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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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Better Days, Better Dreams

31 Dec

In my dreams, I am often traveling. Somewhere foreign, usually by an ocean. I am alone, or accompanied by some random person from my past that doesn’t really mean much in my present life. I am often filled with adrenaline and excitement, trying to capture a beautiful moment with my camera. I am on my way somewhere I don’t know where. In the middle of this, I will experience a pang in my gut. Looking over a fantastic waterfall over a cliff I will remember something is missing…someone.

My family. I will realize this and begin to panic.

“Why isn’t my husband here?? Where are my babies? Did I leave them somewhere? Are they hurt? How could I be so careless?”

I will wake myself up and remember they are sleeping soundly near me. I will feel relieved.

Resolutions are a funny thing. We feel because we keep track of the passage of time, another 365 days gone by is another chance to start all over. New year, new self, right? We forget time is a made-up construct to keep us sane, or to maybe give us some kind of illusion of control on this rapidly spinning planet.

Of course, I need to lose 15-20 pounds. I need to stop eating sugar and processed carbs. I need to get off Facebook and read a book. I need to listen better to my spouse and preschooler, really hear them. I need to organize my house. Stay on a schedule. Get outside more. Journal. Pray. And of course, write that book I’ve been putting off.

So what do I do? Come up with a plan. Stick to it. Use my sheer will power to be better myself, because that’s what I want and need. That’s how my life will be closer to perfection. That’s how I’ll find peace and be content. Better days will come. Right? The problem is, the more we do, the more it isn’t enough. Nothing is never enough, until you have True Peace within.

I’ve always thought my dreams are not random. When I was a small child, I had a reoccurring dream for years I was riding in a van over a bridge and the driver skidded and crashed into the rail, sending is flying over the edge straight into the deep, dark water. I felt everything. The utter fear. The panic. The knowing my life was about to end. Even the rush of the cold water, sharp in my lungs. The lack of air and the darkness. I couldn’t escape the sinking vehicle. I died.

For years, this dream haunted me. I couldn’t get past it. It was so vivid I feared it might really be my destiny. Years later in my early 20’s, I had some revelations about my life while traveling. I began to get free from things in my past that had happened to me and I could literally feel the spirit of fear break. It was like my life split wide open and the light came in.

Suddenly, anything was possible.

One night, I fell into the unsettling dream yet again. It began the same, but something changed. This time, we the vehicle was crashing and plummeting off the bridge, I screamed a name:

“JESUS!”

With that name uttered, I found myself transported outside the van, flying above or, watching it crash into the water below. I found myself flying, up and up and UP!

Above the earth. Above the clouds. Above my fear.

I woke up with a jolt and heard a still voice:

“Once you were drowning from fear. Now I’ve set you free.”

As the clock counts down to 2018, I am not gonna focus about all the things I need to change and fix about myself, all the ways I will make this year better. I refuse to look at what I don’t have.

Instead, I will rest in what has already been done. I will celebrate how far I’ve come. I will find peace in thankfulness.

I will celebrate this great adventure that has been 2017, that has been every year, really. I will know that I am enough, and everything will come out of that.

I will know true change comes from the inside out, from a revelation that I have been set free.

I will celebrate the truth that I don’t need to waste the present longing for better days. They are here, now.

Last night I had a dream I was traveling. This time it was in the snow. Everything was so beautiful, cold, clean and pure. I looked over and I wasn’t some or with some random people. I was with my husband, my daughter, my son. I didn’t even feel the need to capture the moment. We were happy.

And you ask me what I want this year

And I try to make this kind and clear

Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days

’cause I don’t need boxes wrapped in strings

And desire and love and empty things

Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days

So take these words

And sing out loud

’cause everyone is forgiven now

’cause tonight’s the night the world begins again

Goo Goo Dolls- Better Days

Enough For Today

14 Dec

Moments of clarity come, falling into my heart like snow, covering the dust and dirt, the anxiety and confusion, creating a new landscape of white.

I am thankful. Deep down in my bones.

My boot-covered feet crunch as I walk across our lawn to the mailbox, making new footprints in the white powder. I inhale deeply, let the cold in, let myself rest in the fleeting stillness.

I am here.

I am alive.

And it’s a beautiful thing.

The sky is already darkening, even though it’s only 3:30. I forgot how early it gets dark in the north. But I don’t mind it. The twinkling lights shine bright all over our neighborhood, a symbol that never gets cliche. My daughter points them out as we drive, never tired of the magic.

