Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Faithful in the Storm

I can feel it. Rumbling down deep in my belly and in the heart of a
ll I am. Change is coming. Swift and slow all at once, as the storm clouds rumble in and the rain threatens, it's scent on the air.

Change is making it's way into my home and yet I know, He is Faithful. It is my word for this year. This span of days that I knew would be stretching and pulling at me. Breaking and molding into a newness that I'm still not sure of. But I am reminded, as he clothed the lilies that he will provide.

I am reminded that there are things which are sacred. A golden chord rapped round my table at night, bound by more than two and woven into the security that is family. He is faithful in the eyes of the child that holds so much hurt and the voice of the man across the desk that looks for band aids and not solutions.

He is faithful in the job that takes and gives both so much, and the newness on the horizon that will lead to more freedom and assist to answer this call. This call to motherhood and the waxing and waning of my goals and the desires of my heart against and towards the needs of this family and this calling.

I will work this year. Toil and labor over fields I haven't created but have called me to them. I will settle in and feel the flow of the school and teaching, being both the master and the student. I will be tested.

But I am called to know he is faithful. He has both warned me and comforted me with the choosing of this word for this year. Things will change as they haven't before and time will seem to stand still at that table as the rain plummets down and we wait for the promise. But it will come. For he is faithful.

It may be years before I see the fruition of these seeds, but the seeds are planted none the less. And the buds will come and the blooms will push through this soil loosened by the storm.

A little    with Holley.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mental Health Day

We followed the waitress to a table (strategically I'm sure) located in a secluded corner of the busy restaurant. Sunday traffic had flooded the dining room with those fresh from the pews and the place was packed. We don't typically go to lunch with the small army, unless of course it's Costco (hello, I can feed the whole famdamly for $12.50, thank you very much) which the baby associates with pizza, his favorite, and screams the word out any time he sees insignia of the giant store. We may eat too much pizza. Or too much Costco. Or both. Don't judge me.

Anyway, we followed the waitress back to the table in the back, far away from all the other respectably sized families, and spread out the menus and crayons. Thank you Lord for kids menus you can draw on. A midst the what do you wants and the I'm not telling you again to put that downs I didn't notice the little lady who was sat beside us. That is, not until she turned around.

She was dressed in a pink track suit, with a Kindle in her hands and a necklace with two small metal charms on it. She peered at me through her glasses and nodded her head topped with springy curls.

"You've got well behaved kids there." she said.

I tried not to fall of my chair and was successful in biting back a comment reminiscent of just give it time, sweetheart. 

Instead I thanked her for her comment and she continued with "I didn't want to sit here. I saw all them kids and thought I'd want to sit somewhere else. But your children are very well behaved."

Dear reader, mark it down on the calendar. This was a compliment this mamma needed. Because what she didn't know was how often that felt off the mark.

She didn't know about the first name basis with the principal.

She didn't know about the hours spent trying to calm the tantrums.

She didn't know about the sleepless nights wondering what it was I could do to calm the broken hearts of my children.

She didn't know about the tears shed and the prayers whispered that begged for peace. Peace in my home. Peace in my heart. Peace in our spirits.

She didn't know that today I would be home with my seven year old, because he needed a mental health day. Because the last few weeks at school have been so hard, and the only answers anyone seems to have for me involves pharmaceuticals, which haven't worked. She didn't know that I could tell from the moment he walked out of his room that today wouldn't be a good day, so I did something I've never done before-kept him home when he wasn't ill.

The world sees this boy and decides that he's hyperactive. They decide that I should pump his little body full of amphetamines and call it good. What they don't see is the boy that I do. The one who so desperately wants to be liked that he pushes too far. They don't see the child calmly doing the art project while his brother steals the pieces of construction paper. They don't see the child who climbs in my lap to read a story. They don't see the eyes that beg for grace. They don't see the kid who loves to run and play and drive his remote control truck.

They see an action and they think they've got him figured out. Male + busy = ADHD. I see hope + fear = anxiety. There's a difference.

It's a hard road, this mommyhood. One with much comparison and little encouragement.

I often find myself wrapped in a web of doubt. One that reminds me how my family is not your typical Brady Bunch. My kids come from different backgrounds and different parenting styles and here in these four walls we just try to blend them all together. Some days it works. Other days it looks like a finger painting by the toddler. But I'm learning that this is okay.

