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Rosiness in the Night

A little friend unintentionally shares something invisible with you. You’re fine for a few days, until one afternoon, you complain of a hurting tummy. But I can’t tell if it hurts as badly as you say, or if you just really don’t want to eat the dinner in front of you. So later, as the moon rises, I tuck you under your flowery sheets and tell you to get some rest and we’ll see how you feel in the morning. We whisper our “good-nights” and “sleep-tights” and tired “I-love-you’s” and I turn out the light.

 

Hours later, you shuffle through my bedroom door.

“Mama, my tummy hurts….”

 

I sigh, awakening from the fogginess of deep sleep. Your daddy rolls over and I mumble that I don’t know what to do for your little tummy. And then it happens. Right then and there. All over the floor next to my bed. I rush you to the bathroom and I stroke back your hair, tell you it’ll be okay as you let go of all that tummy-ickiness.

 

And you’re only four now. But someday, you’ll be older, and friends and family, and even I, will unintentionally share things with you that will hurt. I fidget in a panicky discomfort at the mere thought of it, but I know in my heart that I can’t always keep you safe. Can’t always protect you from things that will cause you heartache. And you alone will have to sift through the pain, praying through what needs to be addressed, and what needs to be let go. But I hope you will always come to me, in the dark of your night, looking for a little Mama-comfort. Together, we’ll pray through the ickiness and let Him make it all better. Together we’ll watch expectantly. And just as He returns the rosiness to your pale cheeks, we’ll watch and listen as He breathes your ashes into marvelous beauty.

So here I am. Yes, I’m still around, believe it or not. I’ve struggled coming here over the last few months (in case you hadn’t noticed -grin-) for a few reasons.

 

One being, time. Life has been busier. Motherhood, a bit more intense, even as my little ones gain more independence. Seems a little backward, no? Yeah, I’m trying to figure that one out too. 🙂

 

Two being, I feel like a different person than I was four or five months ago. I feel older. I feel less sure, while feeling a little more comfortable in these awkward shoes of mine, all at the same time. I feel I haven’t much to say worth reading, or maybe what I should say is, I feel I don’t have anything which feels safe to say. Safe, whether for your benefit, or my comfort level. I think it has been best to remain quiet here as I try to re-find my own voice.

 

Three being, God has been working on me. BIG TIME. There’s been a lot of grief. A lot of distrust. A lot of vulnerability. A lot of questions. A lot of insecurity. A lot of tears. A lot of discoveries. A lot of simply trying to figure out this real, gritty, not-always-neatly-packaged life and who, exactly, is this God in the midst?

 

And during all this time, there has been much waiting. A question from me. Silence from Him. Several weeks later, an answer. Or maybe more to question. Or maybe just more waiting. And it’s unlike me to post a “How-To” post and although, it may appear differently, this post is not a prescriptive list of how to do something correctly. Just things I’ve learned. And am continuing to learn.

 

I am coming to believe that everyone is waiting for something. Those somethings maybe be more obvious for some of us. A baby to be conceived. A spouse to finally come around life’s corner, nonchalantly whistling a favorite love song. A move. That dream job to come around.

 

But there are other things too. Things unseen that can not necessarily be measured. A relationship to mend. A spouse to know God better. An answer to some deep, heartfelt question. In some ways, maybe it’s safe to say that life is one, drawn-out wait. The things we wait for change over the course of our lives, but ultimately, we’re all waiting for resolution to our deepest longings, healing for our most-scarred places . . . for our Redeemer to come and make all new, once and for all.

 

So, I’ve learned a few things in the waiting for some of these things. No exhaustive, prescriptive list. Just a few things learned, from one lady-in-waiting to another….

While Waiting For….

(Fill in your blank)

