Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's Happening!


We've sold our house! Or, we will have next Monday.  I want to sit here & write about the depth of my emotions - the excitement of a new house, the bitterness involved in moving away from friends, the sweetness of each child having their own room - but I am worn out.  With less a week before we close, & a lot to pack, poignancy just isn't going to happen.  We will have 12 days between the sale of our current home & the purchase of our new one, & an additional 3 before we're able to move in.  Perhaps in the space between, I will have more time for self-reflection.  For now, boxes to pack & songs of praise that we don't have to be "show ready" again for (hopefully) a very, very long time.  If ever.



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

shame is a lie someone told you about yourself.

Shame is a lie someone told you about yourself.

- Anais Nin


I've struggled with food for as long as I can remember.  It's been a way to control what I couldn't, to quiet what was deafening & to soothe what was wrenching me in two.  Small moments, meant in jest or malice or construction, to a damaged, anxious girl, were gathered together in my tiny hands, heaped upon my heart, & held against myself.  

Not enough.  


So much potential, & yet...

Every every bite a box full of shame.  Stuff it down, or run from it.  Turn to drugs to forget what is needed to nourish the body I was born into... that I hate.  

Measure the girth of my arms with my fingertips.  How far up do they touch?


on. & on. & on.

Until I was sick from the drugs with a heart rate, resting, of 135.  

I was committed, counseled & studied.  Put on different medication that made me balloon from a baggy zero to a six in a week, & continued growing at a staggering rate until doctors finally changed the medication.  

I went from "almost there" to so far from everything I'd ever worked for, or identified myself with.  Lost 40 pounds, but still was 40 above my pre-drug weight.

I sit in fear of withholding, fear of losing control again, so I swing in the other direction & eat out of lack of control.  Quiet the voices of my former self.  The me that died in treatment.  Sometimes, I miss her.  I wish that I could bring her back, but drugs & family life don't mix.

Two and half years after treatment, I fell in love with Jesus.  & yet still, suffocated with shame.  In our brokenness, the way we see our fathers is how we view the Lord.  Every day I exist in this body & I'm not thin, not tone, I fear am letting Him down, bringing Him shame.

Is this true?  Does my body really shame the Lord who loves me?  Who died for me?

No.  But do I believe that?  Do you?

I say I believe in freedom, a new life in Christ.  Ah, yes, but these wounds are too deep.  Too long sustained.  Too chronic.  This has fused itself to my bones, & I fear I will never be free from an eating disorder this side of the grave.  This is me.  To loathe the frame of flesh & bone that holds my soul on the earth.

But my babies.  They see me.  Their sweet faces, born from this body. They know how I feel about the vessel that God gifted me with, the vessel that grew them & protected their tiny, fragile bodies until they were strong enough to breathe in this broken world on their own.


One of my sons stood back from a mirror, saw his beautiful reflection & cried.

Echoing the shame I've long carried.


There are these moments in guiding young lives where we see how big we've blown it.  How vulnerable they are & how only God can heal wounds we've inflicted on those we hold most dear.  Where our sin, spreads like a virus, generational.

I stopped talking about it.  Kept it hidden & he healed.  Prayers heaped upon prayers & he's OK, Praise the Lord!  2 years later, my boy has no issue with his body weight.

Finally, I entered another type of treatment.  EMDR (memory repression therapy) & eating disorder treatment.  If I believed Christ could save me, why did I still insist on clinging to untruths about myself?  That what I see in the mirror isn't what God sees?  It was a huge risk.  I was terrified.

What if I opened all these wounds, talked about all these hurts, & nothing changes?  Or things get worse?

For my babies, I went.  I walked through the doors & sat on the turquoise couch & spoke my life, in hope that God would meet me there.  For me.  For my husband.  For my boys, so they don't hate their reflection.

I went with a desire that my babies grow into a reflection of Christ, not their mother's shame, & that they fall so deeply in love with my Savior that they are missed if absent.  Not because of potential, or works, or beauty, but because of how well they love those around them... & that they never focus so sharply on the outer, that they lose sight of the heart.

