Forty. Seven. Three.

Seven years ago, i started a journey of forty weeks. Forty weeks and a baby. Forty weeks and a life change. Forty weeks of being on two types of nausea medications because, well, one just didn’t cut it.

My first was born in February of 2010. My middle in October 2011. My last in June of 2013. Forty months.

Forty months and three tiny humans have entered the world.

Forty months ago my oldest turned three. And i was in round two of potty training him (long story for another time), and I had a newfound walker toddling around, and I was pregnant… and staying married felt like the biggest impossibility of my life.

Now, forty months later, and my youngest is about to turn three.

 

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Three is my favorite number. Or it was. Before my children turned three. The twos may be terrible, but the threes… well, the three’s will threaten your very existence as anything resembling a sane human being.

Three year olds haven’t just discovered the word ‘no’- they’ve discovered they can center an entire universe of a household around their very selfish souls. They’ll do things they wouldn’t have dared to dream of doing six months ago, incredibly self-absorbed things. Because they need the bubbles now. And they need food now. And bedtime can happen when they say it can, and reading a story doesn’t cut it anymore. Read five. Then sing a song. While tapping out a soft shoe.

Now snuggle.

And cuddle.

And go and get that book and read it again.

Basically, three year olds are the rulers of the toddler terrorists. They set the rules and you best d*mn well play by them. Or those Candy Land cards are gonna get it. …and how do you feel about an overflowing bathroom sink?

You can’t catch all of them. So you repeat, under your breath, and maybe over their angelic sleeping faces,

You may have won this battle. But I will win the war!”

And so you struggle and claw your way back to some sort of sanity. Maybe you stand at the top of the precariously drawn cliff you just peaked and survey the wastelands you’ve wandered and struggled through over the past forty weeks.

You hope and pray you will find a way to do the right thing at the right time just once. to make a breakthrough in your child’s life. to bestow upon them some rightness in their next steps or future steps.

you close your eyes and hope one day you can be the obedient child who enters into the place you are called to be and by doing so can be Hands and Feet and Light… and do it all right.

That’s when I realized – and maybe you do too(?) – I play the three year old with my Heavenly Father.

There’s a tiredness which arises in a season of waiting. It will seep into the sinews of your soul if you aren’t careful… and when a door needs to be kicked down, you may find yourself slumped down against it, a wailing heap on the floor, begging for someone to just open it for you.

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There’s a resurgence period. When forty months leads to forty weeks of gradually regaining more to life than surviving the day to day. When dreams are remembered and passions are stirred and it all just seems to be waiting for you to take one.more.step. – smash the window… knock down the door… step through and step out of the waitful wandering…

It’s a process and that’s for certain. At times it may just feel like you are going to drown in the gradual slowness of it all. And you might just find yourself being a three year old. Again.

I have this insane calling to write a book, and how I see it at the moment is an enormous amount of time, thought, emotional and physical energy… and no promise of any recompense at the end of it all. I could finish and that could be that. Years of stories coming together in a few hundred pages may very well end at the end of writing it. It may go nowhere past that. In fact I’m kind of betting on it. … and hoping it doesn’t at the same time.

I have a dream to foster and adopt children, and bring them into a sort of refuged haven- away from any and all sorts of abuse and hardships they have faced in their short lives, and just love them in as safe a space as I can provide them with our family.

I long for a move to take me away from the heat which torments and destroys my body (literally), and a place which provides an easier year round interaction for me with my children. Because i just want to freakin’ enjoy every minute with them. And that isn’t easy when you’re constantly battling a heat and sun sensitivity causing the world to spin around you and your skin to feel as though it’s about to melt right off your body.

So i dream of finishing a novel. And adopting the daughter i’ve prayed over since i was eight years old. And living somewhere i don’t have to fight and struggle with my own body just to participate in life with the children i’ve always longed for.

I think we’ve found our dream home. And we only have a little over half of what we need for a down payment. So… donations welcome. haha, 😉
In one week and three days we will celebrate our baby turning three. And yes, we actually will celebrate. Because, despite the fact we are entering his “three year old” stage- we’ve already survived the three’s twice over, and i have little doubt we will get through this too. I mean, technically, if you think about it, turning three means he’s finished his third year of life –he’s actually starting the first day of his fourth year the day after he turns three … but… semantics.

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where vision and passion mix

i dream big. it’s true.

some may say i dream too big.

that i catch a vision for something and before you know it i’ve made it something entirely too unattainable.

yes, some may say that…

call me crazy but i’m under the impression that where God gives passion, He provides a path, and will enable the impossible.

 

i have a list of “unattainable”s.

i have a vision of being a part of the ending of human trafficking. the abolition of slavery. everywhere.

for it to be done. finished. over.

