Tuesday, November 19, 2013

This Will Be the Place

Dear Lily and Sam,

It's almost Thanksgiving, a time when many people begin to reflect on the things in life they are most grateful for. As always, you two are at the top of my list. You continue to grow and flourish, to become your own people in ways I never could have predicted. You amaze me with your boundless capacity to love, to forgive, and to be in every single moment.

I've had my alot on my mind about what I am teaching you everyday. How I teach you about love and about kindess. How I reflect Christ to you. I fail alot of the time. I grow impatient and angry at your slow steps, at your distracted attention. At the same time I am impatient, I also envy you. You both SEE the world- really see it. You see all of the bugs crawling across the driveway. You notice the leaves turning colors.

In truth I want to be more like you way more than I want you to be like me.

I can't promise you that I will never lose patience with you again. I will. I will yell. I will watch with sadness as my words make you cry. I will correct you when you are wrong, no matter how my heart breaks. I will love you enough to not let you enter this world without knowing who you are and who you belong to.

But I can promise you this:

One day your heart will be broken. You will be pushed. You will be made fun of. A boy or a girl may hurt your feelings.

And this will be the place you will come home to. Here. My heart. My shoulder will be where you cry. My heart will break with yours, and I may cry too. But I promise you that I will stop crying, get up and make things right for you.

This will be the place you come to when the world is too much for you. You will come to this home, enter these doors, and you will be safe. I will always make you safe.

This will be the place you run when the expectations of the world are overwhelming. When your schoolwork is too hard. When your friendships fracture and fall apart. When the pressures of being yourself hurt and press in to hard. You will come to me. I will help you, always.

This will be the place you come when you are in need. And as long as I have breath, I will help you be strong again. Or I will stand in front of you and be strong for you.

This world breaks people, my loves. It breaks and it hurts. It pushes people beyong their limits. People get lost every single day trying to be what the world wants them to be.

I've gotten lost a few times myself.

But as long as I am here, you will always have a cheerleader. You will always have somebody in your corner, on your side. You will have me, forver.

You will have a home wherever I am. You will have love as long as I live. And you will have somebody who will push you to become who God intended you to be.

You two are my greatest life's work. You are why I was born, and why I lived. You are why I breathe and get up every single day. You are why I chose the life I live. You are why I love God and why I pursue Him relentlessly.

You are my why. My reason. My breath.

This will be the place you come when you are at the very bottom of yourself. You will come now, when you are 3, to have your boo boos kissed. You will come when you are 6 to sit with me and tell me about your world and make sense of it.

And you will return all of your life here, to this space of love and acceptance. To this place where everything you are is okay. Where you can be who you want to be and be loved for every quirk and every flaw.

And as I am YOUR place, you are also mine. Everytime you smile or you laugh you heal me. With every year that passes and you grow into good strong, faithful people you will be saving me.

You are the place I come to when the memories are too much. When the past catches up and I feel the lack of all I know and all I will ever be.

You are my place. You are my medicine. You are my healers and my teachers.

Never forget that you are loved beyond reason, and treasured beyond imagining.

Happy Thanksgiving, my loves.

Monday, October 28, 2013


I've spent alot of my life hating myself.

Too fat. Too ugly. Too unlovable. Not enough. Broken. Passed over. Thrown away.


Hating yourself can manifest in alot of ways. Drinking, drugs. Promiscuity.

Food was my drug of choice. It comforted me when I was alone. It was always there.

It numbed me. And I liked that.

Then when I had my babies, I had a huge revelation. I was teaching them how to eat. I was teaching them about their relationship with food. I could decide, more or less, the way they saw food. The way they utilized it.

I have a daughter, who will learn at my hands how to nourish herself. How to see herself. And how to love herself. I was in the absolute throes of self hatred. I had no buisness teaching anyone how to care for themselves.

I needed to get healthy. And I tried conventional means- there isn't a diet I didn't try. I exercised into exhaustion. But I had broken my body beyond it's ability to heal itself and be healthy.

So I had surgery to help my body fix itself.

Nearly 2 years and a hundred pounds lost later, I am confident enough to tell you that I love myself. I love my body for what it can do- how far it has carried me. I love it for housing my babies. And I love it now for the fact that it is easier to move and easier to live in.

I am at a healthy stable weight. I can teach my daughter confidently about nutrition, because I have been educated on what the body needs and wants. She knows that some foods are fo fuel, some for pleasure. She doesn't want to overeat or numb herself with food. This is a victory in many ways.

My body is lighter and it is fueled by quality food.

However, I still struggle.

I carried the majority of my weight in my abdomen, and after losing so much, I am left with an abundance of loose skin. Unlike fat, it doesn't have alot of weight, so it sits low and pulls hard at my back.

There is no high impact cardio I can do without pain. My back aches at the end of the day.

I grappled very hard with the only solution to this problem- abdominoplasty.

In the end, I could do without the surgery to remove the skin. But as I age, it will only get worse. The pain won't go away if I cannot be rid of the source and then build the muscle back up stronger.

So on November 1st, I am scheduled for a tummy tuck.

I'm terrified of the process...because recovery is lengthy and difficult. There is pain involved. Drains, bandages, scarring.

But you know what terrifies me the most? Explaining this to my daughter.

She is 6. She is well aware of everything that goes on with me, and given her caretaker personality, there is no way she will not notice I am in pain.

And also, she has my same body type. Her build, it is just like mine. A little rounder, a little fuller. She is strong and muscular and will never be lithe.

One day she will ask me why I changed my body to not look like hers.

This is what keeps me up at night. That question. What am I teaching her?

How will I teach her to love herself if I am actively changing my body through surgery? Modifying it to be different than what it is?

I don't have the answers.

I do know this- in the end, I am choosing this to better myself. To be more active and to continue to be healthier. I have to pray that she sees this and that in her mind having a healthy momma outweighs the fact that I have undergone 2 surgeries that drastically changed the way I look.

