When you can’t help but give thanks for the hard stuff

I fell to my knees and weeped. I weeped in gratitude and then in confession and finally in gratitude again.

I weeped for the gift of this season and the things I never realized until now, that it affords me. I weeped for all the ways I’ve squandered it away, even fought it, and finally for the reality that it’s not too late. I haven’t missed it!

It’s taken me 14 months to get here and truth is I’ve pushed back against it all the while – against God. I’ve pushed back in fear of who I would become and what I would discover when all the noise and doing was set aside; what I would hear in the rest and slowness of my new found normal.

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But most of all, I feared what I would come to know when I wasn’t so full of “all knowing” and my plans.

It’s taken me an entire cycle of seasons, becoming a mother, a marathon of healing, giving up everything I’d worked for and grieving major loss and heartache to get here but I wouldn’t change a moment of it… not for anything.

Because it’s in the trials and the hurting that God has shown me who He is and who I am, apart from my plans and my expectations; apart from the reputation I built for myself and the “good work” I want to do; apart from perfect circumstances and comfortable living; apart from being heard, seen and understood by the world – even those closest to me.

There are days I’ve taken more than I can give
And there are choices that I made
That I wouldn’t make again
I’ve had my share of laughter
Of tears and troubled times
This has been the story of my life

You were there when it all came down on me
And I was blinded by my fear
And I struggled to believe
But in those unclear moments
You were the one keeping me strong
This is how my story’s always gone

And this is who You are
More constant than the stars up in the sky
All these years of our lives
I, I look back and I see You
Right now I still do
And I’m always going to

I have won and I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life’s been a journey
I’ve seen joy
I’ve seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it

Colton Dixon | Through all of It

He’s showed me how every hard moment invites me into something greater that he has planned, if I’ll surrender to it.

The cross invites us to see grace where there is pain, resurrection where there is death and that every hard moment leads to new life. – Henri Nouwen | Turn my Mounring into Dancing

He’s taught me the battle’s won in prayer – to pray like I’ve never prayed before- believing in miracles. He’s taught me to face my hard emotions and not run from them or punish myself for feeling them; that it’s ok to not be ok and to admit it. He’s taught me to love people where they’re at, having compassion for their pain and hurting. He’s taught me that true love is the hardest gift to give- the deepest sacrifice- and yet the most rewarding.

He’s taught me being “no one” is so much better than being “someone”, because it affords me the time and space to live fully alive – alive to the people and places right in front of me, investing in those that actually mean something to me.  He’s taught me I can’t love all people but I can the one– the one desperate for recognition of them– the one I hurt when I’m too busy seeking others recognition. He’s taught me true community comes at a cost; a willingness to sit with others in their ugly without fixing it and going when it’s all together inconvenient.

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He’s taught me the transformation power of solitude – of intentional times of silence and justing waiting in his presence. He’s taught me the freedom of accepting I’m not enough and I never will be and that is all together ok because He’s enough for me.

And he’s taught me that nothing I do, no matter how small, is insignificant in the kingdom of God. Whether I’m folding laundry, talking to a stranger, running food to a friend, giving clothes to a mom in need, leading a teeny tiny bible study in my home or writing a few words on a blog that few will ever read – none of it will come back void, if done in gratitude and for His glory alone.

For the first time in my life I don’t want to be someone, I don’t want more and I don’t want to be doing for the sake of doing. And I can’t tell you how freeing that is…

Like the heaviest burden – years of endless striving and trying but always failing – has ceased to exist and in it’s place a lightness and childlike joy I carry in my heart….

Like I’m five again and I believe anything is possible – that I can be anything I want to be without a care for what the world thinks- but in the mean time, I think I’ll just enjoy twirling and running into the arms of the ones I loves.

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When I’m with You
I feel the real me finally breaking through
It’s all because of You, Jesus

It’s like my heart’s on fire again
I’m not afraid
I’m not ashamed
I’m safe when I am with You

So I’m here just as I am
Bruised or broken
I don’t have to pretend

Citizens Way | When I am with You 

 

 

 

When life feels slow and you’re itching to Go

I’m in a season of rest right now and there’s no denying it….

A season of slow mornings and ample coffee breaks. Of midday walks and evening strolls. Of impromptu visits and lingering longer. Of time with Jesus and then some more. Of thinking and mediating and relishing quiet. Of reading every book I swore I’d finish. Of letting her lead, because there’s just no agenda and rounding the block for something to do. Of running errands to break up the day and counting down minutes ’till daddy comes home.

