Sunday, November 27, 2011

new post on new blog!

Hey friends!

If you haven't visited my new blog yet, I'd love for you to stop by...Just posted some ministry/relationship-with-God reflections (with maybe four five pics of my kids). You can subscribe to the new blog by entering your email address on the side margin (and don't forget to respond to the confirmation email from feedburner later!).

http://aprilmccullohs.com/first-frost

Thanks for reading and for being part of my community...

Love,

April

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

new blog!

Hello friends,

First, thanks so much for reading and sharing this journey with me. What started out as mere accountability for myself to write more has become something very important to me, and it's all because of the surprising warmth of community I've stumbled into, out here in the blogosphere. So, thanks again for the support.

I'm super excited to share with you my new blog, one that's been under construction for some time now. It's simply: www.aprilmccullohs.com 

If you're subscribed to this blog, your subscription will not transfer. You'll have to re-enter your email address and click on the confirmation link that feedburner sends you to set it up again.

Thanks for the love and support!

Warmly,

April

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

halloween pics and a little controversy

We had fun last night. 

Little One was a tiger, which my mother reminded me was my costume at one year old as well. Carter was a pirate, although he insisted on being last year's dinosaur, undeterred by the snug fit. A bribe of Mommy dressing up with him sealed the deal, and we were out the door.









Have you discovered A Deeper Story yet? It's a freeing place, a safe place where regular Christians like you and me can ask the tough questions, and then discuss them, respectfully, and with passion. You should visit sometime soon, really. The comments are soul-stirring and the conversation is, well, deep. And who doesn't care for a little Christian controversy every now and then?

Here's a snippet of today's post:

One year I was Raggedy Ann and another year I was a bunny. Mama put a set of pointy ears on my black-headed little brother, and he got to be Spock. She could whip up a costume for any of the four of us with a role of  aluminum foil, a skein of yarn, and her makeup caboodle. We’re from the country and went to very few parties, but I remember Halloween parties when the adults showed that they did indeed have imaginations. I remember everybody laughing so hard, letting their kid-selves out.


Then suddenly at church they started showing videos about the dangers of secular music, and people were talking often about Devil worshipers. A visiting preacher may have done the final trick, but one day Mama and Daddy sat us all down and broke the news. No more Trick or Treating.

Continue reading at A Deeper Story

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What We Made Wednesdays

We get a little crafty around here at times, and it's mostly so I can have some structure to the mornings Carter's not in preschool. It's good times, these quiet mornings. Baby naps and we sit outside, creating, spilling, wiping up, just generally making messes.

But they're good messes. 

And so begins my new posting series, every Wednesday. Whether in the kitchen, or on the patio, it's what we made. 

Today we made thank you cards.



Carter thought this one was hilarious--he painted a pink sun, green branches, a blue tree trunk and brown flowers--his version of silly!

the stamp I used for the text

so proud!
I know family members will cherish these cards, and prefer them over store-bought. And, it reinforces the principle of gratitude and the importance of saying thank you!

What you'll need:

-any kind of paint, we used both acrylic and children's paint
-paper plates, for dollops of paint
-paper towels
-cup of water (for cleaning fingers between color changes)
-white note cards (found mine at Joann's, and used a coupon for 30% off)
-thank you stamp

Saturday, October 22, 2011

happy birthday, my baby


 It was someone's first birthday yesterday.





And I may have gotten a bit all Sandra Lee up in this place. For the first time this calendar year, I didn't care about what guests ate [we ordered pizza], and concern for tablescapes [there's a squiggly red line under that word right now--modern English doesn't even recognize it] drove me to JoAnns for three four consecutive days. And while I will shamelessly confess, right here, right now, that, yes, I will be pinning my own crafty pictures up on Pinterest and I that I just might be hoping that they get the heck repinned out of them, this party really was about my precious son, Walker.

don't let the smile fool you, he was crying .01 seconds later


just a little swipe

grandparents and uncles


grandma
It was a good thing, to pause and to celebrate. 

A week ago, I was swimming in angst, wondering how it could be that Walker was turning one, wondering if I had been truly present with this one, if I had been enough. With Carter, I felt like every morning was Christmas. I'd wake up, run into his room and excitedly scoop him up, flooded with the most amazing feelings. With Walker, well, it's been a bit more rocky. It's taken me longer to find my footing, to get my sea legs. After he was born, all I wanted to do was to crawl into a dark cave with him, to sleep and to nurse and to sleep some more, oblivious to the outside world and not needed by anyone.

