Friday, November 28, 2014

Ten years

I moved to Knoxville exactly 10 years ago.

Ten years. It's staggering to me that I've been in Knoxville for that long, especially since I never had any intention of being here at all. In May 2004, ten days before I was to graduate from Auburn, my post-grad plans fell through unexpectedly. Fantastic timing, right? I was working at a summer camp that summer, which is not conducive to job searching. So in August I moved back home.

There is nothing more frustrating, I think, that being forced to move back home in your tee tiny town after graduation, when all you wanted four years prior was to get the hell out of there. I had no idea what I wanted to do, or where I wanted to go. I was exploring every option. I didn't care what state I ended up in, or what job I had...I just wanted something.

And nothing happened.

Fast forward 3-4 months. My brother had just built his first house. And he is his wife graciously offered to give me cheap rent in their place. Knoxville was a big city. It wasn't home with Mom and Dad. At that time, it was the best option I had. So ten years ago I loaded up my car with clothes and a few things, and moved to Knoxville. 

I had grand dreams of the single life. A good job, a modest living but one that would provide me a little bit of fun. I would pay off my student loans, have a cute apartment, maybe meet someone. 

None of this happened.

I worked 2-3 jobs for eight years. I didn't start dating my husband until I'd been here for six. For the first 2-3 years in Knoxville, my life, quite frankly, really sucked. The loneliness was indescribable. I didn't have people here. I didn't have a cell phone or internet for about the first six months or more. So while all my good friends from Auburn were keeping in touch and getting together, I was stuck here. With no one. It was so, so hard. 

My 20's were not fun. There was a lot of dark times. Dealing with depression, constant resurgence of an eating disorder that I could not get over. Lots of sin. Lots of pain. Lots of yearning for love that I was not getting. And through it the Lord was scratching at wounds so old they had already scarred over. I will say through that time that God was so, so faithful. You can know His love in good times, but until you've experienced it in the darkness of a pit and the bleakness of no future, I'm not sure you can say that you know it. He was gracious enough to show Himself to me in those ways, He picked at wounds so that He could heal them. It's funny that as Christians we talk about wanting healing and to be made new, without really thinking about how painful a process that is. How long it takes. How agonizing it can be.

It's worth it.

So worth it. The ten years I've been here I've lived three different places. Was blessed to find a church and the most amazing community in the Gathering that I will probably ever experience this side of heaven. I've had multiple jobs:
-First Baptist Concord
-Lane Bryant
-ESK aftercare
-Nannying for Jack 
-Nannying for Lyla
-Nannying Isaac and Bella
-Nannying Landry, Presley, and Knox

I lost two of those jobs. Went through unemployment. I had a terrible fall apart with my family during these ten years, and that brother who let me live with him no longer even 'considers me a human, more less his sister' as his last hate mail said. I nearly dated one guy who was great, should have stayed farther away from another who was an a#*, and finally God gave me one that was a keeper. 

My best friend stopped talking to me. Abruptly, and two weeks after she served as my Maid of Honor.

We bought a house. And paid off my student loans. A new (to us) car sits in our driveway, and two little fur babies are curled up close to my feet right now.

I started drinking coffee (and am now addicted), learned to love lifting weights (and dropped 40 pounds because of it), and started writing (and now have four books to my credit). My husband and I thank God often for His grace, and for how good our marriage is. I have fewer excuses for not doing what God says, because His voice is clearer. I know it like I know my husband's. 

I could say that the past ten years have been great, but I would be lying. They all haven't been. I could tell you that the past ten years have been a testament to God and His grace and His glory, and that would be true. He has held me through everything, pouring His love over me when His love was the only thing that I had. 

I love knowing that no matter what happens, Jesus has me. And loves me. He knows me - oh how he knows me -  every freckle, every birthmark. He hears my heart murmur, and defines the irregular rhythm of my irregular heartbeat. He knows ever sin, every dark corner that longs for a place apart from Him, And He will expose it because of His great love for me. 

That's what these past ten years have been...God showing His love for me through the best and worst of circumstances. Him being Him through all the mess of life. 

Whatever the next ten years hold for me, my biggest desire is that Christ be there, over and through it all Glorified through it all. Whatever happens, I know He loves me still.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Best thing for adult acne

Ya'll, I ain't gonna lie. I miss being 16. I had flawless skin. FLAWLESS! It was like porcelain. I also had no cellulite at that point in my life. (Bless you thighs, I really do love you despite your bumpiness.)

Anywho, enter a lot of hormonal issues starting in my twenties, and I got gifted with a huge dose of adult acne. That has not gone away. In over ten years.

I've tried all sorts of things to help, all to no avail. I eat better, take supplements, try different skincare products, etc etc. I've just about done it all. Was considering doing R&F, which works, but which I would need a second job to be able to afford.

Then I stumbled across this lovely blog (which is great for millions of reasons), and read a post Lauren did about rosehip seed oil. It was cheap and all natural (two things I love), so I figured, why not give it a try? I bought a bottle. I used it twice a day for a month, and had approximately two blemishes pop up that month.



I normally get two a day, and got two that month. I was sold. I'm into my second month and have had 0 breakouts.  I have chronic dry skin and this has helped with that. It's helped with eczema on my face. My acne scars are fading.


