A couple weeks ago our family closed the book on the year of Job.

If you’ve never read the book of Job in the Bible you should. I read it multiple times this last year, and each time I took something different from it. A few things I learned…

Job loved God through it all. Even when he was broken, and didn’t know how He was going to get through it.

Last year at our worst, my faith in God was the only thing I knew to cling to. That and Love. Which as we all know is one in the same.

In the book of Job, after his entire life has fallen to pieces in a pile of rubble his  “friends” visit him. At first they seem to be there to bring comfort. They cry, tear their cloaks, and sit with him. But after Job shares his heart, something shifts. Instead of empathy, they tell him why God is punishing him. Instead of comfort, they offer harsh words to a broken soul…”for his own good.” They speak of rules and the ways Job has failed. They speak righteously of how Job needs to repent. They speak from a place of judgment. There is no love in what they say. They are not good friends. They are selfish, and self righteous.

This last year our family had those visitors. For me it was a year long struggle with situations and systems that hide behind the word Faith. I spent the majority of my year when I wasn’t dealing with the year of Job, trying to discern whether I was going to leave the Church. Something, I never thought I could admit openly. But there, I’ve said it.  In fact I spent the majority of my year on my knees scribbling in my journal about these things. Pouring through scripture questioning God on what He wanted, where He needed me to be, and who He is/was.  But also questioning things that were much deeper and harder to contemplate. Things I was told were the truth but were not once said by Jesus, or in scripture. When I wasn’t doing that, I prayed desperately for the people I love in my life, that they would be blessed and have hope. I prayed that they would know love. I have never prayed so much as I did in 2019. But I was shattered in my faith.  My poor husband had to hear me over and over again like a broken record unravel about all of the things. So many things.  I’m so flawed as it is, and I already feel like I’m on an uphill battle to be better, to serve better.  In my brokenness I began to run out of words, and in my silence I began to hear. I learned in those moments of deep prayer and grief, who Jesus is. And who I serve. It led to some family changes, and some real conversations with our kids. We returned home to a place where my kids received their first sacraments. I fell back in love with roots, and not systems. And friends… At the beginning of 2019, I texted someone about a situation where I felt so alone and isolated. While that theme was constant, over time I began to see the beauty in being with those who want to show up for me. And letting them show up. And letting them stay and see me for me. Those who stayed saw a wreck of a person. But they still stayed.  I also learned to be ok with not being for everyone.

As for my kids…I’ve rewritten the part about “friends” and my kids in particular and deleted it multiple times. One of my kids experienced a vast loneliness that defined the last part of 2019. And all I’ll say is sometimes people are just not good friends, and are selfish, and someday I hope they realize how much their  actions hurt others. In the meantime I’m praying for them. Truly. Because my kids continue to be good to others, and I’m so thankful for who they are. My kids don’t need friends like Job’s friends. And I don’t need to feel lonely trying to be “friends” with people like Job’s friends.

These are only two examples of our year of Job. I figure because I’m already so wordy, I’ll spare you from the copious amounts other stuff.

And then…it was almost 2020.

Right before the new year I was praying for all of the people in our lives, and thankful that our family is still together and alive. (And the Lord said to Satan, “He is in your power; only spare his Life.” -Job 3:6) And suddenly in the space between gratefulness and brokenness- I heard the word “Restoration.” The voice was clear and spoke directly to the center of my heart.

I suddenly felt a wave of peace, but I didn’t know what that meant. Soon after I became distracted by life and went on with my day.

A few days later I attended a conference in Toledo Ohio with my son Jonah. I was apprehensive before we went, but after being there I got a lot out of it. During one of the talks, my thoughts began to wander back to last year and I felt the urge to read the last chapter of Job again. In fact I felt called to read Job 42:10. I kept hearing that verse over and over said by that voice again. The same one that said “Restoration” to me.

I opened up Job 42: 10 and read these words:

And so the Lord RESTORED what Job had lost when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD doubled all that had belonged to Job.

Ooh good mic’ drop there God.

So, here we are.

Restoration. 2020.

The more I’ve researched the word restoration the more I’ve began to understand what it entails for us.

Restoration can only happen when we can be honest about where we are at. When we can sit in the ashes and be real about our brokenness.

People won’t restore. People will fail.

I won’t restore. I will fail.

Only God will restore.

But there’s more to it. There’s always more.

My husband was reading through the book of Hosea, and God placed some words directly on his heart. If you don’t know my husband, he is a good man- who works so hard to be a better man. And If you don’t know the book of Hosea, read it. Hosea was called to marry  a prostitute. He fought her world for her. It’s better than reality tv. And it’s  a love story. To us.

In it God says: “I want your love, not your sacrifices. I want you to know me more, not your offerings.” Hosea 6:6

Another mic’ drop.

As a couple we’ve kept going back to those words as we welcome restoration. You see, when we get stuck on all the “rules” we lose sight of God.

As a family we will look to Jesus’ example. We will love Him, and we will love others. We will fight for the marginalized. I’ll turn tables if I have to. We will sit with the broken. And we will remember we don’t get to determine who is a child of God.

He does.

He wants our love.

He wants us to know him.

Just like Job, we are coming forth as gold in 2020. Restoration has already started, in our realness. In all our failures and brokenness. It is all so beautiful, especially because we know.

we know…we know. 017F7C25-7B35-4FCD-91D1-EE04A0C2B85D.jpeg

(Writer Disclaimer: this is a real account of  recent events. This is based on my life and my opinions, and my heart. I am not a theologian, I’ve never claimed to be one. This is just my life. And I know who I serve.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently on social media I shared one of my Senior pictures and my friend Nicole said “Channeling my So Called Life. And I’m here for it.” It got me thinking but first I have to set the stage…

Even looking back on that picture I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a brand new senior. My future husband was just my “friend” and had written me a letter that was in my back pocket. I had read it so many times that it felt like silk. My friend Jenn and I poured over it line by line trying to decipher what he meant by “I hope to see you soon.” Did that mean he liked me? That he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me? Or did he just want to see me like as a friend? I was having my senior pictures taken that day. We took them on the stage at my high school. That stage was my safe haven. I can still picture the sounds and the smells. I remember how I would run my hands along the wall, walking up the stairs from the dressing rooms, and do the sign of the cross before I went on stage. Theater kids are special kids. Everyone is different, and everyone is accepted. It was the first group of friends I had that I could be open with and disagree with and we would talk stuff out. We didn’t gossip about each other, and we were honest with each other. For so much of my life I had fought to be “seen” and they were the first group of people that just saw me. They challenged me to be a better person every day, and when I messed up they still loved me. I was rarely a lead, but it never mattered. Because we all mattered and everyone was a star…significant and shining. I was so thankful when Grace fell in love with theater. Her experience has already been such a gift. She leaves the ridiculous unnecessary “drama” at school, to a place where people see her and love her. Her theater friends are a blessing.

