Bound

As I was speaking with a friend of mine recently, I saw her son’s heart in chains.

His heart is choking.

Unknowingly, he is choosing each link on the chain. He’s choosing to be bound.

The chains that are wrapped around his heart have blinded him from who he was created to be.

One link became two. Two links multiplied. Each link gained strength from their connection.

Everyone who knows him sees the chains.

He refuses to stop. They’ve become his comfort.

He lashes out. He says hateful things. He has hurt his family.

His heart is choking.

Yet, there IS hope.

There is One who can gently, carefully, lovingly cut each link.

There is One who is stronger than the thickest chain.

The same One who gives this mom the love that her son needs even when he’s blind.

She will love him no matter what he does or says to her. Because he’s her son. A mother’s love is capable of loving past the hurt.

There IS hope.

Gently

Carefully

Lovingly

He is setting this son free.

Capturing a MOMENT

Their dad was making a stand today, one that could change their lives forever.

He promised to trust God with his life, to be a good role model to his two children, and to lead his family.  He promised to be faithful.

As he walked back to his seat I watched his children, arms out, eagerly and impatiently waiting to hug their dad.

It was one of those moments I will never forget.

They were so proud of their dad standing up there, all choked up, telling everyone that God is number one in his life.

As soon as he sat down between them, they wrapped their little arms around him in one of the sweetest sandwich hugs I’ve ever been honored to watch.  They held on and then they buried their heads into each of his shoulders.

His children are young, but their actions are proof that knew what their dad was promising.  I know that they have seen him live it out daily.  Not perfectly, since none of us can, but with focus, and re-focus after each failed attempt.

I don’t know if they could see God helping their dad back up each time, but in that MOMENT, I could.

As bold as it is to say, I think God eagerly and patiently waits for all of us to return so He can hug us the same way.

The stand that this dad made today, to God, his wife, his children, and his family was loud.

It took courage.

It was beautiful.

It was a MOMENT I will never forget.

 

A Centennial Farm

I visited an old friend today, on his family farm that was built in 1908.

When I stepped into the barn I felt like I stepped back in time. I could see the horses chewing on the wood in their stalls, and the dairy cows being milked.

My friend told me the cow milking stool that was hanging on the barn wall was frozen in time, and left there untouched since his grandfather hung it up the last time he milked the last dairy cow.

My friend showed me where his grandfather placed his handmade corn cob pipe on the concrete windowsill in the barn. One last time.

I didn’t have to try very hard to see it all there. He described it so well. The stories, the lives, the farm, they were all passed down to him. He was so proud to receive the legacy.

My friend inherited the farm when his father passed away a few years ago. He said something to me that I’ll never forget…

“I don’t ever want to call this farm mine, because it’s not mine. If it were mine, and I made it my own, it would lose all of what made it. It’s part of me, and it’s part of my dad, and part of my grand-father, and part of his dad. It’s made up of, and still belongs to, all of us.”

The horses and the cows are gone, but there are chickens, and goats, and a dog named Gus. Gus and I shared a locked eye moment that felt like all the stories of the farm were held in his soul. Gus loves the farm so much it seems like he was created to be there, to carry the stories on his back as he races around smiling at everyone who stops by.

The barn wasn’t the only place that took me back in time. The people, all six who just stopped by to say hello, to reminisce, to share the best moments of their past that happened over the years that they’ve all been “family.”

I’ve felt like an old soul before, but not like this. It was an honor to be invited in to a place like this. Where the stories, and the people, become more alive just because they’ve been there.

A father

There is a man in my life that I have known since I was 14 years old.  I did not like him when I first met him because he stole my mom from me.

But then… I kept catching him loving my mom in ways that I never saw a man love her before.

And then… I watched him love my little sister in a way that I never knew a dad could love a daughter.

Years went by, and my dislike of this man did not allow me to let him into my heart.  He spent endless hours with me, pouring over my dreaded math homework.  He didn’t give up until I understood it.

I still wouldn’t allow myself to love him.

Until… I had children of my own.

I could not help seeing, and even feeling, the love he showed my children.

