (I pray that the Lord roots out anything that isn’t of pure motives.)

The truth is life happens fast. And I want to remember it. To catch. To hold it. To celebrate it. To freeze it. Either via camera or phone I try and grab the moments that leave my memory before I’ve had a chance to dwell and be thankful.

I was encouraged by a sweet friend to put up some pictures that show our ugly truth…the laundry, the dust, the dishes…the whatevers of life that get left when you are too busy living it (or living in it). All I could think is who wants to see that??  I mean really???

Then I sat down at my desk and noticed the poop.

poop in the corner pic

Oh yes, there it is next to the piles of papers the weasel spread about in his play time yesterday. A pile of poop in my beautiful, clean office.

 

 

And all I can do is laugh.

You see, my sweet sisters, everyone’s life is full of crap. I don’t care what church you go to, what you drive, where your kids get their education, or just how cute your Facebook pictures are. We’ve all got stuff to deal with.

And it is about time we started giving each other grace rather than grief.

It is about time as image-bearers of Christ we choose to laugh with each other and be willing to get close enough to someone to be able to cry with them. To carry their burdens and care for them. True friendships are not lived on Facebook and before you pass judgement, get off the computer/put down your phone and walk with someone in their life.

I want to live my life as openly as I can, because I really feel like that is who God calls me to be…to love on His girls and be honest about what’s hard in life. But, the truth is I won’t post that on social media…I LIVE life in our house…in our town, and freeze frame life online.

Want to see the full picture…come on over. You’ll leave our house with a belly full of food, your pants covered in dog hair, your ears chatted off and you’ll see that the sink is full of dishes, there are books stacked everywhere , the counter is dumping grounds for everything, the guinea pigs have as much of their shavings on the floor as in the cage, and I haven’t showered yet today.

But, hopefully, there will be no poop in the corner.

31 Dec

…listen for the footsteps…

footsteps

The sound of God shutting the door.

The sound of the rain on roof.

The animal noises.

The sounds of the story of Noah stick out to me. (So do the smells, but I don’t dwell there too long!)

The sound of the flood waters slapping the side of the ark.

The sounds of people outside the boat.

But today, as I study, as I sit with Noah and his wife inside the hull of their calling I hear a sound I did’t hear before. The footsteps. The footsteps of those that followed Noah into the ministry of His calling. The footsteps that followed Noah as He followed God. The footsteps that followed Noah to Salvation.

…followed Noah…to salvation

Little feet thunder up and down the stairs, and I wonder how one small boy can make the noise of a herd of elephants.

I hear her voice echo down the hallway as she sings in her room. When I pause my typing I can hear her foot tapping on the floor as she belts it out with Jamie Grace via her karaoke Christmas gift.

I can hear their footsteps.

And I know….I know…little ears are listening, little eyes are watching, and those little feet they are following.

I sit in our home still half full of Christmas and full of the sounds of Christmas break. Video games, dogs wrestling, music, laughter….play. Our little ark here in a world flooded with all that seems painful and maddening. Our little ark where God opens the doors (with ideas, callings and studies) and beckons others in to be safe, to learn and be loved on. Our little ark, where little feet are following us…and the weight of the question nearly knocks me over…where are we leading them?

Oh, how I want to say salvation.

…to Jesus…

And sometimes we are. We do.

And sometimes….we don’t.

On the days when the tv echoes into their hearts before a Word from God does. On the days where mama’s temper snaps and all the is gentle and holy is awash in the sound of a mama gone mad. On the days when death calls, checking accounts hemorrhage and life is hard…do they see us run to Jesus, so they can follow us there. I can’t always say yes.

We are a handful of hours from the new year. I think of all the things I’d like to do that would improve our lives, bring glory to God, change the world.

I don’t do resolutions. I set goals. I dream with God. And I look forward to whatever that strike of midnight brings…knowing my King sits on thrown before time started and after it ends. I love the promise of a New Year…a blank slate…the Spirit hovers of the pages yet unturned as God’s plans wait for me. And yet, here I sit.

Footsteps.

Not a moment is lost on God. This reading and Bible study on the precipice of the New Year. He leans in close and whispers to me….listen for the footsteps….

And I think that perhaps 2015 is the year of the footsteps. Of intentionally looking where I am pointing (in life and deed), so that those that follow…our little peanuts and someday grand-peanuts, our friends and family……whoever….will find them selves smack dab in the middle of God’s plans and miracles when they look up to Him on their own.

So here’s my 2015 goal…dream….resolution…hope…thingy… as I walk through the everdayness of my life, and live the highs of teaching/speaking to the lows of the laundry and every moment in between, those footsteps behind me will echo my sweet Jesus’s footsteps in front of me.

31 Jul

Parched. Dry. Thristy.

zinnias

Crispy around the edges. That’s how I feel.

Parched. Dry.  Like the heat of life has burned the beauty right out of me.There are no traces of the spring full of hope and days drenched in Jesus.

