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It's interesting to look at your life, past to present, and think: "It has all led up to this...." And then wonder where it will lead to next.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Next Step

There are times when I think that some things will never come to pass. That I will be destined to chase dreams that never become realities. To forever reach and fall short. The truth is, dreams don't often feel like dreams once they come to be. I have this idea that one day we'll live some exotic life on the mission field--but I've been there. There were great adventures and I have some awesome memories and I would never trade it, but at the time, it was just life. I used to dream of having four children, adopting several more, and being this graceful, loving mother. I'm only up to two kids, and although I love them more than anything, I'm rarely graceful.

Life in the moment can feel like such chaos, it's tempting to think it isn't leading anywhere. But then things happen that force you to look back, and suddenly it all fits together. Life takes time. It's messy. It's hard. Sometimes it all blurs together. So when you get the opportunity to really see a step being taken--something you've dreamed about--take it in!

Yesterday I got a phone call... I was accepted into the pre-nursing program for Spring 2013! I am not only freakishly happy, but pretty incredibly shocked as well. Because I didn't even know I would be living here, I ended up applying 5 months after the deadline. It was a long shot, but I figured I'd go for it anyway. Apparently a spot opened up at the last minute and--wa lah! Here I was thinking I would have to wait until March to hear if I got into the fall Nursing program, and now as long as I keep my gpa up during pre-nursing classes I should have a spot come fall! I think this would feel good no matter what, but because of how long I have been working and patiently (haha) waiting for this for what feels like forever, it feels pretty incredible to know it's finally happening. So here it is. The next step God has laid out for me. He is faithful.

Next year this time I may be whining about finals, but for now, I'm going to revel in this. It's gonna be a good day. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Still Moving: Albeit Slowly

The last time I had consistant insomnia was two years ago this time. Pregnant and overwhelmed with our challenges along with the grief of the world. This year I am less overwhelmed with the grief of the world only because my own challenges have consumed me that much more. I don't have much left over for the world. I am hoping when all of this is over (if it's ever over) I will come to some sort of balance.

Sometimes I think the reason I have always been so consumed with the world was as a result of pleasant ignorance of the severity of my own issues and life challenges. It's a painful shift to move from being one who thinks she can save, to being one who so desperately needs saving. I don't wish to go back in the least, I simply wish I could move forward a little faster. This is a lonely and frightening place to be.

It's not that I don't trust God to provide and it's not that I'm unaccustomed to discomfort. I have been in so many desperate situations! There have been many times when we didn't know where our next meal would come from, lived in what most Americans would consider "unsuitable living conditions," and dealt with countless uncertainties, yet God has always provided. For every person who has used or cheated us, others have inexcusably blessed us. Honestly, I have felt more blessed than I deserve for the most part. I have lived around too many people with less to see what we've been through as any real "suffering." It's just that I am so tired. I feel like even if it were easy it would be hard. And it's not easy.

It's painful and isolating when people can't understand your struggles. When they can't cheer you up with quotes and light hearted jokes, you somehow feel like you've disappointed them. They compare your struggles with things that you can't help but see as trivial. They give the impression they think you've given up too easily. But what they don't know is how long you've been fighting. And that whether or not it looks like it, you still are. Even the young grow weary and faint.

Even in moments when I know these trials will not last forever, when I know God is sovereign, there are times when I choose to be angry--regardless of promises kept, or not yet answered. Angry that I am not who I thought I was. Angry what God allows. And some days it's easier to lay paralyzed in my fear and anger than to hope that truth will set me free. To hope that one day joy will reign again, dispersing any desires to push away those I love. That one day I will wake up, not wishing I didn't have to.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I Am Not My Own

Sometimes all I need is a whisper. An acknowledgment that my cries have been heard. A confirmation that God is still in control, even when I am reeling out of control--especially then. The other day I finally sat down and prayed. Or more like begged. Just to feel God near, to know He had not abandoned me to the clutches of darkness. Like a healthy person, I fell asleep that night watching some awful but captivating show that allowed me to keep my mind off my own issues. When I awoke later that night, there was peace. I can't explain it, but there is no mistaking it. I haven't felt that feeling in over a month. Peace. The peace has remained with me in and out of the chaos of each day, and it is the only reason I am able to function.

I don't understand God. I know the world is broken and full of sin and that life here will never be easy, but I also know God's power. I've seen it. When I find myself unable to trust, it's not because I think God is unable, it's because I am afraid He is unwilling. It's hard to trust someone who allows you so much pain, when you know He is capable of taking it all away. Yet, He calls us to trust regardless. And that's the thing about God, you can't pick and choose what you want from Him, He is all or nothing. When you commit your life to Him, you have to trust Him, even when you don't want to or feel unable to. It's a frightening thing to place your life, your love, and your dreams in someone else's hands. Even the hands of your creator.

I constantly feel like I am starting each day at ground zero. I am drained by my failings and feel like I am always having to relearn things. However when I look back on my life, reflect on memories, and read old journals, I see a richness there that is consistant with one thing. God. You see, the thing I forget more often than not is that my life is not my own. That one little perspective changes things tremendously. Suddenly instead of magnifying my failures and weaknesses, I am in awe with the fact that despite those things, God has made me one of His own. He has claimed my life for so much more than my own glory. I understand that none of that sounds very great from a worldly perspective. But if you have seen even an ounce of God's power, even a hint of His love--it's the most incredible thing you could hope for.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Another Day

Forrest Gump's mom had it right. Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. One might be filled with rich soft chocolate, the next filled with salty carmel or some weird tasting experiment someone decided to make. But you don't complain, right? Because it's a gift, and you reach for another hoping it will be delicious enough to make the nasty ones worth it. It's not a perfect analogy, but I think we've come to the conclusion that imperfection is a significant part of life.

Today, to my surprise, I woke early. After straightening up I had a blissful 5 minutes on the couch, in a clean room, with a cup of coffee in complete silence. I haven't had 5 minutes in a quiet or clean room in much too long. And yes, it was worth getting up before 6:00 a.m. to get. As it turns out, five minutes was all I needed to realize a few things. I realized that I have been doing a lot of regretting lately. A lot of wishing I had done certain things in the past to make my present a little easier. I've been feeling pretty useless, irrelevant, and unworthy. It's hard to face the day when you feel like you don't deserve it.

Regret is such a cliche. Everyone knows you shouldn't bother with it, but when it comes down to it, we all have to face a little regret. The real challenge is, do you succumb to it's debilitating nature? Or decide to let it go and move forward? And it's a constant challenge. Just because we make the right decision now doesn't mean we'll make the right decision tomorrow. Regardless, for this moment I can hold on to the fact that I can choose to make the right decision today. And tomorrow? As Scarlett O'Hara always says, tomorrow is another day.

Jesus said, "You're tied down to the mundane; I'm in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I'm living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all this. You're at a dead-end. If you won't believe I am who I say I am, you're at the dead-end of sins. You're missing God in your lives." John 8:23-24 The Message

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Running Dry

In the face of deepest darkness is when you truly realize you are no super hero. There was a time when I felt capable of so much. I wonder now, was that the real me? Or was life just simpler then? Will I ever feel like that again? Or have I reached the point of no return?

I'm finding I'm rather jealous of people who truly believe they have things figured out. Even when they know they don't, they know they do. You know those people? I used to be kind of like that, and as annoying as those people may be sometimes, wouldn't that be nice? Feeling like you've got this? Whatever this may be. We've broken out our turbos, but now even those are running dry.

I don't need to know God's plans. I just need to know He's got this. I need to know it. I need to feel Him near.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sometimes. Somehows.

Sometimes life takes turns you should probably expect, but in no way want. Sometimes it throws you up high, landing on your feet when you're lucky, while other times falling smack on your face. Both are kind of painful, but we know which is worse. I have fallen on my face a lot this year. I'm pretty banged up. Sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder when all those scrapes, cuts, and bruises with finally heal. And wonder what scars will be left behind. Somedays I don't care how ugly I'll be, I just want to stop hurting. Other days I can somehow still see beauty and am thankful for the gain despite the loss.

Last week my husband lost his job. Although he was promised work through the winter when he was hired, his boss let him know he could not afford to keep him on through the winter after all. Happy Thanksgiving! Needless to say, we haven't had a very good week. Although financial difficulties by no means cause my depression, they certainly do not help. It's not that I don't know these things happen, it's not that I don't expect these things to happen to us, it's that I'm just so tired. I wonder if we'll ever not be scraping by, stressed out, and worried. I wonder if we'll ever stop hitting rock bottom. Because we've been there plenty. To top it all off, when I went to register for spring classes, everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, none of which was my fault, and I couldn't register. Not a big deal in comparison (unless I don't get into the classes because of it--then it's kind of a big deal), but discouraging nonetheless.

Thankfully today took a turn for the better. Our landlord needed tree work which almost equals out to our rent AND Aaron got a call back from a job interview and things look good. We're not sure what the pay will be and I'm looking into work options as well, but at least its something. Something good. It always seems to be when we want to give up, something works out to keep us moving forward. Story of our lives. Also, turns out the guys who got to keep their jobs only got 9 hours of work this week. So, I guess we'd be looking for jobs anyway.

