What I Want Them To Know.

Loomomy

     As a very young girl my struggle with self-esteem began. My parents separated when I was very young and at times my sister and I were but mere pawns in a game of “who could hurt who more” between them.  It wasn’t long after that I was shifted back and forth between the foster care system and my home before being permanently placed.

   My understanding of love was warped. I didn’t know exactly what it meant to be loved. To be really loved. I wasn’t raised being told that I was good or that I was even worthy of it. Worthy of anything for that matter. In fact most times I was told the total opposite. At the age of thirteen I stood in a brightly lighted office building while my mom spoke the words “take her. I cant do this anymore.” 

   That summer I was placed for good and that fall I started grade eight. I struggled with forming relationships, I struggled with trust. I wanted so desperately to feel like I was a part of the crowd. To be worthy of being the same as everyone else, but as we all know Middle and High School can be some of the most cruelest of places to be.

   I lived in a Foster Home, my bottom was not covered by jeans with the Silver label on the pocket, and my body circumference was a lot larger than I would have liked.  My feet were resting in <insert gasp now> no name Crocs because I couldn’t afford to have the real ones. ( They were all the craze during that time okay?) All that seems like silliness now, but to the fourteen year old broken and “unworthy” me it was just another sign that because of who I was and the circumstances I was in, that I would never be as good as everyone else. 

   At 16 my bigger than I would like body circumference became even larger as I now walked the hallways of my school not just “croc-less” but pregnant. 

   At the young age of seventeen I birthed a tiny eight pound, ten fingered, chubby cheeked miracle and I was absolutely terrified. I will never forget the days, and months, and even years that followed, where my own feelings of “unworthiness” took away from allowing my self to see Gods greatness for the very thing that it was.

   See I sat in the very church seats I still sit in each Sunday today and asked God why in the world he would give her to me. A child myself unable to love her the way she needed.  That she deserved more than a high school student Mom, and an Sobeys working Dad. That more than anything I didn’t want her to become me. 

Then I truly met God.

Not in one particular big bang of a moment.

But in the ordinary moments when he chooses to reveal extraordinary blessings.

A God who began to ask me just why I was unworthy of love, of happiness, and of being someone other than a statistic I had labelled myself of.

 My eight pound, ten fingered, chubby cheeked miracle is now almost twelve years old. She is a year and half away from the very age I stood in the lighted office building and allowed my mothers issues and illnesses to define my own worth. Its been an age I’ve wondered that if I was gone tomorrow,  that if the love my own daughter knows from me was suddenly stripped away…. Would she continue to know the most important love of all?

That although my entire identity as a mother has been to express my love and my children’s worthiness to me… have I done enough to allow them out of my mother knows best bubble  to see His?

I continued on to have three other precious girls after her.

My biggest and greatest prayer for them is not that I get everything right but that I am able to prepare them for when I disappoint them, that I am able to continue to raise them up and lead them to the very One who won’t. 

I want them to not only know they are loved by her father and I, but by a God so much bigger than anything they could imagine. 

I want them to know that their worth is far greater than a label on a clothing or a wink from a prepubescent teenage boy.

I want them to know that they live in a world where they will be judged by the way they look, by the partners they choose, by the people they help, by the people they don’t, by the way the speak, by the way they live, by their parenting, by the cleanliness of their homes, by their newest car, by whether they have the highest paying job. 

I want them to know there will be times when society will tell them they should when they shouldn’t and not to when they should. 

I want them to know they will mess up sometimes. Most likely over and over again.

I want them to not strive to be anyone but their amazingly beautiful sometimes-messy selves.

Because the truth is whether sixteen or twenty eight we are all a hot mess loved by an amazing  self-less God. 

….and so will they be too.

Because of that God….. in the here and now, and long after I am gone they will be forever be loved.

They will never be alone.

They will be given opportunities to rise up above struggles.

They will be welcomed back with opened arms when they are led a stray.

I want them to know that above all, that although this world is extremely warped…. Gods love for them isn’t anything but crystal clear.

Because it is Him that shows us extraordinary worthiness in our seemingly ordinary lives.

and I want ever so desperately for them to know just that.

 

 

 

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……Because it all Leads Back To Hope.

” I will praise the one whos chosen me to carry YOU.” ~Selah

 

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Dear Sweet Mama,

      It’s almost Christmas and I can feel your heart tugging in a million different directions. I can feel it because mine to, is doing the same.

