Saturday, August 27, 2011


Have you ever watched your children on a carousel? Watched their faces light up with joy while you stand aside and watch?

That's kind of like what parenting is like when you have not been parented. It's watching your children experience life in a way that you never have. It is being separated from them in something so basic and fundamental that it is the basis of your whole adult life.

In this house, and in our family, I sometimes feel very much the outsider. I am the only one here, in these walls, that does not know family as a safe place. I don't know mom or dad as a word of safety or shelter. I have never run to my parents for advice, for love, for strength. I envy them this feeling of a broad sense of love. Of a depth and breadth to the world of those who care deeply for you. They have so much more than I have ever had, and I don't begrudge them of it, but I can say that at times it makes me feel very much alone.

My mother's picture hangs on the wall. My daughter has no idea who she is. My father sits in a lonely nursing home. He's never met Sam, and Lily doesn't remember him. My communication with him is stilted and one sided.

My husband's parent's voices are as familiar in this house as my own. They call daily. The children know them, have spent time with them, and love them fiercely. And as my husband says, they are my family now. I believe that. But the knowledge does not heal.

I can't explain how I feel in the moments when Sam and Lily talk to their grandparents. I feel ashamed that mine cannot and will not do the same. I feel joy that my children are so loved. I feel small and pained and...broken. I feel pitiful, and hate myself for the feeling.

I don't want to be envious of what Mark and my children have. I want to be happy for them. And I am, in many ways. But sometimes it feels as if they are in a great boat leaving harbor, and I am skirting their path on the shore, waving and calling. We are all going the same direction, and to the same place, but having two very different experiences.

This nis a daily challenge for me- to parent in a way that I can be proud of. To give of myself in ways that I was never shown. I am making it up as I go along, with no road map and no manual. And I feel as if I have done a decent job muddling through most times.

But there are days like today. When the aftermath of a hurricane pulls through, and phone calls fly back and forth. None for me. And when the computer shows faces that smile and my children wave and sing and smile back- but none of those faces are my family. Days when I feel like the ground after the storm- wasted, littered, and overwhelmed.

Days when I put pen to paper to write a letter to my father, while the voices of my husband's parents call out through the phone into the walls of my house, striking me at just how different our experiences of life are and always will be.

So I will walk along the shore while those I love take a different journey, and see the way in a different light. But I will be grateful for the glimpses I get of their path, and of their lives with a circle of family much broader than my own. I will watch, I will call, I will wave, and I will try to be at peace with my viewpoint here, on a different land.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Magic of Belief

I watch my daughter's face light up as she sees magic. Her kind of magic- a princess castle poised against a blue sky, a mermaid she loves come to abrupt life, singing a song she knows by heart. I watch her face as she sees these things, things to her that are beyond imagining, things to me that are no secret. I know the force behind the magic, the very real human effort to make the unreal, real.

But she believes. In princesses. In a giant mouse that sings and dances. In characters that make no sense to my adult mind.

And I think about this magic. This created joy, this manufactured feeling. How do I get her face to light up this way at the idea of God? At the idea of Jesus, who saves and loves and gives?

How do I manufacture faith or belief? How do I teach her that the real magic of this world lies in the hands of One who loves her more than words can express?

How do I show her that the beauty of a tree in fall flourish is just as magical as a princess come to life?

How do I explain that the love she shows her brother is the extension of the love God puts into her tiny perfect soul?

It is the biggest mission of my life. It is the hardest as well.

I think about how I came to faith, and I cannot pinpoint the moment it crossed from being an idea to being a reality. I cannot find that moment when God's hand became so real to me I could feel it guiding me. It just...was. And still is.

I live my spiritual life quietly, praying in silence. I fold my hands and sit but rarely, instead carrying on a constant dialogue with God in my mind. I speak to Him as I fold laundry, as I cook, as I play with the kids. It is as it has always been, and I know no other way.

So how will she know? I want her to know. I want her to feel the peace and the fierce joy that comes with knowing you are more than just you. That you are deeply and intimately connected to a world that lies like a vast underground, deep and hidden, but very real. I want her to be rooted firmly into faith that quiets all of her ragged thoughts, and soothes all of her fears.

It is magic, this knowledge. It is beyond anything I could ever imagine. It is deeper and stronger than anything I could speak of. I want to give it to her more than anything else.

I have to rely on her ability to see clearly into me. Her perceptiveness is acute- she feels everything as if it was happening to herself. She sees into me and into others with a compassion that is sewn into her very soul. It is a gift she has been given, this ability to feel.