Did you hear me say this stuff is all natural, and cheap?? $11 for a bottle that lasts me about 6 weeks (again, that's using twice, sometimes more, a day). Glory, glory, hallelujah! All the girls with PCOS rejoiced! Run ladies to the amazon website and get some of this. The fountain of youth evidently comes in a bottle from amazon!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Painful grace


So last Thursday was a busy day.  I was going out of town Friday morning and had a ton to do: laundry, packing, errands, etc etc. I got up early and skipped the gym so that I could get some things knocked out before work. After work I stopped to get dog food for our dogs. We weren't in dire need but it was the last day the kind we buy was going to be on sale so I wanted to stock up. I fought afternoon traffic, got to the store, and grabbed my purse. Only to discover that my wallet wasn't in there.


I knew where my wallet was. On Wednesdays I go to Starbucks to write and my wallet was no doubt in my computer bag where it had been since Wednesday morning. I had forgotten to put it back in my purse.

I was tired, and hungry (a bad combination for me; I am like a toddler in my ability to melt down in those circumstances). Anger started to roar to life inside of me, but then I stopped. Here's why: 

I normally don't check my purse for my wallet. Wallet normally stays in the purse (I normally put it right back on Wed mornings), purse stays in my car. If it weren't for stopping for pet food and discovering the missing wallet, I would have driven off Friday without it. I would have made it miles into Ohio when I stopped for gas and only then discovered I didn't have it. No credit cards, no cash, no gas. Nothing. Who knows how I would have gotten out of that pickle.

I was frustrated at first over not being able to do that errand. Then I realized what a huge grace that inconvenience was. It saved me from a much bigger problem.

Amazing that sometimes grace is painful. That frustration and annoyance was a blessing. Isn't it just like God to use everything in our lives, and to give us mercies both big and small that we absolutely do not deserve? 

Monday, September 15, 2014

How to win in a panic attack (No really, someone please tell me)

To be seen, or not to be seen.

Today I’ve been wondering about my anxiety. I’m holding it up and staring at it, and turning it over and over in my hand, dying to know what it’s made up of. Dying to know where it came from.

I had my first panic attack about 13 months ago. It happened on the day we moved into our house. I was tired. Really tired. It had been an exhausting summer getting the house move in ready, and moving is a long, long process. We didn’t have a crew of 10 people helping us. We had two friends, and then just the two of us. I’m not sure what even prompted that first attack, other than just stress and fatigue. Maybe I had some underlying emotions about moving out of that little house I’d lived in for so long. Maybe I was upset because Dave and I had been snappy at each other that day (Cause we were tired). All I know is that it hit out of nowhere. I thought I was having a heart attack. I couldn’t breathe and the overwhelming thing I felt was terror.

It only lasted a minute.

I had my next one about a month later.

After a year of panic attacks and growing anxiety, I have started to do what I always do, which is to analyze the hell out of it. I want to know where it comes from, and how to cut it off from its source. When I would struggle with bouts of my eating disorder I would do that: refusing to just stop because I knew there was a root, and I longed to find the root.

I want to know where my anxiety comes from. I want to know what lie I am believing, what fear I have, that brings it to life.

I don’t remember being anxious as a child. I was shy as a little girl to groups I didn’t know, but around family and close friends was outgoing and confident. I was outspoken in high school. Not afraid to speak my mind or share my thoughts. On top of that though was very much a desire to please - everyone. Especially my parents. I had a lot of expectations put on me by a variety of people, and lived up to them. One, because I was a people pleaser. And two, because I didn’t know myself well enough to be able to discern what I did and did not want. I wanted to be liked. To be loved. To be accepted. And I had to earn it by fulfilling people’s expectations (this is the lie I bought). I didn’t feel that I had the freedom to be me, because my security was entirely at the mercy of person I wanted love from. I could earn love by being perfect in that person’s eyes.

*don’t get me started on the enormous amount of counseling and retraining I’ve had to go through to get past that lie

So, nothing glaringly obvious (to me) from my childhood to account for anxiety, but my childhood was skewed by lies about my worth and how much I was loved.  I wasn’t seen growing up, because I didn’t reveal myself. The real me would have not been enough.

Right about the time I figured out the magnitude of that lie and had a night where I wept for hours at the feet of Jesus, begging him to alter that lie and show me truth, I was becoming friends with this guy….this guy who would see me and know me in ways no one else ever had simply because he let me at first (with no judgment or condemnation). I was his friend and he was mine and there were no strings attached. Glory, that was new. No expectations to be perfect. No way I had to act or talk. No appearance to maintain. He was easy to be around because he made no demands. No snarky reactions. No making fun (I think I was teased even into adulthood much more than I realize). He didn’t laugh, or mock, or belittle. The big things I handed him he did not toss aside as though unimportant, or make about him. I could be me. Finally. I was safe with him. It was so incredibly freeing.

I got comfortable with this boy. I got to know him. I saw him. He saw me amidst a bunch of brokenness and really ugly, nasty situations with my family. He didn’t run. He didn’t laugh. He didn’t tell me how I ought to act. Most of the time he just listened.