But there was no cave for baby and me.

Another little one needed me this time and I had to be a Mommy to him too.

My marriage needed me also, and apparently, God thought my story of healing needed me as well. Unexpected issues cropped up this past year, real things that demanded focused and intentional work. But I didn't want to be needed by those things. I didn't want to be needed by anyone else. I wanted the honeymoon back, the honeymoon I got with my firstborn. Back then, my world revolved around Carter, my days and nights and naps and outings, and I felt entitled to have that with Walker. And when I realized it would be different this time, resentment lighted on my soul and stayed for a while. 

My world, my landscape, had changed and so would have to my expectations.

When the demands of motherhood quickly revealed to me that the days would not belong solely to the baby, I determined that the nights would. Baby Wise stayed in the garage, unmarked and unreferenced this time around. I didn't care about sleep scheduling--he'd sleep through the night soon enough and I decided that when he cried, I'd answer him. I rocked this one to sleep some nights and held him longer, maybe even spoiling him, as the threat goes, but I needed to be close. The nights were ours and he slept in my bed those first several weeks, against the AAP's recommendations, where I could see him, hear him, nurse him and hold him.

I found ways to steal back the wonder.

It went too fast this time, too. With Carter, I was anticipating every benchmark, every milestone. I knew exactly what he should be doing at exactly what point in his development. With Walker, I just let him be a baby and when he rolled over at two three months, I thought,

Well, that was early...Wait, was that early? 

Baby Wise was still in the garage.

So he rolled over, and then he scooted at five months and then he crawled and stood and signed "more" and said mama [only when he cries] and dada [always when he hears the door chime] and started sleeping through the night at ten months and learned to pull his diaper off last week, all the while endearing a three year old and almost-thirty year old to him, awakening the Mama Bear in me like no other with every, "isn't he a bit small for his age?" comment at the grocery store.

And then he turned one.

Just like that. 

There's no stopping this trajectory of life and no stopping this force of time that keeps rolling forward, with or without our permission, unaffected by our readiness or lack of it.

And so I stop and wonder, God, was I truly present? 

And for the moments I was not enough, can you, will you be, please?

I don't expect perfection of myself, as a mom. Just as I aim to love my children with a pure and selfless love, fully aware of how far I fall short, I also rest in the comfort that God can, and will, use my failures to show himself to these boys.

I aim for love, and not perfection, and pray that God fills in the gaps. 

But every now and then, something will get under my skin and I'll stay up four nights in a row till college-late hours painting white pom poms because they weren't sold in green, hot gluing brown pipe cleaners to caterpillar heads, gluing, cutting, scrapping, baking, piping,

because sometimes, you need tangible proof that you do enough for the second kid. Sometimes, love stops everything and puts life on hold for several days so that your son's first birthday can be called special by you, by your camera, by the memory you'll forever hold.


I love you, Walker. 

Happy First Birthday.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

jeans and jean ladies

This whole childbearing thing does a number on your wardrobe. There are entire bins in my garage of I've-Put-On-A-Little-But-We-Haven't-Announced-Yet clothes, the Yes-I'm-Pregnant clothes, and then there are the I-Swear-It's-Not-Twins clothes, which are really just two pairs of sweats because you're hibernating at this point, praying to not be another day overdue. By the time you can fit back into your pre-preggo clothes, it's been a while, entire seasons have passed, and styles have changed.

And the re-entrance to the world of fashion can be a bit shocking to the system.

Apparently, while I was focused on getting enough DHA for two, waddling after a rambunctious toddler, having a baby without drugs, googling "symptoms of post-partum depression," diving into an obsession with hippie food, and transitioning to motherhood of two children,

some things

out there

have changed.

Like socks, for instance.

They can be fluorescent now. And they can conspicuously peek through sandals, over boots, or over shoes that are not called shoes, they're called shooties. Target told me so.

And nothing is supposed to match, which really throws me off because how do I know if it works, or not? Are the colors in my outfits mismatching enough? How do we measure these things now?

I finally got on board with skinny jeans, right before Little One implanted himself in my uterus. Two years later, I'm back in the jeans market and

flares are back.

Flares? That's so 1995, which was a throwback then to 1975.

[Is that the point?]

It's a brave new world out there, and the water's cold.

Two days ago, I ventured out to the mall, determined that the Two Reasons I had detoured from the fun of dressing up would hold me back no longer, plus I had a new jogging stroller to try out.

A double jogging stroller.