In the Desert

I really hate getting on facebook or reading people's blogs and seeing all the fun things they are doing when I am struggling to get out of bed in the morning, much less plan a fun (and equally free) activity with my kids. Even when I get ideas, making them happen just... doesn't happen.

This week I've been wanting to ask God, Have you brought me out of Egypt only to let me die in the desert? But I don't ask, because I can't talk to him. I think, how is it fair that something can come between me and the Almighty God? Supposedly that's not possible, but depression sure makes it feel that way. All those little quotes and pictures that talk about how when we feel abandoned by God he is actually carrying us? Those just annoy me, because if God is all omnipotent and loving and carrying me through the desert, why can't He break through the walls of darkness and let me know he is there? How are you supposed to trust someone who disappears when you need him most and then comes for the credit when you're all happy again and don't need that much convincing anyway?

I probably sound much more angry than I am. Some days I am angry. Today is actually a better day. I know some day it's all supposed to make sense and I'm supposed to trust now despite all doubt... but what about when I can't? Depression literally takes trust completely out of the picture. I can honestly say I am not me when depression takes over.

Sometimes I think I would rather be dying from a terminal illness than living with depression.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Little Thanks

Sometimes I feel like we just can't catch a break. Life keeps handing us things I just don't feel ready to handle. Today handed us one more of those things. *sigh* GOD, you created me. You gave me life. Be my strength to live it.

Instead of giving into the overwhelming fear and doubt that consumes me during these challenging times, I'm going to jump on board with the Thanksgiving spirit (even if I don't feel it) and share a few things that I am thankful for...

Life. I am thankful that I want to live. Even though it's hard. That even when things seem to take so long, I am moving forward and learning so much on the way. That my life does not end here, in this broken, painful world. That my home is securely planted in an eternal kingdom.

My husband. Sharing this life with me. Holding my hand and filling my heart with hope when I want to give in to heartache. Loving me more than I could possibly deserve. I'm thankful we met so young--I wouldn't want to miss a moment we've spent together.

My kids. Oh children, my crazy, crazy children. I am thankful I can take no credit for their unique and inspiring personalities. I am thankful for all they teach me about life, love, and adventure. How to appreciate chaos and peace. The importance of lazy days, time outs, eating, and walks. I am thankful I get to teach them how to roll down hills, share with friends, climb trees, and cook a pretend meal with empty pots and paint brushes.

Hot yoga. I am thankful for hot, sweaty rooms in which I can think only about breathing, balancing, stretching, and relaxing. Those 45 minutes of reprieve from cold weather and thoughts of things I can't control.

And sushi. I am thankful for sushi. Enough said.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happy Holidays?

I know this is the time of year when everything is supposed to be cheery and cozy and just all-round festive, but I'm just not there. It's hard to get into the holiday spirit when I feel like I didn't even really get to experience summer this year--the only time I really feel alive! What a shame to waste the most precious months of the year on hopeless moments full of fear and shame. Not that there is anything I can do about it now, but it does does feel awful to know it's winter again when I hardly got to experience summer. And so here I am again, feeling cold and slightly numb, all energy exerted just to get through the bare minimum.

I do thank God everyday that I am not where I was, and try my best to convince myself this won't last forever. I think I wanted to think that I've been through the worst of it and that from here on out it will all seem much easier. It's just not so.

I no longer feel like God does not exist, I just don't feel there. I pick up my Bible to read, and quickly set it back down. Ugh, I think to myself. I can't handle these stories again. I don't know how to read this and not be frustrated. And then I wonder what's wrong with me. How do some people pick it up and feel uplifted and hopeful, and I pick it up and feel discouraged? Whereas before I felt like God could handle me, now I am worried He might lose patience. I'm worried a lot of people will lose patience.

The switch has flipped. Yet again. I am struggling to keep my head above water, and though it's not as bad, how do I know it won't get there again? Is this destined to be my life forever? Will the cycle ever end? These are the questions that probe my brain beneath all other thoughts that swarm there. I wish there was an off button for my brain.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Do you ever find yourself waking up each morning dreading the day before you? Good or bad, it all requires energy. Something that seems to come to me only in small increments. Maybe it's depression, maybe it's being a parent of young children, maybe it's being human. Diagnosing the cause doesn't make it any easier.

I used to be so judgmental of parents of young kids. I thought they complained too much. Some of the things they said about their kids and their life sounded so negative, I thought, Why did you even have kids! Besides I worked hard, and I was tired, but I was ok. YEAH, Faith! You were 20, too! Three measly part-time jobs and full time school (and 3 meals a day cooked and cleaned up for you!) don't have jack on raising kids! I could slap her skinny 20 year old face. Stupid, stupid, naive little girl.

The thing about being a parent--is a lot of things. Life outside your own doesn't stop just because your focus has changed. You may be consumed with the lives of your children, but now even more bills need to be paid, your relationship with your spouse requires even more diligence, and you'll find that if you do not keep up with friends they will leave you, and if you do not take care of yourself, you will hate you.

I used to view quiet times as moments of duty--to prove my devotion to God. Now I can see they are there for me. Although, my moments of quiet are usually the minutes between when the kids go to bed and I fall asleep on the couch. When I have rare moments of quiet in the day I busy them with chores long left undone or relief of stressful thoughts through social media. I find I seek God in moments of chaos. When things are so crazy I think I might crash. Or scream. Or run.

Forget being a parent, I think as an adult it's easy to forget that the end all is not in us. Because others rely on us, we think we should be able to provide it all. But we do not hold the answers and solutions we think we should. Moments of quiet may be longed for, but they also frighten me. As moments of quiet often welcome thoughts of fear, worry, and stress. But if I don't allow myself to admit they are there, how am I to release them to God?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Broken: America As We Know It

There's been a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth with the election this year. Mostly I hear claims that America is over as we know it, that this great country is doomed to damnation, and that all that made this country good and worthy to be called America will now cease to exist.

I just have a question. This "America" they are speaking of, this country that is spoken of with such reverence and such mourning, when did it exist?

Was it when it stole the land from the natives and sent them to their death?

Or when it claimed slaves for itself based on skin color and heritage?

Or was it when you had to be a white man to have rights?

Or was it during times of war?

Or in any other period in there where this perfect America that we are now losing must have existed?

When and where is this America?

All I'm saying is, we are broken. This nation is broken. This world is broken. To think it ever has been or ever will be anything but broken is simply an illusion.

Put your hope not in man and his promises, but in Christ Jesus and His kingdom.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Loving the Sin, Hating the Sinner

One thing I am really good at is looking at other people's lives and seeing what they are doing wrong and how they could be doing better. I can do the same in my life, in fact I do, but the problem is: life. It's so complicated and there are so many factors, limitations, and excuses. It's so easy when you are not actually wearing the shoes to think you'd know just how to walk in them. Somewhere along the way I think the Church misunderstood its calling. Somewhere along the way we decided it was our place to pass judgment. Not just looking at the world and saying this is right or wrong, but looking at lives and deciding whether they are deserving of God's love or not. I can't tell you how many conversations I've had with people who don't feel comfortable going to Church because they are afraid they will be judged for their life choices. Why? Because they are judged! Somehow the Church has changed from a place welcoming of sinners to a place only for those who sin acceptably. Suddenly God's love isn't a gift given to the undeserving, but a prize attained only by those who can fake being good enough. We aren't hating the sin and loving the sinner, we are hiding the sin and judging those who don't. And THAT, is not right.

In a way, I was raised to be a judge. Look at the world and then compartmentalize everything into two boxes labeled "right" and "wrong" which are also known as "good" and "bad." This is how I have navigated myself through the world, deciding what I should or shouldn't do, who I should associate with, and how I should view them. In doing this I have heaped a whole lot of pain on others and reaped a whole lot for myself as well. Because the one I judge harshest is, of course, me. As I get older the world seems to get so much more complex. Suddenly things don't fit into my black and white boxes and all these gray ones appear and start filling up. Suddenly the judgements I've been using as glasses, robes, and shoes, don't fit right anymore. Suddenly I realize I've just been playing dress up. My gavel nothing more than a plank in my own eye. When I thought I was waving my fist in righteousness, I was actually just slapping the faces of those around me. Because I am not the judge, and I was never called to be one.

Monday, October 29, 2012


I never would have admitted it, but I am definitely a five-year-planner. I LOVE knowing where I am headed, even if my plans don't go as planned, I like to plan and feel like I have some kind of control. I like to say things like, I am doing this right now so that this and this and this can happen and bring me here. Over the last few years God has been teaching me to focus on steps instead of goals. It sounds silly and maybe even wrong. Of course we should focus on goals, right? So that we can take the right steps? But when the goal is in God's hands, not mine, He has taught me that simply taking the steps He lays out before me is a much wiser plan. When I focus on the goal I tend to make up my mind about what the steps should look like. I worry incessantly about taking the wrong steps, about diversions and set backs, and most of all about provisions. Instead of laying my life before Jesus, my prayers are more like, "Hey you! I've got these plans I'm working on and things keep going wrong! Why can't you just change everything and make it work out smoothly for my plans, huh? Do you even really care about me? What about MY PLANS?! My plans.. my plans... my preciousssss..."

Yeah, it get's down right annoying. And creepy.