With faith & prayer (& a stomach full of butterflies), I went.



My Savior met me there.  He held me & He revealed Himself & He soothed me in a way food or starvation has never, could never, can never.

I still struggle with reflexes, with thought-paths, so well-worn that they're deep trenches, easy to fall into again & again, but He meets me with His truth when I ask Him.

He's been so good to show me how much He loves me.  Especially through my love for my children.  I love them when they're messy, when they're loud, when they're sinful.  He loves me better than I could ever love my children, no matter my sin, no matter my size.



But how to love the vessel He gave me?  The frame I've fought as long as I can remember?  In therapy, I learned to replace a lie with the truth, & to repeat it & pray it, until I believe it.  Sometimes, through tears, I cry out scripture back to Him in prayer.

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."

Wonderfully made?  With my disproportionate legs that still inhibit me from finding pants that fit?  With these eyes that brought the cutest boy on the bus to stare into them, only to ask if they were crossed?  Help my soul to know it well!  He chose these traits for me.  These legs that are strong, & these eyes that my boys wear beautifully.

& When I feel ashamed & alone, this sweet verse from last Christmas

"The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing."

He is a Warrior, my God.  He will save me from these lies & from my sin. He is doing so now.  Does it say when I am thin, that then He will take great delight in me?  No.  He delights in His children.  He will not rebuke me, but will sing over me.  The God of the Universe will sing over me!  Can you imagine?!



So, I'm learning.  He's growing me closer to Him through faith.  Little by little, piece by piece, prayer by prayer, my sweet Jesus is peeling away layers of scar-tissue-lies, & is showing me my value.

Shame is a chain that shackles you to lies.  Who is the father of lies?  Is that where you want to sit?  Who you want to bunk with?


I'm learning it does me no good to sit in humiliation because of this body that is not & will never be perfect.  Longing for that sick girl to reappear so that I might feel comfortable, that I might inwardly boast about being better, thinner, is broken. I cannot cling to what lies behind me.  There is freedom in Christ, I'm learning.  Freedom to post makeup-less pictures online, but also bigger, truer freedoms.

Being a wife.  A mother.  A friend.  Being able to laugh, with my broken, capped teeth, at the days to come, without worrying whether God will meet me there, because He will, my friends. Knowing that the absolute best reflection I could ever aspire to, is my savior & to love people well, as He did.  To focus less on me, & more on others.


"Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

these reminders.

attempting to sell a house is hard.  sanctifying.  everyone in my life hears the same song from me every day.  i whimper.  complain.  trying to find satisfaction in the uncertainly of a life's scene that is (possibly?) changing.  how does one find contentedness in a home that one is trying to sell?  how do you detach when you don't know if there's need?  how do i anchor myself, settle my feet, on floors that may not be my own on christmas?  

i've been silent here because this is a place i aim to share what inspires me to stay home with my children.  to keep them close when the whole world tells me to send them away.  when they still have milk teeth, send them out to use their little words in a big world that is most decidedly not geared towards & valuing of small ones.  individuals.



but i struggle.  it's not an easy battle, keeping them close.  especially when our house is on the market & everything is supposed to be clean & i'm dealing with idols trying to rip me in half.  

i want time alone.  quiet.  i want my house to stay clean.  projects to get finished.  beds to stay made, &, oh! i would love the thoughts in my head not to be run off by whining before i have a chance to write them down.

i haven't been taking pictures as much as i usually do.  i haven't been capturing beauty because i haven't been paying attention to it.  i've been pouring into myself & lamenting over dissatisfaction.  i have been existing & complaining.  halfheartedly trying to remind myself why.


finally i connected my camera.  i've been occasionally snapping pictures when i think about it, & it's been 3 months since i've uploaded the pictures.

uploading memories.  pouring over images.  seeing the little faces.  revisiting memories i was too busy (or distracted) to drink in fully the first time.  milk teeth framed in courage & adventure... & some times sass.  i need these reminders.  especially as we read about, & see first hand, how deeply the world is hurting.



a home is not an anchor.  christ is my anchor.  my calling to be their mother & to do so even when i'm tired & nervous, overwhelmed & battling jealousy & selfishness.  they need me as their mother, connected & inspired.  he has led me here.  to these precious faces, & their precious hearts.  he will see us through this time.  

maybe our home won't sell.  maybe, christmas 2015, we will still be in this house.  in struggling to find contentedness in our home is where i've missed the mark completely.  my contentedness should be in him, my anchor in the Lord, yes.  tangibly?  given by the greatest gift-giver, these faces are my home.



