Fear and Safety

I’m over at We Pray Today, talking about how safety is one of my idols. Come join the conversation!

Can I make a confession?

There are a lot of things I am afraid of. The girl in gym class who cowers and covers her face when the volleyball comes flying toward her? Yeah, that girl was me.

And yes, I pretty much never got picked first in dodge ball.

I haven’t stepped foot into a movie theater since the Colorado shooting happened back in 2012…read more…

 

 

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Identity

There I was, minding my own business, going about my day when I got some really awful horrible no good very bad news.

Brace yourselves.

My friend {now enemy} Shaunna sent me a message that South Park magazine (who is writing a little story about Nourish) wanted to do a PHOTO SHOOT for their magazine. A photo shoot which would include…photos. Of us. In a magazine.

So I did what any woman and hopeful co-founder of a new but growing little organization does in such a situation.

I cried.

And not the happy kind of tears.

The ‘ohmygosh I am 7 weeks post partum and now I have to have my picture taken for a magazine’ kind of tears.

I’m not a Kardashian, ok? I don’t have a team of stylists, personal cooks and trainers waiting in the wings to whip me back into my pre-pregnancy state.

And this pregnancy was hard on me emotionally. Most of you know what’s taken place in my life this past year, and the best way I can describe it is that it was survival.

I survived this year, and I survived this pregnancy. I was mentally, physically and emotionally overwhelmed and distraught. I went from dropping 20 lbs in a month from anxiety and sadness to gaining 65 pounds in a pregnancy where my exhaustion prompted very regular visits to the Chick Fil A drive thru.

I’m not proud of this. In fact, I’m kind of ashamed. After all, I was also receiving my health coaching certification at the beginning of this pregnancy. I KNOW better.

But life got to be too much and I just couldn’t rally to cook meals. Like, basically ever. So I didn’t.

And it catches up to you. Ok, not to all of you. You who are blessed with amazing metabolisms, and know nothing of which I speak. Ah, I wish.

But I’m seven weeks post partum and working hard at losing the rest of my baby weight. We aren’t talking ten pounds, more like thirty. Ok thirty five. And thirty five extra pounds on my 5 foot 5 inch frame shows. My closet mocks me from the corner of my room, full of clothing I can’t even begin to entertain wearing.

And if there is one part of my life that whispers lies straight from Satan into my ear, it’s my appearance and my weight. Telling me I’m ugly, worthless, gross, less than…

So there I was, feeling sorry for myself in my kitchen. Feeling sorry for myself because I need to have my picture taken and I feel hideous. And then I started thinking about all the other things that have happened to me this year, and I started feeling even sorrier still. It sort of became this all consuming thing for a few moments and I found myself falling into that dark hole of ‘why has all this terrible, awful, hard stuff happened to me?’

And I hear Satan whisper again: Worthless. Ugly. Fat. Less Than.

Who cares what’s happened to you this past year. Who cares that you were struggling to get out of bed most days. Who cares that you just had a baby. Who cares that you moved to a new town where you know basically no one. Who cares that your children have been sick for 2 straight weeks. Why haven’t you lost your baby weight yet? Scratch that, why did you let yourself gain so much to begin with? If only you had maintained better control. If only you hadn’t eaten your feelings with peach milkshakes and waffle fries. 

It’s a dangerous hole to fall into, and it can be really hard to climb out of.

So I thought about saying no to Shaunna. To the magazine. Truthfully, I kind of did say no at first. And Shaunna said, ‘it’s ok. Whatever you’re comfortable with. I’ll make it work if you can’t make it”

So there it was, my out. I’m 2 hours away now and I have a 7 week old who, incidentally, HATES the car. I have some good excuses. But I knew that if I were at my pre pregnancy weight, I’d be trucking up to Charlotte for the photo shoot and to see my friends and to let them meet my precious baby girl. I’d be all over that so fast it would make your head spin.

I knew that what was REALLY holding me back was that 30 (ahem 35) extra pounds I haven’t lost yet. And those lies that were running through my head about my value.