  1. Draw close to God, even though that may be the last thing you want to do. In the waiting, I sometimes feel like God is hiding Himself from me. Like He’s deliberately trying to make something harder than it should be. And if He’s hiding Himself, maybe I should just go into hiding too. I am learning that contrary to how it feels, His silence is sometimes an invitation to come closer to Him . . . to know Him a bit more intimately. To hear Him whisper.
  2.  Pray for wisdom and flexibility to His perfect plan. Sometimes His plan is completely different from what we think it will be, or even should be! This is made obvious in the waiting itself, isn’t it? 🙂 I, for one, don’t want to miss His unexpected gifts simply because I’m still looking over the fence, waiting for that other thing I’ve been expecting.
  3. Pay attention to THIS part of the story. What is He teaching me? Here, in the waiting? There is something He is trying to make known, even in the waiting. For some reason, the waiting is part of the story and perhaps He is busy writing me as I wait for Him to write the next chapter in life’s circumstance. Or maybe, He just working on some real, darn-good relationship building. 🙂
  4. Wait expectantly.  “Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3 I need to be alert to unexpected answers! And I need to not wait apathetically, without faith, but with anticipation that He will move . . . one way or another. Perhaps waiting is meant to be more proactive than it seems….
  5. Trust the process. My hubby is a computer programmer. He is often braving new territory, trying to figure out new ways of doing things. This sometimes means that there are no written answers to his work’s dilemmas and he has to figure it out on his own. He has taught me that sometimes, the process is part of the answer! And sometimes, the process in learning an answer to one problem, brings multiple answers to many problems.
  6. When He says, “No” to one thing, it’s because He is saying “Yes” to something unforeseen. 
  7. Keep living. Don’t give into the temptation to put life on “hold” as I wait for _____. Life is now, not later.
  8. If you’re married, trust that the Lord is using your spouse’s input and desires, even though they may be contrary to your own. There have been many times that the Lord has used my husband’s “no” as a protection for our family. Thank God there is a logical one in our marriage! 🙂
  9. Waiting is hard. As Christians, I think we sometimes feel the need to downplay our pain/grief/frustration/struggle when we don’t understand what God is doing. I think that this surrenders the opportunity of allowing others to share in the journey with us. Not only do we need our brothers and sisters to help lift us up now, we need them to celebrate with us when the waiting is no more!

Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. Psalm 27:14


The New Horizon

Part of me wants to discard 2011 like a dirty, ol’ rag. It was a let’s-get-down-and-get-dirty kind of year for us. The kind of year where you evaluate every aspect of your life and make some difficult decisions to, hopefully, make things better. The kind of year where your heart gets tangled in a million different emotions and leaves life feeling like one, big, tangled web that somehow swirled and weaved your last bit of girlhood naiveté into a mortal cocoon. The kind of year where friends’ homes and neighborhoods are ripped to shreds by tornadoes and you read stories about riots all over the world, and those earthquakes and tsunamis that hit  so hard and you’re left trying to explain crazy things like that to your wide-eyed, inquisitive four-year-old daughter. The kind of year where your heart brims in fullness, readying to welcome your third child, only for that baby to be taken away from you. The kind of year where your life’s lens zooms in and out as you lie on a stretcher wondering if you’re going to be able to hug your living babies in the morning as that pregnancy loss gushes from your body.

 

It has been a hard year.

 

And yet.

 

Ironically, it has been one of the best.

 

It’s been the year that my husband and I learned to (mostly) stop dancing that passive-aggressive tango we’ve done all these married years and begun to truly learn one another’s steps. It’s been the year where we’ve truly listened to one another’s dreams and desires and haven’t been afraid to share them. The year that we weren’t afraid to let go of certain things in our lives that we’d held onto for so. long. simply because they felt comfortable and safe. The year that my humanity was made crystal clear. The year where the outpouring of love and support from friends was humbly overwhelming and wonderfully healing.

It is truly stupefying how God places things in your hands which sometimes feel like squirming snakes or abrasive stones, but in opening your hands, you quickly realize that they are, in reality, loaves of bread and nourishing fish.

 

So I know that when I trust the Good Father, I can trust that a year like 2011 is a gift. Whether our 2011’s were good or bad, or just plain boring, it is a full, written chapter in each of our life’s stories and not something to wipe clean off the slate, or something to desperately try to erase from our memories. Let’s find the gifts. Let’s find all the fish and the bread of 2011 and learn to be thankful for them in our new 2012. And even better, maybe we can learn from all those seemingly snarly snakes and rough stones and help others with their own confusingly full hands.

 

Today, as my eyes linger over the ornaments and stockings and twinkling lights, just for one more day,  my heart lingers over days and moments that made up my own 2011. And I am finding that those gifts walk with me into the fresh horizon of 2012.

 

Let’s have a happy, bright and hopeful New Year, everyone.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~Plato

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Outstretched for our Glory Baby

How do you share on a blog that you just lost a baby? How do you write anything else without sharing that you just lost a baby? There’s not much I feel like I can write yet, but the day after I wrote my last post, we discovered that we were blessed with our third baby. A few weeks later, we were told, we would not be raising that baby, that it was already gone. It has been a long and difficult month and a half, but we’re still here, recovering from emotional and physical heartache, but thankful for this week and the Christmas upcoming.