I am hopeful that she will go running with me one day and I will be able to explain to her that all of this was worth it. I hope to be a good example to her of a woman who reaches far past her comfort zone to achieve health.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Yesterday was my 8th wedding anniversary.

8 years, 2 kids, countless sleepless nights, loads of laundry, bills, traumatic events, surgeries, fights, and deep conversations together.

I used to think romance was flowers, staring into each others eyes, and talking for hours.

Boy do I know different now.

Romance is wonderful. But it's definition is flawed.

Romance is a man who hangs a fresh towel for me when mine is stinky- because he knows I will just keep using it to save time.

It's a man who will get up and make lunches, kiss little heads good morning, and keep little voices quiet so I can sleep for 30 more minutes.

It's the way he listens to me, no matter how small or big my issue is.

It's the memory of him cradling our babies, changing their diapers, and helping me to sit up and latch them on when I was exhausted from birth.

It's the way I feel when I am wounded, and he is the only one I want.

It's bear hugs and kisses when I am pouty and difficult.

It's the way he makes me laugh when I take him with me to scary doctors appointments.

Romance is laughing until we cry over the stupidest inside jokes.

It's calling him moose and him calling me goober.

It's watching him through the window as I make dinner, and he plays with the kids outside.

Romance is the way my girlfriends all love him and know they can depend on him.

It's waking up to his face after surgery.

It's his hand in mine as we walked the halls and waited for our babies to come.

Romance is a man who holds you as you are ripped apart with contractions and birth. Who looks into your eyes and lies that the pain is almost over, almost over.

It's a man who buries your small miscarried son while you sob.

Romance is someone who loves your soul. Not just the body that houses it.

Mark and I have fought hard for our relationship. It's not always been easy. It's not always been fun. We've both grown and changed. Through babies and job changes and death and grief and sickness we have held firm onto one thing- we will always and forver love each other. Our love will always be the shelter we both run to when the world hurts or confuses us. I know I can always stand behind my husband and he will forever protect me. He knows I will always support and uphold him.

Through the rest of our lives he will infuriate me. I will be stubborn and yell. He will be quiet and laugh at me when I get angry. We will walk through every change together. Every milestone, every moment will be ours to share.

So give me mornings of coffee and the news while our kids run around us. Give me fleeting conversations as we dress in the morning. Give me shared glances across the dinner table. Phone calls from different cities. Give me he tears and the frustration and the coming back together. Give me nights spent apart missing him. And nights together as his hand searches for mine in the dark, even in sleep. Give me laughing until we cry. Tea and television. Foot rubs and back scratches.

Give me him. Forever and for always.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


There is so much I want to say, and no way to say it. No way to form my mind around what I am feeling.

I'm trying to push through. But these feelings wont leave me alone.

I'm angry. And I'm disgusted with myself.

I thought I was loving in a healthy and productive way, but I have betrayed myself into thinking I was more important than I am.

What the hell is wrong with me? Why can't I get past these issues? Is this going to haunt me for the rest of my life?

Mommy issues. Abandonment issues. Daddy issues.


I've loved how I wanted to be loved, instead of loving others as they NEEDED TO BE LOVED.

I have been overprotective and fucking smothering. I have been fierce when what was called for was gentleness.

Because that's what I always craved- to be protected. To be stood up for. For somebody to stand in front of me and say- no further.

I've imposed myself and my issues into others lives with no regard for their own needs. Just pushed and called it love.

It's so messed up and tangled and wrong I can't even grasp it.

I want to love others. I want to give. I want to be generous.

I want to fix everything and everybody. I want to take the misery away.

But that's not my place.

I can't fix anyone and I can't fix anything but myself.

I've done a poor job of that so far.

And the deluded thing? That I thought I was doing so good, and so well.

I've been pushy and overbearing. Depsite my intentions to just be...loving.

Oh hell.

How do you even fix something like this? How do you fit a round peg into a square hole? How do you love people as they need when you can't see past all that YOU need?

I don't know how else to be.

I've asked for refinement. Begged in my heart for God to change me. Change this heart- make it less fierce. Make it softer. Make it less...myself.

And nothing changes. I still wake every single morning wanting to love the hell out of and fix the hell out of everyone and every situation.

And nobody needs that. And it's not a good quality.

People, in the end, don't want to be saved. They just want to be loved.

But it is...me. For better or for worse. It's me.

It's me.

And you know what else? I'm tired of being strong all the time. I've held so many others up- helped as much as I can. Even if I went overboard.

Sometimes the strongest break the hardest.

I am surely broken.

And I'm weary.

This hurts. It hurts to love and be loyal and not get it in return. It hurts.

Even those that seem strong need to be held. Even the fiercest need comfort.

Even those that can and do defend themselves need protection.

People who love the hardest need to be loved hard too.

But there are seasons in this life. Of loneliness. Of feeling lost. Of feeling as if you will never be whole or right again.

All of these valleys surely lead to peaks. The darkness becomes light.

I'm waiting for the light.

Friday, October 4, 2013


I thought the broken days were behind me.

The days of tears and wounds and the deep deep drowning.

The days of losing time and space and feeling this endless void of nothingness.

Sometimes depression is an oncoming storm,stirring the ocean, riding slowly over the waves towards you.

And sometimes it is a tsnumai, knocking you bodily from your moorings.

I have been rolled through the waves these past few days. Unfurled underwater, staring up through the debris into the twisted image of the sun.

I have felt the sand bneath my hands, the water in my lungs.

I have been pulled into the depths.

And I only have myself to blame.

I've had a catch in my spirit many times these past months, a niggling feeling of unease and of being not right with God.

I've felt it when I opened my mouth with less than kind words.

And when I've kept my mouth shut when I could have spoken.

I've walked, step by step, into being the woman I swore I would not be.

Natural consequences are often fierce and unrelenting.

I have gone back to the prayer I have always dreaded.

