brokenness is a gift

We’re all broken. Not one of us makes it out of this life unscathed. The problem is we are taught from a young age to hide all our brokenness, like somehow the broken parts of us are bad. This world tells us we must never show our scars. We live in a world in which we only show our best, never our worst. Our social media pages are filled with only the best moments so we appear to have our shit in a pile- while secretly we’re trying to keep our heads above the water and not drown. This world tells us that if we are broken in the slightest then we are damaged and of no use. So we hide, trying not to expose the scars. So, we continue living our lives from the broken places trying to pick up the pieces along the way in hopes that no one will see them. I got the impression that brokenness meant I was defective and so I spent 30 years of my life believing that was true.

I won’t dive deep into my own story now, but I’ll give you a little glimpse. At age seven I was broken. I was thrown down, and used for the pleasure of another. I was raped and forever broken, forever defective. That continued for many years, another seven to be exact. Other things happened along the way that further aided in my brokenness. I made decisions that caused brokenness and others made decisions that further broke me. My dad left, making me the girl from the broken home. My heart was broken by my first love. I was raped by a boy in college on a date, leaving me broken, used up and discarded once again. I lived my life from this broken place, trying to pick up the pieces so no one would see, while trying to piece them all back together.

Then one day, my husband and I were knee deep in trying to heal some wounds in our marriage and in that I came face to face with my own brokenness. It caught me off guard. The issues causing the potential destruction of our marriage were his issues, not mine. At least that is what I would have liked to have believed because then I wouldn’t have to acknowledge my brokenness. Then out of nowhere I looked at him and told him there were some things he needed to know about me. Things I didn’t want to share with him because I didn’t want him to see and know that I was broken, damaged, used up. I told him it was okay if that’s what he saw after I shared, and I wouldn’t blame him for leaving me. So he sat and listened and I talked. It was painful to say the least. Then I slowly lifted my head to meet his gaze and as I did he spoke these words: “you are kintsugi.

 I will admit I was a bit caught off guard when those words were uttered from his lips. I had no clue what kintsugi was and furthermore no idea on how to take that- was it a compliment or an insult? He of course went on to explain what kintsugi was and I fell in love with the word, with the art form. 

You see, kintsugi is a Japanese method used in repairing broken ceramics. It came about when a Japanese shogun broke his favorite cup and sent it to China to be repaired. The Chinese said, the cup was unrepairable and sent it back. The shogun then sent his cup to a Japanese craftsman to repair it. The craftsman was impressed with the shogun’s steadfastness and eagerness to have his favorite tea cup fixed that they decided to transform the broken cup into a work of art. They filled the cracks with lacquered resin and powered gold- thus starting the kintsugi art form. Artists still today use the practice of kintsugi by gluing the broken pieces of ceramics back together using gold or silver lacquer.  Thus resulting in intensifying or highlighting the brokenness. Those that repair the broken ceramics are kintsugi masters, and before they ever begin their work on a broken object they imagine what it will look like when it’s restored. They create the vision and then get to work restoring. Ultimately, kintsugi is creating beauty in the broken things. 

I was captivated by this idea that my own brokenness could be ‘repaired’ and ‘restored’ and made into something even more beautiful. I like the way that Jimmy Larche writes of kintsugi, he says, “As a philosophy, kintsugi treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, something of a redemptive beauty, rather than something to disguise, cover up, or replace altogether.” You see, our brokenness is nothing we should be ashamed of, nothing we should cover up and hide. Our brokenness is actually a thing of beauty. It’s a part of us. It reminds us of where we’ve been and where we are now. It’s a gift.

The gift in being broken is that it breaks way for change and growth and gives us fresh perspective. Being broken allows us to be empathetic and understanding towards others and what they are walking through. Being broken makes way for gratitude. Being broken allows us to be redeemed and made whole. 

You dear reader are not broken beyond repair. You are not damaged goods to be tossed in the trash. You are beautiful, redeemed and of great value and worth. You are kintsugi.

without you my friend

 

It’s been a long month without you my friend and I wish I could tell you all about it. I miss you. I keep trying to convince myself you aren’t actually gone, that if I picked up the phone you’d be on the other end saying, “what’s up Tone?!” Then reality sinks in and I feel the weight of it and it’s fucking brutal. 

