bare white

bare white


(Dreaming of) Moving to the Country...Snakes and Ticks and Tall Boots

We went for a stroll the other day on a gorgeous piece of property surrounded by trees and tall grass and a large pond. This property is for sale and on it sits a large, vacant home. We dreamed while looking in the many windows.
We dreamed of what it would be like to live there. My oldest dreamed of what it would be like to write books there with an endless amount of inspiration at her fingertips, literally. My boys dreamed of fishing on the small beach and exploring every ounce of the many acres. My toad-lover girl knew right away there were many new toad-friends to be found.
I could go on and on about all of the reasons it would be good for us to live there. Reasons like peace and quiet, a bigger home, a football field of a yard, nature, room to breath, a pond no less - the list in my dreaming mind could go on and on. I may have even tried to persuade my husband with a reason like, "it would save us money with weddings because all of our kids would be married on our land." To which I received an eye roll and a, "seriously?"

During the dreaming, we were interrupted by a blonde-hair boy saying,
"Hey! Look mom, there's a snake in the pond."
I looked and sure enough, as my dream shattered a tiny bit, there was a very real, alive snake popping his head above water to say hi.
As we were packing up the kids like sardines to leave, I looked down on my leg and there was a very real, alive tick crawling on my bare leg. My dream might have shattered a bit more.

I know these creatures are just a part of life. I get it. But it was also a very abrupt reminder that the snakes and ticks of this world are real and alive and they don't always surface in our dreaming, but they are still there. In my mind, as I stood on the bank of that pond, surely no snakes live in it - it is just too beautiful. And in my dreaming, while standing in that tall grass, I envisioned our kids running and playing in the acres and acres of openness. Surely no ticks would crawl up our legs. It is just too gorgeous.

The same goes for my dreams for my kids in their lives. The dreams I have are big and bold where no snakes or ticks are welcome. Dreams of them being so strong in their faith they are unshakeable, willing to go and do anything and everything for the Lord. No trials in these dreams because trials hurt and trials leave scars and trials are scary. And yet, trials are exactly what produces this faith. Trials build spiritual muscle with roots that go so deep. A braveness is built only when a fear is faced and instead of paralyzing us we overcome it. That is bravery!

My trial-less dreams are not reality, I know. Nor are they supported by Scripture at all.
My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an opportunity to experience the greatest joy you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking. (James 1:2-3 TPT)
My beautiful dreams point me to Eternity and produce a deep longing for heaven.
My desire to protect my kids forever from snakes and ticks must be turned into a training and preparation so they know how to fight those very real, alive snakes and ticks because we are called to live in a world that is full of them. They are disguised or hidden in beautiful ponds and tall grasses, but, oh! they are there. And when we face them, even our deepest, most paralyzing fears, His power is made strong.
(addressing Paul's thorn) But He answered me, "My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness." So I will celebrate my weaknesses for when I am weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. So I am not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment - when I'm surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ - I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God's power. (2 Cor. 12:9-10 TPT)

Yes, I still think it would amazing to live there...
I would just go in a little more prepared...and wearing tall boots!


Realizing I am not a Mom and She's not a Dancer

Performance week is here in full glittery, hair-spray fume-force at our house. Most of April is full of dancing and perfecting their dancing and costume fittings and rehearsals and lots of laughter, and joy, and amazing-ness and some tears and maybe a bloody toe or two, but always with stories to tell. And then when the lights go out on the stage, it is done. Not just partially done. Completely done, for a long and needed break. A break not just for the dancers in our house but also the chauffeurs and waiters-of-the car. A break for our gas tank, a break for the broken pointe shoes and a break for each of the toes that are hanging onto their nails by a thin thread.

The other day as we were on the 20 minute hike to the studio, my oldest dancer and I were talking about how frustrated she was that she could not nail her steps and combinations no matter how many tireless months she's has been working on them. I encouraged her through her frustrated tears, tried to make a joke and ended by reminding her,

"You know you aren't a dancer right?"

This is something I have told her the last couple of years and started telling my athletes and fashion gurus and scaredy-cats and myself.

She looked at me knowing where I was going and graciously listened to my fumbling words again.
It is the same thing I started telling myself a couple of years ago and maybe just now is starting to really make sense and flow through my veins and stoke a fire that has been wanting to come out but didn't have the words or the know-how.

You see...
I am not a wife or mom. I am not a daughter to my parents, sister or friend to anyone.
I am a daughter of a King.
Of a King who is not moved by this world because He is King of this world. A King who never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever and His feelings toward me never falter or grow or fade because He loves me always and ever the matter what. A King who never improves because He just is. He, completely and perfectly, is.
And He says I am His.
This is the only place my identity is found. Everything else He has called me to do, but I only am who He says I am, and that is His Beloved.
Here, as His daughter, this is where I have felt and experienced true FREEDOM in Him. Freedom from performing, freedom from seeking acceptance, freedom from fear of messing up or my kids messing up or just anything messy, freedom to stand on His Word - Truth, freedom to love...truly love, and freedom to forgive because I live in His forgiveness and mercy and grace and they are new every morning.
And I am His.