I fell in love with that boy. Cautiously at first because oh man, I didn’t want to lose this friend. Turns out that the boy was falling in love with me.

Wait, what?

That’s right. He fell in love with me in the midst of brokenness. I felt so vulnerable at first, because you always hear that guys want a strong woman. And holy heck, I was not strong right then. I was being me in ways that terrified me. I felt that I was living life naked with everyone there to see me. And this boy saw me (no, not me naked). And he chose me. And loved me amidst the mess. Amidst the nasty battle I was in. He loved me. Chose me. Rescued me from it. Picked me up when I couldn’t walk, and took me to Jesus.

So many people have made comments about how I changed once Dave and I got together. How calm I got. How the anxiety I used to have slipped away. Being loved by Dave was the safest, most freeing place I had ever been in my life.

I think that’s why my anxiety now is baffling. Because I’m loved so well by Dave, yet have this anxiety that is growing. It doesn’t make sense to me.

Maybe it’s because I feel safe that it’s happening. Because I am free to be me, and to expose my true desires and fears. I’ve always been highly sensitive but also grew up in a family structure where emotions were allowed only if they echoed those of other family members. (emotional validation is a HUGE arena in my life for Satan to enter and do a number on me. Holy mess.) I'm sensitive and easily overwhelmed even in little things, like, I don’t like big crowds. Or loud noises. I don’t even like group classes at the gym. I like being alone and comfortable. Protected. Safe. I think it’s why I like routine and order. I don’t like things I can’t control, and maybe that’s a root from being unable to control so much of my childhood, and wanting to. I don’t know. But I wonder if there isn’t some correlation between my need to feel safe and valued and the fact that my anxiety leaps up and chokes the life out of me sometimes.

I’m not sure what I’m afraid of. I have a lot of fears. The biggest fear is fear itself. Fear has crippled my family. I’ve seen the devastating effects of it. I hate fear. But I still have some. I’ve wondered if I’m afraid of losing love. Of being a disappointment. Of not being enough.

The attacks come when things get overwhelming. When I know I can’t. They start with just the tiniest spark of “This is too much. And I don’t want it.” And then it’s as if my body just can’t cope. Little things have set them off. And big ones haven’t (darn inconsistency!). I feel so exposed and raw in those moments when a panic attack comes. I’ve never had one in front of another person, and the thought alone terrifies me. Imagine you pee yourself in front of someone. That’s the level of vulnerability and loss of control I am talking about. Thank God no one has seen one yet.

Underneath that though, I wonder, if there isn’t some desire to be seen. During one of my bouts with my eating disorder in my early twenties, I remember being in my car and wishing someone knew. Which is so counterintuitive because one of the hallmarks of an eating disorder is hiding it. And I did (right under my parents’ noses for four years in high school. And from myself. I remember sitting in my Adolescent Development class in college and we were discussing eating disorders and it was like time froze because I remember thinking “Oh my gosh, that’s me.” Chilling I tell you, to discover that and have no place to go with it).

Anyways, I sat in my car that day and as much as I wanted to cover it up, I wanted someone to know. I had spent my entire life being responsible and in charge of the emotional well being of my entire family, and I wanted someone to notice my brokenness. To notice my needs. To help me, instead of it always being the other way around. No one saw. That was a big thing (and still is): I wanted to be seen. And known.

Thus why marriage has been the greatest gift other than Jesus that God has given me. Because Dave sees and knows and wants to. He gives a shit, and that my friends, was quite new to me. It still baffles me. I can hide my emotions from anyone, and have before. Not him. Five minutes in my presence and he knows. It’s uncanny. He’ll ask me what’s wrong and I’ll say ‘I don’t know.’ His response: Yes you do. Tell me.

I cannot tell you the beautiful power of someone giving you permission to feel what you feel, and tell them about it. I did not have this growing up.

I’m in such a safe place now, and still have anxiety. It boggles my mind. And it’s strange the things that overwhelm me. Having to switch membership to the big gym and not be able to go to my tiny, comfortable one anymore. Driving new places. Washing machine leaks or things that are broken. Little things. Isn’t that odd? Sometimes I comb through my brain looking for clues that maybe it’s big things behind the little things that are really freaking me out. I don’t find anything.

Maybe I’ll never figure out the root. Maybe the root is just my need for Jesus and anything that prompts me to fall to the floor sobbing, confessing my overwhelming need for him...well, isn’t that ok to have? It’s like getting mad at hunger pangs, wanting to ignore them, when hello, they remind you to eat and therefore sustain your life. Maybe that’s what my anxiety is. A thorn. A gift to remind me of grace.

I freaking love grace. I’m not enough, and Jesus knows it, and he says it’s fine with him. It’s because of my need for grace that I have him, and he has me. So hot damn; perfection be gone. I am so lovingly imperfect, and so perfectly loved. Being perfect does not guarantee his love. Terrifying right? And yet so freeing. His love does not depend on me.