It’s hard to believe still, this is my life.

Lately I’ve been trying to get out of my head. To stop and take it all in, without the distractions, with all of my senses. My kids are brilliant at this. It’s all they know. Now, here. THIS moment.

I don’t want to miss it.

But I don’t want to obsess about not missing it either. Anxiety is sneaky and takes many forms. I am beginning to recognize the start of that spiral, when I back myself into a corner and refuse to see what’s right in front of me. My head takes me on an nightmare-ish ride.

I forget that I can stop the car anytime. I can get out and say,

“Not today. Today is a gift. Today is mine. Today is Yours.”

When the worry piles and piles in heaps till I feel like I can’t breathe, I stop and shake myself off and realIze I always had the breath, I just had to find it.

There is no lack.

This truth comes often lately, piercing through anything in my flesh, breaking open things to let the light in.

I have everything I need: physically, emotionally, spiritually. I am not waiting for the elusive one day, that day is here, now.

Even when the old familiar stresses push their way into my day, and I feel that urge to distract myself out of it, I know the only way out is thankfulness that puts me in the center of the present.

There is honey in the rock.

I take a moment to count my blessings. Because it’s anything but cliche.

It’s life.

Surprising friendships. Good people. Music that heals. A warm kitchen: nourishing food. My son’s sloppy wet kisses (heaven meeting earth.) Conversations with my daughter that leave me astounded. When she makes her brother belly laugh. My husband’s steady, faithful, unwavering love. Not dreading the holidays. New traditions. Coffee, always. Remembering why we celebrate: a baby born in the humblest of places, a moment in time changing everything forever.

Knowing we are home.

Really we don’t need much

Just strength to believe

There’s honey in the rock,

There’s more than we see

In these patches of joy

These stretches of sorrow

There’s enough for today

There will be enough tomorrow

(Sara Groves, Enough)

They’re Raising Me

17 Oct

I’ve been baking bread a lot lately. It’s strange, it’s not something I ever thought I’d enjoy. They say you’re either a cook or a baker, and I am definitely not Betty Crocker. Baking (and most crockpot recipes) bother me because you have to follow instructions carefully. You can’t really just add in a dash of this and that and taste the cake batter as you go. That’s what I love about cooking. I can use my hands and other senses to experience the whole thing, to taste as I go and make it better. It’s intuitive to me.

I’ve found with bread, once I got over the initial phase of being annoyed at having to be exact with the measurements, I could be free to form the dough the way I want.

Kneading. It’s supposed to be the hardest part, the most inconvenient, but lately it’s been my favorite. Stretching out the dough, making it softer, firmer, feeling it with my bare hands. I guess it’s a little therapeutic and maybe I need that.

Yesterday I got out of the chair, after nursing my 5-month-old Wyatt to put him on his mat to play. My big toe caught on the hem of my mom-sweatpants and my whole body came crashing onto the wood floor, baby included. Luckily my arm caught his head but i was still so shook up. I sat on the couch and bawled, even after we checked him and knew he was ok.

Aurelia comforted me, saying, “It’s ok mama, it’s ok, don’t cry.” I’ve never met a 3-year-old as good as she is in a crisis. It helps that since she was very small, her dad and I have told her to slow down and breathe whenever she starts to panic.

Today she said “Mom, remember when baby Wyatt fell and you cried? God is with you all the time.”

Some days as a stay-at-home-mom feel like eternity and my children feel so small and needy. Other days I just look at them and I wonder what galaxy they came from.

After I knead the dough for 10 minutes, my hands are covered in flour and a little cramped. I pat it down to try to smooth out the cracks and make the heap of dough as perfect as possible. But there are always flaws.

Then comes the wait time. I am not good at that part. Instead of enjoying the fruits of my labor immediately, after all that physical exertion I have to wait for it to rise. I have to leave it alone in a warm place and trust that I didn’t mess it up.

I have to trust that it will grow and become what it was meant to be.

It’s been 5 months since I became a mother of 2, and about 2 and a half months since we moved 1,000 miles to our new home. Some days I am so, so tired. My brain is numb. I am annoyed and ungrateful.

Other days I stop and stare at the window and see changing leaves: oranges, yellows, and reds. I open the doors and the windows and feel that glorious nip in the air, inhale that wonderful, life-giving, smokey fall scent.