I’m caught in this dilemma you see, because I helped to build a community of women who feel just as passionately as I do about offering a judgment free zone. We wanted Nourish to be a place where women of all shapes, sizes, and colors would feel welcome. Our Nourish tables are a place where a mom with a new baby could come to dinner in her yoga pants, stained shirt, ratty hair and 35 extra pounds and feel loved and welcomed. But I am having a hard time extending that grace to myself.

I’d rather hide away for the next 5 months or however long it takes me before I find my normal self again.

But I don’t want to be that person.

I don’t have it all together. I’m 35 lbs more than I’d like to be. I don’t fit into many of the clothes in my closet right now. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed as I learn to juggle 4 children. These things feel more intense because I’m struggling in my attempts to mend a truly broken marriage but you know what?

I’m trying.

I’m trying to eat well and exercise when I can as I juggle these 4 awesome children. (I’m losing this weight, it’s just so darn slow!) I’m trying to do my best to mend a truly broken marriage and some days are good, but some are really really hard. I have a lot on my plate and most days, I’m pretty sure it shows.

Here is what I’m learning through it all though. My identity is not found in the size of my jeans or a number on the scale. It’s not found in a closet full of clothes that fit. It’s not found in my children or even in my marriage.

If I let myself focus on Him, on the God who calls me beloved – if my face is turned towards Him and Him alone – I would not worry about my weight or what my picture will look like in a magazine. I will not worry about my life or my marriage. My hope is not found in a great pair of well fitting and small jeans. It’s not found in my children or my home or my husband. Those things do not – and CANNOT – define me.

I am defined by Him. I am defined by the One who found me valuable enough to lay down his life and hang on a cross for me. He did that for ME. And for you. And our hope has to be in that and in Him. I am worthy. I am valuable. I am a daughter of the King.

So I am going to do my very best to make it to Charlotte next week so I can hug my friends who I haven’t seen since August. So they can meet my beautiful daughter who is more than worth the extra weight I’m carrying around. And so I can sit at a table with my amazing, thoughtful, hard working and treasured friend Shaunna as a photographer takes our picture for a magazine who wants to tell Charlotte all about what Nourish is doing in the community.

God uses all things for good. I can’t wait to see how He continues to use Nourish, even if I have to show my chubby face for Him to do it.

I’ll make sure to take that up with Him someday…

😉

Life is a Dance

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt up to blogging.

One thing I have learned about life over the past several years is that it is a clumsy, complicated and ungraceful dance. A constant struggle between good and bad both fighting to take the lead. Sometimes the good is able to lead and other times it’s the bad that gains control. 

At times the dance with life just clicks and glides along smoothly and you both move in sync with the music. Other times you’re tripping on your feet and being dragged along, doing your absolute best to keep up and not fall. And let’s be honest, lots of times you do fall. Hard.


I don’t know much about God, but I do know that the more I try to put Him in a box, the less He fits there and the more confused I get. I know He is good. I know He is sovereign. I know He is intimately aware of my heart and loves me with a love I will never be able to comprehend. And there are things that happen that I just don’t understand. At this point in my life, I’m able to say with confidence that I’m ok not understanding.

Throughout the last couple of months as I’ve prayed for God’s guidance, I can only say that He’s given me simply my immediate next step. There is no closure at this point, there is no ending, there is no explanation that will heal my heart. But I am so grateful for His gentle whispers and reassurances that the immediate next step is in His sovereign control. And as hard as it is not to have a long term plan in front of me, I am reassured in knowing that He cares enough about me and my life to be there in every small and sometimes insignificant ways and decisions.

There are big changes in our household. Hard ones. Sad ones. Difficult ones. 

And in the midst of all of that, there is one little ray of sunshine that cuts through the clouds.

This is a hard announcement for me to make, as it’s one I’ve hoped to make my whole life. I certainly never imagined making it at a time like this. But nonetheless it is a beautiful little ray of sunshine that is shining brightly and offers warmth and hope.

In September of 2015, our family will welcome another sweet little one to our brood. And they tell me it’s a precious, healthy baby girl.

Of course I’m not sure I will believe she’s a she until I hold her in my arms! I had some intensive chromosomal testing done via blood work that ensures a 99+% accuracy rate and it does indeed appear that she is healthy and female. 