"God, if there is anything in me that is not pleasing to you, show me and I will change it."

Being refined is painful. Sorting through, piece by piece, my every mistake, my missed footing, my unconcious part in the wounding of others. Looking at the pain I have caused, with or without intention.

It all hurts. And it's all necessary.

Allowing the surfacing of things I have relentlessly pushed down for months. Bringing them to the light and seeing what I have known but not acknowleged.

I love well, but am overbearing.

I am loyal, but too fierce.

I allow myself to speak of others in their absence as I would not do in their presence.

I harbor resentments and anger.

I panic at the idea of being abandoned.

And on and on.

I don't like the woman I am right now.

What I have heard as I have closed my eyes and quieted my mind these past few days is just two words.

"Cultivate quiet."

I need to sit and look at my life and my actions. I need to look at what kind of friend I am. And what kind of friend I want to be.

I need to look at how I need to be loved. And if I can continue to love the way that I have been, and deal with the inevitable hurt that comes with it.

And above all else, I need to be quiet to learn that my mouth can and should be reigned. That there are words that should not be said. Things that should not be discussed.

Words that should be left only between God and I.

James 3

1Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.
4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind,
8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.
10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?
12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Dear Mrs Porter,

This is Sam.

You may have seen him around school. You may have heard his name a few times. I'm afraid he may be "that kid" to a few people.

And the truth of the matter is, he earned that title.

See, Sam has been through a lot. I knew he was different when he was 9 months old and instead of crying when frustrated, he would bang his head. Hard. On the wood floors.

I was a nanny for 16 years, but I wasn't prepared for this level of frustration. He would literally hurt himself when trying to communicate. And instead of expressing himself verbally, he would express himself physically. With chaotic, crazy movements. With running, falling, then running again. Flipping himself off the couch. Taking off at full speed for the street.

Hitting. Biting. Pushing.

For a long 2 years, Sam was a runaway train. And we were the screaming passengers trapped aboard- his father, myself, and his sister.

I knew something was wrong. He wasn't talking. At all. 3-4 words where children of his age were speaking sentences.

He was hurting and sad and so frustrated.

I was his mama. And I couldn't fix it.

So we saw his pediatrician. And at 2 years old, Sam began speech therapy.

They said he was too young to be diagnosed. But they felt he had Apraxia. A neurological planing disorder that prevents words from getting from the brain to the mouth.

They said he may never be a big talker.

We were, as a family, rocked to the core. This is my baby. My beloved son. And I couldn't help him. His daddy couldn't fix him. His sister couldn't talk with him.

He was alone and lonely in his silence. And his frustration at not being able to talk grew and grew.

I stayed up at night, kneeling next to his bed. I prayed for God to heal him. But if He couldn't heal him, then to help me help Sammy make his way.

I became his voice- speaking for him. Translating for him.

I vowed that as long as I had breath I would be his voice. I would advocate for him. I would help him to be heard.

He has been in speech for a long time now- almost 2 years. And I can tell you his last year at school was very very hard. He had alot of beahvior issues we were trying really hard to conquer.

Everytime I dropped him off , my stomach would be in knots. I just wanted him to be understood. To be loved. And not to be lonely.

And then, he turned 3, and something magical happened.

Sam blossomed.

There was a dramatic shift in him that can only be explained by God. His found his voice. He found his words.

And we found Sam.

He has opinions on everything from what to have for lunch to what color monster truck we should buy. He chatters constantly about everything under the sun. His words literally never ever stop- from sunup to sundown.

He gives us a headache. He makes us laugh. He makes us cry when he folds his hands and says his prayers.

I can't say he is where he should be. And I can't say you will understand everything he says.

And I also can't promise you you won't ever have to discipline him.

I know he will drive you crazy. He will talk your ear off. He will grab your hand, drag you to what he wants to show you, and spend 30 minutes telling you all about it.

I look at him and wish he would give me one blessed minute of silence at least 10 times a day. You will too, I'm sure.

And then I remember. That lost, sad little boy he was just a year ago. The one trapped in his own mind and his own body. The one bursting with things to say...and no way to say it. No one to say it to that would understand. Not even me.

I remember this day. We were on our first day of vacation. I followed him, trailing his steps as I always did, just trying to keep him from harm. He tried to tell me something I didn't understand. Then he gave up and walked to the water, alone. He just stood there, looking.

I took this picture between sobs.

I remember this day everytime I want to tell him to hush.

Every single word he says is precious to us. Every syllable has been fought for and prayed for and earned.

I don't ask that you take extra time with him. I'm not asking for him to be your favorite, or for him to be treated special.

All I want is for him to be understood. And to be loved past his slowly diminishing limitations. For a patient heart willing to see this little boy that has fought so hard to be heard.

This is Sam. My beautiful, kind, mischevious, loving and chatty son. I hope you love him just as much I do.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Lightning strikes our lives.

Waves of storms, lighting the sky like daylight.

Cracks in our very existence, shaking us to our core.

We become afraid, and weary of fear. We become terrified. We cower.

Lightning is deafening and deadly.

Storms ruin our carefully shaped human existence.

We stand and look around at the ruins. We weep and mourn for what we built, and what has been decimated.

But the one who created us, the one who loves us, the one who defines our perspective on life-

He knows what storms are. He has seen, been in, and calmed them. He has walked them and comforted those lost in the rain and skyfall.

He has stood on the edge as we wept. He has mourned with us. He has slipped into our midst as we cry out for mercy and for healing.

And He is bigger than what we are going through.

We are called to not only walk in faith, but to also BELIEVE. To stand in the face of the rain and say to the sky-

My God is bigger than this.

We are called to love each other, but to also look into each others lives for the storms. To see the rain in our loved ones eyes and offer comfort and shelter.

We are to be the shelter for those lost in the fear of the lightening.

We are to be the shelter for those crying out in fear of the thunder.

