Friday, September 26, 2014

More Than You Can Bear...

Allow me to begin with a disclaimer:

This is a post I've kept pretty close to home up until now, so if you are a close friend or family member of mine, my apologies if this is the first you are hearing of this... I just couldn't share this information, because frankly, I wasn't ready to, and I think there are just some things you aren't meant to obscurely post on social media and walk away from...

I wasn't ready to share it, because at that time, it was one of the scariest moments of my of the most trying...and one that we didn't, as of yet, have all the answers to all of the questions that those of you who love us would be exploding with...but, let me begin, and hopefully all will be answered and revealed by the end of the time it takes you to read this...

I am, admittedly, a control freak. I run the budget, I run the schedule, I manage the's often a family joke that my husband wears the pants, but I pick them out... thankfully, God planned for me to marry a guy that would be ok with that. (Love you, Babe). 

But sometimes, in those moments of obsessive control, when I manage everything, when I'm the one balancing all the cards, juggling the balls, spinning the plates...sometimes in those moment's I forget who really holds it all in His hand...and in THOSE moments, the house of cards crashes, only for me to realize I'm still being held in His hand, regardless of what I thought I had control of. 

A few months ago, I had been experiencing these headaches...and if you know me well, you know 2 things. 
1. I don't get headaches, and...
2. If I do get headaches, you won't know about it, because not only to I have an incredibly high pain tolerance (thanks, Grandma), I also am stubborn about pushing through illnesses to not be weak. (So, as you can tell, this is not the first time God has had to land me on my butt to get a message to me...) 

After about a month of pushing through these scary beyond all reason   slightly painful pressure headaches, I had decided, I'll see a doctor in a few more weeks. 

That was when God reminded me, I'm not in control. 

One night in particular, as I was driving 30 minutes to a business dinner, in my honor, no less, I began to have the worst night of my life. 

Leaving the office, the room began to tilt. In my infinite wisdom (insert sarcastic eye roll here) I didn't stop to consider how un-right that was, and kept walking to the car. 

Once in the car and driving on the highway, at 70 mph, I began to lose feeling in my hands, in my fingers, in my legs, in my feet...I looked at the car, could physically see my foot on the gas, but couldn't feel it to push it. I looked at my hands, gripping the steering wheel, but I could not touch it. I merged off of the exit to the restaurant in a residential area, and had my GPS on, but couldn't comprehend it. I couldn't understand what it was telling me...IN ENGLISH. 

Finally, I pulled over, tears flowing down my face. I opened my mouth to cry out for help, and I couldn't speak. For lack of better imagery, I sounded like a special needs patient. 

So, there i am, in downtown Nashville, surrounded by strangers, fully incapacitated, can't speak, can't feel, can't do a thing, except cry the word Help. 

A man and his wife found me and took me into their home. Complete strangers and yet, I don't think I will ever be more thankful for anyone in my life... Through my incapacities, we attempted to communicate my name, who I was, where I was going...and at this point, I began blacking out, the room spinning and my mind filling with thoughts that I couldn't control...

Was this going to stop? Would I be me again? Could I regain my speaking again? would I ever hold my babies or sing them to sleep again? 

An ambulance was called and the next thing I remember, I woke up alone and scared in the hallway triage hospital bed of some ER in the city. The next thing I knew, someone had found my husband and he rushed in. I just remember  holding on to him with everything in me and crying out every scared feeling I had experienced in that last hour (?) hours (?) into his shoulder while he held me, thanking God he had found me. 

The next few days were an emotional battle...was it a stroke? was it a cyst? was it... cancer? and if it was, how would I manage that? would this happen again?

Rounds of MRI's, CT scans and other frighteningly expensive testing later, and I received the most miraculous diagnosis... Complex Migraines. I suffer from the world's worst headaches, that, when unattended, create stroke-like symptoms. 

And in that diagnosis, I was reminded, and admonished, God never promises to keep us from more than we can bear...but sometimes, I wonder if he gives our bodies an emergency switch to say "Hey! You're getting close!!" I wonder if he allows us to experience moments like this to slow down, calm down, and allow ourselves to regroup, reprioritize and renew our perspective on who we need to be and what is important in life. I wonder if, in times that we need to pull the lever, if He does it for us? 

I'll admit it...complex migraines are no picnic. But, in a way, I'm kind of blessed to have them. Because they are a firm reminder to me who is in control of my life...and how it's ultimately not me. No amount of post it notes, calendars, project plans or budgets will change that. It's also a reminder to me to slow down, and take stock in what is truly important. That last hug and kiss of the day...a few extra moments of more bed time song... one more story... telling my husband about my day... walking on a beach with my family. Those are the moments that matter. 