I keep thinking about the last words I will ever hear you speak to me, “well my friend, I am going to get going but I will call you again tomorrow for another 3 hour phone call.” But you never called. I am angry at you for that. I want more than anything to ask you why you didn’t call, why you chose to end your life instead. I would have sat with you in the dark, I would have held you up so you could fall apart. The anger fades into utter heartbreak. I am heartbroken knowing that you were surrounded by crippling darkness with no glimmer of hope to look towards. I am sorry I didn’t see just how dark and deep it really went.

Friend, had I know that would be our last conversation, I would have done it a bit differently. I would have told you it was an honor and a privilege to talk to you for those three hours (and I would have done another three). I would have told you just how much you meant to me, to our family. I would have told you that you saved Shane and I a dozen times over and played a vital role in where we are today. I would have thanked you. I would have thanked you for always standing in my corner and defending me. I would have thanked you for the countless counseling sessions over the years. I would have thanked you for the endless encouragement. I would have thanked you for being the friend who showed up to help us move and did so with a smile. I would have told you just how deeply loved you were. I would have told you about how you changed the lives of those who were privileged enough to know you. I would have told you that you were love extract and you made the world a better place. I would have thanked you for being the guy who cared deeply and loved without restraint. 

You left a big gaping whole in this world when you chose to leave it my friend and for those of us who were privileged enough to know and love you, we’re feeling the weight of that. Our lives will never be the same, we are forever changed. I am not sure how we come out of this one- but we will find our way out. I will find my way out, because that’s what you’d want me to do. I will strive to love people with the same kind of fierce love you had for people and I’ll be sure to tell you all about it when I see you again.

 

***Please reach out and talk to someone, don’t do it alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline @ 1-800-273-8255, find a therapist or pick up the phone and call a trusted friend or family member. Even in the darkest moments, there is still hope- find someone who can give you a glimmer of hope to hold on too. You matter, your life matters and you are loved!!!

The Orchestrator of ALL things

Can I just be honest with you all for a moment? I often struggle to believe that God will use everything for good. I have read Romans 8:28 often and most times I have the same thought, “surely He doesn’t mean ALL things work together for good.” I must admit my faith can often times ebb and flow with the seasons of life and is unfortunately swayed by my emotions more often than I care to admit. I struggle with this and honestly would love to not be the “doubting Thomas” if you will. I long to have the unchanging and steadfast faith despite circumstances or feelings. I feel like I have begun to see that and I have begun to see just what God meant when He gave these words to Paul to share, “We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan” Romans 8:28, The Voice. I personally liked this translation because it says that God orchestrates everything to work towards something good and beautiful.

The word orchestrate means to- “arrange or manipulate, especially by means of clever or thorough planning or maneuvering… (Dictionary.com). I don’t know about you but I like knowing that my God cares deeply for me, so deeply that he will arrange the whole universe to make sure what is good and beautiful will always come to be.

I wrestled with this knowing there is a lot of evil in this world. I wonder how God can turn evil and ugly things into something beautiful and good. How can sexual assault, human trafficking, cancer, death, famine, war et cetera be good and beautiful? Those things in and of themselves are not beautiful and good but what God does with them can and will be if we accept His invitation.

I think about my own story. I am a product of teenage lust, of divorced parents, I experienced rape at the hands of two men, I struggle with depression, I battled a razor blade for many years. I had a child before I was married. I have experienced the pain of infidelity in marriage. I could continue but I think you get the picture. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows over here.

However I have seen God’s goodness and grace in the midst of all of those things and even in my day to day. You see God knew those things were going to be a part of my story and He knew that my freshmen year of high school would prove to be one of the hardest years I would have to make it through. He also knew that I would fall head over heals for a stupid boy and would follow him to youth group so that I could bump into some women who would forever change my life (and still do today). God orchestrated the entire universe so that I would be in the hallway of my high school at the exact same time as this really cute boy knowing I would follow him to church and run into the women God had already orchestrated to be there that night and the nights to follow because He knew those women would lead me to Himself.

