Slow and steady

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I have this tumbling question in my mind throughout the day, while life-big things- zooms around me: “Am I going to survive this?”

My own life, it feels like it just beats the crap out of me most days.

Sometimes it’s that constant chasing by grace. Yes, it’s true, grace chases us in breathless pursuit. ( Annwas right.)

Sometimes it’s the demand of motherhood that leaves me gasping for air.

The fast pace of life. I am letting go and gripping tightly. I am holding my breath and exhaling long.

“A place of rest, and a place of working until you feel feverish. Days of hiding followed by being truly found. Moments of quitting and eternal commitments. Holding on until your fingers are calloused and then letting go, even if it means a fast and long free fall.” (Lala Lovely

I can’t tell you ALL.THE.THINGS yet. I’m sorry.

But most mornings I get up, wonder again if it is right, reassure myself that God’s got this and it’s all His work anyway, and plunge my fingers into dough.

As I fall fast and free and LONG. My hands smoosh the dough and kids come in wide eyed with bed head, “Biscuits, again?!”

I smile, and smoosh, and ask for strength for another day. There is freedom in surrender. Somehow dough helps me to do that.

Tonight another mamma whispered dreams from her heart that she has never said aloud to anyone else, and I could feel the excitement down to my toes.

Are you thinking? Are you discovering? Are you dreaming? Are you falling fast and free?

Do you know who will catch you? That is the freedom in surrender.

In the beginning

If women aren’t empowered to cultivate their uniqueness, we all suffer the loss of beauty, creativity, and resourcefulness they were meant to inject into the world.” Freefall to Fly, Rebekah Lyons

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At this time, 33 years ago, my mother was nearing her due date with what she had been told would be another boy. Chasing a two year old around all day while pregnant with a good sized baby, she would have been devastated to know she still had a couple more weeks to wait.

Finally, on April 28, 1981 in West Virginia (they had to drive over and around mountains to get to the hospital in Maryland where I was born. My poor mom needed a mountain midwife!), my mom went into real labor. I would be the fastest to arrive of all her babies. I gave her a four hour labor, spent with leather cuffs to hold her wrists to the bed (to ensure she was in the most convenient position for the doctor) with no pain meds, even when it wasn’t popular to do so. My parents took a cassette recorder into the delivery room, so I know well the doctor’s exclamations of, “Big girl! BIG girl!!” And comments about how my mom nearly launched me across the room as I came out. My mom wept in unbelief that she’d finally gotten a dark haired baby girl. Never mind I was the size of a two month old at 9 lb, 15 ounces and two feet long!

My older brother tried to run away he day they brought me home from the hospital. I slept so well that they put me in a crib in my own room that very night.

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I have vague memories as a two year old at Christmas, and toys that now would be considered “vintage”.

Shortly after that we moved to the Myrtle Beach area as my parents graduated to the Senior Pastor position at an Assemblies of God church.

I had surgery to remove my tonsils and adenoids and put tubes in my ears, after an early childhood of ear infection after ear infection, with antibiotics failing at every turn.

We moved two or three times around that town, always going from small rental house to small rental house. No matter where we went my mom made it pretty. No matter where we went, we played in neighbor’s yards in a safe little world, where children could go down the street and you could count on the kindness of others to look after them. People weren’t distracted so much then that they didn’t noticed the small people.

When it was time for me to start four year old kindergarten, my parents started a private school at our church, and my mom was my teacher. I didn’t much like having to share her with all those other kids, so I performed many antics which frequently landed me I the principal’s office for a spanking. (Guess who the principal was. Yep. My dad.) I would lay out prostrate during the middle of class, or dramatically prop my feet up on the desk or make as much humming noise as I could while mom tried to teach. Sorry, Mom!

It was sometime after this that I sat in time out and felt conviction of sin for the first time. Silently, and all alone, I prayed for God’s forgiveness and committed my life to serving the One who could free me from sin.

I remember always having other kids follow me around. I was always the boss when we played, handing out imaginary roles and they dutifully followed my lead.

My birthday parties were always crowded because my mom had many people to consider when she made the guest list. Everyone wanted to come to the pastor’s kid’s parties. So there was usually a separate party for immediate family and real friends.

Halfway through my second grade year, my parents went away to Florida to interview for a church there. I got the mumps while they were gone and it was terribly painful and miserable without my mamma. They came back with announcements that we were moving.