Sometimes I stop and talk to my daughter, and wonder at her brilliance. I make my son laugh, his mouth open wide, his whole face engulfed in joy.

Sometimes the only thing I can do is whisper “Thanks,” with tears in my eyes.

For so long it felt like we were barely surviving. Like we were wandering aimlessly in the desert. The manna was always there, but I grew so, so tired. I continued my feeble, half-whispered prayers every night and most waking moments.

“Please.”

You have to be patient and wait for the dough to rise. When it’s ready, you’ll know. When you put it in the oven, the whole house fills with a homey, fresh, comforting wintery smell. When it’s ready, it’s perfectly crisp and crunchy on the outside, and soft and comforting on the inside. The butter melts and your heart and tongue rejoices.

Motherhood feels a lot like your body being broken and made whole over and over. A holy calling in the most humble disguise. Waiting and watching. More patience that I ever thought was possible. Kid’s don’t play on our adult-made timeline.

Neither does God and his mad and hilarious recipe for our lives.

It’s better that way. I’d be bored with formulas and exact outcomes and I know it. Very little is actually in my control. It’s beautiful and freeing and it takes a lifetime to fully realize.

“Mom, God is with you all the time,” My three-year-old states this matter-of-factly, like she does her name. And I know, as much as I struggle through the beautiful, difficult chaos of raising them, they’re also raising me.

And I know I can fall back into the trust that there is grace and provision and abundance and more than we can ever dare to ask or hope.

In the changing of seasons. In a new home. In our daily bread.

We Walk On

11 Aug

I have an announcement to make: everybody feels like they are faking it.

We are all just along for the ride, and really have no clue what we are doing or where we are going. Even moments of confidence and accomplishment feel so short-lived.

Life comes at you the older you get, and parenthood adds a whole new dimension of responsibility and anxiety. These tiny human beings look at you with all the trust in their eyes because they don't know anything different. We are keeping them alive, shaping them, teaching them what love looks like. But even that we have no control over when it comes down to it.

The world is broken. People make choices and sometimes (often) choices are bad. The only thing you can do is let go and pray for the best.

Some intellects believe people of faith are weak, and actually, it's true. Only, we are ALL weak, and it's in the acknowledgment of it that we gain freedom. But the paradox of Christianity (and really all humanity) is we are also so strong. We are always pressing forward, overcoming adversity and bone-crushing sorrow. Always forging a new path. Always growing. Always making a way.

It's been in our DNA since the dawn of creation: build, create, reproduce, raise up, destroy the limits. Create civilizations, cultures, languages, inventions, art, of out seemingly nothing. Almost as if our blood was infused with the need for the New, the need to move forward, to make our lives and the world around us better.

And so we persevere. We battle the daily, hourly, voices telling us we will never be good enough and we keep living. We keep raising our kids, building a home, a new idea, a movement, a community. We keep ignoring the noise in our minds arguing the futility of it all, and we make something of our lives. We strive to create a better world for our children like our ancestors did. We use our minds and our hands. We discover and conquer. We bleed for a cause. We feel incredibly weak and extremely strong, we feel moments of stupidity and brilliance, love and rage, selfishness and compassion.

But we are human and there is so much grace for that.

If we are quiet and still, we can hear God among us, cheering us on:

You are loved. Give yourself grace.
Today is a gift.

And we walk on.

"You're a million years of work," said God and his angels with needle and thread. They kiss your head and said, "You're good, kid. You make us proud. So just give your best and the rest will come and we'll see you soon."

-Needle and Thread by Sleeping at Last

The Birth of Wyatt Everest 

25 May

When I sit down to try to write about my son’s birth, it seems so clinical, like I am just reciting facts, something that happened so someone else. It’s a funny thing about having a baby. Most people want to know stats and numbers: how much did he weigh, how long he was, how long were you in labor, what procedures did you need to have in order to get him out. 

What we don’t really talk about, probably because it feels impossible to express, is the searing, white-hot pain where you feel like you body is splitting wide open and your’e not really there in the moment because if you were completly present you couldn’t bare it….

A week ago, I thought I might be going into labor. The cramps were tight and frequent and my belly felt heavy, like an invisible weight was pushing from the top and bottom. I tried to time a few contractions but couldn’t tell where they stopped and started. I decided to walk through it and see if they got worse. I made jambalaya for dinner, all the while watching the storm tracker on my phone to make sure the tornadoes on the radar stayed far away. The last thing I needed was the stress of going into labor in the middle of a storm. The cooking process slowed down the contractions and I knew then it wasn’t time. The tornado watch was lifted and I felt a sense of relief. The next day was Friday and I would be 39 weeks, the day I had guessed he’d come. I figured I was wrong and still had some time. 