Over the past thirty years, this man has had a strong, positive influence on me and my children.  He taught us how to see things from a different perspective.  He taught us to value ourselves, our gifts, our passions, and our family.

My oldest son told me that the way Grandpa loves Grandma is the image of true love.  My son said he hopes he can live that love out the same way when he meets his future wife.

We, this man and I, have become a father and a daughter.

He has loved me more than I ever knew a man could love a daughter.

This man did not steal my mom from me.  He was just loving her in a way that I could not comprehend because I never saw a man love her that way.

Unconditionally.

This man has added value to my mom, to me, and to my children.

This man is my father.  I chose him, and allowed him to love me as his daughter.

Finally.

 

 

 

 

The Un-fairy Tale

Sometimes we want something so bad, we look past the parts that don’t look like the fairy tale we created in our minds when we were young.

“We” are all of the young girls who imagined our Prince Charmings galloping in on great horses,  kissing us with true love’s kiss.

We wake up to that kiss and everything just falls into place.  Happiness trails behind us wherever we go, skipping hand in hand, smiling at each other.

And then… everything changes.  He becomes the parts we looked past at first.  The un-fairy tale unfolds.

We struggle to make things work because we believe in happy endings.  We hate failure.  We don’t want people to think we are not the princesses we longed to be.

We cry to our dearest friends, and they cry back.  They give us the courage we need to let the un-fairy tale go.

One day, we allow feelings of regret to seep in, and we think we lost all that time that was spent trying to make the fairy tale work.  But then, we realize how much we learned about ourselves from the struggle.

We admit our flaws, we draw strength from the mistakes, and we see the world more clearly.  We vow to our dearest friends to never look past the parts that don’t look like the fairy tale we created in our minds when we were young.

We realize that it might not be the happily ever after we dreamed up, but it became the un-fairy tale that simply ends as..

She lived.

Went for a drive today

I had time to kill today, so I went for a drive.  I drove out to the world I once knew just to see if it remained the same.  I wasn’t longing to be a part of it, I know it wasn’t meant to be, I just wanted to see it. I wanted to make sure it was still there.

I took it all in, reflected on it, and kept driving. It was so good for me to relive a few precious moments and filter out the not so great moments.  I felt alive while I drove, window down to feel the crisp breeze, music up.  I found a new happy place, driving in my Jeep, reliving happy memories.

I wish I had cherished the precious times a little more. Bottled them up.  Froze them.

On my way back I reflected on life.  Where I am right now, what I have going on… I just needed a moment to get away and think about it all.

Some things have happened recently that made me look in the mirror and examine myself.

My Mom and I talked on the phone today, right before my drive.  I mentioned to her that I find myself getting overwhelmed and fighting the “survival mode” that I lived in for so long.  I have finally moved beyond that mode, and I don’t want to go back.

My little sister said something to me this week that made a lot of sense… she said “we weren’t designed to be live in quarantine.”

I think the survival mode that I have been fighting is a different kind, and I should just let it sneak back in.  I keep expecting myself to float above it, but this life we are in is unlike anything we have ever experienced.

My drive today allowed me to just think.  To remember. To relive the memories that were frozen. To let them go until the next time I wanted to allow myself to feel them again.

 

 

Extra time on your hands?

There is something on my heart that I want to share with all of you in the midst of the crisis we are facing.  It is not political, and it does not include any statistics.

It is about you.

I created this blog, this place to write, this place to share my heart, my story, my healing journey, about two years ago.  The journey began from the pit, my unhappy self at the bottom, waiting to be pulled out.  I was waiting for something to happen, and I wanted to be rescued.

I looked up, cried out, and then waited.  I had extra time on my hands, waiting, so I decided to start unpacking the imaginary bags that were with me in that pit.

If you have read my posts for the past two years, you know that many of the bags held people.  People I had to recognize, forgive, sometimes let go of, and always love.

I found myself struggling with all of it.  I experienced many setbacks.  I felt like I was standing at a wall, bags unpacked and strewn all around me.  I found myself trying to escape.  I was so ready to move on and put it all behind me.  Something was hindering my escape over the wall.