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That’s me with my Papaw. He passed away shortly after my first baby was born, but not without passing on the love of homegrown food, Tom and Jerry, and long prayers and hymns in the midnight hours.

to be continued….

start here

I’m going to try to sneak back to this space where I write things.

Hold on. Let me get some milk for Titus.

Okay, I’m back, and I just bought myself at least ten minutes.

You know I used to write, like, a lot? I enjoyed it. Making lists, writing poems, thinking thoughts. But I don’t get the opportunity to think very often, so when I do, it comes out like an overflowing torrent like the, ahem, last post.

I woke up thinking so many things this morning, but life got in the way and there was a possum to kill (I’m pretty sure it ate all the eggs I was going to cook today), and now Sesame Street rings out from the living room and there are people, real people with real needs, that need me so very much.

I’ve been in a funk. The good kind of funk where you just get fed up and stand up for yourself, sometimes against your very own self, and put to death what needs to die so that new life can spring forth grow. (Seriously, I might die if I hear the phrase “spring forth” ever again. Y’all feel me?)

Anyway, my mamma has been faithfully watching over me and worrying herself, and cautiously starting conversations with me during this funk. And the other day she reminded me of how I use to write. I use to think things.

Mothers are frustrated. Some of us are angry. Most of us are depressed. We are carrying heavy burdens of what the world says mothers should do (everything), what the church says mothers should do (only be mothers), and what our hearts say they want to do (if we can remember).

I reject the notion that mother’s have to relegate themselves to a life of brain inactivity. Sure, for a time we are so sleep deprived, so food and water deprived, so time deprived, that we may have trouble remembering what day it is. And for the love, no one can spout out seven individual’s birth dates at the drop of a hat. But, we are smart, and we are strong, and by golly, we think things.

So let’s stop joking that we are stupid or crazy or brain dead. And if you feel that way about yourself, wake up! Drink some coffee, read a book/magazine/blog while your kid’s watch tv (I give you permission), turn your brains on.

Recently I asked myself, “Who is Missi?” The name felt foreign on my “lips”. I realized that I didn’t know. Listening too long to the traditions of man, the opinions of others, my own guilt, I have lost Missi. Missi! The girl who changed her name in fourth grade to Lisa. Missi! The girl who finally decided to keep her real name, but only if she could spell it her own way. Missi! The girl knit together by the very mind of God, the creator of the universe!

Find yourself. Beyond diapers, beyond vaccine debates, beyond second grade math or seventh grade history. Why? Because you are uniquely created to bring glory to God. Mamma, you are as beautiful and deep as the ocean! You are smart! You are strong! How do I know? Because you are made in the image of God!

Now that I have begun to give myself permission to think, to have ideas, and thoughts…. I am finding freedom to enjoy the restrictions placed on me by my brood of little people. My guilt is lifting. In an ironic sort of way, knowing that I was made for more has set me free to enjoy where I am right now. (And you know good and well that I am not talking about enjoying explosive diapers or getting throw up in my ear at 2 am. I’m talkin’ ’bout enjoying the season.)

Find yourself. Who were you when you were 8? What were your dreams and plans? What about when you were 12,15,20?? What major turning points have happened in your life, besides having babies? Can you remember? I almost can’t, but I’m going to try. Why? Because your story is important. It’s part of His story. It’s what our children and grandchildren will want to hear one day. But mostly, because it’s part of what makes you uniquely you.

I’m going to start at the beginning of me. I’d love it if you’d join me! Start your story, from the beginning. In a journal, on a blog, wherever. In the process, I suspect we will face fears, let go, find forgiveness, remember our gifts, reignite our passions, and be free to be who God made us to be.

Sesame Street is over now, but I got way more than ten minutes anyway. ;)

If I am singing your song, I highly suggest you read Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons.

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Dear new mamma

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but let me tell you what. Having all your babies back to back and then trying to raise them all at once ain’t no sunshine and roses. It’s hard. You will never be up to the task. You will go to bed completely exhausted every single night and wake up tired every single morning, usually with a kid in bed with you. You will not have free time unless it comes at the expense of not bathing people or having no dishes to eat off of, because you left them all dirty so that you could knit. There will be days on end where someone is crying at every moment of the day. There will be lots of days when you want to cry at every moment.
Help will most likely not come from others on the days you really need it.