To be honest until recently I wondered how on earth could God turn the years of rape into something good and beautiful. I battled with feeling used up, dirty and damaged. I disconnected emotionally from sex and from people in general. I battled the inner dialogue and honestly believed that here was no hope in that ever being redeemed. I battled through feeling angry that what was suppose to be a beautiful and intimate, was turned into something full of shame, fear and pain and by no choice of my own. Then this last fall God did His thing and He orchestrated the universe again to bring healing to that part of my life. You see my marriage was on the rocks. I was contemplating asking my husband to leave and was unsure that trust could ever be repaired. God knew the very night all the details would come pouring out and He planned even that. He also orchestrated the phone call I would make the next morning to share my pain and tears and orchestrated it so much so that the person I called was available for a long phone call (which is nearly impossible for either of us considering we have little ones running around). He did that knowing she would be the one who would ask the very question I needed to be asked to launch me into the healing God was about to take me through. He used a painful season of my marriage to bring me to a place of beauty and goodness. He not only made our marriage more beautiful and rich but He healed a part of my life that had felt broken and unrepairable. I got to see God do His thing and repair what was broke and turn it into something new and beautiful. I got to experience sex for the first time the way God intended sex to be and I got to do that with my beautiful husband. It was a joyous night and I wept tears.

I could look back on all the ugly things in my life and tell you of the ways God used them to make something beautiful and good out of them, but then you’d probably be reading a novel and not a blog post.

This week I was reminded of Romans 8:28 and how He is orchestrating everything toward something good and beautiful. I awoke one day this week and had been overcome with a yucky head cold. I was bummed out because that meant that I was going to have to skip out on a night with my girls. I had been looking forward to hearing my dear friend share about her struggle with anxiety and learn somethings from her. God orchestrated the very time and place I would be exposed to those germs knowing He would need me to be listening to the message the next night instead. The next night I intended to sit down and listen to my friends words and then of course it was a night my toddler fought me go to bed. Even still God orchestrated my toddler to be a bit wound up knowing He needed my kid to fall asleep at the exact moment He did- knowing I would be listening to my friend speak about anxiety in the exact moments I did – knowing that I would be so entranced in that, that I would miss screaming and sirens and gunshots happening right outside my window. He knew had I heard those things my mind would have gotten caught in the darkness and anxiety would have taken hold of me.

I am so thankful to have a God who loves me even when I am a doubting Thomas. A God who doesn’t create the dark and evil things of this world but knows they are there and uses them to create something good and beautiful for His glory. Evil is close, but God is closer still. I pen these words in hopes that when I begin to doubt that God will use ALL things, I can look back and see what He has done. I pen these words in hopes that they bring you hope and remind you that God is orchestrating everything toward something good and beautiful in your life. You may not see the beauty and the goodness right now, but one day you will.

To Him be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan” Romans 8:28, The Voice.

I would love to hear some of your come and see what God has done moments, so if you’re willing leave a comment below!

When God’s plans look different than ours…

Baby fever- it has been raging since our youngest was a few months old. He’s now three and a half. The fever hasn’t been constant but when it is there it is an intense desire. My husband and I never seem to be in the same place when it comes to wanting another baby. When he wants one I am content with two and when I want another he is content with two. Recently I went off birth control while I waited to see my OB/GYN for my annual appointment. While I was off of birth control we were both on the same page and we both wanted another baby. So we decided to give it a try. We decided if God wanted to use us to bring another life into being then we were up for the challenge. There were moments when there was pure excitement at the thought of having another baby and then there were moments of sheer terror, but we decided to trust God with whatever the outcome was. I spent a lot time praying that God would prepare my heart for whatever He had planned even if it looked different than my plan. He is a faithful God and He did a thing. Prior to the negative pregnancy test and the arrival of the inevitable period God whispered to me- He said, “My plans are different than your plans. You won’t be having another baby, but there is still joy to be experienced.” He said that to me after I had just shared with my husband and dear friend that if the period comes I have peace about only having two beautiful souls to raise, love and train.

I recently had some hard conversations in regards to my children and who they are. Those conversations and words spoken awakened my soul and I was overcome with thankfulness and joy. A joy I had been praying for, for quite a while. You see I had been struggling for a long time to find joy in the midst of motherhood and to be honest it was beginning to feel hopeless. Then through conversations and a negative pregnancy test I found joy. I feel refreshed and renewed. It’s a joy I know only comes from the Lord.