As I finish the final details of my application for Nursing school, I can't help but feel amazed. Am I finally here? It's been over 3 years since I started pursuing this degree and I am only just applying for the program! Of course, it's not that time has been wasted. Life has been lived, mountains climbed, babies born, hearts changed, moves made. No, time has not been wasted at all, and it's flown by so furiously fast that I sit here almost 4 years later thinking, Am I finally here?

"Here" is really not anywhere but a continuation of this journey I call life. I still don't even know if I'll get in the program or when I'll start it, or what will happen after that. And yet to be sending in my application is a point I have been waiting for... for a very long while. I like to look back to the time when the thought first seriously planted itself in my mind. How full of doubt and fear I was. The things I thought, like how I wouldn't be smart enough, would be a bad mom, wouldn't be able to afford it, or that it just wouldn't work out because I wanted it to. God has used the last few years to transform this goal from a lofty dream, to a calling, to a part of a much bigger picture. So I worry less about whether I'll be good enough as a student, a nurse, a wife, or a mother, and I focus more on the joy God has put in my heart as I learn more about Him and continue to take the steps He has laid out for me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

At the end of the day.

My husband is at soccer and I have just finished the most enthralling trilogy, so what's there to do? I scan through hulu, facebook, blogs, and still find myself restless. Bored. Then my mind starts to dwell on my day. The things I did. The things I didn't do. I'm hungry but the only thing to snack on is some home made zucchini bread that turned out much too dry. Just like the last two times. Why do I insist on trying to keep things healthy? Why don't I have a bag of potato chips in my cupboard? Why can't I make a damn loaf of bread that isn't dryer than saw dust?

I start to think about why I am so tired. I wake before dawn--which isn't hard to do with winter quickly approaching, how depressing--before I can even make my way to the bathroom I've been asked 13 times by my son if I can make breakfast, get him juice, let him watch a cartoon, help him feed his fish, etc, etc... the list goes on and on. By 8:00 a.m. I have made breakfast, cleaned up, showered, dressed both the boys, fed the dog, remembered it's my day to bring snacks for Aiden's class, gotten the snack together, packed Aiden's lunch, and started on my now luke warm cup of coffee. I do all this in a fog. I don't really wake up until 9 or 10 I swear. Sometimes I spend the down time before school reading books with the boys or playing cops and get-away-cars, but sometimes I let them go crazy on their own, or cave and turn on a cartoon so I can finish getting ready in peace. By 8:55 a.m. we are walking Aiden to school, by 9ish he is settled in class and Gabriel and I stroll back home.

I always imagine Gabriel and I spending good, solid, quality time together while Aiden is at school, but let's be honest, I probably spend 30 minutes really playing with him, and the rest of the time cleaning, running errands, feeding, changing diapers, occasionally meeting with a friend. Somedays this feels perfectly fine; I put away the dishes, he takes out all the tupperware, I sweep the floor, he "vacuums," I fold the laundry, he empties my underwear drawer, I put away the tupperware, he dumps my box of receipts. Other days I get the feeling he needs extra attention. Sometimes I take that as an opportunity to sit and read just for him, play knock-over-whatever-I-build without his big brother getting upset, or simply destroy my freshly made bed with a tickle fight. And sometimes I ignore that feeling and keep us busy. I hate it when I do that.

By the time Aiden gets home I am ready for bed, but apparently the day is only half over. Gabriel takes a nap and Aiden and I eat a snack and then he searches for bugs and brings them to me to inspect, or I attempt to answer the half a million question he has about everything (How do you make chicken nuggets out of pizza? Why does the sun set? Why do feet stink?). If he's being particularly observant, I use this time to read in between bug inspections. Sometimes I make him "nap," though he rarely actually does. Sometimes I let him watch a cartoon so I can soak up 30 minutes of quiet to write a blog post, finish a chapter, or just sit and stare blankly at the wall.

Sometimes we have an afternoon outing. Sometimes we spend it all in the back yard. Dinner feels like a grand production. With all the interruptions it often feels like it takes hours, even when I've prepped the meal. I find myself thinking, What you want can wait. Your whining can wait. Your tears can wait. Your everything can wait. I WILL finish cooking this meal! And sometimes I end up cooking with one child on my hip and another eating crackers by my feet.

If I am lucky, Aaron is home by dinner and we can share bed time duties. It always seems to feel like the last stretch of a race that part of the day. Bath, get dressed, brush teeth, book, song, BED. It takes so much energy, all I have left. Unless Aaron does dishes, I rarely do them till morning. And then I find myself glued to the couch, finally able to do anything I want. And all I want to do is sleep.

Sometimes what best makes me ok with my "failings" is just being honest and writing about them (hence the blog, I guess). I often find that what I felt so awful about earlier, isn't so bad. And when I thought I did "nothing," I really did lots of things. Sometimes it helps me see what I focused on that day and helps me to prioritize. Sometimes my failings are just that, failings, and I have to accept I'll always have them. If you find yourself overwhelmed by your daily failings, try writing it out, and see where it takes you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Coming Back to Life

After a year (or years) of being stripped from lies that I have clung to as truth for so long, in moments of weakness (that come quite often) I have found myself slightly afraid. Afraid that maybe what I think I'm learning is actually more lies. Afraid that what I think is coming from God is actually just my own twisted head trying to come up with solutions to help make sense of this world I so rarely understand.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the pastor at our new church has been teaching from Ecclesiastes and Job since we started going there. Each week I feel such solid confirmation in all the truths God has been speaking to me this last year. This is truth. I hear Him say, and I lap it up and beg for more. Hearing these truths reconfirmed is like having fresh water poured over my parched soul, replenishing my healing heart, mending it together piece by piece. Each week I want him to keep teaching--an hour to speak this kind of truth?? It's like dropping bread crumbs to a starving child--I want more! The pastor clearly struggles himself, preaching until the very last second before he must race to another church, his passion for the truth as evident in his speech as what I feel in my own heart. It's times like these that I curse the society that lives by the clock so closely.

I still struggle to read the Bible on my own. I was so hard on myself and self-condemning that as a child and even up to adulthood I couldn't help but read the Bible in a way that it heaped coals onto my head. The stories and passages are all so familiar but instead of comforting they carry hurt and fear cast on me from the past. Slowly God is reinterpreting His word for me. Healing my wounds by speaking truth over the lies. He is patient. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say I am excited--not for what I am doing for God, but for what He is doing in me.

(If you would like to listen to the sermons you can find them here: http://www.renovatuschurch.com/)

Friday, October 12, 2012

More on "Me"

I have always been told I am "bright." Apparently I look good in pink, yellow, green, or blue and those are colors I should wear. I have spent most of my life wondering why the person I am told I am and the person I feel I am don't match up. I constantly felt I had to convince myself I was what people were telling me I was and try to quiet the person I felt I was so I could be what I was told I was. It sounds ridiculous (probably because it is) but I didn't realize that that was what I was doing. It's really hard to embrace yourself when you are constantly at battle with who you think you should be. Especially when it even comes down to things as simple as the colors I should wear. You see, I like colors in the very few accessories I wear and occasionally on my nails, but for the most part, black and gray are my colors of choice. Not because I don't care about what I wear (I do), not because I'm too afraid to step out of my comfort zone (although I do like it), but because I like those things.

I am not bright and bubbly. I am a trained extrovert. I think I was originally somewhat of a melancholy introvert who adapted to survive the life style I was brought up in. I am not girly. I love femininity and most things that that implies, but for the most part I prefer neutral, semi-uni-sex things. Maybe it's growing up with five brothers, or having all boys in my home. Either way. Despite that, I am most certainly not a tom boy. I'm no good at team sports--even though I would have killed to be a part of them growing up, I am afraid of getting hit by the ball. I am anything but competitive. In cross-country meets I would partner up with a slow girl from an opposing team so she wouldn't have to run alone and end up making a new friend (my coach loved that). I used to love climbing trees, now I am afraid of heights. Meeting new people used to make me feel sick to my stomach, now I love it. I believe my life is never too full for another friend. But I also love to be alone. I need to be alone. I like going to new places on my own; feeling sick with anxiety until I convince myself I have nothing to fear. I like challenging my weaknesses every once in while to see if I've out grown them. To push boundaries I set for myself earlier in life, to see if I was wrong to set them up to begin with.

What is my point? I am who I am. Some of me born, some of me made, and most of the time not what other people tell me I am. Always changing, but always me. It's freeing to remove the uncomfortably fitted jackets, hats, and shoes others have put me in, or those I have put on myself, and realize I don't have to feel bad about not wearing them. To realize once again, it's ok to be me, whoever that may be.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Some days I want to run. Do you know the feeling? I want to run. Escape. It's not that my life is horrible or even particularly difficult. In fact, it's quite the opposite comparatively. It's just some days I look at myself, my life, my responsibilities, my goals, my heartache, and I just don't feel up for it. I look at the dark clouds and the shedding trees as they are moved by the bitter winter-like winds and I think, I don't want you. As though my cold-hearted words will send them back where they came from, leaving summer with me forever.

I look at my husband, my children, my friends, and I think, Move away from me before I hurt you. I am not enough. I will drain you. You are too much for me. And I don't like these thoughts because they speak of cowardice and selfishness, and I am reminded of who I don't want to be, but can be so easily. I can only be so selfless, giving, and present. I am not limitless. There is a piece of me that will always long for a shack on a beach, with an endless supply of books, coffee, and no sound but the waves crashing and the breeze whispering soft nothings in my ear.

