April 27, 2015

Tonight, Tonight

Tonight, my boys are tucked safely in  their beds.  I've read stories and helped brush teeth and snuggled and sang my little one to sleep.  I didn't do the laundry, and I served them leftovers and we stayed inside to play.  But I loved on them as best as I could with all that I had.

Tonight, I am weary and tired.  Exhausted from lack of sleep due to worry, anxiety and pain. And so over the pain.

Tonight, I am grateful that Jacob doesn't have any broken bones after a scary fall this weekend.  I am worn from worry over the what-if's and could-have-been's and finding it hard to calm after thinking about my little one hurting and injured.  I so badly wanted to hurt for him.  To take the X-rays for him.  To do it all for him.

Tonight, I am overwhelmed about big decisions in regards to my health.  About treatment for my Rheumatoid Arthritis and learning to trust my doctor's advice.  I feel both defeated and relieved.  And incredibly angry that I have this stupid thing.  That I don't have the power to make it go away by myself.

Tonight, I feel quiet.  Todd is working late and I feel alone and I am missing his presence.  Wanting more of the protective, understanding embraces of earlier today when we sat with the news of what we're dealing with in regards to my RA.  My husband - he loves me good.  So good.

Tonight, I am thinking about what it means to be brave and keep going.  About how the bravest thing we can do sometimes is to surrender and let go of what we were holding on to in the first place.
Tonight, I am wishing God wasn't so big. And while I need his bigness and greatness, these moments when my heart is full and heavy and aching, I'm wishing He was small enough to meet me in my living room.  To hold me tight and close.

April 23, 2015

Invitations

The thing about invitations is that they always give you a choice.

To attend or stay home?  To accept or decline?

And usually, they are easy choices to make.  Because, yes - I do want to go to that birthday party.  Or yes - I will be your 'friend' on Facebook.  Or yes - I accept that job offer.

But there are the more complex invitations too.  Sometimes we get invited to engage in an argument that will have no positive resolution.  Or we get invited to join someone in gossip or slander and a slew of other-centered contempt.  We can be invited to join family members in their familiar ways of relating which can feel like abuse or wounding all over again.  And often times, life can present us with difficult circumstances and disappointments and we can be invited to either wallow in it and let it take us down or struggle through it all well. 

And again, our response is always up to us.  Our choice.  We get to decide how to act, what to say, and how we will respond when these invitations present themselves. 

Recently, I received an actual for-real invitation.  It came with a fancy envelope and beautiful script writing on gold foil paper.  Just the sight of it promises to be a grand celebration.  I was immediately flooded with emotion and conflict and curiosity.  As I sit here and type this, it's staring at me begging me to RSVP as the event is only a month away.  And I wish it felt easy to accept, but it doesn't. 

It reminds me of hurts and pain from the past.  Places I felt betrayed, abandoned and forgotten by others I had given my heart to.  And for a long time now, I have let myself feel justified in my hurt and anger.  I've pouted and ignored several other invitations or opportunities as if I was trying to prove something or get back at them for how I felt.  I was hoping my absence and silence would make an impact.  And the last few years I've really only discovered that I've only felt more of the same feelings.  The not showing up and the staying quiet and being absent hasn't brought healing.  It has never made me feel better and I can't shake the memories of my hurts either.  I'm in the very same place with all of it, and I don't like how true that feels.

And all of this from a piece of fancy paper.

Tonight, I am trying to be curious about what reconciliation might look like.  About what showing up to the celebration might be like.  If I'm ready or if it would only invite more feelings of hurt.

Either way, it's up to me.  Because the thing about invitations is that they always, always give you a choice.