Summer swirls all around me. Heat rises and circles around us.

I stare at the flowers….one too many days without water. One too many days they were left to battle the heat of life without the sweet relief of rains.

Oh how I feel like those flowers.

Parched. Dry. Thirsty.

My mind drifts to Jesus at the well. It is mid-day and the sun is beating down. He’s there to meet a woman who is parched. Her life has left her dry. He speaks to her of living water. (John 4)

I hear His whisper….whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

But I feel like the flowers. The rain comes but they still are weathered and burnt. Oh how I want to drink deeply from the well my Jesus offers.

I’ve never liked the phrase, “His ways are not our ways.” Truth is I struggle with God not letting me in on His plans. I shake my fist at the sky and tell Him how I want to plan, to prepare, to just know what He’s up to.

And then life got turned on its ear. For two years, my hunky hubby and I have walked our family down a road that lead to foster care…we thought it was for one child. We did the training, we signed a zillion papers, and we waited. And waited some more. Then one day it seemed the doors were opening, we were walking through them…there were meetings, visits, painting, packing, moving, and the painful realities of parenting in the wake of trauma and abuse.

Suddenly the calling isn’t what it looked like. Hard choices are made. Life changes again.

My heart is dry and sad as we live in the wake of a placement gone wrong. Sadly wrong.

And I wonder how do you live when you don’t get God? When the phrase “His ways are not our ways” is so achingly true in your everydays. When callings seem to fade or change or hide or dry up. When you’ve built and fought, trained and focused on something that leaves you empty and sad.

Perhaps these Zinnias hold God’s whispered answer.

zinnias

Even in their whitered state there is beauty. Not a conventional, put in a vase and admire kind of beauty. But the beauty that comes from life, from experience…and when you look at the middle…there are seeds. Flowers have one job…grow and reproduce.

And even in the whithered silence of life there are chances for growth…there are seeds…there are new flowers….there is life.

I am parched. But, my sweet Jesus whispers Scripture when I won’t open the Bible. Rains living water into a heart that is cracked and hard.

I am dry. But, my sweet Jesus draws my attention to the work He has for me to do with him. Blows the sweet winds through a house that is stuffy and locked up tight.

I am thirsty. But, my sweet Jesus is my answer. And even as I sit, tears pouring down my face in a room that was supposed to hold our son…his healing and growing. Jesus allows me to see the growth, the faith that has stretched.

And my heart trails to them….the women who have lost a child through miscarriage, adoption or death. That empty place where your tears won’t stop falling and your heart aches in waves that threaten to drown you in sorrow. I don’t know why God allows us to love and lose. But I do know that when we love — wide open, hearts free — we look like our Jesus and people need to see that…even in the briefest of glimpses and the hardest of moments.

The truth is I wish things were different. I wish we could have had help, that we had the skills to help a boy that was fighting so many things. I know there is no failure where love rules and Jesus is preached, but there is emptiness in the wake. There is pain in loss.

I have faith that as I just dwell in the Word (a good friend urged me to just write Scripture when I can’t find words to write what I’m feeling….and I have been) Living Water…the graceful ebb of my sweet Jesus will flow into me. I might be crispy around the edges for sometime, but my heart will be full and ready to overflow, again.

30 Jul

The Last Place You Look

last place you look

Sometimes I just get tired.

I don’t want to do one more load of laundry or cook one more dinner. I don’t want to read one more book or teach one more lesson. I don’t want to write one more blog or encourage one more woman on the phone. I don’t want to lead a Bible study, support my husband, parent my children or even get out of bed.

Sometimes, I just want to do nothing. To do what I want to do.

The truth is I have felt that way for the last few months. I have tried to deny all that God has laid in front of me. Spouting out things like, “I would like to be the one people take care of now and then,” or “Why can’t someone else be the one to encourage others?”

And the more I stamped my feet and demanded to do what I wanted. The farther away from God I felt.

The farther from God I felt, the harder it became to do the things.

Until I couldn’t feel God. I was snarling at my life. I was joyless…is there a word for a joy deficit, cuz that’s what I had...I think I owed people joy. And nothing was getting done.

—-

I wrote those words a little under two years ago. In the wake of a season of difficult circumstances — death of loved ones, health crisis and God calling me to do something I just didn’t want to do.

I stumbled across those words tonight as I was cleaning up my blog. And I just stared at the screen.

Stared.

Cried.

And began to wonder who I owed joy to now.

All at once my life came into focus through the lens of my own words…my own life…and that’s just weird.

I am struggling with heartache. Pain. A season of loss and I feel lost.

Angry. Sad.  Tired. Joy-less.

In this season of  being glued to the couch and wanting to pretend life wasn’t marching on, God whispered, the Spirit blew through, and I knew. God called me to get up….the Spirit planted words in my heart. And it was time to move forward. But I sat on the couch, waiting for God to send me a sign (another one, a bigger one, one with red lettering that flashes!). I sat on the couch waiting to feel joy…waiting to get happy again.

