Making God Laugh

28 May

It’s 3 am and I am 41 weeks pregnant. That’s 2 weeks longer than my first 2 kids, and those 2 weeks have felt like eternity. I’ve been having steady contractions off and on since 36 weeks which makes it seem like over a month of labor.

In that month we found a new place to live. It came as a gift after a lot of ups and downs, wondering, stressing and praying about leases and landlords, location, timing, and finances.

God brought it all together, and as always in this adventure we live, it is happening fast. Fast enough where now I am giving myself and this baby a deadline, where I am pondering furniture and boxes and exactly where I am gonna give birth. Because I decided on a homebirth, and now I am switching homes. So much for “nesting.”

I had a momentary freak-out yesterday and my dear husband gave me a foot rub, told me to breathe and reminded me that my ancestors gave birth in covered wagons and next to battlefields. And I carry their DNA, their strength.

Then I thought of one of the most famous birth stories as I ate leftover chicken pot pie in the quiet of 3 am. I thought of Mary and how she must have been having contractions, longer and stronger and closer together and how Joseph must have felt so frustrated he couldn’t find a bed for his very pregnant wife. How they had been entrusted with this crazy precious gift and they probably thought they might have to birth him in the street.

I wonder if Mary stressed as another painful contraction rolled through her body, if she wondered if maybe she had screwed up, or what the heck God was doing, after all, this was horrible timing having to make this journey so far from home.

I often think of the quote I first heard in the beautiful movie “Bella” (which ironically revolves around pregnancy and choosing life) the quote originally by Woody Allen:

“You wanna make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.”

There is no better way to remember how little control you have then to have children. From the moment of conception, from seeing those 2 lines on the pregnancy test, you are thrown onto a chaotic ride that just doesn’t stop. And often there is vomit, too.

But birth is other-worldly. And we lose part of the wonder when we over-analyze and over-medicate and make it all about the numbers and the dates and everything lining up just right. We play into fear and wonder why the stress is too much.

Maybe it would be better just to let go of imaginary deadlines, stop trying to plan and control and just be grateful we get to partake in this incredible miracle.

Because we talk about “God’s timing” only because our limited minds are currently trapped inside of timelines. Yet our spirits are not, and neither our babies preparing to come earthside.

I know “this too shall pass” and right now there are so many lessons to be had in the waiting.

In the (once again) trusting last minute everything will fall into place.

In the embracing of the unknown because really, this is all just a great adventure.

I see it now: that moment when heaven and earth align and my body releases this brand new soul I’ve been carrying all these long months.

I smile, as tears of joy come, and then laughter from pure relief.

God laughs with me.

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Girl, Quit Washing Your Face

9 Apr

When I was a teen and in my early 20’s, I struggled a lot with acne break-outs. I felt ugly and embarrassed. I’d cover up with make-up, but those pesky pimples would always poke through. I tried different products: chemical ones I had to order specially in the mail, natural ones that smelled like hippies and half a paycheck. Some things would clear my face up for a bit, but eventually I’d break-out again.

About 6 or 7 years ago, I stopped washing my face completely. Maybe I just got lazy or gave up, but also I remembered something grandma had told me years ago: the only thing you need for your face is a washcloth and some warm water.

So I tried it. I used coconut oil sparingly just to remove stubborn make-up. And I haven’t had a breakout since. Maybe one or two triggered by hormones or stress pimples, but they always go away quickly.

Sometimes, less is more. Sometimes you don’t need to follow the latest trend, spend money on the newest product, or join the latest MLM.

Sometimes you just need to go back to the basics.

Do less, not more.

When I was in my teens and early 20’s, I wanted badly to “be a good Christian.” I struggled with consistancy, with returning to those bad habits and sins that kept me feeling ugly.

I went through humanity’s tired cycle: mess up, cover it up, eventually repent, try to do better, succeed for a little bit, then mess up again.

I looked in the mirror and the only thing I saw was my flaws. The answer, of course, was always to do more.

I just need to read my bible more, or even better, the newest christian best-seller that unlocks the secrets of the bible!

I need to pray longer.

I need to cut things out of my life that were junk for my soul.

I need to sacrifice, to serve God in “fulltime minstry,” go into all the world, be a martyr, give up everything in order to be a “world-changer.”

Shape up.

Clear up.

Fix yourself, because Jesus died for you.

Because that’s what Christianity is about…..right?

The hustle of “working out your faith.”

The radical idea that because we have been given everything, we now need to do everything.

Join the club, pay the membership fee, and then make sure you sell the product to others because it will change their lives too!

Work your way up to the gold level, get the rewards you deserve, if not here on earth, than surely in heaven.

In the midst of the hustle, we don’t realize we are ruining friendships by always being ready to sell.