I remember when “My So Called Life” came out on TV. I was in High School, and had watched the previews for it at a friends house. I never got to watch the show regularly at my house because we only had three working channels, and it was on a channel the rabbit ears on our 18 inch TV didn’t get in. It was probably for the best. Every time I saw Clare Danes teen-angsty face I related to her. I was already filled with lots of feelings at that time anyway. I didn’t need more ideas on how to be extra. I had learned to slam doors and roll my eyes from DJ Tanner, and I don’t think my parents could’ve handled anymore.

Aw the 90’s.

I loved that grunge phase because those were the clothes anyone could afford. But they also just fit my personality- they weren’t too tight, were comfy, and the more wrinkled the better. My favorite shirt was my Papa John’s flannel and an old pair of bell bottoms that would get wet on the bottom in rain and snow, as well as these overalls(pictured) that I got at a garage sale. I still have all three of these items. I bet if you hold them close to your nose, you may still be able to smell my special blend of patchouli-vanilla I had mixed and wore as perfume. I wore the overalls for years, even after we had Jonah. I’ve never been a big shopper, but I’ve never met a thrift store I didn’t like. I have a closet full of flannels. And I still love the smell of patchouli. So I guess not much has changed in that respect.

But being a teenager has changed.

Kids are never allowed to be off duty. There is the constant connection that comes from cell phones and social media. Even some teachers won’t accept homework that’s not digital. There’s so much pressure for them to be more, to do more. And they don’t get a break. They are always in contact with friends and feel that pressure to respond instantly. And there is this open ended freedom to express yourself privately and be mean, because you can hide behind a screen, or say something anonymously. It’s dangerous. It’s no wonder anxiety rates have sky-rocketed. It’s no wonder suicide rates are off the charts with our teens. And our kids are addicted to that little glow, and that dopamine that is released in their brains. Don’t believe me? Check your kids cell phone use. And check your rates too. It effects all of us. There’s a mountain of research that supports this. And it’s not going away.

So, I started thinking.

I work with teens. I raise teens. And I was a teen. I have witnessed the pressures they are under, and continue to witness them. And I have also learned a few things from raising son’s, things I didn’t realize when I was a teen girl. Most of them know the basics…listening to your parents. Being respectful of others. Eat right and exercise. Washing your hands after you poop. And if they don’t- seriously that’s parenting 101. Get on that. But here’s a refresher of some other stuff that they may have forgotten. While my “so called advice” may not pertain to all there are some things I wish I would’ve known back then. I have a whole other post coming about body image and all that jazz. But here’s some basics for teens. Here’s the top stuff I see with the kids I work with. Here’s some stuff they need to know…

1. Being a good friend takes work. It takes time, and energy. Not texting and a streak, but actually spending time with someone and making time for them. When you find a loyal, good friend who shows up for you when you need them- you need to be that friend who shows up for them when they need you. Friendship goes both ways. Empathy is priceless. If you have plans with a friend, and get a better offer, don’t be the guy who just cancels. Or if you only contact someone because you need something, that makes you a shitty friend. Don’t be a shitty friend. Real, loyal friends don’t come along often. Friendship is worth more than an aesthetic instagram feed. Put in the work.

2. “No offense but…” is the perfect way to insult someone. Strike it from your vocabulary- and don’t say it. If you’re gonna say something just to insult someone STOP! When you need to talk to someone over a real conflict, and you come at with honesty but gentleness you actually will get somewhere. You may even stay friends. But starting any sentence with that…just No. Learn how to apologize and how to forgive. Being accountable for our actions is a priceless gift.

3. Don’t gossip. Do not share anyone else’s story. There is something beautiful about staying out of other people’s drama. The same goes with writing anything on the internet to someone or about someone that is just to hurt them. Or to get even with them. The one thing I’ve learned, eventually everything catches up with people. It’s not our job to make that happen. Also stop making polls, or opinion polls, or anything on the internet to invite that in. Because people can and will be really mean sometimes. Let God be God, and always be kind.

4. With that being said we should be past the part when we don’t speak up if we hear of someone threatening violence on others or themselves. We have to speak up. Regardless of what anyone else thinks- it’s that important. If you can save a life that’s all that matters. It’s not gossip if you’re saving a life. And when in doubt still speak up. Seriously.

5. If you wouldn’t send that picture to your grandma, then you shouldn’t be sending it to anyone else. Or asking them to send you one. That is someone’s baby. They are worth more than that. And you are worth more than that. Period. Respect yourself.

6. If you marginalize anyone else because of their beliefs, or because of who they are inside and/or out…you are a jerk. So stop it. Not everyone is gonna look and act like you. Not everyone is going to know your story. Not everyone is going to have the same opinions. So stop it. Stop it right now. Respect others.

7. Find a church. Find a youth group. Find some faith. Find something to believe in, other than just yourself. Because you are going to fail. People are going to fail you. And there’s so much more. We all need God. And He’s real. I promise.

