All I do is this

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I want to do it all,

but all I do is this.

This means everything to some,

for me, its not enough.

 

Don’t tell me its a season.

Don’t say my time will come.

Ive been waiting. Ive been patient.

But what’s left of me is almost gone.

 

Not a life that’s either/ or,

Rather both/and.

We don’t have to cancel each other

Instead, let’s collaborate.

 

My voice is growing faint now

But sing with it, I must.

For if I don’t do something quick

My song will fade away.

 

Grant me the courage.

Show me the way.

Because the day is coming,

when regret will bring my death.

The Path of Vulnerability.

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Life is difficult. For some more than for others. I have seen my share of struggle but if we were to sit down together and share our stories, we may find my path less arduous than yours. The battles I have faced, am facing, and will face though, are specifically designed for me. Just like yours are for you. Let’s just agree here, that life is universally difficult (John 16:33).

For many, that reality drains hope. Because life is difficult, they see no purpose for joy. ‘Life is hard so I am hard,’ is the mantra. This belief is beyond familiar to me. I’ve worn the armor for so long its warmth is familiar and comfortable. Defensiveness carried me through many circumstances, serving me well time and time again. The walls being “up” kept me safe – the convincible lie.

Truth is, the gates intended to keep others out become prisons for our own soul; rooms for isolation. This is because when we stop caring and feeling, we lose our ability to connect.

What’s the alternative? Trust again? Be hurt again? Use your voice to express your heart again? Have promises broken again? Tell the truth again? Be lied to again? Yes!

True strength is on display when we are able to stay soft through the pain. It’s called vulnerability.

Brene Brown has done extensive research on vulnerability and defines it this way, “Vulnerability is the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of the outcome.” She goes on to say, “Vulnerability is the only path to more love, belonging, and joy.”

Vulnerability is not safe. It is, however, life giving and grace receiving. Vulnerability is not weakness. In fact, its our greatest measure of courage. Vulnerability is not isolating. It is choosing to stay connected and experience all life has to offer with our whole hearts. Vulnerability is the way of Jesus.

Despite the disbelief, hate, and violence experienced, Christ remained compassionate, loving and peaceful. Jesus did not exchange His heart for comfort and safety. Instead He walked the path laid before Him while remaining connected to the people around Him.

The path of vulnerability is enduring the struggle without picking up the armor. Soon vulnerability will feel warm, familiar and comfortable too… I just need to keep wearing it for awhile. I plan to start a new trend, wanna join me?

No more petting

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I have a jacket that is crazy soft and so comfy. Literally it feels like a warm blanket with arm holes but WAY better than a Snuggy. I LOVE this jacket. When I wear it around the house it is inevitable that my family will reach out and touch it. Once they do, they fall in love and find it hard to stop petting it. They love how it feels so much, when I am out of town they have been know to ask if they can sleep with it!

I also have a teal pillow on my over sized chair in the living room that if you ever visit my house, I will force you to touch. I am slightly embarrassed that I even spent $30 on a pillow but making people touch it helps me feel better about the indulgence b/c once they do, they will understand. Its life-changing.

Im telling you all of this to emphasize from the get go: I am a lover of all things soft. I too process feelings through the art of touch. In fact, my secondary love language is physical touch so if you’ve been around me you know I, like Olaf, love a good warm hug. Touch in and of itself is a beautiful way to connect with another human being.

But there are times when it would be most appropriate to ask permission to touch someone or something. For example, when I was pregnant, it took a little getting used to how people would approach my belly like a separate piece of my body and start petting it and talking to it. Some people don’t think twice but I would prefer it when people took my feelings into consideration and asked first.  Or if someone was walking with their dog, isn’t it common knowledge by now that you should always ask the owner IF you can pet the animal BEFORE reaching down your hand to do so? It just makes sense.

So here is the rub for me and I will say it as nicely and as plainly as I can…

Please stop petting my daughter.

I know Jaydn has beautifully soft skin (I do too- shameless plug for Rodan+Fields). But a smooth skin texture does not warrant the same form of touch as my comfy jacket or life-changing pillow does. It also doesn’t equate to how you would approach touch for a pregnant belly or an animal.

Think about this a little … Let’s say you give me a hug and notice that my skin is really soft (it is thanks to Rodan+Fields). I don’t know anyone who would spend the next 5-10 minutes rubbing their hand up and down my arm while we carried on in conversation. Yet that has happened on multiple occasions to my daughter.

Why?