I could only get so far back into Baby Gap before I started knocking down hot pink backpacks, which was a clear sign that I needed to go to Mommy Gap to find new jeans. I was a bit optimistic and should have held my guard up, at least a bit longer. Shopping for jeans, especially when hips have been stretched and shrunk and re-stretched should be regarded with trepidation.

Eight no's later, I tried to sneak through the men's section to avoid the overeager sales associate that could speak GapJeans as if it were a second language. She found me, cut me off between cardigans and hoodies.


"So, nothing worked?"

"Well," I stammered, "I wasn't really a fan of the fit."

"The fit of all of them?"

"They were just...really skinny. Like, really tight. Too tight for me."

          [Could I play off some conservative card here? Surely, she wouldn't counter that.]

"Well, you know, they stretch throughout the day. "

And then she went into her morning routine, the shower, the jeans fresh from the dryer waiting for her on the stool, the hair regimen, the necessary calisthenics to get the jeans on, and then


"by the time I walk out the door, they're perfect.

After all, you don't want saggy bottom jeans, do you? Next thing you know, Stacy and Clinton will be sitting you down and you'll be on What Not to Wear."


And that's what she did, friends. She pulled the trump card, the consummate fashion nightmare--

she threatened me with What Not To Wear.

What she should have known, though, is that I've had two kids. And that while this transition to motherhood of two, along with this dabbling in PPD, this obsessive compulsion I have with organic food, this mad crazy husband I'm addicted to, this Jesus-life I have deep inside my belly, this stretching and shrinking of an every-changing, childbearing body--while these are the very reasons I have just one pair of decent jeans to my name,

they are also are the very reasons someone who speaks, and threatens, in GapJeans for a living can no longer intimidate me.

I smiled, no-thanked-you, and awkwardly wheeled my monstrosity of a stroller around the scarfed mannequins and I was onto the next store, will resolute, new-jeans-mission still standing.

It was the first attempt in a long time, treading these unfamiliar waters of What to Wear, and while the perfect pair of jeans may still allude me, I was happy to come home with the discovery of something even better:

those Store Ladies don't scare me anymore.





Sunday, October 2, 2011

just perfect

Some weekends, you get up early and everyone's ready to go and you spend an hour at the Home Depot buying stuff for your dream veggie garden.

Some weekends, you come back home and babies nap real long and you get dirty with your little buddy outside, digging up sod.

Some weekends, Auburn plays better than expected and pulls out a win for the husband.

Some weekends, everything you're in charge of at church goes well and you're not stressed, friends are hugged, new friends are made, and God gets the attention he deserves.

Some weekends, you walk outside and decide it's too nice to be cooking at home and you pack up the boys, walk to a nearby restaurant, practice juggling invisible things,



watch your boys entertain each other,



and just generally enjoy life and the ones you love.


Some weekends are just perfect.

Friday, September 30, 2011

the here and now

sun streams through disheveled blinds and i really should be cleaning now, not writing.

but the quiet, the quiet beckons and whispers that this moment belongs to words and not to dishes or counters or even bills. little lizard scampers across the screen, sun illuminating opaque body, and he pauses, barely long enough to cast his silhouette over the crumbles that rest on the obliging floors.

these floors, whose grout needs scrubbing and spots need rubbing. these floors, so pious from regular baptisms of cheerios, of kefir smoothies, of sticky banana and what's-left-of-our-art-projects. these floors, whose sweeping delays so much and i swear that twice a day is never enough. they only hold us up, these floors, and yet their state of cleanliness can manipulate my peace like no other. i fight the inward cursing when bare feet detect a foreign substance and the questions begin. what was that--the milk i only wiped up, but didn't yet mop? did baby spit up and i didn't notice?

instead of letting these floors hold us up, and nothing more than that, i let them indicate how well, or how poorly and i am in control of my life.

i can submit to the rhythm and routine, and realize that these floors will require extra attention for as long as they are hosting little ones. but wouldn't it be lovely if they were relegated to a more realistic status?

wouldn't it be freeing if these floors were just that--floors. nothing more than tiles and wood upon which we walk,

nothing more than a prop against the backdrop of the real living that goes on around here?

Monday, September 26, 2011

promises I can keep

Maybe it was that only 24 hours earlier he had broken his collar bone.

Maybe it was that we were both tired, our hearts drained from bearing the pain, one physical burden and the other, emotional.

Whatever the reason, tonight our spirits were raw, less entertained by our usual banter, slough scraped clear. Exposed.

