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.
” Even if I never believed in Heaven. No matter the circumstances, I would fight for you. I would honor my vows, I would love you still you, because that’s the kind of man that I am. “
You’re the good kind of man, the one who can confess unshakeable love over your easily shaken wife. You’re the steadfast man. The one who is foundation, even through the storm.
And when the past sweeps in like a tidal wave, you are the lighthouse, calling me back to shore.
And when I confess all of my shame, eyes to the floor in the midst of my broken, your soft gaze assures me that, “we’re not all that different.” It seems as though no matter what I have done, you are ready to love me through it.
You’re the man that cleans up the mess your tornado of a wife leaves behind. When life gets messy and busy and loud, you are sure to never leave me behind.
And even when I had been so unloveable, that morning I got home from work you had flowers and chocolate and a card waiting. It was Sweetest Day, and I had forgotten. But you knew. I smiled and forgot why I was mad.
Remember our first year, we lived in a 36 foot long motor home with our dog, thinking we were going to travel this land, but your wife’s ever changing mind realized closet space just wasn’t big enough. So within a month God provided a beautiful home in the country owned by Jesus loving people. And I still believe it was so God could really meet us there, could pull me out of the pit. He changed so much out there in the country. I asked Him to go away but He wouldn’t ever go too far. Remember how we wanted to sell that motor home, thinking it would take awhile, but it was sold right away? And I spent some money and took up scrap booking. You let me get a kitten that first year and we learned love is a fight.
Year two came by the ocean. It was hard and we both cried. Year two came and you learned the well of my soul. I thought this would be the end of it, but you loved me more for it. You learned I’m dramatic and I’m always thinking more than I’m saying and that I long to be a mamma. I learned that you’re willing to go the extra mile and unafraid to say the words that are hard to find and the love you give is a reflection of Jesus. And we spent some money on a real nice camera, ’cause I was gonna get serious about that photography stuff. You let me get a fish that second year, our cat ate him soon after, and we learned love is sweet.
We hit year three in salty air. It’s true we weren’t sure if we would make it at times. Well, you knew we’d make it but it seemed like sometimes I’d made up my mind. Many times I wouldn’t say a thing but you knew by then the well of my soul overflowed. I wouldn’t say a thing so you would wait for me, to find courage. And you were always gentle. Many times I would run my mouth but you knew by now that I was just trying to get under skin. So you pull me in. Love me more. Even after how many times I’ve slammed the door, you pull me in. I crashed the car and you smashed your phone. I’m hard to love but you come easy. We’re still unpacking all of the luggage I forgot to mention I’d bring. But you don’t mind, you say ‘take your time.’ We’ve cried a lot but laughed more. And I spent more money and took up crocheting. Oh, and bath bombs. So there’s an unfinished scrap book, a really dusty camera in the closet somewhere, and an unfinished scarf waiting in the corner. You laugh when I mention a new hobby but you go along with it anyway. You let me get a puppy this third year, and we learned that Jesus is the core of love. You already had known that, but you walked with me through the valley to get to that truth, anyways.
You never give up on me. Always pushing me. Standing like a rock when I throw the hard truth of my faults in your face. And when I think that God couldn’t be this good of a God, that someone like me doesn’t deserve someone as good as you, you continue to show me real Jesus love. You continue to draw me in closer and deeper to His love. That the past is rotten manna. And today is so much better.
Thank you for being you. For worshiping our Father so unashamed. Never changing for anyone, even when they treat you bad. You are sincerely the most genuine, non-judgemental, kind-hearted human I have ever met. Thank you for showing me our Fathers love everyday. Thank you for living out exactly who you proclaim to be. For showing me that we can live life chasing Jesus while being exactly who we are, despite what the “norm” is said to be, despite the looks we receive. Thank you for sticking it out with me. For being my anchor. I love you. And the kind of man that you are.
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.