April 14, 2015

On my mind

Nourishment.
I've been learning how to feed my body well.  And I almost feel like I'm learning these things for the first time.  Most of what I remember about my body during childhood, was simply shaming me for what it looked like.  Or that whatever sickness ailed me, would get better on it's own and there was no need to see a doctor or receive treatment as my brother took up enough time with doctors and medicines and hospitals and various treatments.  The tools I was given for success were diet pills or bribes with money if I could lose weight or sack lunches full of carrot sticks that I would throw away at school every day.  But, I was never really shown or modeled healthy living - or even made to be excited about it.  Even the mere mention of healthy anything sounded like a complete drag and was never encouraged outside of needing to lose weight so I would "look better".  Now that I'm in this position where I absolutely have to change my diet in order to find some relief for my RA pain, I'm learning things about food and nourishment and how to take care of this body that has been so hurt and abused and mistreated over the years. 

Faith.
For months I've been beating myself up about my faith in God.  When December came, an unexpected bout of depression came with it and I found myself in these old and familiar places of accusing God.  I tore myself down for the struggles I was still struggling with and wondered how I could be in this wretched state-of-heart after such an epic year of following Jesus in all of these new places.  And what I've been learning is that faith is something I will always be battling for.  It's not a place of achievement, it's an ongoing process and I am constantly growing here.  Because I lost confidence in myself, I went very, very low.  I forgot that I only need to have confidence in Him.  And also - faith doesn't mean that God has to explain Himself or His ways and perhaps I should take a different stance rather than blaming and accusing Him of things all of the time.

Dreaming.
I want to do something different with my life.  I don't want to work as a bookkeeper forever.  I want more and I feel like I'm one of those people who was created for something more.  And maybe that sounds conceited or presumptuous or like I'm special or something.  But I'm craving something different.  Yet, I don't know what it is I'm supposed to do or meant to do.  Sometimes, it feels like it could be a hundred different things.  Writing.  Ministry.  Decorating.  Singing.  Event-planning.  Counseling. But I'm restless and feel lost.  Is there even a method to dream a dream?  Some of my high-schoolers are close to graduation and are looking at their forever futures and I can be excited with them at the plethora of possibilities that are ahead of them.  But I feel like my window of possibility gets smaller and smaller every day and I wonder if I've just missed the dream-boat all together.

Bravery.
So I've been doing things I've been avoiding.  Like admitting that my blood pressure is high and I need to be on medication for it.  And talking to doctors about my weight and finding a plan that will work for me.  And making decisions about heavy duty medications that could treat my Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I have needed a good amount of guts to admit things are wrong and that I need help and care for my physical self.  It's been brave to say yes to certain things and no to others.  And I believe that in this place specifically, God has been asking me for more of my heart.  And it's hard and brave to let Him have these pieces.  Because it's with these pieces, I've discovered, that I trust Him the least.

April 6, 2015

The Annual Easter Picture


This silly picture thing started a few years ago when Tommy was small.  And now it's something we purpose to do every year.  It's fun to see how traditions grow into your family around certain holidays.

Our annual family Easter picture.  You're welcome.
Some people opt for matching outfits in springy field of bluebonnets.  We roll post church style, youngest child in back-up outfit because he spilled a gallon of bubbles on himself, sitting on our friend's back deck with Easter eggs.  This is who we are.

I hope when the boys are grown, they have piles of these pictures in their own personal collections.  Remembering that this day in all of it's remembrance of Christ and His sacrifice and resurrection, came with celebration and fun as a family too.

March 27, 2015

In sickness and in health.....

My wedding day, though nearly nine years ago, is still a vivid memory in my mind.  Soft, yellow sunflowers, love song melodies, a reading from Ecclesiastes, my dad's shaky arms as he walked me down the aisle, my Grandfather's tears.  But what I remember most is the look on my husband's face when we spoke our vows that day.  Those old, well-worn words - I could tell he meant them.  He was serious about what he was promising me that day.

For better or for worse.
For richer or for poorer.
In sickness and in health.
Forsaking all others.
Til death do us part.

Those words are so romantic and so real.  We opted for traditional vows rather than writing our own because I felt like those are the biggest promises - to be there.  To stay in even when the going gets rough.  To keep choosing the other person even if life is trying to offer you different choices.  When money doesn't flow like it used to or things feel awful or just mundane and you find yourself asking questions like "Are we really going to last?"  Or when you get sick and your body is broken and you have to lean on the other for tangible, physical support - nothing takes sexy and flirty out of a marriage like sickness.