So this morning I got up and decided to make bread. 

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I’ve always loved making bread; I adore it and find the sweet result one I get giddy for every time I do it…

The fresh aroma as is bakes in the oven and the buttery goodness of my first bite. It never got old. And there feels something special – almost holy- when I consider the fact that I made it with my own two hands in love. 

I used to make bread all the time; every few days to be exact but in the past few years, it ceased to be a “good use of my time.” And the oxymoron of that statement is that, in the last few years I’ve had more time than ever to make bread!

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Sure I was struggling to even walk as I grew a human inside me and then once I had said baby, I was learning to navigate the trenches of motherhood. But I recall vividly many days, where I sat longing to be in a different season; to be doing, going and accomplishing.

As if my resting was a waste of time and the season of slowness I found myself in, a reflection of inadequacy and wasted potential. 

I was so used to doing and striving that when time stood still, I discovered foreign thoughts taunting me with their chatter…

Who was I if I wasn’t doing [anything seemingly important]? What use are my days, if I’m not working towards a goal or striving to grow personally?

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I hadn’t yet fully learned how to just be – me in that moment without wishing it were different- or more accurately,  I were different. 

I believed that because I could always be doing something or working towards something, that I should be! Even if my body were still, my mind never ceased to rest and just be ok.

Don’t get me wrong, I know what I do doesn’t define me – God began a work in me long ago in this area- but I was so used to always doing, that I never had time to experience the whispers that now taunted me about my character, in quiet. 

… That I was wasting my potential, being still.

….That I would never grow or become a better person – a better Christian!

…. That if I didn’t work on something or on me, that things would never change or I would never change! 

And so I filled my days doing, even trivial things, to hush the taunting that played on repeat. I tried to master this thing called mothering, as well as the title I swore I’d never wear: homemaker. I did ample for others to the neglect of the things I needed most, mainly the rest I was called to and so desperately needed in this season.

God knew what I needed when I entered motherhood. He knew that I would want more than anything to savour the simple moments with my daughter before they were gone. He knew I’d need time and space to process the trauma and healing journey I was embarking on.

God knew I needed to learn that while I was made to “move and do” [that’s who he made me to be], it was very much ok and necessary to rest and be slow; that even though there are always things that can be done and there are always parts of me that need to change and be matured, God still likes and delights in me exactly as I am today… and so too, should I. 

I’m not where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be. I’m ok and I’m on my way! – Joyce Meyers

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This season of slow is exactly that –  a season – and if I look closely, I’ll see it for what it is – a gift waiting to be opened- a gift I may never get again.

If I wish it away- if I waste it filling it with stuff or forcing it to be something it’s not- I will eventually look back with regret. And I hate regret than anything!

My biggest fear is realizing I’ve gotten to the end of my life and spent it chasing the wrong things!

I’m so grateful God has spent the better course of three years teaching me about joy, contentment and what really matters. Because it’s those things that have grounded me and helped pull me away – from the noise of others, distractions of social media and the need for approval of others–  from the things that for too long, stole my joy, killed my confidence and destroyed my peace. 

In learning about what [who] brings me joy, in learning contentment regardless of circumstance and discovering the legacy I want to leave when I die- I see everyday as an arrow that’s pointing to an end goal; I can see clearly if this thing- what I’m doing-  is going to aid me or pull me away from the things that will matter when I’m eighty. 

And I truly believe that is been these lesson that have refined my heart enough to recognize the goodness of this season and given me the permission I need to love it and not rush through it.

I can embrace this season of rest, while simultaneously not denying the restless stirring inside me, because it’s God given. Both can coexist without the need to “fix” each other.

‘Cause when the time comes – in God’s time and not mine- the gates will open and I will hit the ground running. 

If you put yourself there, you’ll have to keep yourself there. But if God puts you there, he’ll keep you there! -Anonymous  

I’m done pushing, done striving and forcing life because it’s tiring and ultimately, fruitless. Sure it feels good for a while, but in the end I’m beaten up and more defeated than when I began.

But when I simply walk where God is calling me –  if I do only what he is calling me today, in this season– then I discover a power within me greater than myself to do and accomplish more than I could on my own; an ease and a joy in life that follows me.

We’re in no hurry, God. We’re content to linger in the path sign-marked with your decisions. – Isaiah 26: 10

Right now, he’s calling me to rest; to slow down and savour the goodness of days extended and moments prolonged. 