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//
I hold on to things. I’m by no means a hoarder, but I definitely still have “Babs”, the stuffed-dog I got when I was two. (And I definitely still sleep with her, my husband has accepted this.) I hold on to memories and love and pain all the same. Like stepping away from relationships. All of those years I held knuckle-white tight. And learning to be independent and who I am as this person God created. If we let them, people will shape us into a shadow of ourselves, and when they leave we can’t recognize our own reflections. Sometimes we have moments where we have to choose whether to remain stuck in the waiting for change to hopefully come or we have to take the leap to reach change now.
I get lost in my own mind sometimes and relive moments with my grandma, I still have her number saved in my phone as if I could call her whenever I want to. I get lost in her memory and her goodness and her love for Jesus. I wish she could see me loving Him, too, the way she always prayed I would. I remember the night she made her way to Heaven and I wasn’t sure how any of us would continue to live. How would we make it without her? But tomorrow came and we had to choose to move with it. I’m so thankful I finally chose to move with it.
We walked down the beach tonight and there was a young boy with his mother, and I think of my child. I think of the way his memory used to be shut away, too painful, always taunting by the enemy. And I think of the way God has redeemed it, so beautiful, so thankful I can talk about it. He would be big enough to run alone and play in the ocean and laugh and talk with me about who knows what. It hurts for a moment but I think of Heaven immediately and the setting sun behind us. And I smile. I’m full of joy in heart at the thought. How much greater is it all on his side of Heaven?
And a year ago I couldn’t face this. The pain of growth and releasing of hands and moving forward. But sometimes God works in our time, when it comes to matters of the heart. He doesn’t rush our wounds to heal and He doesn’t push us when we aren’t ready. Because He knows it’s not easy being us. He came down on earth as one of us. He knows life can be ugly and burdens can be heavy and this bed seems far too safe compared to the world outside of our window. He knows people die and fathers leave and relationships end. He knows results come back a devastatingly positive and the rain seems never-ending. And so he doesn’t push us, but encourages us, that yes, the pain in your heart may be overwhelming some days but there is a sunset over the ocean painted just for you that he doesn’t want you to miss. Just a sunset over the ocean that can help our feet to move forward, even if it’s just one small step at a time.
And what’s on the other side of moving forward has been so worth getting out of bed. So worth the releasing of hands. So worth all-in trusting Jesus. So I will leave my pains right here, where the shore meets the sea. I will let it wash away with each wave. Because although there is pain, God is still good, the sunset is still so beautiful, and Heaven is surely worth it all.
I thought by now maybe we’d be somewhere new. Somewhere broke down on the side of the road in the motor home we bought three years ago that’s now probably been sold a time or two since we sold it last fall. I’ve spent time wondering maybe if I didn’t miss some turns then maybe we’d be somewhere far from here by now. But we’re still here, in our hometown.
Sometimes you’re called away but sometimes you’re called to stay. Just stay. And when you’re gone from everything, all that you know, in a new town and new faces, new street signs and stop lights, it takes all that you have to be brave. Brave to step on the new sidewalk outside of your new house. Brave to re-memorize where the closest Tim Horton’s is on the corner (you pray to God there’s a Tim Horton’s). Brave to say hello to new faces. To start over again. And that’s always viewed as honorable. You’ve made it, right? Getting out of your hometown. But sometimes you’re asked to stay. Stay planted in the familiar. You don’t have to use that old GPS in the center counsel because you’ve drove down Michigan Avenue a million times or two since you were a kid. Seeing a familiar face every time you go to the store and it all feels like home. A different memory at every red light floods your mind as your car comes to a stop. When did it become such a bad thing to say you’ve lived here all your life? When did it get written in the rules that we have to leave in order to really have lived? Sometimes life’s missed when we’re so busy saving up for the next bus ticket out.
Yes, it can be brave to leave, to start over where nobody knows your name, but it also takes courage when we are asked to stay. Invest love and life right where your roots are planted. In the familiar. In the faces who already know you. What you have done in your past and the mistakes you have made. It’s brave to to pick up and start again, right where you are.
Sometimes we’re asked to pack up our things and invest in a new place. But sometimes we’re asked to just stay.