We have two beautiful children, but they are two highly energetic children. They never seem to slow down, even when they are sick. Sometimes the high energy can been too much for my husband and I, and most days we are left completely exhausted. For a long time I questioned why God would give me of all people two highly energetic kids. God has recently revealed some things to me:

1. It is a privilege to be their mother, a true gift. An honor.

2. Their energy is a gift to the world and God has plans for them and He needs their energy.

3. They were created in His image and their personalities are beautiful.

4. God chose me to parent them because He is using it to shape me.

I’ve recently taken a step back to observe each of them and celebrate them both for the unique and beautiful souls they are. I have been amazed at who they are and I wouldn’t change a thing about them. I have also realized just how different they are from one another.

I’ve learned that while they are both highly energetic it is because of different reasons. One craves human contact and connection and is filled up with it (the extrovert) and that overflow comes out in crazy bursts of energy. The other is a bit more introverted and doesn’t crave human contact quite as much, but their bursts of energy come with boredom and lack of structure. One child thrives on structure, the other prefers their days to be less structured. One likes to know how things work and is constantly taking things apart where as the other prefers that things just work with no effort on their part to make them work. One is shy, the other outgoing. One is very sensitive and an emotional soul who wears their heart on their sleeve, while the other is ruff and tough. One thrives on words of affirmation and gifts while the other thrives on quality time and physical touch. Both are givers and love to serve. Both love fiercely in their own unique ways. One hates saying goodbye, the other has no problem with goodbyes. Both are brilliant. Both love the Lord. Both are children of God. Both are going to grow up to do BIG things. Both are good kids.

While these are just a few of the things God has revealed recently I am celebrating and rejoicing in who they are and that God has been gracious enough to reveal those gifts to me so that I could be filled up and begin to view motherhood through a fresh pair of eyes. What a blessing. I am unworthy to be gifted the privilege of raising His children here on earth but I am grateful and do not take it for granted. I cannot wait to get to know them even more and watch them grow into the individuals God has created them to be.

So while as of right now there won’t be another minion running around our home I feel at peace and I am filled with joy. God is so good, even when His plans look different than ours.

To my sweet little girl

My sweet girl, today you are another year older. I recently sat there watching you talk to great Grandma and you looked another year older. I still find it hard to believe you are now 7, but what a joy it has been to watch you grow these past 7 years. You are a true gem, one of a kind and I am so blessed by you everyday.

You constantly amaze me. You are the most selfless and giving person I know. You love giving and helping in whatever ways you can, even if its a complete stranger. I want to be more like you. For Christmas you received a gift you really wanted and you played with it all of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and then you brought it with you to great Grandma’s house to play with. While we were there, there was a little girl (a cousin you had only met once a few years ago) and she loved your toy. You gave it to her and then came to me and said, “Mom I know I love my new toy, but she also really likes it so I gave it to her and that feels good.” You do things like that constantly and you do it without any prompting from your Dad and I. When you have two of something so you always make sure to give the second to someone else. I love that about you. You never have money in your piggy bank because as soon as you have anything you take it to church to give to those in need. Recently you asked if we could spend our Christmas giving food to the homeless because you loved when we did that in the fall. It is so evident that Christ lives in you and you make the world a whole lot brighter.

You are also such a sensitive and empathetic soul. You’re little brother recently broke his foot and you cried (he did not) because you were feeling the pain and you were so scared for him. You didn’t want your brother to experience that. You’ve been that way since you were itty bitty. You would hear a baby cry in the store and you would cry. You see a homeless person or family on the corner and you shed tears and feel sad that they have no home and then tell us we should bring them to our home. Those are qualities the world will try to knock out of you, but I pray you stand firm and are not moved by this world but rather by the God who created you.

You’re an avid reader and writer just like your momma and I love that we share the same passion. I love that you are currently into reading about women who persisted. You have taken a firm liking to Anne Frank and her story and you read about her any chance you get. You are a very smart little girl and with that comes its own set of challenges but you push through and find new ways to challenge yourself.

You are one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. I adore being your momma and I am so lucky to have been given the honor of raising you through the years. I love you so very much my sweet girl. I am looking forward to watching you grow and learn even more from you over the next year of life.

Happy Birthday my sweet love bug.

A few things I’ve learned

I find myself sitting here drinking some coffee thinking about this year coming to an end and a new one beginning. I find myself reflecting on life this last year and what I hope to leave in 2017 and what I hope to take with me into 2018. I think about this time last year and how sick I was. I ended 2016 with a pretty bitter, angry and sad heart. Thankfully this year is ending differently for my heart. Here is some of what I have learned from 2017 and what I hope to take with me into 2018.