You will never be able to meet everyone’s needs, and you’ll be blissfully unaware of all the shiny things that are at the mall begging you to buy them because you won’t go to the mall. You won’t go much of anywhere.

So, dear ones, count the cost and know that you can’t afford it. And then do it anyway. Because it’s worth it.

IF we can be free

This is my attempt to regurgitate what I learned at the IF: Gathering a couple weeks ago. I quoted directly when I could, but most of these truths came from the mouths of the likes of Ann Voskamp, Jen Hatmaker, Jennie Allen, Shellie Giglio, etc. I see the same movement, the same call being put out there in many circles. Which was, in fact, the goal of the IF:Gathering- to pull in all people from all denominations and get real.

Can we get real with one another? It feels a bit like asking y’all to get naked with me. But please do keep your clothes on. ;)

Can I ask you something?

Are you free?

What does that even mean?

Do you cost anything? Does your life cost something?

Or

Are you available? Not tied up?

Or

Are you not enslaved?

Close your eyes and imagine, what does your free self look like? What does a free life look like? If God is real, then what? What does that mean in your life, in my life?

Contrast that with your life now. Really, stop and think about it.

Are you free? Or are you weighted down, in bondage, your life isn’t costing anything, tied up, unavailable, enslaved.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galations 5:1

It’s possible to be delivered, and not free. It’s possible to continually go back to what previously enslaved us.

It’s possible to continue sticking our feet back in the mire that God pulled us from. It’s possible to shackle ourselves back up. After all, didn’t the Israelites beg to go back into captivity? We do the same.

I want to be free. Weightless, aware of what my life costs- a payment I did not have to make, available, untied, unbound.

Christine Cain said, “If hurt people hurt people, free people free people.” I couldn’t help but think about the movie, The Matrix. And I see that in the church. Like fish that don’t know we are wet, we are walking around bound because we are still.not.free. We don’t live like we’re free. We get stuck, tied down by the same sins continually, when the victory has been won. We trifle through silly debates, we defend the gospel like its a sweet little kitten and we are bound in fear like we don’t know that we belong to an indestructible kingdom. We don’t live like we believe God is real, that heaven is real.

“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” Hebrew 12:12-13

Rebekah Lyons pointed out that we struggle to be free because we struggle with healing, and we struggle with healing because we struggle with confession.

On this path to freedom in Christ, what do you need to confess? What strongholds in your life need to be brought into submission to Christ Jesus? (Is it an addiction? Is it pure unadulterated selfishness? Is it loving this world more than you love Him? Is it anger? Is it fear? Is it refusal to fully surrender? Is it not believing the truth of who you are in Christ? Is it unbelief? What is holding you back from peace with God? From living in total joy and peace through Him, despite your circumstances? )

Ps 84 describes the life of those who are free, who have peace with God:

- they are dwelling in the presence of God, and enjoying the heck out of it. (V 1-2)
- they are being useful and doing their work in His presence. And Mammas, how precious is verse three? “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.” Build your nest in His presence. Because of Christ’s work on the cross, we are all free to be in His presence.
- their strength is in God (v5)
- they go through dry places (there is no promise of an easy life here), and they make it a place of fresh springs (v6) {How do they do that? I want to know!}
- they are doorkeepers to God’s presence (v 10)

What does your life invite people to? Are you a free person freeing people?

Are you broken by sin or are you being broken and poured out for others? Do you want to be free? Are you ready to love God and be loved by God? Like really, for real? In a way that liberates you to freely love and serve others. Is this world your home? Is it all you’ve got? Then what?

I don’t have all the answers. But I have tasted and seen. I know there is freedom to be had. I know that overcoming is a possibility.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

I know that this overcoming is possible, because it is not by my hand or through anything I can do.

Come with me on this journey?

Grown

I saw what y’all did on Valentine’s Day. Your sweet donuts and cupcakes that you shared with your loved ones. Fun little outings and treats.

This is what I gave my Valentine’s all day:

The day before, my people and I started running low grade fevers and having stiff necks and headaches. Google said it was either brain tumors, lupus, or a virus.

We had free babysitting for Parent’s Night Out at church the next night, so I loaded up the big guns and fired away with probiotics, antivirals, vit D3, etc.

We even went to see the chiropractor, to wish him a happy Love Day and see if he could fix it.

Almost home, and feeling like we just might make it to Date Night, Charis burst into tears and I knew what was coming up…literally.