My grandfather sat in his chair, his body weakened by age and life. I searched each drawer, cupboard and nook in his tiny assisted-living room. I found the paperwork he asked me for and laughed, “Isn’t it always the last place you look?” “Well, I should hope so…why would you keep looking if you found it,” he chuckled back.

These words ring in my head….my heart.

I’m waiting for joy. God whispers, why are still looking you have joy?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3

This season of loss and following God when I don’t understand is growing my faith in ways I never imagined. I’ve been able to tell stories of whispering Jesus’s name for peace and reassurance when nothing else would help. Stories of amazing provision and peace when nothing about our situations seemed like they would work out.

YES! My faith is growing. I am persevering. Jesus…the Word….the living breathing saving grace of God asks isn’t that enough? And I choke on my self-pity and egocentric behavior. If I’m honest with myself…nope. It hasn’t been enough. I keep looking for something else.

Truth is I want something tangible. Another candy bar. A funny movie. A good hair day. A phone call from a friend. A Target shopping spree.

I want to say the right Christian words. To hold up the facade that makes you think, dang she’s got it all together, but God girl to God girl…truth is I don’t live like God is enough.

I know that I know that I know, God is calling me to write. My blog. My story. His grace in my life. Bible studies. Words that pour The Word into a parched world of women who lose themselves on Pinterest and in junk tv in hopes of finding the secret to their joy. When I study my Bible. When I dig around and find meanings and phrases. When I ponder the infinite God in the tiny details of my life. When I pour out what He pours in….I am joyful. I am happy. And even though I know, I keep looking…and I can hear my sweet Grandpa’s words “why would you keep looking if you found it?”

So, here I sit today. Writing. In the office that my hunky hubby help me carve out in our home. My space filled with books, commentaries, precious treasures and the sweet-spot calling that Jesus whispers to me.

last place you look

Jesus calls each of us to pour out what He pours in. To give him away. It looks different for each of us, living out what He’s designed for us, but friend I can promise you this….being with Jesus….chasing Jesus….giving away Jesus is more than enough.  It is joy. It is everything. And I’m going to stop looking, because I already have my joy….

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9

20 Jun

Love will break you but it is good

storm

In the distance the thunder rolls.

In the house a door slams.

A storm is rolling in…inside and out.

storm

I sat on the edge of the stairs and watched the storm move in.

Slamming doors, banging on walls, a little voice filled with rage and fear.

The storm was picking up steam.

Here, I sat…weary.

Beyond weary….exhausted…drained…broken.

The thunder rolls…the sky gets dark.

Slamming…banging.

Tears build up in my eyes and in that moment I’m not sure how this plays out.

I’ve got nothing left. I whisper. Hoping…praying…that the God who brought the rain will somehow bring the sun.

I begin writing a blog post in my head about what love looks like….

Love whispers when you’d rather yell to be heard.

Love knocks on the door that just slammed again.

Love promises to stay through curses and cussing and being pushed away.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:7

hopes….perseveres….I’ve got nothing left. I whisper again.

Then from the living a song rises that I’ve never heard before.

The storm rages — the wind blows, little feet kick doors, the thunder shakes the house, slamming doors rattle the hallway, the lightening is so bright and close that it is almost blinding, a little voice spews anger at deafening decibels — and here I sit on the stairs. Tears streaming down my cheeks and Jesus singing into my soul from the living room.

“Love’s not safe at all
Love might let you fall
Love’s not easy
But it’s good, it’s good, it’s good
Love will take your time
Love might feel unkind
Love will break you
But it’s good”

It is not my love or my energy or my efforts that will reach our foster peanut…our someday son….it is Jesus. His love pouring through me…and when I’m empty it can only come from Him…that…that is perfect love…love that is kind…love that casts out all fear….love that will always persevere…love that is eternal.

Like all storms, this one passed. The thunder rolled on and a little body grew tired.

The sun shone. A faint rainbow glimmered above. And I rocked a small body in my arms while he cried and let go of all that was battling within him.

This is exhausting work…this work of parenting in the wake of trauma, abuse and neglect….

Love will break you…It’s not easy….but it’s good.

 

 

 

15 Apr

It Was Never About Me

Bible & Notes

Face down on the bed. I keep reminding myself to breathe and unclench my jaw.

Whose idea was this?!?!?! 

Bible open. Notebook open. Notes, lists, pens, highlighters all stacked around me.

What was I thinking?!?!?!?

Miles from home. I didn’t even drive here. There is no escape. None. I accepted the invitation to teach and now I had to teach.

This was no ordinary retreat. There was pain here, an open wound of a church trying to heal. The whys are unimportant, but the heaviness of following God when it is difficult and painful was evident. The pain of brother against brother — of infighting and backbiting — hung on their hearts, was evident in the tears in their eyes, and palpable in their sighs and heavy silences.

And all I had were a few words on a page.

