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When I Grow Up Too Slow

17 Sep

I’ve always had a bit of a disdain for predicability. As much as a try to avoid cliches like the greek yogurt in my fridge that I bought when I was still pregnant, I still cling to them, refusing to throw them away out of some kind of feral need for comfort.

As much as being a parent of a baby is full of newness and surprises, there is also plenty of the previously mentioned cliches and predictability. On my desktop I have this rant I almost posted about how this is NOT a mom blog, (which it isn’t) that includes several paragraphs about how much it grates me when I hear and say the phrase,

“They grow up so fast!”

This must be the mantra of every parent, every human being maybe.

Granted, I am not immune to the addictive quality of this statement. I probably say some form of it at least several times a day.

Random strangers in Target tell me, with a tone in their voice that insinuates I’ve never heard it before and I need to be warned:

“It seems like just yesterday mine was that age. It’s over before you know it. Enjoy it while you can.”

I know.

I do.

It breaks my heart and fills me with a new kind of pride and joy every day.

Time feels so real and so sharp and inevitable with a baby to judge it by.

Suddenly, mortality is real and how fast it all is becomes a thick cloud that you try to see through daily.

Sometimes, it’s almost hard to breathe.

I obsess over making the most of life.

Cherishing every moment.

Holding her while I still can.

Maybe that’s why it’s been hard to write lately.

I feel like this is my only reality.

And it seems like everything has already been written.

I’ve only been a parent for 3 months. There are ten times more books and blogs about how to do this and that and accomplish everything and just relax, than there are diapers I will end up changing.

But this is not a mom blog.

Sometimes, even if I sleep enough, I find myself so tired.

The responsibility of it all stares me in the face, so large and intimidating it blocks out the sunlight.

I’ll admit, I’ve been known to run from responsibility at times. To avoid commitment in order to prevent failure. To run away from monotony, all the while hiding behind the guise of being adventurous.

Ouch.

lifeplansSometimes, I grow up too slow.

I feel like I constantly go through this cycle:

1. Start to panic about life.

2. Freak out, break down.

3. Convince myself God is good and that life is beautiful no matter what happens.

4. Feel at peace.

5. Everything looks certain… for about 5 minutes.

6. Repeat steps 1-5.

It’s always something, right?

And today I’ll trust you with the confidence of a man who’s never known defeat, tomorrow pondering what I did will stare at you in disbelief, oh inconsistent me, crying out for consistency.  (Reliant K)

I am quoting a band from my youth. A song I used to listen to over and over to bring some kind of still and calm in the middle of raging worry and emotion.

end

If the burden seems to much to bear, remember, the end will justify the pain it took to get us there.

Now that I am a mom, I feel all this expectation to be really grown up.

Responsible. Not making the same mistakes over and over. At least look like I have it all together.

Spoiler alert: I don’t. And no one does.

(Now I really sound like a mom blog!)

But, really. This cycle we all go through of worry and trust, I think it defines us as humans.

Not only that, it allows God to be God.

My baby is always hungry, tired, bored, sleepy, wanting to be held, something!

She cannot store up cuddles and milk.

A new day means new needs.

(Or a new hour, or new minute.)

And maybe, that’s what she helps me see.

Every day I need to give my worry and needs to God. Every moment.

And some days it looks like learning the same lessons over and over and over, until I am sick of myself.

Because even when I start to loathe the fact I never seem to grow or change,

When It feels like I am the slowest learner, and things will never be different,

God sees the big picture. He sees where I was 2 and 12 years ago, and reminds me of the progress I’ve made on this crazy, adventurous journey of life.

Not only that, but He sees me as his child, and longs to just spend each day with me,

Calming me,

Taking care of me,

Telling me it will all be alright.

Because it will.

My baby is napping now. I peer over the crib and look at her sweet face and my heart swells with a joy and love that frustrates me as a writer because there are no words for it.

Her beauty and innocence and trust is magnificent, and I hope she never loses it. I hope she takes her time to grow up, and that she keeps that child-like faith and wonder that sees all the good in the world and loves every day with everything in her.

And maybe, I can hope the same thing for myself.

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“No” Thyself

23 Jul

This is my first (and maybe only) guest post from the brilliant mind of Jean-Thomas Louvier, who just so happens to be my favorite person ever. 🙂 By “guest post,” I mean he wrote it and sent it to me and I asked him if I could post i on here.  The artwork is by him as well.

 

“Know thyself.”

Oh, the famous words of the wise and philosophic Socrates. I’ve heard this phrase etched into everything from professors lectures, motivational speakers rants, to ministers sermons.

