Oh Baby- This is Us

You know all my secrets baby,
The truths that I hold in,
Thanks for keeping quiet baby,
For holding tight my hand.

You know all my crazy baby,
The thoughts behind my smile,
Thanks for knowing the real me baby,
For loving my twisted mind.

You know all my stories baby,
The fire that’s brought us here,
Thanks for guarding the door baby,
For keeping God’s truth always near.

You know me all the way baby,
The whole twisted lovely mess,
Thanks for staying and laughing baby,
For reminding me we’re blessed.

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Dog Years

Hours pass like a slow drip, belly full of jumping beans,
Days ticked off a calendar,
Until the day that meant another year older,
“When Mommy…when?
“Shhh…Not yet.”

At a desk, Staring out the window, 
Sprinklers dot the glass,  
Sun and kelly green grass shout summer,
 “Ms. Lake, Can we leave….now?
“Shhh…Not yet.”

Slow days measured by ringing bells
The hallway stretches so long,
Ruby red cap, pressed gown, behind a closet door,
“Is it time?”
“Shhh…Not yet.”

Hair grown long, mind made up,
Perfect plans with sips of coffee,
Kitten Heels, A job, A lease
“Do I have it figured out?”
“Shhh..Not yet.”

Candles, a ring, a date on the calendar,
One day that changes all tomorrows,
Wrapped in white, hair pinned to perfect,
“Dad, Am I ready?”
“Shhh…Not yet.”

Swollen, aching, impatient 
Bursting with life, Ripe with change,
Belly hiding toes, Quiet pastel room,
“Dr, Is she coming?”
“Shh…Not yet.”

Anxious, praying, hoping trusting
Letting go of what is, Waiting for what’s coming,
Tears of change, Heart spilling life,
“God…Will it ever make sense?”
“Shh…Not yet.”

 

 

 

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Get Back Home

We are living in an apartment as our house gets remade. But as the walls are rebuilt in our home, its within the four walls of this small apartment that I’m learning how to live again. You see I’ve been so concerned about what I want to do with my life that I’d forgotten the importance of who I already am. Sometimes we have to relearn the basics. 

As I curl up on an unfamiliar couch in an apartment full of borrowed furniture, my words curl around me like a blanket as I reread an old manuscript I had tucked away and forgotten about. I read the things that had first helped me to find my writing voice. Things about how to be a mom and still find myself at the same time. Words that somehow gave voice to the constant stone at the pit of my stomach, and the little question marks that constantly buzz like unfinished thoughts in the back of my brain.

I had discarded these stories as postcards of my past, as I fixed my eyes on bigger goals. But life’s unplanned challenges have humbled me. Like wiping away the layers of makeup before a mirror, I’m remembering what I really look like.

In the background the lyrics of an old song hums a familiar tune,

“Once, there was a way to get back homeward
Once, there was a way to get back home
Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby”

As ironic tears line my cheeks, I realize I’ve taken a long, hard journey home. I’ve circled back to me- to that unmasked face in the mirror. A face that is creased with a few more crinkles in the corners of my eyes, but those same green eyes and freckles look back at me honestly. I wish I could explain to my teenage self how the soul doesn’t droop and sag like skin. Although my skin betrays me to be 33, my soul still feels smooth and bright, like an unweathered stone.

As I read the words from a girl who didn’t know the pain that I know now- its easy to think I knew little. I was naive and optimistic like an eighteen year old that doesn’t think the sun will leave a lasting mark. But in a season when I’m jaded and lost, these words from my past are as green as the grass I lain in to tell stories from the clouds. Green like the crab apples we’d pick from the mushroom shaped trees in Apple Hill. Green like the sweet peas I pureed to create my first homemade baby food.

As the landscape of my life shifts, cracks, and droops I remember that my soul is still planted in the same small hole. Each word I write, read, pray, and speak are like buds of life that spring forth from that same unmovable place.

When Bree was two, she would put her shoes on the right feet. I watched proudly thinking somehow she’d learned her right from her left. At four years old though, its a guarantee that her foot will find the wrong shoe, even when I  set them in front of her the right way. Today, I just watched my 21 month old, Elyse fit her little feet in the proper shoes, while Bree waddled out the door again like a duck, toes pointing in opposite directions. I realized that sometimes the right thing comes naturally.

As I assert my own knowledge and independence, I go through a season of getting things backwards too.

