Before

27 Aug

Remember when
We’d get lost in a crowd
Bump shoulders with a stranger
Emmersed in the swelling music
A sound bigger than all of us

Remember when
We’d smile at the elderly woman
In the grocery store
Browsing the same aisle
And she would smile back
And lean her wrinkled face towards
Our sticky toddler
To say hello
And remind us how fast childhood goes

Remember when
We’d shake hands
Look each other in the eye
Speak our minds
With kindness
Believe in the good of our neighbors
Our country

Believe
We are well

When we’d
Sit in coffee shops
Inhaling the scent of being awake
Eavesdropping on conversations
From the tables next to ours
Reading faces
Watching life happen
Outside the window

Remember when
We’d dream of traveling
The world
Of every gorgeous &
Dangerous possibility
Open before us

Remember
Before
They told us
To fear

And we forgot
To live

Pentecost

31 May

We watch our cities burn
And wonder
How we can stop
The hate that festers
Because of hue
The judgement that finds
What is different
In another human
And fears it
We try to educate
To eradicate the evil
That grows like cancer
In our bones
But
Our 13-Step programs fail
Our willpower won’t work
Our attempt at recompense
are empty
Our efforts always fall short
As the gap widens further
More blame
More destruction
More lives ruined
But
In a room
They sat
Today and over 2,000 years ago
Every shade of melanin gathered

Then came a fire
But not the burning buildings type

A living kind
The same light, warmth, ferocity
That spoke through a bush
To free His children from slavery
That led them through miles of wilderness
That jealously consumed a soaked altar
That came upon them That Day (and today)
ALL languages
Backgrounds
Skin
Culture
Division
Were not
And all at once
Languages were understood
Barriers broken
Generations of wounds mended
The gospel being proclaimed
By the same man
Who walked with Jesus
And denied Him
At the crux of The Story
All at once
EVERY tongue, tribe, and nation
Knew who was King
Knew we are all one
Knew Who will heal this land
Starting in OUR hearts

Come, let us return to Him
To that room
Let the Fire consume us
Be healed

*Acts 2*
*Photo by Matheus Bertelli from StockSnap*

 No More Crossing Off Days

19 May

You’re probably going to hate me for saying this, but despite everything, 2020 has been one of the best years of my life so far. It is strange, how you can’t always recognize the metamorphosis happening when you’re in the middle of it. It is dark, kind of cramped and uncomfortable, and not a lot seems to be even happening.

In December, I was driving to a Wednesday night prayer and worship meeting at a local church and I suddenly felt God say, “I want to free you from anxiety.”  I thought “Well, that’s good. Of course you do. I believe someday you will.” I didn’t realize how cozy I was, snuggled up next to my old life-sucking friend, how “normal” it felt to have these terrible thoughts constantly, to overthink, to get that feeling in the pit of my stomach, to panic and obsess until I reach behind me when driving to make sure I really put my baby in his car seat, that I didn’t leave him at home. It was normal. I didn’t need drugs. I was just dealing. Panic attacks on what was supposed to be a relaxing anniversary cruise with my husband wouldn’t stop me from forcing myself to have a good time. Facing my fear because that’s what I always did. Living with it. Sucking it up. Choosing to ignore and be thankful and live the best way I knew how.

That night, unexpectedly, it left like an evicted tenant, never returning.

I left it at the altar with tears of joy, with freedom like I hadn’t felt in years, with butterfly wings emerging.

The next few weeks I couldn’t even recognize my own thought patterns. My head felt clear. Like the stormy waves had gone from crashing to the stillness of a mist-covered pond in the morning light.

The beauty of it all, is that I did nothing. I didn’t follow a step-by-step process. I didn’t repeat scripture over and over again like an incantation. To be honest, I barely prayed. It was Jesus, only.

The past few months we’ve all been in this weird movie. Groundhog Day, maybe? Like we are repeating the same thing over and over until we get it right. I loathed it at first. My entire calendar was suddenly empty, so I started crossing out dates, counting down to… what? Freedom? I may as well have put etches in the wall like a prisoner.

I was afraid. Bored. Frustrated. I started feeling like maybe my old friend was coming back.  I had nowhere to turn but to Jesus, and He met me right there and reminded me where He has taken me and what He wants to continue to do.

A funny thing happens when you are forced into your cocoon. You can sit in the dark and mourn the life you once knew. You can miss those days of being a very hungry caterpillar, eating all the pie in sight, so alive crawling on the ground.

Or you can wait. Patiently. Actively. Expectantly. You can dare to face The Truth and see how beautiful The Story really is. And know that we have already been giving the ending.

