Friday, May 30, 2014

Oops...she did it again


God has a fantastic sense of humor.

I know this to be true like I know the sky is blue or chocolate makes everything better.

I may have mentioned before that I have a serious mouth phobia. Like uber-serious. 

So let me set the stage:
The husband is out of town on guys weekend. He's my guy in emergencies of the mouth variety.
I go to church with the little people.
I run a meeting with my friend Miss K to get ready for Kids Kamp.

I'm baffled when Miss P shows up carrying Kadence who has a lot of bloody paper towels shoved in her mouth.

Oh. no.

You have got to be kidding me.

I look at Miss P and she says gently, "It's her tooth."
Oh. Poop.
Blood. Mouth. Teeth.
The trifecta of sending me into a tailspin.
Miss P looks at me, clearly concerned. "Are you okay?"
Ummmmm....absolutely. NOT.
So I tell her, "Mmmmm...I have this mouth phobia thing...this is the husband's area. He's my guy when stuff like this happens."

My cavalry is out of town.
My heebie jeebies smattered with a large dose of panic and served with a small side of fear are sprinting out of control.
I feel it all rise up as I feel everything in me shut down.
And then I really look at Miss P, and I hate to admit these words actually came out of my mouth, but this is how wacky my brain becomes and how paralyzed my processing ability degenerates to with trauma in the mouth, and I whisper "What do I do? I don't know what to do."

Meanwhile, I have Kadence and her bloody face pressed to my shoulder.

She's calming down. And I'm freaking out on the inside a little.

"Do you want me to take a look for you?" Miss P asks me gently, compassionately. "What can I do to help you?"

God has a sense of humor. But He also has an immeasurable capacity for grace. And for providing what I need when I need it. And He had it all ready for me. Before it ever happened.  

My friend Miss K has dealt with knocked out teeth with both of her kids. Miss P is a biology teacher with a great capacity for icky things (i.e. bloody mouths). All I had to do was hold my baby and tell her she was gonna be fine. And Miss P looked at her mouth. And my tummy cringed a little because it didn't look so good. And Miss K swept her right away after the meeting, which she ended up running by herself because I was otherwise occupied, and she got that little girl talking and sucking on ice. Both were things I was not able to do because my little girl was feeding off of my fear as it rolled in waves through my pores.

Today was not my favorite day.
But it was a day that I was reminded that God loves me. 
And How God Loves Me is more than enough because it settled deep into the wacky places, the paralyzed places, the performance places, the places where I didn't feel like I was enough.

It was more than just knowing in my head all the truths I've read and studied and lived.
It was one of those rare moments where I got it. Deep. Real. In the very struggle I was floundering lost and panicked through.

I knew. I believed. I trusted.

Unequivocally.

He wasn't going to leave me in a space where I couldn't handle what happened to my girl. He wasn't going to abandon me to flounder and freak out and make irrational decisions in the middle of my freak out. He wasn't going to disappear at the "What do I do?" He hunkered down in the middle of the chaos, grabbed me tight and close, and buffeted the hardest of the waves. He was my stormbreak. And that's so much more than enough.

He put me in a safe place. He put my girl in a safe place. He made it so Kadence had people who have crazy awesome skills and crazy awesome love. And I soaked it up. And she soaked it up. Because really what else is there to do when you can't do anything and God provides everything but soak it up?

In another time not so long ago, I wouldn't have been able to soak it up. I would've thought I had to do it alone and lonely. That my strength was somehow tied to my ability to handle crises by myself. To make it work by myself. Because that's sometimes what we believe. That we don't need others. That we don't need help. Because somewhere we started believing the lie that needing equaled weakness. 

I say make me weak. Make me needy. Because then Jesus is biggest. 
And God gets to do the stuff that only God can do.
I want to need Him. I'm done with believing I have to do the hard stuff, the big stuff, the small stuff, the awesome stuff, the gross stuff, the scary stuff alone and by doing it alone I'm somehow more. 

More what, exactly?