I felt like Moses….Lord can’t you send someone else, I can’t speak well. Isn’t there someone, anyone…please???

I found myself drawn back to a passage in 1 Chronicles 28 (a small passage I’ve sorta been obsessed with lately). David is talking to the officials of Israel about building a temple and he turns to speak to Solomon. Father to Son. Man of God to man of God. And this wisdom packed passage just keeps drawing me back, but this day as I lay on my bed wishing for an escape from this task FAR above my pay grade I see words I haven’t noticed before.

Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work. (1 Chronicles 28:10)

For the Lord has chosen you…..be strong and do the work.

It was the whisper to my frightened heart I needed and my prayers began to change. I went from “why me” to “please show up….be here…be real…be the words of my mouth, the thoughts in my heart, the peace in the room….overwhelm us with you.”

Normally, when I prepare to teach I write it out. Every word. Every line. I’ve timed it. Edited it. Memorized it. Over and over until it is part of the fabric of who I am. This time. I had a few words on a page. That’s it. No script. No page after page of notes and highlights. I had definitions, a few questions and that was it.  I felt lead…I was positive that God hadn’t wanted me to do the extensive preparation this time. I used only what I could find on the internet (not all the resources on my shelves and computer) and kept it super simple. Although, admittedly I wasn’t sure why. Even as I sat down to speak (cuz a girl with a busted up foot can’t stand and teach, but that is a story for another day) I wasn’t sure where we were headed…..I didn’t even know my intro.

But when I opened my mouth the words came. When I looked at my notes I knew what was important and what wasn’t. As I outlined the weekend for this group of strangers-yet-sisters I began to tell how the Bible is like a puzzle and we can see the picture on the box, but it isn’t until we start putting it together piece-by-piece that we really know the picture, the colors, the texture, the details. And this weekend we were going to take Scripture apart to put it back together so that we can see God when we are done.

When it was all over…all the days…all the sessions. I exhaled and all I could pray in an amazingly tired and yet somehow excited heart….You showed up.

And that was the reminder this weekend…it was never about me, or my words. It was about the God of the universe showing up to love on His girls. It was about Him soothing wounds with laughter, it was about Him whispering to weary hearts in the context of a verse, it was about His girls seeing Him in each other. God had something for each of the women in that house….even me. I can’t tell you how much I learn when preparing to teach — I walk out the lessons in real life that He’ll have come out of my mouth to the women.

But this time He had another message for this girl who struggles with doubt, who sometimes wonders if she’s good enough to be loved, this girl who spent much of her life feeling unlovable and just wants to be liked….I love you, I’ll show up, I’ve called you to things bigger than you, I’ll never leave you….

25 Nov

Unlovable

I spent the first few years feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed when he said it.

I spent the next couple of years craving hearing it. Going out of my way to create moments that sparked it.

Now, I just feel overwhelmed by grace whenever it comes up.

When he stares in my eyes.

When he touches my face.

When my hunky hubby tells me I look great or calls me “hot mama”.

I just linger. A warm sensation from some dark corner of my scarred heart rises up and I feel the weight of an overwhelming grace.

He thinks I’m beautiful.

He loves me.

Me.

That girl who was called “chubs” in elementary school, never got asked to prom and once chased men around hoping for something that felt like love.

Me.

That girl who on any given day hates her hair, has nothing to wear and chooses not to look in the mirror.

When we were first married and there were whispers of beauty or long, loving gazes it made me embarrassed. Uncomfortable. I felt like I had to reject the compliment or ignore it. Because I wasn’t worthy of what he was offering.

Despite a whirlwind romance, a beautiful wedding and this dream boat of a guy. I still felt unlovable.

Most of my life I have felt unlovable.

Unworthy of love.

But his love didn’t stop.

I went from squirming underneath his compliments to craving them. Like somehow it was only in his words that I could find affirmation…that it was only his love that could save me, keep me whole, or heal me. That’s a lot pressure for a guy to live under. And its a lot of work to chase words that cannot be coaxed or set up if they are to be heartfelt.

But still, I felt unlovable.

His words. His compliments. Him. Someone in those moments, I felt loveable and if I could just hear it again or linger in the space where they hung maybe I could feel loveable a bit longer.

But life moves on. Words fade. And emotions change.

I felt unlovable.

But his love didn’t stop.

And in this life where I teach school, dig in the Bible, sweep up endless piles of dog hair, try to match all the socks and nestle in his arms whenever I get the chance. Something changed.

I changed.

Compliments kiss my soul. His touch still sends electricity straight to my heart. And his green eyes gaze somewhere deep in my soul. And I linger there….

Not for more…but because there is grace there.

There is love there.

I don’t know when I knew or even really realized it. But, one day I noticed.

I’m okay with being loved.

I’m loved…and I feel lovable.

Worthy of being loved.

Saved by grace…searching for Christ in me…somewhere…somewhere way down deep something began to grow.

