Thursday, May 11, 2017

Miracles in the Midst of Pain

Two years ago this week, we said goodbye to what we thought would be our forever home. We had built our home outside of a small town in central North Carolina on 2 acres of land.  It was all of the things we wanted in a home and I could see Rick and I rocking on the front porch growing old together.  I could envision years of Christmas mornings with excited children and groggy adults opening gifts.

And then it was gone.  We both lost our jobs withing 6 weeks of each other.  No matter how hard we tried, we just could not keep up with the payments.  I was heartbroken. I was lost. I was powerless to stop the wheels that had already been set in motion.

Something that you should know about me is that I am a girl who likes to put down roots.  I grew up in the same home for 20 years and it felt almost like losing a family member when that house was sold and my parents moved to a smaller and more manageable condo.

Since moving to North Carolina in 2009, we have moved 5 times.  It has been hard uprooting our lives each time and trying to adjust to a new and unfamiliar environment.

But God had a plan (as He always does).

This year, we moved from our cramped, 3-bedroom apartment into a spacious, comfortable home.  For the first time EVER, the girls do not have to share a room.  The kids have their own living space where they can watch TV, play the Xbox, and hang out with friends without having to be around us (in case you don't have teenagers, they would rather die than hang out with their parents!).

But the most beautiful part of our move is the location  We are in a great neighborhood where the neighbors actually talk to each other.  There are about 200 kids (okay, more 10, but most days it feels like more) on our street.  We are literally across the street from one of my best friends, whose oldest daughter who is my daughter's best friend.

I have learned an important lesson.  Even through the devastation and hardship of losing out dream home and moving so many times, He had a plan.  He had a perfect plan.  Even when I doubted Him, He was there working in our lives and orchestrating a beautiful result.


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Dear Sophie

Dear Sophie,

This week you would be 5 years old.

I can imagine we would have had cake and ice cream, maybe a trip to Build-a-Bear.

I am confident you would be sweet and precocious and a joy to your older siblings as well as your father and I.

When it is quiet at night, like tonight, and everyone is asleep, I can almost hear the pitter-patter of your little feet running through the house and your sweet, melodic giggles.

There is a hole in my heart that will never be filled. At least not in my lifetime here on earth. Every day I grieve your loss. I grieve the life that I had growing inside me, but never got to hold. I grieve the loss of all of the wonderful memories we would have made. I grieve the loss of your life here on earth. But, I know you are in a better place.

I believe that my sweet grandparents, who never got to meet your brother and sisters, are there with you, and this brings me great comfort.

It has been over 5 years since we got the devastating news that you would not be born alive here on earth. I will never stop grieving. I will never be whole. But I will be okay. And I will have joy and peace even in the face of such loss and grief.

Happy Birthday, baby girl!

Until we meet again,


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Love In Action

There is this friend of mine. She is pretty amazing. Sweet, funny, smart.

But mostly, she is living her faith in a way I rarely witness. She is a shining example of Christ's love in action.

It has been a rough couple of months for our family-surgeries, travel, illness all accompanied by exhaustion.

Today, as I was texting with this friend from my husband's hospital room (he is recovering from surgery), she kindly asked if I needed anything-to which I responded "I am good...unless you know a cleaning fairy!" (please note this was entirely in jest as we all know cleaning fairies are simply the adult version of the tooth fairy).

At this point I should tell you that this friend of mine has just returned from a week-long mission trip and has four children of her own to care for.

So, imagine my surprise (and God's perfect timing) as I pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex after spending four hours at the hospital to see her pulling in as well!  She shouted out her window "the cleaning fairies are here!". 

I went upstairs, sat on my bed, and bawled.

While I settled in-changing clothes, eating lunch, getting started on some work-she and her children (and my children as well) tidied, vacuumed, took out trash, did dishes, cleaned toilets and did laundry.

Y'all. I have no words.

This is love in action. This is Christ's church caring for the body of believers.

Thank you, my sweet friend.



Monday, June 27, 2016

The Other Side of the Coin

There is no doubt who the strong, dependable, reliable, and steady one is in our husband takes that title hands down.

I am more along the lines of broken, unreliable (due to my chronic illness) and maybe even a bit flaky. I definitely don't see myself as strong by any stretch of the imagination.

This guy. He has sat through countless doctor appointments, ER visits, surgeries, and medical procedures. He takes care of me. Makes sure I get the help I need...or at least tries his best.

But today I was on the other side of the coin.

He was the one in the hospital gown on the gurney getting prepped for surgery. He was the one in pain. He was the one whose hurt I can't fix.

I have so much more appreciation for him (not that I didn't have plenty of that before!). While many days I struggle to manage with my chronic illness, I never understood what it was like to desperately want to take a loved one's pain away from them and not be able to.

Today, I understand.

I am not good on the flip side of this coin. I am weepy and emotional. I am broken-hearted. The idea of spending two more nights without him by my side tears me apart. The thought of him being in pain and alone in the hospital rips my heart to shreds.

I have to be completely candid here. I am worn. My broken, busted body that is exhausted every day from fighting this chronic illness, is just not up to the challenge.  If it were not for very dear friends that are more like family, I am not sure what I would do. Even then, just the hours spent at the hospital and running back and forth have completely drained me of all of my energy....and then some.

So many times I have had to put on a brave smile in the face of excruciating pain, crippling anxiety, and mind-numbing exhaustion. But so far, I have persevered. I have no choice-the man who is always my rock needs me to be his now and that, my friends, is a no-brainer.

This guy I love. This man I married. This amazing, kind, strong man has spent years caring for me, now it's my turn-ready or not.

I can't hope to come close to what he does for me on a daily basis, but I can pour into him during this time.