I am learning a new way of life. One that does not include me being the heroine. Learning to let go of images of the someone I am not. The someone I never was. The someone I never will be. Learning to accept life for what it is. Accept myself for who I am. As one under renovation.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I don't know about you, but I'm pretty tired of apologizing for being a girl. I'm tired of excusing my feelings as though they are irrelevant, blaming my hormones as though they are a defect, and hiding my emotions as though they are embarrassing. I am a woman and I was made a woman for a reason. Here are a few things I love about being a woman (in no particular order):

Strength. Yeah, I throw like a girl and I can't even lift my body weight, but God gave me a strength that allows me to hold my children for longer than should be possible. A strength that holds my husband up when he is worn and tired. A strength that holds on to hope when everything else is falling apart. I may cry when I watch a romantic comedy or read a good book, but should the earth collapse, I'll still do my best to stand as a pillar for my family, even if it kills me. Not because I am super human, but simply because it's the way God made woman.

Beauty. I've mentioned this before, it's more than just a material beauty. Woman is the definition of beauty. We are damaged and imperfect, but there is a piece of God's beauty that can only be seen in a woman. In the depths of her eyes, the shape of her body, and the grace she carries in her presence. Beauty does not equal perfection (who are we to define perfection anyway?), it's unique in each who carry it and goes much deeper than we can even fathom.

Emotion. I have apologized for being "emotional" more times than I can count. But you know what, tears can soften hearts and open doors long slammed shut. Joy is contagious and laughter heals like medicine. Anger leads to change and defense for the voiceless. Emotion is a gift that allows us to relate, empathize, love. Sometimes, action based on emotion is the best we'll ever take.

Girl time. No one bonds like women do. When women get together, burdens lift, hearts mend, change happens. We know how to disperse lies, speak truth, and challenge each other in ways no else can. We know how to push each other forward and carry each other when we are weak. Nothing can replace relationships between women.

Passion. There is a passion in women that embodies strength, beauty, and emotion.  We have often been told to quiet it, but this passion is VITAL. Without it, the world wouldn't last a day.

Now I am not bragging about myself or even my gender. I am just so thankful for the way God created women. The world has spoken so much hate and lies into women about who we are. But we are made in God's image. We don't need to prove anything to anyone. So let's instead spread truth by living life embracing what God has given us.

I challenge you to consciously think about "woman" and what it means to you. Whether you are a woman or not. And please leave a comment sharing one thing that YOU love about being a woman or what you love about a woman/women in your life!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Life: More musings on that four letter word.

I am so glad that my purpose here in this world is not to figure life out. Phew. Isn't that a relief? Of course, I don't always realize that. Some days I feel it is my mission to figure life out, and when I can't I get pretty frustrated. Do you ever find yourself thinking, Wait, I thought I had this part figured out and now it's all gone to shit and I'm back at having nothing figured out! 

I hope so. For my sake.

A friend and I decided that you aren't truly a "grown up" until you've accepted the fact that you don't have things figured out and that you never will. That moments of clarity are just that; moments. But don't discredit moments. A moment can change the direction of an entire life. And life itself is made up of moments. It's not an uphill journey where each step we take takes us up. Sometimes we walk backwards, or in place, or trip and fall on our butts. Sometimes we jog comfortably, sometimes we sprint with ease, sometimes we pass out from exhaustion. Sometimes we crawl on all fours, or simply lay still and wait to be lifted. Life is an ever changing terrain, and we can never see what's coming next. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we'll allow ourselves grace to take each day as it comes with what we have. Not what we think we should have.

I wish it was as easy as writing down all the ridiculous expectations I have of myself and then crumpling it up and tossing it out.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


You know that feeling when there is something you really should be doing, but you just can't get yourself to do it? That's how I feel right now. I should be practicing my SAT "skills" (although it feels like I really have none when it comes to this damn test). The SAT? Why, yes, the SAT. That's right, I am 25 (almost 26! Ack!), have already been in college for many years, and now I am having to take the test that I thought I had truly gotten away with not taking.

Here's the thing, when I was of the SAT-taking age I lived in China. The closest place to take the SAT was an over-night train ride away. The first time I was scheduled to take it, the school my parent taught at (that supplied our family's visas) decided not to renew our visas just days before they expired, forcing us to leave the country for a week while we renewed them ourselves, during which I should have been taking the SAT. The second time I was scheduled to take it just so happened to fall right smack in the middle of the SARS epidemic and, obviously, no one was permitted to travel during that time. Sounds like my-dog-ate-my-homework kind of bs, right? Only it's true--crazy as it may be. Lucky for me (at the time), I ended up going to a small private college initially and they didn't see my lack of SAT scores as an issue. After that I had enough credits to avoid colleges asking for my scores. Until now that is. Apparently this college simply must have my SAT scores regardless of my previous college education. So the SAT I must take. I pity myself greatly.

Honestly the only part I am worried about is the math. I took a practice test and my results concur. You see I have avoided math like the plague, and it's been a good 8-10 years since I've had to do most of these problems, and even then I didn't do them well. I've tried to get several people to tutor me, but as it turns out, even mathematically-inclined-recent-high-school-graduates don't know how to do half of these problems.

I want to sit here and pout and complain about the fact that this test doesn't prove anything about how intelligent I am or how likely I am able to learn. It only proves that I suck at long-winded, uselessly worded problems that no one actually uses in real life. I want to get in the test makers' faces and scream, "I'm a sweaty, anxious mess, I smell bad, and I might not get into the school I need because of you heartless and sadistic people!" This test has turned me into a pitiful teenage soul once again.

All day I've been praying, God please, even if I absolutely don't deserve to get a good score, will you just help that happen? I'm not sure it's fair to pray that. I know God isn't a genie in a bottle. But at the same time I know God has brought me here, so I'm just saying... please? If not a supernaturally high score, then maybe a supernatural ability to focus?

Prayers appreciated.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

On a lighter note...

I am honest about the sucky parts of life, so it's only fair that I be honest about the good parts of life as well.

Adjusting to life in Charlotte has been miraculously smooth. It helps that we are somewhat familiar with the area and have family so close. Plus my cousin (and bestie) lives just a few minutes away and a best friend from college lives just down the road. I love our home. It feels like home. It did from the moment I stepped in it. Even when it was filled with three young men, their animals, and a lot of grunge. I feel confident God had already planned every detail before we even knew we would be moving.

Our neighborhood is awesome, our neighbors even more so (did I mention our next door neighbor is a nurse who graduated from the college I am applying to and currently working at the hospital there?). I get to walk Aiden to school each morning and walk to the park each afternoon. I get to take evening runs ALONE! I get to have whole nights off with my husband when my mom takes the kids over night. I get to chill in the back yard with my kids, throw the frisbee with the dog, watch my boys search for bugs together, read, play soccer with Aaron and Aiden on the weekends (or more like be absolutely defeated and then cheat excessively), be eaten alive by mosquitoes (not good, but unavoidable). I get mornings off to study. I get to help my mom with projects and talk about things I've never been able to talk about with her before.

Even though I know it won't last forever, I am enjoying this period. This period of good, relaxation, happiness. It is restful and healing having so much time together as a family after so many years of stress, busyness, and hardship. I am learning how to accept blessings. To not worry about future hardships to come. To not feel bad about being blessed. To share the blessing. Ecclesiastes makes so much more sense to me after this year.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Writing it.

I knew one day I would sit to write all this down, but I really thought it might be years from now. At least six months. Not six weeks since things started looking up. Not just a few weeks since I really felt myself again. You need more time than that to recover, think things over, write with some healthy perspective. But something in the back of my mind keeps nagging me. Write it. I want to shove it aside, as I have for several days now, and tell it to come another day when more convenient. Like never. But there it is. That stupid little voice. Write it.

Honestly I have no idea how this is going to come out. Maybe it will make previous posts make more sense. Maybe it won't. Part of me feels like this will be freeing. Part of me feels like this is the worst idea ever. And part of me knows, somebody out there needs to hear this. Sometimes people struggle with something they don't even recognize until they hear someone else describe it. And depression isn't something people like to talk about in detail. I don't want to give you too much, but I don't want to lie either. In this case, holding some things back would indeed be to lie. If you are willing to sit here with me and read all about my shit, you deserve the truth.

I can't tell you when it began-began, depression that is, but I can tell you I have felt it looming over me many, many times in my life, from a very young age. I can't tell you what causes it, or how to fix it. I didn't even recognize it until this last year when suddenly I realized, Wait. Not everyone feels this way? Last fall I felt my "winter blues" coming on. Really it's much worse than just being down. It feels more like dying. I felt it and it was upsetting, but also familiar. I told myself I wouldn't give in, I would fight it harder. I got all kinds of advice. I tried most of it. But slowly I felt the life being sucked out of me. I thought I was ok, because I was capable of acting ok. Then it got worse. There were days when I couldn't leave my house simply because it was too overwhelming to decide what to wear or where to go. I was SO overwhelmed. All the time. About silly every day things. I couldn't make decisions. Ask me what's for dinner and I might cry. Or scream at you. I lost my temper easily. I had no patience for my husband, my children, or myself. I felt angry all the time. When I wasn't angry I was sad.