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”-Richard Bach

But, Spoiler alert! There are so many freaking plot twists. We know that moment will come, when we break out of all we have ever known, but we are not sure when or how.

But we see in our mind’s eye those bright, colorful, brand new wings stretching out towards a blue sky.

We know the darkness will last for a night, but the joy comes in the morning.

And suddenly the unknown is beautiful again.

Suddenly anything is possible.

And it doesn’t matter if our calendars are never full again. It doesn’t matter if we have days where bad things or good things happen. We fly.

There is no more crossing off days, only living that abundant life only He can give. Each day is a gift, and we can believe that with every fiber of our being.

This mystery, this new birth, this Spirit like the wind beckons us out into the morning light, whispering:

“Don’t be afraid. You are mine. It doesn’t matter how dark it seems, how long the wait. How hopeless the other side looks. It doesn’t matter if you have reached your absolute breaking point…. in fact, that is sometimes necessary. You will come to a point when you have to decide if you will choose death or Life. You may have to fight through that final layer. You will feel so, so weak. But I am SO strong. My breathe breathing in your lungs, that life-giving Wind, drying out those new wings….We fly.”

Remember the Story of Humanity

12 Apr

I am the high and mighty religious demanding a sacrifice for all our imperfections

I am the one who walked with him
Who walked on water
Only to tell a crowd I don’t know him
In his time of greatest need

I traded him for a bag of money then couldn’t live with myself

I slammed that whip into his back, tore open his skin with each blow

I pounded the hammer and nail through his flesh

I made his blood flow

I watched him carry it all
And I was too blind to see
As he carried it all
He carried me

He turned His face toward me
In his suffering and simply said
“Remember me”

Two words
Dripping with all the power in the universe

Three more words
That shattered the grip of death and hell,
Propelled humanity’s very existance into a new era:

It.
Is.
Finished.

I heard.
I believed.
It was done.

Darkness celebrated
But dawn had the final say

I died with him that day

But found myself awake, new air breathing in my lungs, new blood flowing within, stretching new limbs towards the sun

New eyes to see, the boulder rolled away

I am the one who walked in trembling
and saw the empty tomb

I ran, breathless, to shout as loud as I could:

HE IS ALIVE
(And so am I.)

I am the one who found Him in a garde
He spoke and I knew life like never before

And even when in my weakness I wanted to put my fingers on the holes in his wrists

His eyes shone only with Love

His physical body left
But His spirit came to cover the earth

The same power
The same Love
The same perfection

Resides in all who Remember Him

Remember, the story of all humanity

Remember me
Remember me
Remember me

The Best News

1 Apr

Watching the world fall apart
From my window.
Mostly, the window of my phone
This tiny electronic world
Feeding my brain information.
Feeding my soul fear.

Outside my real window
All is quiet and still.
And in the morning
Birds will calmly announce the arrival of spring.
As the world anxiously awaits
Orders. Results. News.
…Some good news.

I see more than ever how the human heart longs for it.
And we, Carriers of the light, have the BEST news:
That which killed death and disease and fear and darkness.

And yet…
We worry our club is losing members.
That our buildings remain empty.
That we too will succumb to a virus,
Or a broken society
Whichever comes first.

Wake up!
Open your windows, crash through them if necessary!
Walk in the light.
Proclaim healing, peace, freedom.
It is here.
It is within you.

We will go, again.
We will gather, again.
And we will know in every fiber of our being:
That we are whole. That the best is yet to come.

Quarantined Thoughts

17 Mar

There we were: flying through the universe at a million miles an hour. Disconnected. Anxiety-ridden. Swallowing our self-help brand of Christianty, our just-do-one-more-thing-isms. Hustling. Trying to get to that number: grow our businesses, our churches, our income, our views, likes, and followers. Trying to be noticed. To make a difference. To leave something for our kids. Prove something to pur neighbor, parents, pastors. Always competing in the name of doing good. We were so sure of the gods we worshipped. So sure of ourselves and the world we created…


Now…

Silence.
Empty streets.
Empty shelves.
Empty chairs.
Empty stadiums.
Uncertainty.

We didn’t know it would look like this.
We didn’t know we would be forced to STOP.
Forced to look inside of ourselves.
Forced to question what we are doing.
Why we believe what we believe
What the purpose of this all is.
Forced to live today, only.
Not in the future.
Not in some other place when our business, our ministry, our family, our platform, ourselves are where we want them to be.
Suddenly, we are face-to-face with our own selfishness, our own doubt.

