BIG SIGH.....Saying goodbye to Daddy

I'm seven years old and I am safe. I am wrapped in Daddy's arms, a feeling of completeness and joy bubbling up through the tips of tiny toes to the top of my scruffy head. His scratchy beard tickles my cheek and I squeal. He laughs, his deep, hearty, manly laugh, and I know he loves me. He loves me and adores me and it doesn't matter anymore that he got mad earlier and took out his belt. It doesn't matter that the fire in this eyes burned bright just hours ago. This is who he is, he just gets mad sometimes. I'm naughty and if I weren't, he wouldn't hurt me. I have to try harder to be nice. I have to try harder to be a good girl. I want my Daddy to always love me.

I am 10 and I am standing in the living room, phone dangling from the wall. As it swings, back and forth, back and forth, I wipe a tear away from my eye. I knew he loved me. Yesterday was the worst it has been yet. My back, my legs, my arms still pound with the memory of his belt and anger striking over and over. But he called me from work, all the way from work, and he told me that before he would let anyone take me away, he would adopt me and give me his last name. I knew it. He does love me. I have to try harder to be good. I have to try harder to be nice.

I am 13 and we just left my Daddy's new house. He has a new wife. Some new kids. We are living with my grandparents, and now I know, sometimes grownups make promises they don't mean. Sometimes grownups tell you things and you put your whole heart, your whole soul into those words, and then you find out...those words, even though said in love and promise, were empty. Like how you feel. Empty. I am only 13 and I am empty. I won't see him again for 13 years.

I am 20 and I am newly married. I have my first little baby swimming around and around and all I want is my Daddy to wrap his arms around me and snuggle me close and tickle me with his scruffy beard. I have his address, found online through a Yellow Pages website, and I clutch it tight in wet hands. I have to write him. If he just knew I forgave him, if he just knew I was a pastor and had a family and was a good girl, he would want to be my Daddy again. He would write me or even call me and we would laugh and he would visit and it would all be ok. And I wait...I wait weeks, and months...and Trevor holds me as I sob and weep into his arms, not understanding why Daddy won't just talk to me. Doesn't he understand I forgive him? Doesn't he know I just want to talk?

I am 26 and his picture smiles at me from the front of the funeral home. My heart tightens. I won't cry, I won't cry, I won't cry. I gave him too many tears for too long. My memory dredges up the one picture of him I don't want to remember at this moment- at his mom's funeral, my grandmother, who took us in when we got taken from him. I wanted to go to him and tell him that even though everyone else hated him, I forgave him. I wanted him to meet my sons, everything was ok. As I stood there he ignored me most completely, never once making eye contact, skipping over me in a line of people as if I were a transparent ghost of the past he wanted to run from.

My sisters tears tear me back to the present, and I hastily wipe a single tear away from my own cheek. "Dammit. That's all you get. 1 tear." I rub her arm lightly and lean in close..."he can't hurt her anymore...he can't hurt us anymore..." Her sobs pierce my heart and I want to take all her pain, all the pain she carries around since our mom left for good. But that amount of pain isn't meant for me to take. Only One can take that kind of pain. If you could see the baggage she carries it would be a hot air balloon filled with cinder blocks, strapped tight to her heart....she tries to drag it around wherever she goes and she wonders why she's going nowhere.

All I feel is light. The darkness has finally parted. The burden has finally lifted. I have let him go and I will not bring forth images or memories of what he did to my mom. To my sisters. To my heart. This is the end of the pain he will ever cause me. This is where the woman is born. The girl is left behind, in this funeral home, and the woman, brave and confident will step out into the world, ready to fight. Not how they taught me to fight. Not with fists and lies and belts and hatred. This fight will be with the greatest weapon you could yield- love. This is a fight against abuse, injustice, idolatry, adulatory, faithlessness. I will fight for the widow, the orphan, the homeless, the innocent. His shadow no longer holds me down, holds me back in the darkness of fear. My Abba Father has set me free, I stand tall in the One who showed me what love really means. And I say goodbye to Daddy.