I woke up at 4:30 am with pretty heavy cramping. I got up, peed, ate a granola bar, and realized there was a rhythm to my contractions. My contraction timer app confirmed it: 9 minutes apart. Jean-Thomas woke up and asked if I was ok. I replied,

“We were right. Looks like we’re having our son today.” 

By 7:30 contractions were at 7 minutes apart, so I got up to get ready. My 3-year-old Aurelia ran into the room. I told her that her brother was coming today, and she exclaimed, 

 “Is it the 4th of July?! Yay! I am so exciting!!”

Jean-Thomas fixed us scrambled eggs and toast which I inhaled hungrily with watermelon and pineapple. Contractions averaged 5 minutes apart , so I called my midwife, Cheryl, and we headed out. Aurelia stayed with my mother-in-law. I got all emotional saying goodbye when it hit me it would be her last day as our only child. 

The drive to the birthing center was about 30 minutes. Once I got in the car, my contractions slowed down to 10 minutes apart. I was worried that I’d called too early and it was just gonna fizzle out and we’d have to turn around and go home. But Jean-Thomas reminded me (again) to breathe, and once I relaxed they picked back up to 5 minutes…. just as we pulled in. We headed inside to the birthing center. I changed into something comfy and got set up in the room. Cheryl and LaQuita checked me and I was already 5cm dilated. Relief swept over me. Wyatt was on his way.

I labored for awhile. Walked around, tried different positions. By 12:30 or so I was hungry for more than snacks, so Jean-Thomas called his parents who dropped off Chic-fil-A for us. I ate that original sandwich with no pickles and Polynesian sauce quickly, knowing it was about to get intense. I was right. 


Cheryl checked me and I was dilated to an 8! She prayed over me and I just started weeping, recalling the birth of my daughter and how she was rushed out of my arms to an ambulance when she couldn’t get enough air in her lungs. Cheryl reassured me this was a different birth and everything would be ok. 

I calmed down and got in the tub. Blissful relief. The water has such a calming, healing affect. I wanted to stay in, but after awhile in the water, I had to get out of the tub because I wasn’t progressing. I labored for awhile on the toilet which was so uncomfortable and miserable. I stood up and a strong contraction hit and I could barely stand. I grabbed onto Jean-Thomas and started to lose it emotionally.

“This is too hard.” 

He spoke encouragement and truth. I tried to believe him.

I went back to the tub. Fire. Hot. Burning. No relief. I reached down and could feel his head! More pushing… So much pain… so close…. The next events are a blur. The chronological order and details lost in the emotion and pain. 

When the only way your pain can express itself is in deep, guttural cries that come from an entirely different place, wild and raw nature. And you hear these moans escaping your body as you try to embrace the pain, and you don’t even recognize yourself. 

Cheryl was yelling directions. I was out of the tub, on the bed. Oxygen was placed on my face. Then I distinctly heard a phrase that made my tired heart sink and almost give up:

“Call 911… just in case.”

“Ok. God. If I am transferred it’s ok. As long as baby is ok.” I prayed to myself quietly. 

I heard my husband praying hard. Cheryl told me baby needed a little help getting out and she was going to give me an episiotomy. I told her, anything to get him out. 

More pain. People in the room. Change of position. Blur.

Shouting: “PUSH!”

A whisper, beneath it all: 

“Your Grace is sufficient for me. Your power is made perfect in my weakness.”

In that moment you know you’re too weak and you can possibly do it and you pray the most desperate prayer….then, like a lightening bolt feel your entire soul and body let go and finally release this child it’s been nourishing for nearly a year. 

And it’s over. 

The tidal wave of relief. There is nothing in existence like that moment. Your body relaxes, and suddenly you’re back, in the room. Things come in to focus, and then your child is laid on your chest, and all the pain the universe has to offer simply pops like a bubble and only this moment matters.

This moment.


My son. Wyatt Everest Louvier. 

We were ok. Baby got checked and was cleared. I needed stitches, but I didn’t have to go the the hospital. The EMTs who had been waiting around were sent away. 

I had birthed our second child the way I wanted. Peaceful laboring with no drugs or intervention, only water, music and prayer and lots of deep breathing. 