 

We are celebrating God with us. And our baby with Him. There lies the tie that binds.

 

And sometimes, music says it better….

 

(I have no ties to this fundraising effort – just thought hearing the song would be better than simply posting lyrics. The statistics are stunning, however)

Glory Baby

by WaterMark

Glory baby you slipped away as fast as we could say baby…baby..
You were growing, what happened dear?
You disappeared on us baby…baby..
Heaven will hold you before we do
Heaven will keep you safe until we’re home with you…
Until we’re home with you…

Miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there’s a
day when we will hold you
We will hold you
You’ll kiss our tears away
When we’re home to stay
Can’t wait for the day when we will see you
We will see you
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
‘till mom and dad can hold you…
You’ll just have heaven before we do
You’ll just have heaven before we do

Sweet little babies, it’s hard to
understand it ‘cause we’re hurting
We are hurting
But there is healing
And we know we’re stronger people through the growing
And in knowing-
That all things work together for our good
And God works His purposes just like He said He would…
Just like He said He would…

BRIDGE:
I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabies
and what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing, heaven is your home
And it’s all you’ll ever know…all you’ll ever know…


Hope and Stay

Sometimes discontent and discouragement come barging in through all your long-closed (or so you thought), barricaded doors and they tear you down and they beat you up and your bruises affect the way you love. And you wonder how these not-so-very-nice guests ever came in at all til you realize that you secretly invited them in. And of course, they eagerly and voraciously took you up on your whispered invitation.

 

Light the candles, wipe the counters, fill up every corner of your house with vicarious worship via Pandora. Some days you have to fight the discontent, the ugly, ungrateful, peering-over-the-fence heart with every dusty weapon you can possibly pull out from your arsenal. It doesn’t have to be like this.

It can’t go on like this. It has to stop.

 

Just to be still in all He’s given. In all He’s giving. In all this right-here, around-me beauty.

#729 matches aflame

#730 flickering light, reflecting in the dirty panes

#731 mulled cider, pumpkin spice

#732 golden leaf, fluttering in the cold wind, clinging to the life it knows

#733 letting go

#734 The solid Rock on which I can stand

#735 my neediness and how He can fill it, if I just wait and seek

#736 two little girls pretend-fighting over whose mama I am

#737 clean tubs

#738 sweet, though unnecessary, thank-you notes

#739 truth-filled lyrics

#740 not getting everything I want, when I want it

#741 waiting for his leading

#742 that He knows how to live the in-between

#743 new words

#744 honesty and forgiveness

#745 a reflection, realizing what I’ve been

#746 a Helper, to restore

#747 surrounded family

#748 learning to truly love

#749 that I have One I can follow

When You Know You’re Not Enough

This will be a bit cliché. But it’s something I have to do. And I question how to write something like this without sounding self-absorbed. Narcissistic. Like a navel-gazer. But then, maybe I am all of those things and that’s my problem.

 

But aren’t there days as women where we just feel like we can’t get our acts together? Maybe weeks of this. Months. Maybe lifetimes. I feel my feet, trudging through just the dailiness and I can’t move fast enough, can’t find satisfaction. Like Eve, always wishing for more than I’ve been given, while watching others seemingly running miles around me.

 

And I lash out at myself, all inside mind you, but the words tear deep and I believe the tongue-forked lies and the wounded beliefs bleed out onto all the ones I hold sacred.

 

If I just was more organized.

 

If I was just a better planner.

 

If I was just a better lover of God.

 

If I was just a better Christian.

 

If I was just neater.

 

If I was just a better wife.

 

If I was just a more patient mom.

 

If I was just skinnier.

 

Or more fit.

 

Or prettier.

 

Or . . .

If I was just.

And I know.

It’s plainly evident.

I’m not enough.

I know I’m not the only one. Don’t we all do this? We compare our children. We compare ourselves. We compare our homes, our husbands, our bodies, our abilities, our  achievements. Everything.

The problem is, we compare them to one another instead of to the Most Perfect. The problem is, we compare them to one another rather than to our former selves. Because hasn’t each one of us been fearfully and wonderfully made? And hasn’t each one of us a Wonderful Worker, completing His work in us?

A friend of mine recently posted an Anti-List. Things she’s not that she’s come to embrace about herself. That my friends, is some sort of freedom. And I’ve been thinking a lot about that over the past few months as well. Maybe it’s part of growing up . . . realizing that God has made us certain people and learning that it’s okay that we’re  not like so-and-so or so-and-so.  Maybe it’s part of the letting go of our hunger for power – not in the ruling sense of the word, but in control sense of the word – giving thanks to God for who He’s made us, instead of shaking our fists, wondering why He didn’t make us the way we think He should have made us.