8. Relationships are hard. They take work and there is no such thing as “relationship goals” in high school. You’re all just figuring stuff out. A relationship on social media isn’t real, if you’re not actually spending time getting to know someone else. You are going to make mistakes. Trust is important. Being jealous never has good results. And you have to communicate. This is all training for the rest of your life, so if you don’t tell someone what’s going on they won’t know. No one can read minds. Therefore, they won’t learn how to love you. Because we all love different. Friends are important when you’re starting to date. You need them. So make time for them. But don’t make them fight your battles, and don’t let them run your relationship. Instead talk to your parents, or a trusted adult when things come up. Seriously, the best time to learn how to navigate relationships is when you’re still home and can lean on people who’ve been there. Break ups in High School are inevitable, and it’s hard on both sides. Don’t ever think because someone has broken up with you everything is hunky dory for them. The other person is trying to figure it all out too, and sometimes, they are doing what they think is right for both of you. And a lot of times they are hurting just as much.

9. Don’t take dating advice from “Twilight.” Edward is creepy and old. Bella needs serious counseling. Also if someone is super mean to you one day, and super sweet the next day- that’s a red flag, wave bye bye bye Justin Timberlake style, and don’t date them. If they are mean all the time, don’t date them. If they tell you not to talk to someone else or are controlling, don’t date them. If they sneak in and watch you when you’re sleeping…ew, don’t date them. If they talk bad about your family or your friends, don’t date them. If they cheat on you EVER, be done. If they pressure you to do ANYTHING, be done. If they push or hit you, be done. You are worth more than that.

10. Take a break. From your phone. From social media. And talk to someone. If things are tough and you feel helpless tell someone. Don’t ever give up though. Don’t walk towards the dark. Instead turn on the light, and find someone right then who can help you. Sometimes that means feeling all the feelings right then and there, and getting help. Maybe that means talking to someone. Maybe that means seeing a doctor. Maybe that means dropping a class. Or taking medicine to help the chemicals in your brain get balanced. But speak up, and speak out. Stand up for yourself. We need you here. So many people need you. I promise. The dark will tell you we don’t. But we do! You are the world changer’s. You are so needed. And so loved. Please please speak up. And stay.

So there you go…my so called advice. Here’s your recap:

Don’t be a shitty friend.

Be kind and accountable.

Speak up for others, not about them.

Be brave.

Respect yourself and the people on the other end of the phone.

Don’t be a jerk.

Know that relationships take work, and things don’t always work out.

Don’t ever take dating advice from a movie or a book- you are a real person and you deserve love.

Know that God loves you and created you for good things.

Take a break from your phone.

And always face the light. You have a place in this world, and you are needed. You are loved.

It all started with the fire.

We had only been married a few months and we had plans. He was going to become a top commercial real estate appraiser and I was going to finish school. We were going to wait exactly 5 years to have kids. If we were even able to have kids, which I was convinced I was not able to(another post, maybe). We were going to go on vacations and have a savings account.

But then the fire happened. I had started back to school the day before. We went to bed early. We had only lived in the rental two weeks. A fire started in the wall behind the chimney. I woke up to the smoke alarm and the house alarm. I fell back asleep. I woke up again. And I couldn’t wake him up. The entire wall in our living room was on fire, as was the ceiling. I grabbed his feet and had to drag him out of the house. Finally, he woke up. We lost our couches. We lost so much. But we were able to save our wedding photos, and later found the crucifix from his grandfathers funeral in the rubble completely untouched. It was on the wall that burnt down. The week before the fire we had made an appointment to get rental insurance*. Our appointment was for the day AFTER the fire happened.

Instead, the day after the fire I woke up in a grubby hotel. My hair still smelled like smoke even though I’d just showered. I had a raspy cough and I drove back to the college I’d started the day before, dropped my classes, and sold back my books. We couldn’t afford for me to stay in school. I didn’t know if we’d ever get through it.

But we did.

I got a second job. He got a third one. We finally got into another apartment after staying with some friends. Someone from the church donated their old couches to us. We still had plans but suddenly everything was uncertain. We decided I’d go back to school after we got back on our feet. I got a horrible stomach bug that wouldn’t go away. A member of an aerobics class I was teaching said to me, after I ran out to throw up in a garbage can, “You aren’t pregnant are you?” Later I bought a pregnancy test, and saw two little pink lines. We’d wanted to wait five years. We’d been married five months. And I was already eight weeks along.

I was weeks away from giving birth to Jonah, as we watched the second plane hit the Twin Towers live on the television. We had just bought our first home. I was only working one job. And he was swamped at his job, which was a good thing because He was paid solely on commission. I saw our entire world shift, as we watched in sheer terror that day. Dyp felt God whispering something in his heart. He needed to do something different. He couldn’t be the person watching others run in to help. He needed to be one of the helpers. As the weeks passed, the economy started to plummet from the uncertainty people were feeling.

We had Jonah. My labor went wonky with a lot of complications for me. But Jonah was perfect, with curly blond hair and a little round face. He was the best thing that ever happened to us.

Dyp only got to take one day off work when Jonah was born. But then the work stopped coming. No one wanted appraisals. We stopped getting paid. We had this new baby. A new home. He started applying for other jobs**. Pushing a broom at night at the grocery store near our house. Being a security guard at a church a couple other nights a week. He got on the reserves with a small town near us. So much of that time was such a blessing because we had this little person neither of us could live without. But there was a lot of fear of what we were going to do. I didn’t know if we’d ever get through it.

But we did.

He got offered a job in Eugene, where we’d went to college. We transitioned our little family there. Our house sold. We bought a new one. We found out we were pregnant again a few months later with Daniel.

Danny came early, in a labor that took less than two hours, to be caught by my mom. Born on his Dad’s birthday. He was the best thing that had ever happened to our family.

At this point we’d stopped making plans. Whenever we had savings something would happen and they would disappear. There was always something.

We got pregnant again. I’d never been so sick in my life. Fainting weekly. Multiple Hospital trips for IV fluids. Vomiting constantly.

We lost Mary, our first daughter. I became a different person overnight. I stopped sleeping in my bed on nights when he was at work. I fell asleep every night on the couch to “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” I had to know where my kids were every single moment. I hugged them longer. I couldn’t look at baby girls, and held my breath around pregnant women. I didn’t think we’d ever get through it***.

But we did.

Then we had Micah. He was the sweetest, most content baby. He was a miracle. He would watch my every move. I carried him everywhere. He was so joy filled that we all caught it. He was the best thing that had every happened to our family.