No scar makes you unlovable. No mistake or wrong doing takes away your worthiness. No man, no boy, no indiscretion will ever change how much God loves you or how much He thinks you are worth.

I needed to learn about God’s love.

To learn to accept. To feel it. To live in it.

And God knew that.

So he sent me my husband. A man wise and gentle. Crazy and funny. Hunky and romantic. He sent me a man who would whisper to my soul words I couldn’t understand….

….over and over again….

…until one day like a new language learned it would begin to click.

 

21 Nov

A Gentle Answer

1

“They probably don’t want parents by their age anyway, right?”

The question hung in the air between us.

I didn’t know her. She didn’t know me. We were engaged in a rather superficial conversation about foster care.

And then this question just hung there.

My mind was racing…screaming…WHAT?!?!!?

My heart knew this was one of those moments…to change the world with a gentle answer.

I smiled at her and swallowed, hard.

“Everyone wants a place to belong. Someone to want them….to need them…to protect them…to call them mine…a family. I don’t think that ever changes.”

I had more to say. I was ready to educate her. But I bit my lip and just stood there.

The awkward silence seemed unbearable…all twenty seconds of it.

She didn’t move.

I didn’t move.

She didn’t say anything.

I didn’t say anything else.

She smiled, and whispered, “I had never thought of that.”

If I had met her question with anger or frustration. If I had been rude or ignored her. The door would have slammed shut between us, but it didn’t…. We talked about foster care…our family and her and her friend for more than half an hour. Why we want to become foster parents; the kids that are waiting and the trauma they’ve been through; what the process looks likes (NOT the Lifetime movie of the week version); and just how big the need is.

It made me think of Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” This was not the first time (or nearly the last) that people express their opinions about foster care, the children we are waiting for, or the “system” itself. Sometimes I agree with them, but often I want to grab their words in the air and bonk them over the head with them.

But, God is teaching me in this season of waiting.

Those opinions…those moments when those words hang out there….that is a chance to change the world. I have NO idea what people do with the information or love we share when we talk about foster care. Some might forget before they walk away, some might be able to look at foster care differently tomorrow, and maybe once in a while we are just watering a seed that God has planted in their hearts. I don’t know.

But I do know that bonking them over the head or getting all uppity about why I think their opinions are wrong won’t open a door to understanding. Won’t have the potential to change a heart…a life.

1

{photo courtesy of Creation Swap}

I’m not naive. I know when God blesses our family again we will face opinions and judgement aimed at the child we choose to open our home to. There will be words said sometimes that seem cruel or misplaced and I know that there is a mother bear alive and well in my soul. Come after my cubs…and…well….. There will be times that I can’t stop to change opinions or fight ignorance, but there will be times I can…if I choose to.

And I pray that I do.

That I see these people God brings across our path not as people to be avoided or ignore (“oh just ignore them”) but people we can reach out to, share a slice of our story with, and water along the way.

A gentle word doesn’t just turn away wrath it can spark a friendship. There are people praying for our family who I don’t know…not their names or their details…but they are PRAYING for our family because we shared a tidbit of our story. They choose to kneel before the throne of the King of Kings on our behalf becuase we showed them truth laced with kindness. There are people praying our someday child through trauma that no mama heart wants to picture, because we didn’t ignore them we embraced them.

….a gentle words turns away wrath… and that can change the world.

19 Nov

Beautiful Disaster

Light plays across the ceiling as the candles burn low on the mantle. The smell of fresh bread lingers in the air. Snuggled up with a cup of tea, a warm blanket and a book. Pandora quietly plays the perfect low key station. His soft snoring fills the space in around me.

Insert contented sigh.

As I sit, warm and safe…content and loved…home…I hear the quiet notes begin. I know the lyrics before they come…I know the pain that hangs in the melody that’s coming. The song is me…the girl in the rearview mirror…I know her…I was her…I am her….Beautiful Disaster…

I’m sitting in the driveway. The sun is just starting to rise and I catch my reflection in the rearview mirror.  Salty trails of massacre and tears cut down my cheeks. My eyes are red, bloodshot and puffy. My hair is a mess. I look old. Tired. Used.

I lay my head on the steering wheel and bawl.

She’s giving boys what they want
Tries to act so nonchalant

Under cover of darkness I was someone else. I had gotten involved with a man who didn’t want people to know we were “together”. When the sun went down I began to drink and party. One more beer, one more bar. Waiting for the phone call. When the phone rang I’d drop everything and run to where he was.

I would act as though I didn’t care about him or for him. I’d allow him to do things to me that made me ashamed and hurt me. I held my breath and hoped he’d call, because I didn’t want to be alone. And I knew he didn’t love me…despite his drunk dialing “confessions” of love and need for me…I knew I didn’t deserve love…this was the best I could expect.

When he was done with me he’d drift off to sleep. Never looking me in the eye, never holding my hand, never calling me by my name. Under cover of darkness I’d get dressed, slip quietly out to my car and drive home….ashamed…broken.