I say, let it happen.
Let it all fall apart, so that eventually, it will all fall into place.
Let all the fear in: the fear of lack, of disease, of complete destruction… and then release it.
Then, give it to the one who made the universe
Who never promised easy days
But who did promise:
Protection
Provision
PEACE
One. Day. At. A. Time.

Pause.
And know what the birds and flowers know:
The manna will be there, today.
The sun will shine, today.
The Peace is available, today.
We will rise, better than before. But not by our own doing. Make no mistake, greater things are happening. He is NOT the author of darkness, but He loves to shine through His kids in the darkest of times. He has already won.

Life in the Preparation

28 Nov

I used to spend a lot of time writing, thinking, pondering, reflecting. Self-analysis was key to feeling whole and alive, and it has always been through writing. I could write myself down off of a cliff, out of the darkness, into the glorious light.

God would show up and remind me that what I am doing matters, that every moment is sacred.

I write all this to say, that is still who I am, nothing is lost, nothing has been taken from me. My day looks a little different than it did a decade ago, but it’s for the better. I am surrounded by beautiful little people who take up my time and energy and heart and soul, but I’d give up everything again and again just to see them find joy and beauty in this world.

But I dont have to teach them that. They teach me how each moment is scared, if only stop for a moment and open my eyes and ears, be present and stop hurrying, stop comparing, drop all expectations and just live.

My mom reminded of that the other day. She surprised me by reading my own poem to me over the phone right before I hung up. A poem I wrote years ago about what’s important, and how it’s not the grandeous things we all tend to think are superior.

I have this line from a Wendell Berry poem inscribed in my heart, and I hope one day I’ll get it tattooed on my skin as well,

“It soon became clear, I was not so much preparing for an important experience as I was having one.”

I think about today, across this great and broken country, all the people frantically preparing for a feast. The stirring and mashing and boiling and basteing and rolling. The mess of the flour, the grease and the all the butter, the mess of families and all our differences and flaws, all for one moment, one meal.

We rarely live in the moment. We see the majority of life as preparation. At least I do. I am always getting ready for the “next big thing.”

The anticipation is half the high. It’s why Christmas morning is worshipped, why we live in a society where Youtubers make millions of dollars from letting people watch them open boxes.

We forget our ancestors wandered the wilderness, in search of a home, relaying on God and perfect strangers to sustain them. Manna.

We forget our brothers and sisters around the globe just praying for enough water, enough bread or rice to feed their children for one. More. Day.

Living in the moment isn’t simply a trendy saying to add to our other decor, it’s really the only way to truly live.

Because we aren’t promised tomorrow. We have to fully live now, even in what feels like a season of preperation, of waiting, of wandering.

I came here to write a typical “things I am thankful for” post, but maybe thankfullness can only happen when we fix our eyes on today.

Not on the mistakes or the “good ole days” of the past.

Not on the worries or the dreams of the future.

This moment. Here, now. This is important. This matters.

I love how kids have no concept of time. 15 minutes or 2 years all looks the same. Isn’t that just like God? There is no sense of waiting, no sense of a season of wandering in the wilderness for him, He is right here, right now.

And maybe that’s why we feel like we have to walk through those times. When our kids are young and the day feels endless. When the preparation feels unimportant and the menial tasks of life seem to suck our souls dry.

We need to know that God is in the middle of that, too.

That there is life in the preparation.

As we get our hands dirty. As we prepare feasts and wrap presents. As we stop and slowly communicate, slowly speak and write words of life, slowly discipline in love.

As we make decisions every day hoping that one day our children will be better adults than we are.

We began to see, began to feel, begin to know, this moment matters.

As Jesus gently reminds us, we remind each other too.

And thankfulness bubbles up from the inside out, overflowing on dry desert ground.

The Rough Edges of Motherhood

23 Sep

“Mama! I hold you!”

My 2-year-old’s squirmy body collides into mine. He’s my wild child. Rough and tough. Abrasive at times. All mess and climbing and destruction and just 100% pure BOY. He sleeps with firetrucks, airplanes, and his toy rifle. He head butts me and I sigh deeply.

“MAMA! I hold YOU!”

I hold him, because I know that’s what he means, and his body goes limp for a moment. I breathe in his still baby-ish smelling head and remember just yesterday when he looked like his baby brother in the other room.

5 years now, I’ve been neck-deep in the muddy and heart-achingly beautiful reality of caring for these tiny people 24/7.

3 babies. 3 beings with individual likes and dislikes, passions and behaviors, bad days and good days.