It’s very utterance seems to bring some sort of ignition of wisdom. It has become a universal unspoken goal,  yet for some reason it never did quite give me that theological goose bumpy feeling, (which if you know me you’re probably saying, “go figure.”)

I’ve never been the one that can easily or poetically describe myself during one of those ice breakers at small groups. I’m the one who states my name, rank, and serial number.  I pretty much feel like it’s an awkward interrogation where neither side knows what they’re doing, and believe me I’d rather have an experienced interrogator, less boring!

Anywho, It’s not that I’m cryptic, I’m fairly social after you get to know me, and it’s not that I’m boring, usually Brooke interjects in my passiveness and starts listing my current list of random talents and adventure,  and then the conversation takes off from there. The reason I don’t usually list those things off the top of my head, is I’ve never really felt that’s who I am. They are things I do, things I’ve done, and things I know, not really who Jean-Thomas is.

 

 

So now you’re probably waiting for me to tell you who Jean-Thomas is.

Honestly… I’m not entirely certain.

Further more, I don’t really care.

To me, trying to understand who I am is like trying to understand the universe.

It’s always growing, our knowledge of it ever-changing, and the resources we find in it continuing to surprise us.

We have so many things that focus on bettering ourselves, so many classes on self-improvement, and way too many books on self-help.

Do you want to know my idea of self-help?

Go help someone else.

 

You will learn more about your own talents, your dreams, your  goals, your purpose, your weaknesses, your strengths.

You will do more for yourself than any class, program, lesson, or book will do for you, every time you help someone else.

I want to discover more about the world around me, I want to know more about the people I meet. I want to know what I can do for them.

Now this may be a shocker for some of you, but I don’t even really worry about trying to discover who I am in God.

 

I didn’t say I don’t know who I am in God, I said I’m not worried about trying to discover who I am.

1 Chronicles 28:9 says, “Solomon, my son, learn to know thy God intimately. Worship and serve him with all your heart and willing mind… If you seek him you will find him.”

Growing up I never worried about my dad’s plans for me, I was too busy being his son.

I was playing catch, riding horses, going on hikes, and traveling the world. Why? Because I wanted to be just like him. And you know what? It caught on.

Not only did I grow to love the games, hobbies, and projects we did, but because we spent so much time together I grew to share in his passions.

 

I grew to care for people more than myself, to want to uphold those weaker than me, to fight for those who couldn’t. I learned to love helping people’s dreams become a reality.

If you were to ask my father if he had a plan for me when I was born, he’d probably say it was to watch me grow into the man I am today and the man I’m still becoming.

But I never had to ask him, I just spent time with him, and what he wanted for me just kind of took hold in my life.

Wouldn’t it have been ridiculous if I tried to figure out who I was with my father? I would have wasted so much time trying to discover on my own who I was in my dad.  I’m his son, what more is there to it?

That’s how it works with God. We don’t need to seek out his plan for us, we just need to seek out him.

Spend time knowing what kind of God he really truly is. What is his love like? Where is his heart, his passion, what is his vision?

 

Spend enough time just wanting to discover Him and one day you’ll realize you fell perfectly into where you need to be.

I don’t think I will ever truly know who I am until the day I meet my Savior face to face.

I believe until I breathe my final breath Jean-Thomas will be and ever-changing, adapting, growing, evolving life. When I pass on, you all can figure out who I was and write an epic movie about it. 😉

My life is a story, your life is a story.

 

Let’s not worry about writing our endings just yet.

Why We Need Stories

4 Oct

We need stories because more than anything they tell us who we are,

and who we can be.

Fiction is so much more then escapism. Stories split our minds wide open, and the imaginations that were damned up when we became adults and swallowed the lie that being  mature means being a “realist.”

When we choose stories, we enter new worlds, somewhere over the rainbow,  and we begin to understand our world.

We meet characters and if we let them they became our friends.

They remind us we are not alone. That each human life means something.

They help us know ourselves, indeed, they are a reflection of ourselves, pieced together with parts of the old woman who lives next door and stares longingly at her driveway, and our Uncle Fred with crooked teeth and sparkling eyes who speaks of things way above your head.

Stories. All of us are living one. Breathing one. We all want to get lost in a good one, suspend belief for a moment. Maybe what we really want is to live in a way where we suspend belief about our own lives,

I can’t believe I get to do this,
that I get to live like this
I get to be who I am.
That after years of self loathing I can love me.

Our stories reflect what we long for.

What makes a hero?

Who is prince charming?

How to recognize the face of our real enemy,

our Real Savior.

Beauty on the other side of pain.

What adventure looks like.

Stories, in essence, tell the gospel.  They reflect grace and love and redemption that we can’t always see in our world.