It was late and I was driving Carter home. At an intersection we stopped and he pierced my thought-wanderings with this one:

Mommy, if you were here and you were lost and crying for me, I would come and find you. 

I looked around, black soup of night surrounding, anonymous, strange cars circling, and I absorbed the fear a little one might have of this place, of this time.


How brave, my little boy, promises of rescue to his mother. 

I thought I should reciprocate, try and channel his imagination away from fear and towards the security he deserves. 



Carter, if you were here and you were lost, Daddy and I would come and find you and bring you home, too. 

The promise did not redirect his emotions. Instead, he kept going, and I listened as the conditional turned to preterite, as the hypothetical ballooned into a vision of something that happened, that was happening even then.


Yeah, I was lost and I was crying and yelling your name and you were looking for me, and I was crying and calling for you, Mommy. 


And all the Mommy in me wanted to squelch this thing, these exhausted words slipping out from a wounded body that needed nothing more than a warm bed. But there was a caution in my spirit, a holy pause that said I should speak nothing more than the truth, even in my comfort,

that I should not make promises I cannot keep. 


So I did not tell him he would never get lost, that we would never be apart.

Carter, if you were lost, Daddy and I would search and search and search until we found you. We would not stop until we had you, baby. 


But, Carter, even if I am not with you, God is with you. Always, Carter. And he cares for you and will never leave you.

It was a tough thing, stopping to sit down in the middle of his terrible fantasy, long enough to feel the presence of every mother's nightmare. My stomach churns even as I write this. But it was important to me, establishing this difference. It was important to distinguish between the stuff of prayers and the stuff of promise.

My prayer is that my sons will never get lost in a mall or a dark place, will never rebel, will never lose faith. My prayer is that they never feel the cold winds of loneliness, the harsh stings of rejection, that they never feel insecure or unsafe.

But I know this world. And I know what's not guaranteed.


So I will declare the promises, and I will plead the prayers. 

I can promise that I will never stop searching, that I will always be on my way. My legs, my words, my heart, every spiritual and physical resource I have will always be running in the direction of my sons.

And I can promise that God is always with them. That he is the Immovable Constant, the Almighty Eagle under whose wings we are sheltered.

I know, too well, which protections we are not guaranteed. And I know, even better, what resurrection life looks like, deep inside the heart of a ransomed child, in the soul of one finally come home, rescued from her own lost wanderings, to the heart of Father God.

It was probably too deep, and most likely a result of ragged nerves, but we spoke truth tonight.

I pray he won't remember this conversation, that it'll be water under the bridge and we'll continue on our blissful journey of discovering the beauty and wonder of life.

But if ever a night draws near, if years pass and his heart loses his way, I pray he will hear the promise, that it will lead him back to Truth.


God is with you, Carter, and we are coming for you.

Always in pursuit, 

just as Love has never stopped his pursuit of us.



Sunday, September 11, 2011

at day's end


You've busied yourself with your work,



 it's important stuff, these tasks you carry,



and I see you, doing your best to balance relationships and responsibilities, 



and you hide your face when attempts fall short. 



Sometimes you feel you've succeeded with it all,



and sometimes, you just want to quit.


 I see you, there, oh busy one.



But at the end of the day, come home to Me. Find your way back to My presence, rest your head against my chest, and breathe deep the rest I alone can give.

Psalm 131


 1 My heart is not proud, LORD,
   my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
   or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
   I am like a weaned child with its mother;
   like a weaned child I am content.
 3 Israel, put your hope in the LORD
   both now and forevermore.

Friday, September 9, 2011

braver and bolder than this

Driving home yesterday, I thought about something that got me a little miffed.

And the more I thought about it, with the passing through each toll, the more I became comfortable in my discontent towards my husband. Strike after strike added up against him, until I had worked myself into an angry state.

By the time I got home, bless his heart, I had had an entire argument with him, in my head, and

he had no idea what was going on. 

"Are you mad at me?"

He caught on to the not-so-subtle attitude that followed every action, every inflection of my voice.

"Yep."

I replied.

"Care to let me in on it?"

And I knew, right there, that I had no real case to present. The minor infraction that had originally set me off was inconsequential. But by the time Neal confronted me, I had settled into the negative churning in my soul. There was no traction here--I didn't search for my anger's source to find the truth of the matter; I had simply stalled out.

And can I just be honest?


It felt good to be angry.

I can see how people stay this way--anger slips around the senses, creating a buffer between conscience and action, between self-evaluation and speech, fortified by pride in its agenda to keep you in the right, no matter what.

