Dear Mamas

I am not a mother. I am not experienced in parenting in the least bit. I have never had to make a decision that directly affects any tiny human, let alone anyone but myself, really. I have never felt the pressure to make the best decision with all the given information, knowing that my decision could be very wrong or be very right. I have never had to decide what to feed my child, how they should sleep (With me? In their own bed? Long term effects of both? AW I don’t even know now what I would choose!). I have never held something so precious in my arms knowing that for the rest of my life the words I speak, the things I do, what I decide is best that very moment for my family and my child, will greatly affect my child.

The closest I got to this moment was last Valentines Day when I held my precious nephew on the day he was born. My sister had stepped away to the other room for just a few moments and I sat there holding this precious life. I had so many feelings and thoughts that overwhelmed my heart, soul and body. My heart was bursting with so much love for this little life I held in my arms. Then the thought overwhelmed me: my arms! I was holding this little 7 pound baby, littler than my purse, and what happens if I dropped him (while I was sitting. See these are my irrational thoughts!), what if my arms gave out while I was holding him, what if something happened in the next three minutes while my sister was away and I could do nothing to help him. Honestly and selfishly, I couldn’t wait for my sister to come back because I was not at all prepared for ANYTHING to happen to this precious boy while I was responsible for him. All I wanted him to do was sleep and continue sucking that sweet thumb of his because I knew I could handle that. Right? Just hold and rock him and then everything will be fine.

People. I held the kid for less than five minutes and this is what happened to me! Could you even begin to imagine if this little life was my responsibility? Obviously I am not ready to be a mother. After thinking about it and talking with several wise souls in my life, I believe it something that just happens and you take a deep breathe, trust and believe that you are making the right decisions for the little life you are holding in your arms. I am on the brink of being a hot mess as I sit here and type this out. I can attempt to put myself in my sister’s shoes, and man, she is my hero! All you mamas out there, loving your babies the best you can and make decisions the best you can with the information you have- you are my heroes!

Dare I say, it might have been easier to be a mother prior to the internet, prior to Facebook, prior to Pinterest, prior to the ability to make offhanded and anonymous comments towards people, their convictions and their decisions. I am sure it was always this way, though. I am sure that villages had women sitting around, telling other women that their decisions were wrong and they should do it this way, or that way. And you had an overwhelmed new mother, just wanting to make the best decisions for her child and so afraid to mess her precious child up. Everything is mostly well intentioned, right? You all want the best for your child and for all children. So that is why we offer up our advice and try to help one another out. But it has me scared at the same time.

My words and observations could be 100% off base. I mean what do I know, I don’t have children. I have never had to make decisions that directly affected another human beings life besides where my group of friends should go eat dinner. But here is what I know. I am going to need a strong village of women around me when I do have a precious life to care, protect and raise. I am going to need a group of women who can provide me wisdom, support, love and grace. Oh my goodness, so much grace. And most likely tissues (cause ya’ll if I am a hot mess now, it’s likely it won’t get any better). I am going to need wisdom and advice but I will mostly need a friend. A friend to be there in my celebrations as a mother. A friend to be there when I am scared that either decision I make may not be the right choice. A friend to be there when I have no idea what the “right” choice is. A friend to be there to have wine and chocolate. A friend to love me and talk down my fears of messing up little child. Also a friend to remind that little child that his/her mama did the best she could with what she knew.

Dear precious mamas out there. Be this for each other now. Stop the arguing. Stop the attacks on ways of lives and decisions each mother makes. Remember how difficult it is to make decisions, how you did not know the outcomes either. Be kind. Forgive. Have mountains and mountains of grace for each other. Because I need to hope and believe that when I become a mom, I will have that from you. All of us future mamas need that from you.

Rest

The last three months are arguably my favorite months of the year. I love the fall changes, the extra hour of sleep, the anticipation of Thanksgiving and Christmas, seeing friends and family, warm fires, parties and all the fixings. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I love LOVE Christmas. I won’t go into how I express this love throughout the year, but I will warn you, it is deep and wide.

