A thing or two about plants…

“To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”  e.e. cummings

Morning y’all!  Except by the time I finish this, it will no longer be morning.  Nothing is ever “quick” with this momma.

As I was watering our plants — mostly shammies on this intensely hot Iowa morn, I was hit with so.many.things.  Just a typical morning of crashing, free-flowing thoughts… (smile)

Maybe it’s an INFJ thing, a psych and English major thing, a spectrum-y thing, or just my kind of crazy — but I’m a girl who constantly and forever sees everything in metaphors.  The tiniest of things can hold the deepest meaning.  And it all just smacks me upside the head, delightfully, heavily, humorously — all the things — all.the.time.  Is there a metaphor filter somewhere?  Somedays I could really use one of those. (it makes a girl t-i-r-e-d)

Like when I was out watering our plants…

First, I do NOT have a green thumb, so let’s just say the fact that these blessed creations of God have survived is a straight up miracle to be rejoiced!  Holy hallelujah every day.  I mean really.  Praise God!  I tend to over water, over prune, and over love — which is also a huge metaphor for my OWN personality (and long list of shortcomings) in itself.  Getting to that…  #foreverhumbled

Our shams were from wedding favors my mother and my former step father brought back for the boys.  Just a few tiny, unassuming bulbs.  And G wanted to plant them SO badly.  So we did.  These things NEVER grew, you guys.  I mean like over a month of tending to a pot of dirt and nothing!  But G had SO much faith.  SO much.  “They will grow, Momma!!!”  And sure enough, one blessed morning, an infinitesimal little sprout.  Then a white flower (I didn’t even know shams created flowers 🙂 ) — and over three years and counting, they come back every year — two giant pots of green and beautiful delicate little white flowers later — they’ve increased in number about as much as Abraham’s descendants  — heh, heh…  Patience, hope, and faith, y’all.  It’s a beautiful thing.  And so is my kid’s heart.  He NEVER gives up!!!  On me, or the possibility of the AMAZING that could come of something small — when cared for and prayed for and loved on.  I think of this every.single.time I water these pots of green.  I’m not sure about this “good luck” business and shams, but that’s their gold at the end of the rainbow…  And that is priceless…

A lovely friend of mine, knowing G’s penchant for shamrocks, gave Griff some big purple shamrocks for his birthday this year.  Heaven on earth for my little man.  They have “heart-shaped petals” (his description) and he’s smitten.  Our friend and neighbor also gave him the bestest gift — knowing his heart and his love of nature, dirt, and planting — and took the time to take him on an adventure — over to her house.   She let him fill up a giant planter ‘all the way up to the top!’ of dirt — and then she let him pick what ever plants he desired.  Really, together these two spent time filling up his heart with happiness.  And G decided to put his purple shamrocks in there too — naturally, it matched the flowers he picked with his Judy.  Maybe it was part of his plan all along.  I had NO idea this planter would grow to the fullness and beauty that it has.  But I guarantee that Griff did.   Patience, faith, and hope, y’all.  This kid is magic.

And every time we water this planter, my heart literally fills all the way to the top too… cause just wow.  How blessed we are to have such love in our lives!  That we have friends that know and love our kids and care about them as much as we do.  That’s what I see in this mix of earth and God’s divine creation of beauty.

What else do I see?  The intricate and breathtaking captivity of diversity!  Purple shamrocks.  We “didn’t even know” there were any other kind until our Shawna.  Here we thought green was all the splendor that there was — and then look — there’s this whole other kind of awesome! All tall and big, yet a little more delicate — with lavender like flowers — perfectly accenting our strong stocks with the daintiest of flowers from our friend, Judy, who knows my child loves digging in the dirt and watching the miracles that can grow from it.  Kind of perfect.  Really.  There are so many different kinds of beauty.  And they all stem from, no pun was even intended there — the overflow of what is in our hearts.  Our guts.  Our insides.  I praise God and say thank you for those kind of hearts.  Just thank you.  Y’all are thanked for every day.  Know that.

And that we can love and appreciate all of that different, right?  SO amazing and awesome!  That we each bring something new and incredible to this big, gigantic and colorful mixing pot of life!  And that our beauty, our “thing” is unique to only us?  Kind of takes your breath away! And we must go out there and not be afraid of shining it and being it and growing it for the glory of God — sharing it — just like Shawna did — or no one will ever know or see our unique super power — our divine super power — our God-given purpose.  Don’t hide your you.  Don’t doubt it.  Don’t be afraid of it or EVER think it’s not good enough.  You’re always enough.  And different?  Wow.  Different is so beautiful.  Grow and be.  Just be.  And all of the insanely hard and wonderful that is…

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you.  Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.  So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”  Neil Gaiman (one of Griff’s favorite people — the author of “Coraline” and many other fantastical books)

What else is in these planters?  Joy, ya’ll.  Straight up joy.  Kindness, sharing — begets joy does it not?  Plants just grow.  They just share and give.  They don’t really ask us for anything, do they?  They just are.  They just share their joy.  And I am blessed with so many friends who have hearts just like that — just sharing their joy out of the love and kindness of their hearts.  I want to be like them.  How awesome to have that inspiration!