This time, I got to bathe my weak body and brand new baby in a warm herbal bath. I got to rest in bed and eat breakfast food (the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted) while Wyatt was weighed and measured. I got to watch with joy as my daughter met her brother for the first time.


I am so beyond grateful for our incredible, attentive, and loving birth team. I know without their knowledge, discernment and hard work, this may have ended much differently.

“There is a power that comes to women when they give birth. They don’t ask for it, it simply invades them. Accumulates like clouds in the horizon and passes through, carrying the child with it.” -Sheryl Feldman

Wyatt Everest Louvier 

Born on May 19, 2017 at 4:23 pm.

(At exactly 39 weeks on a rainy Friday afternoon just like his big sister.)

Weight: 9 lbs 4 oz 

Length: 20.25 in

Head: 13.75 in

Chest: 14.13 in! 

Here’s To The Fools Who Dream

23 Mar
Remember when you were 19 and the whole world was yours? It was so open and astounding and you knew you could conquer it.

You were convinced your life had deep meaning and purpose.

You knew it was your destiny to change the world.

So you took risks. You went out on a limb. You made decisions not based on a practical way to climb the typical ladder of success, but based on a small voice inside telling you to screw the ladder and jump.
fools who dream
So you did. With both eyes closed and an enormous smile on your face.

The words you wrote may have been naive and riddled with grammar errors, but they were real and alive and full of conviction.

You saw the world and knew it was beautiful and that you were the luckiest girl in it.

Remember how you believed every day mattered?

That every person you passed on the street wasn’t just part of the scenery, but a unique soul who’s path was forever intertwined in yours.

Remember how you lived your life always looking for signs, which seems ridiculous now, but you actually found them?

Rainy days and ocean sprays made you cry.

Conversations were long and meaningful, and you were never afraid to pour out your heart.

Remember, dear one, when you would dream the most fantastic dreams, and you just knew (like you recognized your own face) that they would happen?

It was simply a fact.

Then things were taking too long, so you attached dates to those dreams, not realizing that the deadlines were weighing them down, essentially believing they would eventually expire.
Somehow, years have gone by and your body and mind and soul have been worn out by the miles.
You’ve past many deadlines in your head,  even the ones you’ve extended several times.

What once felt like an adventure feels like a hassle. Somehow you’ve arrived at the place where the magical feels mundane.

Even when you start to dream again you are hit full force with a dark voice that you’ve allowed a platform on your inner stage,

“Nothing will ever change.”

“It’s too late.”
“Please, just be practical.”

When the easy way out looks inviting, or simply that all other paths are impossible,

When you’ve been lulled to sleep by an over- saturation of worry, doubt, jealously and fear, or worse, you simply feel… nothing.

When it seems like everyone else gets a break, that you’re stuck in this endless cycle and trying and failing, of constant disappointment.

Don’t lose heart.
Look at your daughter, looking out the window and praying for snow in 85 degree weather, smiling and saying, “Now I can build a snowman with daddy!”
Learn from her. Unlearn your cynicism. Remember.
Remember how to create characters and whole universes in you mind.
Let it replace the anxiety and stress.

Keep going, my dear. Every. Single. Day.
Keep yourself open, my dear. Even open to pain.

Don’t forget my dear, dreams don’t have deadlines. Just because you’re not where you thought you’d be, doesn’t mean it’s over.

It’s never over.
Don’t bind yourself with the chains of imaginary time constraints.
Beautiful things take time to grow.
Don’t rush a thing before it’s ready to be born.
Let it gestate. It WILL come when it’s ready.

Keep hoping. Surround yourself with dreamers.

Don’t ever grow up.

Dream big, but know that what you’re doing now matters:

Raising tiny, awesome people. Writing tiny words. Little connections. Minuscule prayers.

This moment matters. Today. How you react to your husband. How you treat the waitress. What you create. How you treat yourself. How you love.

Be one of the foolish ones that shames the “wise.”

Know you have every dream in the history of the universe inside you. 
So don’t be afraid.

His Strength Is Mine

2 Mar

It’s funny how life comes back around in cycles. I often find myself in the same place, learning the same lessons over again which I thought I had conquered years ago.

I guess your own history repeats itself. Nothing really changes, but everything does. The universe is more circular than we realize.

And our inner selves are in a continual cycle of growth. Death to self and rebirth. Everything comes back around.

I find myself on the other side of constantly questioning my faith, back into some kind of simplicity of what it means to be a Christian.

