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. 

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To my beautifully perfectly imperfect little girl,

To my beautifully perfectly imperfect little girl,
Today you turn six years old. 
I watched you playing on the playground recently and was in awe of the little woman you are becoming. There was a sweet little girl crying, you got down on your knees, put your arm around her and began to make her laugh. 
You have always been such a gentle spirit, such an empathetic soul. When you were just an itty bitty thing if you heard a baby crying in the store you’d instantly stop what you were doing and you’d become concerned with their tears. It’s a quality I resonate so deeply with. My heart swells when I watch you comfort those around you. 
Your love for people is intoxicating. I am not sure that you’ve ever met a stranger. Sometimes this quality scares the hell out of me, but I pray for protection and then embrace that you were created wonderfully and fearfully and God designed you to befriend all. You’re a prime example of what it means to love well. So *never* stop loving people. 
Just the other day you came home from school and said, “Mom, Dad, when I grow up I’d like to be a scientist.” When we asked what made you want to become a scientist you said, “because I’d like to invent potions that help heal those that are sick.” I sat in awe. It’s such a testament to who you are. I sit back and watch you and dream of what your future might look like. I often think, your little brain probably has the cure for cancer just waiting to be unleashed. 
You my dear are wise beyond your years. You are inquisitive and imaginative. You seek to find answers and you never stop filling your brain with knowledge. As your mom it poses challenges as we navigate the roads to your education and I try to gain my own understanding of how your brain is wired, but I’m also thankful for the challenge because in turn it keeps me challenged. 
You are a natural born leader and you are learning how to become a great leader. 
You’re stubborn as all get out and boy does that challenge every last ounce of patience I have in my body. Mostly because I myself am a stubborn woman. I pray that stubbornness subsides some and that you are able to be humble and ask for help when you need it. 
You my dear are so many other things and more. You are perfectly imperfect and I wouldn’t change thing about you! 
Six years ago you made me a mommy and I am forever grateful for that. I had no idea what I was doing and I was scared shitless but I was up for the challenge the second they placed you in my arms. You test my very patience and in the same moment touch the depths of my heart. You can make me both laugh and cry in the same moment. The last six years have brought with them some of the hardest moments of my life and some of the most joyous moments. I am proud to be your mommy and I cannot wait to see what year 6 has in store for you. 
I love you to the moon and back again…I win. 

Happy birthday beautiful.

Love,

Mommy

Winter

Winter. The coldest season. The darkest season. The sun shines less. It’s a lifeless season. The trees are bare, the grass is brown, the flowers withered and the birds no longer sing.
Lately I have found myself in a winter season. It’s cold and dark. It’s been lifeless and lonely. It’s been a season of questioning. A season of mourning. A season void of life.

Winter. The coldest season. The darkest season. The sun shines less. It’s a lifeless season. The trees are bare, the grass is brown, the flowers withered and the birds no longer sing.
Lately I have found myself in a winter season. It’s been frigid and dark. It’s been lifeless and lonely. It’s been a season of questioning. A season of mourning. A season void of life.

The other day my friend Lyndsey shared these words:

“Today is the winter solstice! What does this mean? Today has the shortest period of daylight AND it will be the longest night of the ENTIRE year. Why is this good news? Well, I’ll tell ya. This is the darkest night all year. BUT! It’s the darkest it’s gonna get. Every single day moving forward will include a bit more daylight and will be a little bit longer. The darkness never gets to last forever.”

These words came after I had just called to say ‘I love you’ to my grandma for the very last time. She was dying. It was a bitter cold day, as a snow storm was moving in. I listened to the sound of her moaning and the sound of the machine breathing for her and I wept.

I also lost my great grandma in the midst of winter. Her death was followed by the birth of my first-born. Within 5 days I had seen both death and new life.

The news of my grandma becoming suddenly ill and of her being in her final moments of life sent me to the depths of winter. It was frigid and dark. It was my winter solstice.

See it wasn’t even just her death that sent me there. It was my season of life. I have been in a winter season and I have loathed every moment of it. I am not one who has ever embraced the winter. I actually despise it. I am a sun shining, flip-flop wearing, outside playing kind of girl and well truthfully winter cramps that style.

The morning after my grandmother had passed. I awoke to a quiet house and looked out the window to see our first real snow storm of the winter season. My kids were away with family being loved on and my husband was at work. I laid there for a moment and breathed in the silence as I looked out the window to see the snow-covered world outside. It was a bitter cold day and for a moment I felt peace in the midst of winter. I felt hope. I saw a glimmer of light in the dark.

