I want to remember these days. In our cozy nook on a seemingly quiet street. It’s not always so quiet. When I found you existed in our small bathroom and I immediately thanked Jesus a thousand times. The way a bad day is still beautiful because you give me hope. The hot summer days we took our dogs for a walk, then sat in the backyard, my belly bare and daddy in his boxers, hose in between our feet blasting on mist to cool down. I want to remember the way you kick when your daddy prays, when I sing a song to the Father, and when our favorite Pastor preaches at church. The times we aren’t sure how we’ll make it, but we always do. Standing in front of the mirror, breaking down to tears over everything and nothing. Your daddies arms are the hero and wrap me in from behind, reminding me that everything is well. You are weaving in my womb, and so all is well. And I want to remember to always ask Father, to never let us despise these days of small beginnings. One day we’ll look back and laugh at these days, cry for these days back. Oh sweet love, these are the days I want to always remember. The beginnings of you.
It’s been a while. A year ago a few spiritual leaders had given me almost the same word, at different times, in different states. That I am strong. I have a voice. I shouldn’t be afraid to say the words in my heart. But I had hurt in my heart from the unfulfilled. Maybe I had been walking that out. Maybe I had been trying to release the things I thought should be mine in my time and maybe I’d been trying to do it in my own power.
I don’t know what changed in my heart. I don’t know if it was the pastor in the old church that asked me to trust Jesus, just for a year, or the never ending forgiveness and love in my husbands eyes. I don’t know if it was a mix of it all. But somewhere in between, I learned to exhale the dirt and inhale His promise. Hang on to things that matter and let go of things that don’t. Things that we worry too much about and things that we neglect. So I’ve been throwing things away. Clutter, clothes, useless feelings, things I’ve let make home in my mind for too long. I’ve been reading Ecclesiastes. I’ve been breathing in fresh air and exhaling all of the smoke. Been saying words out loud instead of stuffing them deep into a journal.
And the Lord had been preparing my heart all along for what’s here and what’s to come.
We’ve been painting a crib and changing table that was given to us for our baby boy. I’m keen on making sure my love doesn’t miss any spots so it’s perfect for him. Preparing a perfect safe haven for when he arrives.
He’s growing and forming and with each passing day his body becomes stronger. He has no idea of what’s to come in a few short months. That his peaceful life in his mama’s womb is just the beginning. It’s taken some time, but soon he will be ready to venture out into a bigger world. And the dark, safe place he knows right now will be incomparable to the vibrant colors and love and adventure awaiting him. I’ve been preparing a place.
I’ve come to know the Father in these ways. The way He prepares us for new things ahead, makes us a little bit stronger day by day for what’s ahead. As we are living life, unaware of all the ways He is perfectly preparing our future for us. I’ve come to know the Father’s love deeper as I fall more in love with this little lamb whose face I have yet to see. When his kicks grow stronger and I’m filled with excitement, I imagine God’s same excitement when He watches us grow and overcome. Because we will be all the more ready for what is to come next.
I told my husband at the end of 2015 I felt it in my spirit that the Lord was preparing us for change. For things to end so greater things could come to life. At first I became anxious and wanted it all to happen right then, but God needed to prepare us. Grow us and heal us to launch us into what’s to come. It’s not all unfolded yet but I see it coming to life. And I used to feel afraid to leave what’s safe and familiar but I’m not so scared anymore. He’s preparing a place in the distance and allowing us to grow stronger in the meantime.
Dreams will come true. New life in all aspects will be born. Our faith will be stronger than it has been in the past. Day by day. It’s Heaven and it’s now. He’s preparing a place.
In the golden hour I remember to trust You. The busy of the day retires. Families walk hand in hand to their homes. The beating sun sinks low. It reflects the hues of gold, and I know. Let go. Of heavy traffic that made me late. Irritation that rolled off of tongue. The trouble I seem to get myself into. The way I can’t seem to keep myself out. Of this world. The way this world tuned out who I am. And I Am. He reminds me, in the golden hour. Of who I am. Created to be. He calls me by name, Sweetness. Singing Love over me. Singing hope into me. The way my bones begin to breathe again. Because dust falls and gold reflects and grace is like a gift too expensive to accept. Gold lingers and there’s no roof to this mercy. There’s no roof so the rain pours in over me. Washes clean the skin that felt so dirty from the day. From the nights before. From every moment I’ve lost myself and forgotten who I am. Heaven touches earth and sky paints gold like honey. Then Jesus. I think of the cross and all that I have laid upon it. I think of His hands, how hard I have hit into them. I think of His eyes and I just can’t look into them. Not after this. Not again. And how much more can the Father take from me? How much more burden can the Father carry for me? He leads me to the garden of my heart and He sits with me at the table. Tells me the story about love that is strong enough. Mercy that is deep enough. Heaven that is sweet enough. He says, oh darling you are sweet enough. And for a moment I remember me. The real me. The one He sees. For a moment heart breaks and love fills and time stands still. And it’s almost too much to bear. Almost too much to believe that someone did this all for me.
