lessons from the carseat.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

(photo cred: unsplash)

a few months ago, i wrote a blog post about how god used one of my favorite kiddos to teach me a lesson. to speak to me using my own words to a child. i think maybe this should become a series because mostly i’m just like a little child pretending i’m grown + have no need for a father. for this series, let yourself imagine a graphic drawing (or actual photo) of me in a carseat in the back (long legs n all) and god in the drivers seat mostly shaking his head and in all probability – cursing while i act like… well… a child. moving on….

this morning, i took my nieces on a VERY urgent donut trip (as is every donut trip). it was pouring rain but worth the trouble so we went to the store, were driving back to the house to eat them and my niece inquired whether i had gotten her chocolate milk. i had not. i didn’t realize she wanted any and told her that. she wasn’t thrilled and was feeling pouty about it. i told her that i was sorry, that i didn’t know she wanted it but that we got DONUTS and we should be happy with what we did get and not unhappy with what we didn’t. the pouting proceeded as did my mature attitude about it ;). a few minutes later when we were closer to home, i tried to get her attention to explain to her why it was unnecessary. she was having none of it (touche, sister. when i don’t get chocolate milk, i’m not pleasant either). i told her we were taking another loop until she had a better attitude about the fact that she GOT chocolate donut (WITH SPRINKLES!) and not being sad that she didn’t get chocolate milk. i explained that i knew it was disappointing and sad but that sometimes we don’t get things we want but that we can’t just pout about it. we should focus on what we DO have and not on what we DON’T.

then it hit me. (the donut did. from the back seat. she threw it at me. ok i’m lying.) i’m so guilty of this.

god is trying to tell me, “hey kid. i know you want the CHOCOLATE MILK. I GET THAT YOU ASKED FOR IT AND I SAID NO. i HEAR you complaining and i SEE you pouting. (no seriously… every day i’ve been telling god “hey…. still not happy here. still not my plan. thanks, bye”) but you get a CHOCOLATE DONUT. WITH. SPRINKLES. for god’s sake (literally), be happy for the things i HAVE given you and AM doing in your life. stop pouting or we’ll take a few loops around until you get it.” and still, i demand my own way. i think that if only i had the thing that i asked god for and want, i would be content. if i had the chocolate milk or the job that i want or the boy or the situation, that i’d suddenly be okay. and maybe i would. temporarily. but god is looking to sustain me long-term. he has a far greater plan than the chocolate milk and the chocolate donut. he is doing a more wonderful work (however terrible the means) than i could think up. while it’s difficult to trust him (especially for my wayward self), i have to live every day walking confidently in what IS and clinging to his promises of what eventually will be. here’s to enjoying the chocolate sprinkled donuts of today and hoping for the chocolate milks of the future. or some such theologically deep thing. below is a quote from cs lewis to make up for all the damage i did above. you’re welcome.

“If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” //  cs lewis, the weight of glory.

fathering.

to my daddy — who has been the best source of comfort, laughter and strength for me. who i always tried to be like + who everyone admires. i adore you!!!

fathering is showing up after a long day’s work and still showing up again for your kids when you’d rather a beer in silence. fathering is teaching your kids to read when mom could do it just as well. fathering is telling your 5 year old trying to work beside you in the garden to put on a shirt because being like daddy is not a good enough reason to have your shirt off… when you’re a girl. fathering is telling that same girl at 15 that her too-short shorts are going to have to be changed, never mind the 100+ degree heat and telling her to stop pouting about it, too. fathering is a spanking with a hand. with a belt. with a 2×4. because the father that disciplines his child LOVES them and thus, changes the trajectory of their lives. fathering is taking your daughters on dates (and being glad when they choose fuddrucker’s). fathering is doing lots of things you’d never wish upon your worst enemy — including watching your daughter’s club team lose game after tournament after year — and still coming to every cursed game. fathering is saying “shit” 15 times when the dog dies on a family road trip and telling the kids to go inside and to get away and laughing when, through tears, your daughter chides you for not letting that damned dog sleep inside on that last cold night. it is laughing when you should be disciplining and disciplining when mom’s had enough and true fathering is every boy’s worst nightmare and hardest task and the one so few step up to the plate for. fathering is saying “i love you” when you’ve never heard those words. it is a million rolled eyes and held hands and thousands of hours in the garage. fathering is an art, a delicate balance. fathering is taking your daughter to a funeral where she won’t stop crying and showing her all the lines in your hands are the same to calm her down. it is listening to a myriad of lies, forgiving them an inordinate amount of times and never letting your love waver. fathering is putting your foot down, teaching them to ride a bike, letting them learn to fly. fathering is a man’s job and you only fulfill it by showing up and failing and saying sorry and succeeding and trying again and learning your kids are alright after all. fathering is grief and lightness and hard conversations and your best job. fathering is the glory and gory years —  and you haven’t shied away from either. fathering is provision — providing help, answers, silence and stability in equal measure. fathering is teaching your kids to mow, to take care of a car, what elbow grease is. fathering is comforting and challenging and modeling character and being the constant in an ever-changing life. fathering is so many things i don’t understand and never will and so many things i can clearly see as attributes of god because of you. fathering is being my best man and courage and my safe place. you are one of my most treasured gifts.