Lots and lots of vomit.

Right at that moment a USPS mail carrier chose to pull right out in front of us. I instructed Charis to throw up into her jacket, and Brent to keep driving, and I laid on the horn to let the mail man know that we needed him to scoot right on.

Incidentally. If you are driving and someone behind you is flashing their lights, honking the horn, and driving wildly, I do not care what you are doing. You get out of the way, got it??

We pulled up to the house and Brent hopped out to start cooking his annual Valentine’s Day Dinner for the family and I cleaned vomit out of the carpet in the truck.

Then I changed a diarrhea diaper and ran up and down the stairs to settle sick people and check on my puker in the tub.

It hit me right at that moment how grown we are. Handling a puking kid in the car, changing diarrhea diapers and making hamburgers for a crowd, and deliriously in love and happy while doing it all.

These people are our lives.

We missed our date night tonight because we still have one kid down with fever. But our hearts are full. And, Arwen has learned to distribute the herbs under supervision, which is just another sign of how grown we are. We are working ourselves out of a job over here.

Also, I have bathroom selfies to prove that I.am.grown.

Snow Days

I don’t know if you caught it, but it snowed a little here in The Promised Land. We just aren’t use to that kinda thing, but while the rest of the world lost their minds, we hunkered down and enjoyed ourselves.

Between keeping everyone dry and warm I’m good till at least 2020 with no more snow, thankyouverymuch.

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slamming windows shut

You know there is actually a mercifully brief window of time where most people feel like, “Oooohhh…. I want another tiny baby!”

And that window just closed for me. I realize I’m probably going to get pregnant for saying that.

As I type, my toddler is banging my bedroom door down. It already has a hole in it from the time he attacked it with a screw driver, trying to get to me while I was scarfing chocolate  meditating  pooping  getting dressed.

Our babies hit 9 months old and start crawling and then they turn 1 and they are toddling and before you know it they are sweet little things climbing into your lap with a book. And you think….”Oooohhhhhhh. Another would be lovely!”

And then you get pregnant and then they turn two and you freak out a little.

Titus is owning the two year old role in our home right now.

He turned two almost exactly one week ago. In this first week of being two, he has:

  • Fallen off of our deck (he fell at the shortest point, an 8 or 9 foot drop)
  • Fallen down the stairs
  • Drawn on his face with a Sharpie
  • Fallen off the countertop in the kitchen (which he climbed up onto himself, of course)
  • Pooped on my brand new bedding twice (in the two days it’s actually been on my bed) and actually every other bed in the house (six beds total)
  • Screams at me through every meal to where I usually just leave the table and go hungry

I don’t want advice about discipline unless you have braved the five kids under 10 waters and produced a two year old that was totally under control, m’kay?

Just laugh with me, people. Titus is going to grow up to be a muscle man or something one day and I’m totally going to look back and revel in every moment. At least that’s what y’all tell me. I’ll be right back at “Ooooohhhh, I’d give anything to have a toddler screaming at me while I chug this coffee.” Right?…

This entry was posted in Titus.

My baby is two!

My youngest boy, Titus. My strong, fearless, tender loving boy, Titus. My still nursing, Mamma’s Boy, play with my hair, Titus.

He turned two years old today. All day long I snuggled him close and said a thousand times, “I love you. Happy Birthday. Mamma loves you. I’m so glad you’re here.” And because he’s Titus, he never once pushed me away or got tired of hearing it. That boy would cuddle in my lap all day long if he could. He is the one that will care for me when I’m old and senile. 

We celebrated his birthday a couple days early while a bunch of family was in town.

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Did you know it only takes the Cookie Company 30 minutes to make a birthday cake with your child’s name on it??? Stress. Free.

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He blew out the candles  matches pretty fast. (Also did you know that matches make a suitable substitute for birthday candles? Especially ones from a bar&grill that you found in the bottom of your purse.)

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Titus did not care that we threw it all together last minute. He felt all that love.

From Daddy.

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From Mamma.

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His life is so precious to me. All of my children are precious to me. But Titus was the last gift handed to me by Terri. The last time she breathed out her calling on this earth. And I will forever be in awe that he took so.dang.long to get here, because that was just extra time with her.

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Happy Birthday, Titus! I cannot imagine our lives without you, sweet boy.

This entry was posted in Titus.