And a couple years later Grace Mary joined us. She was fussy and mad for her first few months. She was teeny and adorable, and salty about every single thing. But when she first smiled, we all melted. Huge dimples took up her entire little face. Once she started smiling, she never stopped. When she started talking, she never stopped. Then she started singing, and her voice became the background music to our lives. She was the best thing that ever happened to us.

There was a year when all our kids were constantly sick. They got the swine flu. They all got pneumonia. Dyp and I got strep throat SIX times over a summer until we found out Danny and Micah were carriers and kept infecting us. We had the stomach flu all at the same time. I got a blood clot in my leg(twice). Grace had kidney issues. I got influenza and fainted at the kids preschool during a Thanksgiving celebration. Dyp only had 6 hours of sick leave left. We were so scared of anyone else getting sick. I didn’t know how we’d ever get through it.

But we did.

There were more seasons and years like that. Grace’s constant kidney issues that plagued the first five years of her life. Jonah’s fifth grade year. Helping a sick sibling. Danny’s stomach issues. Micah having a growth removed that had to be biopsied. My Dad’s heart issues. My Papa John’s cancer. My Father in Law’s heart attack. Losing family members. Losing friends. One of my children’s anxiety after a traumatic event. My anxiety. Stress at Dyp’s work. Worrying about our families safety. Losing Robert. Losing my eyelashes and clumps of my hair and having to battle an invisible illness for years until I finally got a diagnosis. Friends losing children. Friends losing spouses. Big work stresses. Just so much stuff. And during those seasons I didn’t know how we’d ever get through it.

But we did.

And then 2019 came. I don’t even want to rehash this year. I feel like all I do is rehash it. By April I wrote that I felt like I’ve aged 10 years and it’s true. I look and feel older. So many people have shown up for our family, and yet my circle has become even smaller. I think because I’ve started second guessing everything this year. All of us have dealt with big stuff. A lot of loss. The kids have had many growing pains of growing up. Learning that even though you love someone you can’t always be together. That sometimes the person you thought would be your best friend forever won’t. Raising teenagers is so hard. Raising a daughter is so hard.

I told my older kids recently I’ve felt like a failure most of this year. Failing at parenting. Failing at housework. Failing at friendships. Failing at my job. Failing in my faith. Failing at conversations. Failing at showing up. Failing at exercise. Failing at our finances. Failing. Later one of my kids shared He had been feeling the same way.

I don’t really know if things will be different in 2020. I’m just sick of thinking about all the things that went wrong. Every facet of our life has suffered this year. Things I never thought I’d worry about. Issues I’d never thought we’d have to deal with. Many times I thought we’d never get through it.

But we have.

Because…

When my faith was shaken, God reminded me that He is bigger. He is bigger than a building. He is better than systems or rules that can do damage. He is bigger than sickness and despair. He is bigger. And He is real.

Because…

My husband is a rock. When I’m anxious, he’s calm. Even when our relationship has been uncertain, he has never doubted everything will be ok. He has still loved me when I’ve been unlovable.

Because…

There are really good people in the world. People that love you even though you cancel last minute, or don’t make you talk when you get choked up at coffee. Who just sit with you and let you be broken. Who you can ask for prayer from, and who still ask you to pray with them.

Because…

“Man’s rejection, is God’s protection.” My mom said that to me this year, when many things I really wanted to work out didn’t. At the time I didn’t understand, but now I do.

Because…

It’s never too late. Only a handful of people know I went back to school this fall. Yeah, I can’t believe it either. But here I am, back in college as my oldest prepares to start next year.

And Because…

We are all still here.

We still pray as a family at night.

We are raising beautiful, kind, imperfect humans who have bigger faith than we do.

We are still together.

We have found our hope again.

2019 may have broken us, but we are still blessed.

And…

It all started with a fire.

It may have changed our big plans. But it also saved our lives. Because God had much bigger ones for us.

Love, K

*ps. Get rental insurance.

**My Husband has the best work ethic of anyone I’ve ever known. He has always worked so hard to provide for us. Bonus: because of that example- our kids are the same way.

***We got through it, but we never will be over it.

It’s only April and I feel like I’ve aged 10 years.

We stepped into this year and I picked the word “Joy.” Please note, I didn’t say I felt called to that word. I just picked it. Because I wanted more joy. I felt because I wanted Joy, God would give us more Joy as a family. Instead our lives have been turned inside out, wrung, and in many ways hung out in frigid crisp air to dry. Instead of warm air softening us like fabric hanging in the breeze, we have felt cold and stiff.

I’ve made the joke that God got Joy confused and instead picked Job for us. Except it’s not a funny joke, but I’m trying- I’m trying to find moments of joy. And there are so many. There’s just also a lot of hard stuff.

This has been the hardest few months of my life.

And it’s not just one thing.

It’s all the things.

Last weekend I spent the weekend with 125 women in Central Oregon and was able to share with them about “Joy Thieves.” Kind of full circle since I feel like my year of Joy was stolen from me. I shared openly about how this was the hardest year, and I saw I was not alone. Everyone has stuff going on. And a lot of it is big huge stuff. I shared about how if we are willing to share the good and our highlight reel we need to be willing to share our lowlight “real” too. You know the real where we have something stuck in our teeth, and our pants won’t button, and our eyes are puffy from crying.

I’ve never hid from that here. My words have always true and real, and messy.

But every shiny happy “cohesive Instagram grid*” makes me feel like I should have it more together. That if only I was a more faithful person God would give me my year of joy back. Don’t get me wrong- I have joy, and there is a lot of good things in my life, and good days. But there’s also a lot of tough stuff going on.

And again it’s not just been one thing.

It’s been all the things.

In True Love

It’s been a tough few months in the land of “as long as we both shall live.” Maybe the toughest we’ve had in all our years together. This is a deeply private thing but we are living through it. And we’ve been through a lot. And sometimes it’s all a lot. And it takes a lot of love and a lot of work. There’s this incredible part in the song “It’s Quiet Uptown” in Hamilton the musical that really has resonated with me.

“I don’t pretend to know, the challenges we’re facing. I know there’s no replacing what we’ve lost. And you need time. But I’m not afraid. I know who I married. Just let me stay by your side. That would be enough.”