Each day is won in small victories. Like today. We'll do some school work and some crafts. We'll not worry about checking in before and after recess. We wont worry about being asked to play. We wont look at the phone and dread the principal's number. We'll take a mental health day, and hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Linking up today with

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Save the Storks

When I was in the 4th grade, I had a t-shirt with neon writing that said "Half the people who go into abortion clinics don't come out alive". It was blatant and eye catching. It was in your face. It was a testament to the late 80's and early 90's Pro-Life movement that rocked the nation and lead to violent protests on both sides of the fence. 

Each side called names. Each side flung hate like fire and words like knives. Neither spoke love. And after it was done, after an abortion was preformed, there was no support-from anyone. Women left the sterility of a clinic to the singularity of their lives. The church cast shame, not grace. Is it any surprise that abortion remains a place where wounds are left open and bare and secrets burn a hole in the soul of families? A life has been lost, and others remain in mourning and grief. 

I'm caught in an odd place in this war of rights and choice. Having never been able to get pregnant, I've never been in the position where I had a choice. On the other hand, my faith and belief system and my knowledge grounded in science would have shifted my decision away from the confines of a clinic even if tasked with the decision.

And there's another angle too. The one where I was jealous for so long of women who could carry children and instead chose to let them go before their first breath was taken. That's a hard one. It is difficult to feel love when you are overcome with grief and a jaded heart. It's taken a long time for me to make peace with my body and with God. But I've learned that when you ask God for peace, he gives you challenges in which you can find it.

Over the last few years my heart has been drawn to women who have had an abortion. I've seen how they are treated by many within the church and it broke my heart. We all have loss and heartache, and burdens are not meant to be carried alone. Yet what do we do? We cast women out, just as has been done for thousands of years. And that's not okay. 

We are all children of the King. We all have a right to sanctuary. And we all have deserve love. 

I love how the movement is changing towards this by a select few. In my community, a group called  Hearts of Hope Montana has reached out their arms in love to comfort women who have had abortions. The ladies who lead here are beautiful women with a heart to serve. I am blessed know them. And there are other voices making change as well. 

I've been following Save the Storks for a couple of years now and I love what they stand for. It is so simple: a bus where women who are contemplating abortion can come for information. They provide a free sonogram so that she might see the life she carries. That's it. No obligations. No pushing or guilt. No stipulations or contracts. Just a free picture of life and Jesus' love. 

To date there are no Save the Storks vans anywhere near me, but they are currently raising funds to bring one home to the Pacific North West and I want to help. So for the month of March, I'll be donating all the proceeds of my book, Fearfully Made, to help fund a Save the Storks bus. I will also be donating all my commission from any Zip Top Organizing Utility Tote purchased through my Thirty-One Things consultant site. I chose this specific tote because it makes a perfect diaper bag, and thought it would be awesome if maybe some of the ones purchased were donated to pregnancy help centers in communities around the world. How awesome would that be?

Bottom line, I want to raise at least $100. Do you think we can do that? I would love it if you would help. It's simple. It's quick. And it just may save a life.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sticky Floors and the Grand Marche

I spent just over two months of my life in a land far away from the place I call home. Where the mountains were covered not in pine but in lush green and red dirt. I traveled roads where the major highways were filled with potholes as big as the cramped taxi I sat in. I've shopped in the Grand Marche and bartered over goods and wears. And I've seen the face of poverty and the jaded hunger of poverty.

I was changed.

There are so many memories that I think oh yes, that's the one. The one that changed me. But then I realize that they all changed me, a cumulative quilt of experience and brokenness and adventure stitched together in this fabric of my life.

 I remember one day walking through the crowded market and a small boy, his skin olive and his eyes brown, asked me for money. His clothes were tattered and dirty. His feet were bare.  My French was rudimentary, but I understood his plea and in return I asked where his mamma was. He told me he didn't have one.

No mamma. This boy on the streets. He couldn't have been more than six.

I reached for my purse but my friend grabbed my arm and pulled me away, giving me a silent No with her eyes. She told me later that he was likely lying to me, that his mother was probably waiting down the road somewhere for him, having sent him out with the purpose to beg for money. To take advantage of the heart of some silly tourist/missionary not used to the harshness of this land and the lives of it's people.

Was she right? Probably. I'll never know for sure. But even so, this memory has stuck with me. It's clung tight to my heart through

this boy and his deep brown eyes. And I want to go back.