So if you are feeling today, that you are carrying more than you can bear, take a moment and pull the lever for yourself. Spend some time, even if it's just a few moments, focusing on what really matters. 

With that renewed perspective, you can bear what matters...and what doesn't will resolve itself in the end.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Seeds Planted...Flowers Bloomed

This morning,  I woke up to probably one of the most incredible things in a lifetime...

As many of us do, when I woke up this morning, and the house was still quiet, I rolled over and looked at my phone, scrolling through updates and posts to talk my eyes and mind into waking up (it's a pretty dramatic guys can guess who usually wins...*snooze*) This morning, as the sun shined through my window, I came across the most amazing post.

A young lady, whom I had the pleasure of working with during my time as a Student Pastor, had found a letter I had written her 3 or 4 years ago. She shared about her journey since high school, how she had fallen, and how she had come running back into the loving arms of her heavenly Father. She then shared how much that letter I had written to her those years ago had meant to her, and posted a pic of it online and tagged me in it.

I remember that letter...I remember that time...I remember how exhausted I was, but how much I knew it would mean to this girl, who was about to go on a very important weekend away, and needed some encouragement. I remember taking a pause from my job, getting away and praying for the right words...I remember writing the words and then praying over them again...prayers that this young lady would have the weekend God needed her to feel the love and support this sweet girl truly was searching for in her heart. And my letter was only the one in a series of letters by our student leadership team, written to encourage her this weekend.

I say all this to give a very specific message, laid on my heart...This is for you, Student Pastor...for you, Youth Group Leader...this is for you, Mentors and Friends...for you, Exhausted Parent...

Be Intentional. Be Impactful. Make Your Investment.

I had the privilege to serve as a Student Pastor for several years with my former church. But my amazing girls had no idea what it took to get me there...they had no idea I had just had the crappiest day ever at my job and came straight there to discuss their own troubles. They had no idea the rush it took to feed the kids, drop them off and get to them on time..There were times they never knew the doubts and pain and battles I was having with God, while I guided them to their own relationship with him. (and then there were times that they did know...which led to the most amazing conversations...but I digress...)

But let me tell you, Youth Leader.... ...ALL.

I know you're exhausted. I know, sometimes what these kids deal with is trivial, compared to mortgages, marriages, bills, work and every "grown up" problem you have...but guess what?

Someday, they're going to have grown up problems...and we can only hope and pray they have the right answers in those moments.

There is no pay in being a youth leader...there is no glory in it...But when you get that call from one of your girls, in college, saying " I just needed to talk...", when you get that Baby Shower invitation, and when a young lady, now a grown woman herself said " I returned to Jesus, and your words made a difference..." That is the truest of all rewards. That makes all those battles to get there and be a part of those girls lives so worth it.

So, exhausted Youth Leader...wiped out Student Pastor...discouraged Parent... Don't Give Up...

The words you are saying right this moment....the prayers you are lifting up, on this very day, may be the blessing and the moment God chooses to bring back to these amazing kids in the moment they need it most.


And to all of my amazing girls...know that I still love each of you with all my heart, I think of you often, and I pray for each step you take.

 Remember who YOU are, remember where you've COME from...Remember WHO you belong to...

Friday, July 11, 2014

When Daddy Says No...

It had to happen eventually...

One afternoon, we realized our sweet (almost) 1 year old daughter was growing up when she decided to test her limits with her daddy. Our little brown eyed beauty, who holds her daddy's heart in her hand, was up to no good...and she knew it. 

Mackenzie was getting into many things that she shouldn't...most of which we can give a "no-no" and move on...but this day...oh, this day, she had her sights set on the one thing her daddy couldn't ignore...his XBOX One (sometimes known as his 3rd baby). 

Kenzie crawled her way over to it and began to play with it. Daddy gave a valiant effort at telling her no, to only be met with a dimpled giggle and sweet smile. Daddy become more forceful and stood up by her...still nothing...this is a girl, who at 11 months, pretty much gets what she wants...Finally, Daddy had to take her little hand and give it a (light...don't freak out here, people) smack.

Oh the horror!

Tears welled up in those big brown eyes...pouty lips emerged...and all of a sudden, all hell broke loose. 

As Kenzie becomes more "person" and less "baby",  being told "NO" is a big thing for her and Daddy right now..."No, you may not climb the stairs" (You'll get hurt)..."No you may not kiss the kitty multiple times" (You'll really get hurt!)..."No, bubby's legos are not for eating" (You'll choke!)..."No, you may not play with your diaper (Just...eww....) 

Now, did Daddy tell her no to be awful, mean, spiteful, angry? No...he told her no to prevent a possible event that there would be no coming back from...he told her no to protect her...Because as Daddy, he know more about those moments than Kenzie could possibly know or see...