So if you need me, you can find me in the kitchen baking bread ….. or on the floor playing with my daughter or walking around the block for the upteenth time, because I can and I’m enjoying it. 

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When you know where He’s calling you but you don’t know where to start

As we sat eating dinner discussing, I could feel the weight of reality suffocate me. Truth is, I’ve been feeling it for weeks. 

Everywhere I look, every person I talk to, every article I read, reaffirms how deceived, how lost and confused our world is. 

When God puts a soft spot in our hearts, he’s preparing us for a calling and a commission, if we’ll accept it. 

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I just naively thought it would feel good…. or easy.

But he’s sending me to hard places and placed a call on my life that’s overwhelming. If I think about it too long or hard, I want to cry. It feels daunting and all together hopeless; defeated before I’ve even begun. 

So for weeks I’m been praying earnestly for direction- for wisdom and discernment –  and most of all, comfort for my worried and weary heart. 

And then he answered, like he always does.

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My bible sat open to Matthew 10 and upon reading the title, I focused in: The harvest hands. 

It was Jesus speaking to his twelve disciples directly after commissioning them to go out and make disciples of all men. These were his words of instruction, of encouragement and of hope as they set out; a handbook of how to’s and why’s, if you will. 

And like medicine to an aching body, his words soothed and numb my fear. 

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Don’t begin by travelling to some far off place to convert unbelievers. Don’t try to be dynamic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right in your neighbourhood. 

Don’t think you need to fundraise before starting. Travel light. You are the equiptment. Stay modest and content.

When you meet people, be courteous in greeting. If they welcome you, be gentle in conversation. If they don’t, quietly withdraw and leave. Don’t make a scene. It’s of no concern to you now.

This is hazardous work I’m assigning you; like sheep running through a pack of wolves. So don’t call attention to yourselves! Be as inoffensive as a dove.

Don’t be naive. People will smear your reputation and take you to authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you good; given you a platform for teaching.

 When that happens (not if) don’t worry about what you’ll say. The Holy Spirit will supply the right words.

Because of conviction, people will turn on you; even family. But won’t quit or cave in. It’s not success you’re after but survival!

Be content when they treat you the same as they’ve treated me and don’t be intimidated. Eventually, everyone will know the truth, so don’t hesitate to go public with it now. 

Don’t be silent because of threats. Save your fear. God has your entire life in his hands.

Matthew 10 – The Message 

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I’m no fool to believe it’s only me, friend, because God calls each of us to hard places! He’s equipped each of us uniquely with gifts, to serve and to bless.

So today, in whatever it is you’re facing- in the call God has placed on your life- I pray that together, Jesus’s words would be etched upon our hearts and burned into our mind. Let’s write them on our walls if we have to!

Because the truth is, he’s already answered our every question and given us the information we need.

So let’s not let fear paralyze us any longer or expectations steal our focus. It’s time we take him at his word. It about time we get going! 

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Lord, we confess our fear of man and our pride in expectations. We want to do good and be great for you! But the truth is, we’re weak and our ideas are muddled and confused by the world around us and our own selfish desires. Help us to humble ourselves and go where you are calling us, living out your commission and living by your word. Write them on our hearts and etch them in our minds. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, may our lives and our bodies be vessels of life and light – an offering for the greater good. Amen

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Where the Battle’s Won | When your mourning turns to dancing

Over the past few months, life has felt heavy. 

In addition to taking one of the biggest leaps of faith I’ve ever taken, having no clue what the future holds for me, we’re walking through one of the most intense seasons of our marriage yet. Thankfully were on the assent from the valley and the peak of the mountain is in sight. 

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On top of that, this new stage of motherhood – moving from babyhood to toddlertown- has proved to reveal many of my weaknesses on a daily basis. Where joy once came easy in every moment,  I’ve found myself having to fight for it and be intentional in choosing it throughout my days. I’ve needed far more help than I ever imagined and I’ve battled guilt and shame over failed expectations of what I’d be like as a mother. 

And then there’s Thursdays, my favourite day of the week as I welcome some of the women closest to my heart into my home. Together we wrestle and grow and encourage and laugh. And while it’s beautiful and profound what happens each week, we’ve been working through the most intense study yet. It’s uncovered deep personal struggles in all of us and we’ll, lets just say that while the intensity isn’t anything I shy away from, it, added to my other realities, has felt back breaking some weeks. 