We are so busy striving and pushing (all in the name of bettering ourselves and others) we don’t realize we are still staring in the mirror.

We trade real, raw relationships for a marketing opportunity.

We trade the power of the gospel for a self-help book.

We trade Jesus for a nice, man-made idea:

That we can be better if we just DO more.

Not realizing that is in fact the complete contradiction of amazing grace.

My grandma lived for nearly a century. Her skin was beautiful. At the time I thought her advice was silly and old-fashioned. Only water?! How will that clear my skin? Besides, what would people think? Won’t I be all greasy? Won’t that be gross?

It can’t be that simple, right?

You know when Jesus said “My yoke is easy, my burden is light” he was serious.

He knew it applied to people like me: a tired mom living in a weird culture where everyone glorifies the busy, the hustle, the striving for perfection.

(Or maybe it’s always been that way?)

Now, I am not saying that we should all give up on our dreams, our children, and our faith and just sit in bed binging on Netflix.

What I am saying, the older I get the more I realize that less is more.

Sometimes we need to stop striving and just be.

Sometimes sitting in the stillness is the most “productive” thing we could do.

Maybe we need to just rest and let what Jesus did for us be enough.

Maybe we need to get away from the mirror and look up.

Maybe we need to quit looking at opportunities to better ourselves and just look at Jesus.

Let Him wash us in the water of the word.

Let Him bring the right people into our lives.

Let Him bring us TRUE success.

Let His bread and wine be our sustenance.

Let Him finish the work He started in us.

He’s already made us clean.

He’s already made us enough.

Now we get to rest in it.

Frozen Ground

22 Mar

Why do we toil so hard to till frozen ground instead of just waiting for the sun?

Is this just the lot of all men? To work until their hands bleed and their minds melt of boredom?

To paddle against a tide and go nowhere?

Where are the explorers and inventors, the revolutionaries pushing boundaries of innovation and creativity?

Let them take their rightful place in the sun, pushing aside the corrupt politicians and peddlers of empty dreams.

Give them a voice. The future of humanity rests in them.

Winter Steals My Songs Away

7 Mar

I broke down the other night while rocking Wyatt and singing to him before bed. It’s a song I’ve sang a million times over the last decade or so, in different countries and different seasons of life.

Maybe I don’t have the strength

Maybe I don’t have the faith

You brought me here in 40 years

When I know this trip should take a week

I barely make it past the first line. I struggle a word at a time as Wyatt tries to stick his fingers up my nose. My usually crazy busy almost-2-year-old has wanted to cuddle all day. He puked all over me earlier. My 29-week belly feels tight and cramp-y. I am emotional. I am just exhausted.

I’ve shed my tears and shed my blood

I’ve been held ransomed by the flood
The winter steals my songs away

In all of this I come undone

It’s hardly March and this year feels endless. Snowstorms, sickness, more snowstorms, broken cars, more sickness. Worry and stress. More snow. Endless piles and heaps. Anxiety about driving on the roads, raising wild children, adding a 3rd kid to our family, my mom having heart surgery, what the future will bring.

Stop.

Breathe.

Whisper.

When you walk through the water I will be with you.

When you pass through the rivers these waves they will not overtake you

When you walk on the fire those flames they will not touch you.

You’re mine.

Slowly, my voice stops cracking and gains some strength.

I sing until I can count my blessing again.

I sing until I can feel it.

I sing until I can believe it.

All the tiny miracles throughout my day….

Everytime I put groceries in the fridge or lay down in a warm bed. Every bill that gets paid. A friend that calls or texts because they really care.

My boy, laying is head on my chest.

My girl, making us toast by herself.

My other baby, moving healthily inside of me.

My dog, laying her chin gently on my growing belly, all knowing.

My husband, always passionate and giving everything he has.

Immeasurable blessings I lose track of and forget to see in the middle of the chaos.

Motherhood is full of moments too raw to capture. I reach the end of myself more times daily than I can count.

I kiss Wyatt’s toddler forehead and think for the millionth time in the past 5 years,

“This is the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done.”

Don’t ever let me forget, it is also the most important thing.

Facing boring and bad days bravely, even when they seem to pile up endlessly like mountains of snow.

Knowing I can walk through it with Your strength. My legs and my heart get stronger. I can squint and see the beauty of the sunlight glinting off the icicles.

The hope for joy in the midst of cracker crumbs and screaming fits and throw-up and all the mess of motherhood.

The warmth and peace available to me when I just let go of control and breathe in the Love I have found.

You are mine,

You are mine.