So naturally I started celebrating this holiday season in September. I started planning for Friendsgiving and my Christmas vacation on October 1st. The day when the stores were covered in Christmas lights, my heart did a little jig inside. Normally, this time of the year is not something that phases me, but this year, something shifted. It got harder and harder to not be stressed out about the planning and thinking of thoughtful gifts for just a few of my family members, not to mention wanting to do something for my dear friends and those who have been influences and my cheerleaders over the past year.

I keep getting stuck.

Stressed out.

Overwhelmed.

Frustrated.

Not enough.

Too much.

All those lovely lies invaded my heart until it seemed they all came to the surface on Sunday and Monday.

These past two months have been filled with a new schedule, starting a new small group, last minute trip to San Diego, a lot of working on Saturdays, planning a trip to Romania for next fall, along with the normal anticipation of Christmas and putting on a perfect Friendsgiving for my dear friends. So needless to say, Sunday hit and I was taken out like a ton of bricks. Pressure to be everything to everyone, overwhelmed my soul and Monday was even worse.

In this hurry up and go, be everything, do everything, season I have put myself in, I neglected to spend time with the Lord. I had been oversleeping, running late to work, desiring a cup of coffee and the comfort of my phone, than desiring to spend a few quite moments with the one who filled my soul with all I needed. My drives into work with worship music weren’t filling the void in my heart for connection and truth to be spoken into my heart. My evenings were spent with lovely people and most of the time a lot of mind numbing television watching. I always thought about pausing and not immediately going into numbing mode the moment I got home. My intentions were pure. My execution of those intentions were seriously lacking.

Yesterday, by a miracle, I woke up earlier than I normally do and so I sat on my bed and opened up my Bible and my daily devotional, Jesus Calling. I realized I was starving for this time. A time of quiet, of peace, of being still. I found I was spiraling with things I should do, could do, ect, but never resting, staying still or being.

As I was getting ready to get up and get ready for the day, I felt this overwhelming need to sit, to be still, to listen for a moment. I felt that little whisper saying I am loved. That is it. I am loved. I am loved in my hurry up and go. I am loved in my flaws. I am loved in my strengths and weaknesses. I am loved.

I was reminded that I am enough and God just asks that I am present and not perfect (Shauna Niequist) and to available to be with him in the quiet of the morning, moment or day.

Let me not forget that. In the running and the to do’s and obligations I have put on myself. Be present. Sit and rest in the fullness of his love.

7

7 years ago was told that I was worth something, that my life was not an accident and that I was created and loved by the one who created the trees, the snow, and the birds. My heart, which had been so very hard, opened up and soften to the truth that I was loved. Looking back I had no idea what was going on. I knew I was broken. I knew I was in desperate need of something but never understood what.

I had the right answers. I had the mask that I was a “good Christian” but on the inside, I struggled. I felt depressed and not worthy of living. I felt like I was empty.

By the time I got to January 27th, my heart was done. I had heard and “known” all about the Lord but never did I know him. I felt worthless and done. I remember so clearly telling the Lord if he did not meet me that weekend, I was done forever. I would never again claim I loved him when I didn’t know him. I was done faking it all.

Then it happened. He met me right where I was with the truth of his love for me and the reminder that he has made me worthy and complete in him. He held my broken heart and told me that I was his in every way and I was his creation. He told me he set me apart and called me out by name and I had purpose in this life.

And in that moment. In that very moment, I changed. I clung so tightly to that promise and embraced the journey without fully knowing what I would experience, but fully trusting, fully open to the path that the Lord would take me on.

Here I am, seven years later, still here. Still in the place of the Lord’s hands. I am still broken, but I chose hope I am mended a little more than what I was seven years ago.

To say these last seven years have been fully of butterflies and rainbows would be the biggest lie ever. These seven years have been difficult. I have had to fight to remain in the Lord some days when all I wanted to do was run away. I have had seasons of incredible blessing and seeing some fruit from the journey. I have had seasons of rough roads and growth that has stretched me.

I have learned that I am not all put together since coming to the Lord, in fact, I am probably more broken then before. I have experienced heartbreak, loneliness and brokenness but also incredible grace, forgiveness, mercy and love.

I have gone from a girl with no place to call safe, to be herself and to be fully and completely loved, to a woman who finds rest in the one who created her with an abounding amount of love, grace, compassion and forgiveness.