Over all, my heart has hurt for all the brokenness and suffering in and around me. I’ve had to grieve losses for myself and for others. I’ve had to sit in the darkness of my emotions and not run from them, so that eventually, I could bury them and move on.

I’ve learnt that with every new beginning, there must first be a death. And this season has felt like many small deaths and the subsequent grief that must follow to properly heal. 

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This may all sound cryptic but the truth is, much of what I’m walking through is only privy to God and the people it involves and that’s ok. 

I’ve had to remind myself that as people on the outside looking in have judged me and my circumstance.

I’ve had to remind myself of what they’re not seeing and of the hope that I cling to every day…. 

The hope and the promises that God has given me in this season: That he is doing something entirely new! That he is making streams in the wastelands of my life and building a road to a place I’ve only imagined. 

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And that I must properly let go and fully trust him, in order to move forward. He’s been gentle and so kind and his presence has never felt deeper. 

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But I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been a test of my faith. It’s been a daily choice, a daily seeking and daily re-commitment to trust and believe. I’ve discovered what faith really is in this season: believing for what is unseen even when it doesn’t make sense. 

And like the sun after a break in the rain, he’s turned my mourning into dancing. 

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How. How do we seek? How do we trust? How do we believe even when it feels ridiculous?

For me it’s been a process and many days a discipline:

  1. Learning his voice [which, like in any relationship, takes time together and learning about each other] 
  2. Eliminating distractions [being intentional about regularly spending times in silence and in solitude to both pray and just listen
  3. Being honest with God about what is going on in my heart each time I pray  [I’ve found the more honest I am with God, no matter how ugly or messy it is, the more I experienced his presence and response] 

Faith isn’t a one size fits all walk and I believe we all experience God differently. He speaks to each of us in different ways – ways that resonate with us as individuals.

I don’t claim to have all the answers or the only way, but I can promise this:

God delivers. He shows up. I don’t know how or in what ways he’ll do that for you but I know that when we seek him [not just for what he can do for us and to get answers to our prayers, but to known him: who he is and what he’s like] with our whole heart, he shows up.  And many times, he shows off!

In my earnest pleas to know him- in crying out for him to show me how he feels for me, personally – God has made himself radically known to me in ways I cannot deny. And he wants to do the same for you.

 

When you feel alone in your pain and suffering | Reflections on Good Friday

I woke feeling incredibly nauseous and at first I thought I was hungry. Come to think of it, I didn’t eat much yesterday. So I scarfed down a power bar and two pieces of toast. Maybe I needed water for my digestive system to kick in. Down a cup went. Nothing seemed to make the pain disappear, only exasperate.

By the time my daughter was up, I carried her into bed with me hoping some cuddle time would do the trick. But still it got worse.

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Within 15 minutes, I was keeled over unable to hide my pain or hold my daughter, who so desperately wanted to ensure mommy was ok. 

At one point, I attempted to hide out in the bathroom but she wouldn’t have any of it. She opened that door, found me prostrate on the floor, flung her entire body over mine and began to sob.

My heart broke that hers was breaking and I tried desperately to assure her everything was ok… with my words, attempting to keep a strong face and grimacing under my breath. But it didn’t work. She was in a full flood of tears, nestling herself in my shoulder sobbing.

She knew better than to fall for my act. I wasn’t ok and that broke her heart.

Dave had shared something earlier that a child phycologist had shared with him. She commented on how we were in the adorable stages of 13-18 months, where children developmentally don’t yet understand that they are their own entity. They believe they are an extension of their parents- specifically, their moms.

This made complete sense. My daughter saw my pain as her pain and if I was weeping, so too should she be, because in her mind we are one.

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And then it got me thinking. This too is how our Heavenly Father must feel for us.

We are made in his image, his children whom he loves enough to die for and who has done everything in his power to love, protect and bring us home safely. We are his and we are one.

He dwells in us by the power of the Holy Spirit and we are kept hidden in him by the power of Christ’s sacrifice binding us together eternally. The sacrifice he made today, this good [terrible] Friday.

Our lives mean something to him and no matter how hard we try to hide our deepest feelings from him, put on a brave face or will ourselves to keep going, God sees what’s underneath- the truth of what we’re experiencing and his heart breaks with us when we’re in pain.

Our sorrow is his sorrow and he will sit with us, no matter how long it takes, to simply be with us, comfort us and let us know we’re not alone; whether we see it or not.

Whether we accept his love yet or not, he is still there nestling into us, catching every tear and sharing in our hurt. Because we are his children- a part of him- and he simply can’t help it.