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Joys like fresh veggies and time to play with Chance — my boys want a dog SO badly (we’re still working on Daddy).  Judy, we love you so much and appreciate your heart.  You are joy.  For friends that get that they are our family, and the immense joy they bring by just being and allowing us to just be.  Who become our safe places, our soft places.  That know us and our children so well, encourage us, brave the battlefront of life with us, and in so doing we can settle into the graces of who we are.  If that’s not joy, I don’t know what is…

Who drive all the way from Cedarburg and Carroll to spend the day with us, then understand that we need to get doctor’s appointments juggled — AND then take our kid with all of their kids — to the “water park” in Clive all day (even though we can’t go — cause doctors) — and then take us out to dinner to a fancy schmancy place that same night because — well, love.  And joy.  Who love our kids as much as we do.  Really.  Really know and love them.  And count them as joy in their lives.  Who take them driving.  Freaking driving.  Who deal with our obsessive love and crazy.  All of it.  And don’t put us down for it, but love us anyway.  Because they know just how much we love them and their amazing miracles of children too.  It’s all so incredibly amazing, isn’t it?  Yes, I LOVE the word amazing!

And push pops.  Who buy our kids push pops.  Heavens.  Letters and cards in the mail.  Books that feed my soul.  Just showing up on my doorstep.  The most amazing.  At all the right times!!!  And all the wrong times.  Birthdays, hard times, joyful times!  JOY in.my.mailbox.  These have MADE everything for me and my family!  I have a couple of particular girlfriends that are so inanely thoughtful at this!!!!  These little things are the BIGGEST things.  In fact, I’d happen to surmise that collectively the little things really are all the things.  They really are.  Joy.  All of it joy.

And this joy isn’t dependent on what we feel or what we’re going through.  THAT is also what ALL of these GORGEOUS people have taught me!  We can have joy together no.matter.what.  How freaking amazing is that?????????? There they are, just blooming, my friends, the loves they are, amidst any dirt we push through — we can do it together — JOY.  This builds my faith.  This points me to Jesus.  And praying together and for each other? Knowing someone is taking the time to take YOU to God? It is the greatest gift. JOY. Praying for all of you.  Thanks for helping me grow and bloom where I am planted.  #youaremyjoy ❤

And I’m often also reminded that I need to be patient.  In my pruning of these plants on our doorstep, I think of how God often prunes us — getting rid of the dead stuff, the stuff that’s weighing us down, rotting our hearts, not allowing us to grow, holding us back from the creation he intends for us.  The GOOD he wants for us.  He’s the master gardener, isn’t he?  Always FOR us.  Helping us to achieve our ultimate potential.  Wanting the BEST for us and in us.  Pretty awesome and amazing.  And it doesn’t always FEEL good, this pruning and plucking.  But I have faith in his timing — even if it isn’t mine.  Patience.  He makes all things beautiful in his time…  Growing is painful stuff sometimes.  And it takes time that we often don’t have time for (smile).  But little by little.  Faith and patience get us there, in the loving hands of a God that is ALWAYS good. 

Yet I tend to rush things sometimes.  In my haste accidentally pulling too hard, and while my intention was to remove a dead leaf or stem — I rip up a perfectly good one as well.  Slow down.  Look.  Listen.  Breathe.  Give room to grow. Be like Jesus.  Seek him, Ang.  This is not about you.  None of this is ever about you.  And when I feel anxiety creep in, I know that my faith is taking a step back — because the two cannot coexist.  And I’m relying on myself, not God.  And I have to put my ego in check.  It’s not up to me.  It’s not about me.  It’s all in God’s hands.  And I’d rather leave it in his.  I tend to make a mess of things.

Like having a tendency to over water.  If some is good, isn’t more better?  More love, more things, more attention, more time?  In my desire to fix, to care for, to love people, I can over do, over extend, over communicate, over everything.  Learning when and how to give love is a never-ending process for this girl.  Patience.  I’m so thankful that God NEVER runs out of it with me.

Nature is so aesthetically calming and miraculous.  Tiny seed to this fantastic creation.  You can’t mess it up too badly — unless you kill it.  But even decay can lead to greater beauty.  I love that about plants, nature in general.  Planting doesn’t require too much skill, a master’s degree, or fanatic hours on Pinterest.  And plants are beautiful and complete all on their own.  You don’t need to study the “interior design of a planter” to get a lovely arrangement together.  It generally works out…

Unlike decorating homes.  Interior design is not my forte.  But this is where our little fam does our most growing.  Inside this little clay pot of our home.  It’s where all of us seeds get thrown in, the sun shines down, the rain beets down, a few bugs get in here and there… you get the idea…

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And I’m totally fine with the fact that our home will never, even after our kids our grown and gone — be a grown up house.  I’m not one of those people who can decorate.  Not a spacial person.  I love pretty things and I know what I like aesthetically — I’m just not really able to translate that into “real life”.  Our growing pot of family is a bit messy, and totally organic (smile).