I felt empowered, I felt in control, and I stayed this way for longer than I'd care to admit.

The thing about settling into anger instead of working through it is that it doesn't make for a good night's sleep, it doesn't make for a good morning before work, and it sure doesn't set you up for good conversations at dinner.

Yes.

Dinner.

Tonight.

I had settled that long.

Finally, I repented, only after being prompted by a patient husband. And even then, I was only half sincere. I found myself still grasping for some illusive reason, something floating out there that might, at the last second, justify my piggish state. It was a bare-bones apology, skeletal in words, with no real conviction to bulk it up. But by the time I had put the boys down and had time to relinquish my pride, I had figured out what my true apology was all about.

"Neal,


what I did was cheap.


If I had had a real complaint, or something genuinely wrong to bring up with you,


then I should have been braver and bolder than the tantrum I just threw.

I'm sorry."


Because that's what real marriage requires.

Two partners, braver and bolder than selfish retreats to anger, fighting hard to draw closer,

leaving behind lines drawn in the sand.





Wednesday, August 17, 2011

the blessing and the response

We sit together, he, not quite reaching the table and I, with our bowls full of lunch before us. The three year old reaches for a piece of curly pasta and my hand stops it before it enters his mouth.

"Carter, we always have to pray before we eat."

"Why?"

"Because..."

I feel my theology start to wobble.

"Because God has given us this food. Because not everyone has food like this and we need to tell God we're thankful for it."

It was simple enough for him. He can accept things because-I-say-so, most of the time. My words don't have to earn their authority or be tested for accuracy.

But not so with me, with this wrestling spirit of mine.

(Sometimes) I don't know why we are to thank God for our food.

(Sometimes) I wander along the trail a three year old's questioning might follow. If God has given us this food, and there are hungry children in Africa, then does that mean that God is not giving them food?

I don't stay there for long, though. I've worked through that one before, and phrases like "free will" and "fallen world" have helped me to land in a place I feel is theologically accurate, and simultaneously heartbreaking.

We have food, but that doesn't mean that God favors us over them. 

They don't have food, but that doesn't mean God loves them any less. 

I wrestle with the word blessed because, too often, it's used as a justification to do nothing.

"We are just so blessed"

grates on my over-analytical, hypersensitive, prone-to-guilt nerves

because I can't help but hear, over the cadence of those words,

we are favored, 

we are chosen, and

[we'll never say this aloud] 

we just might deserve this, this food, these blessings. 

Carter and I thank God for our food. And I do believe He is the Giver of all things good.

But when thoughts turn to South Africa and her devastating drought, or to Somolia and her outbreak of cholera,

I refuse to quiet the discomfort with pithy phrases of passivity. My status of plenty and the African mother's status of destitution are merely starting points, one could argue, assigned to us by God. But that's all they are--starting points--and nothing in scripture affirms that I am to use my status of

blessed 

to justify doing nothing.

We thank God for our food.

And then we pray for Hawi, in Nigeria, that his health improves. Carter prays for Toussant, in Haiti, that God would help her to find her parents. We send them money. And we look at globes and talk of hungry bellies and sharing and the stuff of empathy.

I am humbled when I look at my bowl of pasta.

And I don't feel as much blessed as I do responsible.

What will I do with my plenty? What will I do with my blessings? Can I break away long enough from my love-affair with stuff to hear the quiet whispers of the Spirit,

calling me,

beckoning me,

to gaze into the eyes of my invisible sisters,

to extend my hand, across the wide divide between my plenty and their nothing,

to have faith, to believe that

my pursuit of fashion and materialistic trappings is nothing more than a fleeting mirage

and that these women,

I may never meet them, 

are more real than I know.

Our starting points may be worlds apart indeed,

but before each meal, with the utterance of each simple child's prayer, with each pause between impulse and purchase, and with every effort to not become calloused by the overwhelming need,

may our ending points become closer and closer

until one woman's plenty

and another woman's nothing

meet

and the Giver of good things is praised.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

if I were anonymous

I've struggled with this blogging deal lately {if two or three months can be considered "lately"}

and the best way I can describe my feelings towards blogging is

soured.

There's risk, I know, when one decides to write about her past, about secrets most hold tight to their chests. And there's risk when you share your deep-seated convictions about God or motherhood.


But I surprised myself a few months ago when a well-intentioned email made its way to my inbox in response to one of my posts, winning the prize for being the most {to date} off-based judgment of me, and it hurt. I thought, by now, I was impervious to that kind of pain.

