Thursday, December 3, 2020

Re-Evaluate Your Rough Day

Job not going right?
Feel unappreciated and overlooked?
Spill coffee on your new cream colored tights?
Hair look ridiculous?
Sister mad at you?
Mother-in-law hate your guts?
Boyfriend forgot your birthday?
Car trouble?
Missed a doctor appointment?
Loose filling in your tooth?
Dog run away?
Mortgage company misapply your payment?
Speeding ticket in a known speed trap?
Neighbor's garbage cans out for the third day in a row?
Can't get those concert tickets last minute?
The holiday "it toy" completely sold out?
Coworker throw you under the bus?
Client humiliated you in a very public meeting?
Teacher called you in because of your kid's behavior?
A simple misunderstanding morphed out of control?

There's a whole culture watching you quietly: we're the Mama's who have experienced a level of rough that frightens you. We're the ones you say, "I wouldn't be able to live..." after hearing our story. We hear your complaints and read your posts and we stop ourselves from saying back to you, "you have no idea what rough is."

Rough is your child being rushed to the hospital with yet another seizure with no understanding of why.

Rough is the insurance refusing to pay for a procedure that will keep your baby comfortable... and alive.

Rough is picking out a coffin instead of a Christmas present. Laying your child's body in the ground instead of lifting her up into your lap.

Rough, we know, is dependent on your own personal circumstances. We get it. We really do. We get that you have no idea where "car troubles" land when that truly is the worst thing that has ever happened to you.

But, as we listen to your complaints, we wonder if there might be a way for you to understand without ever having to go through what we do. A way for you to see your day not as a series of inconveniences, but rather of a beautiful, glorious, magical experience there for the taking.

We wonder if there is a way for you to feel the incredible joy a sunrise can bring without having to sit hostage through the dark.

We wonder if there is a way for you to taste the crisp air of December without having to experience what it feels like to fight for breath.

We wonder if there is a way for you to celebrate the wins instead of focusing on the losses... because the losses have a way of wrapping themselves around you like a python intent on slowly strangling the life from your soul, leaving your eyes dull and expressionless.

From all of us struggling Mamas:

- the one's who have experienced a forced and sudden without still struggling to put one foot in front of the other,

- the one's with too many womb losses holding their plastic smiles on their hurting hearts just to let everyone know they're okay and sometimes this happens (when really all they want to do is scream WHY?!),

- the one's hanging on by a thread making desperate deals with God to please just keep their child alive....

our wish for you today and throughout this holiday season is that you RE-EVALUATE... look for the joys, search out the happiness, revel in the light, and choose to fight against any "rough day" that threatens to dim your world.

We need your happiness.

We need your joy.

We need your laughter.

Because, especially at this time of year, we need you to light the way.

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Eighth Year

Eight years ago I paced alone throughout a house wondering where my daughters were. An inquisitive 3-year old boy as my shadow. I remember feeling so utterly alone. 

I called their phones.

I sent texts.

I posted on Facebook.

I called my sister.

I called the police.

I called my mom.

I drove to the church.

I called the police again.

I walked in circles.

I panicked.

I prayed.

I answered the door.

And my world went dark.

I broke down.

I broke apart.

I broke empty.

I broke completely.

I broke alone.

Then I lifted my head and let God in.

There has been countess blessings and so much incredible joy from sweet friends and absolute strangers! So much goodness! My heart swells just thinking of it all! The Avery House in Haiti. The 19 Days. The Avery Step You Take 5K. To this day I still meet people who say, "wait - are you Avery's mom?" Her story and her love for Christ has reached the hearts of people from all over. How could this be possible except for such a good, good God? 

And I have experienced the deepest cuts of betrayal. Endured active deceit, the abuse of alcohol, adultery's humiliating sting. I live now with my parents, struggle financially after achieving debt-free status, and go to sleep wondering why grieving a child wasn't enough for me.

Yet every morning, through the grace of God, I rise to a world filled with beauty beyond words. Avery's memory and God's Word tells me to love. Love deep. And I will continue to do just that. To the stranger, to the neighbor, to the friend, to the lonely, to the unknown. I will continue to do my part to throw good into the world, to make others laugh, to feel included, to feel heard, to come to recognize they are not alone but that God is with them if you just let Him in - because I do not know what pit they're clawing their way out of. This world is filled with far too many hard things. 

If I have learned anything from Avery's death it's this:

(1) God is good. Always.

(2) You have a finite amount of time on this earth. Find out who you are supposed to be - and be brave enough to own it.

(3) Kindness matters and has its place in all things. Especially the ugly and difficult.

These past eight years have produced the greatest growth and the most amount of fruit in me. There have been times when I wanted to tap out, call uncle, roll over and go to sleep and never wake up. I look back and realize I am so far from where I was the day before Avery died and that movement in me was absolutely needed. Every second of my suffering God has taken and produced something wonderful for His Kingdom. I will praise Him even when I can barely catch my breath. I will praise Him even when I feel shattered and destroyed. Satan will not have me because I belong to God and God alone.