Even if not, God is still good…

I was very sick last year. Lots of money was spent on doctor visits, tests, imaging, blood work and prescription medications.  Nothing was helping. I pleaded with and begged God to take it all away. To let the medications work or to give the doctors an answer. I needed so desperately to feel like myself again. Being stuck in bed unable to do anything doesn’t work for a do-er like me, its torture. Still nothing helped. My husband and I were sent away to enjoy time together without any stress and enjoy the warm weather in hopes that my body might get a little break. Before we left my husband mentioned me going to see his mentors wife who is a holistic doctor. I declined as I was burnt out on doctors offices, tests, medications and honestly we didn’t have the funds to keep throwing at medical expenses. While we were in Phoenix I exchanged some words with God, most of which were not pleasant and I let him know just how angry I was with the lack of change and response to healing my body like I and many other people had been asking him to do. I wondered if God was there and if He heard me. Then that still small voice spoke and said, “I’m still here and I’m going to heal you but it looks different than you think. You see I am more concerned with your heart than your physical body so I am going to start there. As for the physical body go see the holistic Dr. (I will call her K).” So when we got home I decided it was time and my husband set up an appointment and within two weeks I was sitting in K’s office. She explained EVERYTHING that was going on with my body in a way that made sense and in a way all the other doctors never did. I walked out of her office hopeful for the first time in months. She gave me some supplements and suggested a few changes to my diet and honestly within 3 weeks I felt like a whole new woman.

I learned in that moment that even if God hadn’t healed my body that He was still God and He was still good. Sometimes the healing looks exactly like we thought it would but more often than not it looks different and it’s exactly what we needed it to look like.

Vulnerability is strength…

Vulnerability is not my strong suit. I am getting better, but I also have allowed myself some grace in knowing its going to take a minute to change an old habit. I have learned that the coping mechanisms that once kept me safe and helped me survive are not serving me the same purpose anymore and its time to change some things. During my season of sickness I had to learn to ask for help and be vulnerable enough to do that and to ask for help. That didn’t come easy for me. I have grown and have learned to ask for help when I need it but I am still not very good at sharing my heart. This fall some things happened in our marriage that forced me to be vulnerable with a few safe people. It reveled the importance not just for me, but for my husband to humble ourselves and find a few safe people to be raw and honest with. It’s actually the only way to make it through life without being eaten alive. Satan likes when we isolate, when we keep the darkness hidden, when we don’t humble ourselves and share our brokenness with others. Once things are exposed to the light, healing happens and Satan has no power. I still suck and fail often at the vulnerability piece but I am learning and practicing and 2018 will be a year I practice vulnerability!

Love in the most important thing…

Loving one another is really the most important thing. We are big on this in our house. We love one another with our words and with our actions. We own our mistakes and we ask for forgiveness when it’s needed. However that extends far beyond the four walls that make up our house. We practice loving and serving those who cross our path in whatever capacity that may look like. Sometimes it means we slow down in the grocery store to have a conversation with an elderly person. Sometimes it looks like lending an extra hand and help with grandparents. Sometimes it looks like handmaking peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and feeding the homeless. Sometimes it’s cleaning out the toy box and giving them to kids in need. And sometimes it looks like encouraging and speaking truth to those who cross our path. Whatever it looks like in that moment is irrelevant what matters the most is that we are loving those that God has placed in our path with the love we have from Christ.  We have had love lavished on us greatly this year whether through Christ alone or through those He has placed in our lives and we couldn’t have made it to where we are today if it wasn’t for that love, because love really is the most important thing.

Those are a few of the many things I have learned this year and there will be many more to come. I have begun to learn the importance of self care and because for me writing is part of the self care process you’ll be seeing a lot more writing from me in 2018!

I would love to hear what you have learned this past year…

Against All Odds

In lieu of our wedding anniversary being the 18th of June, I wanted to share a little love story. I wanted to share our story. Our story is not like the fairy tales you see in the movies, it’s raw, it’s real, it’s full of love, grace, forgiveness and redemption. It’s the story that has beaten all the odds. Many doubted we’d ever make this work. We even doubted in the beginning that we could make it work. It wasn’t suppose to work. But it did and it does all by the grace of God. 