Ever since I returned from Togo I have wanted to go back. To expand my personal mission work. To hold babies who have no mother and to comfort the children who have lost their families. I want to work in an orphanage, spending long days and longer nights fighting for the rights of babes and children who have no one else who will.

It's why I went to graduate school, really. Yes, I wanted to teach but I chose public health to learn more about how to work in impoverished areas. It's what I wrote my application essay on-the hope to one day return.

Today I read this offering from She Loves Magazine and my heart was full with the longing and my eyes overflowing with the remembrance of the dream that seems so far away now, in this moment of baseball sign ups and wiping down the highchair. And I pray that one day this dream will come to fruition.

My hubby is worried that one day I'll go. Not for selfish reasons, but because he thinks I'll either a) not come back or b) bring all the kiddos home with me. Which deep down I don't think he'd mind at all, option b that is.

But I also know that sometimes these dreams don't come true. That sometimes there are other plans for our futures that we know nothing of. Right now that plan includes 4 little beasties and a job teaching future nurses. My hope is that in this little life I can at least do a small trip, or ten, to help in places that need it most. It's a hard thing, this balancing our wants and needs and the desires of our heart. To know that there is a need out there that needs met and you want so desperately to see that need abolished.

Yet there is a mission field here, right here in this kitchen with sticky floors and crumbs on the counter. Right here with the little girl with olive skin and brown eyes and the young lady with eyes the color of the sea and hair that changes based on her mood. Right here with the little boy whose eyes are sometimes haunted and the one who likes to body slam all who dare to lay on the floor. And with the man, the one who has held my hand for the better part of my life. The one who is my best friend and my love. And this, this mission field is my calling to and it changes me daily.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Open

Come on in, the writing's fine over at Kate's for Five Minute Friday.

Prompt: Open.


The door is open.
Come rest your weary feet.
I'll hold your hand,
I'll listen while you weep.
I know you seem so far,
I know the road is long.
But I am still right here,
I've been here all along.
I've watched you in your struggle,
I've seen you toil and bear
Those burdens I said I'd carry,
And yet you hang your head.
Come here my sweet child
Come sit beside my fire,
Let me wrap you it's warmth
Take your rest,
I know you're tired.
I'll be your strength tomorrow
When the morning sun is high.
I'll carry all your struggles,
I'll be right by your side.
Though you may not notice,
Though you may forget
I hope you'll find this place again
My door is open yet.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Untold Stories

When I started writing in this space two years ago, it was to share my story of infertility. I have had backlash.

I've had others tell me that I shouldn't be so crass. That I should look over what I've went through and focus on the good. I've had people pull away and try to remind me of the life I have now.

But that wasn't the point. I wanted to show the world what it felt like. In that moment. In that place. What it looked like to me in my life. Trying to believe in a God that was faithful when each month was like a slap in the face. What it felt like falling on my face in tears, begging for answers, and then to hear his voice say to me "Be still, and know that I am God. Trust me." 

It's a messy place, that pit of despair. Where all seems lost and you're holding on to a threadbare faith.  When I wrote No Maybe Baby it was raw and cathartic. It became the voice that I had wanted to speak for so long, but was afraid to because I didn't think that anyone would understand.

There are a few stories in the bible where we see infertility rear it's bitter head. I listened to a sermon today where the pastor talked about Abraham and Sarah. If you're looking for a story on desperation-that's it. I could see many of the points that the pastor made-that we are never complete unless we are good with Jesus. That it's God who fills the holes and makes us whole. I see that. I get that. But what I didn't see in this version of Sarah's story was compassion. Because here's the thing-if there's no one reminding us that Jesus loves us and that he will make all things right in his time, if there's no one loving on us when we are in that dark place-then we've lost that vital piece of compassion and empathy. Abraham and Sarah messed up, big time. But I know what it feels like to be in her shoes-and I can't imagine what it would have been like then, when your whole world as a woman was locked in bearing a son.

That's why I have a love/hate relationship with the story of Hannah. She was faithful. She believed. Her husband loved the pudding right out of her. But she was barren. So great was her anguish that when she went to pray at the temple-the priest accused her of being drunk. And I think in a sense she was-drunk on pain. Intoxicated in heartache beyond the point of recognition. And she begged God to give her grace.

Have you ever been there? To that place where you're hurting so much you are nearly unrecognizable? Our girl Hannah, she was. She was there. She knew what it was to feel like an outcast, even when you're loved.