Of course I have my speculations but I won’t project them onto anyone else unfairly. So for now I will just challenge YOU to ask yourself the question WHY? Is that appropriate? Would it be socially acceptable in any other circumstance? I am relatively sure you will conclude that it’s not

It seems preposterous to many that I am even having to address this issue but you have NO IDEA how often this comes up in regards to my daughter.

If you’d like to know where I got my jacket or pillow, I will be happy to pass along that information. I will even lend you one of my many soft blankets and let you pet my dog if you need to but my daughter is a different story entirely. So please, no more petting.

 

The hero within.

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Some people need a hero. A knight that swoops in and rescues. An oracle to make sense of all the shattered pieces. They only apply padded answers and cliche’s to the wounds. Put a pretty bow on this messy life and say it’s all going to be ok. Better yet, they just teach you how to pretend it is now and maybe someday it will be true. You can’t throw money at every problem and laughter doesn’t take away all the tears. They remain: buried maybe but not dead.

True healing comes when you break. When you stop hiding and start showing. When you stop preaching and start learning. When you stop searching for a hero and become the hero of your own story by utilizing the heroic spirit within you.

Real help comes from within the trench, not the sanitary edge where rose colored glasses are bought and sold by the master of ceremonies. The hand that truly provides can only do so when you aren’t so busy looking for the next handout.

I saw through your cape and I heard what you said under your breath when you thought no one was listening. I am no fool. I won’t play pretend. Continue your charade and gather up your puppets but I am not among them. No strings attached. No manipulating me.

Only the pierced hands can be near my need. Hands I can trust b/c they are dirty…like mine. Hands of the beaten, hated, invisible and bruised One: by me, for me, like me. Oh the treasure of a free gift. There is nothing so pure. I wish you all could know it too but you settle for the fix. The plug. The facade as you all recite your line, “Its all going to be ok. My external hero says so .”

He gives me the tools. He builds strength in me. He trains for the road I travel on. He doesn’t pretend its not there. He doesn’t say its going to be easy. He doesn’t swoop in and take away the process so that I only get the rewards. He shows me how. He walks it with me. He meets me step for step like a friend. He doesn’t enable, He equips!

Why me?

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I often ask this question. Not to anyone specific but in my head. To life in general. Ultimately my soul questions The Craftsman. “Is this what you intended? Was this what you had in mind when you made me? Are you sure I’m built for this?”

The question could be a symbol of gratitude. Why me? Why do I have a marriage that is lasting? Why do I have kids that are a blessing to not just me but others? Why do I have a community no matter where I am in my, seemingly endless, metamorphosis?

More often, the question indicates anger. Why me? Why did the bottom drop out as a result of someone else’s choice? Why couldn’t I be a child when I was a child? Why do I have to watch and walk through so much death, destruction and disappointment?

Why me? Its a universal question.

The temptation is to hide the question when it hurts. To band-aid it with false mantras. Why NOT me. Pretending the sting isn’t real and convincing others it’s ok and I will be fine. That may be true. Its not yet.

For now, the ache is debilitating. It’s silence, deafening. The question is heavy and it’s ok to buckle under the weight of it.

I don’t wish it away anymore. It reminds me. Broken places that point to truth: I am not in control. The good and the hard alike, happen. They happen to me. They happen to everyone.

Why me often leads to me too.

My favorite phrase of all time. The perfect balm for any heart. Me too. You are not alone. I’ve been there. Its not exact. No cookie cutters. Not a mirror image. Only, I’ve walked a road near yours and Im here now.

Oh the saving grace of that knowing.

It doesn’t change anything but you. The struggle continues but deep down you know you will sing again. Rise up because someone showed you you could. Take what you have been dealt and continuing to play. You walk with a limp now so I will slow down my pace.

Follow the path that “Why me?” travels down. Let it lead you. May you find your resting place in the comforting arms of, “Me too!”

What are you afraid of?

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This page. I have so much to say. A blank page intimidates me.

Why?

Because I want to write. I want to express. I want to share everything that I have in my head and my heart in such a way that it changes lives, changes people, changes paths, changes perspectives and changes me.

So write.

Oh if only it were that easy. You see, writing is vulnerable. Writing is opening your wounds and your soft, squishy parts up to the world hoping, but never knowing if, they won’t tear you to shreds. Its laying it all out there and praying its not used against you or anyone else to cause harm.

People don’t just leave words on a page. They give their own life to them. They pick up what I have written, send it through their filters, chew it up and spit it out in a form that wasn’t intended. These words, my words, get twisted and sharp and hurt instead of heal. But that is not what they were created for.

