winding road

winding road

This winding road that seems to lead to nowhere. This place of darkness, of thick veil over my eyes. This place of silence it seems. Manna for today. Just for today. Nothing more. Nothing less. This clinging to something substantial in thin air. Only to have it disappear once again. This place of wandering. Wandering. Wandering. Questions unanswered. So many unanswered.

This place where I’m losing hope. Losing sight. Losing the point of it all. This place I might crumble any day now. This place of loosing myself. This place of looking in the mirror without masks. This place of a million pieces floating in the sky not looking  to fit, to reconcile.

This place where self-discovery becomes endless. This place where pain and freedom become one. This place where hope isn’t rising but faith is re-defined. This place where past Story is embraced. Where His story is embraced.

This place of seeing Jesus. Really seeing Jesus. Where I embrace my broken humanity and find a Savior.

This place is a desert where a generation is dying off. So much needs dying off. This place of dying. And dying. And dying. This place where He resurrects . Again. and again. and again. This generation is me. And I am waiting. Waiting. Still. waiting. And he is transforming. Transforming. Transforming.

 

photo by:Jeremie Egry

Books! Books! Books!

photo (4)I love reading! But there might be one thing that excites me more and that is seeing what other people are reading!! I love the rabbit trail it sends me on when I find one book that leads to another book. So I have dedicated an entire blog post on some books that I have read this last year. My list was much LONGER but I figured people would appreciate a smaller, concise list that keeps ones attention. I also plan on doing a book list on self help and racial reconciliation. YAY!

One of the things that has created room for spiritual growth for me is to read authors who are not my denomination.  I think sometimes evangelicals think they are going to be the only ones in heaven. That we somehow have the market cornered on who Jesus is. That our heavenly neighbors will all be republican, evangelical, charismatic and white. (ok maybe I’m placing judgment on that last one!) I have been so refreshed to see Jesus in a new way by reading brothers and sisters that express worship differently then I do. Some might have views that are deemed more “liberal” but I have so much to learn from them! WE have so much to learn from each other. The church is big and she is beautiful.

An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown TaylorI fell in love with Barbara Brown Taylors writing immediately! She strings some beautiful words together! This book goes through the spiritual practices and how they can be practiced every day. You will leave changed by the depth and simplicity of this book. You can also watch short videos here of her speaking.

Jesus Feminist by Sarah BesseyI found Sarahs blog a couple of years ago. She brings such beauty and truth as she dives into a sometimes “uncomfortable” topic of women in the church. It feels like you’re having coffee with your favorite (smart) girlfriend! I anxiously awaited the release of her first book. And It did not disappoint! For a every women and every man in the church this is a MUST read. It will change the way you view the dirty word “feminist” (I happen to not think it’s a scary word but I am a rebel at heart 😉 ) and send you questioning how scriptures about women are talked about in church. I did the ugly cry through the last chapter.

When We Were On Fire by Addie ZiermanI also found her blog and later picked up her book. She chronicles her life growing up in the evangelical church and her journey into depression. I loved reading her story. If you grew up in evangelical culture circa 1990’s, this will make you laugh and shudder at the same time! I soooooo connected to her doubt and cynicism. And her journey to real faith with imperfect followers. It was also a bit of healing for me as I looked back on my own journey. There is a lot of talk about my generation leaving the Church. Most often than not I think for good reason. So I think her story is so important if we are to continue to grow as Jesus people! The church is battered and bruised but she has such beauty.

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk KiddIf your heart starts racing when someone talks about feminism. Or rage begins to fill up your body because you think women who are feminist are all going to hell.  I would venture to say this is not the book for you! I found this book fascinating and powerful! So much I only got half way through it. I needed to put it down to digest the first part. It’s one of those books I could read over and over again. I see it like a big juicy steak that you might need a lot of time to sit and chew, to get all the goodness out of it. This is a story about her journey into womenhood. Not the one society creates for you. Not the one the church says over you. But the identity that Mother God imparts to us as women.

When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk KiddI don’t think I can explain how much this book impacted me. It holds a really special place in my heart. I read this book during my first round of depression last year. It changed so much for me. How I viewed God, how I saw myself, and how I viewed transformation. It’s just an amazing book! The spiritual act of waiting is so counter culture and exactly what spiritual transformation is about!

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne LamottUmm need I say more. This is Anne freakin Lamott people. If you have never read one of her books, I’d say start here. She will make you cry and laugh. Some of her other books that I love are: Bird by Bird and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. ALL of her books are fantastic. If you like writing, READ BIRD BY BIRD.

Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination, and Spirit by Luci ShawThis was such a beautiful book to read. Luci Shaw is a poet and her words nourish the body like only a poet can do. I was interested in reading this book because the arts really draw me to the presence of God. But I have often times been disappointed that Christians sometimes like to create art in boxes made of right and wrong. She says, “Faith informs art and art informs faith.”  Side note: I am REALLY thankful we are a part of a faith community with AMAZING artist. It’s an incredibly talented bunch. They are painting the world with colors that look like Jesus!

Carry on, Warrior by Glennon Doyle MeltonI don’t know what to say. Glennon is hilarious! Her transparency is contagious. And her wisdom will disarm you in 2 seconds. You can’t help but it eat up her words! You can check out her TED talk here. She also has a pretty sweet blog.

The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Women’s Work” by Kathleen NorrisOne thing I love. Liturgy. And one thing I hate. Laundry. This is a small book but when you open it up gold falls out. Seriously! It’s a beautiful book that connects you to God’s presence in the mundane of life. The beautiful repetitive work of laundry and cleaning will feel like a full body prayer to your creator after reading this book.

hangover

 hangover1

And I’m still trippin over my vulnerability hangover. I threw the door open and let you in. But things got cold when I realized you could come and go as you please. See my imperfections. See my ugly. You could put together ideas about who you think I am. I could tell you about my fears and you might say I need to pray. Tell you about my questions and you might question my faith. Say shit and you might want to clean my mouth. I said things that might make you uncomfortable. I took the shot glass of vulnerability and later felt the effects.

Hangover..

I hang my head down. Slam the door shut. But I’m still shivering. Because my fears. Insecurities. Shame. They don’t feel warm and cozy like they use to. There’s no life here. I’m alone in my self-made house. And its foundation made of sand is quickly sinking.

So let me get up real quick. Walk out into the sun. Lift my face to the warmth of it. Drink a tall glass of everlasting, thirst quenching water. Let me stand up straight. Take a deep breathe. Open my hands up to the weakness I feel. Fix my eyes on that grace filled  strength. I’m not done letting you in yet. And maybe I’ll trip over my vulnerability again. Maybe I’ll skin my knee showing you real. I’ll tell you about my wounds and my scars. I’ll be honest about my imperfections and my ugly. And maybe you wince at first glance. But keep looking because there’s redemption here.  Grace. Sanctification. Red that turns to white. Cause I’m working out this salvation. And I am being made new again.  New again.

I did not come up with the phrase “vulnerability hangover.” All props goes to Brene Brown who’s book inspired this thought. It was exactly how I felt when I started owning my story and being vulnerable. Her work and books on shame were LIFE CHANGING for me. Check them out if you dare! 

photo by Flickr

Real Talk

bb7db0e9b6e75ab07b30873b0e48e6a2And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom. —-Anais Nin

 These are my muses. My descriptions of what it feels like to suffer from depression and anxiety attacks. I have struggled in the past with bouts of these emotional aliments but motherhood really brought me to a place of complete fragility. Being a mother has been a BEAUTIFUL, painful, and messy journey. I am thankful the darkness I’ve experienced has brought me to a new place of deep growth. I stand naked now, keenly aware of all that is broken inside me. I stand with a new day dawning that doesn’t include masks, perfection, performance, and comparison. I am determined to be brave with my vulnerability and find God in places I have never seen Him before. The darkness that has been so thick has brought about a spiritual awakening that only brokenness, silence, and question marks can bring. I am also determined to do the heart work of significant reflection that brings about a new ways of doing life. My identity is being re-imagined and re-defined.

I am always left with courage when someone owns their story. So in speaking my truth, my hope is that you might grow in courage toward your own journey. I also hope that in seeing me you would see all those who are lonely and broken. The ones we so easily forget on the margins of life. The ones we never touch because of all the hurry in life. So much of my story involves those who have reached into my darkness with a hand of light. It makes all the difference. I am not brave on my own.

real talk.