buoyant hope.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.42.56 PM.png

72 weeks ago (or about a year and some change if you’re not a math whiz like me), i posted this instagram with the full caption below:

“GUYS. I must tell you a cool story. After a personally difficult semester in the fall, I felt excited for a new start this year as God graciously has been realigning my priorities and heart. Yesterday, after my party I read a letter from@vgoneal expressing prayers for this year to be one where i felt light + weightless; in a word, BUOYANT. Today, I was going to doodle and pulled a quote that i had saved in my notes from a recent book i had read. The quote? “HOPE MADE HER BUOYANT”. I thought it was such a beautiful coincidence. Then, I read a status that @binduthota had posted about MLK jr on his sufferings and God and how they intertwined to change him. As i was looking for something else to doodle, i pulled it up, reread and this quote caught my attention “When the chains of fear and the manacles of frustration have all but stymied my efforts, i have felt the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the BUOYANCY OF HOPE.” // The unlikelihood of 3 unrelated things fitting together so seamlessly points to one thing; a God that cares INTIMATELY about the details of our hearts and lives.”

 

for 72 weeks i have intermittently come back to this prayer. to feel a weightless, buoyant hope. and i often wondered if these were empty words. i haven’t felt light or carefree. i haven’t felt the weight lifted in quite awhile. i wondered if i misheard god. if his promises really weren’t reputable.

until now.

it’s not that everything is peachy keen and shimmery. it’s not that all the things that pain my soul have disappeared. its that in the middle of it, god has been revealing his purpose and his kindness to me. i have, after a long endurance of suffering gained character that leads to hope. i feel buoyant. i feel alive and giddy. i feel like the whole world is before me. and after feeling so much darkness in the past few years, this is and can only be the work of god. he has given me hope in a future — a future i couldn’t have imagined, wouldn’t have pursued had it not been for this time of silence and waiting.

do you have a word from the lord? is it one that you keep hidden in the back recesses of your mind hoping you didn’t actually emit it to the world? didn’t it say it too loud? do you have a hard time trusting his word? his sovereignty? or will we be like abraham, who, “after waiting patiently, received what was promised”?

when looking up where that verse was, i was reading it for context and to see what the rest of the chapter said (read below) and almost cried at the beauty of the word of god. of his faithfulness and promises. he can be trusted. he cannot go back on his word. he swears against himself because there is no authority above him. what an unshakeable and steady god we serve. his promises are unchangeable, as is he.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.59.18 PM

it says “we who have run for our very lives to god have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go”. amen! hallelujah! we have a god who sent his son for us who is literally running ahead of us to take our place, to take the permanent post of high priest for us. we have an intercessor, a redeemer. we are allowed to hope because of his work on the cross. we get god’s promises and jesus, too. we get it all because god is gracious and kind to us. because he chooses to bless us.

so, if you’re waiting on the lord — if you are exhausted with hoping, if you are distrustful that his word will be true for you — look to sarah (genesis 21:1), look to abraham (hebrews 6:15), look to anyone in history, look to me. god will never take back his promises. if he has given you a word, a promise, a prayer — he will be faithful to complete it. as mlk jr so eloquently put it, “[when the chains of fear and the manacles of frustration have all but stymied your efforts, you will feel the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope].” onward, friends.

“be brave and courageous. wait patiently on the lord”

i’d be a terrible famous person.

for one, i have no talents to speak of unless you count sleeping like a baby on planes (yes, all 5’9″ of me) or at all times talking at a volume too robust for the current setting. it’s reminiscent of sandra bullock in miss congeniality when she has to participate in a beauty pageant and for the talent portion, she makes sounds with crystal glasses. that’s me in the story of life. that’d be me trying to be famous.

while randomly thinking about famous people one day (what? i know you’ve done it, too), i started thinking of other notable reasons why it’s not in the cards for me. for reasons 2-6, read along, my friends. you’re in good company.

2. PROFANITY // PROFESSIONALISM

this is a moot point. while jennifer lawrence can be charming while tripping over her dress + words, i highly doubt i’d be quite as endearing. one f-word out of me and everyone would ban me from everything ever. everyone already wants to do this and i’m not even famous (yet).

