New Things

I was at a friend’s house this week in the historic part of our little Midwest town. As we caught up over the sound of squealing and under the sound of small elephants racing above our heads, I smiled wide at the memories our kids were making upstairs and the conversation we were having downstairs.

I will admit to being slightly distracted though. Not by the cacophony above our heads, but by the fact that it took a minute to distinguish exactly where each noise was originating from. You see, this house is a plethora of old wood floors, charmingly squeaky and winding staircases, clever little nooks and lots of original cabinetry disguised as furniture. I love it even more for it’s scarcity. One of the things I miss the most about New England is it’s history. The way nothing is torn down, but made new. How old homes change with each new owner. Everything here is new construction. And though I love our own home here, it has not yet achieved the character that this one has.

I’m falling a bit in love with it’s noises when I remember another favorite house of mine. My grandparent’s house when I was growing up. Oh, the sweet memories of racing around that house with little cousins! Laughter bouncing off walls as we bounced down the “hidden” staircase. Screaming scared at having to retrieve something next to that old boiler. The endless circles as we raced and explored every crooked inch of that house. Every corner a hidden treasure.

I think what I love the most is how these old houses have morphed, changed, grown and adapted to their occupants. A wall here, new shelves or flooring there, they evolve with the families they hold.

And over time, as their contents grow, they often do too. An extra room for an extra child. Maybe a garage when Dad’s paycheck grows too. Eventually, they’ll burst at the seams with big kids, big personalities and big future dreams.

And just like a new birth, just when there’s no more room in there, they send forth bright, shiny new (hopefully) adults.

And….now I’m all misty. Forgive me while I have a mom moment. There were lots of big “firsts” in my house this week. Loss of last baby tooth, loss of first baby tooth, etc. Also, I may have just fully comprehended that I am sending Oldest Son to High School.

I’m also sending Baby Girl to Middle School.

And as if that’s not enough for one poor mother to handle…Mini Hubby is starting Kindergarten.

Feel free to send me Kleenex.

And waterproof mascara.

So, I’m waxing nostalgic and thinking of how quickly this time thing goes. About big, old houses giving birth to new generations. Yup, sappy. Maybe more like a brand new car off the assembly line? Except each one completely unique. Boasting a sticker, Hand Crafted, Handle With Care, or maybe, Organic (If you’re considering smell).

Yes, I’m a tad emotional this week. I’m also worrying about our house. About what it will look like someday. And are we making the right choices to ensure the best outcome and best possibility for our kids to be fully independent someday? We have a lot of unknowns. But I’m also grateful. Because as I’m tempted to worry about the future of my own little unique creations, I am reminded that they bear another sticker, SOLD.

They don’t belong to me. They have a Father who loves them more than I’m capable of loving. One who knows exactly what’s best for them and is with them even when I can’t be (like in kindergarten, middle school or high school). They’ve been paid in full. And the cost that was paid for them was phenomenal! You don’t make that kind of investment and then not take care of it. Whenever they leave this nest, I know they’re in good hands.

He Gave Me Wings

I spent over thirty years learning how to survive and succeed in a fallen world. How to protect myself from the hurt and disappointment that goes along with living in a world saturated with sin. This world taught me that I’d need a tougher skin. To reach the safety and security I craved, I’d need to find success. And to find success, I’d need to somehow cushion myself from an onslaught of pain and suffering and aggressive, hungry souls seeking to protect themselves as well. Over the years this resulted in creating a cocoon of sorts. Block the hard things. Bury the hurt and disappointment. Don’t cry useless tears. Believe what is being spoon fed in every media outlet and social platform. Protect yourself.

The result was a thirty something woman, wrapped tight in an unraveling cocoon. Desperately trying to control everything that threatened the “safety” of that cocoon. That safe place became a breeding ground for fear and depression. Every story that filtered through, of things uncontrollable, would give birth to a new fear, a new anxiety. Even ensconced in this “haven”, she knew this wasn’t working anymore. From the depths of that cocoon, her heart cried out.

chrysalis

Now, I wonder, did He miss me in there, like we missed “Chris”, or was He excitedly waiting for the transformation?