More alone? Yep.
More tired? Yep.
More lonely? Yep.
More sad? Yep.
More angry? Yep.
More frustrated? Yep.
More needy? Ironically, Yep.

I want more of Jesus. Deep down. Soul deep. And to hang out down deep means we will need others.
It's impossible to be the kind of mama my heart really wants to be all by myself. I need my people and while I'd like to think I can do it alone, I know that we are so much stronger and deeper and able as the body of Christ.

So much stronger because we know we are weak.
So much stronger because we live in His strength.
So much stronger because we know we can't do life without Him.
So much stronger because we need Him.

And when we surrender what we think we're supposed to do, how we think we're supposed to be then God can grace-cover us and sweep us away in an ocean of blessing and let us live out His crazy awesome love.

I'm relieved to share it all worked out. Kadence went to the dentist early Monday morning. With my mama. And she was super excited. Both of them. My mama and Kadence. Kinda cute if it wasn't for the whole tooth trauma thing.

And when Kadence marched in to the dentist office proudly, put her hands on her hips, and exclaimed loudly, "Okay! Where's the tooth fairy?" I was convinced that not only was she not traumatized, she was living out this particular adventure to the fullest.

Although, she does look a bit like a pirate now.
Arrgghh!

Grace Always Rises,
Jamie


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Snow Monsters and Dragons and Holes...Oh My!!

It was bedtime.

And what I’m discovering is that bedtime is prime time for theological discussions.

I know.
Crazy.

And what’s crazier is that they never begin as theological discussions. But that’s where the road bends and twists so that’s where I go. 

Because who can predict the course of a twisty, bendy, divine road? Who can plan where that road ends up? And how can I say no when there are little hearts with quirky questions that really matter?





The conversation topic starter: Screaming.

Why screaming?

Because there was an element of timing that needed to be reviewed in our house.

Specifically when to scream—as in appropriate times—because they are super awesome at knowing the inappropriate times…like when there’s a bug on a wall or she took a book from me or A won’t let me have that or I can’t find my shoe or my blanket is lost or my bed is messy. You get the idea.

So in our review I mention that appropriate times might be when you fall and break something or when strangers try to touch you or when you are outside and see a bear.

And then K says, “Or when bad guys have the holes.” And her fingers are fluttering poking holes in the air.

No joke. Holes.

Huh?

“Holes?” I ask. Yes, I am just as flummoxed as you.

“Holes,” R says. Matter of factly. Like we all know about ‘holes.’ “Bad guys take their finger and poke a hole.”

“And then they put stuff in the hole,” finishes K with a finger gesture like she’s stuffing something into a hole.

I’m seriously wondering what holes are. I'm also seriously wondering how K knew exactly what R was talking about, like they've had this conversation before, and finished her sentence.

But before I can question them further on the mystery of holes and the stuffing of them, R continues: “And then it's okay to scream.”

“Or we can scream when the dragons come to bite us,” says K conspiratorially.

Holes and now dragons?

Who are these little people?

And seriously, in a household where their TV exposure is limited to Disney Jr and animated movies, they have knowledge about holes and dragons that has been imparted by a mysterious, and powerful, force.
And how did my little pep talk about screaming get derailed so quickly?

Apparently, I am just along for the ride.

“Or when the snow-monsters come and eat us, then we can scream,” whispers R.

Snow-monsters? I can chalk that one up to Frozen. Still baffled by dragons and holes.

So I decide to speak up.

“Well, no monsters or dragons will be eating you. I’m pretty sure you’re safe,” I whisper back. “Do you know why I know you’re safe?”

“Because the dragons are at their house,” K says like everyone knows this. And if dragons are at their house, then they can’t be at our house. Duh.

“Yes. Do you know why else?” I respond trying to stay the course on a very curvy, unpredictable road while I settle in for the long haul.

“Because the monsters aren’t really here.”

I sigh deep.

Deep breathing is desperately needed when your little people are clinging to dragons and holes and snow monsters and you’re trying to show them the road to Jesus. So they can cling to Truth.

Deep breathing is probably needed regardless.

But I know in my heart that this discussion is about so much more than dragons and I can’t get derailed.