Sunday my heart hurt as I walked into August with unfulfilled desires that I thought God said were coming true now. As I stood there in church during worship, I remembered what I thought I heard and my chest felt heavy with the unfulfilled. With the desires in heart that I’ve been clinging to. And I remembered the way July has just sucked. Both my husbands uncle and grandma passed away in a span of 3 weeks. Along with a gloom over my heart and no fulfilled desires and the way marriage can sometimes feel like a burden more than the blessing. Dishes pile in sink and I love you’s are forgotten. Like the heat wave it brought, July lit the fire of testing over our life.
My natural reaction is to clench fists, harden heart, put up walls. But I don’t want to be the woman who only holds on to praise in the good times. In the times that everything is fulfilled. I don’t want to be the woman who only releases clenched fists when I can see the road ahead.
We stood in church on Sunday, and though I remembered what I thought I lacked, though for a moment I allowed myself to feel the lie of being deeply alone in this, I closed my eyes and heard His gospel. Eyes closed with unclenched fists, He invaded broken heart and He took the pieces and held them close. He saw who I really was on Sunday, passed fake smiles and clammy hands in fear that they might see what I’m really feeling. Passed the wall and the bitterness and the way I lost my temper the night before. The way I couldn’t comfort the sad eyes of my husband for a moment.
I close my eyes and the gospel sings and wraps me close. Reminds me that I don’t have to be the clenched fist woman when the testing arises. When July brings heat and death and the unfulfilled. Gospel sings and Father comforts and Jesus brings the joy that is mine. So like a thief I quickly consume it all. Hurting heart that slowly mends in gospel.
I write down desires and plans with Father and I trust Him with hope in heart. And today my devotions said to take it slow, as if He knows. He knows. So we take it slow, say a prayer, walk our dogs down the quiet road. We laugh because love is sweet like He said it would be. Like He promised it could be. Fulfilled. And death doesn’t sting in the morning. Memory is good in the morning. I swear we ran into every elderly man in town this morning. Conversation like we are old friends. It’s August and it’s slow and we remember who we are. We believe in who we are. In the One who slowed down life, at least for this morning.
Birds sing, flowers bloom, coffee brews, pups snooze. We begin again. All is well in the land of milk and honey this morning.
I’ve felt the seeds planted. I’ve watched it take root and I saw it begin to sprout, it aches within me. Do I deserve to ache? I’ve never felt the kick. I’ve never seen the heart beat. She turned the screen from my face. Never experienced the getting ready for. The blues and pinks. Like the other mothers have. I chose to leave it. So like a weed I uproot it. Like a weed in my flower bed I tear it out and throw it away – far away. Because I don’t want to deal, with truth. With pain. With reality. Like a weed so deep I continue to pull. But my soul can’t forget. The could have beens. My soul can’t forget small life and I reach for the paper with that signature. It’s mine but unfamiliar. It signed over goodbye but the me now yearns for the other road. Yearns for the early mornings and the tired eyes. The voice that would call me mamma and the small hand to hold. And though I forgive the younger me, the liar reminds me. Little life gone. Because he said I’d be better off. he said the world would be better off. he slipped in during the night, in the quiet, and he said this isn’t life. he said he would let it go but he hasn’t let it go. he still slips in during the night at times and reminds me. But I’ve seen the Light. It outshines the night. And I refuse to begrudge this life. I refuse to let the weeds take over. It hurts but it won’t separate. I won’t let the hurt of little life gone separate me from the Healer. From Creator. From the One who created the little imprint in my soul in the first place, I will worship Him. The giver of life. Of light. Of healing. Of wholeness. Despite the rawness. Of goneness. Of pain. Despite the yearning, and wanting. Despite the plans that go unfulfilled. The lullabies unsung. In these moments the liar would feel accomplished for us to stay sulking. For us to stay living with this burden, with this pain. But whatever darkness we encounter, we can choose to look for the light and follow it. And I run. I sprint into the arms of the Hero. I fall into the carrier of the cross. Of my mistakes and regrets. Of my loss. The strong arms of the one who is. It’s done. It’s Heaven. It’s more than I can describe but it’s freedom. And I can rest. I can breathe. I can trust. I can cry but believe that the tears will be wiped away by Jesus. Like a cycle. Then comes mourning. Then comes healing. Then comes hope. Then comes morning. Always comes morning.