(Enter the Worship Circle- Mine)

Dumbing It Up

26 Feb

I don’t know much
But I am sure
In my tired bones
You are the good
in everything

And maybe I can be
Ignorant
and ill-informed
and non-educated
and slow

But the place of Assurance
doesn’t reside in my brain

and intellect
won’t save me from myself

Maybe we’re all
choking on so much knowledge
drowning in information

But this is air:

I believe I am Loved
and that’s enough

Let Hope Be Born

9 Feb

This place is too evil

or so they say

Don’t bring a child into this world

They will only suffer

Society will crumble

The earth will decay

Your grandchildren will watch it burn

(If they are even born)

It’s selfish to raise children

In the midst of the apocalypse

Or so they say

Better not add to the overpopulation

Better not risk a bad seed

A bad apple

Another ignorant human

Better not risk disease

Pain

Disappointment

Better to avoid life all together

………….Or

You could wake up

To a new day

Grow beauty in your womb

Let her come out bloody and screaming

Speak life until your lips hurt

Walk justly

Seek mercy

Fight for love

Choose to hear the Redemption Song

In the middle of the caucophonos war

Tell them

NO!

What’s selfish is to give up

When all the potential for change and restoration

Lies in a brand new human

Emerging from the womb

Let hope be born

Raise your children to be brave

To love unconditionally

To see beyond the veil

To lift the curtain

Live beyond the shriveling systems

Raise your children

To see the good in everything

To stand up to the bullies

To plant flowers

Speak poetry

Love life

To not be afraid to travel the dying world

To know what they think

And who they are

Raise your babies to make the world better

Whisper

Even through the darkest, most hopeless nights….

“You are the light

You are the future

You are the very breath of God.”

Viral Jesus

12 Oct

If Jesus came in the flesh today, thousands would stand in line in hopes of getting tickets to his sold-out stadium event. Waiting in the cold, shivering from the chill and the anticipation, hoping to get a glimpse of this high profile celebrity.

After watching his Facebook Live video that went viral of him healing that famous billionaire with the rare disease no one can pronounce. 3 billion views. Is that even possible? He practically broke the internet. It’s a good thing there were motivated Christians to come beside him and help him continue to market himself. They gave him a brand, put him on a world tour that sold out in less than 12 minutes. The elite got their VIP meet-in-greet of course. And a few lucky ordinary people who shared his post
and tagged their friends.

Now the city is abuzz with this new sensation. Traffic surrounding the venue is at a stand-still. Protesters with angry signs shout behind barricades.

“Of course there are protestors,” those that are close to him whisper, “persecution is inevitable when he is making this BIG of an impact.”

The president would show up to shake his hand. Mark Zuckerburg would be there to put aside his different beliefs and vow to help him continue to use his platform for good. So much GOOD.


In a seedy 24 hr diner, on the other side of the railroad tracks…

A trucker walks in, dirty and exhausted from all the miles, needing a shower and some coffee badly. A stranger sees him immediately and buys him a cup. They chat about his work, but get to the deep stuff fast. The stranger sees things in that trucker he never saw before. All the hope and potential of a newborn. The tough, weathered trucker finds tears falling into his coffee mug as something in him releases.

A woman walks in. Or is it a man? She’s spent the night on the corner, trying to make a few hundred dollars. She avoids eye contact with the stranger. Something about him unsettles her, makes her feel shame. He doesn’t let her ignore him. He buys her some waffles and hot cocoa. They talk for hours and she finds herself pouring out her life story. The abuse. The rejection. The stranger nods.

“It’s not your fault. You don’t have to live like this.”

The conversation continues into the early morning and the woman knows her life will never be the same.

As the media broadcasts the life-changing event just up the road, few realize that maybe we have the wrong man.

coffee

The Only Cure For Despair

8 Jun

Every human is confronted with the same decisions: believe the dark thoughts or cast them out. And I am realizing that intersection faced multiple times a day is really what makes or breaks a life.

I am reminded again, you can have the whole world but lose your soul.

Money is an illusion. Adventure can be miserable. Traveling doesn’t bring you peace. Neither does having a beautiful, loving family.

The reality of human nature is this: nothing is ever enough.

We grasp at the stars with hands that can’t hold anything, it’s always just within our reach.

Happiness. Fame. Romantic love. Success. Amazing experiences.

They fade in color like anything left out in the sun too long.

We are the desert wanderers, watching miracles happen next to us and forgetting in a day, never arriving to the promise land we’re camped right outside of.

We are dust and we can’t get back to the ground fast enough.

Meaninglessness, meaninglessness.

If we’re honest, we all face the reality of the futility of it all.

Some of us ignore the pressing truth. We numb ourselves with pictures and noise, bury ourselves in stuff and other’s drama. We curb the appetite of despair just enough to get us to the next high.

Some of us fall completely into the darkness and let it engulf is. We give up all hope and decide to leave. The world is shocked for a moment, then keeping spinning.