I rejected that title for so many years. Not because I ever stopped believing or loving Jesus, but mostly because of the people, the hurt, the reputation.

I spent years rejecting the religious side of church in order to get free. And I did. But it left a void. Jesus was still there, calling me into grace, but often I let the my own cynical voice drown him out.

Now, I feel like I am kind of starting all over. These are the days of simple songs and words. I can’t stomach another blog post on what’s wrong with the church, the same words I used to feed on and write.

I find myself going back to words I used to reject because of the memories connected to them.

Basics, that I come to see aren’t so basic after all.

Love God, Love People. 

Another freeing mantra that became a cliche. (Like all things do eventually.)

And this one, often:

Your strength is made perfect in my weakness. 

It roams in the back of my head, always, leaving tire tracks in the mud of my understanding.

I say it over and over until I believe it and even then, it’s like I can’t fully comprehend it.

But I know I am so weak. 

I feel this lately. Emotionally and physically exhausted. Just tired of feeling life isn’t going the way I thought it would.

I am so ready for a huge shift, a breakthrough, a big change. Something. 

I feel like I am drifting with no focus or direction. I grasp on to something familiar because that’s all I have.

Jesus. 

(Maybe this is the point.)

I think about how in less than 3 months my body will release my son, and we’ll get to meet him for the first time.

I am excited, terrified, in awe, unprepared.

My mind goes back to those scattered moments of my daughter’s birth nearly three years ago.

The intensity and prayer. The feelings so weak and so strong all at once.

Reaching the point of knowing there is no possible way I can do what I have to do, and then doing it. 

And my daughter suddenly being in my arms.

Knowing I don’t think I could have done it without my husband being there as my comfort and my coach.

He never once doubted my ability or our decision to birth naturally free of any interventions.

I think of his words, his love, the pressure of his hands, and how suddenly,  in the middle of my greatest weakness,

His strength became mine.

Then I remember a few days later in the lowest, darkest moment of our lives sitting on a bench outside of Cook’s Children’s hospital, our perfect, brand-new daughter hooked up to so many machines, drugs running through her body trying to help her breathe.

I remember my husband, this pillar of strength and faith in my life being so broken that it was like a physical punch in the face.

I wasn’t sure how I could hold him up in that moment, but somehow I did.

Somehow God’s strength never left me, and in the middle of a crisis,

I was able to lend him my strength. 

And suddenly, I know this truth and it warms and heals me deep down in a place that’s been left bruised and vulnerable:

When one with someone, you borrow each other’s strength

 

strength

Only I am one with the creator of the universe. One who is yesterday and tomorrow, light and love, power and strength.

And I know, all those words I memorized and whispered as a child that became cliche to me over the years are true.

True enough to shake the foundations of the universe and steady my crazy emotions and become real in every moment of my life.

With God, Nothing Is Impossible.

The Same Power That Defeated Death Lives In Me.

I Can Move Mountains.

His strength is mine. 

 

All the Right Reasons- Thoughts on Pregnancy, Love & Staying Fit

14 Feb

I’ve always had a disdain for exercise. Maybe because I am not athletic, or because when I was younger  I didn’t think I needed it because I had a super high metabolism and could eat whatever I wanted and stayed skinny. Maybe it’s because it was forced on me when I attended a strict Christian program after High School that equated staying fit with spirituality.  Or maybe I am just lazy. I’d rather sit passively and observe. But I am not 19 anymore. And (thankfully) life isn’t just about me.

Today, on this rainy Valentine’s Day,  I was at the gym  and I had a sort of epiphany. I’ve been dragging myself there because I know I need it, because my husband is a personal trainer and encourages me to go, and honestly, because of the cheap childcare. I know it’s good for me, but it’s not really something I enjoy. In the past I made it a necessary evil, but a selfish one.  I thought maybe I could get my body back, feel good about myself, feel thin. But then I got pregnant again.

I realize Motherhood changes the shape and size of your body. It’s difficult at first. I catch my reflection in a full-length mirror or see the number on a scale and suddenly I don’t even recognize myself anymore. But then I remember that growing and sustaining life is a privilege and a miracle. And I know deep down, I don’t want to be skinny. I want to be strong. 

And today as I was on one of the leg machines, looking down at my belly, swollen with life, I realized I wanted to be there.