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So whatever it is you’re going through- whether it something small and trivial like the flu- or large and life shattering, like cancer- you’re not alone. God sees you and he sees me. He is not a distant God or a domineering head in the sky.

He is personal and relational and he’s waiting for you to open your arms to his embrace.

Because today – on Good Friday- he first opened his arms for us.

When you think you’re helping but you’re not

I used to write from a place I thought was vulnerable but in truth I wasn’t. It wasn’t until I was through the storm, had seen the silver lining, learnt my lesson and could now make sense of it all, that I would share my experiences.

And my closest friends knew that. They were even brave enough to call me out in it. 

It wasn’t until recently that I began writing from a truly vulnerable place and let me tell you it isn’t easy. It’s felt more akin to laying on an operating table, unzipping my skin and exposing every nerve ending to the elements.

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It takes me hours, sometimes the day, to come back from writing something difficult and yet, I want to. I’ve come to crave it.

Writing in the thick of struggle – when the waters feel deep and murky – helps me process and recognize whats going on inside me and then acknowledge it. It helps me own where I’m at, give voice to the wounded soldier in me and move on, rather than stuff my emotions down and will myself to keep going- saving me unrest, anxiety and stress internally. 

I move quicker to a place of acceptance and then ultimately, joy because It’s healing and freeing to simply be with myself – to sit in whatever it is I’m experiencing without running away, judging and blaming anyone, even myself. 

I’ve learnt that’s called empathy. 

But I used to confuse empathy with sympathy. 

Empathy drives connection. It bolsters feelings of acceptance and being heard. Without saying anything, empathy tells the recipient “It’s ok and they’re ok.”

Sympathy, on the flip side, drives disconnection. It leaves people feeling unheard, rejected, and many times, experiencing shame, like theres something wrong with them or what they’re feeling. It isolates and without saying it, sympathy tells the recipient they are “less than”.

And the two – empathy vs sympathy- can many times hinge on a few small words.

The other day I posted something on social media. It was difficult for me to admit, but I knew there were others out there who felt the same way I did and I wanted to open it up for conversation. One response instantly got my back up.

I knew my pride was hurt and initially I told myself to smarten up. But then I sat in it and asked myself why. Why did what she said bother me so much and it wasn’t so much what she said, but how she said it. It was the words she chose. 

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It included the words “everybody (we all)“, said multiple times over and followed up with her advice for dealing with and getting over it. 

I felt completely shut down, like I was a pion/weird/stupid for feeling insecure in this area and all together below and less than her.

And while my guess is that she’s learnt from personal experience and can all together relate, I did not feel connected to her one bit. I felt pushed aside or worse, mocked; like I was a dumb child and some adult had just patted me on the head and said “there, there.”

In reality, I know what she said came from the right place but what I discovered is that the words she chose, rather than making me feel validated, not alone and normal, made me feel small and stupid; like my feelings and struggles (ultimately, me) were not worthy of being said or felt.

Two words could have changed that: me too.

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Rather than sitting with me and relating – by saying “me too” – I felt like she was standing in a different circle overhearing my conversation and scolding me in front of others; like she was too good or too wise to even entertain my heart. 

Honestly, this isn’t about her at all, because I too have used these exact words when trying to console or encourage people! I’ve caught myself trying to relate but failing, as I choose words that isolate rather than connect. But if I look closer, I’ve I’m painfully honest with myself, I can see this usually happens when deep down, I’m trying to protect myself.

Perhaps I all too much relate and hate that I do; I’m not ready to admit it out loud and by lumping myself in that category, I’ll be found out. Or maybe it’s because I can’t relate and I really don’t want to. In getting too close and trying to relate, I’ll have to admit I’m susceptible to experiencing whatever it is that person is experiencing. And that may be painful. 

When I keep people at bay (consciously or subconsciously) – when I offer sympathy rather than empathy it tends to be where I myself have or am experiencing shame, guilt or fear.

I pray that next time I’ll be more self aware and will be granted the courage to respond in love; to respond with empathy.

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Lord, we confess that on many occasions we have missed opportunities to be there for people- to offer a loving word when it’s needed most. Forgive us. Help us connect with one another; to offer empathy rather than sympathy, even when it’s difficult. Help us to recognize when we’re isolating people rather than welcoming them in and show us what, if anything, is keeping us from meaningful interactions. Your word tell us that there is power in our words; life or death in them. Guard our mouths and help us speak words that will lift up and encourage rather than strip down. Thank you that you are at work in us, refining us into our best selves and will carry it through to completion. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

When you feel like a failure as a mom and you’re convinced you’ll ruin your kid

Anxiety plagued me for days and despite my valiant efforts to look within and determine the source, it wasn’t until this morning that I saw them.