She prays one day she’ll find someone to need her
She swears that there’s no difference between the lies and compliments
It’s all the same if everybody leaves her

Oh, how I wanted more…dreamed of more…but I never felt worth it….never.

And one day, he moved on…someone cuter…funnier…whatever. That man who had no use for me dropped me like I was yesterday’s trash and moved on. I was devastated. I couldn’t even give myself away….

I sat in my car and cried.

—-

His snores bring me back out of tear filled memory.

Just his presence. His snoring….his breath…pulls on my heart.

This man who loves me…even when I feel unlovable…even when I’m hurt and broken and failing. Even when I haven’t showered or I’m not in the mood. Even when I lose my temper or am hormonal. Even when I admit who I was before…..

There are so many miles between me and the girl I was. I don’t miss her…or her life. Or her heartache.

I remember sitting in that car, like it was just a breath ago. I wanted everything to be different…anything to change.

I drank more. Cried more. And just wanted to give up.

And then grace whispered….in a little room under the eaves as late afternoon sunshine streamed through the window I felt a whisper of my worth….

Jesus

It took months, weeks, really maybe even years for me to believe that I could be loved….was worth loving. That even this amazing overwhelming love that I knew Jesus had for me felt more like obligation…I mean He’s God…doesn’t He have to love everyone???

Would anyone choose to love me? Fight for me…protect me…love me.

I’m not sure when my heart got it….really got that picture of my Jesus.. arms spread open wide on the cross….fighting for me….protecting me….choosing me….loving me.

I still struggle with it…and in all truth I’ll never fully understand it.

But I waited for someone to take me home…to love me…and He was already there waiting.

I was so that girl from that song….and I never believed that my life could change.

My life isn’t a Beautiful Disaster anymore….more like a beautiful (dog hair covered, toys on the floor, laundry piled up) mess. And sometimes I take it for granted…I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

Feeling put upon or like this isn’t what I wanted, and then this song blows a memory through my living room.

I’ve seen sayings on Pinterest and Facebook that say something like the things you take for granted, someone else is praying for. And then today, I realized the things I am taking for granted…I used to pray for…..

13 Nov

Light Bulb Moments

You know the moment…

…when they get it.

When the lightbulb goes on…when it clicks.

One of the coolest things about being a homeschooling mom, I think, is getting to share these moments with our peanuts. Seeing them really figure things out and take hold of ideas. Watching that lightbulb come on!

Well, I suppose this year I had my lightbulb moment about homeschooling. (Light Bulb!! — love how Gru says it in “Despicable Me”…watch it —>>> Light Bulb)

I’m not an expert. There are women who have done this years (and years and years) longer than I have. There are women with degrees, businesses, books and blogs. They are the experts in homeschooling. But this year, for the first time, I think I am becoming an expert in something…my kids.

With my calendar, my planner, and piles of curriculum around me I sat just a few short months ago. The puzzle of our school year coming together — workbooks, reading, field trips, videos, crafts — they were all becoming boxes to be checked off. And even while I planned I knew something was different….but I didn’t know the what.

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure when I figured out what was different…sometime between day one and day whatever this?? (we are in the ninth week so you do the math…I don’t do math before coffee)

The difference isn’t really the what I planned…well it sort of is.

The difference isn’t really in the how I planned….well it sort is.

The difference was in my understanding of what I’m doing and why. The difference is my understanding of my children. Of how they learn…what they like…where they struggle…their strengths…their weaknesses opportunities for improvement (ha!)…what drives them.

I prepared for our lil man who has to move even when sitting still…coloring sheets and small activities while we are reading our zillions of books.

I prepared for our girl who needs to read it and write it before it locks in her brain…her response to reading or listening to information is to journal it out and read it back to me when she is done.

There are piles of library books, stacks of math manipulatives, bins of lapbooks, and now a whole stack of already completed crafts that accompany our subject matter. And let me just tell you…this is so not for me. I learn best with simple book, some notes and to recopy the notes later. I don’t need my hands on things or to work it our in clay, but my kids do. They are hands on learners — exploring the world with every sense and putting the pieces together with everything we do. The more they can touch, play and hear what it is…the more it becomes theirs.

I have spent the last few years leading Bible studies. Teaching women to dig deeper into God’s Word — to really see what each verse says…about the Biblical story and about God. This past summer I stepped back from teaching to just focus on things at home (you know like being a wife and mother, preparing to be a foster-mother, oh and tackling that ever-growing pile of laundry). I have felt a little lost. Like I no longer had a calling or a purpose (cuz those things I stepped down to take care of don’t count??). And then one day I saw it…yep, another, lightbulb moment….I could teach my kids to study God’s Word…to fall in love with God verse by verse.