I dream that someday I will be a writer and speaker, but the truth is that the important tending needs to happen in the little circle of soil that holds my soul. From that small, sacred place, God can bring forth life that can bear fruit and shade. But its in the dark hole where He does the work that matters most.

Curled in the dark, like a womb, a waiting place, I wait for God to do His good work in my heart. I pray that He will grow me into a tree that stands tall, but more important, that I have solid roots like fingers always reaching back home.
“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8

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When You Love

 

Fickle child don’t pout,
Your birthday candles are puffed
and tucked back in their box,
But look at the twinkling lights
He’s hung for you in the sky,

Your castle made of blocks
may reach high and then fall down,
But you are His temple,

Your sweet head may swirl with fears, doubts, and a gajillion “what if’s”,
But your heart is
safely tucked inside His heart

Your balloon floats out of sight.
But He is everywhere,
At the end of the rainbow,
On the tip of your tongue,
In your dreams, 

When you love,
When you’re brave,
and especially
When you feel all alone.

 

 

 

 

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Finding Faithful

When I was 5, my mom lost me in a small department store. She thought I was with my dad.

 I found a blonde woman with a kind expression on her face. She took me to a clerk that announced my mom’s name in a loud tinny voice over a microphone at the register.

I know now that if my mom had known I was lost, she would have searched for me frantically. She would have performed the kind of urgent red faced dance I do when I lose sight of one of my daughters. As a child though, I bought a small yellow bungee cord that I attached to my mom’s belt loop. Holding the other end, I thought I’d found a fool proof way to always keep my mom close- so she wouldn’t lose me ever again.

How often do I fool myself into thinking that God has lost sight of me or just doesn’t care? How often do I mistrust the people I love and trust most? In life’s uncertainty, I feel like a five year old little girl, lost amidst the shelves of unfamiliar problems, peering up at giants I don’t recognize.

In my insecurities, I hide, run away, and tether myself to false control in the form of approval, possessions, status, and ego. I beg God for my own plans to work out, rather than trusting in His plans.

This week we’re exploring “faithfulness” in our fruit of the Spirit Facebook study. What I’m realizing is that my own capacity to be faithful, depends on trusting God’s faithfulness to me.

I wish I could tell that five year old little girl how much her mommy loves her- how desperate her mom is to keep her safe. But I couldn’t understand this kind of fierce love until I became a parent myself.

I’ve come to learn that my mom’s love reaches further than a four foot bungee. More than that, I get to experience relationships that require a delicate balance of loving and trusting and holding another’s fragile heart in my careful hands. But even in faithful and loving relationships, I can get hurt and I can hurt those I love most. I’ve come to learn that God has designed these complicated relationships for me to seek His faithfulness, and to cultivate a deeper dependence on Him.

I can soak up God’s love and faithfulness to me in his Word, and when I feel lost I can whisper His name and find my way home. From that place of centeredness and security, I can be a faithful wife, compassionate mom, and kind stranger. I might feel lost sometimes, but I never leave His sight.

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Giving up On My Dreams and Living in my Reality

I have a book that I bought that is supposed to teach me how to get things accomplished.

Its called “Eat that Frog,” by Brian Tracy. The only problem is I haven’t read it. I got that initial jolt of excitement when I read the back of the book while browsing in Barnes and Noble back before I owned a kindle. “Eat That Frog is a proven system for dramatically improving your time management skills so you can get more done, more effectively, in less time.”

Doesn’t that sound great you guys? It sounded great to me. I got a high when I bought the book, knowing that I was taking the first step in improving my time management. Only problem is I never seemed to find the time to read it. And that was BEFORE I had kids!

Because it always seems to be something, some excuse that holds me back from doing the things I know I should do. I’m sure you can fill in the blank with the prescription you’ve written yourself for personal improvement, “Once I’m done with ______________ then I will do this _____________.” I don’t know about you, but something always seems to come up that prevents me from being my aspiring self.

Take this blog for example. I haven’t written a thing because I’m always waiting for the perfect circumstances to sit down and pour out my heart in a meaningful way. The stars just haven’t aligned recently. So instead I’ll settle for an afternoon in my hotel room, my dog snoozing on the chair as the sun streams in through the clouds and sheer curtains on the seventh floor. I won’t mention my toddler covered in erasable marker creating a masterpiece on her arms and the coloring book on the floor beside me.

