warning lessons

In college I was in one of those relationships where you both become awful versions of yourself. We clearly, should not have been together, but at the time it wasn’t actually so clear. I kept hearing from my friends, mentors & family members that he wasn’t a good match for me, that I was changing, and how unhealthy our ‘romance’ was. The people I valued before him, and whose opinions I would care about after him, all had a similar voice- “end it”. At the time, in my ‘fog’ I felt offended. I found myself defending little things he did, over explaining to people ‘what it really meant/or was really like’, nit-picking the details and never actually seeing the whole picture for what it was. I was persistent in protecting what we had, even when it was harming myself (and those around me). I learned life changing lessons from dating this guy. I learned loyalty is a core part of who I am. I learned that I love hard, and would spend many nights crying over those who didn’t also. I learned the kind of person I wanted to be and the guts of who I should marry. We inevitably had a nasty break-up, I had wounds for years after and have a hard time even liking people with his same name.

broken-time

There were warnings though, there were people who I trusted, I valued their opinions and loved much more than him that I never listened to. They had the same voice and the same message. I learned if everyone around me is echoing the same words, there is likely a truth I don’t see, it is time to pay attention. This ‘warning lesson’ has kept me from many painful things and unhealthy decisions as an adult, wife and mother. This is how I feel when black men are killed. This is how I feel when rapists walk free, and other injustices sweep our neighborhoods. There is an echo, a story with the same plot, and people who I will continue to love after the presidential election who have the same voice rising up. There is a truth here that has gone unseen and it is time to pay attention. Let’s not stay in this relationship, defending it when it’s harming us, nit-picking the details of each death, and giving loyalty to what won’t love us in the end. It is time.

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Run, run…

The story of the prodigal son, elder brother and father is full of beautiful highlights of who God is, who we are and what our relationship looks like. There is however one point that has been sitting on my shoulders like a fancy bluebird.

The father; an elder, land owner, master of slaves, head of household, dignitary, and a leader. When his youngest, ungrateful (spoiled, frustrating, immature) son returns home after he has thrown away all of his early inheritance (on prostitutes and drinking), let’s focus on what the father does, he runs to him. I’ve heard this one moment used time and time again to illustrate how God the Father looks at His own returning (spoiled, frustrating, immature) children. He gladly accepts us, as the runaway we were, to the reconciled child. He gives us his riches, his title, access to his land, his food, his robe and throws a party on our behalf! Wahoo, welcome home! But there is one more thing he does, and it is something I never do.

Truly, never. Even when I am in emergencies, I lean towards a light jog, or a tiny stutter with my feet but I never run. I may skip or even hop, but there is no running. No, I am not a runner. It’s partially my pride. I’ve seen people who look really bad doing it, they are all sweaty and their body parts are bouncing with panic that gravity may win this battle. So, naturally, I quickly rationalize that would be me. Totally unattractive and ridiculous. And sweaty but not in a cute ‘I’m a fitness model’ way, more like an agressive sprinkler system without a timer. And before you think too lowly of me there are other reasons too. I have asthma, I prefer the water, I am pregnant, and I have boobs but if we’re being honest, it’s largely my pride. Largely, being the key word. But this owner, master and dignified leader runs to his son.

He picks up his robe by the hem, kicks off his sandals, throws down his walking stick and charges at his son, who mind you, ‘was still a way off’. Which is a fancy way of saying, this dude was far away. He chooses to run, in front of his slaves, his eldest son, and for a while too. What?! But you’re a land owner, a slave master, a dignified man with morals and a certain level of sophistication to keep up. And you’re not young either, oh my pride is writhing inside of me!

Our God is the running God. He laid down His dignity, He kicked off His throne and titles, He pushed aside His sophistication and societal morals and said ‘You’re here! You’re finally here, I am coming!’.

The running God. Imagine Him; covered with sand and dirt, sweaty, unashamed, quite ridiculous and charging at you from far away. He saw a speck of you, a glimpse of your profile and took off running!