3. PRIVACY

get out of my face. get out my house. get out of my life. while publicity is probably a necessary evil in the industry, nothing you ever have done, are doing or will do is private. nothing. within 2 days everyone would know that once upon a time i made out with a guy named eduardo + that in middle school, i was practically the world’s worst human.

4. PHOTOGENIC

i am not one of those people you can catch at any angle and look stunning. shall i provide photographic evidence? yes, yes i shall. no further explanation necessary.

(apparently the only faces i have are disgust / apathy or SO EXCITED)

5. PAPARAZZI

give me a pair of brass knuckles. i’d be fighting these homies left and right. when people invade my personal space on a normal day when I KNOW THEM, i wanna throw down. so if it was some strangers trying to make a few bucks off my photogenic face, i’d punch theirs. ain’t i sweet?

6. PIZZA + POTATOES

10378544_10153045153053266_1616794343978305787_n

(yes, i had to borrow cash from a friend for BOTH of these purchases because god forbid i choose between these health foods)

all this to say, I LIKE FOOD TOO MUCH. i can not (or will not) stop eating things like french fries so i look good at all camera angles. i’d be front page of those horrifically tacky magazines that put women on the cover like “SEE HOW TERRIBLE JENNA HARRISON LOOKS IN A SWIMSUIT” or “CAESAR D.F. AUGUSTUS! SEE THE AMAZING AMOUNTS OF CELLULITE ON JENNA HARRISON’S LEGS“. i mean, when you’re front-page worthy, you’re front page worthy. right, ladies?

there you have it folks. almost famous at it’s finest. anyways for booking, call my mom (just kidding, don’t). see you minions from the other side.

3 months.

3 months can fly by in a flash. it can drag on for eternity. i’ll let you guess which of the two has described my past few months.

three months of searching for answers, hoping for them, desperately needing them. and finally, i’ve resigned myself to one day having them. no longer bent on hoping, no longer believing my efforts have mattered. i have tried — by god, i’ve tried. i’ve done everything i know to do — talking about it, spending time alone, with god, with wise counsel. i’ve tried giving every anxious thought over, i’ve attempted to keep hoping when it seems futile. i’ve begged, i’ve cried, i’ve sat silently hoping to feel something. i’ve raged and asked nicely and tried to discern the best way and decided to move. and then the door that may seem a crack open, has slammed in my face yet again. what do you do when no answers appear?

silence seems to meet me the loudest.

i’m often crippled by decisions. choosing where to eat, what to eat at that restaurant. what decision to make, when to make it, what it will turn out like. when it comes to the big decisions — which job do i apply to? should i move on with my life? is this relationship a wise one? where should i move? — it’s near impossible for me to feel like i’m making the best one. i always put so much pressure on THE decision, forgetting that god’s grace will carry me along as he gives me the wisdom to choose. this time around, i have been struck dumb yet again by the inability to choose. it felt like i had both endless options and none. finally, after feeling some excitement about potential job, new city, things i actually love, i decided to just make a faithful choice. it seemed that some pieces had the stamp of god, had the scent of something holy spirit led. so i started planning for this. after months and months of feeling that he’d make it crystal clear, i decided to take a step forward in faith instead. i felt hopeful and excited for the first time in a long time. so i attempted to take a few steps in that direction. what was i met with? the door slowly swinging towards shut. while he hasn’t said “no,” it doesn’t seem likely to work. and after being strung out on sadness and sick with sorrow, i simply can’t handle another “no”. it doesn’t just seem like a door shut to an opportunity, it seems like a door shut on my soul. barely hanging on, the sliver-thin string has been snapped off in front of my face. i know god must have purpose in it but i no longer care. it seems like the endless “no” is reverberating in every facet of my life and i’m distrustful that god really and truly cares about me.

i know one day it’ll all make sense and all of that cliche stuff i’d tell someone else in my position but right now, none of it seems true. in this moment, it seems like i’m in a desert — the path behind me dry + desolate; the path in front of me empty + uncertain. but since i’m in the desert, i know i can’t stay here. while i’d like to lay down on the ground and hope that someone will rescue me out, i know i have to keep moving forward in faith that god will lead me to an oasis. there will be life again. i know this and, ultimately, i trust this. but in my everyday struggle, it’s a fight to move ahead one. step. at. a. time. kicking the dust up as i go, often crawling, often crying out the last sustenance i have in the hopes that i’ll reach the thriving place soon.

movie star wannabe.