I sat back down and examined the steps I took, and I determined that I needed help.  I realized that this is not something that could be accomplished on my own.  I started reading “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality,” by Peter Scazzero.

I learned that I was living in the 10% of myself that was above the surface.  The idea is that most people bury themselves, the tough parts, and choose to live above them.  It is easier to forget the hard parts, and just move past them.  Eventually, the hard memories  rise up, no matter how hard we try to keep them below the surface.  They can strangle us if we don’t take the time to work through them.

So, there I was, at that wall, ready to overcome whatever I needed to overcome.  The book I was reading mentioned the wall as “a number of events piling up one after the other.”  I started to see writing on the bricks of my wall.  There were names of people, there were bad experiences, haunting memories, and sadness.  The author states that he tried to go around, jump over, and dig a hole under his wall.  He finally went through it because the “pain of staying felt unbearable.”

His words hit home.  I wanted to go through my wall too.  How???

I continued reading, and then I felt like I was led to two more resources that were necessary to find the answer to that question (how?).

The first one was called “Healing Prayer,” from Donna Winship.  I sat in a room with several other women, eyes closed, and imagined myself back in the first hard place that came to mind… rocking a baby to sleep.  The baby was not mine.  Confusion, anger, feelings of unimportance, and feelings of being replaced welled up inside of me.  The feelings were wrapping themselves around me, like deep waters I could no longer tread.  Just as I was going under, the woman who was leading the meeting said, “now picture Jesus there with you, in that moment.”  As tears fell, I pictured Him there, next to me, next to the rocking chair, smiling, hugging me.  Through prayer, I released it all. I released the feelings, the lies I told myself about myself, and I released others in forgiveness.  The woman leading the meeting told me to receive the truth, and walk in that truth.

That experience was life changing.  It was the answer to “how do I go through that wall?”

I continued, on my own, throughout the next year, bringing tough memories back to my mind.  Picturing Jesus there in those moments, feeling His loving arms wrapped around me, and releasing it all to Him.

Each memory that built that wall, as I released it, faded.  Eventually, it was gone completely.

The only thing left was love.

The second resource I stumbled upon was Donna Winship’s husband Jamie Winship on YouTube.  He spoke about knowing our true identity.  I was intrigued because I had no clue what that meant.

Identity.

Jamie informed me that I am unique, and that I was called to do something that no one else was called to do.  He informed me that my purpose is unique.  No one else can, or was called to, do the things that I was placed here (at this very moment, in this house, neighborhood, workplace, mission field) to do.  As I listened to these words, I felt my heart grow.  I was excited to jump in and do whatever it was that I was supposed to do.

I closed my eyes, as directed, and asked God to show me the identity that he gave me.  I wanted to know my unique purpose.

It did not happen instantly.  I read more, listened more, and sought it as often as I could.

I had to realize who I was not in order to see who I was supposed to be.

I no longer wanted to be an angry, insecure, unworthy, unimportant, struggling, and ill-equipped person. Once these false identities were acknowledged, and swept out of my mind, I was able to see what remained.  My mind was filled with truth, and my identity became daughter, leader, healer, conquerer.

Some days I live in my true identity.  Some days I fall back into my false identity.

The secret lies in knowing that my false identities can creep back in, but also knowing that I hold the broom.  I just have to sweep them back out and exchange them again.  Seems so simple, yet it took a long time to figure it all out.

I created this blog to share my journey with others who want to experience the same healing and freedom.  I hope that these words that I felt nudged to write today, in the midst of this crisis, bring hope and healing to you.

In these moments when our world seems to be falling apart, we can rise up and live out our unique purpose.

 

The sinkhole

The past four months have been a blur.  Some days flew by me at a pace I could not keep up with, and some days I was sinking slowly into sadness.

My peace was gone.

The sadness felt like a sinkhole.

I was covered in guilt and shame.  It blinded me.

Daily, on my own, I fought to keep my head from giving up and joining the sadness in the sinkhole.

Until… TODAY.

Today, I realized that it is impossible to fight this alone.

Right now, TODAY, I am reaching out.

As soon as I ask, I see this loving hand reaching down.  It reminds me of the day I fell in the lake on my 5th birthday and I saw my grandpa’s hand reaching down, miraculously, gently, and lovingly lifting me out of the water.