Then the thoughts began. I would feel so overwhelmed, so heavy, so dead, I would just lay on the couch. Turn the TV on for Aiden, put some toys down for Gabriel, and just lay there. In my head all I could see were images of me ending my life. All different kind of ways. It didn't scare me because it felt normal. If you asked me, I would say I didn't want to die, I just didn't want to live. And it really was that simple.

Whenever I tried to talk to anyone about how hard things were (images aside), I was told this was normal. I am a mom of young children, it's a challenging time of life, etc. "Everyone goes through this... don't be so hard on yourself." I was told more times than I can count. So I believed it and continued on. When things began to get better and I got the energy, I began seeing a counselor. It was good at first. I felt like I was making progress and figuring things out. My counselor told me the same thing, this is normal, you're just too hard on yourself. It's true, I believe a lot of lies about myself. In fact, I have spent most of my life hating myself. It seems to be an unending battle for me.

Then things got worse. I couldn't take care of my kids. I would call Aaron and beg him to come home from work, afraid of myself. When he couldn't make it home fast enough one day I decided to drink some wine in hopes of calming down. Before I knew it I had finished the entire bottle in less than ten minutes. By the time Aaron got home I could hardly walk. I laid down, hoping to pass out, but soon I felt like I couldn't breathe. Then I really couldn't breathe. I tried to call out to Aaron, but I could barely make a sound besides my efforts to breathe. When Aaron walked in the room he saw me gasping for air, my eyes bulging, my limbs so oxygen deprived they were curled up and unable to move. He held me and tried to calm me down as he called 911. I thought for sure I was dying.

Family took turns taking the kids. I was hospitalized again for another severe panic attack that was so scary I thought if it didn't kill me, I'd kill myself just to make it stop. That time I was kept over night, but I was still in denial of how bad things were. Unfortunately, the hospital staff didn't know how to handle me. I was quiet, polite, kind. The nurses asked me, "You don't really want to hurt yourself, right?" The doctors told me, "You're just to hard on yourself. Learn to give yourself a pat on the back." I left feeling defeated. Hopeless.

Hospital visits aside, it took me 6 weeks to get in to see an actual psychiatrist. They gave me drugs to help with the anxiety and the mood swings (I remember thinking mood swings??). I took them religiously. Even when I wanted to give up, I wanted to survive. At first the meds seemed to help, but then I realized it was just another pattern. Up for a couple weeks, then crash again. Each time I crashed it was harder and darker than the time before. I began to take extra xanax just to help me get through each day. Each day it became more and more of a temptation to down the whole lot with a bottle of wine. I tried to get in touch with my therapist, never heard back. Tried to set up appointments in Charlotte. It all felt so difficult and if I couldn't get through the first time, or if they couldn't see me right away, or if they didn't call back, it was just further hopelessness. At this point I should have been admitted, but I wouldn't tell anyone how bad it was because I didn't want to be admitted. I found myself planning how I would "do it" each day if I felt I couldn't go on any longer. It was no longer just images replaying in my head, but actual planning out. Getting someone to take care of the kids, some way I could get away, and then how I would end my life.

After several weeks of this, things finally started to look up again. We were about to move into our new house and I felt this sudden motivation to get better. Of course, now looking back, I can see the only reason I had any motivation to try to get better again was because I was in fact getting better. And by getting better, I simply mean, a good period was coming again. It was disappointing when I ran out of xanax, and being a controlled substance, I was not prescribed any more. I had never taken anything like xanax before and had not been warned by the doctor to wean myself off it, or that I would have withdrawals. So withdrawals began. I already didn't feel like I could handle stress when I was on xanax, much less suddenly having to quit cold turkey after months of taking it. The next week involved almost constant panic, nausea, dry heaving, headaches, sore muscles and joints, a general feeling of losing my mind. I tried to call my psychiatrist several times and couldn't get through to them and no one would call me back. I would wake up in the night unable to breathe, terrified, formulating plans on how I could get xanax, even by illegal means. I didn't care, I just needed it to stop.

I got in to see a new psychiatrist in Charlotte who prescribed me a new medication. I was hesitant because I didn't feel like he had diagnosed me correctly. I mean how do you decide exactly what's wrong with me after talking to me for a total of 10 minutes, and cutting me off every time I get the slightest "detailed" about any one thing? But I was also desperate, so I tried it anyway. Even at it's lowest dose the medication was too strong. First I would feel like I was drunk, then 45 minutes later it would be difficult to breathe and swallow. Both nights I took it I was unable to sleep and if I did drift off I would wake up every few minutes gasping and completely panicked. My mom would try to talk me through it and Aaron would take me on walks at ungodly hours in efforts to calm me. The first night I thought it was just panic attacks, but by the second night I could tell it was directly correlated with the drug. So I called the doctor right away and told them I was worried I was having an allergic reaction to the medicine. No one called me back. I called again the next day. No one called me back. When I finally got in touch with someone, they told me they couldn't see me until the following week. By this point I was pretty frustrated, and was so tired of feeling panicked and being afraid of having anxiety attacks I didn't think I would even make it to the next week. Thankfully I did, albeit miserably. When I finally got to see the doctor and I told him what had happened he told me to try taking half a dose. I told him I'm sorry but I could never make myself take that medication again. He looked annoyed and told me he really thought I should. I told him I did not think it was right for me, and as silly as it may sound to him, I was simply too scared to go through that kind of anxiety attack again. Then he said, "You realize anxiety attacks won't kill you, right?"

I left his office in tears, so terrified of taking the meds, but feeling as if I had no choice. The nurse stopped me in the hall and asked me what happened. When I told him, he pulled me aside and whispered, "Listen, in the end, it's your choice." That was all I needed to hear. The receptionist saw my red, blotchy, tear-stained face and asked me if I had a bad visit. She pulled me aside and I told her what had happened. She immediately told me she would get me an appointment with a new doctor.

The next few weeks were a process. It took about 3 weeks for me to see the new psychiatrist, and during that time I slowly felt more and more like myself. When I finally met with the new doctor we met by TV screen, as she was in Durham, even still she was 100% better than the last two psychiatrists I had seen. She asked my story, didn't rush me or act annoyed if I gave too much detail, in fact she asked for more details. She asked me what I wanted to do medication-wise. It actually felt weird to have a doctor who seemed to care.

This brings me to where I am now. I feel back to "normal," but I also feel like I'll never really be the same. In a way I lost a part of myself; an innocence, a naivety about life. But I also feel like I've gained something, like a cover has been removed from my eyes and my heart. I am experiencing life in a new way. I see the world differently, I see God differently, and I see people differently--self included. Is it worth it? I think so. Regardless, this is my life. I am not really trying to get anyone to understand or even trying make sense of it it all myself. I'm just trying to live honestly, taking each day as it comes. Trusting God to always be faithful in spite of it all.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ask Away

If you want a life of comfort, a perception of security, and to feel in control... whatever you do, do NOT ask God to teach you. Seriously.

Of course, He has a way of making us want to learn, regardless of what that may mean. Just don't expect for it to come naturally or easy in any way. The truth is, even though we were made in God's image and we may think we want what He has to offer, it's simply not in our nature. Sin runs deep, clings to us, mixes itself into our innermost being, even defines us.

When we ask God to transform us, allow us to know Him, ask for healing... well, let's just say, in the process a big, fat piece of us get's ripped out. Slowly, painfully. Ask anyone who hase been through-- who is going through it (because it is unending while we are on this earth), and they will tell you it's worth it. Then they will tell you all these wonderful things you may have heard before. Things you may be numbed to, even annoyed by. They will say words like grace, peace, hope, love. Words we hear so often, but rarely get.

We associate grace with Mother Theresa, peace with Saint Mary, hope with President Obama, love with Brad and Jen. And we may think, how could I really be a Mother Theresa? Too lofty. Saint Mary is a figure of the past, a statue, mothers of God, pregnant virgins, these things just don't happen twice. Obama is an icon, a disappointment, hope full of holes. And let's face it, Brad and Jen are so over. You may walk away feeling frustrated, because another person feels so passionate about these words you can't understand. Words you might want to know, but can never seem to find the life in them. Then you may try harder. Determined that if you try hard enough you'll figure out the secret. Or you may give up. Convince yourself these things are unrealistic, and label those who claim them as fakes.

Regardless of how many Christian inspirationals you read, how high you lift your hands, how hard you shut your eyes, how low you bow your head, or how many hours of service projects you fill, these things won't get you anywhere. The only way to truly know and live grace, peace, hope, and love? It's simple. Ask God. Keep asking. Ask Him regardless of what that may mean and where it might lead you. He will answer. He will lead the way. I promise.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A New Normal

Life is settling down. The excitement and hustle and bustle of moving to a new town has quieted to a new normal. I still wake each morning happy to be where I am, to feel how I feel. Treasuring the love of life I have too often taken for granted. I feel God tugging on my heart and I rest there. Continue to be patient with me, Lord. I continue to take each day slowly. Occasionally able to read my Bible. My prayers more a conversation left open-ended. Knowing things are still healing. And as I take each day as it comes, I am rarely disappointed. It's hard to be disappointed when you can smile and laugh and actually mean it. When you can see blue skies and feel the sun. When you can feel God speaking love into your soul. To not want the end before it's time. Because a life of darkness is worse than death.

