A time to share

There are times when the force of life comes at us with such force that it seems all we can do is hang on and do our best to weather the storm. There's no amount of wisdom and insight or knowledge of the answer that will allow you to skip the journey you are on. There are no shortcuts and no "easy button" to get you through to the next stage.  Life and the tremendous dynamics it holds take time--time to process, time to wade through, time to get back up when you've fallen down, time to wonder, time to grieve, time.

A year ago today, my mom died.

Just as the beauty and wonder of the scene from the mountain-top and the darkness of the deepest valleys cannot be portrayed in even the most sophisticated paintings, theaters or photographs, what's left in my memory of the highs and lows is simply a remnant of what I experienced. But certainly, it is worthwhile and my hope is that sharing it will yield blessings on us all.

I can't quite articulate how much the last few years have been forceful, powerful and incredibly blurry.
That's genuinely the best way I can describe the past year. So much goodness, so much sorrow, so much peace, so much love, SO many intensely contrasting emotions crammed into little tiny pieces of life---all surrounded by a blur.

For example, I will now (abruptly) leave you with some writing from Mother's Day. Words that were cleansing during that rough weekend and also words that I completely forgot I'd ever written and that I feel compelled to share.


Yesterday, the tears fell freely. My heart full of sadness. Poetic words flowed easily through my mind of memories and earthly things I'd wished we could share.

Today's rhythm was far more rapid and the words are jagged, their pace: rigid.

The sunset. Illuminating the city's downtown. Every color of the rainbow, your granddaughter exclaimed. You are not here to share it. The ceremony of your son's vow renewal. Simple, yet right. I wept as I thought how you wanted most to see them walk down the aisle so many years ago.

People always say, "not a day goes by that I haven't thought of so-and-so." I never realized how true that is. It comes more naturally than my remembering to shower, or put on deodorant. It doesn't matter how blessed, happy, full-of-life, or overrun with challenges a day might be, I think about you. I hear you telling me I'm cutting an onion wrong or arguing about something mundane. I hear you telling me the things I should do in life more than I ever did before. I'm thankful for that. Thank you for speaking into my life, far more gently than I might have expected from you, "Write." Thank you for having a vision for me, even as a child, "Counsel." I never once thought you were wrong in those proclamations, but never did I imagine you could be SO right.

As Mother's day approaches, my heart could not be more full of gratitude. Thank you, mom. Thank you for the way you surrendered your life to God's direction while I was so young. You weren't perfect, but I know things were much different for me because of it. God had a plan for your life, and you new He had one for mine all along. You didn't travel an easy road, but you never, ever gave up. There are times I look back and I'm not sure how you made it, and times when I'm not sure where you were---because you gave me freedom to grow and freedom to bloom. It's those times, that I must admit, that you believed in me far more than I have ever believed in myself. And even when you didn't say it, you showed me.

Thank you for teaching me to stand up for myself,  and for not denying my voice. Thank you for hearing my wisdom, even from a young age. For answering my questions and giving me explanations to the best of your ability. Thank you for supporting me, and occasionally, spoiling me. I hope that I can hear your confidence in me on days when I am feeling timid and unsure. I hope that I have the resolve that you had, when I encounter trials. And as my children, especially my girls, grow and mature, I hope that they know how dearly loved they are. I hope that they know that part of you will be carried on through me. That, in knowing me, they do know you on some level. That their lives are different because you prayed for me. Because you prayed for them. Because I'm praying for them.

So, on this very first mother's day without you. I pray that moms are able to grasp a small token of how much they are loved. And that children everywhere will utilize this day to cherish their moms while they can.


In Case You'd Like to Know...

People in my life will attest to the fact that I have a tendency to "over-share" rather than keep things quiet. Sometimes this is a downfall, but other times it is a blessing. I battle with boundaries from time-to-time and would normally rather you know too much about me rather than be left in the dark. This might not be true in large groups, or with everyone in the world, but I aspire to live a life in the light and not in the shadows. Yet as I've matured, I've come to learn the value of privacy and it's place at the right time. My tendency to share too much is part of what makes this post so much harder to start...

Today I read a blog post of a friend sharing about her miscarriage last fall. We aren't close friends, but it was a beautiful post; the kind that will cause many to cry and leave everyone wanting to literally hug the author. She waited an appropriate amount of time to announce her pregnancy to the world and then miscarried. We all mourn differently, and over something so precious and exciting as a new life, I do not feel that we have any idea of how to process this, privately or publicly. The day she wrote her post, was her original due date. That was a hard day. She had shared of the many hard days she had experienced since first learning she would miscarry. Hard days which included when others were announcing their pregnancies on Facebook. And my heart skipped. My heart skipped because I understood. I understood all too well and I couldn't figure out how to explain it all. My story is not the same as hers, but her words helped to remind my heart and to verbalize something I couldn't.