But I’m stealing a moment to write this because I’ve made a resolution. I’m going to stop waiting for the “once…then…” to be fully present in my life now. But I’m also going to stop trying to measure myself against an impossible standard.

This means a house thats relatively clean and not immaculate.

A diet that is a happy blend of salads and protein shakes and wine and chocolate chip cookies.

It means feeling accomplished when I find time to do a 10 minute workout instead of delaying working out until– well you know all the excuses.

It means sharing a blog post that shows my life and heart in process.

Its having friends over to laugh and sip wine on a Monday night while my kids sleep in the next room.

Best of all, having friends that love me and celebrate me and all my contradictions– the former hair stylist that never does her hair, the pastor’s wife that doesn’t like small talk and potlucks, and the stay at home mom that longs to change the world. 

I love stories about people accomplishing amazing feats, stories about redemption, the stories that depict people’s love and dedication to one another and their calling– the underdog that overcomes impossible odds to do something amazing. But sometimes these stories paralyze me.

Sometimes I need to step back from my aspirations and live my life one word at a time. I need to remember that the small things, like mustard seeds have incredible worth and potential.

So I’ll plant these little seeds that I have right now.  I’ll plant myself in this moment. And I’ll grow. I’ll grow little by little, in these days of undone to do’s, my barking dog, and a bed that seems to keep unmaking itself every morning.

I think I’ll focus on these little things and let God move the mountains.

 

 

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Home isn’t A Destination

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At the edge of now; Searching for not yet

What is; What is to come,

Warm brushstrokes of hope bleeding into the dark sea of unknown,

Plans harpooned; Disquieted and motionless

As stillness ripples across the white caps of uncertainty

Fingers of light touching things submerged,

The meeting place of lungs and gills,

Anticipating, trembling; Longing waiting,

Humming with hope, Holding still,

Peace in knowing; Faith in waiting,

The crossing place where the Divine teaches us,

To walk across sin’s sinking surfaces,

Holding His guiding hand home.

 

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Called to Be

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Calling. Something that seems to come outside us. That irresistible thing that beckons us, shapes us, needs us to engage. I don’t know about you, but this is a word that I’ve grappled with every few years, finding it impossible to sift it down to one single grain.

But I think more and more, calling is the complicated thing that our generation and younger generations seem to long for. To live a life of purpose that somehow pays the bills and fulfills us, so our lives feel good, and look good on Instagram. Is that what calling is? Or does it have an illusive quality- something we’re always looking to find more fully- but never fully “arrive” at.

When a person tries to fill themselves up with purpose, or position, popularity, or possessions, they are going to become bloated, and so incredibly empty.

In 1 Corinthians as Paul addresses the people of Corinth, he scolds them for allowing themselves to become “overinflated or distended” with pride- the Greek word physioo. As Pastor Tim Keller points out in his book about self forgetfulness, Paul doesn’t use the normal Greek word for pride, hubris, but makes a point to use this other, more descriptive word to emphasize the Corinthians problem.

When we try to fill ourselves up by searching for approval and achievement, we’re going at it the wrong way. Calling isn’t something that we need to search for outside of ourselves, but something God has planted within us; who God has created us to be. It flows out of who we are. Our essence.

Calling isn’t necessarily how we’re going to pay the bills, but maybe a nice bonus. Calling isn’t going to make our lives fall into perfect order, or gain us popularity, or make us look good on Instagram. Calling doesn’t mean that we always want to do it either- sometimes following our calling feels like trust, obedience, and hard work.

Calling is living out who God created us to be in a life that serves him and the people around us. It can be as small as writing an article for the preschool newsletter, reading our kids poems, or making a meal for good friends to share over a good conversation. It can look like sitting with someone when conversation is halting and uncomfortable and tears flood our vision. It can go bigger than we imagine by rebuilding a village in Africa, raising thousands of dollars for the underprivileged, or finding a cure that saves millions.

Calling isn’t about going to the right college or having a fantastic resume. It isn’t necessarily about traveling across the world or impacting thousands of lives. Lived out, calling looks like the next right thing.

But the point is- calling isn’t something we have to earn or prove, its created by God, and fueled by the Spirit. Its about prayer, faith, and steeping ourselves in His word. Day by day, minute by minute calling is lived out in trust and obedience.