And i’m not sure where i begin and where i end. I’m not sure I ever knew. Because I have a chronic problem with my identity. and this seems to be the ultimate  brake. I cant function under all this darkness and weight. foggy head and sleep seem to be all i can grasp as a part of me. my old habits of numbing and faking shut me down to this place of lucid darkness.(blackness) my soul is craving truth and light and realness (vulnerability) but I don’t know how to do that. i cover it with a shadow of comparison but my inner self just wants to be herself. again or for the first time, i’m not really sure.

it would be the utmost inconvenient to try and find myself. my real life consist of real people that grew inside me. their looking at me for cues on life and all i can muster up is that mama is in the dark. in the deep isolated dark. i don’t know whats real anymore. i don’t know what i believe about the meaning of life. all i know is mama is lost. so lost. and if i cant say it out loud then i might as well not be alive.

and all this real talk is breaking the dark mold. light is streaming in. just a little. just enough. because don’t you know. truth sets people free. its what i’m counting on. my truth won’t live around my pain. walking through it will be my medicine. freedom and pain will touch each other. they’ll hold hands and mold something new together. and this is what i know.

this.is.what.i.know.

so what else can i say to these people that grew inside. other then watch this show because mama is sick. i’ll say i don’t know. and i’m not sure. ill say look at the sky and the birds. and don’t you wonder how those birds are even alive. ill say watch the trees dance. listen to the wind. and i’ll no longer fake it till i make it. ill say that’s a lie. because baby, you can fake it but i promise you, you won’t make it.

and this will be my real talk.

**Photo by Sasha Kurmaz

Photograph by Sasha Kurmaz

 

 

Part 1

tumblr_mlrpusgyo61rimhgto1_1280

Postpartum

Depression

Anxiety

Panic Attacks

Dark

Broken

Lonely

Ashamed

Lost

Foggy

Labels

Me

He came home again to find me locked in our bedroom. A  baby in the living room. Toddlers in the hallway. Crying. Everyone crying. I buried my face in his shoulders. Wanting to disappear from the present. I no longer controlled my anxiety. It now controlled me. It probably always controlled me. To hide in my closet in darkness was no longer an option. We were all desperate for light to stream  into the dark room.

***********************

With one step in front of the other she entered a therapist’s cozy office. She was numb and her head was foggy. She was not ready to “expose” herself. Because she didn’t know where “herself” had gone. She was buried under all the anxiety and depression. She no longer knew how to function under the labels that were put on her. She had checked out of the game of life. Decided she’d rather hide then play charades again. In her place stood anxiety, fear. And in her head were the whispers of lies that boomed throughout her body. Facing the darkness felt blinding to her. She closed her eyes and took the hand that was extended. She needed the incarnation of Jesus. And it would be in the form of a therapist. It would get worse before it got better.

*********************

 I lie in bed, tears streaming down my face. Wondering where He was. Was He even real. Was all this for nothing. Because it felt like a bunch of nothing. Struggling and broken in the echoes of silence. Abandoned. Forgotten. Left out in the cold. No words for my aching heart. Drowning in my own self doubt. Swallowed whole by lack of faith. I spent my days with talking babies and an attentive husband but the loneliness in my soul felt crushing. I walked around half numb and half aware of the pain I carried. The cloud of frustration would hover when I would realize after all these sessions I still didn’t have my shit together. Wasn’t there a button to push. A box to mark off that said, “I did my five sessions  and now I’m better.” But there wasn’t. There was only more layers of  life lived unaware of the deeper places. A life lived that hid from vulnerability and authenticity. Life is not always black and white. I was now on a path of self-discovery and could not get off. Part of seeing God was seeing myself. All the broken and dislocated parts of me. And then reaching out to a Savior that could make beautiful harmonies out of all of it. Except right now I couldn’t hear the music. Only the deafening silence.

It is only later I look back and see He was there all along. Giving me grace and strength to take off the masks that hid my true self. And the courage to embrace my story. I read recently that “getting better” is like a labyrinth. The messy work includes circling around your struggles. I would continue to come around my lonely heart. But in time the circling would get wider with always an unexpected returning. It refines each time leaving a deeper mark of healing.

**My counselor  and I believe I was suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety. My hormones felt incredibly “off.” I also had layers and layers of things left un-dealt with (smile). And so my journey with PPD includes more than just hormones. I began taking some herbs and working out. God also provided money for my two oldest to attend a Mother’s Day Out twice a week for a short season. The combination improved my “off” hormones. But I was still left with a lot of mess in my heart. And so I continued on the path of self discovery. My prayer is that my story with PPD and self discovery would encourage some other mother out there struggling. Really anyone struggling. Shame can cover like an ugly blanket. May God give you strength to reach out and ask for help! My counselor told me once that you can’t give your children what you don’t have yourself. I needed to pass on emotional health, a True self and a desperate dependence on Jesus. **

Yellow Dress

1016536701d0ef4d5c

I put on my yellow dress and my favorite earrings. Sometimes a girl just needs to wear a cheery yellow dress to make herself believe her heart feels the same. Sometimes a girl just needs to walk into her therapist office ready to battle for Truth.

The truth I live in is really the lies I’ve lived by.