& i am humbled & thankful that they're safe.  that we're safe.  that we have a park to visit & a car to get us there.  that we aren't subject to physical threats because of our beliefs.



i sometimes feel poor.  we live in a land of great wealth, but i struggle with feeling like i don't have enough. my babies are safe.  our house goes far beyond merely meeting our needs.  my husband loves me dearly & i see him much more than most are able to see theirs.  


reading the news.  seeing the families ripped in half, running for safety.  my brothers' heads on poles.  

these reminders. they're heart breaking.  they're raw, staggering reminders of how wealthy i am... & how my four walls do not define me.  nor do my successes.  nor my failures.  nor my idols.  my definition is merely this - by amazing grace, i am his.



Monday, June 9, 2014

The Expectation of Imperfection

I am not gentle with myself.  I am a perfectionist & if I can't do something perfectly, I usually have a "why even bother attitude".  Desires become idols really quickly in my heart, & when the outcome isn't what I'd like, or I can't have something exactly as I'd like, I am really let down.  It's a dream if mine to have a thriving family homestead one day.  (One we may be putting off a while for hospitality's sake.)  Eventually, I want to grow (& raise!) most of our food with my kids helping & enjoying our own homegrown, seed-to-table, slow food.  Canning, preserving - the whole 'putting food by' is a huge desire of my heart.    I want to learn farming skills with a passion, but I'm trying to break my idolatry cycle, so I've laid this desire at His feet, & asked Him to help me learn, but also, to not let my dream become an idol.  

My first attempt at gardening occurred last fall & it was a complete failure.


I had a success rate of zero from the seeds I planted.


The seedlings I bought were were either uprooted(!)


or eaten by squirrels.

I know why the garden failed (sunlight, soil, water, critters, season - you know, essentially everything), &, yet, I found myself really surprised by the fact that I was hardly upset. The Lord met me in my failed garden.  He answered my prayer!  Not the way I'd had liked, but He grew me through my failure!  Having a dead garden is hardly inspiring, but hearing whispers from the Lord that my garden wasn't part of my identity?  It was worth the failure to see that idol surrendered.


We planted our garden on the shady side of the house last year because we were having 6 trees cut down on the sunny side.  When the trees were cut, the men laid the logs exactly where I wanted my garden to go. My husband is a busy man & has not had time to move 6 trees' worth of logs to the upper part of our yard (or when he did have time, I'd much rather him have spent it with me because, well,  he's busy & time with him is precious).  All of this to say - we were intending on moving the garden to the sunny side of the house, but never got around to it. (If you need fire wood, holler.  We've got you covered.)

On a whim, I grabbed some seeds from Target one day.  Only about $5 worth, & thought, if I plant them & they grow, wonderful.  If not, it's ok, because the garden isn't placed perfectly.


When I started weeding the beds, I found that there was a plus to not moving the garden bed - some of the seeds I planted last fall are growing!! Namely, a carrot.  1. Whole. Carrot.


& lettuce, too!  (There may have been more since I was weeding & pulled up a bunch before I realized the some of the weeds were crops. Whoops.)

I took this as a super great sign.  Maybe last fall's garden wasn't a complete failure, after all!!  I started planting my new seeds with great expectation, & with a jump in my step.

Well, there's a certain little helper of mine...

This Guy!
who likes to be everywhere I am, & into everything I'm doing - including the garden.  We have a raised garden bed, & from everything I've read about raised beds, you're really not supposed to walk in them because it compacts the soil.  Try telling that to an independent toddler.