We are to mend. We are to hold. We are to give our strength when others weaken.

We are to be bold in our prahyers for others walking the edge of a dark gray sky. We are to call to them that they are safe, they are loved. We are to enter the lashing rain, the noise and the purple bruised life and cast our faith like wind over them.

We are created to mend.

Women know how to do this, from the moment we are born. We know how to nurture. To be soft. To look deeper and to see more.

We are created to mend the broken and to comfort the hurting.

Don't let this world make your heart hard to what Christ created in us, as sisters of God. He created a softness and an eagerness to give of ourselves to those who need it. He gave us physical eyes and eyes of the spirit to see the hurt beyond the words.

He gave into you a heart meant to nurture and heal.

Do not let this world, with it's hardness and it's hurt steal from you this precious gift of mending.

Look beyong the surface to what can be healed. Push beyond the words those you love say to what they need. Look for the storms, seek them out, and cast a mantle of love and prayer over those hurting and in pain.

You were created to fight the storms. Not only in your life, but in others.

Do not be afraid.

Monday, July 22, 2013


"What are you resisting?"

The question was posed to us all by my yoga teacher this morning.

I closed my eyes, allowing the images to just come. My children's faces, my long to do list.

And my father's face, in the window of his home.

My eyes filled with tears.

What am I resisting?


I am running from it as from a train. It barrels down on me, and I turn from it just in time to save myself from being run over.

I don't want to feel this again. This tidal wave of silence. I don't want to walk this valley alone, again.

I want to run from it.

What am I resisting?

The image of my father, shirtless on a sweltering Vegas afternoon. Tan torso, eyes crinkled with laugh lines as he adjusts the sprinkler. The oleanders smelled like summer. My skin smelled like coconuts and smoke. And he was tall, and present, and alive.

My father's face as I told him I was moving away. A slight shift into sadness, quickly masked with a smile. Followed by laughter.

My father's eyes filled with tears as he held me on my wedding day. As he danced with me under the overturned blue bowl of October sky.

His hands on mine in pictures. Holding me up as I learned to walk.

His voices echoes in my mind. Over and over I hear him telling me not to cry, not to be sad. That it's okay.

What a I resisting?


I am too busy. Too tired. Unwilling to break down in front of my children.

But everywhere I go, I see his face. In every old man. In every glimpse of myself in the mirror. He is there.

I will never outrun this. For the rest of my life, he will be dead.

This happens to us all. We will all bury our parents.

We will all mourn those who created us.

It hurts. The knowing that if I reach out, there will never again be a reaching back.

It hurts to know I didn't speak words out of pride. Out of anger.

I have a thousand regrets.

I dream of his house. I wander up and down his hallway. I trace my fingers over the pictures on his walls.

He's not there.

I leave, and the screen bangs behind me. The flat Nebraska sky fills with dust and scent as a truck rolls by. Far off I can hear the train as it barrels down the tracks toward his house. It calls, the sound lonely and dark.

I walk, but something makes me turn. And he is there, in the window. Cup of coffee, cigarette. He smiles and turns away.

And then I wake up.

What am I resisting?

The idea that he is forever truly gone.

I loved him with a love that only little girls know for their daddies. He was my hero, and my forever champion. I longed for him. I can still feel the tightness of tears in my chest, the lump in my throat. I can feel the hurt. I can feel the loneliness.

But I can feel the love. How he held me as I cried over lost love, over broken promises and a broken life. How he would walk out of the Vegas sun, the pavement shimmering under his feet. How I would sit and watch him fall asleep each night, drink in hand.

He was, for so long, my hope. He was my daddy. He was my savior.

And long after time and circumstance led me to realize he should have been more and done more,  I still loved him.

And I still do.

And always will.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Robert Duckworth

When I was 4 my dad took me to Disneyland.

We got on A Small World. I watched as the dolls twirled and turned, sang and danced.

It was too much for me, for my small eyes. I turned my head into my father, smelling his scent- smoke and cologne and sweat. I fell asleep, waking only as he carried me off, my small head cradled by his hand.

As I took my own children on A Small World this week, I watched their faces. Wonder and happiness shone from them bright as the sun. I pulled them to me, kissing their foreheads, smelling their scent.

As I knew my own father lay dying hundreds of miles away.

I spoke to him twice over the phone. I told him what I wanted him to know- that I loved him beyond reasoning, that I would always miss him. That it was okay for him to let go and I would see him again.

The words came easily, slipping from my lips into his ears, into his heart.

And at 3 AM on July 4th, after my brother had gone home to rest, my daddy slipped away.

The man I have loved since I had no memory is gone.

To say our relationship was easy would be a lie. It was a back and forth ocean of expectations, of disappointment, of hurt.

But to say I didn't know I was loved is a lie as well.

I always knew I was loved by my father. Always.

My memories of the man who could never bear to see me cry are endless. His words were always few, but he never hesitated to tell me he loved me.

I remember him in bits and pieces. In sun soaked memories of Vegas heat, of Nebraska greeness.

I remember a cold winter morning. I had moved back to Nebraska just a few months before. I was heartbroken, sad, and lonely. I woke up and got ready for my job. I cried as I brushed my hair, as I sipped coffee. I was broken by life.

I gathered my things, buttoned my jacket, and prepared to do battle with the snow and ice on my car.

Only to find it running, my windhshield cleared, the inside warm.

My father waved from his window in his house next door. He smiled and turned away.

This is how I will remember him.

He never was able to fix everything in my life. He never was all I wanted him to be. But he was what he could be. He gave in his own way, even if it wasn't what I needed. And he loved me.

And I loved him. And he was my daddy.

Tomorrow we will celebrate him. A man who was deeply flawed, but also deeply good.

A man who struggled with drinking, but a man who was also sober and kind for long periods of time.

A man who gave what he could to his children. Who never spoke a judgemental word to us.

A man who took his grandchildren, all of them, camping. Who taught them to fish, loaded them up with sugar, and sent them home.