His WWJD bracelet and big blue eyes....9 years today

     He was tall and handsome and laughing next to a gorgeous blond when I first laid eyes on him. I can't tell you what it was about him that caught at my heart. Maybe it was the big, full smile. Maybe it was the blue eyes. Or even the red WWJD bracelet on his wrist? All I know is that with heart beating wild, I stopped him in the hallway one afternoon after Art class and invited him to Youth Group. He looked at me completely surprised, and said, "yeah. Sure." And smiled. I was done for. 

     Way before we became an official "thing", we talked on the phone for hours and hours and hours. No topic was off-limits. We dreamed of Heaven and giggled over cloud cars and trampolines in our mansions. He sang Shania Twain songs to me when I had a bad day. I yearned for him to hold my hand when I drove him to the Salvation Army parking lot where he was to be picked up after church. And I thought of him as I drove to visit a college 2 states away, wondering where this friendship was leading us.

     The night it became clear to me that I wanted to be with him forever, he had just gotten his driver license. I had just gotten off work, and there he was, sitting in the parking lot of Runza, big goofy grin pasted thick, eyes shining. I knew it was the night to tell him I loved him. I had brought my "future husband" folder with me, prepared to utter the 3 words I had only ever told my daddy. I wasn't going to wait for him to make the first move. I knew I loved him. I knew he loved me. And it was time to officially start dating. Everyone knew we were headed that direction, and tonight was the night. 

    We sat there, nervous, both of us feeling the seriousness of the moment. It was December, cold and frosty, the van was warm, and my heart was beating wild. I brought out the folder, more sure about him than I had ever been about anything in my life, that he was the one I was to give this to. I was only 17, he was only 16, and it felt crazy, but love makes you do crazy things. 

     He took it with tears in his eyes, and he told me he loved me. It took me several minutes to say it back, the fear of past boyfriend's words and actions plaguing, fear of committing myself so thoroughly to another person. But as I said those words, I felt peace. Great, rushing peace. What was God doing? We had only known each other for 3 months, and it already felt like years. He was home, he was family, he was my future. 

     Our first kiss was on the floor of my grandparents living room, country music videos playing on the TV, and he got a bloody nose and bled all over my face. I was mortified. Not only because we had just kissed and that was new and weird, but also because HE JUST BLED ALL OVER MY FACE. We laugh so hard about it now, but then, oh my young self was so disgusted she didn't talk to him for days. During our first dance his braces cut my forehead and we just knew, one day, all these moments would make us laugh in remembering those awkward growing pains of young love.

     9 years....it's been 9 years to the day since I saw him for the first time, and my heart really does still beat wild. When he's holding Joey and singing to him, rocking him to sleep. When he wrestles with the 3 big boys and gets them to laughing hard enough to give them all the hiccups. When he's talking about his love for Jesus and his passion for ministry. When we're sitting together on the couch in a silent house and I look at him and see that 15 year old boy, so different, so changed, with the same big heart and blue eyes. 

     He is home, he is my family, he is my future. I don't know what that future holds, if I will have to say goodbye before I want to, or if we have 80 years left together...but I'm no longer afraid, because my God is able to sustain me through anything. Right now, I can grab Trevor's hand any time I need to, knowing it's always there to hold me up and lead me on.  

     Today, I celebrate what God did 9 years ago when he brought us together, high school sweethearts, young and crazy and in love. And  we're still young and crazy and in love, with 4 beautiful babies that daily remind me of their incredible daddy. Thank you, Lord, for, in your wisdom, bringing Trevor into my life almost a decade ago.
Joining hands

Just married


Rise n' Shine mamas!...at 5am?!?

     Let's just get this out of the way before I get too far- I'm LAZY. Yes, all caps. I can't keep a schedule down to save my ever lovin' life. I love to sit and read and do all the mindless things. I love to sleep. Oh, how I love my soft squishy pillow and cozy warm blankies. When God called me to home school, I looked behind me, sure He called the smarter, more disciplined and organized and more patient and nicer mamas behind me instead. "What? Oh....ME? Seriously?! Me? You're joking right? You're not joking. Crap. Crapcrap. This is not good, God. This is bad. I cant' even brush my teeth every day. I can't blog once a week. I can't do laundry. How am I going to equip my boys to live life and SUCCEED and not end up playing video games 20 hours a day eating Doritos on my COUCH AT 30 YEARS OLD!"