 

When I first started my journey with Christ, things unseen from that dark place of fabricated protection, written on my heart, became clearer. His light was breaking through. Six rows back, on the left side of the worship center, I’d catch glimpses of light. Hands and hearts in front of me raised in worship, Truth poured out in messages. Drawn to the light, I’d come back. Oh, how I wanted to bottle it, that held, just as I am love, and carry it with me for the next week. Absorb His word and love and wring it out when the fear and darkness were too much. But fear of getting too close, giving too much, held it illusive, confined to the worship center.

I’d come back. Drawn a row closer. So close! How do I hold onto it?

Because the more light I let in, the more I felt again. And though the joy ran deep, the pain did too. But like a moth drawn to light, I drew ever closer to Christ. Slowly unraveling years and layers of insulation, He called me out into the light.

Emerging scared and reborn, He gave me wings. To reach higher than I thought possible, to dive lower than I’d ever ask to go. It’s bright out here. And in contrast, the dark things stand out like never before. Some days, my heart just hurts. Those years of tears not shed seem to be making up for lost time. Most of the time, they’re not for me. But for the palpable suffering of those around me. Both for those who are saved and those who are perishing. And other days, the tears are joy that can’t be contained. Every time I get a glimpse of the light of God’s glory, the beauty and joy run so deep I’m a moth chasing the light again.

butterfly

We waited in anticipation for “Chris” to lose the last remnants of his former life and take flight.

 

Every day, my heart is grateful. Grateful for the wings that brought this woman to a heart wide open. That carried her to the front of the sanctuary, tears streaming, her soul crying out in worship and joy to the One who made her. This woman knows more pain than she ever feared, knows more love than she ever dared give or receive and knows true safety. Not in the artificial safety of her own making, but the true safety in living and walking with Jesus.

So, I’ll continue to take these wings and follow where He leads. I’ll just have to invest in some really good waterproof makeup.

flight

Tentative at first, hanging out on my finger testing his wings, “Chris” soon took flight.

As I was writing this, I was blessed with the chance to see this video at church of another incredibly beautiful transformation. LOVE His timing. If you have the time, it’s absolutely worth the twenty minutes to watch.

 

D-Day

This week marks the anniversary of what I think of as my personal D-Day, or diagnosis day for our daughter. The day our world seemed to turn upside down and no longer made any sense. The repercussions causing me to land in the dark, and the next year learning how to rest in God, over and over again.

Reflecting on the last year, it has been on my heart to share some things with those of you who have, or are, experiencing your own trauma and suffering. Who may still be in that dark place. This letter is for you.


Dear Friend,

I see you. Always a compassionate person, I can now feel you in a way I never could before. The pain you emanate is palpable. I see the blank look in your eyes in a crowded room, not really taking in anything around you because the darkness you’re caught in has swallowed up the people and conversations around you. Your shoulders are hunched forward, curled around the pain and grief trapped in that place with you. Your smile a mere up turning of your lips. You’ve turned completely inward in the upside down. I don’t know if you’ll hear me, but I want to gather you in my arms and whisper past the shadows under and in your eyes. You’re not alone in there. Keep looking for the light and call out to Him.images (4)

Be careful. There may be bright sparks of anger, resentment and blame. Don’t follow them.They may lead you out, give you fuel to keep going, but they’ll only lead you to a life trapped in a place similar to where you are. Void of hope and truth and love.

Wait for His light. Maybe just soft at first, teaching you truth on your way to the surface, or for some people an all enveloping ride full of grace and love.downloadimages (13).jpg

Whatever that looks like for you, you’re bound to run into the hard but necessary truths. How utterly fragile, helpless and weak we are on our own. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this means you are unloved, or worthless. Just the opposite. You are so precious and loved Jesus will be with you through all of this. There’s no need to do it alone. When you look to the Lord for your strength, lay all your fears and pain at His feet, you can do all things through Him. Even THIS.images (8)

There may be friends and family that, unable or unwilling to absorb the shock, will distance themselves from it. But He will take that anger and resentment you may be tempted to and instead lead you to your knees in prayer for them and thanksgiving for those He’s placed in your life for this instead.

I assure you, His perfect sovereignty has the power to reach down and save you from this dark here and carry you all the way home. When you’re ready, He’ll be waiting. His love so powerful, perfect and faithful, He’ll take it all. And His yoke is infinitely lighter than yours.

There, in that place, you’ll find indescribable joy. The joy that comes solely from Him and has nothing to do with your current circumstances.