So, we started the year with Joseph. Each day we read a couple of verses and talk about what they mean. What it tells us about Joseph, the people in his life and God. We’re in week nine and Joseph is hiding silver cups and still hiding his identity. It has been so cool to watch my kids own this story — to retell it, to ask question, to feel for Joseph, to look for where God is even when life’s circumstances don’t clearly show Him. This morning they acted out Joseph’s story so far — laughing, playing different parts, using invisible people, chasing each other through the house like some Keystone Cops show — and they knew it. Every details. Every dream. Every circumstance that seemed unfair. That God stayed close. Watching my kids this morning made me feel like a Bible study teacher again. Gave me a dose of what I’ve missed — watching people fall in love with the Bible…with God.

And really, this is the lesson I’m learning this year. God called me to homeschool…this challenging, humbling, giggly adventure with my family. He has never asked me to be an expert in anything more than what He has given me — my family…my kids.

I wonder if God is as excited about my lightbulb moments as I am about our kids’??

21 Aug

Why I Hate Homeschool

The door was closed. And locked.

The fan was on.

And still I could hear him.

Standing on the stairs, our sweet little boy was telling me how he was waiting for me so I could see what was in his hands and he was going to hide it behind his back so that I couldn’t see it when the door opened but maybe he would just put it on the top parts of the stairs so then I couldn’t see it when I came out but I still could see it and it wouldn’t break cuz he had worked a very long time on it and had I ever worked a very long time on anything did I like legos cuz he liked legos did they have legos when I was a kid because that was a long time ago and maybe girls didn’t like legos back then but….. (oh, it went on, but I am sure you get the point)

Here I was in the bathroom. I wasn’t hiding. I was, well, using the bathroom for its intended purposes. And, yet, there was no peace.

In that moment I hated homeschool.

(please, don’t lecture me about all the moments I’ll miss when they are older or they grow up so fast or blah, blah, blah…I’ve heard. I know it. But let’s be honest, it’s hard this motherhood thing…no matter how fleeting or sticky sweet the memories seem in the rearview mirror…it is hard. And sometimes a girl just wants to pee in peace.)

I had been up since 5:30. Saw hubby off to work with fresh brewed coffee and a kiss. I had my Bible time, showered, gotten dressed in real clothes (knew I was gonna rock the day when even had on matching bra and undies….okay, I know TMI but you and I both know that makes a huge difference and somehow don’t you feel more like a grown up?) and reviewed teacher’s guides. As I unloaded the dishwasher, I prepared a hot breakfast. The kids helped unload the dishwasher and chatted excitedly about the first day of school. We ate breakfast together (even remembered to pray over it!). We took first day of school pictures. We did our prayer sticks, devotion and Bible study. The kids were excited to investigate their new school supplies (especially the super big eraser that said “Oops!” on it).

crayons

The morning had gone perfectly. Sure there had been a few shed tears over drawing arms on a self-portrait and the fact that there were no breaks for the Wii in the middle of our first lesson of the day. But hey, the end of summer vacation is a shock to their systems and I could shrug it off. I was “Big Mama” (yep, totally still rocking that Superhero thing) able to homeschool, keep a neat home and look after my man…all while looking cute, keeping up with my girlfriends and blogging!

And suddenly I was in the bathroom wondering why there is no peace, even in here.

This hating homeschool feeling welled up in me.

I felt angry.

Then I felt sad.

Then I felt guilty for feeling sad and angry.

Then I just felt numb.

I should pause here and tow the party line that homeschooling is a delightful experience for your family. Learning becomes the heartbeat of your family — discovery and relationship guide your days. The chance to influence our children’s character by teaching them and surrounding them with love in a godly atmosphere is a blessing.

And really all sarcasm aside, it all totally is, but…

Right now. I’m sitting numb in the bathroom. Hating homeschool.

I see those moms at the street corner waving goodby to their smartly dressed scholars as they ride away on the big yellow bus. I see them high-fiving as it turns the corner. I can taste the mimosas they toast as it roars out of sight. Do they go home and jump on the bed? Or nap? Or eat ice cream for breakfast? Or wander every aisle of Target just looking at all the cuteness with no runs to the bathroom and never once uttering “don’t touch”? No, I bet they enjoy a trip to the bathroom in silence and wonder what their children are doing at school.

The curse (and ultimate blessing) of homeschool is that I’m with my children ALL day. We do life together. And we enjoy it!!! Last week, during that mirage called summer vacation, there were video games, movies, outdoor adventures, sleeping in, and lots of other things that occupied their minds and time. I was invisible, except for when the phone rang and summoned them inexplicably to my side to talk incessantly. Oh, yes, there was even peace in the bathroom….sometimes.

But this week, when the school bell rang it shifted the atmosphere in our home. It was time to learn and it is my job…as mom…as teacher…to help keep those little brains turned on. Funny thing about our kids (maybe all kids?!?!?) is that the more you engage, the more they engage. They soak up all we pour out and they seek us out…and follow us to the bathroom.

The numb feeling begins to subside and I begin to realize that the kids aren’t the only ones that have to adjust to school being back in session.