But maybe that’s okay… because what I want for my kids is a space for them to feel — well, like them.  Safe, happy, loved.  Just them.  Because so much of this world — the all of it really — is telling them to be someone else.  I want that pressure off here.  So yeah, we have Legos in our living room. A butter box full of letters and cards (Karey, I miss your shop SO much!).  A thankful jar.  Even a mason jar full of rocks collected from a thousand fantastic adventures.  A bazillion and one books.  Various items from nature — pinecones and leaves can look like SO many incredible things!  Several blankets.  A few pillows (trying to cut back as this drives my husband crazy) .  All artwork is done by my incredibly talented friends and my kids (and my preschool loves).  And the most recent addition — a print by Grant Wood.  “American Gothic” is basically a self-portrait of Marty and I — ug. And a million photographs.  Some from a million years ago (smile)…

This is our nesting pot of us.  And it will never be ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ or ‘Traditional Home’ or anything fancy.  Cause that’s not us.  And I love us.  And home is where we get to be us — and grow the all of us.  We don’t have to pretend or keep it all together here.  So all of these pieces?  They’re pieces of us.  They mean something.  Gracious — our home is one GIANT metaphor.

Where faces of those we love smile back at us.  Where we are encouraged.  Where we struggle.  Where we fight.  Where we make up.  Some times days later.  But eventually.  Where we pray.  Where we constantly pray.  Where we put on the full armor of God.  Where we grow and learn and grow and learn some more.  Where we question.  Everything.  Where it’s a safe place to question.  Everything.  Where we love.  Everyone.  Even when it hurts.  Because sometimes love hurts the most.  Where we share our joys.  Every day.  Because there is joy in every day.  Where we give thanks, and where this girl reminds her boys that that thankful jar is really NOT full enough.  Where some days, Mom and Dad’s bed is the best place to be — watching movies and cuddling and snuggling.  You’re never too big.  We’ll just get a bigger bed.  Where we deal with tough things.  Because life is tough things.  But then we remember to laugh too, because life is also freaking beautiful.  And if you can’t see that, then we need to come back and pray together again — because God did not create us to simply hurt.  And if you can not get past hurt — what can we do now — like RIGHT NOW — to make some one else’s day better?  Because that’s why we’re here.  Really.  To be a blessing.  And if we haven’t been a blessing in someone else’s day today, we better get to it.  And if someone, anyone, could PLEASE help me with all.of.this.laundy — that would be really great too… ❤

Plants, flowers, they can’t do laundry — but they sure can teach us so much about life and even about God.  They’re an amazing reminder to me every single morning.  And I’m incredibly thankful for the blessings of reminders they bring me each day I water them —

and maybe — just maybe — even for this loud, meandering, full, and crazy mind.

Love y’all!  SO much!

Namaste.

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Radical, subversive love…

I been worryin’ that my time is a little unclear
I been worryin’ that I’m losing the one’s I hold dear
I been worryin’ that we all live our lives in the confines of fear.

Fear – Ben Howard

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Good morning, beautiful loves…

Happy Sabbath ❤

Breathing in and out as I give this day to God in the stillness of this morning, re-releasing all of the things that have kept me up praying.  Every day is a ‘do over’ and ‘try again’ and ‘start anew’ beginning for this girl.  I’m always a work in progress.  Never done, never anywhere close to perfect.  But always his daughter.  Always His Beloved.

And every day is another day to live for Him and show and teach my boys and love on my boys and inspire them to do the same…  Amazing, daunting, incredible, precious, hard — all.the.things.  And to be and do all of that for others too.  We are to be Jesus.  Just that.  Some days that smacks me in the face more than others.  Lately, it’s been hitting me pretty hard.  Maybe that’s why I’ve been having so many headaches…

Our world has always contained so much evil.  Sin entered in and it took off like pink eye in preschool. Along with the rest of you, this girl has put on her armor and fought these Goliaths for so long — but this new apathy, this new level of ignorance, this new blind following of hate has shocked even me.  But none of this is really new at all now, is it?  In fact, it’s very, very old. And maybe that is what makes it even more heart breaking and disturbing.  We’ve been here.  And the cost to humanity has been horrific.