The running God, don’t be confused anymore about Who He is or what He is like. He has no pride and will gladly gallop, tramp, skip, hop, dance, sing, shout and run to make you feel welcome in His home.

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Storms

I had one of those conversations with my best friend that sets you straight. You know the kind, brutal honesty with a touch of “I totally feel you”. Anyway, she is a gem. As I shared, aka complained and whined about the season my husband and I were heading into with his new job. How hard it was going to be, how little we would see him and on and on. She said caringly, “whoa sounds like a storm is coming. The wind is picking up, the thunder is rolling in, the lightening is making bright strides across the sky, and the waves are rocking you steadily more and more” she continued. I smiled because it clicked. I remembered a story about Jesus and his disciples, on a boat in the midst of a storm. His friends were so mad because he was just chilling, sleeping below deck. I mean hello, a little help Creator God! Ha, he comes up and hushes the storm. I’ve cursed a storm but never hushed one. And poof, quiet, calm, eased. She reminded me, while sympathizing with my moment. We know what to do when a storm is coming, when all the elements around us point to danger. Take a nap! Rest. Relax. Chiiiiiiiill. Jesus can hush a storm and he is in this boat, my marriage, my family, and my upcoming craziness. We tend to believe anything hard is not holy, and that is not the case. God is still God, our seasons, weather and situations will change…but He will not. Be encouraged friends. The storm is controlled by a good God, amen.

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messy

Last night was hard…fighting those voices that say awful things about your life. They usually come and go, but last night they lingered longer than usual. In all transparency, it took all I had to get off the guest room floor and get back into our bed.

Because I was all the feels: pissed, hurt, confused, and sad.

Change is hard, this in-between time is ugly but the seasons come and go and leave remnants of what once was. What once was…we were once young and dumb. We were once, rebellious and cynical. We were once with money and twice without.

But seriously though.

Coming back to Winston-Salem seems new. A new apartment, new job prospects, new perspectives and we’re a new version of ourselves. But so much has not changed. So many things remained the same while we left to re-set ourselves. So who do we become now? Old habits, old friendships, old churches, old stories and an old ‘us’ is here with open arms, holding a ‘Welcome Back’ banner to life as we knew it. Actually there is no banner or parade, life is not such.

But we’re not those people anymore. I wanted to say ‘we’re not those kids’ because *whew* we’ve grown up but who am I kidding we’re still mostly young and sort of dumb.

We agreed, before the long haul back, that new foundations were necessary for us to grow into who we want to be, but changing a foundation is hard work. It means a million tiny pieces of what previously held you up- being crumbled, broken down and exposing what is underneath. It is not peaceful work. 

And last night was not peaceful at all…perhaps necessary but not peaceful. I am not afraid of messy. I know what good and beautiful things can come out of messy. So I got back into our bed, put my pillows back where they belonged, pulled up the covers and woke up next to someone I’ve shared a lot of messy with.

Today is new: a new foundation, a new mercy, a new chance to be more like Jesus and less like who I was last night…this new may look a lot like something I once knew but it is not.

This time it is messy and I’m not wasting any more time making it look clean and presentable, we’re building something great and the mess is necessary. IMG_20151009_101620

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29 years later

  • I love growing up and older. I plan to flaunt my age well into my forgetful years. I love celebrating birthdays, it’s a new year! Not to make fleeting resolutions but to be more like the whisper of God inside me. The candles took longer to light than usual this year, the awkward moments were savored as we navigated two songs and we took turns opening presents. I hate waiting for occasions to tell people good things about themselves. Especially when the time is missed. But I cherish the words deeply on my own birthday; from strangers who notice my ‘it’s my birthday crown’, to the friends I only really know through Facebook,  to friends who actually have my number, to the deep relationships of framily and the family that is luckily stuck with me. I won’t dye my gray hair, I want it long and flowing. I miss hair ties around my wrist. I want to be less judgemental and more forgiving. I want to remind people of God’s faithfulness and the unending hope He gives us. I want to be the professional friend I’ve always joked about and speak at conferences, sharing my stories with humor and truth. I want to learn to cook things that fill the home with peace and drool. I want to be a morning person and only eat when I’m hungry. I want to write more notes than ever and share a secret language with my son. I want to be healthy not because it is a popular fad or because I want to buy a certain size but because I want to live years beyond my father and meet each of my grandchildren. I want to sing songs that make Jesus dance and share my spirituality with my husband in a way that pushes each other to love deeper. I am happy to be alive, happy to learn and to grow. Cheers to the days ahead and if I make it to 30, cheers again! Amen.
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grace