As my body emerges from the sinkhole, I am surrounded by love.

The sand disintegrates, and every grain is replaced by love.

His love was waiting for me.

I realized, today, that His love will never leave that place of waiting.

He will meet me there. Every time.

The sinkhole disappeared as I walked away from it.

Stronger.

And healed (again).

I am ready to place my feet on the new path.

Hoping to stay on the right one.

 

 

 

Coffee Talk

We met every Wednesday morning for about eight years. We, about 8-10 women, brought our kids to play together while we talked, ate delicious food, and drank endless amounts of coffee.

I don’t think we realized how crucial those Wednesdays were at the time.

I needed these women.

To breathe for me.

Some days.

My oldest child was two when we met. My second child was about six months old. I was pregnant with my third child, and two years later, I had my fourth.

I drove over there five days after my fourth child was born, because their love was more important to me than the risk I took driving. That was the moment I realized how much coffee talk meant to me.

Our kids loved it too. They begged to have play dates every day in between. They became superheroes fighting for the world, costumes and all. They learned about friendship, playing in the mud, being kind sometimes, and what it feels like to have lots of mommies who love you.

We named ourselves, the women who loved each other’s children as if they were her own, and our meetings “coffee talk.” It was such a simple title, yet, the love that poured in on those days could be felt for almost the whole week!

For me, it was about survival. Raising children, and trying to stay married.

Our weekly talks gave me the fuel I needed to get through the toughest moments of my life.

We prayed for each other too, as big giant tears fell down our cheeks.

We were all struggling with something. We brought it in with us, talked about it, received advice, and always left feeling ready to conquer it. The transformation was truly amazing.

As I reminisce, I miss those days. I’m thankful for the moments, but more than that, I realize how important it was for us to be together.

I wish I could publicly call out each one of the women at coffee talk who kept me alive back then. I’d hand them a ribbon, or a trophy. Or, maybe just clink my coffee cup against theirs and say THANK YOU.

How have I raised 2 adults???

Most days I feel like I am flying through life holding onto an imaginary rope that is pulling me.  I have to hold on tight, since it is the rope that is allowing me to be a part of life.  Most days I feel like I am just holding on.

Life is just going by so fast!

July 20, 2000, I became a mom.  I’ll never forget the moment I looked at the little human that came out of my belly.  He looked up at me like he knew me.  His cries immediately ceased when his skin touched mine.  We were connected in the most amazing way.

I couldn’t believe that God would choose ME to be his mom. I felt so inadequate and so thankful at the same time.

January 25, 2002, it happened again.  That connection.  The pain that I went through for hours prior to that moment instantly faded. Our eyes met, our skin touched, and I changed again.

December 3, 2003, and February 28, 2006.  3rd and 4th experiences of becoming a mom again. Each time was unique, each connection just as powerful and amazing.

The four days that I became a mom will always be the BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE.

Two of my four children are now adults.

I thought maybe if I typed those words they might seem more true, more real to me…

Nope.

Somehow, the magical age of 18 does not make them adults in my mind.  They will always be my babies.  I will always see them the way we saw each other that first day.

I will never let go of them.

Yet, I have to.

I have to trust that everything I have done so far, and everything that everyone who has influenced them so far, will be enough.  I have to believe that they are capable of being adults.

Yesterday, my most recent adult drove us to Ann Arbor (over an hour away).  As I sat in the passenger seat, silently trusting her every maneuver, I realized that this is what I must continue to do…  Let her “drive.”

She did great, and I was impressed.  I looked over a few times, at how comfortable she was behind the wheel, and how much she no longer needed me to help her navigate.  I realized in that moment, that she has the “wheel.”

She has control.

She will be okay.

Letting go must be a process.  I am only beginning to understand how it all works. Maybe that imaginary rope that I am holding on to most days, is now theirs.

I hope that these adults I have raised will do more than just hold on.  I hope they can let go sometimes, without the fears I had, and just live.  I hope the world doesn’t pass them by the way it sometimes has for me.

I hope they will always know how much I love them.

I hope they never forget our connection.