I’ve always been told to be the “good evangelical Christian girl.”  Be quiet.  Look nice.  Memorize your Bible verses.  Go to church.  Do the right thing.  Be the good daughter, sister, submit and serve.  Always submit to and do not question authority.  That’s what being a good Christian is all about.  Whether that authority is beating you, raping you, and emotionally abusing you — you just take it.  Because that’s your cross to bear.  Because you are less than as a daughter of Eve.  In fact, you are quite nothingless.  Shut up, and try not to breathe so loud.  Don’t cry.  And maybe if you prayed more and thought better thoughts and tried harder to be a better person, you wouldn’t make your Dad so mad and people would like you a little bit more.  Don’t rock the boat.  You’re blessed to be on it.  God didn’t make this world for you.  You were an afterthought.  A need for a man.  And you will be used accordingly.  Did you say something?  Did you have a question?  An idea?  Didn’t think so.  And if you did — it was wrong and stupid.  And you will be punished for it.  All of your thoughts and ideas are bad. Do not be subversive. You will be silenced. This ideology was my life for over half of it.  I daily fight these voices. Minute by minute, breath by breath, by the grace of a very mighty God.

Yet, miraculously, through this all — God was always there.  And every morning I get to wake up to Him.  And every night I go to sleep and he holds me and he reminds me of his never-ending and never stopping love for me.  And the even BIGGER miracle in all of this is that somehow, every day growing up in this mess of lies and abuse and filth of untruths — He never let me go — and a fire burned in my heart for MY Jesus (not for who my Father and Mother said God was), and I dared to question my parent’s God and I held on to my faith–white knuckles as they tried to drive it out of me.  I understand now that the fire — which danced on the disciple’s heads and Jesus promises his followers and all of us in John — was and is the Holy Spirit. He was always my peace, my protector, my comforter.  He was and IS always with me.  I am very aware of this very real relationship.  It’s one that I thank God for daily.  Through tears and so.much.joy.  I was raised by the Holy Spirit. 🙂  I owe my God so much! I truly AM because HE IS.  My living and breathing is a testament to his existence.  I am nothing but his girl.  No other strength but His scraped me through all of those days upon days and years upon years.  I will praise His name forever.  I would have never known love or known how to love without his mercy and grace.  He is my forever miracle, my savior.

This world is a battle zone.  It’s been for me since I was a little.  And yes, I get tired of fighting, but we’re not ever alone — ever — and we’re not here solely to make cupcakes and ride unicorns (although, I DO bake a lot and really, really love unicorns and all things magical 😉 ). And we can and SHOULD experience and take in joy.  Yes, of course, YES!!!  But we also can not be ignorant that a battle rages on every day — and this battle takes the full armor of God.  It always has, but we need to be even more aware and mindful now.  Which can also be viewed in a positive way.  I am even more mindful of what I say and am trying to be even more giving and active to show what I believe and BE that.  Love is a verb, after all.  I want my boys so see this, not just hear it come out of my mouth in our Bible studies and devotions.  I want our home life and action to drown out the hate — or at the very least, be their daily example of good. ❤

And I want to encourage them to be subversive in a world that is championing blind following to hate spewing leadership.  What does that word actually mean?  Webster defines subversive as “an adjective meaning tending or intending to overthrow”.  We are tending to or intending to overthrow evil and injustice every day of our lives on this planet.  Yes, yes we are. And there are SO many evils and injustices every where.  It can be absolutely overwhelming!   And our Jesus was one of the most subversive leaders of his time.  This can be done respectfully and lovingly.  It doesn’t involve violence or meanness!  I want them to be subversive and brave — to fearlessly raise their voices in the face of injustice and cruelty — to never, ever just stand by when civil rights are threatened or when any one person or people seem to think it is acceptable to place value or call “better than” status on human beings for any reason what so ever.  This is never okay.  This will never BE okay.  And we will be called all kinds of names for standing up in love. For being love and giving in love to others who are deemed misfits and marginal.  Because bigotry, sexism, racism, etc. — those words are filled with hate and blame.  They are exempt of love, justice, or peace of any kind.  But we don’t back down from that kind of evil.  Because that’s not why we’re here.  We’re HERE to be like Christ…

And what does the Bible have to say about these things?

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First and foremost, we have only to look to the cross and Jesus’s sacrifice for us.  ALL of us.  Not just white, privileged men.  But all of us. Jesus was neither white, nor privileged, himself.  He was about as big of an outcast as they come.  Even by the church.  Our subversive Jesus.  Our rebel Lord.  ❤

Galatians is an excellent place to go.  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:28  We are all one.  Doesn’t get any clearer than that.