I was not ready for love. I was broken and lost. I had been damaged by men in my past and thought I was worthless and undeserving of love. I didn’t believe in love or marriage. I was content to live my life single and independent.

He was a girl crazed boy who wasn’t looking for anything serious. He’d been hurt before and wasn’t sure he wanted to travel down that path again. He was stuck in life and had no drive to move forward.

We found each other attractive and enjoyed talking with each other. He always had a girl and I was against dating anyone I worked with. I also refused to ever be the “other” girl having unknowingly been put into that position once before. I kept my distance and let our conversations be that of work related things. During the Christmas season while at church I pointed him out to my best friend and shared that I had a crush on him, but that nothing was to come of that because he was in a relationship. We came back to work after the New Year and worked an opening shift together. I learned that he had recently broken up with his girlfriend.

Our conversations shifted a little bit from that of work. We started to learn more about each other. He was a gentle, sweet and thoughtful man. He would bring me coffee to work at 5am and understood the importance of not talking to me until I had, had my morning coffee– because he was/is much the same way. Then one night he had a dream about me. No, not that kind of dream, get your heads out of the gutter ;). He had a dream that I sawed his leg off with a dull knife. If that doesn’t scream true love I don’t know what does. Anyways he decided to share this dream with me, we exchanged phone numbers and witty banter for the day and by the end of the day I had agreed to go on a date with him.

It was the best first, last date. It was simple and yet everything I liked. He picked me up for our date ( and might I add he was on time!) He opened all my doors. He took me to a local tavern and paid for my dinner, beer and a few games of pool. He let me win the first game! He was kind to me and treated me with respect. He asked me questions about my life, my family, my future. It was perfect, he was perfect.

We continued to talk everyday. He would text me “good morning” and “good night” everyday (and still texts me “good morning”  and “good night” everyday he’s at work!) We hung out often and enjoyed each others company. However I was still the same girl I was when we met and I was not about to let my guard come down for him. He was still the same boy not looking for anything serious. It worked for us– for a while anyways. 

He was coming over to my house one day to hang out and was intending on asking me to be his “girlfriend” when I dropped our first big challenge on him. I was pregnant. Statistically odds were against us starting in that very moment. We sat in silence, we talked about our options. We took another test just to be sure. He was supportive. After a while we both decided we were keeping the baby. We were old enough, we had stable jobs, we could provide for our child, etc. However having a baby when we had only been seeing each other for a few months and not really being in a relationship posed a challenge.

Another challenge came when deciding what we wanted to do as far as “us” went. We both came from parents who only got married because they were pregnant with us and both sets of parents ended up divorced because of that. We didn’t want that. Plus being a guarded, closed off, damaged girl didn’t help. We eventually decided to give it a go. We figured we owed it to ourselves to try and to our unborn child to try. So we went forward in our relationship. Things were going well once we moved past the fear of having a baby and decided to pursue our relationship.

Then another girl decided to throw herself at him and tempted him. This posed yet another challenge in our new relationship. This girl pushed and pushed herself on him. She showed up when he was working just to spend time with him. She would text him. She knew me, she knew all about me and my role in his life as his girlfriend and the mother of his unborn child. She didn’t care. This eventually became a source of conflict for us. He reminded me of how special I was to him and that I along with his unborn child were his priority. We were able to push forward and I was able to start letting my guard down. It was in that very moment of his telling me just how important I was to him that I started to see the possibility of falling in love with him. I moved in with him and we started preparing for our sweet little baby.

Finally the moment arrived. It was time to meet our little love. He was a trooper through the long and exhausting labor and waited on me hand and foot. He never left my side. He held my hand in the operating room and reminded me I was going to make it through and that there was nothing to fear. Then when our beautiful little girl entered our world he cried and thanked me for having given him a beautiful baby girl.

He was perfect during the hospital stay. He helped me tremendously when we got home from the hospital and I was moving slow and still recovering. Then in an instant all changed and we were face to face with yet another challenge.

The girl was back in the picture and this time he had given into her temptations. He did the unthinkable. He cheated on me. I had always said that was the final straw to any relationship. I could not maintain a relationship with anyone after they had cheated. I took our daughter and went to my moms house for a few days to have some space. It was the hardest few days of my life. My mom looked at me and told me she supported me in whatever decision I was going to make when it came to him, but I needed to start making some decisions. I needed to decide if I was going back to the house, if I wanted to try to work things out with him, etc. So him and I sat down and had a conversation. We laid it all out there. I even told him I loved him for the first time in that moment! I decided that if he was truly remorseful and wanted to try to fix it, I would give him one last chance. He cut off all ties to the girl and any other girl for that matter. He worked hard to prove his trustworthiness. He respected my desire to sleep in separate rooms and begin dating again. 