     December has a way of bringing out the hustle and bustle, the financial struggles, and the family stresses….and with it comes the emotions of it all. You feel them a little stronger and harder as family is placed at the forefront and it reminds you over and over again of the  someone who’s missing.

      Every year I prepare for the emotions…the reminders….the memories. As I dig out the Santa bags with children’s names whom will never be filled. As I hang stockings for five when there should be seven, and the Christmas pictures that will never be complete.

      I feel your confusion as you wonder how to sign that Christmas card or gift tag. I know your desire to write your precious child’s name down with the rest of your family’s, but your weariness of making someone else feel uncomfortable.

      I know because no matter the time. Whether your first Christmas or your twenty-fifth, that child will never be forgotten. I know because a piece of your heart is eternally missing where they implanted themselves the moment you laid eyes on them or found out they were coming.

   Last night I was wrapping presents with tear filled eyes. I was stressing about cookies that still needed to be decorated, the strained relationships that I did not have the ability to fix, and the list that seemed to be getting bigger instead of smaller.

   I was hurting, I was missing my “what should have beens” and longing for my “what could have beens.” As the emotions began to build I felt myself getting angrier and the feelings of hopelessness set in when in what seemed like an instant I was reminded of the most simplest, yet most complex point of it all.

Jesus is HOPE.

Christmas is where HOPE began.

…..and that very HOPE remains constant.

   So as we go into the coming week. When we are consumed with the pain, emotions, and memories of our empty arms and broken hearts be reminded of such HOPE.

    Be reminded of a tiny precious baby who was also born to a proud, faithful, loving mother whom held her baby with no clue that he would die years later. A mother whom God loved yet had bigger plans that she could not see. A mother who watched hopelessly as her son took his last breath.

….and most importantly that beautiful baby who was born to die.

A baby who gave us the HOPE of seeing our sweet little ones again.

The same God who chose us to carry our precious children.

So in the business, and the emotions of this week,

Be still. Remember. HOPE.

 

Merry Christmas Mama,

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When From Death Comes Beauty.

 

 

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. ~Ecclesiatstes”

 

Audrey’s viewing day.

I remember getting ready as it was yesterday.

The black dress. The gold earrings. The mascara that would run down my face before I could even fully apply it.

The emotions. All of them. The desperation, the despair, the torture, the anger, and the inability to accept.

Most prominently I remember the feeling of wanting to see my beautiful baby girl again, but came with it, the sickening fear that seeing her would indefinitely show the proof that death had consumed her fragile tiny twelve pound body.

I feared she wouldn’t look the same. That death had taken her for too long. That the sweet baby that lay cold in a wooden white box would trick my mind into believing that there was just no way that it could be the pink chubby-cheeked one who filled my arms only days before.

I arrived to the front doors of the church and anger filled my every being as I questioned God for the ten thousandth time. Why? How could you? Why me? Why now? Why her?

All questions I have still never received the answers to.

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 I remember looking to the front of my church, the box sat out just steps away from the staging where my pastor spoke Gods greatness into my very ears just a week and a half before. Where he spoke Gods greatness into my church families ears the Sunday morning I held my lifeless baby in a hospital room only days prior.

 

To tell you the truth He didn’t feel too great to me right now.

To be completely honest I felt He was mocking me as my beautiful baby girl lay still in a casket to be seen for the last time.

I refused to accept that ANYTING even remotely good could come from this.

That if my daughters death had anything to do with glorifying him there was absolutely positivity no way that I was going to be okay with that.

Maybe because a part of me felt like I was being punished for something….that I had failed terribly.

Perhaps a piece of me was convincing myself that if I had have done things differently or had listened to Him better, sooner that I wouldn’t have been standing bare footed at the alter holding her hand and counting fingers for the last time…..

That if I acknowledged that anything good could come from her death that I was somehow approving of it happening.

I don’t know.

But I do know one thing.

My precious Audrey was beautiful even in her death.

That Gods love intensified in that over flown room filled with friends, our community, and my church family who loved me unconditionally and without judgement.

Her death was not great.

But my God still was.

That death did not consume her.

But God did.

The same God who formed Audrey in my womb, who calmed me during my pregnancy, whom rejoiced with us in her birth, and who wept with me at the alter………still was.

Two years later I can confidently say that whether I refused or not, Audreys death has glorified God.

That Gods greatness shone even in her death.