Sunday, May 29, 2016

Never Forget

Since 1868, our country has honored those killed in military service.

I am blessed to be from and to have married into a family of warriors. Men and women who stood up and fought for this country, many of them when it wasn't easy or popular.

Each year, I struggle with how to honor these men and women-concerned that I will inadvertently leave out a name of a friend or family member who has served our country.

We live in controversial times. We are entangled in political debates, moral issues, and ethical questions.

But Memorial Day is a day to push the pause button. To remember the men and women who have paid the ultimate price to allow us to continue to live in a free country-even if it is controversial.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating this holiday with cook-outs and beach trips. There is nothing wrong with buying a new car or new furniture because it is on sale for the holiday. But that is not what this holiday is about.

It's about the father who will never meet his baby girl.

It's about the girl will not have her father to walk her down the aisle.

It's about the father that will raise his children alone.

It's about the mother who clings to the carefully folded flag that covered her child's coffin.

It's about all of the veterans that came home and wonder why their fellow soldiers did not.

Enjoy your 3-day weekend. Grill, swim, and sleep in on a Monday. But know that somewhere, there is someone for whom Memorial Day is not just a day off from school or work, but a day of mourning, grief and remembrance.

To all of our friends and family who have served. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What Kind of Mom Are You?

I am not a perfect mom.

(I will give you a moment to let that sink in.....)

But at 37 years old (gasp!), I have finally become comfortable with the mom I am.

Society likes to categorize mothers:
  • The "Crunchy Mom" who makes their own baby food, wears a baby body-wrap, and only shops at farmer's markets and Trader Joe's.
  • The "Corporate Mom" who works full-time immediately after their 6-week maternity leave is up, often spending weekends trying to "make up for lost time".
  • The "Homeschool Mom" whose children are terribly under-socialized and will likely all become sociopaths someday (I can say this because I am this mom right now).
  • The "Health Nut Mom" who watches every.single.calorie that crosses their precious babies lips and has never ever fed them nuggets from a fast food chain (or would at least never admit it).
  • The "Sports Mom" whose children each play at least 1 sport every season of the year, she is the team mom for almost every one of their teams, and her minivan always smells like a locker room.
  • The "Southern Baptist Mom" whose daughters wear matching, smocked, monogrammed dresses with bows bigger than their heads in their curly blond locks every Sunday. They go to a good SBC church, eat Sunday supper with family (during which time their daughters change into matching, monogrammed "play clothes"). They only listen to K-Love Radio in the car and are on at least 2 ministry teams at church, one of which is ALWAYS child-related.
I could go on and on. And if you were offended by any of the above generalizations 1) good-you should be and 2) suck it up, buttercup!

I fall into several of these categories and a few more. I have tried desperately to be several of these "moms" and failed miserably. And I have finally learned that we are all individuals and there is more to us than what the world sees from the outside looking in.

I have tattoos. Several. And I plan to get more. I like them.

I listen to a wide variety of music and some of it not at all appropriate for children (I do try to skip anything that is not the 'radio edit' on my playlist). The fact that my 8 year old knows all the words to Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" and the fact that my 13 year old knows and loves Metallica and Danzig and can identify Smashing Pumpkins "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" within the first bar is a personal point of pride for me.

I have let my children watch movies that I probably shouldn't have.

I have been known to drop the occasional f-bomb in earshot of my children.

I pretty much lack any type of filter (which I recently found out is not news to most people that know me).

I love God. And none of the above prevents me from teaching my children to love God.

My imperfections and mistakes, even some of my poor choices, can serve a greater purpose-they can point my children away from the world's teachings that you must be every kind of mom to be the perfect mom, toward a Perfect God who teaches us there is no perfection except in Him.

God can even use this hot Southern mess of a mama for His good!



Sunday, March 20, 2016

An Open Letter to My Teenaged Son

You are smart. Handsome. Funny. Sweet. Compassionate.

You are such an amazing human being.

I see you struggling in the in between. In between a boy and a man.

Some moments I still see the sweet blond-haired, blue-eyed little boy who loved toy trucks and cars. The boy who loved to watch cartoons on Saturday morning in his dinosaur PJs eating a bowl of cereal.

But more and more I see glimpses of the young man you are becoming. The kind and compassionate young man who wants to also be tough and hard. The smart young man I know you are who doesn't always want to put the effort in to excel where I know you can.

I can't say I know exactly how you feel. I was never a teenage boy.

But I was a teenager, and I know what it feels like to be stuck. Stuck between then and now. Stuck between child and adult. Stuck between putting down roots and taking flight.

You are desperate to grow up, to experience all of the excitement and privilege of being an adult. But you are not ready for the enormous responsibility that goes along with that life. As much as you don't want to, you still need us-your parents-to guide you through these sometimes tumultuous years.

You have so much potential. You have a heart that truly seeks God. You have a heart that truly cares deeply for others-almost too deeply. You are smart-sometimes too smart for your own good.

There are so many years ahead of you for you to grow up and be a man. To carry the burdens and enjoy the privileges of manhood. But right now, you need to slow down. Stop plowing ahead into the unknown and slow down and listen to those around you.

You are so very blessed to not only have a family who loves you, but to be surrounded by good, godly, Christian men who are willing to pour into you. Listen to them. Learn from them.

I can't put into words the love I have for you. You won't understand this kind of love until you have a child of your own, but that doesn't mean you can't appreciate it.

This time in life is not easy for anyone. And I now know that it's even harder to parent someone during this time than actually be that person.  Again-something you will not understand until you have children of your own.

You are a gift from God. You belong to Him, and we are simply His ambassadors here on earth. We are here to guide you to the light of your Heavenly Father. Never forget that. No matter what-God is always there for you and so are we.

I love you more than I ever thought possible.