But with Lilia’s loss weighing on my heart, I am struggling to put fear behind me and embrace the joy and knowledge of what it feels like to carry a daughter. I am focusing hard on enjoying her for whatever length of time I get to have her. I hope and pray she does join my crazy boys in September. 

For now, your prayers are coveted and so appreciated. For peace in my heart and…for superhuman strength! And of course, that Declan would sleep. And sleep. And sleep!




For Such a Time

Last night was the season premiere of two of my favorite shows: Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. I put the kids down and settled into my couch. A trailer for the 11 o’clock news was playing: “70 year old man beaten to death with a brick…A shooting in a school parking lot…Charlotte Hornets player arrested in domestic assault”

With each story headline presented, I felt myself shutting down. I have such a hard time processing how human beings can cause severe physical harm to other human beings. I can’t wrap my mind around it, and I tend to shut down. Turn it off. Turn away. Ignore.

Opening the floodgate to stories like that hurt my heart. They make me weep with fear for my children. They make me want to sit on my couch wrapped in a blanket and never leave the house. They make me fearful to send my children out alone. Fearful to trust anyone.

I know that the news tends to focus on the negative, and I’m well aware that beauty exists and that good people are out there doing good things. Doing GREAT things. And I know that we are commanded not to be afraid. I know the enemy is counting on us to be fearful, to lower our gaze and divert our eyes.

I told you all awhile back that I felt God wiggling His way into my already crowded and over-stressed existence. I told you that even though I feel overwhelmed at times, God is nudging me, quietly whispering that He has plans for me above and beyond those things. I have been praying for several months now, quietly communing with Him, asking Him over and over to show me what He has in store for me. I have been asking Him to break my heart for what breaks His.

And He is showing up. He is revealing a purpose for me. A cause for me to dive into. A cause that I know breaks His heart. A cause that I know will rip my heart open and leave it shattered on the floor. A cause that will leave me tempted to shut down, lower my gaze and weep. I am scared, I am full of passion, I am excited and nervous. I cannot wait to get going, but at the same time I know it is going to rip me apart and leave me exposed and vulnerable and needing God more than ever before.

I have a habit of shutting down. God is telling me to open up. He is telling me that if I declare myself a follower of Christ, I need to show it in my actions. I need to face the ugly, to side with those who are poor and vulnerable and broken in spirit. To step outside of my comfortable Christianity – my community of middle class believers who are just like me.

I can’t wait to share more of my journey with you. The pieces are falling into place now, and when the time is right, I will share more.

And I’m asking you to pray for me. That God would continue to reveal Himself and His purpose for me and that I would always be in a place to receive it. That when the enemy fights back, and I know he will, that I would be in a place to withstand it. And when you’re ready, I encourage you to pray the same prayer I have – for God to break your heart for what breaks His.

We can all find encouragement in Mordecai’s message to Esther, found in Esther 4:14:

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” 


Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this.

xoxo

restless

I have a blissful hour to myself today – it’s a rare, rare thing these days. As a mother to a homeschooled teen, a threenager and a high needs babe, I am with someone almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

But in the last few weeks, God is stirring something inside of me. I don’t know all the ins, outs, ups, downs, wheres and hows right now – but what I do know is I’m ready.

I’m excited to see where God leads me in all of this.

A bunch of years ago I had the word Hosanna in Hebrew tattooed on my back. I wanted it to serve as a reminder of this line in the song Hosanna by Hillsong: “Break my heart for what breaks yours”

Over the past few years, I have let that passion slip to the wayside. I have let myself become burdened by family stress, by motherhood, by change, by finances, by sleeplessness, by ministry. I told myself that the best I could do was to donate money to causes I felt passionate about. I felt fortunate that we were able to do this. Sponsoring a couple of kids in Peru? Check. Volunteering at my church? Check. Tithe? Check. A husband in ministry? Check. Isn’t that enough? And in truth, at times – it was as much as I could handle.