You’ve heard it before. It’s a common phrase, there’s a song, a bumper sticker and I’m fairly positive someone has made it into a shirt, ‘Grace like rain’.

Grace can be a mystery for many of us, we assume we understand it, we pretend we accept it and give it in equal doses too. Grace like rain.

Spending much of my youth in Florida taught me a lot about rain. Rain can be beautiful, tiny raindrops on leaves and blades of grass. Rain can be deceiving, when it’s raining in the front yard but not the back yard. Rain can be surprising, unexpectedly catching you with your windows down. Rain can be dangerous, coming down so hard (‘in sheets’) you can’t see ahead of you. Rain can be harmful, oveflowing riverbanks and causing slippery roads. And rain can be necessary, watering dry ground and putting out fires.

Rain.

Recently my mother’s sprinkler system busted. Some units work, some don’t. She needs to contact the city and have them come drill to fix it. They have to schedule an appointment, bring machinery, dig deep into each sprinkler head and somehow from there it’s fixed. Sounds not only annoying but expensive to me. The road of her cul-de-sac was recently re-tarred. We haven’t driven on it, aren’t parking in the driveway and cannot run the sprinkler system. All the while her grass is looking mighty sad. Big yellow and brown spots are growing and the green is slowly disappearing. It’s only been a week but the sun is tough in Florida. The season’s may be hot, hotter and rainy hot but the sun is always harsh.

But today, it’s raining. The dangerous, blinding, unexpected, beautiful but scary kind of rain. I imagine her grass is excited. Like taking large gulps of water in after a run. *not that I run, but I’ve seen movies of people who do* 😉

Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. As the water makes it way down each blade of grass, seeping into the soil and dirt, finding the roots and dripping down further and further into the Earth.

Grace like rain.

I need some of today’s kind of rain, my soul needs some digging up. This season has been tough, beautiful but a bit harsh. And it’s in these seasons, like Florida seasons, we need grace like the rain to help balance the sun and all its glory. There’s been patches of my soul growing yellow and brown. I need a good, hard, kind of scary, a bit overwhelming, drown me and raise the riverbanks kind of grace.

I think it’s here.

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tendering

My nugget is teaching me all sorts of things about myself, my life and how squishy my heart could actually be. My first mother’s day is emotional; wishing my dad would have known me now, as a mom and been here to meet my son. I never met either of my grandfather’s and to think of William not meeting my dad, melts me deep within.

I cried hard this morning, it’s actually my husband’s fault for knowing me so well. He said calmly and with anticipation ‘is there anything you need to get off your chest before we get to church?’. I cried for the next 12 exits.

I whispered to God this morning ‘be my peace’ as I lost my shit on the ride to church. It was one of those prayers that really meant ‘um, I may not recover from this one unless you help’.

I felt, even heard, as clearly as I can believe my dad’s voice ‘I see you chula’. I listened intently and with all my strength I stopped crying in case there was more.

When I was a little girl he called me his ‘chula’ or ‘chulita’ and I called him my ‘chuleta’. I was his cute little girl and he was my porkchop. At our engagment party he wrote me a note and signed it ‘Te quiero chulita, tu Daddy’.

I’ve felt His peace all day. I know my dad sees me, I know He knows me. Not because I believe He is watching over me, or he is an angel, or my theology falls in line with this but because in a moment of need my whisper was answered.

God is listening to you, whisper your needs, He will answer.  Amen.

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