I have struggled. If you have not gotten that yet, you may want to read this whole thing over. This walk has been the hardest thing I have ever done. If anyone ever tells you following Jesus is easy, they are lying to you. Its hard.

But its worth it.

Every second of it is worth it. Even in my confusion and my pea sized perspective of what God is doing, it’s worth it. It is worth every second of it.

I have found joy. Incredible. Inexpressible. Overwhelming. Joy.

I have found grace. Earth-shaking. Knee-bending. Undeserved. Grace.

I have found forgiveness. Unexplainable. Incomprehensible. Forgiveness.

I have found mercy. Sweet. Mercy.

This, my friends, I stand on, that the Lord is good and is with us always. Some days I can declare it from the rooftops, other days, it takes everything I have to say it. He is faithful either way. I am loved either way. I am His Beloved and He is mine.

Here’s to my seventh year. Here’s to holding on tightly to the promises of the Lord and trusting that he loves us so.

~d

When you experi…

When you experience the deep pain of loneliness, it is understandable that your thoughts go out to the person who was able to take that loneliness away, even if for a moment. When, underneath all the praise and acclaim, you feel a huge absence that makes everything look useless, your heart wants only one thing- to be with the person who once was able to dispel these frightening emotions. but it is the absence itself, the emptiness within you, that you have to be willing to experience, not the one who could temporarily take it away.
It is not easy to stay with your loneliness. The temptation is to nurse your pain or to escape into fantasies about people who will take it away. But when you can acknowledge your loneliness in a safe, contained place, you make your pain available for God’s healing.
God does not want your loneliness. God wants to touch you in a way that permanently fulfills your deepest need. It is important that you dare to stay with your pain and allow it to be there. You have to own your loneliness and trust that it will not always be there. The pain you suffer now is meant to put you in touch with the place you most need healing, your very heart. The person who was able to touch that place has revealed to you your pearl of great price.
It is understandable that everything you did, are doing, or plan to do seems completely meaningless compared with that pearl. That pearl is the experience of being fully loved. When you experience deep loneliness, you are willing to give up everything in exchange for healing. But no human being can heal that pain. Still, people will be sent to you to offer you the deep sense of belonging that you desire and that gives meaning to all you do.
Dare to stay with your pain, and trust in God’s promise to you.

The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen

The Lord will indeed give what is good…..

“Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.” Psalm 85: 10-13

These words come to me after a long Sunday where my emotions overcame my soul and made it difficult to talk or be without crying. It was a difficult day where the reality of my current life was getting ready for ANOTHER major shift and I felt all the things I had been ignoring come to the surface and come out very inconveniently (but really when do these things come out when they should?). 

The truth is I wonder some days if I will ever see the Lord give what is good. As I say that, I realize that I have seen so much good in my life thus far and I am amazed by it all. But is it bad to want more? Is it too much to want more of the goodness of the Lord? I have a couple areas in my life that I long to see more of the goodness of the Lord and at times I feel selfish in that, like I shouldn’t ask for all of that and I should be content with what I have.

But I am struggling. I miss the life I had before I left for Texas. I miss my friends being in one location and being known by them and fully loved by them. The one location thing is getting to me. I am tired of being close with people and then having something take us physically taking us apart. It is exhausting to continue to make new friends and trying to be known and know them like I desire. 

I trust the Lord. I trust that what he takes away, he will bring something else and will fill that hole that has been created. I truly do. But at this place in my life, my soul is exhausted. I am tired of starting over and making new friends. This may sound bad. This may not make sense to you as you read this. I am normally a bubbly and outgoing person; however, I feel as though so many people have a piece of my heart and I would like to not give it away for a while. I am tired. 

Yet, I feel as though I must trust. I must trust that the Lord knows what is good. I must trust that even in this time of transition (AGAIN!) he is in every moment, every move, every breathe even. I must trust that he knows my pain and collects my tears. I must trust that even in the pain of today, he gives what is good and prepares the way even before I am there. I must trust that in the times I am exhausted, he is there and he is close to the brokenhearted. 