Today someone asked me if I am afraid of things going bad again. If I fear the cooler weather that has so often accompanied my dark days. I wish I could say I am not afraid, but that would be a lie. I am afraid. I am still processing things. I don't want to ever go through that again. And yes, if it were up to me it would be eternally summer. I wish I could say I was falling in love with fall again, but even the thought of things I once looked forward to yearly (flannel shirts, fires on cool nights, colorful leaves... I could go on) now leave me feeling uneasy, even physically sick some days, knowing that winter is to follow. However, despite my fears, I know without a doubt that God is faithful. It's not about surviving, or knowing things will be "ok" in the end. It's knowing that it's all in God's hands. I am in God's hands. Being at peace with whatever that may mean. Knowing that my definitions of comfort and safety are not the end-all to life.

Finally. This is the peace I have been seeking since my earliest memories.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Maybe one day regular non-vague posts will come again.

‎"When you're happy you enjoy the music, but when you're sad you understand the lyrics." 
-Frank Ocean (I stole this quote from a friend's facebook status because regardless of the fact that I had never heard of Frank Ocean until I read that quote, it's a good one.)

These days I am both enjoying the music and understanding the lyrics. It's a strange place to be, both at the end of one part and the beginning of another. Some days I am overwhelmed with the joy that comes from learning how it feels to be truly loved. Other days I am completely humbled by the experiences that have deepened my life. I no longer ask, Do I deserve this? In anger and bitterness, but, Do I deserve this? In humility and awe. 

God has literally moved my family to the one place I swore I would never move. If you had told me three years ago that God was going to move me to Charlotte in 3 years time, I would have slumped down and cried. Possibly given up on life. Or pulled a serious Jonah. I'm not kidding. The funny thing is, I was excited to come. The funnier thing is, I am so happy I am here. In fact, in this moment, I would be no where else. That is one of the first times I have ever been able to say that. 

I don't have a whole lot of answers, or a whole lot of questions for that matter. After years and years of question after question and hours upon hours of trying to come up with my own answers, I have finally been given a glimpse of what I've been looking for. I wish there was a way to describe it in one little blog post. All I know is, I know for a fact when I look back on my life, this year will stick out as a turning point. There is no doubt about it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Answered Prayers

Boy has this been a tough year. Toughest in my life I think. The dark times have been so very dark, and the good times full of depth and understanding I didn't even realize was lacking. There is part of me that would wish this year away. Put it far, far away into my past. But I also know it's not over yet and the past never stays there for long without haunting the future at one point or another. For now I simply try to get through each day as it comes, hoping for the best.

On a positive note, this time of transition is coming to a close. Aaron is officially selling his business, his new job is perfect for him (and our family) for the time being, we'll be moving into our new home in the next few days, and Aiden is enrolled in preschool and will be starting soon. To say I am excited about all this is an understatement. I am more... ecstatic. In my own currently reserved kind of way. :) 

It's quite miraculous watching as God answers my many years worth of prayers all in a few months, and seeing how He has been leading us all along, though my heart (and mind) doubted time and time again. Seeing how He is using some of the most painful times of my life, bringing healing and redemption, is humbling to say the least. It's not nearly as easy as I thought it would be to learn how to trust, to live in grace, and see the depths of God's love for us. Have you ever read those inspirational books about someone's life where you think, Gosh that person is freaking amazing, I could never be so strong and trusting? Well if their experiences are anything like mine, I can say that they are not that amazing, or strong, or trusting, they are simply experiencing a God-breathed life. It's still hard, painful, and even rather traumatic. But God is good.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sigh. Wait. Step.

It's funny, when you reach the point of weakness when an hour of normalcy exhausts you. Those days when you can no longer force yourself up and out and on your way. When you give into just laying down. Just for awhile... that lasts for longer.

When you know there is no real way to explain. No way to understand. Nothing to do but keep inching along. Even when you don't want to.

That is when you see you have judged yourself too harshly. You may think, Wow! How much you were capable of those days so long ago. How did you do it? And you may think you were just awesome and then miss that person and wonder if you'll see her again.

Knowing what good has come and what good will come, doesn't make the present any easier. The pain any less painful.

You sigh, you wait, you take a step. Sigh, wait, take a step. Sigh. Wait. Step. The longest walk of your life.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It's amazing how hard you can try and still fail. It's amazing how much you can give and still fall short. It's amazing how anyone at anytime can turn on you, or you on them. How easily we can turn ourselves into victims because we can't face the fact that we are guilty.

I get angry and I want to throw things, or punch certain people in the face. I get so hurt by insensitivity, selfishness of others, and just plain stupidity. I want to scream, "Hey idiot! You deserve everything that's coming at you!" I want to give up on the whole lot.

Sometimes when I'm done pointing my finger and cursing, I look at my own reflection.

As long as we can not accept God's grace, His love, and His forgiveness, we will always be the victims. We will never heal. We will always beat ourselves over the head with our failings and blame others for our shame. We will push away those that love us till they can no longer stand to look at us. It's a vicious cycle this humanity thing.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Definitions Left Unclear

Have you seen The Last of the Mohicans? I watched it  a long, long time ago. I was a young girl and it impacted me deeply. I don't remember a whole lot of it, but there is one scene that always comes back to me. It's the scene where the girl stands on the cliff. She has two options. Stand, and die a slow and painful death at the hands of evil. Or jump. I always wondered what I would do if I ever found myself in her position.

I have never been a brave person. I walk forward out of necessity, not choice. I make choices every day. I hate feeling out of control. But often I want decisions made for me. So I don't make the wrong choice. So I am not to blame. Stand, or jump? I am not sure which decision is braver. I'm not sure bravery is the point. We shouldn't have to choose out of those two options. We shouldn't have to. Yet this is the world. There are many things that shouldn't be.

Some days I like to hope that one day my life will make for an inspirational story. One that speaks of mercy, love, and grace. Other days I just lie in it. Unable to move. When a cloud passing over the sun feels like eternal darkness, where do you turn? Do you stand? Or jump.

It feels like a choice about the end. But in the end, the outcomes are the same, no? Because the choice isn't really about the end outcome. It's about the in-between. How we choose to spend it. When that is no longer a choice. When that is chosen for you. That is when the end becomes our focus. That is when the choice begins to feel like it's about the end. The end is inevitable. To focus there is to die before we are ready. Before we are really dead. And the living dead are the most frightening, aren't they?

I used to be unafraid of the end. If it's my time, it's my time. I would often say. Though I was no risk taker, I knew the end would be ok. That was before I found love, and made little people. Suddenly I was no longer on my own. I felt I had to live, for I was now a part of something more. I felt important and necessary for the well-being of others. But now I am starting to feel alone again.

Some wonder what it is I must have been through to bring me to this place. Or say, You have been through so much! I laugh at that. Have you seen this world? My life has no more than yours, or her's, or his. They say, Let me help you! Let me be there for you! But my burden is too much for them. And they are not enough for me. How can you help me? Only God can help me. And He has chosen to allow me here. So my choice is not stand or jump. I have only one option. The only one I am capable of. To wait.

I am not Yoda mind you. I do not sit calmly, palms raised, my awkward head all poised in meditation. I writhe and complain and ask why and ask how and I get angry. Sometimes I make jokes. Or pretend I have answers. Sometimes I lay down.

I used to let tears flow freely. Seriously, ask anyone. But now I conserve. I let the waves wash over me instead. Feeling soon I won't have the will to lift my head over them anymore. I say quietly to God. If you love me you will come for me. You will lift me from this place.

His answer is His choice. I will live and I will die with it. I've realized this is why I have never been capable of joining any one denomination. I can not say, "I commit to this church. This doctrine." Not because I can't make a choice. But because I can not trust in any one doctrine. And there is no such thing as "this" or "that" church. I can only trust one. The One who gives and takes away. I am not my own.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The long, long haul.

Some days I want to give up. Some days those days are scary. Some days just frustrating. Some days both. Most days I am lonely and bored, even though I am around family and have plenty to keep me busy. I fill spaces with social media and take lots of pictures because my kids are so freakin' cute and I know I'll appreciate it later. Instagram is basically my family photo album. I'm in love with it. But I also feel empty, restless, and some times on the brink of something more. Something frightening. Some days I say, GO AWAY. And it works. Sort of. Other days I let myself sink a little. Because it's a place I've grown to know, and it's familiar. Scary. But familiar. I feel displaced and alone. I get sad when my computer does something funky and has no sound so I can't watch Lost. Logically I think, It's not a big deal. Stop your whining. Sad about TV? Are you three? But I get lost in Lost, and it makes me forget things I like not remembering.

I have long since disconnected with friends I have been so very close with. How long has it been? Two months? Three? Since we've really talked or communicated in any way but email/facebook or just in passing. Facebook is tricky in that it makes you feel like you're connected. I want coffee and a friend. I want coffee and ten friends, that I love and miss and want close again. But I also want to keep my distance. Protect myself. It's easier to move on that way. But how can you move on when you are in transition? Is this what purgatory would be like? Please rub your holy beads and get me out of here! Sometimes I think I am impatient. Other times I think, Girl give yourself a big fat break. You've been here a long time, and it hurts. Pain is not a fun companion. I want to kick pain in the balls. I feel no remorse. And yet pain is so often my companion. Walking steadily beside me. Sometimes holding my hand. Leading me down, down, down. Places I don't want to go.