She has impacted more lives then I could have ever imagined, and she was surely an amazing piece of my story that belonged to Him no matter how badly I selfishly want her.

For some reason I was chosen to walk this journey. A journey that has introduced me to opportunities and women who have added a substance to my life I never knew could exist.

Her death led me to a God that defeats it.

That very God led me to a beauty that her death….that this world, had been blinding me from.

So this month of October I remember her.

I remember my other sweet girl Alexis.

I acknowledge that I am 1 in 4.

That I am one face in the many of mama’s who walk this very same road as me.

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In Alexis’s death I became a Hope Mom.

In Audrey’s death I became fully His.

Because of that I can look at my baby girl and see Gods presence.

I can look at her and not see death, but life.

….and that right there…in Him……is where beauty can always be found.

 

 

 

 

 

Because I Could Never Be Fatherless.

 

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“Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” ~Psalm 73:23-26

    It was Monday morning and my day was already up to not the best start. My oldest child had missed the bus, my middle one had been crying for ten minutes over wanting to wear her flip flops to school and the baby…well, need I say more.

   I packed some very unimpressive but quick lunches and loaded up the car with everyone and everything I needed for the day….a normal everyday occurrence in our household….but little did I know in a mere hour this Monday morning was going to be one that I would never forget.

   A few drop offs later and I had finally arrived at work just seconds before my scheduled time. I smiled as I seen a co-worker arriving the same time as me and was steps away from her when my phone begin to ring.

I pressed answer and shear screams pierced my ears.

“Dad’s dead”

“Dad died”

…..and in two words, in seven simple stomach turning letters… the world as I knew it had changed.

     The missed busses, the wrong pair of shoes, the cars that had drove to slow in front of me while not so nice thoughts filled my  mind. None of those things mattered. If anything I had wished they did. That I could just go back to my Monday morning being defined by the mundane everyday things that went wrong.

But it couldn’t.

Because in that moment.

   On that overcast, overly cranky morning of September twenty-sixth….in a cold wet parking lot…….

I became fatherless.

Or so I thought.

   See, I sat on my Fathers bed that morning and desperately clenched my Dads cold hard working hands, I studied them and traced each wrinkle and line with my fingertips, and I sat hopelessly in his death.

This time there was nothing to pray for…..it was too late.

The evidence lay still and breathless beside me.

Oh how I missed him already.

    Anger filled my every being as I began to ask the very God I needed so desperately the why questions I knew I would never get the answer to. I didn’t want to need him. I didn’t want to want him. In fact, I demanded him to restart this day over and breathe my Dads life right back in to him.

    But as I watched my Dads earthly home be carried out in a black bag and placed in the back of the coroners car, I was too desperate…too angry…..too immersed in the sudden grief, that I missed that my Dads life had already been restored and that the very life I had demanded had already been breathed back in to him.

Not because I had asked.

But because he did.

    So this morning as I awoke to the aftermath of the storm. As I laid in bed staring out at the beauty of the world in front of me, and as thoughts of memories of a man who truly loved like Jesus filled my mind.

   I was reminded that although my Dad is not here, he is alive. That even though I can not see him, his eyes are on the one that matters most, and I am so very thankful for the moments this past week where he has shown me small glimpses of Heaven.  Whether in the sighting of a butterfly or in the power of Gods word.

    I will forever think of the missed opportunities with my father. The words that weren’t spoken, the times I got distracted and didn’t take the call, or the last hug I gave without saying goodbye. All the chances I may have missed.

See my Daddy didn’t miss his.

But my Dads death showed me just how quickly we could.

    Because in an instant. In a single heartbeat, the every days of this world could be taken. The houses, the cars, the dance recitals, and the very people that filled them.

Me.

You.

And all that will be left is a Father that would have never left us Fatherless…..

……and the missed opportunity to make that so.

So today I sit saddened, still angry, but ever so confident in the truth that I may have lost my father, but luckily for me I am not left without.

…..and it his Him that will carry me through the coming days…weeks…months. It is because of Him that I will never be…

……..Fatherless.

How about you?

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When I am Just Not Able….

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  I stood up uncomfortably from the couch, and I could feel as my fingers spun over and over around the hard edges of my wedding band. We began to sing and as the words began to leave all of our broken in our own ways lips, I couldn’t help but feel a knot in my stomach.

     …………and in that very moment I realized I was where I should be.

Right here in this exact moment of vulnerability.