But stories help us see what we have,
what’s in the people around us, in ourselves.

Stories help us resurrect beliefs we let die with childhood.

Magic.

A band of friends, journeying to find answers, to save the world, to understand what it means to live.

Overcoming obstacles, especially fear.

Choosing action over sitting on our couch any day, Carpe Diem.

Anything we can dream up is real.

We need stories because they destroy impossibilities.

We need stories because they beckon us to live greater ones.

Some Sort of Belonging

21 Jul

It all begins with a newborn’s first cry. I guess if you are going to begin somewhere, there is not much further back you can go.

She enters the world, not understanding why this warm space she’s been taking up is fading away. The room she enters is cold, sterile, unfriendly.

I wanna go back! She yells, the moment her lungs are clear.

Which way is home?

In the arms of her mother, she senses relief. Warmth. Familiarity. This is where I belong.


(Fast forward 10 years.)

Screams of another kind fill her head.

You are strange.
You will never be like her.
You will never be good enough
Your toes are funny shaped
Your knees are knobby
You have that weird bump on your nose
Your eyelashes are too short.
You get nervous when you try to speak.

Panicking, frantically, she asks whoever made her to allow her to grow into someone beautiful, someone normal, someone wanted.

She decides to run away, though it’s not like the books she reads where the orphan gets beaten with a broom handle by her evil aunt. She doesn’t really have a good excuse, she knows her parents love her, at least most of the time. She almost wishes she had a good reason to leave, but something else beyond logic, beyond what she’s read about, beyond feeling unworthy drives her.

She runs into the forest, as fast as she can, catching herself from nearly tripping over logs with her long legs, hands in front of face avoiding jagged branch right at eye height.

She sees a clearing and falls, exhausted.

Sitting in the still woods, surrounded by live things taller and stronger then her, trees that have stayed planted, that know who they are, who pushed their way through the ground towards the sunlight, who know stand proudly.

I am lost,

She whispers, even though she can easily find her way back.


(Skip ahead another 10 years.)

She stands, finally grown into herself, among a crowd of peers. She’s moved four times in the past two years. She’s opened her heart, her bed and her mind, only to find herself left aching and alone. She’s tried to connect, to define herself within a context of a man’s words, a group of friend, a good education.

Yet she feels like a branch that has been snapped off the tree it came from.

Which way is home?

At the point of losing it all, she finds herself in another forest, tall buildings planted around her, the offices of successful, “happy”  people. Buildings that were planned, wanted, designed to be aesthetically pleasing. She runs, past throngs of people, people who she perceive know exactly who they are and where their place in the world is.

She runs, oblivious to shouts and stares around her. She runs till her legs give out and she finds herself on the pavement, knobby knee skinned, red dripping out, and then comes the rush of tears and she feels like she’s 9 or maybe 3 and she wants nothing more then for her mother or a man with a kind face and genuine heart, to simply put their hand on her back somehow let their touch bleed through into her aching heart.

I am lost.

She whispers, even though she is kneeling outside the park she frequently walks in.

Just then,  she senses relief. A feeling of some sort of…. Belonging.

Warmth. Familiarity.

An air too fresh to come out of the city.

Something ancient, something alive, stirring the green leaves of a tree standing in front of her.

Somehow she knows there is a love that won’t leave, that won’t find a single fault in her,

that might even be her home.


History Of A Tree-Hugger

28 Jan

I am a tree-hugger, but not necessarily in the way most people define it. Sure, I am beginning to be more concerned with environmental issues, and I am definitely the product of the hippy era, but I wouldn’t define myself completely by that stereotype. I just love trees. Most of the memories of my childhood are playing in the woods of New Hampshire. The woods were thick and full of life, playground for my imagination. A fallen log became a spaceship that took me on a tour of the milky way. An abandoned logging clearing filled with piles of wood chips and stacked logs became my own Atlantis, a hidden city were anything was possible.

Then there was The Tree. The Tree was a matronly pine, standing friendly and fat, arms wide open just waiting to be climbed all over and tickle me with her needles. Sap stuck to my fingers together like superglue, but I stayed hidden and content on her shoulders. I could see my whole kingdom from that vantage point. The Tree became a place I would return to year after year even as growing up brought new troubles to my mind. Up in The Tree I felt a world away from fear or worry.

When we moved when I was 13, I said goodbye the only universe I had ever known. Memories surfaced on every step of property surrounding our mobile home , and I went to the The Tree one last time. I thought of the times I had cried and dreamed there. I remembered the drama ensued over The Tree’s rightful family, when the neighbors who hated us claimed the property line was botched. I thought of the year we had butchered chickens under her shade and I laughed sadistically as some ran around headless. I watched the old tire swing in the breeze and knew nothing would ever be the same.

