Tuesday, March 29, 2011

walker meets the sea

We went to the beach last week.

It was the baby's first time.

He was slathered with sunscreen, but there was less than precedent called for; he wore a hat but it didn't match; he had no special sticker indicating the amount of UV exposure on his chubby left arm;

this is the blessing of Second Time Around--a little more relaxed we've become...

We took pictures, but he won't remember.

He couldn't know that the ocean is where his mother meets her God. 

That she grew up close to the sea, brought home from the hospital to a tiny apartment on 16th Street, right off of Balboa Boulevard in Newport Beach. That her headbands were used for structural support in castles made of sand. That her pale skin was once bronzed; that she rocked the hottest diaper tan.

He couldn't know that later, her mother and brothers would have to wind through the Santa Monica mountains, breaths held as they passed over the mountain's crest, first view of the ocean falling on excited eyes trying to discern whether the fog would lift, whether the sun would come out to play.

He wouldn't know that she was the one who persuaded her camping friends to leave their tents on the beach for a dew-soaked night sleeping under the stars, sea spray matting down 12-year-old hair, smearing mascara that shouldn't have been there.

He won't be able to picture the iridescent blue-green glow, radiating from broken waves that night. He won't hear their crash and the lightening-like charges of light that flew across the foam for one joyous invitation to listen in on God laughing.

He couldn't know that nine years ago his father took an ocean-sick girlfriend away from Tallahassee's hills to the Gulf to invite her to join him as lover and friend for the rest of their lives. Or, that their honeymoon would be had overlooking the ocean in Barbados; or that three years later her Grief-Consummate would manifest on a hilltop overlooking the Pacific, where her uncle would breathe his last as she stood at his bedside.

He will hear about it, but won't be able to fathom the very experience that ushered him into this world. That God would whisper to his mother the morning before his birth,

I will be with you in deep waters.

That she would find each contraction present like the commanding waves of Zuma. That she would take a deep breath, dive into its power and then emerge, tired and weary and grasping for rest before the next wave. That fear would never own her, that she would let herself go to the ancient rhythms of childbirth, promise in hand, God standing by.

Death and life and promise and grief, have all been met by the sea.

God speaks of his majesty, of his forever-ness through the endless horizons. He says,

"you are but dust"

with the sand that creeps between the toes. He says,

"I am Big"

with the stretch of water from the shore to where it meets the sky. He says,

"I know you"

when happenstance finds me, again, at the shore, for a time of celebration or mourning. He knows I meet him there, he knows I worship at the water. And he keeps bringing me back.

Walker met the sea last week, for which I am glad.

But my heart's cry is that he meet its Maker, the Grand Designer of it all. The call may not come through the roar of a breaking wave, but may it come, loud and strong, until my son is brought to the feet of the One who knows him best.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One more reason to heal...

dieting four year old from Oprah's show
I'm a girl outnumbered, and it's always been that way.

From the age of four when I noticed the swell in my mom's belly, I started praying for a little sister, and after that, a little sister, and the next time, a little sister and surely this last time, I would get a little sister.

And God, in his glorious and perfect will, gave me

a little brother,

a little brother,

a little brother,

and another little brother.

I love those guys, all taller than me now, with a fierce loyalty and I miss not the sister I thought I wanted.

My house is now also decidedly blue, with the testosterone of a manly man, the antics of a mischevious son and the gurgles of one baby boy all crashing and colliding and making for one crazy happy home.

We are open to having a third. [I am open to having a fourth.] And if God ever decides to send some pink my way, I've found just one more reason to heal:

for the sake of a daughter.

Moms, if you don't think yourself worthy to heal, if you fear the pain that will inevitably arise on the journey, if you sense the inconvenience of it all and rationalize that the past is the past and that you are simply too busy to face your demons, I beg you

if not for you, for your daughter.

In April 2006, Oprah featured three mother-daughter couples, including a makeup-obsessed three year old and a dieting four year old. The mothers thought their girls just picked up their poor self-esteem from preschool. The mothers also revealed their own struggles with body image and pain from their own pasts.

There is a direct correlation.

Your daughter may be healthy and secure and happy. A regular Ashley Mayer, I'd call her (the daughter of our lead pastor--freakishly confident and beautiful). And that's wonderful. Your daughter may struggle with an eating disorder or a poor self-image. And that's not to say it's your fault. We do live in a fallen world and we're assailed with lies, yes, as early as preschool.