Placed smacked in the middle of a variety of woman in a million different stages.

That ultimately we had all been brought here to get back to the very one who has made us and shaped us in to who we have become.

That ultimately we had been lead right back to Him.

Maybe it was an in the moment response but I stood at the front of the room thankful. Thankful that I had talked myself in to making the time to come….but most of all I thankful of WHO I was, whom I have become….in Him,

Two years ago….. four years ago to be exact, I sat in a hospital bed experiencing the after pains of birth as I held a tiny one and a half pound perfect but so ever still baby girls hand…..as I counted fingers and toes and acknowledged similar facial features of relatives , I was lost.

I was lost because I had been waiting until I got my life together before I got involved in a serious relationship with Him…..when the entire time it was the relationship I needed first to get my life back together.

I spent the first couple of years desperately trying to find a place in this new world to fit in. I compared myself to others in small groups. I strived to be that perfect image that so many were able to portray, and I became frustrated when every attempt of that very thing ended in a failure.

I prayed for direction. I felt as I was standing at the end of a road with a million different paths. Like I could tell the for sure ones that I didn’t want to take but for some reason I could not decipher the exact one to. I struggled between choosing the mediocre, because that was what I was after all.

I was the girl with the troubled marriage, the one who had been tested not once but twice with the death of her children, I was the foster child whom her mother had given away like a used item, I was the girl in school who everyone walked past with judging eyes when my baby bump was not able to be hid beneath my fuzzy gap sweater any longer.

Surely I was not created even remotely close for anything other than to be.

But I was so wrong. I had let the world brand and break me into the nobody I thought I deserved.

Except the world did not make me.

God did.

God made me….shaped me, not to be the woman sitting next to me. I was uniquely made for the purpose of serving Him, of living in Him in my own way.

I was useless as a mere copy of someone else, but as me…as myself….. he provided the power to do amazing things.

…and I suddenly realized that I was on the journey to becoming the woman that God has intended for me to be. That he has already been directing me down the paths that have led to endless possibilities of faith, and realtionships, and healing.

That most importantly he has freed me from those labels long before I even received them.

So here I sit, imperfect……… Perfectly imperfect in Him.  Not striving for the look of perfection but learning to embrace the not. By understanding that with the struggles and storms in our lives…the ones that strip you down to the very core are oppourtunities to find yourself not only in the One who carried you through them, but as a way to be able to help others find Him as well.

Because the truth is I couldn’t do this alone.

Because the truth is  you don’t have to.

Because you are worth far more than rubies.

Its time for us as woman to stop living in the mediocre places in our world and to start living in the amazing plans God has for us.

Because in Him is the best that we can be.

Because in Him …….we are able.

Four years later I am so very thankful to be able to say that.

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To The Woman With The Footprint Tattoo…..

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I seen you standing there.

Close enough to watch your children,

…..but far enough away from the rest of the world.

You were grumpy…..distant.

    I sat on the bench while our children’s attentions turned from the playhouse, to the swings, to the sandbox.

     I may have been the first to judge……to wonder what could have been so wrong for you to be present, but not be really there. How you could give such sharp remarks to your children so publicly, or how you could not care that all eyes were on you as you shouted across the playground.

   I was jealous in some ways. That you could be so real. I felt like I could sense there was something…….

Then I seen it.

   You turned around for just a moment and there on your back, a little to the left…were two teeny tiny footprints and two dates.

    Two dates that did indeed signify a birth, but it was the second that caused my stomach to scrunch up tightly in my body. The date that your precious little one took their last breath. The year of 2016.

…and I got it.

You weren’t here yet.

You couldn’t be.

I knew.

Because I had a hidden mark on my inner wrist that said the same thing.

Because I had been there only a couple years prior.

   I knew you didn’t want to be there….neither had I. That inside it killed you to place your completely broken self right in the middle of a populated play area where you struggled between feelings of guilt and whether anyone knew you were even broken at all.

    I got that your quick snaps were not of anger, but of survival. That it was easier to yell then as to physically move your body. That just being there was exhausting enough when your newly emerged in grief self could barely find the strength to get out of bed each morning.

   I knew that you missed your sweet baby. That as you watched your girls play in the sandbox your thoughts were reminding you that there should have been another hand with a shovel….that as you watched my baby eating tiny handfuls of sand you envied me because you wanted yours…that as you tried so hard to take a picture that in your mind it was and would always now be incomplete because someone was missing.