Eight years without. Yet every single day God is showing me how good He is to me. Sending me support, encouragement, friendship through the incredible people he placed in my life and brought just when I needed it most. Eight years and I have never been alone.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Missing Pieces

I have this theory that every one of us is born with missing pieces of our soul. 

Throughout our lives we pick up different pieces - experiences, relationships, careers, hobbies - in the hopes that the piece fits and we become one step closer to whole.

But sometimes we pick up pieces where the shape fits but it is obvious when we look at the color and pattern that it isn't supposed to belong there.

I think it's especially this way with mental illness and addiction. There are so many shapes that match but they aren't right. In fact, if you leave them in place, you'll never be able to complete your soul. 

Alcohol to take the edge off. Getting drunk by 4pm on a Tuesday. Hooking up with people you don't actually care for just because you're lonely or bored or, truthfully, just desperate to fill that empty spot. Smoking marijuana, snorting cocaine, popping oxycontin, xanax, ativan. Inappropriate behavior that hurts innocent people who didn't even know you a month ago. Forgetting your responsibilities. Disappointing loved ones. But the desire to fill that empty hole with anything you can shove in there takes priority over treating others with respect. With treating yourself with respect.

It takes an incredibly brave person to admit a piece needs to be removed. 

It takes courage to say I cannot do this anymore.

It takes every ounce of strength to ask for help getting rid of it.

It is not for the faint of heart to admit that when we look in the mirror we don't even recognize the person staring back. 

That things got out of control and you can't even recount how it happened. 

That everything you worked hard for in the past six years completely crumbled and was destroyed within three months. 

And that you have to start over. 


Just like you started over the last time. 

And the time before that.

But it's not just chemical addiction that can take us seriously off track. Some people are so scared of dealing with the holes in their soul that they fill it with things that look good but are taken to the extreme... like exercising. That's a good thing, right? But when you're working out so much and so often that you're unable to nurture friendships or get enough sleep or attend family gatherings it's time to acknowledge it isn't the right piece.

Some people like taking care of others. And that is a super noble thing to do. But when your worth is wrapped up in doing everything for your children or your spouse or your boyfriend/girlfriend a red flag is being raised. You cannot change someone. You might be able to influence them but you have no control over whether or not they want to change to be the way you want them to be.

Relationships that are toxic but you don't know how to get out.

Jobs you hate but are convinced this is the best you can do.

The landlord raising the rent again but you feel guilty leaving because they're so nice to you and you know they need the extra income. 

Gym memberships you just keep paying on because admitting you don't even like going to the gym makes your feel like a loser. 

Look, we all have hurts, habits and hang ups that try to convince us to keep the ill-fitting pieces in our soul but we also know deep down that we aren't meant to live this way: incomplete. Uncomfortable. Feel less than we deserve.

If you're ready to start over and take a step to a new kind of freedom - whether it's your first time or your thirtieth - give Celebrate Recovery a try. Just enter Celebrate Recovery and your city or town in your search bar and find a meeting near you. Most likely, you'll be able to find several meeting places around you throughout the week. Go to however many you need to go to for however long you need to go. I promise it will be one of the most welcoming places you will ever go. And they'll help you take out the pieces that need to be removed and you'll start finding the ones that are supposed to be yours. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Package

The other day a package, sent to me, from me, was delivered to my home.
Except I didn’t actually send myself anything.
So I had no idea what it was or who would send it or why they would.
Inside was an anonymous note referencing Avery and The 19 Days and I’m not including the note because the sender went through great lengths to remain anonymous and therefore I’m respecting that and no one will be able to scrutinize the handwriting.
Because it isn’t really about trying to figure out who sent it.
It’s about allowing yourself to just feel loved and cared for. In this case, allowing myself to just feel loved and cared for.
Because the truth is, I’ve been craving that for a long time. Years and years, really. And I kind of forgot what it was like - to just receive.
To just accept.
To just think about how someone, somewhere, thought about me and said, “I think she’d like this.” So they took out their money and purchased something that was perfect for me when they could have bought something that was perfect for them or perfect for anyone else in their life. And then they went to the post office and purchased a package to send it in and then paid for next day shipping in order to have it delivered to me.
Do you know how great it feels to be considered next day shipping worthy? Because I do. And it feels really amazing.
And on top of everything, this person essentially made certain that I had absolutely no obligation other than to simply receive and enjoy. I have no name to send a thank you card to. I have no name to reciprocate. I have nothing... except for this gift that was given to me.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, expected of me in return.
Except to receive and enjoy. And to know that somewhere, someone believes I’m pretty wonderful.
And that makes me feel pretty dang incredible.
So much so, I can't wait to do this to some other unsuspecting soul.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

In the Desert

I think we need to talk about the desert. Real talk.

As a Christian, we've heard this story a thousand times. The Israelites, God's Chosen People - special, marked, loved, cared for - were exiled into the desert where, although not ideal, God took care of them. We learned how daily God performed miracles just for them! He made manna (bread) fall from the sky so they could eat and he brought water out of a rock to quench their thirst!