I’ve been really tired lately. I haven’t been living out the best version of myself, probably been rolling my eyes more than usual. I’ve been letting the world get the best of me. In return I’ve been letting the world harden me.
Been too tired to ask God for help. Been too scared to ask God for help. Not too sure if I wanted His help. Not too sure if I wanted to walk this path anymore.
And it’s the middle of the night and the enemy creeps in. He says we’re friends but the fear and regret, the pit in my stomach and the separation he brings from Love says otherwise.
The enemy creeps in and offers me nothing new. He offers old things, stale things, what I’ve already lived through, what God already replaced with life. And somehow he makes it sound good for a moment. Somehow he takes my old things and dresses it with a bow. Somehow in the night memory is blurry and old things seem right. And worship and lifting of hands and that song that broke my heart on Sunday seem so distant. Seems so… not for me anymore. Walking through those old church doors dragging my feet.
I haven’t been myself and the enemy calls me prey. He sees me wounded and now is his chance. He lures me into separation and anxiety and no more lifting of hands. No more praises in heart. And am I the only one? Have you ever felt so alone in a room full of people?
Maybe I was bitter that first love slipped away.
Maybe I’m bitter that I gave my only child away.
Maybe I’m bitter that a father’s love just can’t stay.
So I’ve been told that harboring bitterness separates,
me from Him,
and maybe that’s true,
But in thorns of bitterness I still feel Him, hear Him. A voice in the distance that sounds familiar, speaks closer with each acknowledgement. Fog grows thicker but the voice grows desperate. For the one who hasn’t been herself, feeling lost in fog. In old wounds that have already healed. The enemy points out scars as reminders.
What amazes me, despite it all, God remains. His love. His presence. We make bad decisions but he sits with us through trial. Holding our hand tight like only a mother deep in love with her child might do. Knowing that we are guilty but remembering deep inside the day we were created. What we were created for. Remembering the look in our face in the only moment we were innocent. Before the world invited us in. The deep root of love penetrates through holding of hands. Through nail-scarred hands.
And there is wholeness in that. Restoration in that. A better life in that. In nail-scarred hands. They keep me coming back. I could walk away from Jesus for the life I once had, for everything the enemy has offered me, but I’ve tasted both sides and His well is sweeter. He offers new life. New experience. His love is stronger. His promises are better. He gives strength again for lifting of hands. He refills the soul for all the more praise. And when He asks if I’m going to leave I respond,
Where else would I go?
Certain things will always bring me back to a time or place from my past. A smell. A song. Food. Like eggs, for example.
When I’m at my sisters, I love getting eggs from the chicken coop. It reminds me of my beautiful Aunt Kathy. It’s funny how certain people can make such a lifelong impact on your life, even at the age of 3. She had long, dark hair and a beautiful face. Her spirit was gentle and kind. She loved horses and being outside. But what I remember most about her was the two of us walking hand in hand out to her chicken coop to collect eggs. And jam. For some reason I think of her when I eat jam.
But she isn’t the only one I think of when it comes to eggs.
This morning I was making scrambled eggs. Of course they came from my sisters chickens. They truly are the best. And it brought me straight to my grandma. She. Loved. Eggs. Scrambled eggs, to be exact. I cracked 5 eggs into a bowl, as my puppy patiently watched from a close distance, and I was instantly sitting in my grandmas living room, on her “davenport.”
I loved that day. My sister, brother-in-law and I took our dogs to my grandmas to visit. Lo and behold, she made us a pan full of the yellowest scrambled eggs in the world. Yep. The whole wide world. They could have won a prize. Not too long after, she comes out of the kitchen with a whole sandwich.
“You’re not eating eggs, gramma?”
“This is for the dogs.”
I love her. You know a woman’s heart and soul is full of diamonds and pearls when they make a gourmet sandwich for her granddogs. We have a photo somewhere of her sitting in her chair, breaking even pieces off and feeding them this sandwich made for a king.
I don’t think any member in my family can make scrambled eggs without thinking of sweet Ella Mae. It was her trademark.
And with every cracked egg, I’m back in her kitchen, soaking in the memories of my beautiful grandma.
I thank God everytime I remember you.
I’ve been thinking about friendship. I remember my first friend that wasn’t family, our parents were friends when we were in diapers and so we really had no choice but to love one another. We were in the same classes up until she moved when we were in the 3rd grade, and my security was rocked. I made new friends throughout the years, but they eventually faded away.