But it’s been way too easy to get wrapped up in my new normal – a normal which leaks stress and tension into every area of my life. A normal which has spanned over the last year and included some of the most difficult, dark, lonely, and angst filled moments I’ve ever experienced. I have been sleep deprived to the point of insanity (at least it feels like it!) My doctor told me I was in adrenal fatigue. My counselor told me I was heading towards a breakdown.

And even though what we have experienced with Declan and other things going on in our life is real and valid, I have felt the not so gentle tug to stop focusing inward. To stop letting myself be weighed down with what is going on within my four walls. I’ve felt a nudge from God that says I can carry more burden.

Say what?

Isn’t this the problem when you ask God to work in your life? He’s going to answer you, and the answer probably isn’t what you want to hear. What I wanted to hear was that God was going to remove the problems and the stress. That He was going to bless my baby and make him start sleeping through the night. And while we are seeing some progress with Declan, it’s been slow and I have been chanting to myself “The days are long but the years are short.”

And in the midst of that, God told me that I can open my heart to the burdens of others around me. After all, isn’t He the one that takes our burdens from us? Isn’t He the one who asks us to cast our worries on Him?

A few weeks ago, I had a friend ask me why I was ‘white knuckling it’.  I had to really take a good, long look at myself and my life and come to terms with the fact that I was trying too hard to control things I have very little control over.

He is whispering at me to look at things from a global and eternal perspective, and to hold my hands open in worship of Him, to beg Him to break my heart for what breaks His. I am ready to accept His call. I don’t know what it will look like yet. I am at the very beginning stages of finding out how God wants to use me. It might be small, it might be big. It might here in my home, in my family or it might be elsewhere. I’m ready, and waiting.

I have been sitting pretty in my “comfortable Christianity” for too long. I am ready for my world to get rocked.

Who’s with me?

xoxo

Parenthood is a Battle

Friends.

I’m not one to ask for much, usually. I’m not one to do a whole lot of complaining publicly. I try to put on a happy, smiling, brave face even when my real life face is stressed or sad or bawling. I joke or keep things light on Facebook and post happy pictures, even when things are really, really hard.

I sat down here to try to put into words what the last 9 months of life have been like. What life after Declan’s birth have been like. But nothing is coming out right. Nothing could have prepared me for how difficult this has been, how helpless I have felt.

I’m here to humbly ask for your prayers. Prayers for this exhausted mama and her exhausted baby.

Pregnancy insomnia kicks in pretty darn early for me, and it was no different with Declan’s pregnancy.

And then he was born – and he sleeps in 30-45 minute increments. I’ve been fortunate (?) enough that there have been several odd nights in 9 months that he’s slept 5-7 hour stretches, but in the last 18 months I don’t believe I’ve had much more than half a dozen nights of a full night’s sleep. And when he’s not cat napping, he’s doing a lot of crying. And wanting to be held. But then he squirms to be put down. And then he cries to be picked up. And then squirms to be put down. Then fusses some more.

I’m tired, friends. Tired right to the core of my bones. And I’m stressed like I never understood stress. And I’m sad. Sad for my baby, who has had one battle after another since he was born and sad for myself who is exhausted but honestly? Mostly sad for my family who is also suffering right along with me. Sad for a husband who already battles stress and sleep issues and still has to get up and go to work to support our family. Sad for a son who spends his summers away from me and couldn’t get any one on one time with me before he left because his little brother cried all night. Sad for a toddler who has adjusted to life so well and so easily and been the best big brother I could have asked for but who seems to be finally hitting his little 3 year old limit.

I’m sad for my eyebrows which really need their own zip code these days, and for my hair which is down to my waist for no other reason than I can’t actually be alone long enough to get it cut!

I’m sad for friends I’ve lost over the past 9 months because I just don’t have time for friendships much anymore. And if I find the time, I barely have the energy. I’m sad for myself because I’ll always have this ache in my heart for a baby girl, but can’t imagine ever going through this again. I’m sad for the people, the events, the things I’ve blown off because I can’t muster motivation to do anything but sit at home and hold my children and cry some days.

This is hard y’all. Really, really hard. And one thing I’ve learned in my years of blogging is that if I’m going through some crap…there is someone else out there who is going through something similar. I try to share of myself so that maybe one other person out there feels a little less alone.