Failed Expectations.

This isn’t the first time my expectations have caused me to worry and become anxious. It isn’t the first time they’ve stolen not only my joy, but my peace and the ability to clearly see whats right in front of me.

But these weren’t just any expectations, they were the deep longings of my heart;  the false expectations I had of me and my mothering.

Before I become mom and even as I’ve worn the title these last 13 months, I confess that I expected it to be all naps and snuggles, giggles and playtime. That she would perfectly fit into our old lives, love it herself, always act delightful and that our joy would multiple. That I would always delight in her, in return and in my role as her mother all the time- in every minute.

I thought that I would wake each morning eager to be with her and that I’d never want to be without her.

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That when life got hard, I would see the challenge through the lens of wisdom, compassion and a hunger to learn and grow. That tears would be few and regret none existent.

And that each moment, I would revel in the present moment, etching the beauty of it on my heart and giving thanks for it. 

I thought that because I had experienced the death of a child in my early years and trauma amidst my humble beginnings as a mother, that I would never take a moment for granted! And if I’m really honest, that because my hopes for motherhood were not (all together) selfish and focused on frivolous or materialistic things, that God would bless that!

In truth, this was much of my early experiences of motherhood.

While I may have been downing in tears of grief and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), God used my daughter to draw me to him – to turn my mourning into dancing. She was the break in my everyday darkness for nine consecutive weeks. She turned my heart and my head rightside up and so many things, like my priorities, my worries, and fears, suddenly fell into place.

She pushed me to look honestly at myself, for her sake, and deal with the ugly and hurt parts of me I’d hidden away for years, emerging on the other side a free, wholehearted and confident woman. She taught me to fully live and embrace life with the people right in front of me without distraction.

Then suddenly the page turned, we entered a new chapter and I went from just being with and experiencing life with her, to raising her. To failing every single day at being my best self for her – the self I liked and prided myself on being as a mother.

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Instead, I’ve had to fight daily to respond rather than react, to have patience, show compassion and choose joy in the wake of struggle. I’ve let anxiety and fear steal the moment- our moments- and bait me with notions that I will forever fail and struggle in my role as her mom. And that perhaps I’m only cut out to be a baby momma and will cease to be what she needs. That I won’t be able to love her well or help her know and experience unconditional love and acceptance.

I’ve compared myself to the women around me who seem to thrive in motherhood and delight – even rave- about being with their children 24/7 and wouldn’t have it any other way. Comparing myself to women who juggle solo, not knowing the throngs of help or are privileged the gift of a village to help raise their child, like I am – and still they want more children.

And here I am struggling with one child and ample hands to help raise her along side me. Guilt and shame suffocate me.

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For a moment I feel helpless and wish I were like them, willing myself to be different, believing she needs those kind of women as her momma.

Until I realize I’ve entirely missed the point.

I’ve believed the lie that true joy comes without suffering or sacrifice – without being challenged or stretched beyond my comfort zones.

And I’ve forgotten the thing I need to remember most: that God chose me, not them, to be her mother and her to be my child. It’s not by accident! He chose us for each other, specifically and with purpose. God sees every day of our lives and knows exactly what we need most – what will serve us best- in the people we each are, how he’s made us, designed us and gifted us as two individuals- me her mother, her my daughter.

And God’s plans are always for the good of those who love him; to give us a hope and a future.

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But it’s not in my strength or hers that we will proposer, but in our weakness, because it’s there – in that place- that God’s power is made perfect. In our weaknesses we will seek him and see our need for him clearly. Our weaknesses will move us to step aside long enough to give God the reigns and take the wheel. Because  with him at the head, we will never be led off course.

So today, (and every day if I need to) I am laying down my expectations and my plans. I will own my weaknesses in motherhood and give my insecurities to God. And I will refuse to parent out of fear, but in love  because love covers a multitude of mistakes, of which I am chief. And I will trust God and his grace to bring us through.

 

7-10 So I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees.  At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 | The Message

 

 

When you hate how you’re feeling but you don’t know how to get rid of it

I define SHAME as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. – Brene Brown

Shame is universal and whether we recognize it or not, we all experience it on a day to day basic.