in a previous job interview, one of the questions they asked was “if you could be any celebrity, who would it be and why?” now, this line of inquiry wasn’t exactly something i had planned for so i tried to think on my feet and make someone up. i had nothing. at this point, i was fairly sure the job wasn’t a good fit for me anyways so i thought of saying “kim kardashian because she seems like a real role model and gets a lot of likes on instagram” but figured i’d better not. after contemplating the question for a bit longer, i know my answer — shirley maclaine as ouiser boudreaux in steel magnolias.

first of all, if you haven’t seen that movie, it’s pure gold — great cast, ultra quotable, endearing and hilarious all at the same time. we won’t mention that it’s horrendously sad as well but once you’ve seen it a few times, you can come to appreciate all the other factors. there’s dolly parton doing up hair to high heaven, wild gal daryl hannah gone cliche christian, sally field and julia roberts as mother-daughter duo, and then…. there’s shirley maclaine aka ouiser, boudreaux.

she’s my favorite ever. she’s crass and sour. she doesn’t fake it for anyone. she has the best one-liners. and no one takes her seriously. she’s everything i aspire to be. here i present to you, 10 of my favorite ouiser lines.

1. “eat shit and die”

tumblr_mpr7hfNdvS1r0d0uso1_500

there is nothing better than this. short, sweet (or something) and to the point. not wasting any time. i can respect that. also, she says it at easter which makes her my hero.

 

2. “you are a boil on the butt on humanity”

tumblr_mmtg9amIwa1qzxgw0o1_500

we’ve all felt like this about someone, ouiser is just the only one bold enough to say it.

 

3. “i try not to eat healthy food if i can possibly help it”

healthy food

a diet plan i’m on board with.

 

4. “i’m not crazy, i’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years”

232042f754dd0b39c7c03a4989bc0234

crazy vs. being in a very bad mood = very different things. i’m enlightened.

 

5. “i am pleasant, damn it.”

 

6. “men are the most horrible creatures, honey. they’ll ruin your life, mark my words”

ouiser

the twice-married ouiser’s encouraging words spoken to a soon-to-be bride! all the women said, “amen”.

 

7. “you are a pig from hell”

giphy

adding it to my repertoire. said after a funeral. still my hero.

 

8. “don’t try to get on my good side, i no longer have one”

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 9.24.14 PM

as if there was a good side to begin with.

 

9. “i’m not as sweet as i used to be”

sweet

well, you don’t say?

10. “shut up”

872bb41b-951a-4f57-90f5-e428893ccca0

as this is my signature statement which i use too frequently — i concur. she also tells clairee that people don’t care about her commentary on purple uniforms aka “grape shit” right after this.

new every morning.

it’s true that his grace is new every morning. but often so is the reminder that your life is not as you wanted it to be.

i really want to be able to give you guys a positive report. i am way better at sharing my struggles from the other side. from the side of healed and whole and happy. it’s in this broken and weary place that my words run out. the pain is unbearable so i choose to feel nothing in its place. the grief is still there — churning and rolling in the depths of my soul. it’s the ride i can’t hop off of. the one that seems as though it will never end. i will be forced to see it through until the end. and as it stretches on and on, i don’t think i have the fortitude to withstand it. i don’t think i want to.

i unwished myself alive yesterday. that’s a nice way of saying i wanted to die. i don’t want to exist in this pain and so i dreamt up ways i wouldn’t have to. that’s a nice way of saying sometimes i’ve thought of ways to die. i get that this is dramatic, dark, demonic. it’s near impossible that i’d ever act on it knowing that it’s not a real answer to the problem in my aching soul. i know there’s purpose and hope in a King and Kingdom. but all those things FEEL light years away. they don’t feel true every day. they don’t feel like something that matters when i can’t breathe or cry or function. and short of drinking or drugs or the million other things that take the edge off temporarily, i don’t know what else to do. ask Job how long you can cry out to god while your soul is crushed. how long will we wait, lord? how long must i find joy in unrelenting pain? how long will nights of futility be assigned to me? how long will my days come to an end without hope? how long will my pain — whether silent or spoken — dissipate? how long will my broken spirit remain? how long must i wait?

i don’t have cute answers or cliches and i don’t want them, either (seriously, save ’em for your mama). some may contain truth but mostly they force me to believe that there’s something wrong with grief. that i shouldn’t feel this way and it isn’t honoring to god. that he can’t handle the depth and weight of my heartbreak and i know he can. i know he will see me through until the end. i know he loves me. i know this won’t last forever. i know i have hope in heaven and in my sure savior who has rescued me from true death. we will only suffer a little while until we enter into eternal glory. he said “a. little. while” and i hope to hold on that long. clinging to his promises and that his mercies are new every morning. even when they don’t feel like it.