And this:   The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love you neighbor as yourself.'” Galatians 5:14 (not just your white neighbor, not only if you believe in your neighbor’s religion, not if your neighbor isn’t gay or disabled, etc. — just LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR).  We’re all neighbors.  And we don’t get to pick who’s worthy of that love.  Jesus died for all of us.  And since he made that sacrifice, I’ll leave the judgment part up to him.  I’m pretty messed up myself.  And loving people, just as he did, is the BEST way to bring people TO him.  I’ll follow HIS example.  ❤

Look up the word love in the Bible.  It’s everywhere.  It’s a humbling experience to read all of those verses. Very humbling.  This family has LOTS of work to do.  We have not even remotely TOUCHED the surface of these verses.   ❤

I also appreciated these thoughts expressed by Stephanie Lape:

  1. In terms of ethics, I don’t care who is President or what they say or stand for – each of us stands before God, accountable for our actions. I am the most imperfect person saying this, so I do not intend to speak from a place of superiority or hypocrisy. But let it be known that racial hatred is crystal clear in Scripture. It is not okay. Neither is denigration of women. Neither is oppression of the poor or “alien” among us. There is a lot unclear in Scripture, but not these things. God makes a preferential stand for whoever is the outsider, so get on their side in solidarity and – in concrete, observable ways – stand with the oppressed for their dignity and justice. Refuse to speak words or commit actions of hatred, but stand for courageous love of neighbor. Jesus did this even unto death. This is the Christian call.
  2. Again, I am not your model, God knows. I fail many more times than succeed. But if you are a Christian, Jesus is your model. Kingdom values are very clear. Get up again with me and by the grace of God let’s live them out in our real lives. This is not partisan. This is Gospel.

 

We are called to be Christ. Period. ❤

And I have began to think about some of my other subversive heroes in history, and talking to the boys about those people, those soldiers of his light and love.  Corrie ten Boom was one that came to mind immediately.  If you ever get a chance to read “The Hiding Place”, please do so.  Life changing, faith building of the most resolute kind. She, herself, was not Jewish (she was very much a Christian), but she stood up to the genocide and hid them and saved so many lives.  Subversive, radical love!!! ❤

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One thing I keep reminding my children and husband is that we’re really quite fortunate to feel safe right now.  As a woman who has experienced sexual violence, abuse, and assault, I have felt traumatized by Trump’s words in ways that others do not understand and don’t even remotely try to understand (rape culture has become so mainstream like so many integrated and culturally accepted evils — ‘just get over it already, bitch, every guy talks like that’)– but I also am fully aware that I don’t feel the intense gravity of this situation like so many of you do.  This is where all of that incessant prayer comes in.  It’s our greatest power.  It really and truly is.  Don’t diminish that, loves. Our God is all-powerful and He is the one in charge. ❤

Ultimately, my family GETS TO feel this way–this overall sense of safety.  So many people are not experiencing this same feeling for their future and their children’s future.  However, that doesn’t mean we don’t speak out and speak up and be a voice in all of this evil noise.  Wrong is STILL wrong even if it’s not directly affecting us.  Because, actually, loves — it is.  We are ALL a apart of humanity.  We are ALL we.  So this IS us.  We all belong to each other in that we are brothers and sisters in this thing called life — connected by the air we breathe, the hearts that beat with purpose towards the goal of living this thing out together in some sacredness of existence — can we at least agree that life has some sacredness left???  So when you come for all of the excluded, you come for us.  And as a girl who has always been one of the excluded — even by her own family, by God, you come for me…

And even if so many of our neighbors (and we love you so much too, we love the ALL of us ❤ ) are screaming and yelling at us — ‘quiet, you bunch of cry babies, what he’s saying isn’t really THAT big of a deal’ — I ask you, what if we changed those words around in Trump’s ‘not so big of a deal’ hate rhetoric?  What if we replaced the word “Christian” for Muslim, if we replaced the word “white” or “Caucasian” for Hispanic or Black or alien, if he made fun of disabled or beaten or raped “animals” (ex — cute little puppies, as we seem to have more sympathy for animals these days) instead of humans — how high would our meter of outcry and outrage be for the things he has said and is saying?!  ‘Well he wouldn’t be THAT dumb!’ (this was an actual conversation I had with someone…)  And then they came for me… 

My point is — and gets lost when trying to explain it but is really SO very simple — you do NOT trample on the sanctity of what it means to be who and what we are and the beauty and ornate preciousness that is in that diversity.  You don’t mock that.  You don’t disrespect that.  You don’t get to assign VALUE to that.  You are not God.  We may believe in different versions of that being, but YOU — you, sir — are not Him.

And I have to believe, I have to hold on to the faith that we — as God’s children — can be better than this.  We will be courageous and brave and I know, I know that ultimately LOVE wins.  I know the ending to this.  It’s not dark, it’s not gloomy — it’s actually quite full of light and victory.  We are overcomers.  “And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.” 1 John 5:4.