Because infertility does that to you.

We don't hear the infertility stories until they're "made right". Do you know what I mean? How many people do you know of who will tell you how long they tried to get pregnant, and are only saying so now because they are or because they're finally holding that child they so longed for? I can think of countless tales where this is just the case. Or they got pregnant after adopting. You know that one? I've heard and read and bore witness to countless stories just as this.

But what of the stories you've never heard? Stories like mine. Stories where from the outside it looks as if every child was conceived in love and brought into this world to the arms of two parents who anticipated their arrival for nine months, but a closer look tells a different tale. I love my children. I love them as I believe I would had they been born to me. Had I carried them not just in my heart but under it. And yet I will never be given that option. Mine is not the beautiful story of heartbreak through infertility and then the faithfulness of God when conception and a child finally comes.

Because isn't that how it's always said? The faithfulness of God that broke that chain of infertility and brought forth a child?

Is that to say then that God is not faithful to me, because I will never bare witness to this particular miracle?

I will be the first to tell you that I have been bitter. I have been brokenhearted. I have felt that God had forsaken me and I have felt banished from his grace and his faithfulness. So much so that I have wished that I could have been pregnant, just once-even if it were to end in miscarriage, just so that I could know what it felt like to be carrying life.

I think that is probably a selfish thing to ask for. But a part of me feels like maybe it would have lessened the feeling of loss just a bit. Because when you are infertile, it is hard to name the depth of the loss that you feel. It is like a barren black hole that you are desperately trying to climb out of.

And yet, I know that God is faithful. I know that the life he has created for me and my family has been in his master plan for eternity. But this doesn't mean it doesn't still hurt. It doesn't mean that when I watch shows like Fixer Upper on TV and see this family with their four children and their farm and easy love that I'm not saddened, because this is what I had pictured my life to be. And it breaks my heart to know the loss that my children face or will face because they are adopted. And while adoption is a beautiful thing, it is not how family was intended.

So maybe what this all comes down to, this rambling of thoughts and emotions is this: compassion. We all need compassion. No matter our story. No matter our history. No matter our choices or the current place of our hearts. It is compassion that will heal the broken and the hurting. It is compassion that will lead to the cross. It is compassion that is our redemption story. Because no one showed more compassion, than Jesus.

I'm linking up with my dear friend Lisha today over at Give Me Grace. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Greatest of These is Love

Today I was blessed by a schizophrenic. First I answered a series of number questions related to a drawing, then I was asked to read a series of words. But not just any series of words. I was asked to read the fruits of the spirit, and then repeat them.

When I did, only fudging a bit on the version of the verse, the patient’s eyes lit up and they pointed out the top word-love. Then I was blessed. A blessing on me. By someone who lives in a world where things are not so stellar. Where life revolves around cinder block walls and low stimulation.
Some would argue that this is a manifestation of the disease. That religiosity has played a part in the grandiosity of the delusions. But here’s what I think: I think I walked out of that milieu and feeling blessed. And the first thoughts that came to my mind is that people are inherently good.

Despite all the atrocities that are going on in the world. Hell, despite all the atrocities that are happening in the minds of those I work with, people are still inherently good.

My life didn’t turn out how I had planned for it to. There are things in these years that are far from what I had expected and it certainly isn’t the life I had thought it would be. And today, things got stressful and frustrating and I had to take a few moments (and a long run-my muscles will be killing me tomorrow) to work it out in my own heart and mind. But I kept coming back to my interaction this morning.

Regardless of all that happens. Regardless of all that is not how I planned. I have been blessed. And not just by the client I spoke to. And even more so than that were the words used to share that blessing, because the greatest of them is love.

Just love. The conversations with my students and with those I work with seem to always come back to this simple four letter word that is perhaps the most complicated of our vocabulary. And that complication is good, because a word so strong should not be so easily tossed around.

Instead it should be easily shown. Easily exampled. It should be used to open hearts and to calm tangled minds. It should be used to bless. When people ask about work, about experiences like today's they often laugh it off. Sometimes I feel like I should too. Sometimes it comes in such an odd manor that the uncomfortable laugh seems the most appropriate.

But here’s the thing-it’s my job to advocate. It’s my job to show compassion and to be a blessing to those around me. Instead, the blessing was turned to me.  Why?

Because the greatest of these is love.