Dear one. I don’t know what your personal D-Day is. I don’t know if it’s a child’s diagnosis, your own, loss of a child or loved one, a life changing phone call at 2 a.m. I don’t know why God has allowed this in your life, but I know that He does. That regardless of how this feels now, His plans are to prosper you and give you hope and a future. Even if you can’t see any possible way for that to be true.

Look for, embrace and give thanks for every gift of grace. Big or small.images (7)

Hold onto Him, as He is always holding onto you. Remember His promises written on your heart and commit them to your mind.

Love and Blessings,

Bobbiimages (14)


I wish I could say that this particular anniversary came and went without any unwanted or uninvited memories for me. It didn’t. I woke to fresh memories of that day a year ago. Fear and pain springing up in place of my hope and faith. Sure that despite the blessings rained down on me over this last year I still didn’t have enough faith.

But in the remembering, I realized just how far from the dark He’s brought me, and how much joy I’ve found in His light.

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Freedom

In the United States we celebrate the anniversary of our freedom from British rule on July 4th. This celebration typically includes things like cookouts, barbecues, potato salad, pie and fireworks.

In the upper Midwest, participating in the requisite fireworks usually requires a bath in deet or running the risk of being carried away by hummingbird sized mosquitos. Having two kiddos with neurological issues, we try to avoid the deet bath. Instead, we have been taking the kids to our local dirt race track for their “Fireworks Spectacular” event. Where, either the noise, diesel fumes, or dirt, deters the pesky bugs and the kids also get to watch the races. fireworks5

We load the van with blankets, clear protective glasses, sweatshirts, sunscreen, ear protection for five, and more money than I want to part with. Once everyone has used the bathroom one last time we make it out the driveway with only three trips back in for forgotten items. As usual, we arrive about an hour before the races start which is not early enough to avoid sitting just downwind of turn four, but just early enough to stuff some food into the kids before the race starts and it’s filled with dirt. This year, the toddler complies with the ear protection requirement, which means all five of us are able to watch the races and make it to the fireworks portion for the first time since Mini Hubby was born.

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Well past Mini Hubby’s bedtime, he’s curled up on my lap, waiting for the promised fireworks. My chin resting on the top of his little blonde head I can smell the unique “Speedway Smell” of diesel fumes, exhaust, dirt and burnt rubber with the underlying earthy smell of toddler, i.e. sweat, sunscreen, more dirt, popcorn, pickles and something sticky which I’m bound to be covered in as well. Preteen has let his “I’m too old to be excited” mask slip and is trying in vain to find popcorn at the bottom of the bag that isn’t too gritty to eat. Baby Girl has moved past tired into overdrive, squirming on the unrelenting (even with blankets for padding) aluminum bench, and grinning from ear to ear and has only asked “How much longer” approximately eight times in the last fifteen minutes.

As the first firework is lit, shoots out of it’s tube and covers the sky in bright, loud, red, white and blue, three expectant faces follow it’s trajectory and smile. Eyes bright, mirrors of the cascading light. I smile. Watching joy spread across their faces and fill my heart. In between the repercussions and the patriotic music being piped tin through speakers, I hear it.

Soft and sweet.

Do you feel it? No fear.


Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


Lamentations 3:57
You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.”


Just joy.

There had been no fear all night. No stray fears about crashes and random parts flying into the crowd to sneak in and steal the joy of watching my family pick their “winning cars” for the next race.

No stray fears about someone stealing one of the kids to sneak in and steal the joy of watching Mini Hubby play in the dirt by the fence five feet away between races.

And now, no stray fears about tipped over fireworks or big explosions to sneak in and steal the joy of watching precious upturned, dirt filled, excited faces.

I’ve lived a life afraid. Afraid of bridges, wall mounted speakers in movie theaters, car accidents, kidnappings, wrong decisions, mistakes, and fireworks. Over the last few years I’m slowly learning to live a life of hope, in Jesus. To be brave and courageous. To walk this journey with perseverance and endurance. With Him. Until this blindingly beautiful gift of a moment I don’t think I’d really realized just how much work He’s done in my heart. I can get caught up in the mess of who I am, the frustration of fighting the desires of my flesh, and just how far from complete I am and forget that I am a work in progress. And that He’s been working all along. feartofreedom

I look up into crackling flashes across the sky, slightly blurred from grateful tears and celebrate true freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom in Christ.