But if you've been made aware of your own pain

and if you've dismissed it because it's too big and too scary and there are no easy answers to be had,

maybe you should take another look.

Maybe you should allow yourself to grieve, to speak aloud the horrible truths and then receive comfort from the Divine Counselor. If courage is lacking, maybe not for yourself. Maybe you take this leap, this time,

for the sake of your daughter.

Friday, March 18, 2011

heaven sounds delicious

Who needs trinity theology when you have a three year old to explain it all:

"Mommy, God makes chocolate and Jesus makes chocolate chips and Jesus gives God chocolate chips."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

kick plates and birds and silly, silly girls

 For the past two weeks, we've had a little bird come and knock at our door.

She perches on the step, as close to the brass kick plate as she can get and she pecks away.

Carter has taken up his father's response. Throws his arms up in the air and runs toward the door to shoo the bird away.

She doesn't bother me.

Silly is all she is. Pecking away at her own reflection. Not knowing that there is nothing on the other side, just an image of one pecking back. Some kind of illusion of company, I guess. The kick plate is strong--aged and brassy, came with the door, with the house. The only damage I fear is that of her own brain stuff.

So I shoo her away too.

I think of the times I perched in front of my own mirror and all I could do was peck. I saw this flaw and this didn't measure up and this certainly didn't look like the girls in the magazines. Jesus stood in the window, curtain pulled back, head shaking at the sight of my silliness. He, too, feared for my brain stuff and tried to shoo me away from my mirrors, from the condemning voices inside.

Together, Jesus and I unsubscribed to Delia's (a superskinny tween catalog I got back in the 90's) and we talked of real beauty. I read a [Christian] book or two that told me I Was Really Beautiful and used scripture to prove it. I stopped pretending to be a vegetarian for the socially acceptable excuse it lent me to eat only a bowl of rice for dinner. I started eating red meat. I asked Jesus to make me feel beautiful.

And I think he appreciated those efforts, just as I'm relieved when my silly bird flies away.

But then she comes back. And I would come back, too. To the image, to the question of beauty, to the insatiable longing to know if I had measured up.

I think the cause of my insanity is the mirror I have been choosing. I've continued to place myself at the threshold of Me, to test whether I measure up to Me and My Standards. I've used Jesus and his merciful healing, my husband's adoration, the warmth of community and the value gained from blessing others all to serve as answers to My Own Selfish Quest.

I was never meant to stand before myself. I was not given the capacity to contain the answers to my own questions of identity. The first and only place for me is before a Broken King.

When I stand before Jesus, my ugliness is apparent. Concerns over acne or weight or fashionable clothes fade to gray when my self centeredness and rebellious pride present themselves.

Before Jesus, I fail miserably. No amount of pity or worldly rationale can remove the deficit.

And before Jesus, I'm declared loved and worthy and highly esteemed. No amount of good makeup or expensive jeans or worldly praise can contribute to this revelation.

So the answer, then, is not to stand before my own mirror and chant, "I'm beautiful. I'm beautiful." There has to be a fundamental change. There has to be more of him and less of me, an exchange of standards and value systems and definitions.
Jesus needs to be my Mirror.

I want to look upon him and love him. I want to look upon him and be changed. I want to look upon him and lose myself in him, no longer condemning myself but also not trusting in my own esteem.

This silly girl needs to fly away home. The kick plate has lost its luster and the heart aches for something more secure, more complete. 

Jesus, you and you alone are Beauty. Let me lose myself in you.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

new page on my blog!

After this, I told you I would write more about my journey of healing.

Here's my start-- a new page on my blog with resources and a [tiny] spiel.



Thursday, March 10, 2011

it happened to me

I've been blogging for two and a half years and have never referenced it.

I wrote about it here and here (same article) this past month, and intentionally chose to not link it up with this site.

I even got up on stage, in front of 300 people, and talked about it for fifteen minutes.

And yet, I couldn't bring myself to share it with this platform.

           Funny how familiarity breeds risk; how anonymity creates a sense of safety. 

The truth is, there are family members and childhood friends who read this blog and I know that.

My fear and my shame know that.

The truth is, this one isolated event has impacted my life significantly, far more than I realize, I'm now learning.

The truth is, I wrestle with its ramifications regularly. It spills over into my relationship with God, into the dynamics that play out in my marriage, into my self-image and my control issues.