So I persist in the middle of all this fertile soil and all this crazy blossoming of imagination.
“Yes. And do you know why else?”

“Ummm…no.” What? Nothing? Speechless.

In the whole history of R and K, speechless has never happened. Never.

Now’s my moment.

And when it's your moment, you gotta go for it. No fear. No second thoughts. No hesitation. Because that moment-- that moment --might be all you have. And it lasts for a nanosecond. If you blink, if you breathe, you miss it. 

I can't miss it. 

I dive right in. Gloriously. No holds barred. I dive deep.

“Because Jesus is always with you and He is always protecting you. Always.”

“Because He has long hair?” asks K.

And just that quick my glorious dive halts. And I surface.
Laughing.
Hysterically.
On the inside.

“Well, He might have long hair, but that’s not why He’s always with you.”

They ponder that for a moment. A brief moment.

And then R blurts out, “Well, where’s God?”

“Well,” I start, “God and Jesus are kind of the same,” I decided that the Holy Spirit could maybe wait for another discussion as we had enough on our plate what with all the dragons and snow monsters and holes and now Jesus and God. So I continued, “So if you talk to one, you also talk to the other one.” Sortof.

Four year old theology is tough. And I’ve had a lot of these theology discussions.

“Well, Jesus died,” says K.

“And He rose from the dead so He’s not dead anymore,” I reply.

“He sits on my shoulder. Right here,” and K lifts her hand and pats her shoulder fondly.

“Well, actually He lives right here, in your heart,” I reply as I touch her chest right over her heart.

She looks at me for a moment. “A boy lives in my heart,” K squeals and squishes her nose and R does the same. Because you know, that’s funny when you’re a girl and there’s a boy living in your heart. It's probably also funny when you're a boy and there's a boy living in your heart, but alas, I have no boys, so I won't have to have that conversation. 

“Yep. He does.”

“Mama, Jesus is a good guy,” K whispers now, snuggling deep into her soft, purply covers.  R nods in agreement, having by this time, bowed out of the conversation in favor of sucking her thumb and rubbing her silky, her eyes growing heavy. 

“Yes, K, He is. The best.”

And when we believe that Jesus is the best good guy, we can sleep easy and rest deeply because He’s right there with us, in our hearts. We can cling to the Truth because we can abide in the Truth.
Always.
And we’re right there, in His heart.
Always.
And that’s the very best place to be.
Always.

Grace Always Rises,
Jamie

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Letter for My Mama



It snuck up on me.
I didn’t even realize it was almost here.
Mother’s Day.

I’ll be honest. It’s true that this day is really-really-hard for a lot of us. Because some of us are traveling a hard, hard road to be a mother.  Or we have mamas who left or who abused or who hurt. Or we think we have failed altogether at this being a mom (or daughter)thing and think we are just too far on the edge of crazy to be worthy of any grace.




So I’m changing perspective. I’m focusing on what I have instead of what I am. On my blessings instead of my failings. On God’s grace instead of everything else. Because if I focus on anything else, I’m missing Him. His provision. His blessing. His grace. His Love.

Maybe you might consider joining me? Joining me on the grace-road as we cherish the blessings, the women, the love that we do have because it might be just what our hearts need.

It’s true that gratitude begets gratitude and blessing begets blessing. That being grateful for time and people and love can heal deep scars and leads us to restoration and healing. Sure my own mama wasn’t perfect. None of us are. But with Jesus, it’s never too late to fix a broken, busted relationship, to find that mama-soul who will love you, to heal from a deep loss and replace memories of pain with memories of joy, to remember your own mama on your difficult road to becoming a mama. Not to minimize the hard-messy you might be in the middle of, but to just take a moment to be grateful for what God has already given.

This is my grateful:

A Letter for My Mama

Dear Mama,

There’s just not the right kind of words. I wish there were.  Sometimes there’s just stuff, feelings so deep, that words seem so inadequate, so shallow, so limited. Like maybe it would be better if you could just dive in to my heart and splash around a little.

I love you.