2 Corinthians 3:16-18

16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.


 

Baptism

Well, I did it! I was baptized! What a beautiful, emotional, experience shared with a loving church family and friends that came to support me. This act of obedience, this outward sign of my inner change, was a long time coming for me, and something I said just two years ago that I would never do if it meant getting up on that stage. I was wrong. Thank you Jesus! Below is the short testimony I shared, along with photos a friend took to capture this moment for me.

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I was raised in houses devoid of faith and crumbling in brokenness. Addictions, neglect, abuse, and abandonment were the foundation of my childhood.  He who knit me together in my mother’s womb, carried me safely through and gifted me with the desire to seek love, security, and safety. The world told me where to find it. I went to college, married a wonderful man, was blessed with two happy, healthy children, had a comfortable home, two new vehicles, a savings account, college funds, the privilege of staying home to care for my family, and plans. A life better than I ever dreamed I could have.  FB_IMG_1458346556622

Imagine my surprise when I was still plagued with terrible anxiety and depression.  I was led to a therapist, Believer, and now beloved friend. Who used her gift of compassion, patience, and love to, over time, chip away at that decaying foundation to make room for something more solid. She encouraged me through the doors of the worship center where the Holy Spirit opened my eyes for the first time to the gospel, with a heart finally ready to receive it. For several years He worked in my life, laying a new foundation in Christ; A carpenter, creating a new structure of trust, faith, and belief through His word and His church. He even added a surprise room for a third happy, healthy child.

Almost two years ago I was hit by a storm in the form of genetic disorders that I know, had that new foundation not been laid, would have taken down that new structure and I would not have survived the fall. Those transient, worldly things that I had held so tightly to and was so terrified of losing? The things I was sure would bring me love, security, and safety? Some of them were washed away. Healthy kids, financial security and plans made way for true love, security, and safety in Christ. Surrendering everything I have and everything I am to my Savior (sometimes on an hourly basis) has freed me from overwhelming fear. His blueprints for my life may look vastly differently than the plans I had, but He has shown me time and again that He and His promise are trustworthy. And the love, safety, and security I searched tirelessly for can be found seated at the right hand of God. I will follow Him, wherever He takes me, all the way Home.


Acts 22:16

16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’


 

Baptism3

 

Revelation

When we built our current home, my favorite room was the kitchen. After leaving my career as Electronic Data Interchange Coordinator for Chief Executive Homemaker years before, my kitchen had become my “office”. I spend most of my time there so I put a lot of thought into the layout and décor. Ten years later, I still love this space, even if it’s probably getting a little dated. The pale, warm, butter yellow walls, light oak cabinets, and accents of sage green, cream, and tan never fail to relax me. My favorite time of the day is (late) morning when warm sun pours in through windows dotted with sticky fingerprints, reflects off those yellow walls, and fills my kitchen with a sense of calm that belies the chaos it’s usually in. The counter tops are a magnet for things like forgotten homework assignments, chapstick tubes, and Hello Kitty erasers. The refrigerator is decorated with masterpieces created by grade school artists on one side, and the front sports a hard working calendar that schedules five precious souls. My “drop spot”, well organized with slots for unpaid bills, things that need to be filed, and hooks for keys is usually overflowing and accompanied by an assortment of chargers and their accompanying electronic devices. The sink is full of evidence of a well fed family and my stove top constantly needs to be cleaned because of pots that have boiled over during busy evening meal preparations. My oven is never clean for very long and the proof is the smell of apple pie drippings when you turn it on because as soon as I clean it I am guaranteed to forget to put a cookie sheet under my next pie or overflowing casserole large enough for our family. My office is not perfect. It is well worn, hard working, well loved, and the center of our home. I can only pray that it is a reflection of me, as it is the place I am most comfortable in.

I know some amazing women who diligently spend time with Jesus, every morning, in their “cloffice” or “war room”. If you’ve read some of my other posts you will know that I’m not talking about myself. My current Valley finds me with three young children and two of them now with medical concerns. I spend much of my time on the “needs” of my little family but I am slowly learning to incorporate Mom’s time with Jesus. And what I’ve discovered is that there is something special about my kitchen. Maybe because, as the esteemed Homemaker, this is my office. Or, maybe it is simply because I spend so many hours there surrounded by dirty dishes, school work, meal preparation and clean up, and the never ending scheduling required of a family of five. Or, it could very well be because it’s the place my children often avoid for fear of being put to work. Whatever the reason, I realized yesterday this seems to be the place He comes to me, and I to Him, most often.