So how do we teach our kids this, as we ourselves are still figuring it out?

I don’t have all the answers, but I think the first step is not pushing our kids to achieve. Achievement is great, but it flows out of being who we are. No I think first we need to teach our kids how to be. How to be present, how to be honest, how to be loved and loving, how to be whole. The first step is teaching them how to be God’s child. That happens when we bring them to church, when we pray with them, and read God’s word, when we talk with them and answer their questions.

But most of all it happens as we live out God’s calling in our own lives- quieting our hungry egos and filling ourselves up with him. Remembering that we don’t need to be popular, or skinny, successful, or rich to be loved by Him. We already are.

Prayer
Remind us that only You can satisfy this ache within us.

We come to you now with open palms and empty souls.
We are dry clay jars of dust, ready for you to fill us, fuel us, and repurpose us for Your glory.

We feel hungry and empty,
And yet we look to be filled by whatever is at the end of our fingertips.
Until we are full, and bloated, and completely unsatisfied.
Sometimes we’re distracted into believing we have all we need,
Sometimes we’re smug and satisfied, easily pleased with our own abilities.

Thank you for tugging our hearts back to You,
For reminding us of our overwhelming need for Your Glory.
Thank you that the Holy of Holies dwells in our chests,
No longer behind an untouchable veil.

Let us lean into our longing and linger in Your presence,
As you pass over us let us realize the magnitude of Who You are.
Satisfy us with your fullness, and let us continue to hunger for You

Thank you for reminding us that only You are our source for true fulfillment.
Touch us with Your presence Lord,
Fill our heart cups with Your living water
Fill our souls with the bread of your life.

We lift our palms to you, empty and filled, lost and repurposed.

 

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100 Honest Words

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“What do I want to be when I grow up?”

A question I’ve asked since scraped knees and greasy pony.
Sleek and polished professional the same question buzzes in my blood.
Yoga pants, messy bun cliche, kids running underfoot, the question sings like a lullaby in the early morning beneath cries and snuggles.
These days self realization looks a lot like self promotion— self devotion.
But amid the accumulation, and forward motion, stuffed emotion, I wonder if that question is an ironic statement that lingers to tease us, teasing out the loose threads of our unraveling certainty.

Who am I?

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Loved over Perfect

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I want to walk the fine line of perfection.
I want to be one way- until I lean too far in one direction, and then I overcorrect, leaving me dizzy with indecision and insecurity.

They call it happy medium, like there’s a measurement that amounts to that, but I’m realizing that its a constant balancing act. The moment I think I’ve got it down, my illusions comes crashing down as I face my false reality.

I think this is a dance we do as parents, as spouses, as kids, and at work, with our friends and even with people we don’t really like. Pretty much, as humans, we can try to walk life’s fine lines.

As I look at the scattered pieces of false realities and loose ends, I’m challenged to look at the fragmented beauty right in front of me.

Shakespeare writes in As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” He asserts with bold certainty that life is scripted and predictable, as we continue to go through the same lines and choreographed movements like a carefully directed play.

But God gave us free will. He gave us the ability to move and speak and choose as we wish. When we choose the right thing purely, its beautiful and organic, and right. When the right thing is forced it rings false,
like a dripping sweet compliment or a forced apology. And that is why God made us people that are freed by his love, that freely choose to love.

Love isn’t a carefully marked path, but a stumbling journey of trying, and failing, and keeping on moving, even if you don’t know if you’re going in the right direction. The life that God calls us to isn’t a pin straight line of truth, but blind steps of trust and obedience. Never as a mere pawn or player in a prewritten play, but gentle steps that unfold our own stories.

These stories aren’t measured by their perfection or our performance. No, these aren’t stories reviewed by critics or competing to be on a bestseller list. Each story is God’s love story to us. As we fall, and get back up, as we doubt, and trust, and hide and seek, and find, our stories unravel into a picture of forgiveness, of redemption, and of imperfect progress.

I will never walk the tight rope of perfection as a mom, as a wife, a friend, or any person. So instead of training my steps to fall in perfect line with who I think I should be, I land in the soft place of grace, where I am restored and reshaped. Instead of placing impossible expectations on myself, I can live loved. Loved by God, loving myself, so I can pour love into the world around me. Because when I’m loved, being perfect doesn’t seem so important.

“Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy unchanging love”

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