His face was weathered by the sun and by time, his gray hair full and always neatly cut and combed.

Always with a cup of coffee in one hand, a cigarette in the other.

Tomorrow we will celebrate an imperfect man, made whole and perfect as he crossed into Heaven to be with God.

I can't say my tears won't be tinged with bitterness. I won't lie and say I have no regrets.

But I also know to my core that if he were here in front of me he woulnd't hesitate to tell me to stop crying and forget all of that.

I loved him, and he is gone. My heart is broken for what was, and for what wasn't.

One day I will see him again.

Godspeed, Daddy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I feel poisoned. I feel heavy, weighted down with the past and with my unmet expectations. I feel lost without the love I was promised, a love that I was expecting.

I feel the weight of the rest of my life, living without my parents. Because of their choices. And because they were both selfish people who chose drinking over me.

I am angry. I am battered inside. My tongue hurts from biting it to keep from screaming that this is NOT FAIR. NOT FAIR!!!!!

I hurt. Jesus I hurt. My eyes burn from unshed tears. My throat aches with the lump of a thousand swallowed down words, from holding back the river of pain I have kept dammed.

I am an orphan. While my father still lives.

Mark tells me over and over that his parents are my parents now. And I believe him. And I try to see them that way. But what Mark doesn't understand, could never understand, is that seeing his parents as my own is a double edged sword. I see what I have, and I also see what I HAVE NEVER HAD. I hear him on the phone with them, and while I am so happy for him, I just want to scream- What about me? Why, Jesus, why?

Chosen. Chosen to carry this. To hold the memories of a sick twisted mother an an alcoholic uncaring father. My back is strong, my Lord, but it is not unbreakeable.

Lily asks me about her picture. "Who's that?"

I tell her my mother. She asks where she is. I tell her in heaven.

"Do you miss her?"

"Yes, very much."

The words are forced out of lips frozen from wanting to speak the truth.

No, I don't miss her. Because you can't miss what you never had.

I have had many people fill the mother role for me. But they are square pegs in a round hole. There is always the gaping void. There is always the truth that no matter who fills the shoes, they are not the one born to the role. Their presence sometimes only amplifies the fact that the role is unfilled.

My mother chose to walk away from me. To leave me to others.

My father chose drinking over me.

How can I reconcile that without seeing myself as broken?

Without seeing something so intrinsically wrong with me that my own parents could not or would not keep me?

Jesus covers. He fills. He heals.

But sometimes Jesus also allows the pain to seep back through. Because pain cleanses as well. Pain teaches. And pain shapes us into the person we need to be.

But pain is pain. And no matter where it stems from, the pain of rejection is profound. And it scars.

And I am scarred today. Today I am riddled with the wounds of a thousand words said and unsaid. I am scarred with the turned back, the phone that doesn't ring, the sadness of that little girl left on a doorstep to wait for a daddy that never came.

The teenage girl struggling to not want her mother.

The pregnant woman watching as the ultrasound screen lit up with a girl, and feeling her heart sink. Wondering- how will I do this?

The 36 year old woman crying over her computer, wishing things were different.

I am scarred.

Inside and out. I cannot look down at my legs without seeing the cigarette wounds. I cannot brush my hair without feeling the tiny ridges of a hundred blows. I cannot think of the word mother or father without a flood of emotion I just wish to hell I could push away.

Are you waiting for words of hope? Because today I don't have any. Today I reserve the right to be sad and broken and lost. I reserve the right to still be emotionally spent from trying to keep a smile on my face through Father's day.

I reserve the right to be angry as hell that I was chosen for this.

I am angry with God today. I want to pick up the phone and laugh with my mother and father. I want them to know my children. I want them to know ME. I want them to love me.

I want them HERE. Invested in my life.

Sometimes feeling this is a gateway to greater understanding and joy. Sometimes releasing is healing.

Sometimes the weakness of giving in to sadness bring an upbuilding of strength.

So I am here, in it. And tomorrow I will hope that the tide of Jesus rushes in to fill the voids.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

One Hundred

This past year has been a big one for me. My children have grown. My daughter has started kindergarten, my son preschool. I've begun writing for more than just a hobby- but as a paid freelancer.

And I've lost close to a hundred pounds.

It's something I planned on documenting here. But as the journey unfolded, it became much more personal and private than I anticipated.

I didn't have words for it.

And truthfully, I didn't want anyone to feel as if I was shoving this surgery down their throats, or promoting it as an option for THEM, when it was simply an option for ME.

I planned on posting pictures along the way. But the outside became much less important than the drastic change occuring inside of my body.

There are no words for this. For the realization of a dream I have had since I was 10 years old.

I am now as fit on the outside as I am on the inside.

My body works. It serves it's purpose of carrying me through my days. It helps me to accomplish what I need to. And it no longer hurts or weighs me down while doing so.

But the change I have experienced the most is at the core of myself. At my soul I am different. I stepped out on faith, did something that terrified me, and trusted God to carry me through.

I knew I would come through surgery. But at the core I was terrified I would fail at the weight loss like I have so many times before.

I surprised myself.

I have been reading alot about weight loss lately. I have seen on many message boards that alot of people feel this surgery is "cheating".

I did too. I did. But in the end there was no other option for me.

I was 230 pounds. I ate healthy. I exercised EVERY DAY. I worked hard to change myself. But my body was broken.

This surgery cured me of obesity. It gave me my life back.

It gave me my children back.

I was the mom who couldn't run. I had no energy. I was tired. I was sad.

I watched my children from the sidelines of my life because I couldn't join them.

I knew that if I continued the way I was going I would die.

So if that all constitutes cheating, then yes. I cheated.

I cheated my way into health. I cheated my way into being a better stronger person. I cheated my way into walking my daughter down the aisle. Into holding my son's firstborn.

I cheated.

This was a gift I gave my family, my children, and MYSELF.