Yet while we’re here, we’re growing and forever learning how to be more like him — and oh how much growing we can do in all of this, right? How much MORE we can learn to be like Jesus! ❤

“What ever we learn here on earth, however we grow or do good, it is all to become more like Christ.  When we wait, we have the particular gift of allowing the Holy Spirit to build in us the fruit of His Spirit.  When you abide and wait, you are uniquely pliable because you are living in trust and fixing your eyes on what is unseen.” (Connolly and Morgan, Wild and Free)

And as Corrie ten Boom states to eloquently in “The Hiding Place”,

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Amen. ❤

And He has always and forever been my hiding place, when this all gets to be too much — as it invariably does from time to time.  We are to live in the world but not be of it.  To carry each other’s burdens, but not to be all consumed by them.  To love, to have empathy, to feel and have compassion, but not let is swallow us alive.  This is so deeply, deeply hard for me.  Darkness can be so engulfing.  We must make a minute by minute, conscious effort to walk and live and breathe with him — for this girl, it is holding his hand all.the.time.  Because it’s not by my strength or by my fixing. And I try to do this without him if I’m not reaching for him constantly.  It’s all Him. And I want it to be all OF him.  “His will is our hiding place.  Lord Jesus, keep me in your will.”  Corrie ten Boom

Because this isn’t about me.  It’s never about me.  Or it gets bitter.  It gets angry.  It gets to be about what I deserve, what I’m owed, or what I want and what I’ve been through.  And it’s not about any of those things.  Ever.  It’s about living Jesus.  It’s about love.  It’s ALWAYS about love.  It’s about giving.  It’s about making sure others see him and know him and feel all of that never-ending, never stopping, never giving up love. It’s about my me-ness not getting in the way of all of that.  It’s about humility.  And wow, there’s just not much example of that anywhere so I really, really need to be mindful of that for my children.  It’s also about forgiveness.  And again, that’s not by MY strength.  That is also an incredible and miraculous gift from my Father. “It is not on our forgiveness anymore than our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His.  When He tells us to love our enemies He gives, along with the command, the love itself.” (Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place).  He gives us so much.  And gives us the gifts we need to keep on giving, loving, and forgiving.  ❤ All of this is nothing short of everyday miracles. Can I get an halleluiah? ❤

And praise God for his miracles.  That happen every single day.  In you.  In me.  In our children.  When we show up for Him.  When we show up for each other.  When we bravely and courageously choose to be subversive disciples of love.  When we understand that His kingdom work is hard, but his walk and sacrifice was harder still.  We will never understand pain or persecution like that.  And we want to make him proud.  So proud of us.  Even though he is.  And we don’t have to.  We just love him so much we want to.  And we love our brothers and sisters so much we will.  We’ll love them ALL — all the way up to heaven.  Because I want us all to be there.  Praising our heavenly Father.  In whom we are ALL worthy.

So, let’s try this love thing.  Hate has played itself out in history far too many times.  It’s never turned out well.  I’m pretty sure that’s the biggest understatement I have ever made.  Let’s fearlessly and relentlessly love.  Just like our Jesus.  Who also fearlessly died.  So that we COULD do this love thing.  For him.  All for him.  Not just for certain people.  But for all of us.  Because he had the subversive and radical notion to see the world as an us.  I really, really love that God-man. ❤

Prayers for all of us.  He’s got us.  And we’re good.  Even when the world screams otherwise.  Take care.  Take heart.  Remember, the battle’s already been won.  But we’ll continue to walk in his footsteps to remind the devil that his day is coming… ❤

Love you.  ❤

Warrior on…

Angie

with-jesus

 

What Makes You Brave… (raising the anxious child)

fear is a liar
“You, my brothers, were called to be free.” Galatians 5:13

 

It’s Halloween here in the United State Of America.  Happy ‘Boo Day’ to you!  We don’t do much to celebrate it here in our house.  I’m just lamenting the take down of all of these fall decorations.  And dusting.  And reorganizing.  Maybe tomorrow when I come out of my sugar coma…

Begger’s Night was last night.  That’s how we do it in the Midwest.  It was SO MUCH more fun as my sisters Molly and Erin and Molly’s boyfriend, Tucker, got to join us (dressed as giant M&M’s).  They have never been home for this festive occasion.  It rocked our night.  Made it.  I’m from Minnesota where we did things a little differently, but here in Iowa they call it Begger’s Night and do this candy thing the night before Halloween.  So Begger’s Night is where we go and beg for candy, tell jokes, and dress up as cute things, scary things, and everything in between.  I have been eating G’s candy, doing laundry, and drinking coffee all day.  It’s quite disgusting.  I really need to stop.  I’m blaming Karey.  4Gotten Treasures wasn’t open today (smile). We never buy candy in this house.  My kids aren’t used to having it around or eating it.  So here I am.  Doing it for them.  I mean, we all have to make sacrifices for our children, right? (smile)

My youngest LOVES Halloween.  He always has.  The first few years of his life he would cry — literally cry — when I took down the Halloween decorations (more like fallish décor with a few cute spiders and ghosts from Hallmark) — so we would put pumpkins on our Christmas tree — just to make the transition easier for him.  We have kept this tradition to this day — G puts his “puntins” on our tree.  It’s his thing.  I hope it’s always his thing.  I adore it.  His favorite movies are all Tim Burton cartoons — his first being “Coraline” when he was all of two.  It scared the crap out of my oldest.  And he’s watched “The Nightmare Before Christmas” like “a fousand” times.  He has a Jack blanket — all black and skeletonny — with his name embroidered on it — from the Disney store — that he snuggles with.  He loves Jack.  And “The Book Of Life” that just came out not that long ago.  He found it fantastical.  The entire story is about death and All Saints Day.  He will tell everyone I cried at the end.  I thought it was fantastical too.  Maybe you think I should be worried about this little nugget of mine.  I’m not.  Here’s why…