It's very shocking.  Dirt?  That can't be messed with or stepped on?  Yeah, he doesn't think so.

The day I started planting my peas, he was helping, too.  How did he help?  He pulled up my ONE CARROT from last fall.


Not all the way out of the ground, but enough for me to see that it was actually, really, a carrot!  Do you see that orange?  Because I had already let go of the idea that this garden was actually going to yield food we were going to eat, seeing the little spot of orange absolutely brightened my day.


Also, I experienced a very unexpected gentleness with myself, not expecting everything to work.  I let my baby get messy & step in the garden.  I let him touch the plants, & when he pulled one up, it was really exciting to see a spot of color under all the dirt.  & it helped me remember part of my dream is having a family garden - one my kids are comfortable with.  I want them to remember gentleness & fun when they look back at our garden, not one they weren't allowed to really understand or get into.

The diaper, I know.  He sat in a puddle & slid down a mud hill, all in the name of Fun.
Also, they're little, right?  Especially the baby.  He doesn't understand soil compaction.  He understands fun, though, & he's teaching me all about it.

The Lord has helped me come to terms with the fact that this isn't the season for our family to grow our own food, but He's also helping me learn that it's ok to try things without the expectation of perfect success.  & the expectation of imperfect, I'm learning, is a really great, gentle place to be.


Where you have room for exploring things - like eating dirt.  (Him, not me.)


& little boys can go outside & explore without those pesky clothes getting in his way.


We left a rug out in the rain - for a while - & when we finally moved it so it could *ahem* dry out, we found a salamander hiding underneath!  I had never seen a salamander before!


I'm learning that pictures don't have to be perfect to convey emotions... like thrill & excitement.


Dirty feet can be really precious.


Just like dirty finger nails.


& climbing trees can be fun with flip flops & without shoes.

Not expecting perfection has really lightened my heart.  When I asked the Lord to help me release my idol of a perfect garden, He - like He always does - has given me so much more.  He's helping me see that it's ok to not expect perfection from myself, or my kids, or my husband.  He's also helping me see that when I do mess up, even in something small, like leaving a rug in the rain, or planting seeds too late, He still makes all things work together for our good.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Room to Breathe Easy

Over the past couple of months, my husband, Ben, & I have been feeling a gentle push to move.  We love our home, our neighbors & our church, so we've waited.  Then a push came again in a very large & tangible way when one of our beloved neighbors listed his home & it sold incredibly quickly.  We met with a couple of realtors who told us, "yes, economically, now is the time."  But was it?  The company Ben works for has been experiencing a shaky period, & that's a scary thought - sell a house & then potentially be without a main source of income.  We prayed about it, & Ben met with people in his company & we were, yet again, given a push to move.  So we started looking at what was out there, so we could get a feel for what is on the market.


We didn't want to leave our church, but we knew we wanted land so we can increase (err... begin to learn) self sufficiency skills, & finding a 4 bedroom home with 5+ acres around our church is simply not in our price range.  We knew Ben's job would be our anchor physically, so we decided to start looking further from our church, keeping Ben's commute as a main focus.  I prayed about it.  Ben prayed about it, & we were so torn.  Certainly, developing farming skills isn't a bad goal since it's spoken about in Proverbs frequently, & though we love our church so much, I began to really lean into the fact that the Lord is with us wherever we go.  I got to point where I simply prayed, "We will go where you send us."  We started looking on the east side of the city.  It would be an easy interstate commute for Ben, & land is much more affordable.  I began researching some churches in the city & even found one I thought our family would really love.


We started packing, getting our home ready to show (not easy with little ones, oh my!).  In our last meeting of the year, we asked our missional community group to pray our decision, & for God to give us peace & direction.  The night, my husband told me, "I don't want to move away from our friends.  Or our church.  I don't feel like a piece of land is worth leaving a place we feel so called to be.  I've been praying about it.  God is directing us to move, yes, but I don't feel like He wants us to leave our church."  (As if we needed any further push to stay at our church, the next week we learned that one of Ben's stores is moving close to our church in July!!)