… of witnessing the end of abortion. on a global scale.

and i know that there will come a day where evil and sin will be no more. the last breath of Satan will be taken and God, His truth, His love, His mercy, His justice will be all that exists.

oh sweet GLORY. knowing that brings peace.

but it doesn’t bring complacency. because His Kingdom is now, here, and we are the church.

so we are called to action.

we are called to “Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.” (Micah6:8)

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and God loves to make the unattainable attainable. by His power. working all things together for our good and His glory.

so why not dream big?

as a body we have dreamt of serving the impoverished. we are making clean water attainable, providing shoes for children’s feet, coming along side of people groups and helping them learn how to care for their children, how to make businesses that thrive and provide. we have built orphanages and adopted children. reunited children with their parents. brought them to forever homes. we are setting captives free and giving clothes and food to the homeless. providing for the widows. all. through. HIM.

so why not dream big?

why not see the places that have now been given access to clean water and dream about bringing them a system in which they can grow gardens for their communities in towers of water? towers that use 10% of water the produce would normally use to grow… saving water, providing food.

okay so maybe that’s a big leap to make right now…

but what if these same towers could be used to cripple the mega markets? because we have problems in this country too. children are facing health issues like never before and the majority of those issues can be linked back directly with what they are putting into their bodies. food off the shelves of stores that shouldn’t even be there.

foods that are illegal in other countries because of their ingredients, our children are pumping into their bodies on a regular basis.

and even when you find a product that is “good,” it turns out to be produced by a morally and ethically corrupt company.

i recently looked up my laundry detergent. ALL “free and clear” and what i found was this: the product itself was not harmful. it was actually a “10” on the scale of unsafe to completely safe to use. but then there were the moral and ethical scales of the company that it was produced by. those numbers were much lower. much lower.

it’s purchasing consciously. purchasing with a purpose. caring enough to not support a morally and ethically corrupt company that you are okay with paying a couple dollars more for laundry detergent.

so what if we decide to purchase purposefully?

 

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what i learned about these “tower gardens” though is that they don’t cost more. you actually save money the first year (when you’re paying off the garden) and then you continue to save hundreds of dollars each subsequent year…

so you get to better your family’s health and the health of others’ (because let’s be honest, those babies grow a ton)- all while supporting a company whose goal is to better the health of this world.

so here’s my vision.

to start small.

to start in my own home.

to grow outwards…

to partner with schools. because how awesome would it be for pizza sauce with red40 to stop being considered a vegetable- replacing it with actual vegetables that the children have spent their time nurturing and growing?? 

and then to take a step and incorporate a way where you could “buy one, gift one” and help others around the globe live full, nurtured lives.

i think it’s a step worth taking. and an impact this world desperately needs.

access to whole foods and good nutrition. outside your door. and across the globe.

for the love of passion and fear

and y’all.

and can i just say “wow.”

yeah, the way that new NMD said it in her acceptance speech today.

“wow.”

 

And “God is Good. All the Time.

All the Time. God is Good.”

 

when you start your morning with those words? yeah, you know something’s coming and you best get ready for it. things are about to get messed. up…. in the absolute bestest way possible. yup i said bestest; go with it.

 

you know that “dream job?” that elusive, one in a million, can’t find it because i swear it doesn’t exist? yeah, that one…

 

where passion meets gifts and culminates with what someone will actually pay you to do? …there might not be much in that little overlap of groups. but there will be something. even if you can’t see it… yet.

 

Oh, the “yet,” don’t you just LOVE the “yet?”

it’s very possible you don’t.

at least, not yet.

 

And that is A-Okay. because so long as you keep looking for the window, God will lead you through one. sometimes… most times… in the unexpected kinds of ways. maybe it will feel like He wrapped you tight around a rock and through you through that window.

He actually probably will. if He hasn’t already.

 

the “i’m not expecting anything more than this to happen here,” ways…

the too low expectations ways. those times where you go into something- an event, a day, a job- with little to no expectations and He gets to just blow it up geiser-style in your face!

…in a good way.

 

always a good way.

 

that is this. that is here.

you see, for what seems like forever i have been FLOUNDERING. no seriously, F–L–O–U–N–D–E–R–I–N–G.  that fish out of water, suffocating on the driest of ground? That. has. been. ME.

 

i have been perpetuating the dry ground. living in the desert i have created for myself. trying to thrive there… and, on many occasions- let’s just be honest, they are more than i would like to admit- have found myself just plum trying to cry an oasis into existence. yes, i have been there.

 

and i am leaving there.

here. now. gone. done.

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i found passion for something that is multi-purposeful. it feeds directly into the huge key areas i am so desperately restless to be a part of actively doing something for. it is something i already have a foot in and have been wading in the water debating on whether or not i actually want in.