My oldest just wants to be a grown up. She is so gorgeous and smart and independent and goofy and sarcastic. She knows the world is hers.

I remember being 5 and having the same feeling. The whole universe before me, ready to be explored. I felt the same thing at 18 and 24.

Now at 34 and a half, I am asking my Father to give me those eyes again. To see each day like a child, wonder and awe and joy, always an adventure.

This year has done it’s best to dampen my spirit and put our my light, but I won’t let it.

This matters.

I tell myself as I wipe another butt, another nose, another spill. As I talk, calmly, when I want to scream and walk away.

This matters.

You whisper in my heart as I lie awake again with my tiny baby, getting all his nutrients from my body to fuel his strong legs kicking, his huge, bright eyes smiling.

Giving, always giving, even when I want to be selfish.

This matters.

I know, as I teach my oldest to read and my middle to pour cereal and I take another deep breathe and ask Jesus to be so real to me because I just can’t do this without His strength, His patience, His wisdom.

I look in the mirror and for a moment those lies creep in and I feel old and stretched out and worn out and I wonder where my dreams have gone.

Where is the great big world I wanted to see, where are the books I have always wanted to write, trapped inside my tired mind, stuck until this all gets easier?

Reality check: it’s not going to get easier. It will always be hard, in a million different way, changing with growth spurts and hormones and emotions to navigate, as the darkness in life becomes more real and tries to press in on their tiny hearts.

There will always be moments where I am stuck in the tension of protecting them and preparing them, where I want them to step out on their own, but stay in my arms just a little while longer.

Motherhood will always have rough edges that cause boo-boos, those real scrapes and bruises and the emotional ones.

There will always be moments of pain and guilt, when it’s so difficult to swallow my pride and lay my life down and mother and teach.

But hard is good. It makes us better.

This matters.

And I have the mind of Christ.

This sleep-deprived, mom-brain doesn’t render me incapable.

I can homeschool my daughter.

I can deal with my toddler’s BIG emotions.

I can hold my precious baby a little bit longer.

And can write my heart out.

I can follow my dreams, because you see, when I really peel back the layers and work my way around those rougher edges of daily sacrifice and chaos,

These beautiful, brilliant, messy human beings, are my dream.

They are my greatest creation,

My favorite story,

My best adventure,

My most important job,

My most kingdom-changing ministry.

This matters.

So I cuddle and discipline and teach and cry and laugh and try my best to be present, for these days I get to be with them are a fleeting gift.

And those rough edges sharpen and refine me like hell, making me closer to who I was always meant to be than anything else.

And it’s never gonna be picture-perfect or easy, but it’s always going to be worth it.

The Slow and Speedy Birth of Raylan Emerson

5 Aug

It’s been over two months since my third child came into this world. I’ve been wanting to write about his journey here, but it feels exhausting to even stop and think about it. Maybe because I am afraid I won’t have any of the right words, and I will just write in a clinical, fact-only way that I despise. I will try my best to capture it. Keep reading if you are interested.

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. Often there is vomit too.

The funny thing about babies is that as small as they are, they are very much their own beings. You get to carry another within you. A vessel, a “mother” ship. Hate it or love it or both, it is a crazy thing.

Starting at about 36 weeks, I thought I was going into labor. I had intense contractions, that got longer and stronger, only to fizzle out. Prodromal labor is exhausting, physically, but more mentally. It’s like knowing you are about to meet the love of your life and they keep standing you up!

Towards the end, I listened to this podcast my dear midwife, Kelsi sent me. The woman speaking talked about how physically your brain is mush, especially towards the end of your pregnancy. She said instead of being annoyed or ashamed or always condemning yourself, (guilty) embrace it. While you can’t remember what you did 5 minutes ago or the name of your favorite movie, your body is preparing you for something that goes way beyond intellect or black-and-white thinking.

Birth is other-worldly, and we lose part of that when we treat it clinically and make it all about the numbers and the dates and everything lining up just right.

We play into fear and wonder why the pain is too much.

Even as I am writing this, the cynical side of me is rolling her eyes, “Come on! Get over yourself. Everything isn’t magical, some things just SUCK. It is painful. It is hard. It’s part of our lot in life as women who chose to birth children.”

But is it? Or have we just been conditioned to think so? Have we been conditioned to approach the most intimate, earth-shattering, spiritual moment in a way that is clinical and fear-driven?