My first best friend though, and still to this day, is my sister. We even had a handshake. Although we are 6 years apart, somehow we truly have been blessed with an unbreakable bond. And it is the same for my 3 brothers. I see other siblings who aren’t that close or fight constantly or don’t even speak at all, and I am so thankful for the friendship we have with one another. God gave us siblings for a reason, and I think we have done a good job at hanging on to that, even in adulthood.
I was the youngest out of 4 for 7 glorious years. The 4 of us are 2 years apart. I remember how upset I was when I learned that my torch would soon be passed on to my baby brother. I think for the first few years of his life I wouldn’t have minded if the stork decided to fly off with him, but these days I can’t imagine life without little Wibby Wobby and his too-smart-for-you self.
We are the only ones who can make fun of eachother. If one is late for a family gathering, you will receive a thousand texts on your whereabouts. (Except if you are the oldest, we all know if it starts at 4, she will be there at 5.) And if one doesn’t come at all, it feels incomplete. I’m thankful for my people. I realize we aren’t meant to live life without our people. Do you have them, and who are they to you?
They give you the best advice because they have been-there-done-that more than twice. They don’t accept your new love right away until they see they can laugh with the rest of your people. Unafraid to voice their opinion. They pick you up and take you to Starbucks at 10 pm when you’re mad at mom. When dad hurts you again, they call him back and take care of the rest. Because no one hurts your people unless it’s a brother putting you in a chokehold. They are the ones in your group text. The ones you send funny Pinterest messages to that only they’d find humorous. They are the ones you want there at every milestone. They are the ones you don’t mind seeing you act like a fool. The ones you can reminisce with however far back in life you want to go and they were still there. They bring up old embarrassing stories of you in front of new people. They remember your old Aunt Ethel and her whoopy cushions. They give you nieces and nephews and make your heart fuller. The ones who know your insides and outs and know the core of you, the real you. Because they’ve known you since birth and they’ve seen every shade. Even when you lose yourself for a moment, they don’t just wait for you on the other side, they go along for the ride. They see your ugly mistakes and they love you through it. They are constant. Willing to stick it out regardless of who you become. And when you hurt, they hug you until you cry. And when you cry, they don’t mind the snot and tears on their shoulder.
Sometimes they are blood, sometimes not. But for my people, our blood runs thick. We are different yet the same. Always there. These are my people.
I love to read. It’s not something I’ve had to grow into, I’ve always loved to read. I remember in the first grade our teacher held up a sign and asked us to read it. As my 7 year old peers were still sounding it out, I belted “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”. The rest of the class chimed in halfway through, but I sat with pride knowing that this was my “thing”. Words. Books. Reading. Sounding out made up words.
But anyway. People have been asking me for book suggestions. So here are some books that have stuck with me within the last year.
“So Long, Insecurity. you’ve been a bad friend to us.” Beth Moore
I LOVE THIS BOOK. I LOVE BETH MOORE. This was the first book I ever read by her, and let me tell you.. Every word she writes is gold. I was reading this book while going through a tough time spiritually, emotionally and physically. I will forever recommend this book to every woman I know. And man. I don’t care who you are. Read this book. But be prepared to dig deep, emotionally. Be even more prepared for a huge spiritual breakthrough. She has you take steps of facing and confronting current/past junk that you might not even know is there. She walks with you step by step through the process of TRUE freedom. If you are only interested in getting one book off my list, stop right here. Read no further. This is your book.
“Wild Goose Chase” Mark Batterson
This book makes you want to go out and get stuff done. He takes you on a journey with the Holy Spirit, and bringing the adventurer out from within you. It’s about trusting the Holy Spirit without an agenda.
“The Pioneer Woman. Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.” Ree Drummond
This book is just straight up funny. My mother-in-law gifted me this book and I read it in 4 days and literally laughed the whole way through. The author writes about her hilarious relationship with her husband, from single-hood to having babies. If you like romantic-comedies then read this book. If you are also looking for a good cookbook LOOK HERS UP. YUM.
“Love Does” Bob Goff
SO FUN. If I could pick two author friends it would definitely be Bob Goff and Beth Moore. This dude rides a skateboard to work everyday! Pretty much if you want to be inspired to JUST DO, this is the book for you. It is funny and makes you want to give all of your stuff away and hop on a plane to some place and LOVE on others.
“Captivating” John & Stasi Eldredge
This book was mailed to me from a friend, and I’m so thankful I have friends who speak my love language. The authors are husband and wife, and go through the fall of Adam and Eve to a woman’s heart. Together they touch base on what we need as women to thrive and what men need to thrive, as well. They give you a refreshing perspective of the war waged over our feminine soul and how we can declare victory over it. I like this book because it not only gives a woman’s point of view, but also from a man’s.