Sweet mercy, read that again. His love for me does not depend on me. I can’t lose it, or ruin it. Or fall short of earning it. Marriage is like that, and I think that’s why I love it so much. Because it’s a choice to love another person regardless of them. To be loved regardless of yourself. Isn’t that crazy? What a mirror of Christ’s love for us. It’s a commitment to love someone that is not contingent at all on the other person. Not on their attitude, their words, their intentions, their actions. A commitment to love, for all time, in all ways, despite everything. Even the other person.

I’m anxious because I am broken. And that’s ok. I can seek healing, but I don’t have to be fixed to move on and grow. It’s not a sign of regression or immaturity. It’s just an aspect of a fallen world that I live and find Christ in. And really people, when you have those moments in life where you fall apart so spectacularly, then confess to Jesus and wonder how he can even put up with you (you know those moments?) ah, that, more than anything, will prepare you for marriage. It’s intense.

And really beautiful. You don’t deserve that love. But you’ll get it (Lord willing. Literally, marry someone who lets themselves be loved by Jesus). And that is what the Bible means when it talks about marriage being a parallel for Christ and his people.

So loved, despite myself.

Didn’t I start this talking about anxiety? Ah, well, the search for answers has led me to some good truth. So there you go.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Faith in hard times

It's been a rough week. I got slammed with some nasty virus this weekend that completely put me under. (Hub's comment on how bad I must have felt was this: "You didn't talk Saturday.") Being sick meant that I couldn't make it to this writing workshop that I really, really was excited about going to, and for other reasons I won't get into, it was just a really rough weekend.

Sigh.  And it really hit me because right now I'm in some rough seas of life. I'm desperate to tie up this ship I'm on somewhere, but I can't find land, and the stars I was using to guide me are being blocked by clouds. I'm not getting anywhere. In so many ways. And it has turned me into a big hot mess. I think I just need to buy this and wear it under my clothes.

Maybe I should order one in every color

God's been closing a lot of doors in my face lately. And while I know it's good because He deems it, and because it will lead me to His best, it's still hard to take. Especially when I'm sick because I feel overwhelmed and limited by life tenfold when standing up in the shower makes me nearly black out.

I've been worried and scared and crying out to God to help. And I've been listening to fears and worries and the slamming of all those doors more than anything.

Not today.

Today I plucked God's promises like flowers in a meadow, bound them together -a bouquet of truth-and clutched them to my heart. I breathed in their sweetness and held them close to myself.

Good truth,
I stood in the shower, about to pass out, and proclaimed God's truths - about Himself - His love, His power, His goodness. I declared Him Almighty God of my life, and humbly asked that He give me what I've been asking for.

God is the best type of magic
It's amazing to me (and so humbling) that I can approach the King of the Kings while standing in the shower. That little insignificant me can pierce the fabric between our world and the great Throne Room of God, just to ask Him a question. And that instantly (instantly!) His peace floods over me. And He picks me up and tucks me close to His chest- He tells me that He sees me (not just what I've done wrong, but me-He sees me), and speaks words of love over me. He is the best type of magic. The best truth. The best love. Tuck your head under his chin, and let Him love you.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dog days of summer

So hubs and I took a trip to his hometown in Central New York a few weeks ago. It was our first time traveling with the dogs. They did great!

Ready to go!

This selfie courtesy of the old fashioned "take it with your camera, then get a cord and upload it" method. Woohoo for dumb phones!

Traveling is exhausting...

Both beds were back there, but they liked sharing, and then throwing their heads out either end. Adorable.

Einstein says: I'll help you drive dad!

"I'm not doing anything. You say I can't come up front, and no, you totally did not see me slowly creep forward so that in a few minutes I will be sitting completely on the console. I am not sly. I am innocent. Don't I look innocent?"

And then we made it to NY! :)

Love those Lake Ontario sunsets!
Love this guy!
And of course, we went to Friendly's for ice cream!

I am very, very serious about my ice cream.

Friday, August 8, 2014

So this -

So yesterday something happened that was a catalyst for a life crisis moment. (What sort of life crisis? I'm not old enough to have a midlife crisis, and too old for a quarter-life crisis. So a third-life crisis? Yes? We'll call it that.)

Anyways, I went for a walk and was praying and realized something about myself. I am a very task oriented person. Not goals per se. But I love making lists and getting things done. Always have. I love being effective and efficient in all that I do. Get things done - this is my motto.

As I was praying yesterday I was telling God how I don't know what my purpose is right now in life. And I think it's because I don't have anything/much on my 'to do for God' list. Before it's always been easy to define.

Lead this small group.
Encourage this person.
Pray for that person.
Disciple this person.

I have applied my "to do list" mentality to my walk with God. And right now, my list of "God things" is really short. And it leaves me struggling with my sense of purpose. With knowing what the heck I'm supposed to be doing right now.

Isn't walking with God enough? Isn't being a wife and loving and serving my husband enough?

It should be.

There is nothing big on my list right now. Dave and I haven't found our place to plug in at church, the circle of people in my life has shrunk to a tiny little crowd (which is fine but again, small pond in which to do God-things). We're not raising kids. I'm a secretary and heavens knows there is no grand sense of purpose in that job.

I know that this is a good lesson; that my sense of purpose isn't meant to be found in what I do, whether it be a job or a relationship or a service or ministry to someone else. My purpose belongs to Christ alone.

I'll say that again: My purpose belongs to Christ alone.