But I'm not.

I'm still very much human.

That wound has put a {pause} between thought and typescript, between what's deep inside and what shows up on screen.

It's made me wonder what I would write about if I were anonymous, without the risk of rejection from

sharing too much,

getting too deep,


taking the stance too controversial,

                    or too narrow-minded.

What would it be like to write without hesitation, without the haunting presence of my invisible audience, hovering over shoulders, whispering and reacting as I click, click, click on the keyboard, and there goes the [backspace]

[and we strike a sentence or post or four]

for fear of being misunderstood, for fear of rejection, for fear of falling flat in this

alternate network or writers, of sojourners, of friends and strangers whose search engines and links and blogrolls find us each at each others cyber-place.

If I were anonymous, 

I would write about my struggles in ministry, about the disillusionment and discouragement my husband I and have to work through.

If I were anonymous,

I would write more about how I wrestle with this becoming the mother,

and the requisite laying down of dreams,

the fear of losing myself to sippy cups forever, and the Resentment I feel sometimes, followed by her bestie, Guilt.

If I were anonymous,

I would write about how I still, how I will always, wrestle with the stuff I have, the life I have, the comfort that is 7,128 miles away from destitution, injustice, rape, and oppression; 7,128 miles away from the mothers who cannot feed their babies in Sudan.

Until I can come up with courage, or the justification, to write about these things that press on my soul, I may not be able to find the middle ground. I've crossed a threshold, one that craves an honest answer and less platitudes, one that demands that what I write is in sync with the state of my soul.

My soul is wrestling right now; my heart has been quieted. 

And so may fall this blog, for a time.

Because the truth is, no one can have both the comfort of community and the license of anonymity. What we write and say and do has impact, both in our daily lives and here, in front of these screens.

So, I must sieve and sort and thresh these forces, this Self-Protection and this Authenticity, as they drive at each other, fighting for the better part of me.

I will find a way to write, with conviction,

just as I am,

to write as if I were anonymous fully knowing I am not.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

free healing resources!


Last January, I got up on stage at church and shared my story of healing from sexual abuse

{it's on the side bar of this blog}.

I should have known that with the current stat's on abuse--1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men-- this would hit home for many, many people.

But I was still surprised,

shocked,

devastated,

when the emails came pouring in.

It's one thing to come to terms with a number, with a percentage; it's an entirely different thing

to hear the details,

to relive the heartache,

to assign a broken heart and a beautiful soul to each story that claims

it happened to me, too.

So, I threw together some resources that have helped me on my healing journey and created a new page on my blog dedicated to practical steps the sojourner can take towards soul-health.

I'm so PUMPED to share that a couple of the resources are being offered for free, right now!

Mary DeMuth's audio series, Get Past the Past, is awesome. The principles she offers are universal to each person's healing journey and yet, she still seems so personal. It's a series of 6 podcasts that I paid $30 for.

You can subscribe to her ezine and get all of them for free! 

She's also offering her 95-page ebook Live Uncaged when you sign up for her ezine as well.

So, what's holding you back??

Healing resources + Free = Get started TODAY! 


I love ya'll, I believe in you,

April

Thursday, July 14, 2011

after the long silence, a guest post by my mother

My mom is my hero.

she's pretty, too

Thirty-six years ago, she made a courageous, counter-cultural decision when one too many pink lines appeared on the tell-tale stick. She was only two years distanced from Roe vs. Wade, and one year from graduation, and yet she bravely chose to carry her daughter and then place her in the arms of a loving couple that couldn't conceive on their own. Hers joins the ranks of stories seeping with beauty and heartache, of stories that speak of One who can redeem all.

Here's a bit from her latest post. Click on the link below to read the rest of her beautiful story...

Music to My Ears

Sometimes it doesn't matter what a loved one is saying. Just the mere sound of their voice and their near presence is enough.

Like Whitney Houston's 80's song, So Emotional where she sings,

"When you talk I just watch your mouth. "

Rather, "When you talk I just hear the sounds."

It could be a spouse taking time to converse. It could be a child, grown or small recounting seemingly insignificant bits of their day. Or an old friend dredging up shared histories; bringing to life experiences that seemed all but buried and forgotten.

In this case, it was the sound of her 36 year old voice. Lost once for 33 years, then lost for 3, and back again last week. Hearing her voice on the other end of the phone was truly...

Music to my ears.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

happy father's day

he's goofy

he's tender

he's hands-on

he's playful

he's their Daddy and I couldn't have hoped for a better father to my sons

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

how's the healing going?