I have to tell myself to focus. Focus on the fact that we are at least half way moved. That Aaron has a job and is almost done with the business transition. We have a house come September. A place to stay in the mean time. But there is that voice that says, Change won't change anything. This is who you will always be. This is how you will always feel. FIGHT! I tell myself. I gave up awhile ago. I don't want to do it again. But fighting is so tiring. And I'm sleepy.

Hugs, Tears, TV, and Popsicles.

Aiden has been having some difficulties adjusting to being in-between one house and another. As much as he loves his Poppy's and Nana's, he's been expressing his frustrations quite frequently in ways that make me both want to pull my hair out and hold him and cry with him at the same time. Today in one of those moments I brought him close and held him.

 Me: Aiden, sometimes life is hard.
Aiden: Yeah... (tears)
Me: Are you having a hard time with anything in particular?
Aiden: Yeah...
Me: [Wait for him to go on.]
Aiden: I haven't watched TV today and my Nana hasn't gotten any more popsicles! (sob)

I sometimes wonder if this is what we sound like to God, when he draws us near and we cry about the little things when the big things overwhelm us. I wonder if he smiles like I do, and holds us closer. Hurting with us, knowing it will all be ok. Knowing TV and popsicles are temporary comforts, and knowing this time of confusion and sadness will pass. Knowing even when we feel like the world is upside down and our insecurities make us act out, that He'll love us regardless. Hold us close regardless.

Friday, July 27, 2012

"Remember to enjoy those days. They pass too quickly." - Every old person. Ever.

I remember when my parents bought their first laptop when I was ten. My favorite thing was Notepad where I would painstakingly type with my two index fingers. My first efforts of writing life onto computer screen. I thought, "If I am bored, I will write. And my life that I write will be an interesting one."

Who would have guessed 15 years later... still committed.

This is my life during the in-between. Staying at my parents. Not quite moved out of our place, not at all moved into our new place. Transition [sucks]. 

But life is interesting. Even in all the mundanities. Get up to little men demanding breakfast (in a cute, tousled blonde hair kind of way, even if it sounds like nails on a chalk board some mornings). The big man already long gone to work. Missed already. Get bottle ready for freshly weaned babe. Freshly weaned babe who does not like to wait for his milk. Change diaper. Sometimes a poopy one. Beg big brother to please use the bathroom. Yes, I know you peed last night. Go again. Sometimes I'm lucky and the poop diaper comes after my usual morning nausea (and no, I am not pregnant). Make breakfast for three. (Sometimes just two. Sometimes eating takes too much effort. I think I used to be a morning person. I can't remember.) Turn on cartoon for the child who is already waiting in front of the computer (or rather watch in amazement how he navigates Netflix himself so effortlessly). Somewhere in there I make coffee. Have some one-on-one time with the little dude, who likes to put small things in his mouth and play with potentially hazardous objects, who laughs and claps most adorably, and pulls my hair in what I think may be affection (maybe I hope). Eventually finish my no longer (even slightly) warm coffee. Enjoy it anyway. Turn off cartoon. Get exasperated by the fit that is thrown daily. Think about quitting the morning TV ritual. Know I don't have it in me just yet. Know tomorrow will be the same. Take the boys outside. Play for awhile. Get eaten alive by mosquitoes. Almost die of heat stroke. Drenched. Regardless if we play in the hose or not. It's so damn hot. I repeat those words daily. Sometimes hourly. Think about how I need to watch my mouth in front of the big boy. Think about how many times he repeats things. Think about how embarrassing it is when he does it in front of other people. Remind myself this happens to everyone. Think back to the days I got my mouth washed out with soap. Realize I can still taste it. Drink water. Wish I was drinking coffee. Wish coffee was more hydrating instead of a diarrhetic. Justify coffee obsession to myself. Realize I no longer breastfeed. Think dreamily about the next cup I will enjoy during small ones' nap times. Hope desperately they fall at the same time. Realize it's lunch. Make lunch. Or let my mom make lunch. Get on facebook (again), transfer pictures to Instagram. Instagram everything. Feel lame. Justify my lameness with the "transition" excuse. Keep doing the things that make me feel lame. Keep feeling lame. Know it's a vicious cycle. Know it will end. One day. Hope it will end sooner than later. But not yet. Realize it's nap time. Dance in my head. Fantasize about all I will do in my free time as I rock the little one and lay him down. Spend one-on-one time with the big kid, who I realize is still quite small. Nap time for little-big kid. Fantasize about coffee as I drag the screaming one upstairs. And as I read the same two stories over again. And sing the same song. Again. Remind myself to get more books next time I am home. Remind myself I will miss these moments. Kiss sweet heads. Enjoy. Enjoy. Then run. Run to the bathroom. Ask myself, How long have I been holding this? Remind myself to boil water for coffee. Get a snack. Tell child to go back to bed. No it is not time to get up. Last time I checked nap time lasts a little longer than 30 seconds, dude. Grab book. Grab computer. Debate about what to do next. Toss book aside. Facebook. Instagram. Lameness. Decide to write. Sometimes. Other times just sit there like a dumby. Tell child to go back to bed. Sometimes watch Lost. Tell child to get back in bed or so help me. Sometimes get to finish Lost episode. Feel sad, or sick, or intrigued, depending on the episode. Beg child to please, please go back to bed. More facebook. Realize you can't "like" someone's "like". Feel lame again. Realize I should just get used to feeling lame. For awhile anyway. Bribe child to return to bed. Feel bad about bribing. Feel like a failure of a mother. Feel sad that my kids will grow up to be under achievers who hate me. Remember my childhood. Remember, God is good. Feel better about the possibilities of my children's futures. Instagram my feet. Delete picture. That's lame, Faith. Too lame. Hear tiny one in the baby monitor. Be sad for a moment before realizing I like that kid and facebook is lame. Move on. Get kids, all smiling, so happy to be rested and free from their cages. Feel like a liberator. Feel good. Realize I never made that second cup of coffee.

The rest of the day is a blur. There is more playing. Sweating. Facebook. Plenty of Instagram. A little more feeling lame. Dinner. The big man comes home. Relief. Stinky hugs that are now so very, very sweet to me. Strong arms. Prickly kisses. Lots of wrestling on the foor, while I sit on the couch content in laziness. Make fun of husband for being tired after only 10 hours of working in ungodly heat. Feel bad. But not really. He knows it's foreplay [insert New Zealand accent here and receive high-five if reference is recognized]. Or so we hope. Bed time. So tired. Your turn. No your turn. Always ends up being both of our turns. Darkness falls. Last kid finally sleeps. Or at least quiet. Finally alone. Look at nails. Think about painting them. Laugh at myself. Talk till way too late with large sexy beast. More if we're lucky. Sleep. Phone beeps. Instagram alert. Someone thinks my life looks good. Success. Silence phone. Sleep.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hope for the Hopeless

Most days I am thankful that I even have moments, sometimes hours, of feeling like normal me. Other days I am consumed by the moments I don't, when I start to wonder when I will be "me" again. I can see all God has taught me over the months of darkness. I know He did not cause the darkness or lead me there maliciously. Yet there are times when I get angry. Why did you allow it? 

I look at my husband and wonder how he can put up with it. How he has the strength to comfort me, even in his own mourning. I look at my children and hope they can forget. Hope that any sadness won't scar into bitterness, but that time will heal and the good times will make the bad times a mere memory. They will have plenty of hardship in their own lives. I really hate the idea of adding to it.

Some days I feel the beauty of pain, and the hope of a future without it. Other days I get angry, and I question, and cry a tearless cry that wrenches me deep down where the pain still resides. Some days I keep it together. I smile and laugh, and you wouldn't even notice. The other days you won't see me. The ones closest to me do, and I see the fear in their eyes. Will it all start again?

This is not a cry for pity. Even in my pain, I can now feel hope, and that is worth sharing. Because the hopelessness I have felt is the worst kind of pain and I beg God never to let me there again. I simply want to reach out and say: You are not alone. Be weary, be afraid, be angry, but don't give up hope. And if you can't help it then know you are not alone. And if you can't feel that, it's ok too. You are not alone regardless. Hope will come again. Beauty will come again. It may not erase the dark times, but it will make them worth it. I hope.

God speaks to me through dreams, through music, writing, people, nature, and moments. I am thankful for this because I don't have the strength to open His book. There is a lot of healing to come before I can do that. Send me verses. I can handle those. Send me verses written out, don't make me flip through pages. There is hurt there I know needs healing, but I am not there yet. Send me verses and even if I turn away from them at first, they reside in my heart and I hear them and with them comes hope.

One day I may gather the strength to tell the story of what my last year looked like, the last few months in particular. For now the bits and pieces I have already shared will have to do.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Music. Change. Grief. Growth.

I suggest listening to the "Fun." radio on Pandora while reading the following. It is the soundtrack to my life right now.

Starting from a young age listening to my father play his instruments late into the night, on through puberty, high school, college, and into the beginnings of marriage and motherhood, music was my partner. It helped me through many difficult times. Helped celebrate the good times. Brought me places.  Made home in foreign lands. Lifted me. Enveloped me.