He is faithful. And as I write this, I am reminded of that faithfulness but also am saying it with shaking hands and a scared heart, unsure of the future and how things will work out and longing to see the goodness of the Lord in today. 

 

~d

Things I have learned in good ole Houston!

Today while sitting at my favorite coffee shop in Houston, I started to write about what I have learned since being in here! I am learning A TON but these are some serious, and funny, things I have learned! Enjoy! 

I have learned some amazing lessons in love that I will never forget.
I have learned that sitting with a person is loving them.
I have learned that dancing in the living room and laughing can be the best thing for the soul, better than a good television show.
I have learned that God will take things out of our lives but he will always bring something to fill it back up with.
I learned that sugar in coffee is just as good, if not better than my creamer (had some serious fears about this one!)
I learned that I can eat vegetarian and truly enjoy my meal still.
I have learned that ants, birds, mosquitos and flies come to Houston to retire.
I have learned it is really good to know your bus drivers name because then if you are late, they often slow down for you (plus they are pretty awesome people!)
I learned that you must always bring a sweater wherever you go in Houston even if it is 100 degrees outside because every building is 55 degrees inside.
I have learned that smiles and laughter cross cultures, races, and socioeconomic boundaries.
I have learned that I really don’t know much about life.
I have learned that stray dogs like to chase people on their bikes.
I have learned to eat off of a $100 food budget for 6 people!
I have learned that sometimes missing the bus is worth the conversation that I get to have with my neighbor.
I have learned that God connects people in the most random and awesome places.
I have learned that the 30 bus is ALWAYS a solid 15 minutes late.
I have learned that when you have a group of 6 people move into a house together from all over, conflicts, forgiveness, laughter, dance parties, scooter riding and family will occur.
I have learned that God is ever faithful and wonderful in the way he moves. 
I have learned that even though life is hard, you can experience a full and rich life in the midst of all that comes your way.
I have learned that hiding under a table and putting your hand through the bottom of a box that has candy in it and grabbing kids when they put their hand in it is probably the best thing ever!
I have learned that life is good!   

When It Becomes About Me

This morning I was reading about John the Baptist and I was shocked by one thing, when John was asked if he was the Messiah, he immediately put those thoughts to rest and simply stated that he was not worthy to tie the sandals on Jesus’ feet, but he was simply the messenger. I was amazed by this. John knew who he was, he was not mistaken and knew that his life’s purpose was to make the way for Jesus to come.

As I read this, I realized how often I think it is about me. I think that I am in Houston, or even just in this world, to glorify myself and not the one who brought me here and created me to be loved and to love others as deeply as I have been loved. I have so many moments that I forget that is why I am here, that is what I am about. Not about myself or my plans and dreams, but about HIM. The moment it becomes about me is the moment I begin to justify hurtful words and thoughts towards those who are his Beloved. When it becomes about me, WE (meaning God and I) do not exist, because his call is greater than me and so I back away and search for things that reinforce my selfish heart and mind. I begin to think that I have it all together and that I am the change, that it all depends on me and my abilities.

And then it all falls apart.

I begin to feel alone, lonenly, and seeking ways outside of him to fill my tired and restless soul. I find myself frustrated and empty with a mess of broken relationships due to my selfish heart and thinking it is about my heart, my needs, me alone. I look around to see utterly failed attempts to be a savior and ‘love’. All my attempts have fallen more than short. Often I find myself crying out to a seemingly distant God. I feel broken, unworthy and ashamed. So even though I know I am missing him in my life and in all that I do, I stay distant because my shame and loss of identity. More than not, it takes a bit of time to remember that his grace and love he has for me is freely given and a relationship and love is what he desires most, not my act. Not my ways, not my plan or even my selfish acts of ‘love’ that I am so quick to give to others.

But he knows me and my brokenness, my selfish tendencies and my pain when I look around and realize I really screwed it all up on my own. He gently but sternly reminds me that it is not all about me. My soul winces while seemingly takes a deep sigh of relief knowing that this is how it should be and knowing that I am sure glad it isn’t about me. I am overwhelmed with new life and know that I am his daughter and I am deeply loved by my Heavenly Father. I am his beloved, created to love and to share the love I have received with others. And that it is defiantly not about me!