I've been keeping my finger on the pulse of the market & finding a home with land within a reasonable drive to his 2 stores, his office, his lawn care customers & our church?  Very limited.  They're not move in ready (we're talking serious renovations required) and we are looking at 3 bedrooms, not 4 - which means we would have to be much more intentional about being hospitable - something we feel very called to be.  Still, we've been praying.  Guide us, please.  Let us know which way you want us to go.


Saturday, while Ben & I were painting (all the trim! in the whole house! oh my goodness! it took forever!), we starting talking again about our dreams with moving.  I want a mini farm.  Farm dogs.  Veggies.  Fruit trees.  Room to Breathe... but with what we're seeing on the market right now, we won't be as able to be nearly as hospitable as we'd like to be.  My husband's gentle response, "I think focusing on hospitality is more biblical than having a large piece of land."  My heart sunk, but he's right.  We've talked about foster care.  We talked about Safe Families -  we've even started our family application.  We have talked about having room for someone who needs it.  It doesn't set well with us to move away from that goal.


So now, with our home almost ready to list, we have a goal.  We want to keep our mortgage payment the same (or less), & find a home close to our church with room to share.  Any home size is capable of being hospitable, that is true, but we want to move in a direction where it's easier than now.  When I was searching for a church in the city, I listened to Dhati Lewis' sermon, Recapturing the Lost Art of Hospitality.  He mentions how he & his wife have always looked for homes that will accommodate more than just their family.  That's our goal with this move.  Though I would love home on land with Room to Breathe, we're trying to find a home where others in need have a Room to Breathe Easy.  Stepping out in a faith is a little scary, but He will take care of us.  He has shown us that more times than we can count. It's time for us to really work more towards loving others with the gifts He's given us.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

things i've made: andrew's blanket


title: Andrew's knit to crochet blanket (ravelry link)
craft: crochet, hook "S" with 3-4 strands throughout.
materials used: (quoted from original project) "Both my grandmother & my husband’s grandmother passed away in 2009, & I was given their yarn. It sat waiting for a worthy project. Because the yarn I inherited is from 2 different grandmother’s collections, i needed a project that would both display the colors, & help them flow together."
made for: my precious Andrew
when: finally finished april 2013
how often is it used: daily
other: this blanket took a while to make.  it started as a knit project, but i frogged it about a quarter of the way through because 3-4 types of yarn held together on size 7 needles equals a rug more than a blanket.  once i started the speed hook pattern, the blanket kind of started to fly off my hook.  i took a break for a bit, but the end of pregnancy with paul when i was too big to really move, i hauled it out of the closet & started working on it again.  i need to remember that.  this blanket took years to make.  it's twin sized. maybe queen, but it would be a small queen, for sure.
would i make another? yes, & i am in the process of making another scrap blanket for Luke, though this blanket is a combination of single & double crochet to help speed the process along.














Wednesday, April 16, 2014

things i've made: dad's father's day scarf


title: dad's father's day scarf (ravelry link)
craft: knit
materials used: thick & quick
made for: my dad
when: 2011
how often is it used: unknown
other:  this was my first project using thick & quick yarn, & the scarf came together surprisingly fast.  the whole thing kind of flew off my needles.  weaving in the ends was not as nice.  that was probably the longest part - which is saying a lot because this was in back before i had to relearn how to knit.  (i learned to knit in 2003, right after i was in a car accident & my left wrist couldn't withstand the weight, so for years i knitted with the left needle either tucked in my armpit or resting on my thigh.  everything took ages, but i didn't know any better, so i kept on trucking.  once i learned to crochet in 2012, i stopped knitting because everything came together so much faster with a hook.  late last year, almost exactly 10 years after i first learned to knit, i decided to relearn how to how my needles & i've fallen back in love.)
would i make another? the pattern, for sure.  it's really fun & comes together quickly, especially with the thick & quick.  another scarf just like this?  maybe for my boys when they're older.