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.

first steps

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.

do-one-thing-every-day

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.”

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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.

Image

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

sixteen

cancer.

the word reverberates throughout my entire being. shakes me to the core. like a toxic waste turned skipping stone. like an ocean with an oil leak that stretches vast, and stretches thin those that go to clean the waters.

one word, and it’s a battle.

one diagnosis. and it’s time to fight.

he is the epitome of health. he never gets sick. not really.

doesn’t smoke. doesn’t drink copiously. he even stopped drinking sodas when he was a teenager. (seriously, who does that?) my dad.

he pays attention to what he eats. and, yes, sometimes that means a slice of cheesecake and an egg for breakfast. (but really, what’s wrong with that?)

he exercises. he drinks water. (and he’ll tell you to drink until you have to pee… and then drink some more.) he considers it the best medicine for most anything. – if it doesn’t work, try Windex.

he has taken dance lessons with my mom. and pilot lessons (for flying planes) with me.

he taught me to ride a bike on the sidewalk in Houston. and kept at it as i continued to fall over the uprooted and horridly cracked surface of the concrete.

and i learned. eventually.

he never used shame as punishment. because a look of hurt would hit harder than any form of reprimand- and its affects would last the longest.

he rides horses and bikes (but we all know which is better).

climbs fourteen thousand foot peaks.

sails oceans.

and loves toyota land cruisers.

a part of him is at home on the oceans and another part lives in the mountain ranges.

he sings. jimmy buffet and gary p. nunn. but he loves to abandon himself in worship before the footstool of the King. and who wouldn’t love that in a man?

he knows humility, and understands the folly of pride.

he’ll wake early to steep his soul deep in the Scriptures.

spends intentional time in prayer.

he doesn’t raise his voice in anger. not in all the twenty-four short years I have known him.

and, i could go on.

give me hours, and i could put down attribute after attribute describing the man God has blessed me with as my earthly father.

but how does child take care of parent? and what words of comfort or guidance can be offered from the offspring? and what is my place in all of this?

i am daughter. and sister. but also wife. and mother.

and what is my place in each of these roles?

and how do i trust?

and what do i pray?

cancer. 

so it’s time to fight. to arm the sentries.

let’s,

“hop to it johnny hewitt.”

this chapter is just beginning.

fifteen

It’s happened two times; two times since I became an adult, since I reached this age of independence and self-sufficiency… it has happened twice. When the phone rings and knocks the breath clean out of my lungs. And to breathe feels like drowning. And to communicate the shock is near impossible for the words are thick and weighted deep in the heart and the blood rushes faster than ever, but thought becomes sluggish and is never birthed forth into spoken word.

And it’s a feeling of helplessness.

Of out of my hands and out of my control.

And I cannot even be there to bear witness.

Or to comfort my own selfish heart.

To hold his hands or to see him hold is second grandson for the first time… because that hasn’t happened yet. My son is one month old, and has never been held by his grandfather. And that makes the tears pile behind closed lids. The water gathers and I swallow it back. Because crying won’t help anything. It’ll just wake the reflux filled infant sleeping in a basket at my feet. And tears don’t cure cancer.

I wish they did though. Because I can do that. I can cry.

I can pray. But I think I can cry better. And I can be desperate and sleep deprived and unable to put thought into words.

But oh, I could cry. And if tears could heal we’d all be well.

Now I crave to know every medical term in the books, and even the ones that haven’t made it to text yet. To fully understand and comprehend just how bad everything is. Because the internet makes everything appear death, and the doctors make everything appear controllable, and I won’t know the difference. I wish I could understand. but I don’t. I just don’t. My mind is fuzzy and my words empty. (And only partly because I am a mother of three children three years of age and under.)

The other part, the main part, is that in the midst of crisis I process slow.

Looking back to the first time I had gotten a phone call that shook me to the core- to when my little brother had been diagnosed with two brain aneurysms- one as large as a golfball– and I was in this same city, hours away from my family. I wish I had been there more but honestly I feel like my time in that hospital was a blur of pointless – I let things  happen around me and didn’t even try to understand. It’s what helpless looks like. But at least I could be there.

Seated. hands open. desperate to grab hold of anything and everything, unable to touch a single thing. and the rush of the ones in the coats with the knowledge who God has placed in the situation are so busy acting that they cannot fully explain to my confused and chaotic brain.