G loves all of this stuff because it is straight up magical to him.  And he will tell you so.  It’s not scary.  It’s pure authentic uniqueness.  Halloween is a time to be other things.  To express sides of yourself that you may have been too scared to try on before.  And some of them might just be a little dark (this is the most loving and cuddliest and most empathetic kid you will ever meet in your lifetime — besides his older brother — smile). And we all have those sides to us too.  And Tim Burton’s films champion the creative underdog who isn’t just like everyone else.  He or she is the black sheep, the ridiculed misfit — who always comes to the conclusion that being themselves is the best way of doing things — despite what anyone else thinks or says.  And G loves all of this.  That, and his favorite color is orange.  The candy he’s not into so much.  I mean, his mom eats it all for goodness sakes.  I love my kid for this.  For all of it.  So yes, we have pumpkins on our Christmas tree.  And it’s pretty amazing.

My oldest is more of a Christmas kind of kid.  Both of my kids were scared to death of Santa Clause until they were too old for it to be cool to get pictures with the big guy.  I mean really, what is scarier — jack o lanterns or a giant guy with a long white beard in a red suite with ginormous black boots that says “HO HO HO” in a booming deep voice?!?!?!?!?  Smile.  Max loves that the world was saved on this day.  All of us.  A tiny, unassuming little baby — in the most unholy places — came to rescue us.  The Great I Am started as a small baby boy, in a manger, in a stable — and that the most awesome stories can have the most humble beginnings.  We talk about that so often in this house.  God’s great purpose for us all.  No matter how small we may feel or others may try to tell us we are, his divine purpose reigns.  And this great rescue, this freedom, this incredible and specific to us purpose all started with one baby boy — who was both man and God.  It’s rather mind and heart and soul blowing.  So yes, we crank up “A Baby Changes Everything” at least ten times a day during the Christmas season — not just for Max.  It’s one of my favorites too.

It’s pretty clear I love these two boys.  And that they have pretty big hearts.  It may appear they are very much alike, yet these two children of mine could not be any more different in their natures — which makes for some fun times in our house — some go to separate corners of the house times in our house — to Mommy has no more patience time in our house.  I have often joked that they are my yin and my yang.  They literally couldn’t be any more different.  Perhaps they are mirrors of their Mom and Dad.  Perhaps they are just who God made them to be…

However different they may be, they share a few similarities…  Along with big, beautiful hearts, they share anxiety.  I openly struggle with this myself.  I don’t think there is any reason for us to hide who we are.  I am who I am.  And I’m not ashamed of it.  Hiding and denying and covering things ups is what is ailing this world and making it even sicker.  I want my boys to understand that who I am, who everyone is, is exactly who they are meant to be.  There is good to be had, there are struggles to work through, and there is a mighty, mighty purpose for all of us.  We don’t have to stay stuck or sick — we are empowered in faith to be courageous and always move forward.  But broken is really okay.  As Leanard Cohen writes in his song, Anthem, “There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in”.  And we are all a work in process.  The key is doing the work and admitting to the broken and owning who you are.  That all takes brave.  That all takes honesty.  That all takes giant, deep breaths and so much encouragement that we gain from each other and the Holy Sprit.  We are all meant for great things.  We are all amazing master pieces.  And this includes ALL of our pieces laid in the hands of the master.

own who you are

Of course, I lamented that their anxiety issues were all.my.fault and manifested all.because.of.me.  I hadn’t done a good enough job of letting them see that life goes on, being chill and relaxed, I had hovered too much, I had made them feel like they had to be perfect, I hadn’t prayed with them enough, read the Bible enough, let them know Jesus loved them enough, I hadn’t done ‘all the things enough’ to make them feel whole enough.  Because if I had, then they wouldn’t feel this monster.  It was all because of me.  That was my anxiety talking .  That was my fear, and fear is the biggest liar.

And I didn’t understand it.  My anxiety, OCD, PTSD and all of the other labels that I had ever had, stemmed from horrific things.  My boys did not have these occurrences in their little lives.  I had made damn sure that they were not ever exposed to any of that ugliness.  Maybe I had made sure too much? Maybe I loved them to smothering-ly? And my brain got back on the anxiety wheel again — obsessing over every thing I may have done wrong as a mother.  How in God’s name do hamsters find those freaking wheels fun?

