Tuesday, August 31, 2010

31 Days

 A sundog I saw mid-August...so beautiful...

To say it has been a difficult month for me would be an understatement.  I feel like my emotions have been giant waves that roll upon the shore and then recede only to crash down again knocking me over in the process.  August is a month of many milestones for me in my life story, some not so great ones from my dating story with Joe, others (some really good and some really hard) from my story with Luke...but mainly it has been especially hard for me this year because last August was the last time I truly remember feeling happy... and marking that kind of milestone is just not fun to do. 

I have taken somewhat of a break from the blog this month in effort to try and be present in what I'm experiencing.  To mark these days, to be still and remember our past and also to work on dreaming for our future.  I wanted to take some time to re-think priorities, re-imagine my perfect days, to wade into the waters of a big hobby I've always dreamed of taking up.  I have wanted to spend some time with Joe and my friends, but mostly I have needed to get back into the habit of spending time with God.  I have needed to be still, to be listening, to be abiding.  And even though I know I've needed to do these things, my efforts have fallen somewhat flat.

I have somehow felt swept up into the routine of the daily.  Get up, get ready, go to work, work, come home, fix dinner, clean up, watch a movie, go to sleep.  Sure there are days that look different, and there are certainly people around me helping get things accomplished, but I have just been feeling that sometime in the past 31 days I have allowed myself to move from a perspective of presence and intentionality to one of reaction and self comfort- and I'm ready to take back some lost ground.  I have felt stuck emotionally and personally- like to the outside eye, things appear as if they are getting better, only I know that the inside of me is still really sad, eager for things to look different, but fully realizing that they just don't...yet.  And that is hard to accept most days.  I feel stalled, I feel stuck and I am just waiting.  So for me, it is about figuring out how to wait well right now... making the most of these days I have been given.  Taking good care of myself physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.  I am praying for fresh eyes to see the ways God is moving in my life and in the world around me... to open my heart to the abundance that is around me but struggle to connect with.

So, as I step into September and welcome my favorite season, I am challenging myself with '31 Days of Purpose'.  Over the next month, I will be spending time nurturing my spirit by doing things that are not only important but essential.  I'm going to work hard on letting go of the desire for perfection (i.e. I can't sit down to read my book because the laundry is not done-folded-put away, or my house has not been scrubbed or I have not run x errand yet... you get the idea).  I'm going to just spend some time re-ordering my life, my home, my time and my priorities.  I am going to be intentional about blocking my schedule for exercise and try and cook some nutritious meals for Joe and myself.  I have many healthy "habits" that I feel I have allowed to fall by the wayside in recent weeks.  I have replaced the important with the urgent and I want to change that about myself in the way I have been living.  I honestly think this will be hard for me to do, but I am just going to lean into this whisper that has been in my heart for awhile now.  I'm really looking forward to these next 31 days and the challenges and beauty they may hold...

Before I move on to September, I do want to say farewell to August.  I have never been a big fan of this month so because of that, I feel like it lasts forever!  But that being said, here are a few highlights from the past 31 days... I have shared many delicious meals with several dear friends, I have attended a concert with my parents and hubby, I have started an exciting new hobby that I've been secretly longing to do for years, I attended two trainings on leadership, I have been inspired, I have been extremely emotional, I have marked the anniversary of our baptism as a family and of receiving Luke's tragic diagnosis, I have had several meaningful conversations, I have shared some of our lessons learned with Luke with another dear couple going through something very similar, I have hosted a couple of dinner parties and provided a meal for a family with a new baby, I have worked on reconciling a strained relationship, I have felt surprised, I have been reminded that I am richly blessed, I have watched a lot of movies, I have laughed and I have cried- a lot.  I have counted down the days until September and I am ready for the feeling of a fresh start that a new month brings with it.  Here is to the next 31 days and all the joy, tears, challenges, and adventure they hold within them...

Friday, August 27, 2010

The One Year Mile Marker

Today marked the one year anniversary of receiving the news that our sweet baby Luke would not be able to survive after his birth.  One year ago the bottom fell out of our world, our tears poured out and the love for our family and little guy came flooding in.  Although our lives have never been the same since last August 27th, we can see how God's strength and support has gotten us through some of our darkest days and brought us here to this mile marker- a day we could never ever imagine living.  We were able to spend some time together on Luke's bench tonight remembering him and our journey and where we were a very long year ago.  Honestly, that time could not have been more beautiful.  While our hearts remain broken, we can see now, that they have truly been broken- open. 

We love you Luke and mark this day in memory of our journey with you and how you are forever written into our stories and our lives and our little family forever and always. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Journey: Baptism


My baptism last summer was a defining moment in my life’s story. Although I had accepted Jesus as my savior as a teenager, last year it was extremely clear to me that I was on the verge of a new season in my life and I longed to mark that time in a powerful and special way. I wanted to publicly share my story, declare my faith and reaffirm my relationship with God as I prepared my heart to enter into this next chapter in life. I knew it was time to be baptized.