And here I sit again. Helpless. As my father walks into the unknown with the rest of my family beside him- I sit in this other city. Aware of what is happening by what I receive over a telephone.

And here it is. It’s come. The hard eucharisteo. And do I thank Him? And can I name it? And how does anyone find the joy in the times such as these?

My elocution is lacking. My words are far from beautiful.

So here it is. Written down in black and white. And I am in the midst of walking through it. And God is in the midst of it all.

Eucharisteo.

entry fourteen

sweet smell of cinnamon.

And the ripping right raw, the tearing of the muscles, and the kicking out of little feet against the too tight space of uterine walls- it eases. Smell does that. The right scent breathed in deep through the nose can calm even the most anxious of heartbeats.

Painting the children’s rooms these past few weeks has given me a large dose of nostalgia  almost overwhelmingly so. Sent me back to childhood. To family working side by side in restoring mountain cabin. To the walls of fresh color, those fumes overpowering, and thankfulness for how they seemed to finally mask the smell of the rodent urine that littered the log sides.

We were wilderness family embodied during that time- that time when everything in the world seemed like it was at the brink of perfection– the time before I knew much of anything in regards to how great the sin is in this world. Innocence still clung to every part of me, and I was only a year away from being in high-school.

The talk that I hear now sends shivers down my spine. Panic almost suffocates me. Lungs tighten. Heart races. It’s the Preakness Stakes here in my blood. And fear runs me right through. And I want to go back to my childhood home in the valley of mountains. To raise my kids in innocence. To shield them from a world where there is no protection for their ears and their eyes. To hold them close and place my worn body before theirs in this fray of warfare- this battling for something greater. Why can they not just have the greater? Why must this world be allowed to nip and tear and rip away their innocence?

And, it’s cinnamon. This smell that calms the nerves and soaks seemingly into my very skin. And that’s all I am. This flesh and bone and blood. I’m wrapped in a skin and I can’t do spiritual battle on my own.

And then there’s trust. 

To trust in Him who created these children in the depths of my womb and who has guarded them and who has promised His best. And do I not trust His best? Have I not seen His ways unfold and His provision in the lives of so many around me? In me?

To rest in that. To rest in Him.

To rest.

I look at the frozen chai, now melting. And the pure white of the whipped cream flaked in brown pungent spice. cinnamon. 

 

entry thirteen

dishwasher constantly going. laundry machines as well. and diapers never ending. supervising toddler playtime. building duplo tunnels and train tracks. grocery trips with two screaming toddlers and a pregnancy/mommy brain.

disciplining. and discipling (isn’t that a large part of being a parent?). comforting. teaching.

and just struggling to make it to the end of the day. thankful for nothing but the words “bedtime,” and my husband’s strong arms as he ushers the children up the stairs.

I’m not supposed to lift anything. or be on my feet, really. My OB calls it “borderline bedrest,” but that doesn’t do much for me. because all this still has to be done. the kids need food and rest and correction and play. and here I am- provider (re: servant).

and I feel as though I am faltering. floundering in waters too deep for comfort, just trying to stay afloat myself- while struggling to keep the rest of my family above the swift current of the daily stresses and demands of life.

and don’t I give these demands too much power over my life? have I not become servant to this worldly way of living in which I feel stress over wants and not needs? my brain is all muddle and I trudge through to find something fast to hold on to for dear life. and it’s there, but it seems all too simple for how complicated I have made this mess. but there it is: the embrace. Embrace of grace.

And do I not utter thanks?

Thanks for the little things, for the second chances, for the three weeks left of the third pregnancy, for the aches that force rest upon me, for the children who focus my attentions on them instead of the pile of clean clothes sitting in bedroom. because the clothes will still be there when the children go to bed. they don’t need to be folded. not now, not ever, really. Sure it’s nice to have clean and folded clothes and everything in its proper places. but these clothes, they are nowhere near eternal… they will wear and tear and never see a glimpse of heaven’s gates. but my kids? they’re here, they’re now, and they are an investment of time that will never go wasted.

and why can’t I realize that in the midst of toddler tantrums and nap-time refusals? in the screams of protests over the dinner vegetables?

should my ever present list-making-to-do-list of a brain not focus more around the eternal living rather than the worldly passing?