So I come to another Thanking Milestone. It’s time to thank Him for making me. I gulp.

Because when I know I’m not enough, that I don’t measure up, I can either dwell on my inadequacies, or I can thank Him for His grace in even creating me and for His continued work in me.

So I look up, eyes to the August sky.

#649 these arms . . . no defined muscles, but strong enough to lift my children to high slides, or hug my husband tight

#650 these lips . . . nothing special, but made for smiling and laughing and saying “I love you” and giving kisses goodnight

#651 these hands . . . covered in inherited great-grandmother’s veins, but able to bring Chopin or Debussy right into our living room

#652 this waist . . . larger than on my wedding day, but stretched by life and often surrounded by my husband’s arms

#653 this mousey hair . . . hmmm . . . well, it covers my head and keeps me warm??? 🙂

#654 these spider veins . . . broken capillaries from all those hours, running on the hospital floor

#655 my lack of neatness . . . it keeps my trying and keeps me humble

#656 my lack of patience . . . it keeps me calling on Jesus

#657 my lack of achievements . . . this keeps me standing on the Solid Rock

#658 my lack of being the kind of wife I want to be . . . keeps me digging deeper, giving up more of myself, leaning on Him to fill my gaps

#659 my lack of being a good planner . . . keeps me flexible while trying to learn to use my time better

#660 my lack of being organized  . . . keeps me thinking on how He is a God of order

#661 my words of “if I were just” . . . compel me to re-focus on Him, His continuing good work

#662 that He is not finished with me

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#663 beach-like breezes in the mountains on an August evening

#664 green swing, swaying, lonely in the breeze

#665 feeding the pond-fish

#666 rocking chairs and lullabies

#667 little voices singing with me

#668 spontaneous dates

#669 a wonderful babysitter

#670 a girls’ day coffee

#671 seeing old friends

#672 that weddings and babies keep us coming together

#673 peaceful Sundays

#674 a good mystery

#675 a sister with long, golden curls . . . still Goldilocks after all these years and how I just. love. her.

#676 a husband who thinks I’m cute in the early morning . . . that he’s just crazy enough

#677 the continued rescue

#678 a job well done

#679 get-aways with friends

#680 5 pairs of eyes, all glued to the screen

#681 minivans to fit us all

#682 summer

#683 Thankfulness. It frees the soul.

Deep Breaths

No offense to whoever came up with the term “Home Manager,” but I’ve never really cared for it. Maybe it’s because I never wanted to go into management as a nurse? Maybe it’s because I prefer to be a follower, not a leader (Should I be ashamed to actually admit that? Oh well. It’s true!). But more than that, I think I dislike it because aren’t we *more* than merely managers of our homes? We chauffeur and plan schooling careers and weed through extra-curricular activities, we work, we clean, we cook. But we also care for more than just the outside activities coming *onto* our families. We notice when one of our children is quieter than normal, or their little eyes get that tired-kind-of-glazed look in their eyes. We take note when our husbands need a little encouragement, or maybe his favorite snack waiting for him after a long day at work. Our eyes roam like hawks when our kids are on the playground and we help them navigate the crazy kids and the tall, looming, “oh, it’s FUN!” slide.

 

We are LIFE facilitators.

 

And sometimes, facilitating life means giving yourself grace. If your husband’s working late for two weeks? You are going to need grace, my friend (I’m there!). Give yourself a break. Maybe your kids would like a break from the meat and potato dinners and simply love a little mac n’ cheese. Take the time to soak in the tub and read your favorite book for a few nights. Because YOU, my dear, are going to need extra energy to keep yourself in a good mood. TRUST me. 🙂 Let the laundry get backed up. Go outside and play with the kids. Will the house get on your nerves? You bet it will. But I’ll bet you a million bucks that you’ll stay more sane by getting through the “this-is-a-bit-stressful” times of life by taking some really deep, tangible breaths of refreshment than by running yourself ragged, trying to keep up with your normal appearances.

 

Because you, you wonderful mama friends, YOU are the fragrance of the home. When you gasped for breath and sweat beaded your brow and that little bundle let out its first cry? That was only the beginning. You continue to be the giver of life in your home as your family grows.

 

And aren’t we glad that we have an even Greater Giver of Life? To help. To guide. The Grace-Giver.