I am longing for spring and the new life the comes with spring, but until spring comes I am learning what it looks like to live in the winter season. I am being stretched, I am completely out of my comfort zone and I am have not enjoyed it thus far. However I am taking comfort in the words my friend Lyndsey shared and clinging to the truth that “the darkness never gets to last forever.”

 

 

 

an open letter to Fibromyligia

Dear Fibromyligia,

We met about a year ago, but we’ve only just recently been formally introduced. Meeting you has been far from pleasant. You aren’t exactly a joy to be around and truthfully I was hoping our relationship was going to be short lived. Apparently you had different intentions and you plan on sticking around.

Well since you refuse to leave there’s a few things I’d like to say to you:

You are a pain. Literally. You are a thief. There’s been days you’ve robbed me of joy, rest and life. You’ve taken hugs from those I love. You’ve at times taken my children’s mother and my husbands wife from them. You’ve wreaked havoc and left chaos in your path. You breed feelings of hopelessness, confusion and frustration. You are toxic and you are no friend of mine.

 I am here to let you know you’ve messed with the wrong woman. You see I’m a fighter. I’ve dealt with bigger bullies than you and come out victorious. You can keep me from sleeping, you can attack my nerves all you’d like and you can even cause debilitating pain. You can whisper lies of hopelessness, confusion and frustration- and there may even be days when all your attempts to keep me bound to you are successful, but those moments will be fleeting.

You see you messed with a mighty warrior. I have been trained and equipped to fight. There will come a day even if it’s not on this side of heaven where you will cease to exist. I will cling to that in the midst of battle; and when I am feeling beaten and worn down by you I will call in the army I have standing behind me and they will fight for me. 

I will be undefeated by you. 

Seasons

We are officially into the Fall season. The leaves are changing and the weather has begun to cool down. Fortunately for me I live in a place where I get to truly experience all 4 seasons.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this new season and the changes that come with it: colder weather, leaves changing, plants withering, etc.; but more than that the parallel seasons have to our own lives. We all experience different seasons of life and just like the changing seasons bring change so do our personal seasons bring about change.

I have found myself in a hard and challenging season as of late and so I am ready to welcome in a new changing season. It’s been a hard season. A waiting season. My season has been full of physical pain and exhaustion. Full of anxiety and fear of the unknown. I’ve been in and out of the doctor office, have had many labs drawn, injections had and new medications started. One positive test led to a specialist, which led to more tests and more waiting. The waiting season is the hardest season.

However, I have learned a few things in my waiting season.

I have learned a bit about grace. I have learned how to accept grace and extend grace, mostly extending and accepting grace within myself. I have learned that I cannot give to others what I haven’t already accepted for myself. So until I give myself grace, I cannot extend grace to others. There is grace in the moments I can’t be present, there is grace in the mound of laundry, there is grace in the nap taken, there is grace is the dirty dishes, there is grace in meal that didn’t get cooked. There is grace abounding. It is grace on top of grace already given. In that I have learned to both extend and accept grace.

I have learned about rest. What it really means to rest. Rest is not something that comes easy for us Americans and especially to mothers of young children. We are taught from a very young age that we should always be doing, always be moving. I have believed that lie. I have believed that if for one second I stopped to rest I had failed. During this season I’ve learned that it is in fact okay to rest, and that actually resting is necessary. Time management and knowing my boundaries has proven beneficial in a season requiring rest. I have to know my priorities and know my boundaries within my priorities and with that comes grace.

I have learned about humility. I am a strong-willed, independent, stubborn woman. I have been that way for as long as I can remember. With that also means I don’t ask for help. This season of life has left me with no other option than to humble myself and ask for help. On the days when the pain is so intense I have to ask my husband to help me get dressed, to open the jar, to cut the apple, etc.. I have had to lean on my sisters and ask for help. I have humbled myself enough to accept meals prepared by my sisters, so that I could use that little bit I had in me to focus on my husband and my children. Humility does not come easy for me, but I am learning that it really is the only way.

I have learned about marriage. I recently joked with my husband about how this is what they must have meant when they said, “in sickness and in health.” That was not a joke, it is truth. My husband has loved me so well through it all. He steps in when I need to step out. He loves me even when the house is a mess, he hasn’t had a home cooked meal in a week, the kids are all whacked out and I’m in his arms weeping. Marriage is a partnership. My husband carries a little extra weight on his strong shoulders these days and he does it without complaint. We have learned new ways of connecting intimately and deeply. And we have learned to love each other well and that is the most important thing.