But they weren't thrilled about it.

They whined. They complained. They felt they deserved more. They forgot to say thank you.

And, as every good Christian girl and boy does, we reacted in shock! How could they not see their God providing for them?! How could they be so ungrateful? How could they lose faith in their great and holy Father? How could they forget who He was and how much He loved them?

We would never act like that! We would learn from them! We would not let down our God with our short memories of who He is and what He promises to His people! We would be better than the Isrealites, we promised.

Friends, we haven't even been in the desert for 40 days. (That was the amount of time Jesus spent in the desert. Remember? He went without food and water and he was completely isolated except for the presence of the enemy. Literally.)

You guys! How can we be the light of the church during such a time as this if we're posting our complaints about how we shouldn't have to spend all this time teaching kids and doing school work? How it's ridiculous that restaurants are closed? Or complaining about how we haven't had a good night out with friends in ages. Or how unfair it is that our family doesn't get to go on the vacation we booked before a global pandemic thwarted our plans?

How can we convince others that God will provide for them if we can't see how God is providing for us right now?

How are we showing how great our God is when we spend more time arguing and defending politics than we do sharing God's grace and mercies of the day?

How do we share God's love and light and faithfulness and goodness and wonderfulness and powerfulness and beauty and greatness when all we're doing is whining that we deserve more than the pitiful manna piling up around our feet?

We're moving - whether we realize it our not. Our thoughts, our words, the habits we're forming - they're either moving us closer to God or closer to the enemy. 

We're not sitting still through this. We're moving - whether we realize it our not. Our thoughts, our words, the habits we're forming - they're either moving us closer to God or closer to the enemy. And it's all our choice. All our doing. All our decision making. And most of us can't even see how far away from God we've actually become.

This is our desert. And why not? What makes us so special that we wouldn't have a challenge? It's not the way of our people; of God's people. God has never disillusioned us. He told us straight out that our lives here would not be easy.

John 16:33 (NIV) tells us what Jesus said. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The Message describes it like this: "I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace." Are we showing the world how at peace with God we truly are? Do we feel unshakable and assured through our faith in God? Or are we filled with worry and fear and doubt?

How many stories have been passed down through the generations, how many scriptures have been shared, how many Sunday School lessons and church sermons have illustrated the fact that God's way is not easy - but that he HAS a Promised Land in store for us!

That he never leaves our side.
That He's with us in the battle.
That we're not forgotten.
That He will give us the strength we need to endure for one more day.

As Christians, our greatest battle isn't COVID-19. It isn't being laid off. It isn't the dwindling check book and the empty pantry. It isn't hours of school work battles around the kitchen table. Our greatest struggle is with our patience in God and our gratitude to God.

We're not forgotten by God. But we have been forgetting Him.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Leading Me.

Based on evidence from radiometric age-dating of meteorite material, the earth is about 4.543 billion years old.

I am 46. By this point in my life I have slept away at least 15-years, but it's actually probably closer to twenty. If I remain healthy, I have about thirty good years left, but I still have to sleep.

If I were to be honest, I would admit I have spent the majority of my life in a state of reaction to someone or something else. I am not exactly known as a trailblazer or a leader. I will happily pass the leadership baton to someone else and let them decide what my life should look like. Where should we eat? You decide. Where should we vacation? You pick. What should holidays look like? I guess I'll just deal with whatever you come up with.

I have always had these grand plans to pick up and move to someplace quaint and quirky, fall in love with a man who was much more level-headed and rational than I, and have a bunch of kids that would be the pride of my heart. I'd know everyone in town and would get my coffee at the same diner every morning. In my dreams, I'm always someplace south. (Also, I drink coffee in my dreams which I do not ever do in real life.) But instead of making choices that would lead me down the path to that quaint and quirky town, I hopped in the car of the first boy who paid attention to me and ended up going nowhere but staying here trying to raise babies alone.

I often picture myself hiking alone, invigorated, soul-filled, balanced, but nature scares me. I used to run long distance throughout the trails in the DNR land at the back edge of our property. Nothing but my breath and the sound of my feet crunching leaves and small sticks. I loved every step of it! Then there was this crazy encounter with a fox that took me immediately and forever off those trails.

I have always done whatever I had to do to get by. To get from the step I was at to the very next step. Conservatively move from job to job to get to the top paying one with the best benefits. Buy the car that makes the most sense. Purchase the sofa that's on sale even though it's not the one I really wanted.

So, I think I'm going to switch things up in 2020. Instead of watching my life waltz by with each passing day and trying to follow it around, I'm going to be intentional about where I step and what decisions I make. It's about time I lead instead of waiting to be asked to go out on the dance floor.

It's going to be hard for me. It goes against some really bad, ingrained habits. But I'm going to try it.

This year, I'm going to learn how to lead me.

The One in which I take my Father for his Covid Vaccine

I got a voicemail the other day from the hospital saying ‘since you’re the contact on record we just want you to know your Dad can get a Cov...