In Raising Love

Our kids have also been through stuff, not just with us almost losing Micah. But just a lot of really big life altering things. When my kids go through stuff – I go through stuff, because my kids are everything to me. And sometimes the little things can build into so much more. I feel like each of them have had to carry a lot more than they could handle this year, and have had to work through things we weren’t expecting. I respect my older boys need for their stuff to be their stuff and private, and them to be able to share their real in their own ways with their own safe people. But one example I can share is it’s been hard seeing Grace for the most part sit by herself everyday at lunch all year. She doesn’t have a buddy in her class. To hear of things said to her by other girls in her class. To hear her anxiety about next year. She has always been so filled with joy even when school is difficult, but some of it has been dimmed this year.

In (self) love

First off, I hate the term Self Care. It goes against every part of who I am. The way I love best, is by showing up for other people. I’m not a watcher. In fact I resent people that watch others do…And don’t offer. I’m doer. It’s how I love. So self care is as foreign to me, as self medicating is. I’d much rather do soul care- take care of others, and then do the stuff that matters…pray, and get my mind right. Whether that’s counseling, sitting before Jesus, working out, spending time with a safe friend…all of these things are soul care things. They don’t require bubble baths(puke) or me to have me time. I’m not actually a huge fan of me lately…so really I’d rather find other things to do than me time. Which is a whole other thing…all this stuff I dealt with as a kid, all the weird crap I just pretended wasn’t a part of who I am? Well suddenly this year it all became very apparent that it’s effected my life, and all of the sudden it makes sense, and I’m so over that.

Also I’m really lonely. I’m afraid to talk too much because I don’t want to be that friend. The friend whose always asking for prayer. All my friends are going through their own stuff. So a lot of times It’s just me. And it’s lonely. And remember I don’t really want to hang out with me. Because News Flash: I’m a mess half the time.

In Perfect Love…my faith.

The more time I’ve spent in prayer this year(which is probably more than I have in my whole life), the more I’ve become aware of cracks in the foundation of so many things. It’s been a little bit heart wrenching, and not easy, as I have questioned more than I ever have. What I can say now without any shadow of a doubt is God is Love, and a lot of us have been getting that part wrong. Also “The Our Father” is one of the most beautiful prayers. Gosh, I love it- and I love the words and what they mean. And when I say them I really mean them. That’s something else I’ve come to- I like to know what I’m saying in prayer. It’s important to me. Words Matter. “The Word” changed my life. And we need to remember where God would be when we use our words…if we are alienating or marginalizing anyone…we’ve got it wrong. God is Love. Period. There is no but.

In “For the Love!”

And I won’t bore you with all the crazy things that have gone wrong…cars, house, stuff. My band is on a hiatus and I miss singing. I don’t know if I’m supposed to stay at my job. Hashimotos and anemia is stupid. All this Just random stuff that’s small but is big when it all compiles. Bills, and medical bills that we are waiting on.

Also it needs to stop raining.

In fear for Love

I wrote something and I’ve deleted it. Twice. Almost 11 days in the hospital. Longest 11 days of my life. We almost lost our Micah. But miracles happened, and He is a miracle. I will be unpacking a lot of what we went through for sometime. But I’m not crying as much this week so I feel like we are making progress. He laughs a lot again. I’d missed his laugh. And I’m so grateful He’s still here. I’m grateful for his Doctors and Nurses, all gifts from God. Every person who took care of him was a part of saving his Life.

Love love love.

So back to the beginning- now our word for the year is Gratefulness. And I feel like gratefulness is something I do have a lot of- even in all the broken and cracked parts of our year. I took a picture today of myself and I saw my laugh lines and bags under my eyes…and for the first time in a while I was just so grateful for those laugh lines. Because there is a sacredness to me in surrender. And I’ve learned a lot about surrender. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I do know- we have so much to be grateful for.

Every stressful thing the last two months shows on my face and in my waistline, but I know a few things to be true no matter what…

God is Good. Our family is loved. Prayer is Powerful and Works. My kids are good humans, and are wonderfully and fearfully made. I love my husband with my whole heart.

And even when things are hard. Life is worth fighting for. All the things are worth fighting for. And I’m so grateful for that.

Even if it’s only April.

* Cohesive Instagram Grid is a thing. A legit thing. A friend told me about it. And then I googled it. It’s so all your photos have similar tone and color, and evoke a certain feeling of calm. It’s very common with professional photographers- which makes sense. I am not a professional, so my Instagram is as cohesive as a hot mess. But whoever sees it know I love my kids. And that’s good enough for me.

I wrote a post in 2011* when they found a small growth on Micah’s leg. It was the last time He had pneumonia ironically.

It was a terrifying time for us- just like today. The last few days have been pretty scary. Watching my child in the last 24 hours turn grey from lack of Oxygen takes my breath away, and makes my eyes sting.

As I sit next to his hospital bed- I am filled with relief that he’s somewhere where they are watching him so closely. We haven’t slept in days. He’s just been getting worse. Here…they know what to look for. Here he has an IV with antibiotics and oxygen, and I can just love him. And maybe I will rest a little tonight.

Our Micah. Curly.

His entire life has been a testament to us of Hope. Through the greatest loss- God gave me the sweetest, most kind hearted boy. He is all sweetness and light. He always has been.

He loves his brothers. And He is Grace’s best friend. And he is his Dad’s Carbon Copy. He is a good friend. A dedicated student. He is the most coachable kid. And he has the funnest sense of humor.

So I placed the post from 2011 underneath my words tonight. Taking us back to another time when stuff was hard, and we still had to choose Hope even if we didn’t know the outcome. Stuff will always be hard once in a while- but Micah will always always remind me to look for the pieces of light in the darkest sky. Micah always sees the stars.

And I choose to look for the stars. I can’t really see them tonight. I see snow. And fog. And ice, out the hospital window. But even in the dark I am choosing not be be consumed with worry- I choose Hope, knowing that even if I can’t see God working- he’s there.

Thank you all your prayers. I had hesitated to ask- but prayer is what we need. So thank you.