And I want to be ok with the quiet seasons. The seasons that don't feel effective. When there isn't anything grand or redemptive on the list. When I'm not doing much for anybody else, and it's just me and Jesus. Just me and Jesus and day to day life - nothing grand. Or exciting. Or life changing.

I want to be okay in the normal, and in the quiet and small. I want to throw off this compulsion to always be accomplishing or producing for Jesus. Because while growth is indeed important and part of his plan, sometimes his way of accomplishing that is through working a bland job and doing the dishes at night. Through walks with my dogs when I get the chance just to share my heart with the Maker of the world. And listen while He reminds me who He is.

My purpose right now is not being wasted, even though to me and to the world it's not obvious or grand. It's just me living my current life. With Jesus. And it's that last part that makes it meaningful and chock full of purpose. Because without Jesus, even the big moments and important tasks would lose their meaning.

So, all that rambling to say: If you feel like you're in a fruitless season (especially when you compare your life to other people's (and hello, stop doing that!)), take heart. Jesus ordains the seasons of your life. Live fully where you are. Sometimes that means living quiet and boring days. And that's ok. No time, no circumstance, no journey with Christ is wasted.

A friend said this the other day "I know living in Jesus...nothing is wasted."

Well said. Live in Jesus fully today, whether you have something "to do" for Him or not.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A little change of routine

Geez, long time no update.

How is it nearly August already?? I hate it when summer starts to end. It makes me all jittery and nervous and I get this primal urge to call in sick to work so that I can go drink icees and run through sun lit fields all day. And I almost do it but then remember that I have bills to pay and we need groceries and are there really any sun lit fields around here to run around in?  Not really. So I go to work and vow to lay out and tan and drink icees this weekend because I'm an adult and that will have to do gosh darnit.

We went on vacation to Central NY last week to visit my husband's family. It was a good trip. Not nearly long enough. And now we're back to normal life.

Vacation was good for me. Not just because it was a chance to get away and see friends and family, etc etc. But because the change in routine did me some good.

I am such a creature of routine. I love schedules. I crave organization.

Control really. That's what my vice is. I want to be in control. Of everything. All the time. As you can guess, that doesn't bode well for me most of the time.

Life is mostly outside of my control, and having a week away from normal was a good reminder that I need to chill out more and stop getting so fixed in my ways. Routine is good but I let it control me. I hate things that steer me away from how I want my day to go. Even little things, like needing to stop for gas or go get milk work me into a fit. Isn't that ridiculous? I swear, I am a perpetual toddler. I have fits over the tiniest things. It's not a big deal. Really, it's not. So many things that I get upset about are teeny, tiny, little things.

Being on vacation and out of my normal routine was good for me. It reminded me of how little the little things are. Just tiny inconveniences. Smidges of interruption. Mini disruptors of what I want.

Gosh, I am a selfish person. I struggle a lot with anger because I want what I want when I want it (really, I'm a toddler in an adult's body.) Sometimes I think God shakes me loose of my routine just to give me some perspective, both on how inconsequential the little things I get upset about are, and to show me what a grand sinner in need of grace I am.

I came back resolved not to get upset about things so much. To have unruffled feathers. I also know that this won't happen. I will try, and struggle, and forget to try, and need Jesus every step of every day. Which I guess is the point. My sin takes me to him. And while I'd love to freakin eradicate it from my life, I suppose I won't be separated from my sin completely until Jesus calls me home. Then finally I will stop freaking out. And stopping for gas or milk in heaven won't be a big deal. Until then, I'll try my best to not get all worked up; to go with the flow and no matter what happens, to go to Jesus.

I stopped for gas today and didn't get all worked up. There is hope in Jesus :)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Taking Stock

It's been a long time since I've posted. Life is full and rich and to be honest, sometimes I'm too busy living it to blog about it. So here's a teeny little post about life lately.

Making : My scrapbook. I recently switched over to Project Life for scrapbooking. It's cute and fun, and oh so simple. I am two years behind on the scrapbook and am waiting now for the pics I ordered to come so I can get caught up. Right now the book is a hodgepodge of my old scrapbook style and Project Life. Once I'm caught up, it'll be 100% PL. I think I might even go back and redo some old college scrapbooks a la Project Life. 

Cooking : Not a lot anymore because hub's work schedule changes next week and he won't be home for dinner most nights. Which means "cooking" will become peanut butter toast and smoothies

Drinking : coffee. Oh how I love coffee. Hazelnut creamer makes it a fantastic experience.

Reading: "Junction of Sunshine and Lucky" - and loving it.

Wanting: a good night's sleep. it's been a toss and turn type of week

Looking: for new clothes. So many of my things are old and worn and stained. I want to invest in quality.

Playing: with our dogs!  They are so much stinkin' fun!

Wasting: a lot of time browsing the internet and flittering back and forth between tasks. I need to focus. Stay attentive.

Sewing: Just finished curtains for our bedroom. Nothing on the list for now, but I'm sure I'll think of something.

Wishing: That summer would slow down. It's almost July. Linger, summer, Linger!

Enjoying: Long walks with the dogs, summer tomatoes, wearing flip flops, eating dinner on the deck

Waiting: for God's timing in things. 