I am 100 pounds lighter. But I am also a 100 times stronger. I am 100 times happier.

I am 100 times healthier.

I debated about putting a before picture here. But the truth is, it doesn't matter what I looked like then. What matter is that from the day I closed my eyes on the operating table, I woke up a new person. I was born into this body 36 years ago, but I was reborn on 2.14.12. God guided my path, guided my surgeons hand, and gave me strength to be where I am today.

And where I am is here, in this body, looking forward into a future with my health and my babies.

It doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

True Beauty

Dear Lily,

The other day I went to buy you new swimsuits. I wandered the section I normally browse. But the swimsuits only went to size 5.

So I crossed over the aisle to the girl’s section.

And baby girl, my heart broke. There along the wall were swimsuits. Every color, every pattern you can imagine. But our old standbys- the Princesses, the Hello Kitty, the pink polka dots…were nowhere to be seen.

You are six now. And apparently the stores believe you are too old for these things. They want you to wear peace signs. And zebra print. And boy shorts with bikini tops.

I looked through racks of suits, all of them smaller than the next. Tiny triangle tops. Strings to tie behind tiny necks. Small bottoms to barely cover anything.

I thought of your neck. The place right at the bottom beneath your hairline where the string would go. I thought of how I hold you on my lap and touch my nose to that very spot. How I smell your shampoo and lotion smell. How I close my eyes and rock you as I do.

I thought about the bottoms. How they cover less than your princess underwear you still love. How you adore picking between Hello Kitty and Rapunzel after your bath.

I stood there and saw our future together. I saw you one day wanting a swimsuit like these- because your friends had it. Because you felt it would get you noticed. Because you were made fun of for your modesty.

And I cried.

You are six. You love My Little Pony. You love your brother and playing veteranarian with him. You love to draw our family, flowers, hearts.

You are innocent. And pure. And so very good.

And that swimsuit I was holding represented the end of some of that.

I put it back and walked away. And as I did I thought of what I wished for you.

I wish you could be this way, this innocent, for much longer than I was.

I wish that you could be yourself, mature at your own pace, without any outside influences.

I want you to grow and mature. I want you to change. But I also want you to remain as you are right now- nearly untainted by others beliefs about you.

See the world will try to make you something different. The world will see the goodness in you and try to corrupt it. Because this world we live in celebrates the exploitation of innocence. This world corrupts. It always has.

I wish that you would love your body enough to keep it a mystery. To leave much to the imagination. To be modest not because I tell you to, but because it honors a deep spiritual place inside of you.

I want you to use your body to accomplish what your spirit needs for nourishment. I want you to dance, to express yourself, to write and read and kneel to your savior.

I want you to love yourself enough to not care what anybody else says about you. I want you to love yourself to only care what God believes about you.

And what He believes is this, baby girl:

You are an amazing creation.

You are beautiful.

You are treasured.

You are pure and good.

You are more than just a pretty face or a body- you are a soul. And long before you belonged to me, you belonged to Him.

I wish that you would know always that what you look like is secondary to what you do. Beauty is created more than birthed. You create beauty with actions and deeds. You create it with your ability to love and give.

True beauty is looking at somebody and seeing their Savior. And you have this, my dear sweet love. I look at you and see Jesus in your actions.

I want this to remain a truth about you. I want the world to not harden your heart or change the way you feel about your worth.

I want to freeze time.

But I can’t.

So what I can do, baby, is tell you what I will always give you.

I will be your ear when you need to talk about how you feel about yourself.

I will give you space to change and grow.

I will love you, in any size, in any way your body changes.

I will help you to be healthy. I will nourish your body with good food, and your mind with prayer.

I will tell you a thousand times a day that you are beautiful.

I WILL TELL YOU UNTIL YOU BELIEVE ME. Over and over. And then again.

You do not need anything to enhance your beauty- it is there in ever word and every gesture you make. In every smile and ever compassionate thought. THAT is beauty. Your perfect face and healthy body are just the outside of your perfect soul.

So if you never take anything else away from these words, please remember this:

Nothing you put on your body or face can make you more beautiful that your actions or deeds. NOTHING. Anybody who tells you differently is lying.

I will love you and celebrate that beautiful soul of yours forever.



Wednesday, May 1, 2013


It's been a day.

I'm worn at the edges. My heart aches with loneliness. I am being slowly pulled under by exhaustion.

I am feeling tugged from all directions. Pulled.

I am worn.



Laundry. Carpool. Watering the garden. Pulling weeds. Chasing the dog.

There's no me in this day, only...them.

A meeting. A room with three faces. My son sitting next to me, pushing cars as the labels ride over his head on the wall. Projected there in black and white.

Severe delay.




All these words. Next to his name.

And him below it. With his eyes. His face. The face that looked up at me just minutes from my body. The face I caressed as he nursed. The eyes I have watched drift shut as I rocked, rocked.

His voice echoes across the sterile table. He says words only I can understand. I translate for him, watching his face.

I look down to hide tears I don't want anyone to see.

They ask- what do you want for him?

What do I see him doing 5 years from now?

And I say- I just want him to be able to speak.

But it's more.

I want him to be UNDERSTOOD.

And how, when the words are not there?

And will he be made fun of....and will he be lonely...and will he be sad. And god forbid any of these things because I WILL MOVE OCEANS TO SAVE HIM FROM THAT. Oceans. Mountains. I will NOT let him be lonely. I will not let him be mocked.

God help me. I will not.

The tears were swift. Hot coursing rivers. I did not let him see. He rode his scooter as I watched his joy and I thought -oh god how long will he feel this way? How long before he knows he is different?

My sweet sweet boy. My big eyed angel.

I put the kids to bed. Lily came out of her room with nonsense. I sent her back, harshly.

God told me to go to her. To make it right.

So I did. And it was back rubs and whispers and talking.

And then...



I stood up for somebody today.

Tell me.