Love, Kristin Ann

March 7, 2011

I have two posts almost ready to publish, but for some reason I haven’t tweaked them, pushed publish.  Maybe they’re not ready.  I had hoped that this post would be happier than the last full of all my funny quips, but instead I am wound up with so much uncertainty and worry that my stomach hurts and Chris and I try not to look at each other for too long, because my eyes well up with tears and we…just…don’t…know. 

Part one of that is Exhaustion. All three of our boys have been diagnosed with pneumonia in the past month.  I wasn’t really surprised when Jonah was diagnosed, he was the 7th of 9 third graders to be diagnosed.  I wasn’t prepared for how long it would last, for the lethargic spirit that would steal his joy in little things like eating dinner with us, or even reading before bed.  Of course when it happened I was dealing with my own health issues, a stupid blood clot from a vein I’ve had my whole life.  Not life threatening, just an annoying nuisance.  But we powered through it, and as a week and then two passed by I thought we were in the clear.

Then of course Micah started crying  inconsolably on a Saturday afternoon after being whacked in the face with a yoyo.  And don’t get me wrong, most 4 years olds would cry like 4 year olds when being hit right in the eye with anything, but not my Micah.  He’s tough as nails, and it was so uncharacteristic of him we started to watch him. By Monday his breathing was labored and he was diagnosed with pneumonia.  By Friday Daniel was diagnosed. I spent the past week in a fog of being up all night with the kids, checking temps, breathing.  Micah had to return to the doctor to change medications when his pneumonia worsened.  I visited the doctor’s office 7 times in 6 days.

Part two is this little spot on the upper thigh of Micah we found last Wednesday.  We saw it when he was getting out of the shower, neither Chris and I have ever seen anything like it. So we looked at the internet, and what it looked like was not good.  I took him in the next day.  The pediatrician wasn’t our normal doctor whose eyes I can read, who I trust to give Grace a catheter and who has seen me cry, so I didn’t have any way to know what his reaction meant.  He looked at it and said, I’m going to refer you right away to a specialist.  He used the word biopsy. He talked about as soon as possible, he even called the specialist and made the appointment for me.  He said a lot of things.  And in that moment all I thought about was how much I hated him, how I hated his calm voice. 

Of course it had nothing to do with him, or his voice.  I hated him because he couldn’t give me answers that day, he told me it could be nothing or something…which isn’t his fault. Hate seemed an easier emotion than fear at that moment. 

For those of you who know me, you know that Micah is my sugar, my curly.  He came after the darkest experience of my life, and has filled our lives with sweet laughter that coats your throat, and seeps into your heart. He is happy, and has always been a truly easy child.  My entire pregnancy with him I told him constantly how much I loved him, how excited I was to be his Mom.  I had never said those things to his sister, so I will never know if she knew how much I desired to be her Mom, to get to know her.  I wasn’t going to make that mistake with him.  My OB would let me listen to his heartbeat for minutes and we’d cry and say how it was the most beautiful sound.  As my pregnancy came to a close I began to be filled with an anxiety that something would be wrong.  So much so that my blood pressure began to rise and my doctor gave me the option to be induced. I accepted immediately, anything to see him sooner, I knew how fast things could go wrong. After losing a child, the anticipation is very very different; you don’t want to not be pregnant anymore or get it over with, you want your child to be ok.

I was induced on a Sunday morning.  My friend Emily gave the gift of spending her Anniversary sitting next to me. My Mom and Chris held my legs, all of us holding our breath.  Even being induced he arrived in less than 5 hours, and when my doctor told me his heart rate was dropping and I either pushed him out in three pushes or we did an emergency C section,I pushed him out in two pushes.  He came out face up and  the cord was wrapped around his neck, and all I could ask over and over was, “Is he ok? Is he alive?”  

“Please…tell me he’s alive.”

Micah was fine, but I had complications, they couldn’t seem to stop the bleeding and my doctor told Chris I had to wait a couple of years before we tried again.  Chris wouldn’t say anything, but I could tell he was worried,  but for me, my situation seemed so little in comparison to how beautiful and healthy he was.  My doctor was able to stop the bleeding and with in an hour I was able to hold him.  He was so much darker than his brothers, and he would just stare back at me.  For the first six months of his life I never put him down.  I could rock him for hours and sing to him.  He was never fussy, he would laugh and laugh at his brothers.  When he was really little I had him in a cosleeper in the bed next to us. If he didn’t stir I would gently shake him to make sure he was still breathing until I eventually just had him sleep in the crook of my arm. 

I have enjoyed every moment with him.  He is one of those kids that everyone wants to be around.  He loves life. He went through a phase where he refused to wear clothes for almost a year. He has peed in every public place we’ve visited.  He loves women and has been saying that Taylor Swift is his girlfriend since he was barely three.  He loves Bon Jovi, and could listen to “It’s My Life” over and over.  I love his curly hair and huge blue-green eyes and the most beautiful long eyelashes.  I love that every morning he wakes me up by screaming in my ear, “IT’S A BRAND NEW DAY MOM!”  He loves preschool and loves to pick up his brother’s from school.  He is very protective of Grace and is not afraid of sticking up for himself. The way he greets his Dad and godfather is a nice punch right to the belly, and then he’ll give the best hug.

Since the day he was born I have told him everyday how much he matters to me, how loved he is.  I didn’t do that with Jonah and Daniel until after I lost their sister.  Both were shy and struggled with their confidence, but Micah and Grace never have…I really believe it’s because they’ve never doubted.  They have known from the moment they could hear my muffled voice in the womb, they were wanted. They are loved.  When you don’t know how it is to grieve a child, you don’t appreciate your kids the same. You complain about their attitudes, you long for breaks, and for them to grow up.  When you never get to see your child laugh or blink…you view your other children differently…You see them. I know I mentioned this in the previous post,  That was the one gift my Mary gave to her siblings, I see them. 