Liking: The new season of 24, the new coral toenail polish I bought, scaring my dog with the vacuum cleaner (he goes nutso! it's adorable!)

Wondering: how much and what is God going to do this year. He did so much in our lives this past year. So, so much. In only a year. Blows me away. What's next?

Loving: My husband--he is so good for me. God and his faithfulness and crazy surprises. I don't give him enough credit for what he does.

Hoping: that my writing gets published some day

Marvelling: at God's goodness. 

Needing: new undergarments. nuff said.

Smelling: Hopefully not myself! Ha! Smells of summer: honeysuckle and freshly cut grass

Wearing: skirts and flip flops.

Following: My heart's intuition and the truth of God when my feelings get to be too much

Noticing: How long my nose is getting. Great glory, it's way bigger and longer than it used to be.

Knowing: that God loves me absolutely to pieces

Thinking: about too much. par for the course

Feeling: excited about our upcoming vacation. content with life. blessed.

Bookmarking: recipes to try and books to read

Opening: doors for God to guide me through

Giggling: at my husband when he winks at me. I lose it. He is so cute. Heavens.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thoughts on motherhood

"There is no higher calling for a woman than being a mom."

I read it all the time on blogs and hear it all the time from women at church or on facebook.  Funny how no one backs it up with Scripture.

I'm not sure how we got to this point where being a mom has become the pinnacle of female Christianity, but we are there.  And it alarms me a bit that the Church; that we, ladies, are not doing enough to stop it.

We believe it. We absolutely do.  Just go be a part of the modern Church and you'll see it.  You see the way that single and childless women feel ostracized and outcast.  They are not worthy; somehow lacking or less mature.  Not part of this elite group of women known as mothers.

You see it in the pressure moms have.  Because it's their highest calling, which means it's the most crucial and they better not mess up.  It's not enough to be a mom. You have to be a certain kind of mother. And not ever make a mistake. You have to homeschool.   And don't even think about feeding your kid artificial food coloring or letting them watch Disney movies.  You have to throw Pinterest inspired themed parties and have play dates and your child should recite the whole Bible from memory at their fourth birthday.  Many of my friends are moms and so many of them seem tired and stressed, and not the normal "I have two kids under the age of two" tired and stressed.  They compare themselves to each other.  They feel unworthy and shamed.  Especially when they admit to themselves that this "highest calling" isn't fulfilling them the way they were told it should.  They lie to each other because they feel like they can't admit that sometimes it's just hard and they don't want to be just a mom. But it's their highest calling!  It should fulfill them in ways that nothing else can!  This is what we are told, and I see it wearing on moms all around me.

I hate it, this lie we tell women.  I hate that my single friends are given this message by the church of all places that they are somehow not reaching their full female potential.  I hate that my friends who are working mothers feel ostracized and judged by other women because they aren't stay at home moms.

The message is everywhere:  The pinnacle of a woman's life is culminated in a baby.

You know what it is ladies?  A lie.

It's a lie.

We believe it, because it sounds believable.  It's sounds "churchy".  God loves families and babies, so why wouldn't it be truth? And unfortunately for us the Church is not helping us out. The lie is growing because we are letting it.  

Because here is the truth ladies:  If you are a child of God, you have already achieved your highest calling.

Do you get that?  I mean, in the marrow of your bones and the root of your emotion and worth, do you get that?

Being a wife is not your highest calling.
Being a mother is not your highest calling.
These are relationships.  Motherhood is a gift.  So is marriage.   But they are not our highest calling.

God did not make your for children.
He did not make your for a husband.
He made you for Himself.
It is in Him, and not in motherhood, that you are fulfilled.

We have made a martyr out of mothers and an idol of our children.  Kids are special and precious, YES, and being a mom is a wonderful, noble, beautiful thing. But it is not what Christ came and died for.  He came and died to have you as His.  And being a wife or mom may be part of that, but please understand the difference.  Dear sisters, let us not go on believing and perpetuating this lie that our status within a family unit is what is most important.  That we have not achieved or fulfilled Christ's purpose for us until we have those things.

Christ did not die so you could have a wedding.
He did not die so that you could create and carry life inside of you.
Let's stop defining ourselves and our spiritual ranking by the presence of a ring on our finger or a life in our uterus.

When did being a daughter of God stop being enough?  Stop being the ultimate thing?  

It makes me sad when a friend of mine who has an adopted child tells me she gets left out of conversation and women turn up their nose at her because she didn't experience childbirth.

It makes me angry that the mothers I know who work are looked down upon my stay at home moms.

It makes me grieve that stay at home moms I know can't just be the mom they are and not feel this enormous pressure to perform as a mom, and to always be more, more, more for the sake of approval of the other women around them.

What are we doing to each other??

I hate that my church defines community groups by marriage and age of children because it just perpetuates the lie.  I hate how I get left out of conversations and am not invited to things because I'm not a mom.  I hate that my single friends carry double the burden because of the things they are "lacking", and how we stick them in dark corners of the church as if they are saplings who have not fully developed because they are unwed.