We moved out of his mother’s house. We were working on us and raising our daughter. Things were going well. But there were still moments when I was hurt and angry with him and was struggling to move forward. We had countless conversations about the whole thing and none of them ever made me feel better. Then came another challenge— the darkest and hardest moment of my life. The night that I just wanted to escape all the pain and hurt. The night I decided to take revenge on him and swallow an entire bottle of pills in front of him in the middle of an argument. Luckily one of my best friends was already on her way to our house to come and get me so she sat at the house while our little girl slept and he took me to the hospital. We agreed that it was best if I entered a season of therapy (which I was completely against, until that moment.)

Counseling was the best thing I ever did for myself and for my family. I dealt with things I had kept bottled up for years. We moved forward. I was able to truly forgive him for hurting me and to move past it. We continued to grow in our relationship with each other. I finally started to let my whole guard down and learn to love and be loved in return. We fell madly in love with each other. We knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other, and not just because we had, had a baby. So a year later he proposed in our living room with our daughter and a year later we were married.

We are now going on four years of marriage and it has been the best four years of my life. I wouldn’t change any of it for anything and all those challenges  in the beginning were worth it to get to this place. We fall more in love with each other everyday. We are parenting two beautiful children right alongside each other and we are the best of friends. He knows the deepest parts of my soul and I know his. I share everything with him and he does the same with me. We are a team. We choose each other every day. We face challenges” because that’s the consequence of living in a fallen world, but even in those moments we know we will make it out on top! Against All Odds we will make it, we already have.

“Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite.”

     

Photo credit: CorrieBphotography

A letter to my little boy 

My dear sweet boy,

Today you reached up and grabbed my hand when we were walking and every time my hand would shift or slip from your little grip you would grab hold a little tighter. For a moment I stopped to take it all in, to memorize how little your hand was, to breathe in the fresh spring air. I took in the sound of the birds chirping and the children laughing on the playground. I felt the heat of the sun across my face. I captured a picture so I would remember your hand in mine. 

That moment was a breath of fresh air. It was a moment my soul needed. You see people often say, “you’ll miss these years when they grow up.” I have wrestled with that saying in parenting, because I long for the toddler years to come to an end. I have felt guilt and shame for not appreciating the trying moments, to be longing to be out of the toddler years and for not finding joy in this season of motherhood.  The reality is I will miss moments like today, moments when your sweet little hand reaches to grab mine, or when your arms reach up high because your little legs are too tired to keep walking. I will miss the days when you sweetly climb into bed with me in the mornings, cuddle up and fall back asleep. I will miss watching you learn new things. I will miss your sweet little voice and your contagious laughter. I won’t however miss the tantrums, the utter defiance and the blatant disobedience. I won’t miss the moments of training and discipline. Those moments are quite exhausting and I long for the day they are over. 

You have challenged me in ways I never thought possible, you have tried and depleated all my patience and you manage to do it before 9am on a regualar basis. You test every boundary and push every limit. You have been the reason behind my tears on numerous accounts. You are a strong-willed, determined little man. You are full of gumption. You are jocular. You are adventurous and brave. You are vivacious and energetic. You are inquisitive. You are meticulous. You are sensitive and thoughtful. You are captivating and the truth is I am lucky to be your mommy. I am lucky to be challenged to grow in my own personhood through you. God knew I needed a sweet little boy like you to remind me often of my need for Him and to humbly remind me I will never surivive these toddler years on my own strength. 

I love you deeply.

Love always, 

Your exhausted, but grateful Mommy

I see you

We don’t know each other well. We talk occasionally at the crosswalk before school or at a school function but I don’t know you on a deep personal level. However here is what I do know about you- you are inspiring, you are passionate, you love deeply, you exude joy and you see people! 