These words, my words, are here for me. They are here for the person that can draw a refreshing breath from them. My words are His words of love and care and kindness and hope. The story may be messy but the purpose is so beautiful. The road may be painful but the growth gives me wings. The refining is scary and I can get mad but He remains good. Always good.

This journey, my journey is like a song. A movement of lyric and sound that can compel and withdraw. From every grand ascension or down turn, there is motion, a progression. Its not about the last note, its about the composition, the swells and the quiet spaces along the way.

Oh but its not a song all can sing. Its not a song all can hear, without a casting of judgement and dislike or applause and ovations. But that is not what the song was created for. This song, my song, was composed for me to sing it. To write it. To muscle through the fear of true vulnerability and put my heart on the page and let people see it.

Oh blank page. You intimidate me. You, the reader, intimidate me. I’ve been struck by your swords before. I bear the scars of your disapproval and the marks of your stones cast. But the Author, the Composer, beckons me to write … to sing, these words. My words.

Do with it what you will. For when I write, when I sing, I feel His pleasure. May I find refuge in that alone. A safe harbor from your discontent. I don’t write for you. And yet, I write for you. I sing so that you may be empowered to sing. I write so you may be encouraged to write. I show up so you can stand tall and be present and keep your chin up long enough to see the end of the passing, fleeting, storm. We are all in this together.

Be gentle dear reader. If you cannot, I pray you will find it in your heart to move on. Attack not. Judge not. Unless what you pour out upon my song is a harmony and upon my words a definition that makes you smile, carry on. You are invited to this table. But only love is welcome to stay and eat.

What are you afraid of?

Nothing. No thing anymore.

Mom Life

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There is a lot of shame wrapped up in being a mother. Everywhere you go, or even online, you are comparing yourself to the other moms and even if you weren’t, the general public is VERY outspoken about their opinions of how you do things as a mother. Its as if there is a RIGHT way to do it and anything that diverges, even slightly, from that way makes the way you do it wrong. Makes YOU (as the mother) wrong. Its a very critical place to spend most of your time and energy. Plus the rugrats you are exerting all that time, attention, energy and love for don’t exactly give you the affirmation you are needing along the way. It doesn’t matter what you do, at least once a day you disappoint someone. More often than not, we disappoint ourselves. We thought we’d be different. We thought we’d be “better” (whatever that means).

I have been a mother for almost 11 years now so it has reached across two age seasons for me- my 20’s and 30’s. While I am more secure in who I am in my 30’s than I was in my 20’s, the difficulties of being a mother remain the same. I am now in that place where I don’t want to sit on the floor and play blocks/puzzles/cars/trains/etc anymore. Ive been doing it so long I feel like Ive served my time and I want to move on with my life. But all day long I push swings and blow bubbles and cheer over every silly face and jump off the couch because my kids need that affirmation from me. The affirmation I need and desire, I give. Imagine if the tables were turned and every time I washed a plate or folded the laundry or picked up the play room for the 17th time my kids applauded and cheered. It would either be really rewarding or uber cheesy. Even still I think I would like it, if only for a little while. But thats not my life. Thats not a mother’s life. Scripture says that one day my children will call be blessed (Proverbs 31:28) so I cling to that promise, but today is not that day.

The thing that boggles my mind is that there is still a stigma out there for women who don’t feel like they were born to be mothers. While I have always been a nurturing person that loved kids, it was never a plan of mine to become a mom, or a wife for that matter. (I can hear the gasps from here!!) Yet, here I am, being both on a daily basis! I don’t think Im a mom or wife because I am a women and that is what I am “supposed” to do. What I do believe is that this is the path God had for me (specifically) to be totally stretched beyond my abilities and strengths. Being a mom and wife are the two main ways I have been challenged to grow. Had I ended up living in a hut in Uganda like I planned, single and childless, I would be way more comfortable right now. But God isn’t as concerned with my comfort as He is my character. Being a mom (and wife) builds the crap out of my character. I am challenged daily to love beyond my resources which presses me into the depths of the One who loves me, and them, most of all.

My kids know I love them. They also know that I have dreams of doing other things with my time and energy. Until then, I will play blocks/puzzles/cars/trains etc on the floor and applaud their every move. Because deep down I know, God sees each dish I wash, each swing I push, and each meal I prepare and He is cheering me on.

I may not be the kind of mother you were or are, but I am a mother and one day my children will rise up and call me blessed. I will cling to that for now.