Life on a dead end dirt road unfinished house proved trying to my antsy adolescence. I quickly scoured our new property for a tree to befriend. I encountered a skinny Birch tree that loomed over a stone wall.  The wall provided a sense of risk and adventure- one slip of the foot and I could crack my head open. But I knew I had never fallen, and I never would. The woods at the new house was younger and more wild, becoming a nearly impassible jungle come spring. It was a different feel to sit there, staring at the jagged rocks below me, around me nothing but the thick stillness of country.

The Birch became my place to come as my teenage angst worsened. First time going to school. (I was home schooled) First boyfriend. Heart break. Peer pressure. Questioning my faith and throwing away my innocence. The Birch was abandoned for months at a time, but when I needed a break from reality, I knew it was waiting for me to return. The Birch became my church- I could actually have a conversation with God and be honest about what I was telling Him. I could let the tears come, and know that my questions may not be answered. Up above things in the shelter of the woods, I was ok with life not always resolving. After I left home, whenever I return to New Hampshire I made sure to spend time in The Birch.

Now that I live in Texas, I am still surrounded by woods- only a slightly different kind. The woods here are less linear and more brambly and fractal. Today, I saw a tree wrapped around another thicker trunk, bent and curved going upward like a spiral staircase for pixies. I walked up it, wishing it went higher then it did, hoping to find some hidden abode, some other world like in Avatar.  There is no rhyme of reason to the woods in Texas. They are a form of beautiful chaos, and I love it.

I am thankful for trees and what they have meant to me.  My dream is to live in a tree house someday, and my hope is that I am never too old to climb a tree.

A picture of my future home (drawn for me by my wonderful boyfriend, Jean-Thomas Louvier)

A picture of my treehouse (drawn for me by my wonderful boyfriend, Jean-Thomas Louvier)

Resonate Arts & Media

22 Sep

Here is a video about the different projects we have been working on as a team here at YWAM. I haven’t been involved in all of these, but it’s just a glimpse of some of the stuff we do here.

The new discipleship training school has started to arrive, I can feel the excitement in the air. It’s so amazing to know that people’s lives are about to be changed.

Friday we are hosting a concert here, it’s gonna be fun. I hope all you guys in the area will come.

Homeless Shelter Video

28 Jul

Here is the video project for East Texas Rescue Mission I just finished. yay!

Riots in Western China

12 Jul

I heard about the riots in Urumqi, China and I was heart broken. It’s sad how I can hear news about death and destruction and people dying in all parts of the world, but it’s easy to be numb to it, if I am not somehow emotionally connected to it. I am definitely emotionally connected to Urumqi. My team spent quite a bit of time there when we were traveling across the silk road shooting footage for our still- in- the- can documentary, “Journey: the Silk Road of China.” The farthest place in the world from the ocean, Urumqi is a wild and beautiful cultural clash of colors, scents and sounds. I met a girl there who put a face to largest minority group in China, and really changed my life. Read my story about it here.

I decided to make a video with some of my favorite pictures from that city, in hope to promote peace in the midst of all the ethnic tension happening.

My heart is with the people in Western China and I hope to return someday, sooner than later.

Rescue Mission

19 Jun

I want to start a homeless shelter and/or an orphanage. I’ve been obsessing and dreaming about it lately. I have this vision to have a home for the down and out to come and refresh, find healing, find peace and love and a community and through that, find Jesus. The times when I have felt most alive are the times when I am simply loving on people that society may look down on. I guess that’s what being a christian really is… so many things I am learning and learning over again.

We’ve been going to the East Texas Rescue Mission in Tyler. They opened in the fall, and I actually took a team of the first volunteers from our DTS. I found out they had a picture of us framed in the office. It was so awesome to see how they had grown, the men they are ministering too. When we went on Thursday we got to meet the director, and talked to him about helping re-do their newletter, and make a promo video. I am really excited about the promo video, this is really something I love to do. Monday we are going into to get footage, photos, and do interviews. We met this one kid, who’s parents dropped him off at the shelter when he turned 18… So sad, I can’t imagine….

I will make sure to post the video when we are through.

I’ve been trying to pick up some freelance writing gigs, as well as donating plasma for some money every weeks, but I am still having a hard time finanically. If you would like to be a part of what I am doing here at YWAM, please click the donate button to the right. A good way to help too, is to simply purchase my book. I’ve been working on a new “trailer” for my book, that I will be posting soon.

I will leave you with this quote by good ‘ole CS Lewis,

“To be loved by God…not merely pitied, but delighted in, it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”

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