This is how I will show her what faith is. In the only way I can- with a deep trust and knowledge that I am passing on something intrinsic to her life- the ability to reach beyond herself. To know she never walks alone. To know she is responsible to be who God created her to be, in word and deed and action.

I can only show her with my own life what God can do. That He can take the broken and mend it stronger than before. That He can turn the world, the seasons, and at the same time, be a Father to us. That He is all, and everything. And He loves her more than I ever could.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Not one moment.

I spent an evening last week talking with a neighbor. Neighbor doesn't really do the relationship justice, however. She is supposed to be in my life. Hand planted by the One who knows what I need, even when I don't.

She was determined to get my story. The whole story, warts and all. And so under a Carolina moon on a sweltering night, she got it.

And as I talked I felt the old feelings well up and spill over, like a wound reopened. They rose in my throat. They tingled through my hands and feet. They cut through all of the carefully cultivated and determined prayers I have said to secure them safely.

They were brought up from a deep ocean and thrown onto my shore. And as I looked at all of these things, the detritus of a life I never chose and a life that scarred me, I felt free.


Because I OWNED all of it. The pain and the wounds and the fury. The hurt and abandonments. I owned it all. I took it all in and wrenched out every bit of learning from it.

And I wouldn't change one moment. Not ONE.

God gave these things to me. He trusted me to walk through what others couldn't. He gave my soul into a life that would break others. He handed me these circumstances. He hand chose the people who would surround me. His choice.

And instead of feeling burdened, I feel privileged. I feel honored to carry these things. They have formed me. They have created a gratitude for the simplest of things that I never would have known before. They cut me deep, and then filled me to the brim with knowledge.

I have walked a lonely road at times. I have been sad and abandoned. I have been tossed away. I have been orphaned even when my parents walked this earth. But I have also been scooped up. I have been rescued. I have been held and loved. He hands picked people to show me what love is. He gave me amazing examples of His grace.

I have scars. But I also have joy. I have a life now I never could have predicted. I have a length and breadth of happiness I do not deserve, but that I treasure at every second.

And I have that all because of what came before.

I am stronger for my brokeness. I am healed even as I trace the scars of other's anger on my skin. I am grateful for the air in my lungs and the life in my body. I am honored to carry this precious pain, honored that He would see me as strong enough to bear it.

And I am a better person because of the worst that was done to me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The answer

"So you don't work?"

I am standing in the grocery line, watching my purchases be rung up while simultaneously keeping an eye on my kids in the cart when I am asked this question. I had been making small talk with the cashier.

I look up at her and wonder what to say.

Let's see.

So far today I have:

Gotten up at 6 AM

made a bottle

fed the dog

put in a load of laundry

emptied the dishwashed

gotten two children dressed

brushed three sets of teeth

scrubbed the countertops and kitchen sink

fed the kids breakfast

pinned a dress together, serged the seams

cleaned up breakfast

scrubbed the table

wrangled the kids into the playroom

brushed the dog

vaccuumed and mopped the floors

scrubbed the kids tub and sinks

settled 2.5 million toy disputes

broke up a fight over legos

planned dinner


applied makeup while texting friends

answered e-mail

clipped coupons

made a grocery list while comparing coupons to grocery website

switched laundry

scrubbed toilets

kissed a boo boo

wrangled both kids into the car

got both kids out of the car and into the grocery cart

Held Sam and kept an eye on Lily while disenfecting cart

kept two kids from screaming through the grocery store

matched up coupons to purchases while keeping track of sippy cups, cookies, and grocery list

and successfully gotten to the checkout.

And it's only noon.

So, do I work?


Do I love?


So which is it? Work or love?

Both. But it can't be boxed into such small words. With every mundane task I an caring for some aspect of my family's life. With every shirt washed folded and put away, I am giving my family something clean to wear. With every meal made, I am nourishing them. With every stroke of the vaccum I am making their world cleaner. With every clipped coupon I am putting money into our bank account. With every dress/blanket/bag/bow created I am adding potential income to our budget.

So what is the definition of work? A paycheck? Or is it something more? Is it that a noon on a day like any other of my life I can look at the grocery cashier and say-

"No, I don't work outside the home. And I love my job."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I've never had great luck with women friends. I have one best friend who has stuck by me through all of my nonsense (Hi April!), but as far as lifetime friendships with other women, nope. Not a one.

Then I had Lily.

Here I was, postpartum, feeling as if my life had at once ended, and at once just begun. I was worried and sleepless and overjoyed. My world had shrunk significantly and I spent alot of the day alone.