Last September, I wrote a blog post regarding my(our) very personal struggle in trying to conceive a child for nearly a year. I had just started grad school and had just found out I was pregnant. It was a daunting task, but I was full of optimism and ready for the challenge. It was during that year of trying to conceive where I'd first learned about those hard days. Friends announcing pregnancies and sharing their struggles and weekly progressions. It wasn't that they were doing anything wrong, it was just that I'd never imagined that a simple joyful post could be hurtful. The post that I wrote last fall told you I was pregnant and that I wouldn't be sharing it on facebook directly. I didn't (and don't) think it was wrong or bad to share it on Facebook, I just couldn't do it. I'm not sure what kept me from publishing that post, because we've never waited to share the news before, but something kept me waiting. And two days before my 30th birthday I suspected something wasn't right. Thankfully, my doctor listened and had me come in right away. I was diagnosed with a blighted ovum, nothing was growing. At 8 & 9 weeks nothing was found, no baby, no fetal pole, nothing.

Since that time, I've shared my story with many people I've seen in person. But for the most part, I've struggled with how to share about a loss when no one knew anything of any of the life or the hope in the first place. I know of many people who have never shared of any of their heartbreaking miscarriage(s) or struggles to conceive. And I don't think that's wrong or less than or ANYTHING. I don't think that every woman/couple needs to acknowledge this on facebook or a blog or anywhere in cyberspace. But, I do think we need to share even our most intimate struggles with a few people. And, if she is willing, I'm certain that sharing with a broader audience may bring healing to more than she would expect.

I don't think that I could have just shared any of this with you had the issue not been forced. For my friend, it was the passing of her due date. That day came and went on my calendar without my ever noticing---in part, because of my mom's health and also due to graduate school (these are stories all on their own!), but biggest reason I never noticed that date is because I am pregnant again. I haven't announced it to cyberspace because, well, this is where I still struggle...

I feel guilty for not shouting from the mountaintops. I feel as though it suggests that I am still not sure that everything will work out, or that I am not ecstatic or thrilled or blessed beyond words, but I AM! I suppose I have not announced it because I still don't know who is secretly mourning or hurting or trying to conceive. Certainly I am not responsible for the hardship others are going through or the journey they are on. And even if we are not close enough for me to know their struggles, I still feel burdened by them. In my hormonal and emotional state, I am keenly aware that life hurts.
Life is painful; dreadfully painful at times for each and every one of us.

The contrast to this pain is that life is beautiful. It is a tragedy, a comedy, a treasure and a struggle. It is every imaginable contrast. And ultimately, I have nothing more than...

Life is a miracle.

Our newest miracle is due three days before my 31st birthday.


*Over the past few weeks I have found myself in a position which I did not quite know how to handle... in which I would see a friend at the store or out running errands and realize they had no idea that I am 24 weeks pregnant because we haven't spoken directly or seen each other in person! This scenario is far stranger than I had realized it might become. 


...On Running

Although I'm not a fast runner. In the past few years I've finally been willing to admit that I am a runner. I don't have the "runner's body" I hoped I would get before I started running, but I do have a body that can run. After completing 5 half-marathons, I'm grateful for all I've learned over the miles, and I'm well aware that there is more ground to cover with my shoes as well as in my emotional/spiritual life. So, especially for those of you that think anyone that enjoys spending hours each week running is CrAZy, let me share some of the things I've gleaned from it. Perhaps others can learn them by other means, but I have no doubt that I could only have learned them so well through the pain, sweat and labored breathing in all the miles I've covered.

First and foremost, I've learned that I can do more than I ever realized. My mental concepts of what I can or can't accomplish are way off base, either that, or they become self-fulfilling prophecies. I'm not usually a person that likes a challenge, if it seems too hard or too painful, I'm usually the first to admit my limitations. But running has taught me about the value of pushing harder and going further, and the rewards that come with it.

I've also learned that I am my own biggest obstacle. I can go slower or faster. I can lose 10, 15, even 20+ pounds and running does get easier. I can gain 10 or 15lbs back again, easily! I can allow that to get in my way, or I can choose to run anyways. If I want, I can make room in my schedule to run or not. It's really not about anyone else, which leads me to...