 

i kinda was wanting that writing on the wall, moment of epiphany, “ahah” moment. waiting to see if interests and talents can turn into passions and if those in turn can become something i could actually develop into a legitimate career. the kind that could support a family. give financial freedom. enable some of these bigger dreams i’ve been dreaming to come to fruition…

 

yup. got my writing.

on a jumbo screen.

in computer print and colored slides.

in watching rerun of an Olympian break a world record.

in women. women of all ages with all stories talking about a journey they have taken that, let’s face it, is doable. hard. but doable.

 

empowered women will stir emotion you didn’t know resided in you. strangers stories resonate so deeply and we react so strongly. why? because it’s real. and oh so good to hear. it’s encouragement and joy and beauty.

strength.

 

i kinda don’t want to tell you all of my revelations. not just yet. i don’t want to unleash the floodgates of facts and passions and the little dreams and visions i have- of how they could come together to impact cultures. globally. profoundly.

 

if you have any sort of insight into what i’m doing in my life right now, this weekend, then you probably know where this is headed.

but here’s what i want you to do: lose your expectations.

i just found passion. here. in learning and being educated. in researching and listening. flood waters have been unleashed. there’s a stirring that i can direct to something and somewhere and it’s exciting.

scaring the guts right out of me exciting.

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but Jennie Allen spoke truth and encouragement the other day. i knew i needed to hear this. i just didn’t know how much:

“here is the thing about leading something…. you will be loved and hated.

So, as one facing her two worst fears, being hated and/or humiliated, let me tell you what I have learned:

Receive criticism. If you want to lead well, just never defend yourself again. Take it. Jesus actually meant it when He said, “To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.” Luke 2:28 Because it is the very most freeing way to live. (Note: I did not say easy). I learned this one the hard way, and let’s just say it led me to my next lesson.

Humility is often closely connected to humiliation. Because we can only fake humility alone in the dark on back rows.Humility is built in battle, in the moments you are running and fighting and leading, and you fall, and people see and then they know you aren’t God and you remember you desperately need God.

Love the fear. As a child, I hated feeling nervous. My mom used to say, “It’s just butterflies.” So I sat in the back of life for decades, avoiding “butterflies.” I successfully avoided nausea and the very best parts of life. If you ever want to do anything of significance, you have to learn to love the sick, tense feeling in your belly instead of hate it. It doesn’t seem to ever leave me these days. So I am making the butterflies my friends.

People liking you is overrated.  If you love being liked by everyone, you are living a boring life. So just quit. Get over it. Let pleasing God become bigger than pleasing people.”

What IF: we became a generation willing to suffer…

So- What IF?

what if every single person cared so much about every. other. person. in this world and those to come that they wanted to come along side the poor. the hungry. the homeless. the orphaned

 and gather everyone up into this same. standard. of. living: 

…mentally?

…physically? 

spiritually?

when it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of Heaven- and maybe that man is in reference to us? – that the standard of life we live here in first world countries is considered the wealthiest in the world-

and, yes, that does in fact make us the “rich” of the world. 

And then does it start? Those immediate defenses that spring like geysers – those mental images of that handful or group of others who have more or do more or spend more than you ever could or would or do– spring to mind?

and that makes you any. less. wealthy. ? 

And what if wealth had no actual meaning in regards to earthly endeavors and possessions but solely those that are for eternity and His glory? … And are we wealthy then?

Are we being the true last?

Are we serving the orphaned?

… the widowed?

… the sick?

… the lost

And when the preacher is standing at the pulpit on Sunday morning and your blood starts to surge through all of those depths, because just YES that is where you want to go- those unreached people groups– that your heart is so pulled for that that you end up ignoring the fact that you are where you are in this season for this time- that His reason for keeping you somewhere will be the same as His reason for sending you over oceans.

That calling to live the Gospel- waiting until His plan and timing reaches utmost perfection– and you may just board that plane with a solitary one-way ticket – the lost just as much there as they are here. 

And we are living in His timing now

And if God provides all the needs for His people, why do we not see ourselves as being a part of His body as a provision?

That He has provided us to do His work.

That His work may in fact be something that puts us right in the middle of suffering?- 

That despite the friend, the parent, or even the stranger who looks at the sacrifices and the sufferings of your life and declares “Enough!” – they are in fact not God? – That you are in fact NOT here to do their will, but rather you are here to do His will and obey His commands? 

And oh are we missing this!

For those who look at the orphan crisis, human trafficking, or even just the general third world conditions that exist today- and sit back, “broken hearted” and. do. nothing.- 

 

My son recently opened a fortune cookie. Delighting in ever crisp piece he placed between his lips- humming to himself that song of lovely contentment…. when he handed me the little rolled up white piece of paper.

Tiny printed black words, which I was expecting would read something along the lines of: 

“Fame and fortune will soon be yours.” 