Things, people, experiences and even our own thoughts can trigger shame and until we learn to recognize them and practice resilience – the ability to move through the shame in a healthy manner and learn from it– we will perpetually live in a cycle of shame and self condemnation.

According to Brene Brown (“I thought it was just me, but it isn’t”) , we experience shame in the following categories:

  1. Appearance and Body Image

  2. Money and Work

  3. Motherhood

  4. Family

  5. Parenting

  6. Mental and Physical Health including Addiction

  7. Sex

  8. Aging

  9. Religion

  10. Speaking Out

  11. Surviving Trauma

  12. Stereotyped and Labelled

I’m not sure about you, but I can check off nearly every box! In each category, there are identities and characteristics I want to be seen as. And most certainly, there are unwanted ones also.

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I want to be seen as a naturally beautiful woman, who is self confident but not arrogant. A woman who works for passion and to make a difference, with a desire to use that money for good – to bless others. I want to be known as a mother who is joy-filled, grateful, wise and undistracted. A person who values family and leaves a legacy of deep, connected relationships. I want to be strong, resilient and a victorious overcomer. I want to be desired by my husband, free and playful in our marriage bed and be known as a voice for healthy relationships and sexuality. I want to be seen as a passionate and committed Christian; courageous in following Jesus. I want to known as brave and fearless; authentic even when it’s difficult. To be seen as self- aware, relatable and pointing others to hope and healing for the hurting. I want to be a contagious spirit – a breath of fresh air for many.

But even on my best days, my unwanted identities can paralyze me. They push me into a cycle of negative self talk, followed shortly by beating myself into submission.

I want to feel good about my body so I force another workout, or resist the food I know I need. I want to seem nice and forgiving, be liked and accepted; so I keep quite or withhold how I’m truly feeling. I want to be happy, so I pretend like everything’s fine. I want to feel capable and accomplished, so I continue to push until it’s done. I want to be normal and move past this, so I ignore my pain and trauma down below. I want to be everything and more – perfect – so I give everything to everyone else with nothing left for me or my family.

 

 

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And while some of my wanted identities are achievable and nobel, parts of it are not. There are parts of my perception that is skewed and my expectations based on lies; truth’s that I’ve learnt from behaviours and beliefs I’ve adopted from others or media.

We need to evaluate where these message come from? Where these expectations and beliefs systems started? Are they good. Are they yours? Are they wanted and realistic? What’s the cost and will it matter in the end?

The truth is we can’t avoid shame, we can only move through it and it starts by taking the time to recognize and acknowledge how we’re feeling, rather than running, ignoring or pushing through. We need to let the fears have a voice, if only for a moment, then assure them and hug them with our truth.

So what is the truth- your truth? What will people miss out on – heck, what will you miss out on– if reduced to those unwanted identities?

Speak it! Dare to say it out loud and back to yourself…

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If people reduce me to those labels I’m running from, they’ll miss out on the woman I once was and the woman I’m becoming. They’ll miss out on my story and that I’ve learn through hard and painful personal experience. That I fight passionately where there are few voices, in arenas that are uncomfortable and countercultural. They’ll miss how much I’ve grown and what I I’ve discovered through the process of becoming a mother. They’ll miss my transformation from a broken, to a healed woman. They’ll miss my commitment and my courage-  bravery in trusting God for miracles. They’ll miss out on Jesus and his Freedom; on deep connection and friendship that is rare.

Because while I’m not perfect and I’ll always be a work in progress, I too am these beautiful things and this is my story.

 

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Lord, I thank you that you make beauty from ashes; that you redeem the ugliest of messes. Thank you that you came to heal the broken hearted and to set the captives free. I pray that you would help us, help me, to speak truth in the face of lies – to shine light when it feels dark – to run to you in my hurt, rather than away from you or it. Help me to recognize shame when it’s heaped upon me and be brave enough to move through it. Give me everything I need to be and to own who you made me to be.

 

 

How to help when someone you love’s life is upside down

Today I watched you play and all the world just fell away.

It was exactly what I needed, because lately my worlds felt heavy and today I couldn’t carry it a second longer. I needed to remove the load and walk away, even if only for an evening. 

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We were at grandma and grandpas- great grandparents to you- in the same home, with the same smells and the same blankets to cuddle in. The ones I used to wrap myself in when I was your age. 

I watched grandma run after you, sing songs, play pretend and teach you new tricks, all the while you squealing and babbling in delight. She used to do that with me too. 