In contrast to my baptism as an infant, my memories of my baptism last year are vivid. I remember the day as vibrant, full of friends as well as many smiling and encouraging faces I did not yet know. I remember the music, the laughter, the joy of the day, but mostly I remember feeling fully alive and extremely happy. My heart overflowed with gratitude as I recounted my story of God’s faithfulness and goodness in my life through both good and difficult times. As I stood there sharing, a clarity came upon my heart as I recognized how time after time God had shown his faithfulness to me. In my experience of that morning, I know my relationship with Him deepened. As I was lowered into and then raised out of those waters, I celebrated afresh being a His beautiful new creation raised into a new life. The old was gone, the new had come.

My faith journey since last August has not been an easy path, but I know with certainty, that God wanted me to have that moment in the water with him so he could whisper and remind me that not only was he faithful and beside me through my past leading up to that day, but that he would be just as faithful in my future days as well. I know and believe that He is the God who makes all things new again. He is the God who brings forth beauty from ashes. He is the God who binds up broken hearts and He is the God who has come to set us captives free. He carries our burdens; he wipes our tears and holds us so close to his heart that we are imprinted on the palms of his hands. He is my God and his word tells me that He chose me to be his child before I was even known. He will never leave me, even when things are their worst.

I love that in those waters at Kill Creek Park last summer, I was able to stand up and tell the world that I love Him and would continue to choose Him no matter what was ahead. He remains ever faithful and I cherish how God specializes in making all things new: broken lives, broken people and especially broken hearts. I believe he is who he says he is and I believe he can do what he says he can do. He calls to our hearts and we have only to respond, accept, remember, say thank you and celebrate this wild, beautiful new life we have been given.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
- 2 Corinthians 5:17

♫ From Joe: If you'd like to read or read again our baptism story from last year, here's a link: Into the Water.

§ If you are interested:  click here for The Journey in Word format and click here for the Journey in PDF format. For more resources, feel free to visit the Journey Devotional page by clicking here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Journey: Bud Break


Last fall we were neck deep in some of our darkest days. Our hopes for our family had shattered and the color had faded from both the landscape outside our windows as well as within our hearts. We had been plunged into a season of life where hope felt not only foreign but forgotten. There was no light or life in our hearts and the months ahead held little promise of relief.

It was during these impossible days, that two dear women came to our home with the intention of planting tangible reminders of hope and praying that it would take root. They arrived on a brisk, drizzly day, sank to their knees in our front flower bed and began digging. Approximately a dozen tulip bulbs were planted into a patch of earth that appeared as barren as our hearts felt. After carefully placing the bulbs inside the earth, they blanketed them with dirt, patted the ground, and departed. To the unsuspecting human eye, the spot appeared just as empty and hopeless as it had before their visit, but the Master Gardner, God, could see nothing but the potential buds, blooms and beauty that lay inches below the surface of the cold, damp soil. Despite our hunger for beauty and renewal during those desperate days, God knew it was not the right season for the bulbs to bloom. He knew that before they could be ready, they had to first go through the harsh winter ahead.

Through the winter months, bitter winds blew; ice and snow covered the ground, temperatures dropped and icicles formed. Our heating bills rose as our tears fell down and all the while, those bulbs remained buried just outside of our window; invisible, quiet and patiently waiting for the season of their purpose to arrive. We watched that tiny patch of earth like we never had before. We were waiting for evidence of growth, for beauty after bleakness, for change after stagnation, for purpose to blossom out of difficulty.

When we experience seasons of drought or “winter” in our souls, just like with flowers, it does not mean that nothing is happening outside of what we can see or feel. God does not squander time or seasons. He does not create and forget. He remains, he tends, he shapes, he develops new branches and grows them in new directions on his vine. He encourages growth through whispers and is patient while he waits for our roots to deepen in him. He allows the harshness of our “winters” to strengthen our branches so they are able to handle the weight of the new fruit he plans to grow on them. He calls us forth out of our darkness into His sunrise. He beckons us toward new beginnings, fresh starts, new possibilities, and increased fruitfulness. He summons us toward hope for plans and purposes greater than we can imagine. He instructs us to remain in him, but beyond that, he whispers deep into our hearts to not just remain, but to grow and better yet, even bloom.

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
- Anais Nin

* This is my latest piece for Heartland's weekly online devotional called The Journey....

§ If you are interested:  click here for The Journey in Word format and click here for the Journey in PDF format. For more resources, feel free to visit the Journey Devotional page by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

7 Months

My Sweet Pea,

You are thought of and prayed for every day.
You are missed more than mere words can ever express.
There is a Luke-shaped hole in this world and in my heart.
I still study your sweet face for hours and can see you perfectly with my eyes closed.
I wish we were splashing around in a wading pool together this summer to beat the heat.
I wish I could hold your hand and kiss your sweet cheeks.
I would give anything to see your smile.
I cannot believe it has been seven months since I held you close and told you I loved you in person.
I still cry when I think of you.
I have started to meet and visit some of your friends.
They are amazing, but only make me miss you more which I never believed could be possible.
I'm so proud to be your mama.
I talk to you all the time- especially when I see your beautiful clouds in the sky.
Thank you for all you continue to teach me, Luke.
My life continues forward but my heart will forever be looking back for you.
You are loved. 
You are cherished.
You are missed.
More every day.
Your mom