And she does. Of the boy, the special boy, in her class. The one without many words. The one with big expressive eyes that look at you with such soul. Eyes like that don't need words.

She tells me of the boy who was laughing at her special friend. And how she told him to stop. Because it isn't nice.

My heart turned over. My eyes filled with tears as my heart filled with grace.

Because just as much as I have a sweet quiet special boy, I also have my kind compassionate loving Lily.

And there are many people like my daughter. Who see the soul, not just the body. That hear the unsaid words. That see the human beneath the diagnosis.

That hear the words that cannot come from the lips.

I looked into her eyes, so much like her brothers. And through tears I told her of how beautiful her soul is, how good she is, how treasured by God and by me.

Mama, it was nothing. I will always stand up for my friends.

I kissed her goodnight, whispering in her ear of how proud Jesus is of her amazing heart.

Redemption doesn't always come like lightning from the sky. Comfort is not always engulfing. Sometimes it can be the small voice of one heart, speaking for someone who cannot.

I thank God for the silence, and for the words.

Both have given me more than I could ever say.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It is enough

Dear mom,

Thougts of you come to me now like waves, rolling over my mind like the ocean does the sand. I see your face in my dreams, feel your hand on my shoulder as I sit and think. When I am alone you sometimes fill the space with your presence.

You don't like me to be lonely. You don't like me to be sad. The irony of this care now when you have been gone so many years is not lost on me. We share such a past.

You are at once my compass, and my example of who I don't want to be. Your mistakes haunt me.

But as I go further along this path of motherhood, I understand you so much more than I ever could. And as I battle my own demons of anxiety, I understand the struggles you must have gone through.

How lonely you must have been. I was right there, and you could not love me or hold me for fear of your madness breaking me.

I understand that now. You kept me at bay to save me. You held your love back, because with your love came your madness, and with that madness came destruction.

God. I get it mom. I get it.

For the first time in this life, I understand you. For the first time ever I can truly say that I have such pity for you. Because you tried to be normal. And you tried to be good. And you tried so hard not to wound me.

But your illness crept around the edges of your wall. And in the end the monster got us both.

I wish I could spend just one more day with you. A day in the sun. You and I. Talking about all of the things we never did. Saying all the things anger and madness kept us from saying.

I would tell you that I love you. I would tell you that you are not lost from me. I would tell you that I forgive you the scars. I forgive you the hurt. And that although I do not have many good memories of you, the ones I do have are enough.

They are enough.

And everything you tried to be, every effort you made to be more than your illness was not lost. It may have taken me 36 years to see the effort you made to be a good mother- but here it is.

I see it.

I remember you sitting and watching me sleep. Your tears were running down your face. I woke and looked at you. I was too tired to be scared, still half caught in my dreams. And you said I love you. Don't forget I love you. Never forget.

I know that was you talking. The you that got hidden and buried behind sickness and drink. I know that you pushed past that sickness so far you broke your own mind trying to be what I needed.

I would tell you that I look at my own daughter and see myself. I see the potential of what I could have been, unbroken and unscarred, and in a way it is as healing as it is damning. I see her face light up when I hold her, when I read to her. I see who I might have been had the weight of your illness not broken my spirit.

And that too is enough.

Because I can live through her. Through her careless days. I can live through her unburdened soul and heal a bit of myself as I mother her precious heart. I can give her what I wasn't given.

I can give her what I know, I know, you tried to give to me. I can do it for both of us.

You just couldn't. It was beyond you. And I forgive that.

Mom, I wish we had what others have. I wish I could call you. I wish you could see my babies. I wish beyond anything that I could look into your eyes and tell you all of these things.

I wish. I wish.

But wishes build nothing. So, I have this. Words on a page. Tears on my face. Love and forgiveness in my heart for the person who broke me.

And that, too, is enough.

We are enough. You and I together here and now. In what we can be.

And someday I will see you, and hug you. I will touch your face and cry. And in that day your eyes and mind will be uncaged. I will see who you are, without the bipolar monster staring back.

In that day you will love me. And I will love you.

Until then, this is enough. I am your daughter. With all of the weight and loss and hurt and love and pain that brings.

I am your daughter. I carry the memories. I carry the pain. I carry you, always.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013


I got into the car today, after loading Sammy up, going back inside 3 times for cups and snacks, and once to retrieve a lovey.

Can I get a holla from my mamas for the 8 trips back inside for stuff before getting to actually drive off? It's cardio right?

Anywho. Whenever I get still and quiet, my worries invade. All of everything that I have been super busy running away from sits in the passenger seat and decided to chat.

It began 2 minutes into my drive, as I was getting on the highway. Worry, worry. Uncertainty. Anxiety. Rushing of adrenaline. Tears. Hands gripping the wheel. Nausea.

I turned up KLOVE. I tried to redirect my mind. I tried talking to Sammy.

And then I hear it.

"Daughter, why don't you call my name?"

Clear as day.

"You are entitled to call my name. It is your birthright."

Honestly, I almost ran off the road. Because I rarely hear this clearly from my dear sweet Savior.

And my oh so eloquent response?

"Ummm well I don't want to bug you."



Really, Bella???

Yes really. That's what I said.

Anyway, let's move along shall we? Ahem.

So I opened my mouth and called on the name of Jesus. Nothing more. Just His name.

And I smiled. And was flooded with goodness.

It's kinda like the first bite of cake after dieting for years.

Delicious, lovely, wonderful, satisfying.

And I simply drove and spoke and talked. About it all. All of my hurts and worries and pain and....it simply turned into glory.

It turned into praise. It turned into worship. It turned into a song falling from my lips with tears from my eyes.

I sat at a stoplight and dried my eyes. And laughed.

And then again.

"Call on my name."

And I did.

"Now tell me why you don't believe I will help you."


But it's true. This is where I fall from my walk. I don't have a hard time wanting to be like Jesus. I don't have trouble with the commandments. I don't have a problem with giving.