I hate that being a woman of God isn't enough anymore.  I hate what's going to happen to the women who are getting their identity and purpose completely from being a mom in eighteen years when this identity marker moves away from home and they feel unwhole because of it.

Let's stop.  Let's be single and married and moms and not moms. Let's be women of God and have labels not matter.  Because we are the ones doing it to ourselves.

You know who Jesus wants us to be most like?


And he wasn't a mom, and he wasn't married either.

So there.

Monday, May 5, 2014

About birthdays and fear

I turn 32 today.


I'll be honest and tell you, I was really anxious about 32.  Birthdays are weird like that, in that they affect each of us differently. 30 was not a big deal to me; I welcomed 30.  But I remember 24 being hard, and 26 being absolutely horrible. I have friends who had a hard time with 29; another who had a hard time with 35.

I was thinking about birthdays and how they're hard sometimes. I don't think it's necessarily getting older in and of itself that bothers us on those hard milestones. I think it's the age and the lack of what we thought we would have at that point or where we thought we would be that's so hard to deal with.

I'm 26 and single. Will I find someone?
I'm 35 and don't have children. Will I ever?
I'm 42 and divorced. Can I find love again?
I'm 24 and am still working two part time jobs. When will my career start?
I'm 51 and widowed. What now?
I'm 27 and never been kissed.
I'm 19 and don't know what I want to do with my life.
I'm 43 and am unsure of my purpose in life.

That's what makes birthdays hard; not the age but the absence of whatever it was we wanted, and the fear that it's slipping farther and farther away from being possible.

I was talking to a friend about this the other day; she knew I had been anxious about 32 and I told her that surprisingly, it wasn't as scary looking the closer I got to it. That my old thoughts of "I'm 32 but don't have xyz" had turned into "I'm 32, and don't have xyz, but God..."

And it floored me as I said it.

But God.

Two powerful words when put together.

I'm 26 and single. But God...
I'm 35 and don't have children. But God...
I'm 42 and divorced, but God...
I'm 34 and my marriage is over, but God...
I'm...But God.
But. God.

Do you see the power in that?  Any situation dwindles in the face of that truth. Any birthday fear evaporates when held up against that truth.

Abraham was infertile, but God.
Joseph was sold into slavery, but God.
Mary was a small unknown girl, but God.
The earth flooded under Noah's feet, but God.

I didn't get that job, but God.
I failed that test, but God.
We broke up, but God.
I am addicted to x, but God.
I have cancer, but God.

But God.

Two little words. One big God. One very powerful phrase. So take your sentences this week--your fears, your current age, your status, your reality, and add this to the end of is.  Because whatever happens in life, "but God" can change it all.

And that's worth celebrating.  So today I'll eat cake and celebrate God's but ;)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

More than birds

I have become obsessed with birds over the past couple of years. Never hated them before, but never loved them either. Now though, I am a bit of a bird fanatic. My favorite birds are what I call "parking lot birds"...the ones that are tiny and hop around and snatch up french fries and bits of other food from parking lots. 

(Not sea gulls though; while they have similar behavior they are fat and obnoxious and NO. They are not ideal for anything other than slingshot target practice).

Anywho...I think one of the reasons I have fallen in love with birds is because of what they remind me of; those promises in Scripture of God caring for us more than birds.

In Matthew 6 Jesus speaks of the birds and our value compared to theirs. God cares for the birds. "Are you not much more valuable than they?"

Last weekend I made this lovely little guy...$2 Goodwill frame, leftover curtain fabric, and a $5 custom Etsy print, and my little reminder of God's goodness is ready to hang in my dining room.

I need this reminder: That His banner over me is love

"More than birds". This has been my anthem. Such a promise, and something for us to cling to.

When you feel forgotten by Jesus.
When you feel that He sees you, but he isn’t doing anything.
In the hard times of waiting.
Cling to this truth that He sees and He cares, and He provides.
When others find their love and yours hasn’t come yet and the aching loneliness overwhelms you.
When you struggle with knowing your purpose and reasons for being here.
When loss rips you wide open.
When the world is full of babies and none of them are yours.
When you don't know where provision is coming from, or if it will come.

I need to be reminded that He sees, and that He is moving.  That I am worth His action and His words.  

This is what He has been telling me for months now.

Sometimes He whispers it:
More than birds, my love.  I care for you and love you more than birds.

Sometimes he repeats it over and over in a deep voice that rumbles like a song inside his chest:
More than birds, sweet girl.  I provide for you better than the birds.  I give you food and rest, shelter and comfort, love and peace.

Sometimes He shouts it, loud and resonating and bursting with truth:
More than birds!  You are more than the birds that I made and set to flight.  Your heart is more precious to me than them.

Sometimes He weeps with me and through His tears He says it-
More than birds my precious one.  I care and keep them.  I am caring for and keeping you.

Such a promise, and it's ours.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Grace --

I have a stack of note cards on my desk at work that have all the things I'm praying for on them.  Well, most of the things I pray for; it's not limited to just what's on the cards.  But the cards are a good system for me.  It allows me to keep requests current because I can make notes on each one and update them and then remove that card when the answer has come or been provided.

I was praying over my cards last week and it struck me how really, at the core of all my prayers, what I was really asking for was grace.