I watched her pick Disney movies, pull you up on the big soft bed and dim the lights so the room was all cozy. She used to do that with me too. 

She fed you dinner, poured you juice and sent you home with a Nic Nac bag or two. She used to do that with me too. 

And while nothings changed – no problems were solved and no deep conversation was had – everything felt right in my world.  What we shared instead was something better; something mommy needed more instead: comfort, company and simple unconditional love.

Because 90% of showing you care is simply showing up. 

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Love doesn’t always have to try – to be intense, exhaustive or laborious. It doesn’t always have to have the answers or silver line the hard stuff. Is doesn’t always have to ask questions. Love is sometimes just about being there; being humble and quiet, ordinary and predictable. 

‘Cause when all the world feels upside down, this kind of love speaks louder. 

 

When there’s a war inside you and life feels all together hard

God has a funny way of giving us exactly what we need at exactly the right time. 

For example, my husband and I have been working through this book for the past 6 months but it was given to us almost 2 years ago by friends. The day we started it, we were at a cross roads in our relationship and we begged for direction from God and he brought the book – which we had both forgotten about– to mind.

We planned to plow through it in a few weeks, while simultaneously fasting media so all our undivided attention was on it. Quickly that fell to the way side and while initially I had guilt over it, I know now that guilt wasn’t from God – it was simply my hyper religious tendencies that wanted to wow God with my discipline.

 Instead, we’ve allowed God to prompt in our hearts when it’s time to work through the next chapter and without fail, every single time we open it, it’s exactly what we need and meets us where were at; many times its been the insight we were begging for or an answer to our prayers. 

Yesterday he did it again, twice.

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First, by leading me to this podcast which normalized feelings I’ve been battling for months. It affirmed the gruelling, exhaustive and painful nature of the grieving process – validating the exact experiences and emotions I’ve been walking through for months.

I burst into tears. The little girl in me finally heard, “You’re not a freak, Kailey. This too shall pass. Everything is going to be OK.” 

Then later that evening, we walked into our family therapists office expecting to talk about one thing before she completely flipped our session on its head, zeroing in on me and the shame I’ve been carrying and beating myself up with.

She taught me about the two parts of my personality that are at war with each other: the General [the over achieving, try harder, responsibility taking, buckle up your boot straps, I can do anything, brush it off, side of me] and the wounded soldier [the one who actually fights and feels the battle and gets wounded in the process. The part that has vivid recollection and memories from the wars she’s faced, and will forever feel and experience life through that lens]

They’re supposed to be family, loving each other for their strengths and knowing their roles- working together for good – but instead they’re hating each other, creating division in my heart and tearing each other down. 

In essence, they’re each others’ worst enemy.

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I’d been begging God to give words to the war I’ve been experiencing inside me, because while on the outside I might seem fine, on the inside I’m completely beat up and bleeding. I feel helpless on most days and all together incapable of managing the simple acts of day to day life.

Some days, all I can manage to do is write, watch tv, have a conversation, drink coffee and I’m still all together spent by the end of it.  And on other days, when life just feels too hard and the grieving to great, I need to check out for a while – to numb the hurt by going to Starbucks, watching a movie, go shopping or eat a sundae. 

But that doesn’t make me weak, a bad Christian or a freak! This is all together normal for someone who is in the thick of grieving and I know those things can fix me; Only Jesus can. And He is with me in those moments; He does them with me!

Whether I’m praying or not, Jesus knows my heart and he knows I know, he is my true comforter – not those activities. 

But I need to stuff the General’s voice aside and own the truth: 

It is not my responsibility to change my circumstance, to heal me, to change me or to rid myself of hard emotions. That is Jesus’s.

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My only responsibility is to be authentic in all this – to vulnerably acknowledge what’s going on in side me no matter what it looks like and to take it to Jesus rather than run away. 

What I need most right now is the time and space to heal, to be unconditionally loved and taken care of, not beat into submission or told I’m weak. I need to let the wounded soldier have her voice because truly, she is my heroine, not the General. She is the brave courageous one who will do the messy, hard work of grieving and healing, leading me to victory. 

She will know freedom and live to tell the story. 

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Lord, silence the negative voices, including my own; let your voice of empathy and your voice of love be louder. Help me Jesus, to run to you and not run away from the war inside me. Lead me out of temptation; away from guilt, shame, blame or independence. Thank you that you love me in the mess and that you never leave me in the dark. Thank you that I see the flicker of light and that redemption is on the horizon. Search my heart, oh Lord, and finish the work you have started in me.