The most important thing I've learned from running is that it is HARD. Don't run, fine. But don't complain about how you don't have any endurance or are out of shape. If we're going to grow and get better at anything, it is GOING to HURT. We have this notion in our safe little society that we can have it all, that we can improve without doing any work. We hope, in the depths of our hearts (and while watching infomercials at 2am) that we really can get a little bit of something for nothing. It just doesn't work that way. Everything costs something. (It might be, that it costs someone else something---but regardless, even gifts freely given came at a price). If I want to get better at running, or ANYTHING, it is going to take WORK. There are no shortcuts, there is no way to get through that 10mile run besides putting one foot in front of the other. The agony will end and the endorphins will be there and it will feel great! You won't have a "mountain top" experience during or after every run or every week, but when you do, all the things you love about running will come rushing at you all at once like a refreshing, cleansing, full-force waterfall. *sigh*

Endurance doesn't come without going further than you've gone before. And while I might complain and my mind may SHOUT "I can't do this!" I must keep going. It's true on a run and it's true in life.

Press on.

They say that all of life's troubles can be solved with salt water--- tears, sweat and the ocean. My guess is that when you live in Kansas, you'd better get some extra sweat out to make up for our lack of ocean :-)

Enjoy. (and PRESS ON!)


My thoughts are Not His thoughts...

Last week I was at church, in worship and prayerfully reflecting on my own little life and also about some of the happenings in the lives of a few close friends. I was thinking about the struggles we are facing. Problems with jobs, family, in our finances, relationships and in looking to the future. I was mostly focused on my own struggles and something I've spent a long time praying for and wanting. And then the still, soft voice of the Holy Spirit spoke to me and reminded me that, not only (as I wrote a few months ago for reasons entirely different) is God's love stronger than anyone's doubts, but it is in our struggles.

God's love is in the struggle. 
God loves me in the middle of the pain and in my anxiousness. 
God loves despite my fear, lack of trust and confusion.
God's love is in the "no." 
His love is amidst the busyness and meandering. 
His love is in the waiting.

It's there. It's always, always right there. My attitude, feelings and emotions are as fickle as the weather. But God's love for me never changes. He's not just kind and caring, but constantly, compassionately head-over-heels jealous for each of us. Love that's neither humanly possible nor fathomable. His love for me is insatiable.

Now will I trust this? Will I walk in a way that shows I know this is true? Learning about God's love and hearing the truth is far from actually living within it. But I do believe that He longs to show us all how even the most painful and frustrating situations are full of His beautiful plan. And you know what, even when you're not happy about it and you want to throw a big ol' fit about it, He's not like I am as a parent (which would mean telling you to stop crying because He's frustrated with your lack of maturity). Nope, He's ready to hold you and He's ready to show you more of His heart and His plan. He's gentle and reassuring. Or if it's what you need, He is a kick-in-the-pants and a source of constant reassurance.

Oddly enough, before I ever had a chance to share any of this with anyone, something in my own little world changed. Something I was having a hard time being hopeful about. But something HE truly wanted to show me He had had a plan about all along. Something I'm not going to go into detail about just yet because I want to dwell on all the times He was loving on me before I had any answers. All the months I was grappling and struggling and crying out, the times I was trusting and obedient--as well as the times I was as mature as a screaming toddler, that whole time---He was right there loving me close-up.

Wherever you are in the process of praying for a change, hoping and begging for it, praying for a change-of-heart and an open mind to what He has in store, don't think that He's not loving you in every minute second of that process. Because He is. No matter how long it's been, His plan is clear. Let's not forget that our human understanding from our limited perspective pretty much sucks. He knows that, and He knows we want to capture His vision. But He also knows what we'd try to do if He gave us the whole plan all at once. We'd walk. Because unlike Him, we are far less faithful. Let's not just trust when we're hopeful. Let's not just sing praises when things are going our way. Let's not pretend we're happy about things if we're not---but let's not wallow in our inability to get everything when we want it the way we want it.

He loves us just as much when He says "No," as He does when He says "Not now" or "Yes." My circumstances do nothing to change Him, despite the way satan wants my circumstances to distort my view of Him. So let's trust and know that despite how cloudy and dark your days might be (or get), His love is there, and He's not going to leave you there. He is trustworthy. He is Holy.


Isaiah 55:6-13 (MSG, Italics mine)

Seek God while he's here to be found, pray to him while he's close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.

"I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the way I work." God's Decree. "For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don't go back until they've watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They'll do the work I sent them to do, they'll complete the assignment I gave them.