I have learned a bit about surrender. Surrendering my ideas and visions for my life and instead just being in each moment/day. Surrendering my life and my health to God, knowing and trusting that He has a plan regardless of the test results. He is bigger than whatever is attacking my body.

I have learned to appreciate the good days and rest through the hard ones.

 

 

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

-Galatians 6:2

We are called to sympathize with our sisters and assist them in all their weaknesses, grievances and trials. I was recently reminded of why this is so important. I sat with some of my sisters recently as we all shared our hearts. We were all weary travelers who were in need of someone to carry our luggage.

I am not one who readily and easily admits that her luggage has become a bit to heavy to carry alone. I become so accustomed to the extra weight that I often forget I am even carrying it. Thankfully I have a village of sisters who so faithfully remind me to lay down the burdens and who so willingly help me carry them. I am not sure how women who don’t have a village of sisters manage. Without my sisters I would be buried underneath the weight of the burdens I carry.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

-James 5:16

The sins and the burdens I carry feel to heavy and dark. I feel suffocated- like I am gasping for air and hanging on by my finger tips. Then I sit with my sisters for a moment and confess my sins and lay my burdens down and then in an instant the weight is gone and the darkness fades to light. And in the same moments my sisters are doing the same. I am not sure about you, but I am not one who will easily confess my sins and lay my burdens down. But there is something about doing it alongside my sisters. When they are willing to show up and be seen it makes it easier for me to do the same and when we ourselves are willing to show up and be seen we leave a little braver than when we came.

My village is: Life-changing. Beautiful. Raw. Honest. Full of light. Hope. Grace. Truth.

What does yours look like? If you don’t have sisters who come alongside you and pray for you and carry your burdens, then you better go find some.

Have Courage

“With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.”

Mark Twain

“With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.”

Mark Twain

Just recently I watched as my daughter exuded courage. She had been given a bike, this bike didn’t come with training wheels. We attempted to ride this bike once before and that ended in frustration all around. I had a squirming toddler in my arms and it made holding her stable on the bike nearly impossible.

Having a perfectionist, strong-willed daughter makes for a challenge all its own, but it makes for a bigger challenge when something is not mastered the first time. She is good at many things, she is wise beyond her years… but she is stubborn and determined. Since the first attempt at bike riding was an epic fail she was determined to never ride a bike without training wheels again.

Well the other day seemed like a good day to ride a bike. The weather was beautiful, the sun was shining and it was just one of those days you didn’t want to spend inside. Daddy was home this particular day so we decided to give bike riding another go. Emma huffed and puffed and threw a tantrum of epic portion. She was determined to never ride that bike again. She stormed all over the house with her arms crossed and yelled all about how her bike was “stupid” and she “was never riding the stupid bike.” Now in our home “stupid” is a word we don’t use and she is fully aware of that. She faced a consequence and then my husband and I pulled her close to us and talked with her.

We talked about how we have two choices in life– we can choose to always do the easy things or the hard things. Les Brown says it like this, we can do the easy things and have a hard life, or we can do the hard things and have an easy life. We went on to talk about how in life we have to do things that are hard, things that scare us, things we might not want to do and things we may not be any good at. It’s how we experience life. It’s what makes us who we are. We all have to do it. We talked about how its okay to feel afraid. It’s okay to not be perfect at the task or to even master it. We talked about how we don’t have to rely on our strength, but that we have the strength of Jesus Christ and because of that we can do all things. We shared moments when mommy, daddy and her baby brother had to do something hard. She agreed to give the bike a try as long as daddy promised he wouldn’t let her go.

So outside we went. She hopped on her back and after just a few minutes she asked her daddy to let her go. He did and she rode her bike. She only made it a few feet before she took her feet off the pedals and fell down, but she got right back up and did it again. She rode her bike for a long time that afternoon. She would repeat the falling down and getting up bit every few feet but she never gave up. She was determined. She was beaming with pride. The smile she wore across her beautiful face said it all. We celebrated and cheered her on. We filled her with praise and told her we were proud of her.

We got back home and asked her how she felt. Her response floored me. She said, “I’m happy that God gave me the strength to do it!” A few nights later at dinner she shared her most thankful, “That God gave me the strength to ride my bike.” She gets it. God is going to use that girl to help him move mountains. She humbled herself. She knew that accomplishment was not done on her own accord. She took a risk and she had courage.