I want to be there because I don’t want labor just to happen to me, I want to prepare for it, like a marathon runner trains months in advance for the big day. I continue to try to exercise because I believe very strongly in natural childbirth. I believe it can be not only bearable but beautiful. I believe my son can come out my body smoothly, that it doesn’t have to be traumatic or something to dread.

Yes, I acknowledge that sometimes no matter how much we prepare, things happen.  I learned the painful lesson when my daughter was put in an ambulance and sent to the NICU 30 minutes after she was born— some things in life you just have no control over.

But I can prepare. I can pray. I can hope for the best. I can get my mind, spirit and body ready as much as I can.

I don’t have to just let and birth happen to me.

I have a choice the way my child comes into the world. I can be at peace. I can be strong. (I am strong.) I can make myself stronger. I can take captive every thought and fill my mind with beauty, peace and strength.

I think a large part of maturity means you realize you are in charge of your own life. But the conundrum lies in the realization that as much as you’re in charge, you’re not necessarily in control. It’s a grasping hard and letting go all at the same time. A pushing forward and a finally closing your eyes and resting. It’s a striving for the goal, yet understanding everything worth anything is a gift you can’t pay for.

It’s all about motivation really. I think that being strong is a much better motivation than trying to avoid weakness. Love always moves you farther than fear. It’s all the right reasons.

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“Because I want to,” always goes father than, “because I have to.”

So I’ll stay awake and active. I’ll let self-discipline not be something forced on me by some inner dark voice, but a light within me motivating me to never give up. Always keep moving forward. I’ll let it be fruit in my life that comes automatically from healthy roots, water and sun.

Because that’s what love looks like. It looks primarily like work, with emotions blindsiding us as an extra reward when we put the effort in. It looks like sweat, blood and tears. For all the right reasons.

Where’s Jesus?

2 Jun

Every night, I pray with Aurelia. Sometimes it feels special and even sacred. Mostly it feels like routine, and occasionally just meaningless words.

Lately, she’s been talking and communicating and understanding more than I could have imagines for someone who is not even 2 yet.

The past week or so, when we pray she asks a question, and innocent question that stops me in my tracks and pulls me out of the mundane into something more.

“Where’s Jesus?”

“….He’s here, baby. In our hearts.”

“I don’t see him.”

I swallow, choking on some invisible fear, a memory, a doubt.

“He’s here, baby. Whenever we feel love, or happy or full of joy, that’s Jesus. Whenever we see anything good and beautiful.”

I struggle to form the words.

I’ve never had a problem believing God is real.

I don’t remember a moment in my life ever doubting his existence.

I’ve always made my home in ethereal places that don’t count on the tangible and logical to exist.

I don’t have a problem believing what I cannot see.

I don’t even necessarily struggle with the fact that He loves us.

I know he’s a good father.

It’s how good, how joyful, the “bigness” of His grace and love I think I know deep down, yet somehow I don’t apply to every day moments when I need it the most.

“I don’t see him…”

When my prayers feel like they are hitting the ceiling, when my feelings seems too loud, to real to make sense of the Truth.

When I just want my way, my timing.

When I let those old voices in.

When I believe fear instead of love.

When it feels too hard for too long.

When I am about to give up on my dreams.

When I am tired from struggling to believe how good.

How big.

I pause.


Last night I had a vivid dream.

I was hiking in a dense, dark jungle with my husband. We were trying to get somewhere important, somewhere where people were expecting us.

Somewhere we were meant to be.

To get to this place, we needed to cross this terrifying chasm on a swaying, frayed rope bridge. My heart in my chest, I followed my husband across. It was so high up I couldn’t see the ground. I panicked, half-way across.

I can’t do it. It’s too hard. It’s not worth it…

I don’t see him. 

Somehow I kept going.

Somehow we made it across.

On the other side was our destination. A beautiful hotel, more majestic than anything I had ever seen. When we walked inside, we found out that someone had anonymously paid for us to stay there. We walked into the beautifully decorated, enormous suite and looked around laughing with pure joy.

It was a gift. We could rest.

I woke up with a jolt.

It’s a risk, stepping out. But there is an enormous blessing waiting on the other side. 

 


I don’t have trouble seeing Him in the small things, in my daughter’s eyes and in the little ways he provides our daily needs.

Sometimes it’s the big-ness I struggle with.

“He’s here baby. Everywhere. He never leaves us.”

She looks at me, innocent and whole, with more wisdom in her little-enourmous heart than I can understand, and says,

“He’s in the stars.”

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