“The Antelope In The Living Room” Melanie Shankle
This. Book. Is. Hilarious. I want to be this authors best friend for ever. If you like funny people and laughing with (at) other women’s marriage stories and their cray cray husbands weird antics, read this. She not only gives the humorous side of marriage, but also gets a little serious in how we grow and work together as a couple. Love her.
“Wilderness Skills For Women” Marian Jordan
If you like the wilderness, and if you’ve ever been through a “wilderness season”, grab this. I like this book because it literally gave me insight on a morning I needed it the most. The author writes about unfulfilled desires and what we can do with them. And I know we all can use a little help with that. (Don’t mind the chewed edges of this book, our new puppy is really rude.)
“Speak” Nish Weiseth
I love hearing peoples life stories. I love the way one tells of their journey and how they got to where they are. What made this person who they are. I love someone who can be vulnerable, raw and unafraid to do so. The author encourages us to SPEAK from an unmasked heart, because that is where we can really reach out to others hearts.
“Multiply” Francis Chan
OTHER BOOKS YOU SHOULD READ BUT I ALREADY GAVE AWAY SO I CAN’T TAKE A COOL PICTURE:
Undaunted by Christine Caine
God Loves Ugly by Christa Black Gifford
Jesus Is_ by Judah Smith
WHAT I’M READING NOW:
//You can grab any of these at Amazon.com//
For 13 months we lived in a beautiful home in the country. There was a garden in the back with a rose bush that had overgrown. As I began to weed the garden, I would find roots sprouting from one end, that lead me back to this big rose bush. It had grown so strong for so long, without anyone tending to it, that the roots had overtaken this garden. Isn’t that quite like life?
A painful event would happen to me and I would run from it. I would not face it, but let it root deeper. And time would pass and things would pile on my resume of things I majorly failed at, things I did not want to face. The roots were too deep. And my arms were too weak to begin pulling. So I kept running, finding anything to fill the space between me and those roots. Even now right before bed or a random place in time I can get a flashback of some long forgotten stupid night and cringe. Even now I can still fall back into the lie of the enemy that because of my past I am no good. But I am strong enough now to recognize his lie.
I don’t believe that God is angry with me for not choosing life. I believe He was deeply, deeply saddened that I didn’t know His Truth well enough to know that this was life. I believe He heavily wept over the fact that I was deceived into darkness. I believed in the lie – this was not life. The lie that I would feel relief, and this was something I would soon move on from as if it never happened. But this was my wildly unkept rosebush, overtaking the beautiful garden within me. I believe God felt sorrow towards me when I felt so alone. I believe God my Father deeply mourned for my loss, when I hardened my heart to avoid feeling anything. But greatest of all, I believe He welcomed my baby Home and that I will see my baby face to face in Heaven.
And that is just it: we’ve become so numb to what we don’t want to come to terms with. With what we would rather avoid. We want the easiest route and the easiest way out. But I’ve learned going the distance produces perseverance. I want to take the long way Home to Heaven, I want to stop at every detour. Walk up every steep mountain. To walk through pain and remember what it felt like. I want to take my time, to be completely raw in truth. I’ve grown to desperately love truth. To love on everyone lost. Everyone going through affliction. I choose the long way home. Facing our roots and pulling them out from within the deep produces an inner strength we never thought possible. Our past has no control over us unless we choose to let it. Because past things are passed things. Our past cannot harm us any longer if we choose to use it for good – in the helping of others.
Up until recently I would pray for God to break me away from my past. To let me forget. The memories. The pain. The embarrassment I still feel. But God did not. So finally I thanked Him for not allowing me to forget, because if I forget how can I be there for anyone else with similar roots? How can I help someone avoid growing these same roots? If I forget then there will never be a lesson learned. If I forget I will once again have taken the easy route out. Instead I’ve chosen to walk through it, root by root, room by room, with God holding my hand. Facing things I’ve been avoiding. Facing things I’ve been praying would just disappear. Decisions I have made. Forgiveness I have been withholding. Guilt I have bagged away. And it’s only then have I realized that the burden seems to grow lighter. I imagine my heart with these rooms full of filth, and God walking with me hand in hand, power washing the walls clean with each one we face.
So what roots have you been avoiding? What shortcuts have you been taking? If you’re wondering if the burden will ever get lighter the answer is yes. If you have been trying to work up the courage to face the painful fear of the past I challenge you to pull that first root. Take that first small detour. Walking through pain is not easy, but it is worth the Light. It is worth the freedom. Your face shines all the more beautiful in the freedom. I know you yearn for the freedom. And in your wild heart of hearts you were created to run in the freedom of the day. Choose today.