I have a problem with believing I am WORTHY OF HIS LOVE.

This is where the cliff begins for me. Where thejumping off point becomes too high. And where I watch others soar from the ground.

It is in my own beliefs about myself.

And my own belief in the lies I have been told to keep me from loving God like I should.

And from trusting.

I am afraid. That as I am, I am not enough.

Oh I love Him. With a fierceness that I cannot explain. And I carry his love with me. And I give His love freely.

But my own worth just gets lost.

And if you don't believe in your worthiness to be loved by someone, how can they fully love you in return?

AND, AND, how painful it must be for Him to watch me struggle and not call for Him.

Because, people, let me tell you. He is REAL. He has SAVED ME. I would be lost if not for His love.

So it's time. To call for Him. To trust His word, that I am His. That I am HIS. That I am loved.

And that I am worthy of all of it.

Because half of any relationship is allowing the other half to care for YOU, to give to YOU, to love YOU. To be vulnerable. And to allow yourself to be deeply known.

And that includes asking for and accepting help.

Once again, God has shown me that I can go another step deeper into Him. That I can lean into His arms when I am lost, overwhelmed, or in need of shelter.

Jer 33:3......... "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things..."

Jer 29:12........ "Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you."

Isa 65:24........ "It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer, and while they are speaking I will hear."

Sunday, February 24, 2013


She stood, in a dress with feathers. Smiling at those in the room around her. My heart was filled with love for this dear sweet friend as we celebrated her birthday.

Her daddy spoke. How proud he was. How much he loved her. Her mom spoke. How she treasured her.

And a little place in my heart that stays out of the light opened. It's a deep place. Full of sadness. The despair of a forgotten little girl lingers there. She longs for someone, anyone to choose her. To love her. To be proud of her. She longs for her mother and father to give her the things the world does not- safety, acceptance, and peace.

This place is one that stays hidden, closed away by a Savior that washed it clean and set it aside.

But sometimes the door opens. And stays that way for a while. I know in these times that this pain is important to sit with.

Some people believe that God washes away pain, and that it stays away forever- that it is forever healed. That is not true for me. In my case, the anger and sadness come back from time to time. But like everything else in my life, the pain is an amazing teacher.

I am sad that I have never had what so many others have. I am angry that I was cheated of these things. I am angry that I spent so much time feeling unsafe that even now as an adult I have to work through issues of debilitating anxiety and depression.

I am disappointed that God did not save me from these things.

And I also have a God that is not intimidated by the anger or sadness that keeps others away. He isn't put off by tears. He isn't fooled by the facade I put on for others.

He is not angered by my disappointment. He is not vengeful at my questioning of his plan.

I don't know the answers to why some have love and some do not. I don't know why some have childhoods of safety and sunshine while others have to fight tooth and nail for scraps of happiness.

I used to be envious of these other people. I used to be jealous. Ugly ugly emotions that can trap you into a cycle of feeling sorry for yourself. A cycle of questioning your own worth. Of validating yourself by how others have valued you.

The truth is, I was not treasured by my parents. I was not kept safe. At times, I doubt if I was loved.


When I feel this way, I remember this: I am cherished by a Savior that died for me. He has walked with me every single step. He has followed when I turned away. He has waited when I strayed. He has welcomed me back when I ran to Him, desperate for love.

And I also remember what He has given to me:


You are driving the speed limit.

The windows are down.

It's a beautiful day.

Your children are in the back of your car chatting to each other.

You drive through an intersection, look to your left and see a semi just yards away, getting ready to slam into you and your family.

Close your eyes.

Can you feel that? That rush of adrenaline, the sweaty palms, churning stomach, swirling head? Can you feel the racing heart and the weakness in your body?

That feeling right there is what an anxiety is.

I know. Because I've been having an ongoing dance with anxiety for the past month.

This isn't the first time I've gone 10 rounds with panic. I've done my fair share of time fighting this particular demon.

However, this time it is prolonged. It is severe. And it is debilitating.

I am still functioning. I can get up, take care of my kids, and appear to be my normal self. But underneath the exterior I show everyone else, I am in an almost constant state of panic.

It comes from nowhere, slams me down and holds me there. A wave of panic so severe that I want to run far far away.

Ive tried everything to stop it. I've hidden it from almost everyone.

I've been ashamed. After all, it seems so self indulgent. So selfish. So petty and small.

I'm a seasoned pro at pretending everything is okay. And I've hidden it well.

But hiding it makes it worse. Imagine being in a room full of people you love where you are safe...and yet feeling like you are drowning. Lonely is not the word for that feeling.

This didn't come out of nowhere.

There are life changes behind this anxiety. Tough times. There is alot I have buried that my writing has begun to dig up.

As with anything hard, I have learned that God teaches through it.

I'm just waiting to learn.

(hint hint, God. Go ahead and school me, already!)

I am also a pro at never ever wanting to burden anyone. And never ever wanting to accept help.

But I am learning that I can't do that anymore. The people I have been given in my life are there for a reason. For me to serve.

And also, at times like these, to be served in turn.

So. In the past few days I have been saying- "I am scared. I need help. I don't know what to do."

And you know what? Nobody has rolled their eyes. Nobody has sighed and thought me dramatic. Nobody has acted as if I was being foolish.

All anybody has said is- "I am here for you."

So maybe God has already taught me part of this lesson- that pride and friendship cannot go hand in hand. That asking for help is an important part of my spiritual walk. And that being humble often includes admitting you are troubled and in need of prayer and love.

I can't say when and if this will end. Will it be with new medication? Will it be when our troubles are lightened? Will it be when life settles and I can see the light again?

I just don't know.

But what I do know is that I am not alone in this darkness. I have people who love me enough to walk with me until the light shines again, until this panic subsides.

They are willing to love me even when I am not the person they knew. They are willing to wait and pray until I return to myself.

I hope that when that happens, I will have learned what God is trying to teach me.