We meet early.

Like, 5:55 a.m., pillow wrinkles still embedded in cheeks, did-you-sleep-at-all-last-night? early.

We grab our coffee and head to my patio, books tucked under arm, my baby's monitor in hand. And before the sun rises to reveal backyard toys, overgrown grass and the latest art project drying and draped over a chair,

we begin to talk of healing.

My friend, my dear friend of A Thousand Sorry's, and I are reading and working through Dan Allender's book and workbook, The Wounded Heart. We're completing one chapter a week and then we meet to talk about what we wrote, what we reflected on, and a few hundred other diversions equally important. Like, how our history of abuse plays out in our marriages. How it plays out in unhealthy coping mechanisms and serious character flaws. How we hope to change, but can't seem to.  For my friend and I, Dan Allender's material has been good on an individual basis, but used between two friends or in a group, it's exponentially more powerful.

Our times of meeting have become a place of safety, a place of deep soul confession and insight, a place that welcomes the Spirit of truth to stop in, settle down and rest a minute and then lead us to places flesh cannot go. And it's been good.

So, my dear friends, I'd love to ask you--

how's your healing going?

What are you doing to pursue wholeness? What steps are you taking on your journey?

That's all I got!

I'd love to hear from you, I really would.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Irish Jesus, suburban Jesus



We quietly walked into the store, could be we made up half its occupants. We browsed the CDs, recognizing none of the artists, and then we headed to the back where a greying man with a scruff that begged scratchy grandpa kisses recommended we pick up David Grey's White Ladder album if we were wanting something distinct and upandcoming and native to this land.

It was just barely 2000, fog rolling over the grey dates of March, and we were in Ireland.

So HighSchoolFriend and I purchased the CD, boarded the tour bus that held the rest of our chorus group, that held too many freshmen boys who cared nothing of this emerald country, her history and sounds, her people nervous about transitioning to the Euro, her smog-filled streets of Dublin,

her enchantment.

We finished our sight seeing that day, exchanged full rolls of film for fresh ones, hoping for pictures in focus, pictures that captured Tim singing Oh Danny Boy with 90 year old native on the side of the road, pictures of sheep spray-painted fluorescent colors demarcating ownership, pictures of the brown lamb scooped up in my arms, coastal cliffs in blurry background, and we then piled into our modern hotel that promised the next century would be oh-so-cool.

And the reason we bought a CD that day was to use the trendy CD player installed in our hotel room.

The rest of the stay, those next four days, David Grey sang to us, morning and night, while rising and makeuping, while choosing whattowear, and then while peeling the day's adventure away for a night's rest.

Ireland now had her soundtrack, a musical accoutrement to her sights and impressions, to her faces and foods, to the adventures she'd lend me. And beyond those literal moments, these songs created memory space around the girl I was, the woman I was becoming.

The soul searches for continuity, for something that can tie the stories of a bright-eyed seventeen year old to the stories of a (happily) tired mother of two.

And I see some constants, some, against the glaring changes of eleven years. The heart is more weathered, pangs of disillusionment have replaced naivete. The heart is more full, loneliness and longing replaced by the friendship and love of one breathtaking man. And the heart is the same, still breaking away from common paths to discover hidden ones, still getting lost along the way, still craving silence and nature and horse rides over shopping, early morning runs to castles over sleeping in. 

But the most constant thing between my present and my Ireland is not David Grey, is not my stories, is not the aspects of my personality unchanged.

The tie between then and now is Jesus.

He was there with me on that tallest mountain, fog rolled in, whispering through wisps of hair the glory of risk as we scaled the cliff, trail long lost. He was as oxygen as we traveled through humble villages, infusing me with an excitement to breathe it all in, with an invitation to revel in the majesty of rolling hills, of freckled faces, of the diversity of creation. He was with me when I shared my story with my hotel roommate, making for a total of five who knew then, inviting me to ministry, to love, to scrape away false strength in exchange for vulnerability, even when healing's not complete, and only just begun.

And Jesus, the same Jesus who met me on the mountain, who met me in the streets and in the pub, whose presence held me tight even on that hormone-filled, obnoxiously immature tour bus, is the Jesus of Here and Now.

The adventure is not as sensational, no one begs to see the scrapbook of a stay-at-home-mom whose days are filled with cooking and playing and reading and nursing, but the risk, the love of life, and the ministry are all open invitations still standing, still calling me to answer.

It's different now, it sure is different.

But He's not.