When this blog has fallen silent, I've probably been in the throes of its effects. Posts have been edited, all allusions censored. I've literally put an entire part of my person-hood on mute.

The truth is, I'm tired of carrying a burden of shame that doesn't belong to me.

The truth is, I was molested.


There are those my story may help [stats say one in four girls, one in six boys]. I plan to write more about my journey of healing as I go forward.

But for now, in this moment, this post is about walking away from the shame, declaring it will own me no more.

It happened to me.


{For the record, it was no one anyone knew. I spoke about it here, if you want a listen.}

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Shameless Promotion

I might have a rant or two tucked away in my heart's queue, ever-ready for sharing, when it comes to Children's [Christian] Books I Don't Like. One thing I can't stand is ethnocentrism. It's 2011 and we have archeology and anthropology and the internet all shouting to us, undeniably, that Jesus Wasn't White. So, if you want a spot on my son's bookcase, you better be historically accurate with your illustrations. The other thing I'm currently wrestling with is the violence of the Old Testament. I get plot. I love stories. But I don't know how to reconcile reading OT Bible stories to my son with teaching him biblical truths of forgiveness and love and obedience. So, I just flinch when Carter's music teacher candy-coats violent OT stories and I avoid them at home. 
With those two obstacles, Christian children's books have been having a hard time making the cut.

Until this one.

The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago

The illustrations are award-winning. Tawny and bronzed, clad in robes and turbans, the characters on these pages actually seem to hail from the Middle East.

But it's the Story, the theology that flows within and throughout each individual story, that captures my heart and loyalty. My descriptions will fall short, so here's a listen to some of the actual text:

Creation: "But all the stars and the mountains and oceans and galaxies and everything were nothing compared to how much God loved his children. He would move heaven and earth to be near them. Always. Whatever happened, whatever it cost him, he would always love them. And so it was the wonderful love story began..."

The Fall: "Eve picked the fruit and ate some. And Adam ate some, too. And a terrible lie came into the world. It would never leave. It would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God's children: 'God doesn't love me.'" 

The Garden of Gethsemane: (Grab a tissue. My favorite.) "'Papa! Father!' Jesus cried. And he fell to the ground. 'Is there any other way to get your children back? To heal their hearts? To get rid of the poison?' But Jesus knew--there was no other way. All the poison of sin was going to have to go into his own heart. God was going to pour into Jesus' heart all the sadness and brokenness in people's hearts. He was going to pour into Jesus' body all the sickness in people's bodies. God was going to have to blame his son for everything that had gone wrong. It would crush Jesus."

The Pentecost: "As they waited, they were praying and remembering--remembering how, from the beginning, God had been working out his Secret Rescue Plan...inside their hearts, they felt a strange heat, almost as if the coldness and hardness were melting away. As if their broken hearts were mending. And God was giving them brand new hearts--hearts that could work properly." 

If you have children, you need this book. Carter and I read it every Sunday morning, before church (so Mommy can model to him that church is more than The Day Mommy Actually Puts on Makeup). If you don't have children, you need this book. Beth Moore (I heart you!) can move over--this book could compete with the most inspired devotionals for a spot on your bedside.

If you've stale-mated in your connection with God, go and buy this book. You'll fall in love with the pictures and poetry, and hopefully, more importantly, the Person of Jesus.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

miss you

Driving down the road today, two boys in tow, a warm breeze hit my face and took me, for just a moment, to times less complicated.

The Eagles rock out something about girls and California as we drive my beloved PCH. It stretches before us for miles and miles, salty wind runs through strands of wannabe blonde hair and we, we sit side by side with much to say and nothing at all.

We were driving to Santa Barbara. A wine tour through the Santa Inez Valley and dinners at mom and pop restaurants, bicycle rides on the beach and cigar walks on the sand, comfy pillows and alarms unplugged  awaited us, but the road is what I miss.

I miss the lack of agenda. The lack of deadlines (if not for a few days), the lack of watch-checking and babysitter-fee-calculating. I miss getting away to dream. To love. To be. Without the pressure of trying to catch up on words and sleep. I miss the world that was ours alone, the selfish love we indulged in for years before God gave us our babies. 

I love my boys, my baby and my son-turned-pirate, and I eat and breathe and live and sleep their needs, their wants, their joys and sorrows. My life is richer and fuller than ever before because they're here and because I'm their mother.

But with the catch of the warm breeze today, with the catch of his eye this morning, I'm left wanting more of us. Just us.