But some of us. Some of us touch the light on the other side, grasp it like a rescue rope.

Some of us have tasted Love and know everything else is bitter. And know matter how often we forget, we have this Hope.

A Reason.

A Meaning.

Beyond the easily combustible stuff.

Beyond fickle emotions or the next best thing.

Beyond the broken parts of our mind telling us it’s not worth it.

Beyond this world that is slowly expiring.

And it’s not even some intangible thing we have to conjure up or repeat enough phrases or read enough or attend the right church or seminar.

IT is a actually HIM.

A whispered name that stands firm when all the walls around us are knocked down.

A nest, untouched in a hurricane.

The only real reason for carrying on.

Jesus.

So we moved forward, with Light on our faces and Hope in our hearts.

Knowing what the world needs.

Knowing what we need.

Rest, Child

22 May

When I was a child, growing up in rural New Hampshire, I always loved lilacs. There was one house in particular which had a yard covered in lilac bushes, and whenever we’d pass it, I’d say to myself, one day I’ll have a yard covered in lilac bushes.

After growing up, moving to Texas and traveling, I’d forgotten about this sweet, delicate, purple flower. Until the other day when I realized the large unknown bushes lining the fence in our backyard had blossomed.

I know it seems crazy to some people, but I still believe Jesus wants to take us on a beautiful adventure, full of wonder, awe, and even danger at times. And I can’t imagine living any other way.

When I was 22, I sat in a stuffy bus that reeked of cigarette smoke, on a dark road in western China. I cried tears of overwhelming joy because I felt God whisper in the stillness,

“I want to give you the world.”

I spent a few years feeling lost and forgetting who I was. I tried so hard to “figure out life,” I forgot the inheritance that is already mine.

I bought this book the other day. I probably would never have if I hadn’t found it on clearance at Hobby Lobby. I don’t really read much anymore, my attention span is shot and my mom-brain seems to barely comprehend anything. But I remembered how reading Shauna’s words in the past felt like an instant heart-connection, like my older, cooler self was writing to a younger me.

Last night I got hit with a stomach bug, so today I am recovering. It forced me to stop, be still, leave the dishes and laundry and get groceries delivered. I sit outside alone in the quiet while my kids rest, and breathe in the sweet lilac sent while reading some life-giving words.

You don’t have to be so busy.


Stop.


Remember who you are.


Remember what you have.

Rest, child.

And I remember it’s in the stillness in each day that I find myself at peace.

I am loved, so deeply

And I’ve been given the world.

Sometimes that looks like a grand adventure in another country, or finding a new home 1,000 miles away. Sometimes it’s my beautiful, frustrating, incredible children, and all the big and small moments with them. Sometimes it looks like the right thing on sale or reading the right words.

Sometimes it looks like a tiny, purple flower.

Machines & Beating Hearts

9 Jan

Just people attached to machines.

That’s what most of us see, when we look around.

It seems like something from a late 1990’s Sci-Fi film that makes you question everything you’ve ever known. But now, 20-something years later, this is reality. I am here at my gym as I type this. People, in a building, going nowhere. Attached to their treadmills, their headphones, their screens.

I am one of them. I like that I can create my own world, inside my hand. I like the anonymity of all this, I don’t have to talk to strangers, no one speaks to me. Headphones are the universal sign that you don’t want to be bothered, and I love it.

Or do I? Where would I be without people bursting into my life and turning everything backwards and sideways?

I look up to see my husband. Sometimes I look at him and remember what a miracle we are. That two people could find each other after all the impossible things, that we wrote our story together, created a whole new life. Created new lives.

I never want to get used to seeing him. Seeing our children. Those sweet, round faces full of so much wonder and promise, everything that is right with the world and worth living for.

I think God sees us like that.

Sees me.

But I don’t think He ever stops. He never gets tired and goes through days with His eyes closed.

He never gets distracted by the endless buzzing of the machines he didn’t make, the noise, the bright, artificial lights.

He never stops seeing the beauty in His kids,

Despite how messy we make things.

How side tracked we get, always missing what’s right in front of us.

He never stops fiercely loving me.

Even when I connect to all the wrong things.

Even when I pick up my smart phone instead of my husband’s hand.

Even when I ignore my daughter to read some stupid comment someone who’s not even next to me said.

Even when I go all day without remembering what a miracle all this is.

Love.

People.

Life.

So breathe in, breathe out.

Because you can, without a machine.

Hold hands and look each other in the eyes. Because it’s all we’ve got.

Sometimes I want to run into the wilderness and smash my phone and live like Laura Ingles Wilder, or at least like me from a decade ago, before this all got so impersonal.

(Maybe none of this is real.)

But somehow I know what’s real, above the whirring of machines.

And I can still hear the beating of our hearts.

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