It occurred to me just how often we take a turn at this dance with our Heavenly Father...

Recently in my life, I had a really nice opportunity come my I wasnt looking for...One I didn't expect, but one that could be a life change for my family in the most epic way possible...I wanted it. I dreamed of it...My husband and I would stay up late, just talking about the what if...We had discussed the possibility so much in our own lives that we had unintentionally talked it into least I felt that way. Everything had happened so fast that there was no way we could foresee this NOT happening. 

But then, we came to a brakes screeching - force of gravity pulling - heart stopping realization. We had talked to each other...we had talked to friends...we hadn't stopped to talk to the Father. So, one night, we wrapped ourselves in each others arms, grabbed hands, and opened our hearts and dreams to Him. We prayed fervently for clarity, for discernment,... for Daddy to say No...

It didn't take long...the next day, I got the call that the opportunity was no longer available. And to my suprise...I was mad. I was furious...I thought Daddy was going to say yes! There's no reason in this Child's mind why the Father could not say yes!!! And as I walked through my disappointment, I began to think of Kenzie and my husband and his ultimate desire to protect her, because he knew the rest of the story...he knew the harm that would befall her as she continued down each path, even if her intentions were merely curious...

I realized, my Daddy told me No, because He knows the rest of my story. He is a careful and meticulous editor to my narrative. As I propose ideas, He gives them pause, because He knows what could happen if I try to shove them into the overall storyline He has for me. When we stop and give Him creative license to what we try to write for ourselves, He takes the pen, and with a flourish, begins to edit our story and share the ending of a chapter in a way we could have never have imagined...

We just had to decide to give Him the pen. 

Sometimes in life, Daddy is going to say No...but instead of being Children, we need to look at His no with the loving foresight with which we protect our own little loves. 

I heard my No for now...and I'm OK with it...I know my story's not done. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Thousand Nights of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Im not sure what your bedtime routine is for your children, but for ours, since we're a pretty musical family, our kids have a Mom and Dad playlist. For my daughter, its the girly tune of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and for my son, it's "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". It occurred to me, the other night, as I was tucking my son in, and singing (for what felt like the thousandth time) Twinkle Twinkle, this has been every night of his life, give or take a few nights at the grandparents (and Im pretty sure he gets them to sing it too)...and I was reminded how fleeting the moment of childhood is.
A thousand nights seems like forever, especially when you are singing the same song over and over again (and sometimes different versions, for added giggles)... But for how many more nights? How many more nights will my sweet, dimpled, brown eyed boy snuggle down in his bed, with his favorite bedtime "guys" around him and ask for Mommy to sing his special song? How many more nights will I be able to wrap my sweet girl up, hold her close and sing her special rainbow song to her? As parents, sometimes we are exhausted by the routine, simply because we are exhausted. We put in long hours and stressful days, and our sweet littles fail to realize that, by the time we finish feeding, bathing, reading, singing, tickling, praying and tucking, we are ready to fall in bed ourselves. For myself, sometimes I battle the desire to forget a skip the story or the song, simply because Im tired, or its late. And on those nights, I hear my little guy asking, "What about song, Mommy?" "What about story?" and I have to wonder, how much longer will he want to ask me that? How much longer will this be special to him? and so I push through, I make the memories, I read the story (with the voices), because I know that in his heart, this is what makes his safe place. This is what makes his house a home. My husband and I always tell our son (and someday our daughter) that he can talk to us about anything. Specifically, my husband has always told my son that they can have special "Man to Man" chats (without Mommy!) whenever he needs. And so, on those rare occasions, when my son requests a Man to Man chat, I pout, but I dutifully stroll out of the room, hearing my little boy giggle with his dad about farts or legos or xbox, or some other "manly" thing, with the knowledge and the hope that someday, because of all those special chats now, when my son really needs a Man to Man chat, his dad will be the first person he turns to. As parents, we are asked to go above and beyond, work long hours, put in effort tirelessly, for demanding, little, peanut butter and jelly covered, runs around with no pants, wrestles and rides the cat, type of "bosses", but this job, even as the most demanding one in the world, is worth every moment. Our family is experiencing a season of change this summer. A preschooler about to be a big kindergardener and a baby about to be a toddler, with each precarious step she attempts to take. Im not sure how many of these special moments we have left. So parents, I encourage you, put on the costumes, build the legos, read the stories (with the voices!), participate in the bedtime prayers, join in the silly every moment of childhood with your littles, because you never know when they'll stop asking for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but you'll always know that is the memory of family, home and love they will keep in their heart. As for me? I'll be singing Twinkle Twinkle every night, maybe for a thousand nights more, as long as he'll let me.