Music and I have had our time apart for the last year or so. No CDs, no mp3 player, no fancy phone, and my dislike for computer speakers, and well, that doesn't leave much but the radio. I think we can all agree the radio does not grace us with the good stuff (for the most part, there are exceptions).

I am here to say that music and I have reunited. Let me add: !!!! Because as much as I dislike exclamation points normally, it really is something to get excited about. I forgot what a balm music can be to hurting a soul, and what strength even to a strong spirit.

My family is moving from this place we have called home since before we were called a family. So much life, love, heart break, difficulties, triumphs, celebrations. Good food, drinks, and friendships. All here. A place I am soon not to be anymore. I can truthfully say I am ready to go, but that doesn't change the fact that my heart breaks. That tears threaten to fill my eyes as I drive the streets so familiar, drink the coffee so comforting, the beer so rich, and eat at my favorite restaurants. I order only my favorites, not wasting any moment on unknowns. Unknown is my future. I am soaking up the known while it is here.

Today as I had the treat of driving by myself while running errands, I blasted my music as loud as I have ever dared. I sang. That kind of singing where your heart bursts and as hard as you might fight it the tears come down. Soaking your shirt, the way the music soaks your heart. Bringing all the feelings you feel deep down to the surface where it can do nothing but be felt. It hurts. But the pain is beautiful. Grief in it's rawest form. Because I'm not just grieving a place. I can always come back here.

It made me think... You see all those guys blaring their music, seats leaned back, shoulders hunched, and scowls on their faces. At first glance you may laugh to yourself. Thoughts may wander to things like, He thinks he is so cool. Or even, What a douche. But I wonder, if those boys actually let themselves sing as loud as their bass booms, if they could free themselves from the heavy packs of bitterness they carry on their hunched shoulders. Maybe then they wouldn't feel the need to prove themselves or keep their stereotypical image.

Music frees me, anyway. It's like those rare moments when you find yourself bare before the mirror and are able to say to yourself: I don't give a f*** what anyone thinks. You look good. No matter the cellulite, the stretch marks, the wrinkles. Those are just details to your story. And your story is f******g awesome. You look good, girl. I like what I see. Keep it up. Those moments don't come often. But when they do, they feel real good.

I'm not just grieving a place. I can always come back here. I am grieving the end of a very special chapter. And if I get into a wreck while messing with Pandora. So be it.

Just some rambling about life.

I live life trying not to define myself by my gender, who I am married to, the children I raise, what I do for a living, the way I eat, exercise, who I vote for (or who I don't vote for), where I live, who my friends are, the animals I have, or by the hair on my head. 

Yet I am a woman and as I grow to understand all that comes with that, feel the blessing along with the curses, I find it really is a blessing to be a woman. The way God speaks to me, the way my husband looks at me, the way my children hold my hands and cling to my neck, the way I relate to friends, the way my heart is shaped to fit all these things in and more. These things outweigh the curses Eve passed down. Women are not perfect after all. It's about time we stop asking perfection of ourselves, accept the fact and live it best we can, don't you think?

I am a wife, and I love my husband. I cling to him not because I am afraid he will leave, but because being near him makes life better. Of course, I love him for his body. And his skills. But mostly for his kind heart and willingness to give. He carries strength I can't understand. His perseverance inspires me. His love for me helps me to see the beauty of being a woman. His manliness, incredibly hot as it is, helps me to see the value I carry to the equation. Together this partnership makes something resembling a unique piece of art. No one really understands it but it's maker, and everyone wants it in their own way. Whether we admit it or not, humans are not made to be alone.

My children are beautiful, I love to watch them grow, try my best to guide them, learn from them. I love how they resemble me in some ways, my husband in others. But mostly I love how uniquely themselves they are. They take it out of me some days, but mostly they bring so much to my life. It's hard to imagine a life without them being a part of it. I don't like thinking about that. The best part is realizing they are God's. Much of their life is out of my hands. What a relief.

I'm not even sure what I "do for a living," but I like living. Except for the times I don't.

I like to eat what makes me feel good. Whether that falls into someone else's category of what's best or not. But sometimes I eat things that make me feel sick. I try to make it worth it.

I like exercise. The kind that takes me places, gives me time to think, pray, and leads me to a goal. I like my body to feel good. Not necessarily "Vogue" or even J-Lo (ahhh if I could have anyone's body that was so far from my own!), but to feel good. The not feeling good most of my life, makes me really love the feeling good parts.

I don't care for politics.

I have lived so many places. Most quite amazing. Some for longer periods than others. But I will never be able to "settle down." Not because I am better than that, or even that there are better places to go. But because God is always moving me. So I enjoy each place while I can. Sometimes complain. Sometimes ask God to move me sooner. But I am always sad to leave and happy to move. Because this (wherever "this" may be at the time) is not my home, and we are all destined to leave at some point.

Friends. I can't say enough about friends, so I won't say much. I have had so many friends in my life. Each touch me deeply and in their own way. I hope I do the same for them.

I have loved every animal I have ever had, and I have had a lot of them. Even when I wanted to kill them and roast them over an open fire (we owned goats at one point, they got through any fence, climbed on my roof, and ate our neighbor's garden). I love my border collie, and know she'll forgive me the times I ignore her while my children are young and my energy limited. Dogs are understanding like that. I find it amusing when people try to make humans out of dogs. I think dogs like being dogs. I used to think I wanted a farm, but I think I'll raise my kids first and see if I have energy left over.

I don't dye my hair, and I rarely do more than wash it regularly. Sometimes I get really bad haircuts. But I like hair and the way it frames a face, or falls down a back, or exposes ears. I find hair beautiful, and do what I feel necessary to make it work for me. Instead of the other way around.

Through all these things God teaches me (yes, even the hair). Not how to be better, or perfect, or some other unattainable goal. But to know Him. Because knowing Him brings meaning to all other aspects of my life. The puzzle pieces that don't always seem to fit, and the frustration that comes with waiting for outcomes. But sometimes, when you can forget all the busy nothingness that sometimes consumes us and just sit near someone you love and work through a seemingly impossible puzzle, it draws you closer. Life can be so complex, unpredictable, and painful. Companionship is beautiful, healing, and always growing towards something better. God wants that with us. He makes it so clear even in all the little things.

Pretty cool, right?


Last night I slept fitfully. At least I think I did. I cannot tell how many times I woke up, or if I even woke up at all, as each time I woke I found myself still in a dream, and each time I fell back to sleep, the dream continued. Except it wasn’t a dream. It was a nightmare.

The setting was a familiar one. We were at the park down the street from my home, taking a walk around the lake. Only it was not light, fun, and carefree as our walks there usually are. Everything was dark. The water, the sky, and shadows so dark you couldn’t see through them. I had a feeling of great urgency; something bad was going to happen. I began to rush Aaron and the kids; we need to get out of here. Next thing I knew everything else faded and tigers, lions, and other wild animals were hunting me. All chasing me. Threatening to take my life. Slowly. Painfully. I ran, but as in most of my nightmares, my legs were of lead and would not carry me fast enough to get away.

Before I was caught I awoke. Only, I awoke to find myself in the exact same setting. Walking around the lake. It was still dark and eerie, but no beasts were to be seen. I wasn’t fooled. I knew the dream was for a reason, I knew it was a sign of something terrible to come. I warned my family, I warned anyone around. I panicked, I screamed, I begged for any and all to follow. They told me to relax, don’t worry. It was just a bad dream. Can they not see the dark sky? Can they not see the waters, the shadows that seem to swallow all that is near them? I thought to myself, still convinced something was coming, not sure why I was the only one who could see it. Sure enough, it was but a few moments before I saw it not 50 yards away… A mother grizzly. With her cub. She was angry; she gnashed her teeth and threw her front paws up so high she’d have towered over a giant. Her sharp claws promising destruction over anything they’d come in contact with. Her cub, which was the size of an adult black bear, simply moseyed about, as though he were completely unaware of the violence at hand. For some reason I took note of these things before running, screaming, gathering any I could, yelling to flee. I frightened the people, but they did not follow me. It took me a moment to realize it, but the bear was after me.

Again I awoke. Or maybe I didn’t. Again I dozed back to sleep. Or maybe I didn’t. Either way, the dream continued. For the third time, I found myself in the same place. Everything the same, but no grizzly. No cub. I knew it was real, I knew they were out there. I asked some people fishing, Aren’t you afraid of the bear? Shouldn’t we stay away from here? It hasn’t been that long. It’s sure to be back soon. They told me my fears were irrational. They told me to relax. The bear was gone; there was nothing to fear. It was as though they completely forgot the terror that had just occurred. Out of sight. Out of mind. I was confused. Angry. Terrified. Why was I the only one concerned? It started to occur to me that perhaps the bear was gone for good. But something else was out there. Something much, much worse. It was then that I realized I had never woken but in my dream. My nightmare. And I didn’t know how to get out.

I don’t remember much else but the continued blur of panicked feelings of being hunted as monster after monster threatened me. I finally awoke at 5:00 a.m. this morning. Afraid to go back to sleep. Afraid of the darkness. The beasts were unseen, but they were still there. I could feel them. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What Hopeless Feels Like

Left in ashes. Dried, dusty tears. Lost, broken dreams. 

A charred, lifeless being.

Still that bloodless heart is beating.

Why? Tell us why you don't take comfort?

Why? Tell me why am I still here.