My RA pain has been awful.  The mornings are the worst and starting my day usually begins with many challenges because my hands don't work and my knees and ankles feel like someone glued them with cement overnight.  And I get emotional on top of my inability to move correctly.  I'm frustrated with not being able to get my body going the way I'm wanting it to.

Every morning, Todd helps me put on my bra as my fingers aren't nimble enough for the small clips.  (TMI, but this is my reality).  On the really bad days, he helps me with my pants or blouse or shoes.  And every time he does these things I cry, and he will just hold me and tell me he's sorry.  I read sorrow in his face, knowing he would carry my pain for me if it were possible.

My tears come from this place of deep emotion where I am angry that I cannot do these things for myself.  I'm angry at myself, at my story, at my past.  Physical pain has a way of bringing to surface things that have been safely stored in the heart.  But the tears are more than anger too.  I feel deeply loved by this man in all of my misery and neediness.  He helps me with such care and gentleness and when I call myself useless or good-for-nothing or that I'm nothing but a burden to him because I can't get on my knees and give our son a bath or because I've had to ask him to clean our shower - he reminds me that he is here for all of this.  This is what he vowed, what he promised, and he meant it.

The same face he looked at me with when we spoke our vows, is the same face he gives me when he reminds me of what is true.

It seems that marriage is always full of give and take.  There is this constant ebb and flow where one has more to offer when the other is down for the count.  And maybe that's how it is supposed to be.  Lifting the other up when they can't do it for themselves.  Right now, it's his turn to hold me for a little while.  And this man I love....he does a really, really good job at holding true to his promises.

Even with all the pain, I am one very blessed, very loved and very cared for bride.

March 19, 2015

"I'm eatin' a sandwich"

The highlight of every week for me has to be Wednesday nights.  I spend them at church with teenagers for youth group where we play games and hang out and talk and fellowship together.  There is something about being up close and personal with these young women especially that feels like a necessary part of ministry and living for me.  It both fills and empties me and every conversation or embrace or inside joke we share, (I'm eatin' a sandwich) is as if I'm going back in time and loving on my teenage self.  And she desperately needed loving on.


Much like my five year old, teenagers have many questions that I simply can't answer for them.  Because at this point, they are old enough and mature enough to ask the big questions that even I am still figuring out and struggling through.  Because our faith is always something to be worked out.  I pray regularly that God would speak through me and use His words.  Because I am human and I never say all the right things and I know the power and weight that words can have for a young woman.  I want my words to be His words.

Often times, I find myself in this sacred space where they have offered me their hearts and I land somewhere between friend, youth leader, mother and used-to-be-teenager in my responses.  It almost feels like holy ground to sit in these places, as while I am offering hope to someone else, there is a measure of healing occurring in my own heart.


Back in January, I got to spend an entire weekend with my precious teen girls on our annual youth winter retreat.  I love, love, love the retreats.  Probably because I get more than two hours with them and instead get this up close and personal time of connection for almost three whole days.  They see what I look like without makeup and encounter me before my morning coffee.  And if you are a female, we all know that there is something about the vulnerability of being in your pajamas with people you don't know well, that instantly bonds you together.

The retreats seem to be the place where I get invited in to know more of who they are, what they're dreaming and fearing and questioning. 

And we may or may not sneak out of the cabin after curfew and have a middle of the night adventure together.  Though if that were true, what kind of youth leader would I be if I encouraged rule-breaking? 

But whether we are in pajamas, or it's 3am, or quiet moments by the river or at a picnic table, relationships are built and solidified.  Where they can see that I'm not simply their youth leader, but their friend.  And I care truly, deeply and sincerely about what is going on in their lives and hearts.  

I would propose that every teenager needs a grown-up friend.  And every grown-up needs a teenager friend.  My life and my heart would be significantly less.