    Truth was, you were branded by death long before that tattoo. I could tell from your movements…from the “dead” look in your eyes. You were branded the moment your precious baby took their last breath on this earth. So was I.

   All we ever exchanged was a half smile while we rounded up our sandy children from the swings and slides.

But I knew you.

   I wish I could have told you I had been there. That I was still there just a little further ahead on the road. I didn’t need to know your name to know that your heart was broken in to more pieces than you could ever imagine. That your entire world had been shaken to the core. I didn’t need to have a  conversation with you to understand that you were in the middle of a storm that seems like it will never end.

……because it doesn’t.

Not really.

It gets “easier”, it fades and clears off at times…..but its always there lurking ready to show its self at the most random of moments.

You are going to get it through it.

If you can just hold on, next year you may just be sitting next to me on that bench.

   Able to smile at those precious life savers of yours playing next to you….maybe even to help build a sandcastle. Maybe even ready to speak to the Mama next to you.

   Until then I will remember you…..remember the brief encounter that placed my feet back on to the ground and allowed me to feel those raw, first year feelings.

Until then….you will remain in my prayers.

   You and those small set of footprints that changed this Mamas heart more than you will ever know.

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From God-Fearing to God – Loving; life lessons from the front porch.

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“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. ~ Proverbs 31:25”

   I looked down at my weathered garden and couldn’t help but feel I resembled the wilted weeds waiting desperately for that drink of water that would provided them with the energy needed to grow strong. 

  I was tired….and after a long week of wrestling with thoughts and fears of God’s fairness in my life as it seemed to continuously be up-heaved, I couldn’t help but feel the wretch in my stomach with each turn of the hand tiller.

   Abi sat quietly on the front porch watching as every weed root was ripped through the soil and finally broke the silence with expressing her excitement for the Science Olympics that following day. She ended with telling me that her team was going to win because she believed in God.

    I have to admit I had only been half listening. After all I was not only attempting to get the front gardens going, but I was also fighting my own internal battle and while getting ready to give her that one worded, not really listening “ya” I suddenly processed what she had just said.

    For some reason I couldn’t get what she had said out of mind and I could do noting else but to put everything down and sit my God-fearing self right next to that God-loving little girl. We spent an hour talking about God, faith, and that believing in him did not give us a free ticket. That sometimes winning just isn’t in his plan…and what she thought about what I had just said.

She looked at me and said that it wasn’t fair.

…..and believe me I got it.

   Fair has not been a word that I had used to describe God in my lifetime. Knowing he never promised fairness has been something I have feared my whole life.

    Fairness was not something I felt as I laid on a stretcher at 3am when I was told my unborn babe had no heartbeat. 

    Fairness was not the choice of wording I would use to describe the moment I kissed my sweet baby girls cold lips for the last time, or as I watched my husband sign a tear stained piece of paper that would turn our chubby cheeked, twelve pound baby into a mere pile of grey ash.

  As I sat there I began to fear the obstacles that Abigail would have to face in her lifetime. The times in her life that she would be shaken to the core and cause her to questions Gods faithfulness in her life. When I heard the words “This is so much more than you.”

    Fearing God has been something that I had become very good at. Worrying that every angry outburst, mess up, or mischievous thought would end up with a get back at me. Being afraid that every good thing would end up bad. Missing the blessing because I was to consumed with worrying about what would come after..later.

As my nine year old little girl got up so nonchalantly, shrugged her shoulders and said “oh well, God loves me anyways” and ran off in to the back yard I realized that this moment on the porch was  less about some science olympics and so much more about my God-Fearing self. 

   I had been brought some clarity that my blurry eyes has been trying to see.  My fear from God my whole life has not only kept me from enjoying his blessings to the fullest, but from loving him wholly. Loving him in fear was not loving him in truth and yet he loved me anyways. He is not the one to be feared.

   What a freeing feeling to finally get that I do not need to fear Him. That I can let that go and take that burden off of my shoulders because my life is so much bigger than me and he will help me carry it. 

   That whether through the unfairness of death, divorce, illness, and financial struggles God is still here to help us through. To show us the goodness in the cracks of our everyday lives.

   So this morning as I sit back down on that front porch where this God Fearing woman was set free, I am excited to open my eyes and heart to soak up the blessings in the here and now and to go through this day not fearing my mess ups or let downs.

Because after all.

Out of the mouth of a nine year old little girl.

He loves me anyways!

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