I’ve watched you. I’ve become an expert at watching you. Watching how you love. Watching how you serve. Watching how you plan ahead. Watching how you cherish. Watching how you adopt others into our family. Watching how you care. Watching how you manage to be patient when I would bite her head off. Watching how you navigate the sometimes frustrating waters of family. Watching how you love Jesus.

I remember when my friend N asked me if you wore a superhero cape and a sparkly spandex suit—maybe no on the spandex suit because, frankly, spandex shows everything, but I’m sure there’s a superhero cape with sparkles somewhere in your closet.  

Because I’m just not sure how you did it all.



 
How you raised two kids, kept your marriage, built a house, created a home, taught full time, made us dinner every night—and a real dinner, not chicken nuggets from a box--, came to our games, took us to church, and taught us to love Jesus.

How you turned your own desires into a bed that you laid your family on so we could have our desires.

How you loved us enough to tell us “no,” to ground us, to follow through on our consequences, to be the ‘heavy’ even when it wasn’t convenient, to be our mom and not our friend.

How you cared enough about our character that you let us go to youth group even when we were grounded from all of life because in your words, “I’m not gonna ground you from Jesus.”

How we always knew we mattered. Even in the middle of life, we knew we were important.

How you didn’t hide your disagreements with Dad from us, but explained that people fight and people work it out and then you showed us the working it out. You live the working it out still.

How you believed in me even when I didn’t believe in me. How you believe in me now when I don’t believe in me.

How you taught me that being a good friend is hard because people won’t always be good friends back.

How you loved me through junior high when I was awkward and insecure and perhaps a little bit unlovable to say the least.

How you allowed me the freedom and opportunity to explore my gifts, and you weren’t afraid to call them out in me.

How you weren’t afraid of doling out tough love or hard truth.

How you acknowledged my good choices by offering degrees of freedom and responsibility. And in the same vein, acknowledged my bad choices by taking it all away.

How you were never into drama or hysterics. Mine or yours. You were steady. You were never thrown off balance. Or at least you never showed it.

How you let us ride to the store on our bikes without the comfort of cell phones. I can only imagine how this terrified you, but you believed that we could handle it and you let us go.

How you retired and then took being a Nana to a whole new level, as though that was your new, most important, bestest job…the one job you had been waiting your whole life to take on.

How you came to my basketball games in high school and my soccer games in college and cheered me on, even when I didn’t play.

How you taught me the value of hard work because you gave me allowance and then weren’t afraid to take it away, the way to really clean because you made me clean it again, and how to do laundry efficiently because I had to do my own.

How I know that you know that we can talk without talking, though I’m really good at talking and you’re always really good at listening.

How you became my friend when I was in college and stopped telling me what to do and started listening to what I was doing and then waiting till I asked for your opinion. And you always gave it to me without judging and without judgment.

How you looked deep down into my soul that day in the mall when I was in 7th grade and so incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin and told me that I was so pretty.

How you managed to like my boyfriends and be friends with them, even when they weren’t my boyfriends anymore. Because you saw them as people.

How you don’t judge my propensity for clutter or my denial of dust bunnies. You deal. (Or you fix it---ummm…thank you and I’m sorry).

How you were sometimes short and curt and you sometimes yelled and hollered and you weren’t afraid to let us know we’d done wrong. But at the end of the day, we always knew we were loved.

How you aren’t afraid of spoiling the little people just a little bit because you hold firm to the notion that it’s your prerogative. Because you’re the nana. And you are. The Nana.

How you love people by just letting them be.

How you lived your life in such a way that you could be a role model, an example, a mentor. To me. To others.

How you don’t hold grudges. You forgive and you move on.

How you really live so that you can cross things off your bucket list.

How Jesus is a quiet, solid presence in your life. That He just is and you don’t make a big fanfare or production, but He is always in you and without Him you wouldn’t make sense.

There’s so much about you that I hope to be someday. There’s so much of me that I know is because of you.

And I just want to say thank you.
It’s because of you that I am.
And I love you.

Love,
Your Daughter