Because here's the deal - I will mess up, every day. I will throw words around I don't really mean or sometimes I do but they are ugly and fiery. I will slam a door and begrudgingly wash unending loads of laundry. I will get flustered and frustrated and fuming all just because things didn't go how I thought or wanted or expected.

My kids will mess up every day. They will do the same things I do and let their guard down when it should be up, and keep it up when it should be down. They will throw fiery darts that will pierce each other to their core. They might even hit or howl or not choose to hear the words they need to.

But we can't, we won't stay here, because we have grace here and His grace covers us completely so our identity isn't found here.
Even when I try to fit Him in my perfectly crafted boxes and lines, and take back the control from the King of the world, He says...You are mine. I've got this...just stop striving and BE still.
Be still.
BE still.
I don't always know how to do that.

Just His whisper can calm the seas of life.
He can speak a storm to raise up and be still.
He brings light to the shadows of our life and break bands and chains that shackle us to anything other than Him.
He can stop the fiery darts.
He can bring a healing balm.
HE can make worlds and people collide.
He is the King of the world, and I am His.
This is who I am.

"So, my Esther-girl, you are not a dancer, you are a daughter of the King who has called you to dance. And sometimes it is about dancing, but sometimes it is about so much more. And I know you know what I mean." 

And then in that beast-of-a-van rumbling back the 20 minute drive that we know far too well by heart, my King gently reminds me of the same, "You know you aren't a wife or mom or friend or picture-taker or word-writer, Meg? You are My Daughter and I have called you to do those things for a time, but they do not define you. I define you and you are mine. And I am steady. And my grace is enough."

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)


What They Don't Tell You When You Have a Baby and A Holy Interruption

No one told me, when he was still sticky from the white vernix covering his soft skin just moments after he came (they don't call it baby soft for nothing) and she placed him in my arms that I would weep.  Every time, times 7, I wept. It never grows old. Never.
I couldn't stop smelling his head and taking his hat off to stare at every single feature. I whispered, "I love you!" over and over again. I became brave that day. But I didn't know it then, and I still don't fully know it now, what it means to be brave as a woman.

No one told me I would be gloriously wrecked, feeling a love so deep I would lay my life down for them right then, right there. They never told me I would feel feelings of protection like a beast and when someone tries to mess with my babies (no matter their age) I would become that beast. They never told me my insides will literally be ripped out and ripped apart and I might just do it over and over again. No one told me that. But if they did, I am not sure I would have listened.

No one told me on the first day of kindergarten I would weep when I left her. It was only half day, but how could she be ready at 5 (she was my first)?  How would she survive without me to cut up her lunch?  Or truthfully, how would I survive? She came home, after day one, loving every second, asking how long until she could go back. I may have died a little that day, she was growing up. I was growing up. And it hurt. At 14, she recently told me she was so embarrassed on the first day of her school-life when Mrs. Sleep had to console me telling me it happens to most parents. I think she lied though because I was the only one that grabbed a box of tissues as I walked out the door and was crying hard enough to be heard. They never told me that I would grow a lot and die a little on that day, and over that year and for the rest of my life. But if they did, I am not sure if I would have believed them.

No one told me I would be interrupted at least 1000 times before lunch and quite possibly contemplate sneaking out the back door during dinner prep to avoid the catastrophe of words and emotions and actions that inevitably happens during that ungodly hour. But if they did, I didn't hear them.  (Maybe shout that one louder to the next woman in line to become a mom by birth or by adoption or by just being a woman with hungry kids around at dinner time.)

No one told me I would spend a college tuition or two or three on diapers and food and formula and dentist appointments, and McDonalds drive through. And I would loose my hair and my temper and I would buy a lock for my pantry door and have a secret stash of chocolate and my kids would interfere with my holiness every stickin' day of their lives and even as I write this, in a hidden place, I have been found and asked another 500 questions. But if they did tell me, I would have thought, no not me or my kids.

No one told my I would want to give up and yet never stop; I would have anger and yet so much love at the same time. Every day I love them to the point of my heart bursting, but not every day do I like them. What a paradox to try to understand and an emotional woman!

Here's the rub, My kids do get in the way of my holiness every day. But they ARE the tool God is using to make me holy. They are what is making me brave. They are the loves of my life and my passion. They are the reason I laugh and cry and feel and love so deeply. They are the reasons I face my fears to try, by the power of God alone, to be Valorous. They are making me a better version of me and they are worth every ripping pain, every penny spent, every precious-lost hair, every temper flared, every chocolate piece eaten and pound gained. And you know what, I really believe God intended it to be this way. They are are my beautyFULL, Holy Interruption that I desperately needed and didn't even know.


Fear. Swords. & Passionate Love...Another letter to my kids (and you!)