I was a mess. Seriously. Depressed and wondering why I was depressed. Isolated and unsure of how to reach out. Sad when I should be the most happy.

I took my baby girl to the park. I put her in a swing. And looked over to see a friendly face. Jody. Who would become my saving grace, my first real mommy friend, my coach, my cheerleader, and my hero. I met up with other moms, and learned alot about myself in the process.

The most valuable thing I learned? That I was loveable and likeable and good, just as I was. No gloss, no pretending. Just me.

I never experienced the sisterhood of female friends. Of MOMMY friends. Those who know exactly what you are going through and can sympathize.

And now, four years later, I am still learning just how much I need other women. To talk to, to spend time with. To hand my kids off to and to laugh at their craziness with. To talk breastfeeding and baby poo and emotions and talk shows. Craft projects and cooking and husbands.

I was talking to two of my mommy friends today. (Holla, Lisa and Lori) About the cattiness we had experienced with other women. About the hurt at being picked on or talked about. I've experienced deep hurt at the hands of other women, been gossiped about. Nothing hurts worse, I'm convinced because we are designed by God to need other women near us, especially in early motherhood.

After my friends and their babies left I sat here in the silence. I thought about what I could do to show God how much I value the strong, funny, and wonderful women he has brought into my life. I closed my eyes and asked for inspiration. Somethign I can make? Something I can say? Something I can do?


Just a simple promise to all of my God given friends.

I will never hurt you intentionally. I will always strive to understand you. I will give you space when you need it, but I will NOT back off when you are hurting. I won't let you slip through the cracks or pretend things are fine when I know they aren't. I will treasure your friendship, protect you and defend you. I will never say anything behind your back that I would not say in your presence. I will not force my friendship on you if you pull away, but I will be here if you need me. I will give you anything I have, all the time, in any situation. I will be present in your life. I will love your children like my own. I will hold your heart as close and as tenderly as my own, and guard your feelings. I won't be like any other women that have hurt you. You can always trust me. I cannot say that things won't break between us, or that feelings won't be hurt. Life brings friction and circumstances that can cause pain. But I will always strive to mend it and make it stronger.

Will you make the same promise with me? To build up and encourage the women in your life? Will you promise to not gossip, to not hurt, to not wound with your words? Will you honor the friendships God gave you by treating them with the care He would?

It's time to stop tearing each other down and instead realize that we need each other. And we need each other strong and unwounded by gossip or words. Make the promise with me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


This post has been brewing for some time. It has been swirling in my head over and over. I wondered whether to share it, or just to write it out and keep it to myself. But then the Casey Anthony travesty happened, and it put a face to exactly what I was thinking.

People need to stop using their past to justify their current behavior.

I have seen it in every corner of my own life, excuses for drinking, excuses fo drug use, excuses upon excuses upon excuses. It is ridiculous and angers me greatly.

God gives us circumstances. We are placed in a life with a plan and a purpose. Every single act commited upon us, done to us, has been written and known. Every wound has already been created, even before it is rendered unto our soul or body. Our life is chosen, our days known.

What is the unknown is how we are to respond to it. We have free will, after all. We can choose our own behavior. We can choose to make stepping stones from the things that weigh us down, or simply lie down and be crushed. We choose.

We choose how we treat the others in our life. We choose to kill them with words. We choose to raise them up with prayer and encouragement. We choose to gossip. We choose to physically harm. Despite what we have been shown, we can still choose how to live.

I am tired of the excuses. I am tired of the explanations for cruelty and for harm to others. I am weary of the lack of responsibility.

You have been hurt. Okay. You have been molested or sexually assaulted. Okay. You have been abused and abandoned. Allright. You have been left behind, pushed aside. Fine.

Me too.


Choose to be MORE than what you were shown. Choose to be better than what you have seen, and more than what you have been given. Choose to be above your circumstance. Choose it. Choose the life you want. Choose the person you are. And own it.

Stop blaming. Stop hurting in the name of the past. Stop pointing fingers at others for things YOU have done. STOP.

Lean into God and His promises. You weren't given a perfect family on earth? Then lean into the perfect Father in heaven. You were hurt by somebody? Then lean into the One who sees all and more remarkably, heals all.

Healing is possible. It is hard. It is grueling. But it is possible. And more than that, it is freeing.

You don't have to sit with the pain. You don't have to have the double hurt of using the past against those you love. You can give it up to One who shoulders it for us.

Let Him take it. The pain, the injury. Let Him take the reasons to inflict hurt on others. Give it over and let it go. And go out and CHOSE who you want to be.

And live it.