“…and I didn’t use special blocks on this one cuz (oh, he really did talk the WHOLE time I was in there) I didn’t have the right colors you know I had to search through lots of boxes to find the pieces I want we sure do have a lot of legos mom but I can never find those flat ones you know the ones that are flat that have…” (bathroom door opens) “…oh, you are FINALLY out of there!! Do you want to see my creation mom?”

His blue-green eyes are so full of pride, and rocking back and forth on the step he is so squishably cute.

I tussle his hair and climb the stairs with him to investigate his latest creation.

“Mom can kids play legos during reading time at public school?” “No probably not, pal.” “Oh? Well, I love homeschool mom.” (yep, he totally did say that!!) “Me too, buddy, me too!”

 

11 Jun

Because. I. Can.

kc

I scroll by quickly. Because I can.

Sitting on my comfy couch, in my air-conditioned living room with my cold Diet Coke sweating on the table nearby. I scroll by.

Because. I. Can.

I’m neither proud of this fact or ashamed of this. Just being honest.

I did go back and stare at the photo…all the detail…all the heartache…the tiny little ribs…the sweet arms…the menacing vulture. All of it. With tears in my eyes I shut the tab. Image gone. Tears lingering.

(photo by Kevin Carter — to read blog where I first saw it and read it here)

 

But what can I do? That’s almost always my question. What can I, a simple homemaking, homeschooling woman from the middle of Virginia, actually do???

If that child was within my grasp, would I pick it up? You bet your sweet boopie I would. (Yeah, I don’t know what a boopie is either, but it sounded good and kinda southern…I like to sound southern!) Yes, I would pick up that child and do whatever was in my means to help…to care for…to feed…to love on…to raise…whatever.

But.

(I can already see some of your wheels turning — ready to tell me I could go on a mission trip or I could write a check to an organization is on the ground. Both noble ideas and answers. But.)

While I sit among the richest population in the world does writing a check really make me a woman after God’s own heart? Does a scrawled signature, a stamp and trip to the mailbox get me off the hook in the fight for the “least”?? My simple answer…no. God wants more from me….from us.

My husband and I choose to partner with organizations like Compassion International. And yes, we totally write a check…actually less effort than that…got love auto payments, but our role doesn’t end there. We write letters and send pictures to our Compassion kids. We pray for and talk about the children, their families, their communities, their countries. Compassion takes the money and multiples it with others into food, medical care, spiritual care, love and SO much more.

And while we love Compassion and the richness our sponsorship adds to our lives. It is a piece of what we do…and it still doesn’t help me refute the “but” from above.

At the end of the day, or my life, what can I offer to my sweet Savior as my efforts to change the world? To love those He loves. To change the world one heart, one empty tummy, one stolen childhood, one person at a time?

**start at home** Sounds almost like a cop-out doesn’t it. Too simple, too easy, too lazy. But, it isn’t. Everyday the focus of our home is teach our peanuts about God — His creation, His people (through world history and current events), and loving Him. Homeschool lends itself to educating my children about the truths of extreme poverty around the world, but any family with any schooling routine could do this. You just gotta get a little intentional. The old saying about children being the future is TOTALLY true and we need to live like it. Start the conversations — talking about thinking about others, showing Jesus’ love, sacrificing for others. Then as a family make a plan…what’s one thing we can do this month to change our world (remember one step, one person at a time). Then Do it!!! (need some inspiration or some help — check out this awesome ebook from Live58 or connect with great communities like Moms Ending Extreme Poverty on Facebook or read the book Missional Moms by Helen Lee)

**find their passions** Our daughter has a heart for orphans (or “children without parents” as she used to call them). After listening to her sweet little girl games of school and store, I realized that she was playing that she was teaching orphans and selling everything she owned to care for them. We began to look for ways for her to put her hands where her heart already was. We made dresses…simple patterns, cute fabric and a little bit of trial and error. In the past two years we have sent boxes of dresses to organizations here in the states and we have loaded dresses into missionaries suitcases to have them delivered to little princesses at orphanages and poor communities around the world. What talents do you have? Where does your heart daydream or imagine?

**pray** God can do more with a willing heart than we ever can with a checkbook and a plan. Surrender it all to God — ask Him where to go and what to do. You might be writing checks, living abroad, or inspiring your community to get involved before you know it. Follow God — He has a plan for you.

**do something** I scrolled past that picture that hurt my heart (much like I used to change the channel when Sally Struthers used to show me images of flies crawling on starving children), but I chose to go back. To read it. To pray about it. To follow the links…to read the comments…to educate myself. Our family will be working our through the “Giving Table” ebook (linked above) this summer. That is our first action step, and as we pray who knows where God will take us.

It has been said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” (source unknown) Darkness and poverty linger (just like that blasted vulture in the photo) and when we do nothing we leave room for evil to win (the battle, not the war for Jesus already won that).  Choose to love….to fight…to follow Jesus…to change the world….Because. You. Can.

 

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