One of my girls asked me that weekend, "So, am I like a person to you yet?  Do you see me for me, or do you see me as the younger sister of who used to be in your group?"

And I hoped my words reached out and hugged her as she heard them.  I told her she was SO a person to me.  And that I so dearly enjoy her for her.  She's not just someone's sister, she's precious to me.

She smiled back at me when I said all of that.  And I think she believed that I meant every word.

March 12, 2015

The time I got rejected by Jen Hatmaker

I really have to blame my friend Ariana for all of this.  You see, I was only a semi-Jen Hatmaker fan until Ariana kept telling me all the funny things she would say and I was feeling left out of something because I never knew what she was talking about.  And before I knew it, I was following Jen on Instagram and Facebook and her blog and reading all her books.

Except for 7.  I won't read 7.  If you saw my closet you would understand.  I don't need that kind of conviction in my life.

But, I have read all the things.  And I watched all of her episodes on HGTV when they renovated their farmhouse in Buda.  Like three times.  I may or may not have attempted a drive-by of said house.  But, I mean probably not, because that would be totally stalkerish and come now, I'm a grown up.

But I'm a total Jen Hatmaker-ite.  Hatmaker-ian?  We need to call ourselves a thing, ya'll. 

One of the highlights of my 2014 was getting to hear Jen speak in real live person at Oakwood Baptist in New Braunfels.  At this conference, I laughed and I cried and I was terribly convicted about loving my neighbor and the whole thing was amazing.  And then I totally met her.  She signed by my book.  And we got a group picture and I accidentally touched her butt.  Ariana got to stand right next to her like they were BFF's and I was a little (meant to be read ALOT) jealous about that.  But I got a picture with just the two of us later and it kind of made my year.

 
So, naturally, when she announced that she was putting together a launch team for her new book For the Love, and then asked us to help her with it and endorse it and like put the word out, and even WRITE SOMETHING TO PUT INSIDE THE FOR-REAL BOOK, I was like, um, yes please!  Two of my friends immediately alerted me to this development (Ariana being one of them) and I totally pulled off to the side of the road to submit my application.  Ya'll, I didn't want to miss this small window of opportunity to be a part of the launch team.

And safety first too.
I could be a part of the launch team, and be the launchierest launcher that ever launched anything!

But my mind was spiraling out of control instantly because O-M-G, what if Jen Hatmaker found my blog? I was thinking I would either instantly have a book deal or want to hide under a rock for the rest of my life and never blog again because sometimes I can write like a 5th grader and I would be insanely embarrassed for her to read my life stuff here.  Either way, I was optimistic about being chosen as part of the team - because hello, have we met?

I am totally awesome and very funny and the life of the party type.  And also we share the same name even though I'm a two n-er as Jenn and she's a one n-er.  Also, I thought I would be chosen because I thought we were best friends (a detail I included on my application) but it seems to be that everyone who follows Jen thinks they're best friends with her too?  I don't understand how this can be, but whatevs.  I guess I can share my best friend.

Anyway, as I was thinking about my potential book deal and times that I would soon be spending with Jen over coffee at her digs, the email came.

The sad rejecty one.  There was weeping and gnashing of teeth, and I laid prostrate on my living room floor in despair.  Well, not really.  But ya'll, I was kinda sad.

But her little note was so kind and funny and heartfelt that it was hard to get to upset about it.  Plus, I got a little sneak peek at her new book so nanny-nanny-boo-boo to the rest of you.

I will probably throw a For the Love party when her books comes out and launch the heck out of it and show her what's up ayway because best friends just don't turn their backs on each other. As for Ariana, she owes me for putting me through all of this emotional torment to begin with.  (You know I love you!!)

Jen - I pulled off the side of the road for you.  I've touched your backside.  I sort of know where you live (though maybe I shouldn't include that detail).  We share the same affinity for huge earrings and laughing loudly.  Is this because I won't read 7?  I totally still love you though, and wish you and your book the very bestest.  

Best friends forevs!

Love,
Jenn