DEEEEEEP breath. 

     I find myself preparing for preschool homeschool, for my almost 5 year old, who just yesterday said, "Mom, I'm ready to read. Teach me. I'm ready." And I just sat there and looked at him and my heart stilled. My fears stilled. My anxious thoughts stilled. He believes in me. He looks at me and he says, "She can teach me. She knows. She is my mom and she is smart enough to teach me to read." And I guess I can teach him how to be nice and be patient and be calm but he's going to have to get in line behind me on that one because I'm still learning as well. Maybe on that we'll take hands and go down that road side-by-side. 
     I cannot get all the things done with the 5 minutes I clear to be productive. It's nearly impossible. Almost. It's amazing what you can get done in the 5 minutes before the husband gets home. But alas, if I am to conquer these wild and ugly beasts in our home called illiteracy and laziness, and climb Mountdirtylaundry, I have to get this lazy behind into high gear. No amount of coffee will magically make me more efficient and more organized. Maybe more manic and psychotic, but that would be hard. And not very effective at teaching homeschool. Highly entertaining, but not very effective.
     So I've joined this Rise and Shine challenge at Abundant Mama. She says this:

We are so busy during the day that it’s really hard to fit it all in. But if you are someone who wants to fit it all in then you have to be willing to put in the hard work and Rise & Shine early.
And sometimes the hard work is dealing with children who rise early with you.
And sometimes the hard work is just devoting yourself to waking up at 4 a.m.
And sometimes the hard work is saying today I am going to just release the expectations I have for nourishing myself and I’m going to just sleep.
There will be mornings when you want to do X, Y and Z and you cannot. Children get sick. Partners have to leave early or out of town. Other life dramas get in the way.
But the true Abundant Mama way isn’t going to let these challenges get you down. They will just make you stronger. And more Abundant.
You can Rise & Shine, Mama.
So just hang with me for a while on this one.
     Doesn't that just make you wanna do everything brave and lovely? That's my word for the year- BRAVE. I've done a lot of brave things this year. I gave up internet in our home for over 6 months. I spoke at several groups in front of a lot of women. I was honest to others about my struggle with depression and tackled it with a new technique called light therapy. I gave up sugar. I gave up eating out. I started running. I said goodbye to my step-dad even though I didn't want to go (more on that another time.) I stepped way out of my comfort zone and made more friends than I've ever had in my life.  I decided to homeschool my boys. Being brave is so different for everyone. A lot of my brave things are just normal everyday life for a majority of women. But for someone living in the shadows of fear and isolation, these are giant leaps to join the rest of you and live a more abundant life. A life that keeps on being braver. 
     So when I saw this challenge I just knew I had to jump on this bandwagon. What in the world is a bandwagon, btw? One sec, let me Google it. 
:: a usually ornate and high wagon for a band of musicians especially in a circus parade
Hmmm...let's try that again. Although I do like that image.
:: a popular party, faction, or cause that attracts growing support —often used in such phrases as jump on the bandwagon
Ahhh. Ok.
     Anyways. Moving on from that nice little rabbit trail. 
     Brave. I was being brave. I'm going to commit to waking up at 5am and get ready for my day, which now includes homeschooling and watching a 5 year old neighbor girl. (4am was way crazy, and let's be honest, I would probably end up sleeping on the couch while my boys ate all the food in our cupboards and turned the bathroom into a public swimming pool.)     
     I loathe the lazy side of me. I really do. I make fun, but it's not funny. Especially when my husband has no underwear for work and has to wear his swimming trunks. Ok, that only happened once. But I only needed to learn that lesson once.
Click on picture to join me!
     I'll have to go to bed at 10pm  and actually get out of bed when that alarm goes off instead of turning it off and rolling back over and snuggling down under those warm...soft...snuggly....I CAN DO THIS. Join me? Let's be brave and do the hard things and transform our lives from anxious, fearful, lazy and tired, to peaceful, courageous, alive and abundant.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13