And this girl is weary of the weight of it all. I want to shed this worn out skin that has never felt quite right and walk in the light.

Sometimes a girl just wants to run in the light. With a yellow dress and a loving Father.

 In the darkness of my self-lies I will fight for light. Because really I don’t fight alone. I fight with a Savior that died for Truth to set me free. I will stand exposed. Before God. Before her. Before you. Vulnerable and with need.

 I put a stake in the ground.

 The blood stained one.

 I’m headed somewhere. The ebbs and flows of progress have me headed somewhere. And the waters of True life will flow.

They will flow with Trust. Acceptance. Identity. Truth. Faith. Grace.

The roots of my soul are going deep. These roots will be overwhelmed by Truth. Bringing bright, new, clean water. And my True self will stand in the light. The self He always intended for me. This hydrated soul will recall how He delicately crafted me.

Me in His image.

Perfectly orchestrated, perfectly designed. And I will be enough because He is enough. My scars and insecurities fade away in the bright light.

The self-lies no longer cast shadows looking to swallow me whole. Hidden before my Maker.

I stand before Him now.

Shameless.

Guiltless

Truly breathing in eternal life.

 And I will be” clothed with strength and dignity and laugh without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25

Willow Grace

tumblr_ml77bvZFrW1qd8tqqo1_500

I don’t remember the day I found out I was pregnant for the 3rd time. It’s a blurred memory that happened either before Elijah turned 1 or right after. All I remember for sure is that I was upset.

Timing was way off. I felt like I was coming up for a much needed breathe from my other two that happen to be 14 months apart. My dependence on the Fathers grace had turned into me being self sufficient. I had the “oh my babies are just over a year apart” game down. I was sleeping during the night and life felt a little more bearable.

Conception took place on a Louisiana getaway. We were visiting a retreat site with a Christian marriage counselor. (An amazing one by the way) He had just helped us take out all the “junk from our closet.” I was feeling healthier that my dysfunction was now in eyes view. Marriage felt very shaky. But the plan was to “work” on it as the Lord lead that coming year. The plan however was not to throw another pregnancy/baby in the mix.

I felt immediately disappointed. I felt greedy for myself. I knew this would be a sacrifice. Sacrifice of my body, energy, and time. I wasn’t in the mood to sacrifice more of myself. I had done that enough. I felt mad at God. Like he had it in for me. I thought, “Why does he always have it in for me.” And the wave of guilt and shame for all those emotions felt big.

I knew he was calling me. Beckoning me to enter into this story. His story. This pregnancy felt so much bigger then a new physical life. It felt like new spiritual life was stirring in me. Life that required continuous brokenness. A bending. Going low. Desperate dependence. Sort of new birth.

I was probably sicker with this pregnancy then with the other two. There were no short cuts with this one. I was being asked to go the long way around. My husband would go on to quit a job that was given to him from someone in our faith community. It would affect people we loved and admired. He would be without a job for two months. One of our cars would break. We would be given money and groceries and another car that would fit our soon to be 3 children. I would go onto to sell our furniture in our dining room, living room and bedroom. Instead of a baby shower with gifts, I was given a decorated room that reminded me of what friendship means.

I labored in that bedroom. I didn’t make much noise and labor progressed very quickly. My spirit had become accustomed to the call for surrender. I had been practicing surrender for 9 months. This “giving away” of myself would result in a new life that I yearned to see.

She was a day old when we named her. We would call her Willow Grace. Named after the tree that “takes root very readily from cuttings or where broken branches lie on the ground.” We were setting up a sort of monument in her name. I place to continuously remember His goodness in the midst of brokenness. Her life would bring the fruit of joy and promise.

As I look back on her first year I can’t help but well up with joy. He has continued the story of dependence and brokenness. But all along the way joy and grace have been experienced by her presence. She is a feisty girl. Full of life I couldn’t even begin to imagine the day I found out I was pregnant. She walks around with her little legs and raises her hands for spontaneous worship. A “praise break” as we like to call it. Causing all of us to lift our hands in worship to our Creator.

My prayer for Willow Grace is that she would experience the same brokenness and dependence that was given in her pregnancy, labor and first year. And in those places she come face to face with her Creator. I pray she would bring joy and grace and strength to the broken places on this earth.

“I touched my weakness, my humanity, my limitations. In touch with my neediness, I came face to face with my dependence on God-not only for my future but for my next breath. In this posture of owning our weakness, we’re transformed. For that’s how the soul is born and reborn: as we quit servicing the ego and acknowledge our weakness. Strength in weakness is the paradox of the cocoon.” Sue Monk Kidd