I decided to have this baby at home. I felt comfortable with it, I trusted my midwife, husband and (most of the time) myself. I knew from the two previous births I could do a natural birth. I knew since I had a 12 hour labor with my daughter and a 6 hour one with my son, this one could be pretty quick. (HA! I had NO idea!) This baby was the wild card. I didn’t know the gender and had no idea when he/she would come.

For about a month, I thought I was in labor almost every day. It was hard to plan anything. It was hard not to get my hopes up, then be disappointed. It was hard to ignore the contractions and carry on with every day life, but I knew I needed to to stay sane.

My due date came and went. Both my other kids were born at exactly 39 weeks. This one was taking their time. I learned once again to stop and breathe and be ok with the unknown. (Lesson of my life right there!)

My birthday came and went. On top of everything, our hot water heater broke and leaked all over the downstairs (my birthing area) we had already decided to move and got permission from our landlords to break our lease early. So we would start moving on June 1st… this was the end of May.

Finally, at 41 weeks, I saw some REAL signs of labor in the toilet. I cried with joy as I text my husband who was at work. Contractions sped up that day and got really intense that night. Then, as always, I went to bed exhausted and they stopped.

Then that morning at about 4 am, I woke up with more contractions. It was May 29th and I was technically 1 week and 1 day “over due.” I told Jean-Thomas today could be the day, but maybe not. By now he had heard that dozens of times, but he decided to take the day off just in case.

I was having contractions pretty consistantley, but I wanted some alone time so I told Jean-Thomas he should take the kids to the YMCA. They left after breakfast and I did some cleaning and some sitting and lots of eating.

It got more intense. Kelsi text me to check in. I told her I was ok for now. My friends Danielle and Kyrstan text me saying if I needed to kids to come over, they could come get them. I said maybe later.

Then everything sped up. I thought about texting Jean-Thomas to come home from the Y, but they hadn’t been gone that long. I think I was still in denial. Just then he text me and told me Wyatt had wet himself and he didn’t have a change of clothes so they were coming home. I told him that was probably a good thing.

I got hit by a wave that made me moan outloud. I realized then this was for real. I text Kelsi who said she was on her way. I text my friends back to see if they could get Wyatt.

Jean-Thomas got home at about noon with the kids and some lunch. I ate quickly and headed downstairs. I could barely walk down the stairs at that point but I managed to get down and onto the birthing ball my friend had lent me. I could only think about getting on my knees and leaning into the birthing ball to rock. That was the position I stayed in, almost trance-like, just rocking through the pain.

Jean-Thomas started blowing up the birthing tub and filling it, I just wanted to get in the water so bad, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t need it. Kelsi arrived at about 12:30 with another midwife, Mary. Kyrstan arrived to pick Wyatt up. We had decided ahead of time my 5-year-old Aurelia would be there for birth. She was a great helper, telling me gently to breathe and offering me sips of water.

I stayed on my ball, rocking, and realized that the sounds coming out of my mouth were changing. Everyone was still trying to fill the tub.

“I don’t think I need the tub…. I need to push!”

I can’t quite recall what I said after that, but I know I cried out to Jesus and asked for His strength. Kelsi had me move my leg positions a bit, and after a few pushes, my baby came out into the world.

I grabbed him and checked and realized he was a boy.

“I knew it! Hi, Raylan!” I managed to say.

He came fast and furious after only about an hour of active labor, but he had weeks of practice beforehand.

He was perfect and I felt strangely calm, at peace, and even strong.

I am so happy we chose to have a homebirth. If we hadn’t, he probably would have been born in a car!

I am so happy I approached this birth assuming the best and really had a beautiful experience.

Raylan Emerson Louvier

Born May 29th, 2019 at 1:20 pm.

9lbs 3oz

19.75 inches long

13.25 inch head

14 inch chest

The Wisdom of Old

23 Jul

A sound mind is what You give

Yet the sounds in my head are anything but kind

Making me spin and jump miles and days ahead

Right past moments of joy that would leave me breathless

It I remembered to breathe in the first place

And I know this must not be what

You had in mind

Creating us creatures of complex thought

With the ability to love and destroy in a nanosecond

Knowing so many moments and days

We would pick destruction

We would choose to follow knowledge that leads nowhere

The world at our fingertips with self-made misery oozing out from each unique print

Synapses firing panic and worry

While You place them, forming constellations

Telling stories through our broken neurons

Every atom aching to get back to peace it was created for

Be still

You don’t need to know if knowing means more suffering

(Yet the wisdom of old won’t)

It will lead you to fields of green, growing yellow flowers that wait on the wind to be moved

As will I

Shut it down

You don’t need to eat from that tree

You just need to sit still and Be

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