“Something lost will soon be found.” 

“The sun always shines after the downpour.” 

“The star of riches is shining on you.” 

But instead read:

“No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he only had good intentions.”

After researching this fortune I discovered it to be a Margaret Thatcher quote, the second part of which is “He had money too.” But we do have wealth, in abundance, both in the Gospel and in this first world life-style of ours! … so what is our excuse for not #endingitALL –

All the abortions?

the deaths

the lies?

the poverty?

the starvation?

the sickness

the thirst

the abandments?

the slavery?

the brokenness?

the abusing?

the unreached

So how do we sit here, in our air conditioned 21st century lives, and be just plum okay with Satan having a freaking playdate with all the lives of all the lost? 

And what if we weren’t

What if we lived, actually lived, the Gospel?

What if we lived in submission to God’s will for our lives, instead of our loved ones’ wills for our lives?

What if we up and stopped trying to please others and rather focused solely on pleasing Him?

What if we actually loved the Gospel so much we were willing to suffer for it?

What if we did something to #enditALL that required more from us than just clickinglike?”

 

IF. & then, what?

I look in the mirror, and it’s there.

Stark. and red. And blaring.

from tens of different spots of imperfectness staring back at me declaring hotly, “not. Good. Enough.”

Ugly.

Unworthy.

the little voice inside, it taunts,

Hide your skin under layers of makeup.

Go ahead and bury your soul right there as well.

Don’t let anyone see the flaws… because then… that’s all they will see.

Wear the mask that best fits in with this world so that you can blend and merge and just right lose yourself in the all of its rush.”

 

Don’t stand out.

Don’t be different.

Don’t stand up.

Don’t speak out.

Don’t feel too deeply.

 

Because when you start to Love as Christ Loved it’s going to right Hurt real.

It’s going to Cost something.

It’s going to cost you…. every. thing.

 

I feel it when people say, “you have enough,” … “enough children,” “You’re busy enough,”

… that what they are really saying is, “you are not enough,” “you don’t have room for another child,” “There are others who can bring an orphan into their homes and be better than you could ever be,” “you don’t have the resources to support any other body outside of those living under your roof already…”

These dreams and desires of yours are too outrageous, too unconventional, too costly.

 

That there’s no way this vision seeded deep within is God-given.

 

And maybe that’s not what they mean?

 

That we have these places and dreams and ideals… and while I am going into the end of my twenty-fifth year of life does it seem ridiculously ludicrous to some?

That a child who is probably yet to be born is growing in my heart so ferociously loved?

That I know her name, and cry over her?

That I yearn for her?

 

And the truth is: the exhaustion of today is. real. 

The tired, and sensitivity, and what is wrong with all these hormones all coursing rampant within me?

And the sickness? The one they draw blood for and can’t give answers to?

And so am I just supposed to up and give in and be done with the desiring and striving?

 

Victor Frankl said, “The root of anxiety is unfulfilled responsibility,”

And is this new surge of anxiety-strained nights the result of just that?

 

If God has seeded us with a vision- we can do it, in Christ. There is nothing we cannot do. Nowhere we cannot go. You just have to play your one note, and I will play mine. And together we will play a song that sounds like FREEDOM to the captives.”

Jen Hatmaker, IF:Gathering

 

And everyone says that I have enough… so then why do I feel this immense tugging on my heart for more?

To do more. To love more. To serve more. To empty myself utterly and completely? To just up and right SACRIFICE?

 

To redefine “comfort zone” to being in the presence of the Comforter.

To Love as Passionately as Christ, for the people of this world– and, as Ann Voskamp pointed out this weekend, the original meaning of “Passion” is “To suffer. (i.e.)- being willing to suffer for who you love.”

 

So what then should I give, do, relinquish, become a part of? … if it means even one person is saved? One person is no longer hungry? One person is no longer in sex trafficking? One person is no longer orphaned?

 

And you may think that’s hormones, but I’ve cried out the very depths of my dried up self over the orphaned and the gendercide and the evil of the selling of flesh as a commodity.

 

So if,

Calling is nothing more than when your talents and burdens collide.”

and if,

burden is informed by the life you’ve lived- by what has broken your heart,”

(Rebekah Lyons, IF:Gathering)

why then, when a person has clarity in this, do we not Champion them on?

Why do we not encourage, and run with, and lift up hands on their behalf?

Why not revive each other?

Why not empower one another?

To intercede for, and dream with, and just get completely ecstatically amazed over the work that God is building up for them to do…

In order for His Name to be made known… And His love to be shown

Across. The. Nations.

 

I have this pressing sense of urgent desire

An overwhelming, anxiety inducing, urgency deep within the marrow of me

To. Do. More.

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… what IF we became a generation of women who live like our God really is really REAL?