But this wasn’t about me, it was about them.  It was about now.  And what do we do?  Because this world is going to be FULL of crap that isn’t right or good or just — that is going to freak your brain out and put you on that obsessive seizure wheel time and time again.  And my boys are sensitive enough to pick up on all of it.  ALL.OF.IT.  And while behavior disorders like oppositional defiance and other very real and hard things are easier for some people to understand and maybe even deal with rationally — anxiety is often met with a glib “just get over it” and “toughen up and just deal with it” attitude — without ever realizing the very real physical conditions and emotional roller coasters it is putting your child through.  Things like abdominal migraines and panic attacks are super fun.  Breathing issues, not wanting to go to school, being painfully shy, being afraid of germs, obsessing about certain things (that change from one thing to the next at any given moment), etc.  It’s exhausting for everyone.  But please, just.get.over.it.  If only.  Yet we can tolerate and give ginormous breath and width to so many other things — so much room.  But anxiety and sensitivity in boys?  Not so much.  Being loud and aggressive is more easily understood.  I’m so very thankful to the amazing teachers who have given my boys the time and heart it takes to get to know and understand them.  You are absolutely incredible and we truly love you.  They grow and learn so much because of you.  You are all PHENOMENAL!  I am also so very thankful to my boys for teaching me so much as I see this in so many of my four year olds.  It takes time to deal with anxiety.  It takes such a great deal of time.  It takes all of two seconds to be dismissive and label someone as weird or ‘a baby’.  We don’t all work the same way.  And it’s absolutely outrageous to me that this is still having to be explained to grown ups.

you are enough

We talk a great deal in this house — about everything — because communication is power.  The more we know, the more we understand — about each other and the world around us.  And we NEVER, EVER stop learning.  It’s important for my boys to know that their dad and I don’t know everything (I’m pretty sure they get this by now — smile).  And, more over, adults don’t know everything and aren’t always right.  That they can trust themselves and their feelings and what they know too.  They are capable.  They are smart.  They can trust themselves and God — they are mighty.  They are not insignificant just because they are children.  And I firmly believe when YOU feel significant, you treat others in the same manner.  It’s all about respect.  We can discuss ANYTHING they feel may be wrong or they have strange or unsure feelings about.  We don’t hide things.  We are honest and truthful about all of it.  I don’t know that I would be like this if it weren’t for my anxiety or things I’ve been through.  Sufficed to say, my kids are quite verbal.  So I often call this anxiety of ours our super power.  Because for all of it’s frustrations, it gives us many positive attributes too.  There is always something we can be thankful for in everything — even anxiety (smile)…

For one thing, we are more empathetic towards others.  The boys are the best at making cards, sticking up for people, putting themselves bravely in the way of bullies, loving and being kind — and may I just say one of my boys is thirteen (smile).  We don’t ever want anyone else to feel the way we do inside when that anxiety monster is attacking.  We want others to feel comfortable, loved, cared for, and just plain good.  It grows your heart.  You want to give.  In my boy’s case, all the time.  They are the.most.thoughtful.  They are so concerned for all of those around them.  Our prayers at night are so lengthy because they pray for everyone.  When we say “I’ll pray for you,” — sister, brother — we are praying for you! That anxiety, which may manifest itself in worry at times — then translates over to a closeness with God in prayer.  And THAT is all good.  We take it to the Lord.  Lay it at his feet.  And we try our very best to leave it there.

It makes us brave.  This sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?  But anxiety helps us to be brave every single day — because, quite frankly, everything scares you.  So, we have to push through discomfort and muster brave and courage every waking morning to do the next right thing (thanks, Glennon– love you).  This may require more energy than the next person who doesn’t even have to think about being brave when they get out of bed every day and just thinks about how tired they are — but it puts us right in the moment, it connects us to the present, and it makes us focus.  Be brave.  Be courageous.  Because that’s what it takes.  Every.single.day.  Just to be.  And some people may look on that as a negative.  But wow, that can be one positive brain punch too.

love defines you

Because it’s all on how you look at it.  And we chose to look at it as God made us pretty amazingly.  He made us to shine like stars in the universe.  And we’ll just go ahead and praise him for it.  And it really doesn’t matter if no one else understands us or gets us.  Because he does.  And we’ll keep talking about it at home.  And this momma bear will keep fighting for her kids and your kids.  Because I believe we are all pretty awesome.  And it’s different perceptions and ways of seeing (and yes, even feeling) things that make this world the freaking amazing wonderland that it is.  And it’s when we lose those eyes of wonder that the magic is lost — the essence of who we are becomes convoluted.  We are all beautiful.  Because we are made in his image.  That’s not lost on this girl.  Ever.  I see him in my boys.  I see him every single day in their hearts.  Even in the anxious times.  Even in the times people roll their eyes, whisper, say rude things, are mean, bitter, and nasty because they don’t understand.  Oh, I see him.  And I smile and I know that what he created is so divine and good and we will continue to shine and love each other and everyone else around us.  And how very, very blessed we are.  And that makes this girl so crazy brave.

Love and peace and light.

And so much courage. ❤

Go rock your brave.

 

shine shine shine