 

entry eleven

There’s the back spasms. Those are followed by the Braxton Hicks contractions. And just the aches all over. The muscles sore and the flesh weary and all tired. It’s the mantra of my day, this exhaustion. And it’s exhausting.

Patience scraped thin. Too thin. Soul dry and thirsty and irritability halts joy. Everything that calls to me- the needs of my house. They aren’t small, they’re real. Very real. Like putting foods in bellies of children, real- and the brain doesn’t work quite right. Cognition. It’s not there.

I am drowning in this sea of in-cohesive thought, flailing and fighting the stresses of my own making. And why? What is my hope at the end of it all?

The voices of this world. Of my family. Of friends. Of strangers. Of self. That constant telling of judgement. Of not enough. Of short comings and failings and all the things I haven’t gotten right… not yet at least. The “too young’s,” “financially unstable’s,” “maritally not there yet’s,” and it continues.

Every person as of late seems to have an opinion on the most intimiate details of my life. And whatsmore they vocalize these thoughts in such a way as to make me feel shame and insufficient. Why must concern be shown as criticism? And why do I linger so on these statements? Why welcome them into the depths of my being and allow the eating at my heart until I am all consumed bitter?

I am child of this world and yet not of this world. But I let the world’s view of me define me and how is that good? I am child of God seeking approval and worth in a world that was not made to give me such things.

And He gifts me grace. Crazy grace.

And do I see it?

Am I constant emptying to fill?

baby-girl all twirling to Peppermint Twist. 

holding my firstborn in my lap- head resting all content on my chest. 

beads of colors. 

bouquet of sunflowers sitting bright on table in morning light. 

rays of sunlight on freshly made bed. 

melting collapse on new linens. 

entry ten

I paint butter onto rolls of dough before placing them in the oven. Warmth rushes against my face skin as I place the sheet of bread in to bake.

pastry brush dripping butter. 

The children rush and calm and I put together a dinner of leftovers – provisions of friends’ hands and hearts. The corn cobs boil and soften and I drain pot in sink. And pause. The sun dances shadows across the grass. Trees stretched tall and green. The trunks grow and the branches stretch, and none too soon they provide ample shade.

My children grow too. Their torsos lengthen and their motor skills turn fine. They laugh and crawl and walk and run. They babble and speak and then never stop chattering. Their minds develop and their curiosity grows and they seek to satisfy a thirst deep within souls small.

His cries turned to pain. Funny how motherhood teaches you things you never thought you’d learn, much less need to know. The difference of the tantrum being thrown defiant and that of a pain that turns his body. I heard it. That change. That quieting that came after the tantrum, the turn of the cry of my son to signal me to him. Pain.

He said his nose hurt. And he was all tears and stuffiness and sobs. Not until after he drank down his allergy medicine did he look at me. And the tightening in my chest. The immediate rise of fear and panic and rush of blood through valves in heart. His eyes. never. looked. like. that. Swollen as though there were marbles underneath- in that space that turned blackish blue when his tiredness showed weary on his face.

Allergies. The rubbing of his eyes when they itched hard. An airborne allergen could do this to my son. Swell this face of my child and cause heart to panic to the depths of my own fragile self.

And I had abandoned it. That thanking of grace gift. Abandoned it to the moment of fear that I gave myself to completely and without a second thought. I clock watched, paced, and gathered boy-child into arms to rush to car and doctor and store for medicines.

And I see it now.

After eye drops and medicine and cuddling with the child I have labored with from pregnancy to three years old- to this right now. And it is here.

In the help and the surroundings and the doctors. And all provisions of Him who sees and knows and is. And all is grace. All is gift.

The corn sits in sink all yellow with kernels plump and ready for the mouths. And I gaze out window. Lost in sun-rays and shadows. In a year the trees will be taller. In a day the grass will be cut. In two months my children will have baby brother new and small. And all is fleeting. And time doesn’t slow.

So I enter into this now. This grace of this day.

weather cold and sunlight bright.

children napping easy and playing sweet.

cuddles gentle and personalities full.

health. 