Last summer I read the book “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert while we were at the family cabin in Montana.  In it there is a medicine man who is prophetic.  Most people who have read this book that I’ve talked to thought it was too slow, that the author was selfish. My sweet friend from Italy’s family thought she portrayed Italians as lazy.   But for where I was at I liked it, I just kept coming back to my own faith.  We were in the midst of trying to decide if Grace would have surgery for her Kidney condition and that was at the forefront of my mind. But while we were there I had the most intense and vivid dream I had had in recent years. The medicine man was there and I stood before him with Micah and Grace. I asked him if Grace would be ok, and he said Yes, she would have a long and happy life. But he said, “But you need to watch him(and pointed to Micah)he needs you to always have his medicine with him. Watch him.”  I woke up and woke Chris up.  Micah has had chronic croup for years, and we travel with an oral steroid…but it shook both of us.  Without going into more detail, I’ve had dreams that have come true…and few of them have been positive. 

And then we found this spot.  A lot of people have said, “It’s probably nothing.” But what keeps plaguing me is, What if it’s not?

I’ve heard, “It would be so rare.” But what if we are the rarity? Who I am to say that I’m above or it’s not going to happen to me.  My dear friend Kristy grieve’s her sister Amy. My dear friend Joan grieve’s her daughter Mary.  My bonus dad Papa John was the last person I would ever think would have salivary and  lung cancer he never smoked or chewed.  And really, normally I’m not the glass is half full person, but this month has broken me.  Between pneumonia, blood clots,  to the financially and emergency fund draining with water damage and having to replace our kitchen floor…yesterday. And now the not knowing. 

I am broken. 

It would be easy for me to lose faith right now.  In fact I’ve questioned my faith over and over, and in many ways I’m barely clinging.  But I’m clinging. Because I know that no matter what we are going to get through this, and we are going to pray and trust that God is going to be there.  And any of the lies I’ve heard that God hasn’t taken care of us, or that he abandoned us are just that…lies. 

My friend Amy gave me a quote today:

”Without somehow destroying myself in the process, how could God somehow reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me.” -Frederick Buechner

In a few hours I will sit with Micah as they take off the spot, I will hold him and comfort him.  And then we will wait while they biopsy it, and wait for a phone call.    I will hold my husband’s hand, and I will tell all of my kids how much I love them.  And I will cling, and wait for the result, and let God comfort me…because no matter what the results are, if they are nothing or something…No matter how broken I am, we will get through this.  Because regardless of this month, or what is to come I have no doubt I am blessed.  Broken? Yes, but definitely blessed.

I mean look at them…look. at. them…

Look at him…

Can I tell you a little something?

I know it’s been a while.

Some time ago… I faced a dark situation – where I couldn’t really see beyond what I was dealing with. It effected every facet of my life: my work, my health, my relationships. For years when things felt dark, I’d write and somehow my words would bring me back around. God would reveal Himself in between sentences and vowels. But this time, I was dealing with a situation that made me feel helpless a lot of the time. I’d started second guessing myself, because I was being told I was making mistakes often. I stopped believing in myself. I stopped writing completely.

But somehow God still found a way to reveal somethings to me. First of all, reminding me my voice can be powerful even when it’s shaky. My handwriting can write the truth, even when I’m being told I “misunderstood things.” And the Truth is the truth, no matter what. Period.

Last year our word as a Family was Faithfulness, and I gotta say it was a sucker punch of a word. We were taken aback by how often our faithfulness was stretched, and pulled. But in the end, we learned time and time again when we were Faithful in even the little things- God was Faithful in the big stuff. And boy, did we need that.

This year our word is Joy. But it actually goes beyond just Joy, it’s Choosing Joy really.

Writing brings me Joy. So here I am.

Recently, one of my oldest friends Amanda found a letter I wrote to her in 1998.

In it I wrote the following…

Please pray for Chris and I. We always need a little bit of prayer. I was on the phone with my Mom and I told her we were getting married. Not that we’re engaged or anything, but I got all choked up cause I know now more than ever that Chris W is my vocation.”

Ok, forget the fact that I wrote Chris and I, when I should have written Chris and Me. I was 19. We’d been dating maybe a year and a half? But even then I knew. Even then I chose him.

You see a vocation isn’t just a choice. Not to me. When I knew we’d be together, I was much younger than I should have been deciding that stuff. But I knew there was a divine pull that brought the two of us together. Ask anyone who was there before we became us. It was more than attraction. It was more than the fact that we genuinely liked each other. I felt from the moment I saw him, that He was the person I would marry. A year and a half later I knew He was my vocation.

At 19 I didn’t know we’d face some of our darkest skies together. I didn’t know we’d have a house burn down, and that I’d have to save his life pulling him out of the fire. I didn’t know we’d say things to each other over the years, that would make us hurt to forgive one another. I didn’t know we’d struggle to pay our bills, especially after 9/11 when appraisal jobs ran out. I didn’t know we’d grieve a child, and I didn’t know the grief doesn’t ever go away. I didn’t know how much His career would impact our every day life. I didn’t know we’d lose loved ones, and for a while wouldn’t know how to comfort each other. I didn’t know there would be months where we’d never seem to speak the same language. I didn’t know we’d lay in bed and comfort our child sobbing over a broken heart, neither of us knowing the right thing to say. But still we’ve faced them…and we’ve chosen each others hand under the covers on the darkest days as we’ve fallen asleep.

We’ve also faced the brightest sunshine together- the stuff that’s easy to write about. Slow dancing over the years in our kitchen. Our letters to each other brimming to the top in boxes. Our traditions we’ve made together, things our kids will always remember. Date nights every week for the last 22 years. Our kids- OUR KIDS which are the absolute best of us. Being able to pay our bills. Being able to buy movie popcorn(luxuries we couldn’t afford for so long). Surprising each other. Praying together and over each other. Being individuals who just fit. Being best friends.

We chose this life. We chose each other. We choose each other under every sky. And even at 19 I knew where we were going…the same direction. It’s not been easy. It’ll never be easy. But I choose Him.

And He chose me.

A couple months ago I decided on a whim to change my nose ring from a stud to a ring. I called Chris in the parking lot of the place- to let him know I was changing it up. All He had to say was “Surprise me.” If there isn’t a more accurate definition of us I don’t know. He rejoices in who I am- because He loves me for who I am. He always has.

Now more than ever- after 40 years of life- this year I am choosing Joy. So I figured I’d share one of my biggest sources of Joy, God has gifted me.

Real life.

Love.

This.