God of Ireland, God of now, you are my constant, 
you are the continuity of my story. 
You are Jesus, the same yesterday, today and forever.





Friday, May 13, 2011

my husband has married eight other people

That is, he's performed four marriage ceremonies.

You were thinking we went all Big Love, weren't you?

I thought for all my ranting about becoming a pastor's wife, I should share with you one of the highlights--

my husband gets to marry people.

Tonight we spent two hours with a couple, the guy we've known for years. We had met him fresh out of his divorce, still reeling from the pain and the let down. He impressed us with his goat-cheese-and-raspberry-relish-stuffed-pastries that he brought to our home team Monday nights, immediately placing himself in high demand. And she? She's too cute. Like, cupcake cute. As in, could-there-be-anything-wrong-with-you cute? They're both PA's. They both love Jesus. They have a great story.

So, they came over tonight to talk wedding details, but I had a better plan.

I decided to test their working relationship right here in our home. So I sliced my right index finger. Bad. Blood-splatter-on-the-wall bad. Just as they were on their way over.

So the first twenty minutes of our time together consisted of them, literally working hand in hand, stitching up a profusely bleeding digit.

            {I let Carter watch and his first words were, "Mommy, I'm so very proud of you!" Enter heart-melt-age here.}

They were even cute then, with their medical suture jargon, her debating steri-strips or gauze?

So, one "U-stitch" later, we sat down with coffee and leftover goat cake

this is what I get for ordering raw milk and generally going crazy about food for three months

and talked

wedding

vows

procession

honeymoon plans

kids-in-the-future?

work stress

anticipation

worry

love.

And Neal gets a front-row seat. We get the privilege of being brought in close, close enough to pray, close enough to listen,

close enough to rejoice.

God is doing good things, even now. 

Two friends, four cups of coffee, and one bandaged finger later is proof.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

on dreams deferred


When asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I didn’t answer this.

When thoughts turned to words scribbled in hot pink journals, I didn’t pen this.

When dreams manifested as goals, as steps to take, as a path to follow, I didn’t chose this.

But God did.

My husband is a pastor.

And I am a pastor’s wife.

I saw us Somewhere Else when my husband and I were just dating, just dreamers, when the world lay before us. He would go into business and my calling was advocacy—I would become the next Erin Brockovich, or Mother Teresa, or Condoleeza Rice. I would fight and bleed and give voice to those who had none.  My major, my networking, our move, it all lined up with my dream and my husband fully supported me.

And then God called him.

I was there.

Right beside him, Bible hugged to chest, bare toes digging through matted apartment carpet. Something inside him broke, some hidden current, nameless and unsuspecting. The dam burst forth and he wept and dreams and desires found words and labels and a way to rise to the surface and become part of the conversation. 

And as if we were part of some holy cosmic game, people and opportunities aligned within months, without our doing.  A mighty hand maneuvered us to the place of vocational ministry,

serving the local church,

pastor and pastor’s wife.

I wrestled and I surrendered. It was no new thing, this request by God to lay down my Isaac for his will. I had seen it, lived it, before so I knew the drill. I would fight him. I would cry. I would submit.

And then I’d know the fellowship of obedience.

The fellowship that is sweeter than any passion that pulses through my veins, more real than the dark children who call my name from across the sea, from across the socio-economic lines of our city. 

I’m learning now that my heart was probably too soured by prejudice towards white, middle-class suburbia to be of good use to a loving God.  I’m learning that I had infused my God-given dreams with a prideful agenda and had made them about me and the identity I so desperately wanted.  

I’m learning how to love those who look like me, who have no physical need, whose wounds are deep and hidden, whose façades of perfection are convincing and deceptive.   I’m learning how to discern and meet the needs of my family, of my community.  I’m experiencing the thrill, the rich satisfaction, of the journey towards selfless.

I’m a pastor’s wife and I’m walking in the footsteps of another person’s dream.

But my God is good.

My God is here.

And knowing him in this is better than the fulfillment of something forced, something worked out by the determination of my independent will.

Years ago, I would be expecting God to intervene and make a way for me.  Years ago, I would be watching the clock, impatiently holding up my end of the bargain, expecting the reward of what I’ve claimed to come my way. But I know better now.

God owes me nothing.

Not even my dreams.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

because I want my son to know where food comes from; because I want my son to delight in the Creator

the pony's name was Alabama (we believe that stands for Auburn, AL)

"is that a horse?"

goat got her head stuck in the fence


the kiss--his idea

two seconds later, mouth full of dirt