 

entry seven

I wish I was writing this down in my journal- to be copied here later after I savored the etching of pen across leafs of fine paper. But alas, head-colds and slow healing jaw and pains of pregnancy do not permit me such luxury. So here I sit. And here I type.

fingers talking on ink black keys. 

This last week has been hard. But isn’t it always? This hardness seems to pound and reverberate throughout my being until it is the only language I seem to know how to speak. That of complaint. agony. frustration. hurt.

The rough harshnesses are the easiest of times to remember at the end of a long un-ending day. The grace, the thankfulness of grace, the joy from the thankfulness of those graces daily- those slip away softly and I don’t even grasp at them. Not at the end of a week like this last week. Not at the end of one of those languishing days.

The day ends and I want to slip away- into darkness- calm. quiet. peace. refreshment. rest. Just a breath that sits deep in my lungs and is in no hurry to be released.

I feel anger. Searing the contours of my throat and wanting to bleed out in harsh retaliation to what I conceive as my injustice. I want to be understood in this place by those who should want to be here, but aren’t. And how do I let this go? All of these feelings being tumbled from lips without any form of restraint? And the bitterness takes hold. And the tears burn hot down my cheeks. And the one person I want to be holding me doesn’t seem to even care. And I am looking all wrong.

I am equine wearing blinders- and I fight the Driver’s gentle guide. I see what I want for me in these hard moments- I turn to what I see as comfort and security and peace of mind. I’m tunnel visioned to this world and the things that have come from it. Instead of the One who made and orchestrated and spoke it into its very existence.

He gives me help. Why am I not satisfied? Why do I beg and cry out and plead with Him for a relief, and then don’t recognize it when it’s right before my face?

friends who give their hands and their time to help provide for my family when I cannot. 

I am just like my children. I may see my Father’s provision at a moment but in the aftermath I forget all that He has provided. I forget His promises. And I go back to trusting in my own configurations of how things should unfold. I forget that His answers and His provisions and His plans are best. perfect. incomparable.

wand of orange leaving trail of opalescent bubbles floating through air. 

Maddie lies flat back on quilt and giggles slightly around fingers betwixt lips as she watches the bubbles glide listlessly above her face. Her eyes squint and her belly laughs when the little floating orbs get close to her face. And I smile at my daughter. And then I am fearing for her wellbeing as my son crashes across the quilt to chase and pop and chase again.

The humid muggy weather surrounds me- almost uncomfortably– but the joy of the moment keeps me rooted in place. I twirl in a circle, son at heels, and the bubbles escape from the wand again- boy flies off after bubbles. They float and they dance and he claps his hands in pursuit of them.

bubbles burst.

boy cheers.

entry six

The cold was welcome relief this morning. The chill in the room helped calm me, as did the scene on the outer side of the large glass window. A breath of tranquility, and I took it into my lungs deep. And let it out slow.

Inviting tranquility of trees softly swaying and skies gray perfect. 

The surgeon came in and reclined the brown leatherish chair. Numbness entered my jaw with piercing needle. Again and again and again. Three small bottles- forced into flesh- taste of bitter anesthetic lingering in throat.

I listen to the music being piped through my ear buds- the music calming- and the surgeon starts his work.

It’s violent work- this incision into flesh and this cutting of bone. His hands are forceful- the pressure moves my head as the instruments bear down. A tooth being sawn in two and uprooted from home of living tissue. This breaking of bone from body.

Hours later I lay on couch. The boy-baby in belly squirms his frailness and I shake from pain and crippling nausea.

In through the nose. Breath in through the nose. I talk myself into calm and frantically grasp at strands to keep myself grounded there. The rain starts.

I remember laying awake into the late hours of the night previous. Smile slides onto face with graceful ease. The memory of the insistent rain the night before.

Roof of dancing rain. 

The debilitating sickness overwhelms my senses and un-beckoned tears roll down my cheeks. My mind swims in the present discomfort. I pant for relief.

The ebb and flow of pain- coupled with the pouring and subsiding of the skies- is all that fills my day. The hours rush haltingly, and the end is upon me. The jaw has tightened and begun to swell. Dread for the morning creeps around the hedges of my thoughts.

And I seek…

lumps of potato mashed in cheese and cream smooth

And with hunger pains at bay I prepare my weary body for a night of recovery.

For the mending of the brutally broken is made up of the patiently waiting on a deep and diligent healing.