That person I know who doesn't know Jesus, and I pray that God would soften her heart to His gospel; that's grace.

The friend who is single and lonely and I pray that God would protect her heart and bring her her life's partner:  that's grace.

The elders at my church I pray over; for wisdom and godliness and peace; that's all grace.

The specific provision that Dave and I need; even though I'm asking for a specific thing, what I'm really asking for is grace.

It's such a simple idea, but it struck me so deeply. What all of us really need is grace.  And not just the "God's grace gives us salvation" type (though that is obviously huge).  But grace in the everyday--I guess I never really noticed before how grace is the answer to everything.  God's grace shows itself in His provision, His rebuke, His teaching us dependency, His salvation, His wisdom.

Grace is the twins my friend Laura is carrying.
Grace is Krishana battling cancer, and Sarah getting through school.
Grace is God showing Himself faithful in a friend's difficult season of marriage.
Grace is God holding someone steadfast while they figure out what to do next in their career.
Grace is the girl I know struggling and suffering because she's turned her back on God (yeah, he's showing her she can't do life without Him and that too is grace.)

Everything I pray for, I can just stop, and pray for grace.  (Not that I will, because vague prayers drive me batty--God's big enough for my specifics.)   Sometimes I forget grace.  I forget that it is everywhere; that the rain that poured out of the sky last night, and my beating heart, my marriage, my friendships, my job....they are all evidence of His grace.  His grace is amazing not just because it's so vast but because it can manifest itself everywhere, and in every thing.  It masquerades as a quiet afternoon at work so I can get caught up or in a cup of coffee and a sunrise that are just there for me to enjoy.  It shows up sometimes in a long hot shower and kind words from my husband.

Grace is everywhere. And it slays me, because who are we to deserve these little (and big) bits of favor from God?  I don't deserve any of His goodness, and yet it floods over me daily.  And the more I notice it, the more I realize how much I don't deserve it, and how much He gives it anyways.  I am one who tries to show myself worthy of grace--it's a nasty default of mine.  God is showing me that there's no way I can keep up with the goodness He gives; I'll never do enough or be enough to deserve any of it.  So as the daily onslaught of His grace continues, I'll try and just give up trying.  I won't always succeed, but he has grace to cover that too.

Look around you today; His grace is everywhere.  Let the torrent of grace push you to your knees in thanks at His goodness, and then ride the wave of His goodness throughout your day.  My brain can't comprehend His goodness.  So maybe from now on I'll stop trying to figure it out and earn it, and just enjoy the ride.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Awesome Contest!

I thought that writing my manuscript would be the hardest part about becoming an author.

Then I started researching all the ins and outs and how to's of the publishing world.  Synopsis, three line pitch, six line pitch, query....all these foreign words and phrases nearly rattled my brain right out of my head.  Couldn't it just be simpler?

Ah ha!  Maybe it can!

Writer's Digest is having their 15th "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest, in which, you could win a critique of your first ten pages by an agent.  Um, yes please!

This would be awesome, even if it didn't result in being represented.  Getting feedback on my writing has proven invaluable in helping me make my story and my writing better.  Having a professional's opinion on my work would be a wonderful tool.

Know anybody who writes YA?  Tell them about this!  You never know what could happen!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Here I raise my Ebenezer-

No, not this guy:

Ebenezer Scrooge
"Here I raise by Ebenezer."

First Samuel, chapter 7, is where we get this from. Samuel raised a large stone as a monument to God helping the Israelites defeat the Philistines.  Samuel called the stone an Ebenezer, meaning "stone of help", and said "Here the Lord helped us."

Our God is amazingly faithful.

If you find yourself at a place in life where you feel like God is holding out, or letting you down, or just stalling, I highly encourage you to sit down with a piece of paper, and start writing down all the ways God has proven Himself faithful....all the ways He has provided, even things that you didn't even ask Him for or know you needed.  All the things He's given.  All the wisdom in decisions, the friends who encourage you, the physical provision.  Start and you'll find that it's hard to stop.

It's a good lesson.  Sometimes when I feel like God isn't up to something, I need to remind myself of what He has already done.

I need to remember it.

God told the Israelites to remember what He's done.  They had festivals and holidays, meals and prayers, all so that they could remember, and pass on to their children, the faithfulness of God.

It's amazing what a visible reminder of something will do to you.

I started making a list again here recently of all that God has done for Dave and I just in the past couple of years.  The list was staggering. It left me repenting to God for forgetting who He is and for thinking so little of Him.  It also left me hopeful, because it reminded me of how Big and Good my God is.

I want to make sure I don't forget.  I want to have a wall in our house of Ebenezers; places where we write on cards or draw pictures or somehow mark the ways in which God has helped us.

Really, I want a wall plastered with crayon drawing and handwritten index cards and a million other things.  A wall of reminders.  A wall of "stones of help" so that we, and our children, never forget all that God does.

How about you?  Go grab a legal pad, or a post it note, or a long roll of butcher paper, and start writing down what God has done so far for You.  Tack it to your dashboard or your bathroom mirror, or wallpaper your room with it.  May we not forget what God has done.  May we stop to acknowledge and point out, to God and to others, that "here the Lord has helped us."