As I’m prone to do, I was doing my morning chores, undoing the damage to my kitchen the night before, and worshiping while I worked. This time, I was singing and dancing to Third Day’s “Revelation” while emptying, filling the dishwasher, and washing pots and pans. A quick peak into the living room confirmed the toddler was content with important robot building. I had a moment to pray.

Father, please show me what to do. I can’t see the completed work of this valley, but you do. Tell me, please, do I stay or do I move? I truly need a revelation here Lord!

And once again, I was brought to the floor of my beloved kitchen. Staring at those hard wood floors Hubby labored to give me, which were currently covered in dog hair, cat hair, a few crumbs, and a Lego I would find again later with bare feet. This time though, it was with grateful tears streaming past lips curved into a smile on a face upturned in gratitude to my Father.

Child, I’ve been telling you. You just haven’t been listening.

I sat on the floor shaking my head as the pieces that had been eluding me for months rolled around and miraculously fit themselves together.

Thank you, Father!! I am so sorry for not listening. Thank you for once again pursuing me. For pouring out yet more grace and love and meeting me where I am to gently and persistently open my stubborn eyes!

You see, He had answered my prayers. Several times it turned out. But, because it wasn’t the answer I was looking for, one of the options I had in mind, I didn’t see it.


Psalm 23:3 (NIV)

    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.

Psalm 17:6 (NIV)

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
    turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.


Toddler robot construction completed, he was hungry. He may have been a little surprised to find Mom on the floor, crying and smiling. He may have even been questioning my sanity. I set him up with his lunch at the  kitchen table. As usual, he ate his pickles first and asked for more. I assured him I hadn’t lost my marbles and that he still needed to eat the rest of his lunch before he got any more pickles. Two minutes later, maybe testing my mental status, he asked again. I told him we go over this every time, just because you are looking for a different answer, doesn’t mean I’m going to change my mind. I don’t know where he gets this from?!

 

Fast Forward

I wish I could say that after my first glimpse of faith I pursued this newfound discovery. However, I spent my first ten years building a fortress to protect a heart so soft and squishy the Pillsbury Dough Boy was jealous of it and over the next five years, with no one to encourage that planted seed of faith, I perfected this formidable outer crust. This protective mechanism, born of necessity, and honed through years of practice followed me for yet another fifteen years.

I mean, why fix something that isn’t broken, right? By society’s standards I was a success story. When I moved to a small town in the Midwest at 15, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, studied hard, got straight A’s, got a job, a car, accepted to the college I wanted and MY plans were going perfectly! I even made a few acquaintances, which if you have any knowledge of small towns is quite a feat! I was proof of the American Dream, and proof that there was no such thing as a genetic link to addiction. But I look back on that time line and see that this girl’s heart was so hard, so well protected, that she was lonely, full of anxiety and fear of failure, so driven by it, that she not only carried an unbearable weight, but she missed out on so much joy! She really was broken and didn’t even know it!

I used to marvel at people’s testimonies when they literally had a “came to Christ moment”. I often wondered how that happens. I mean, one day they’re vacuuming cheerios out from between the couch cushions and planning what to thaw for dinner, and the next they land, completely surrendered, at the foot of the cross. I’m starting to understand that not only is God’s plan different for everyone, but because He made us all so wonderfully different, His pursuit of our hearts must look different as well.

They say hindsight is 20/20 and I now see that He not only pursued me faithfully my whole life, He mercifully did it patiently and with perfect timing. It took me fifteen years to raise my defenses, and He brought them slowly crumbling down over the next fifteen years. After all, if she didn’t know she was broken, why would she seek help? If she was sure that she could handle the load, that HER plan was working and the best for her, why seek the One whose plan was truly to prosper her? Not by society’s standards, but His? And finally, how was she to surrender and allow Him to carry that yoke with a heart so hardened and full of distrust? Praise Jesus, He knew!


Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens theirheart falls into trouble.
Proverbs 28:14