"So you'll go out in joy, you'll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thornbushes, but stately pines— Monuments to me, to God, living and lasting evidence of God." 


Your Name Here

I have things to share. I really do. There are developed writings and a couple of pictures that really should make their way here for you. There are bits and pieces of journal writings and humorous conversations to retell.

But there are times and places where that's so much harder to do. Times when I don't have a computer and I don't make the time---when my inconsistency threatens me to stop altogether. But then a voice of reason and a look at other dusty blogs and calmly tells me not to be so rash. Then ideas stream in and someone asks if I've been writing. Or I get an email from a friend, calling me a writer with a link about making the time and space to write.

I also have things that I might not be ready to share. But I know that they should be written down and value can be given in the quiet places and soft voices where they are safely expressed. It would be a shame to look back on this year and not know how terrifying, wonderful, disappointing and monumental it was all at once. It would also be nice if I could just jump back in without sharing all this internal dialogue. But I can't.

I am writing again. And I am sharing with you. I'm not going to make lofty goals or anything, but I do know that this humble place has value. Thank you--- to those of you I know very well, and those of you who will leave no trace of ever having seen these words. Thank you for coming back and checking in---because I'm certain I learn more from the writing process than I will ever impart to you.


"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:5


His love is strong.

Strong enough to take the fighting.
Strong enough to hold the tears.
Strong enough to quiet the nightmares.
Strong enough to handle the rebellion.

He loves you. No matter what you think of Him. He's strong enough to handle your hatred. Your questions. His love is bigger than your rejection. His love remains despite your apathy. His love offers hope where you've lost yours. Strength where you're weakest. His arms are gentle, despite your rage. No matter how far you go---His love is inescapable.

You matter.

His goal is not your happiness. His will is not your list, timeframe, resolution or agenda. He may seek to correct your path, your outlook, your entire heart, but He loves you.

No matter what.
No matter what, He loves.



Waiting.  Ugh.

Of all the things I've done, I can easily say that waiting is the hardest thing to DO.
When you're given no choice but to WAIT.
You are forced against the mirror and every frailty of your humanity is glaring back at you.
You are a small child begging, pleading & whining. WAAAAAAAAH!
You are miserable in that interim.
But deep within you realize there's a purpose in the waiting.

With every fiber of your being you try to get off of that emotional roller-coaster and settle yourself.

You TRY to be good at waiting.

You busy and distract yourself with anything that will ease the agony of each and every moment.

But each attempt at escaping proves futile.

And that's how it's supposed to be. Yup. I said it. When we're waiting, we're being forced to surrender. COMPLETELY. Whatever it is we're waiting on… that event is out of our control.

We have a lot of control in the little things in life. I can listen to the music I like, I can see who's calling, skip commercials, call ahead for my seat, click a few buttons and have just about anything sent to my door the next day. All of these perks spoil me, and create two obvious problems. First, they give me the illusion that I have control in life. Beyond my attitude and beliefs, I truly have very, very little control over A-NY-TH-I-NG. Secondly, they also place a huge emphasis on the importance of comfort. Waiting is not comfortable. Waiting in pain is even more unbearable. But does that mean that waiting is only torture? Nope.

The way we can be ministered to in our misery is incredible. There are things God wants to show us, through people, through songs, words, in His word, and we are so open and willing to receive them with open eyes and ears when we are WAITING. We may experience emotions so powerful we never thought our hearts could hold them, or we may hear a quiet word we're never meant to share. The beauty of waiting is in the way we are hanging on every wordholding our breath, the way that time stands still, and what can be found in those eternal moments.

I'm grateful for how miserable I felt waiting most recently. Had it not been so hard, the journey through it all would not remain vivd. Walking away from those months of desperation, I've missed how dependent I was forced to be. Complete reliance on God's strength is the only reason I slept most nights during that time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not signing up to wait on any major life event. But I do want my essence to live in waiting on God. I want my soul to rest and wait upon Him, remembering that every breath is from Him. I hope that you realize that your period of waiting has a purpose outside of your limited perspective. Somewhere down the line, you'll be able to say, "It wasn't all for nothing!"

I'll leave with a scripture. I was going to only leave Psalm 130, but 131 is one of my favorite songs by Waterdeep and I like how they flow together. And let's not forget these are songs of ascent---You're going UP!
(Italics mine)

Psalm 130
A song of ascents.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

Psalm 131
A song of ascents. Of David.
1 My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.

Enjoy (the wait).