You are deeply and passionately loved by a Savior. No other love will ever compare to the love He has for you. You may have the most amazing marriage someday, or the most unbelievable friends, family, job and yet still it will pale in comparison to His love. He is that passionately enamored with you. His love is a sacrificial love that brought His death to make a way for you to LIVE. When you start to understand and grasp and realize where your True identity is found and whose you are, there is a freedom that comes. A freedom so free that it is hard to put into words. But I can't help but try to give you a glimpse of what seems inexplicable.

You will be FREE from letting FEAR control you.
Fear of losing control of that which you feel compelled to hang on to, orchestrate or manipulate.
Fear that forces you to hold so tightly to that which you think you can't, mustn't loose - a past, a person, a job, a situation.
Fear so deep you live in worry and anxiety daily.
Fear with roots deep in doubt. Doubt of yourself, of God, of life, of circumstances, of love.
Fear of not having approval, or not being understood, or loosing your reputation you worked so hard to carefully craft.
Fear of not being loved by a human.
Fear of not being heard.
Fear of a certain diagnosis.
Fear of dying before you spent your life living.
Fear of someone you so deeply love dying.
Fear of not being thought of.
Fear of making mistakes.
You will be free of this controlling you. And you will be free to live with your hands wide open realizing the control you thought you had or desired, you never really had anyway. They were just chains keeping you tethered to things that made you feel you had control, but chains aren't free. Chains make you a slave. The older you get, these chains gain momentum and expound in number if you let them. But I want you and me to be free from these chains and experience, here on earth, true unadulterated freedom.

What this kind of Freedom look like:
You will be free to love someone who is unloveable.
You will be free from the life lived in comparison to others, trying to "arrive". Comparison in anything and everything you can imagine. It is there and it doesn't go away when you become an adult. Oh how I wish it did!
You will be free from trying to orchestrate your life in such a way for success. Because you will realize the world's success doesn't give you what you need. Only Jesus can do that.
You will be free from competition because you will finally be free to EMBRACE exactly who God MADE YOU to be. AND...
You will be free from apologizing for who you are, in all your quirks, because you will know WHOSE you are and only YOU can be that person...quirks and all. How beautyFULL!
You will be free from finding your worth in anything other than HIM.
This is not some pep talk, this is truth. And Truth is what gives you true freedom.

HOWEVER, it must be said, you will spend you entire life here on earth trying to understand and embrace this love and freedom you have been gifted. In my mid-ish 30's I'm merely scratching the surface. I have lived in this beautiful freedom from time to time only to get scared in my flesh and quick grab hold of that which I thought I let go. It is a battle. We are in a battle. A battle, that as long as we are here on earth never ends, but a battle in which my Savior has given me and you a weapon for and I won't, must not ever stop fighting.  Learn how to use this weapon so you will know how to fight those fears when they surface and resurface and resurface again. Your weapon is...
A weapon of mass destruction - destruction of sin and lies.
A weapon for war a war against your flesh.
A weapon for love.
A weapon for peace.
A weapon to fight the devil in all his evil.
A weapon to unite people.
A weapon to divide the holy from the unholy in your life.
A weapon that heals hurt so deep
                                         so wide
                                         so full you can barely breathe
You have been given a weapon to fight
                                  a weapon to submit
                                  a weapon to change
                                  a weapon to lead
                                  a weapon to follow
                                  a weapon that is life to the believers and death to sin.

Know this weapon, live with weapon, breathe-in this weapon, never ever forget this weapon. And know that this weapon, God's word, is strong enough to withstand evil. It is! Don't ever doubt that! Don't worry about it not being able to hold up to the evil because it will withstand and thrive in this world.

I have struggled and will continue to struggle with all of those fears...they only increased when I became a mom. I have desperately held on, white-knuckled, to control I thought I had and desperately wanted. All those fears I mentioned above - those are mine. And those those don't even name them all.
But...a big BUT...
I am learning to trust my Savior's love for me, for you, for anyone, is WAY beyond my full understanding. Each glimpse He gives me, or I ask leaves me breathless! And the more I learn to face fears in His strength, the more fearless I become. I was rendered almost motionless at times after I delivered Shadd in deep anxiety. For months and months it was a daily battle to do what I knew we needed to do to just live our life. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't fully. It was just fighting the battle that needed to be fought. And I wouldn't change any of it now. It was a Sovereign appointment, a Divine appointment, to struggle during that wilderness. But the battle was worth it because now...NOW...I have spiritual muscle I never knew existed. Now I know just a bit more that my Savior's love for me doesn't end...ever! It is deep; it is wide and it is beautiful. Don't hate your wilderness times, learn to love them! Learn to love them well and let the tears flow and the fire refine because on the other side, you will have learned how the Sword, His Word, works to fight any battle you may face in the future. Jesus gives to us in the wilderness! Count it JOY, my loves!

"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have it's full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1