You see my daughter and you are ready to greet her with a hug knowing that makes her heart feel loved. You choose to give up your lunch break to have lunch with her just because she asked. You engage in conversation with her and you seek to know her. You’ve changed her world, her life and you aren’t even her teacher. Thank you. Thank you for loving my sweet, sensitive, brilliant little girl. You’re loving her has changed my world and impacted my heart. Nothing makes a parent more estatic than someone loving their child well. 

Your passion for education is life giving. It encourages those in your presence to embrace the same passion. I am inspired just from watching on the outside. You change lives everyday. You impact lives and you set the course for students as they venture through life and their education and you are the teacher they look back on years down the road and remember vividly and can recount the ways you encouraged and supported them. It does not go unnoticed, it does not go unappreciated

 I watch you greet each student and parent at the cross walk with the same excitement and love. You listen intently to their stories. You notice their bad days and you seek to find out what’s at the root of those bad days. You ask the questions. You ask because you care. You create a safe place for people. Thank you for being a safe place. Thank you for being a safe place for my daughter to go when I can’t be present. 

I remember the first conversation we ever had. You commented on how much you loved my little girl. It sparked a conversation about her education and where she would be attending school since we were moving 20 miles away. You listened as I shared my fears and frustrations with a gifted child in a public school setting. Later that day you chased me down as we were walking out of school to give me information. You encouraged me. 

 Then a little longer down the road you were appointed to help her as she struggled through a tough situation at school. You sought me out and asked questions so you could help her navigate through the turmoil and the emotions. You never stopped asking questions and you helped her navigate a hard situation with ease and confidence. That’s what teaching is truly about. Sure the numbers and letters and reading and writing are important but you gave her something valuable, something she can and will use for the rest of her life. 

You helped ease our fears and God used you to answer our prayers. You play a huge role in our little girls life and you are the reason we drive 20 miles each direction to school everyday and why we will do the same thing next year. Thank you for being a safe place and for loving our daughter well when we can’t be there. It does wonders to this mommas heart. 

I see you and your beautiful soul!

May this summer be full of blessings, joy, peace and of course the much needed rest after a long and busy school year. 

A world without hate

My daughter was working on a project for the anti-defamation league for school. She had to create a work of art that for her represented  a world without hate. 

She wanted to start with something we say often, “the most important thing is that we love each other.” We talked about what that looks like. She talked about treating people the right way. She talked about being kind to one another. We gave her free range to create a representation of what a world full of love would look like to her. 

She created this:


We asked her to tell us about the pictures drawn on each heart. 

The pink one: Shane and I on the beach. 

The red one: was jus a picture of Shane and I. 

The silver one: was Shane and I in the desert.

The blue one: was Shane and I having a dinner date. 

My husband looked and me with a smile on his gorgeous face and said, “I love that her interpretation of what it looks like to love one another is us.”

I agreed and to be honest I love that too. I love it for several reasons. A few of those reasons being: 

It tells me that we are doing a good job of loving one another well. 

We are setting an example of what it looks like to love well and our kids will follow that lead. 

Our children will have a healthy view of love and marriage. 

Our children feel safe and loved because of the way we love not only each other but them. 

Anyone who knows mine and Shane’s story knows it is one of grace, redemption, forgiveness, hope and love. We had all odds against us in the beginning but we fought hard to get to wher we are today and to know our hard work is evident speaks volumes. 

Her assignment was to imagine a world without hate and create something to represent that. 

I am not an artist in the sense that I don’t draw so I won’t create a picture but I will use my words to share what I imagine a world without hate to look like. 

I imagaine a world where the most important thing is that we love one another. 

I imagine a world where we learn to put the needs of others before our own needs.

I imagine a world where we speak truth in love.

I imagine a world where we can disagree with one another and still remain kind. 

I imagine a world where we learn to value life over death. 

I imagine a world where we show and do the work. 

I imagine a world where we truly see one another and we can all take of the masks and be vulnerable.

I imagine a world where we value humans rather than devaluing them for our own desires. 

I imagine a world where we are free from slavery. 

I imagaine a world where we are free from racism. 

I imagine a world where we are free from hate and full of love.

We may never see this kind of world this side of Heaven a we live in a fallen and broken world. I cannot change or control people or this world, but I can control the way I love and I can continue to demonstrate that kind of love and live out my life without hate. 

What to you envision a world without hate to look like? How do you demonstrate love in a world full of hate? Join in and share what your world without hate looks like. I’d love to see pictures,  videos, written words etc from you.