There is (I hope) a small glimmering light at the end of this really dark tunnel.

In the midst of an ongoing internal battle of wanting to accept that Declan was just a highly difficult child and my instinct that something was wrong – Declan was finally (FINALLY) diagnosed with an upper lip tie and posterior tongue tie which has been causing him a lot of difficulty with nursing and with solids. We had those revised last week, and there has been much improvement with his food intake. I am hanging in there, hoping this inevitably brings a happier – and sleepier – and fatter – child. These sleepless days that turn into sleepless nights are hard on everyone, and probably hardest on a growing baby who isn’t ever feeling quite right.

So if you think of it, please pray for this tired mama. And for all the other tired mamas out there who are doing their best to survive the day. Parenthood is a battle, on even the best of days.

xoxo

lifeline

This morning, I pulled into our church parking lot about 1 minute before the service was to start. Couldn’t find a place to park, Declan was screaming his head off, and I was flustered. All I could think about was getting my kids dropped off in the nursery before my favorite part of church (music, duh) started.  I was scattered and it was windy and COLD and as we made our way into the building, I realized I couldn’t find my phone.

I half paid attention as we got the kids signed in and dropped off in their respective classes. I was mentally retracing my steps to figure out where I might have left the phone. I knew I’d had it minutes before pulling into the parking lot because I’d texted my husband (at a stoplight!) that I was almost there.

We made it into the service about 2 minutes late, couldn’t find anywhere to sit, still mentally retracing all of my steps as the ushers got out extra chairs for us.

During worship, I sent my 13 year old back out to the parking lot to look for the phone. I figured it must have fallen out of the car when I was in such a rush and was sure to be lying, smashed in a million pieces, on the pavement. He came back a little bit later with no phone.

The phone wasn’t in my purse, and it wasn’t in the diaper bag. It wasn’t in any of my pockets. It wasn’t lying smashed in a million pieces on the parking lot. It wasn’t in the car, under a seat, behind a toy or in a cupholder.  The phone had somehow managed to disappear in the 5 minute timespan from texting my husband to getting out of my car.

Todd is out of town from Monday to Friday this week and I was – truly – panicked at the idea of having no phone while he was traveling and away. But, after thoroughly searching everywhere it could be after church let out, I resigned myself to no phone. Almost in tears at what I’d lost from a financial standpoint – and let’s face it, I feel like my whole life is on my phone these days – I pulled out of the church parking lot.

A few miles down the road I heard an odd little thump coming from what sounded like the roof of my car. Logan and I looked at each other and as I was saying aloud, “what in the world was that?” I suddenly had a flashback of jumping out of my car and setting my travel mug and phone on the roof of the car while I pulled Declan screaming from his carseat.

Realizing that the thumping sound was very likely the sound of my precious and expensive phone careening off the roof of my car and shattering onto the road behind me, I turned around as quickly as possible and retraced our steps (er, drive). I even turned on my hazards and got out of the car to search the road and the grass for the phone.

As I was about to give up and get back in the car, I glanced at the roof in a last ditch attempt to see if perhaps the phone hadn’t actually fallen off and was still somehow on top of the car.

And do you know what?

It was. That stupid iPhone was {somewhat} safely nestled between two of the racks on top of my car. Relief flooded over me as I saw the phone was no worse for the wear. My lifeline was back!

Warning – cheesy analogy ahead.

I wish I could say that whenever I realize I’ve set God aside in the chaos of life that I was that frantic to find Him again. I wish I could tell you that I spend that much energy and emotion tracking Him down when I remember it’s been awhile since I’ve last touched base.

This isn’t a ‘your iPhone is of the devil’ kind of blog post. Really, I do love my phone.

But it is a simple reminder not to trade God’s miracle for the world’s magical. (Thank you, Pastor Rusty!)
  A reminder that when you wonder where He’s gone since you last touched base, He’s not that far at all.

I am, perhaps, slightly embarrassed at how distraught I got over a missing iPhone, especially when I discovered it on the roof of my car. But today it reminded me that God is not far from me, ever, and for that I am grateful.