Him.

Us.

What a gift that joy is!

I hope you find a sliver of it today. Some days that’s all you need.

Love, kristin ann

Ps: what do YOU choose today?

After a hard HARD couple weeks I have my Grace Mary home with me for Christmas Break. Recently she was told the veins on her face were ugly, and she’s become self conscious about her hair. So today as I curled her hair I told her the things I love about her…

I love that she’s NOT perfect.

I love that she knows when she does wrong, and always makes the right choice(even if it takes sometime.)

I love that she knows how to apologize.

I love that she is always willing to forgive.

I love that she is an includer.

I love that she makes everything fun- grocery shopping, walking around the block, even grabbing the mail.

I love her kind heart.

I love that she feels empathy.

I love that she will always stick up for someone else.

I love that she is a loyal faithful friend.

I love that she will always hug her brothers.

I love that she can do real live full on push ups.

I love that she loves traditions, just like her Mama.

I love that she laughs hard at Jokes.

I love that she still plays pretend.

I love that she tries so hard at everything she does.

I love that she makes friends with people who are different than her.

I love that she loves scary stories.

I love that she loves so hard, and big.

I love that she loves making and giving presents to people.

I love that she always shares her things.

I love that she sings wherever she goes, and doesn’t realize it.

I love that she loves God, and prays.

I love that she tries new things.

I love how grateful she is.

I love that last summer she was best friends at tap with a 78 year old woman and a boy with Autism and she never ever treated them differently. She saw them.

I love that she is willing to use the word No.

I love that she can legitimately beat all of us at cards, and shows no mercy.

I love that she will always tell me things, even the hard things.

I love that she still will crawl in with me.

I love that she’s my daughter.

I love her nose that has a perfect kiss spot above it, and her olive skin tone like her Dad’s, I love her veins(because I have them too). I love her strong arms and legs that run fast. I love her dark hair, and hazel eyes that smile. I love her dimples that exude so much joy.

I love that she has overcome so much, and will always appreciate her life, because she knows what it’s like to fight for it.

I. Love. All. Of. Her.

We will not be done with hard days. I’m sure we’ll encounter many Regina George’s over the years. But we’ll be ok. She’ll be just fine.

I am not raising a perfect daughter. But I am raising a kind one.

Thank God for curling irons. And thank God for my amazing Grace.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Sooooooo…

I’m a Martha. Seriously. I am totally and completely Martha.

In fact, I have a timer set for how long I have to write this post*…because I have a list of a million other things I need to get done. A million ways I later will realize I’m behind. I won’t catch up. But I’ll try.

This isn’t an Advent thing. This is a Me thing.

I wasn’t always a Martha. In fact for many years I was a Mary.

I would watch and look and see everything, and I would wait so patiently to watch it all unfold.

I would jump and dream.

I would ride, and ride. (Without a helmet of course- DO NOT tell my kids) And I would rest in the Lord and wait upon him, and I just knew everything would work out.

But then anxiety came and stayed. And slowly I didn’t have time to be a Mary, because Martha moving could make sure things worked and turned, and were finished. Martha was dependable. Martha was in control. Martha was a peace maker, because she made sure that everyone he was taken care of. Martha could be on time, and would stay late to help clean up. Martha shows up. Martha made sure lunches were made, and kids got homework done and showered…even if that meant she didn’t get time to herself. But there were things to do.

Martha gets shit done.

And that doesn’t mean Martha has it all together. Martha is on the verge of falling a part a lot of the time because her “no” is broken, she doesn’t get enough sleep, and knows things don’t always work out. She gets that now.

I often don’t have a lot of patience for Mary’s. I’m embarrassed to admit that.

I just don’t know how to make time to be a Mary.

Maybe it’s the pace of life. Everything is moving too damn fast. Or the heartache that comes with growing older…watching marriages break apart and dissolve, watching people grieve their children, take care of their aging parents. Maybe it’s watching my children’s faces changing, as they grow into their own people, and it makes every part of my being ache.

So I’m a Martha.

I love Jesus. And I will drop and pray with anyone, and be there for them…but when it comes the day to day stuff, the lists I have to try to get done, I expect others to do their part. Be there. Show up. I give grace, and I am a team player- I don’t have to be in charge, in fact I would prefer not to be. I’m not even type A, I’m type F. So actually in retrospect I’m kind of a crappy Martha.

Yesterday it just kind hit me. That right now, in this busy pace, I need to be more like Mary.

Because few things are needed. And I need to choose to let go a little. Not because it’s Advent. But because I am really really struggling. And I think it’s because I’ve been trying so hard to keep it together. And I can name about 20 women I know right now struggling with this.

This is real life. And right now we are all on the verge of falling a part.

And it’s not because we want to do it all. Or even that we think we can. It’s because somehow along the way we just kept adding things, and carrying them. So much so when we sit in Church, our arms are so full of stuff, we can’t even clasp our hands to pray. And if we open them, we may have to admit it’s all getting heavy.

We’ve become hyper sensitive, because we’re just trying to hold it together. And we see all these other Martha’s doing it better, and we’re jealous of the Mary’s and their care free faith.

Damn you social media, and your filters, and Pinterest…only because I hate Pinterest. I don’t need a clip board of a better way to do laundry…I just need someone to DO my laundry.

And then there’s the part I never want to admit…

For me it’s also acknowledging that I live with a constant underlying sense of inadequacy. I need to prove myself. I need to prove that I am a good enough wife, mother, coworker, that I can accomplish big hard things. That if my kids are successful, maybe just maybe maybe, that means I was too. Because maybe it will prove that even when no one believed I could…I did. And then eventually, maybe, I’ll see that.

Martha had to prove herself.

Mary…she believed. And she found grace. And it’s been my entire life’s goal for my kids. To never feel this way. To never fight this battle. To never feel pitted against others. To just be the beautiful children of God they are meant to be. Good Humans. Believe, and of course work hard, but believe and sit and know God loves them.

I almost pulled over the day I started writing this because on the radio I heard a beautiful quote…God doesn’t want our success, He wants our surrender.

So here I am, a self professed, falling a part trying to prove myself mess, Martha giving my surrender.

I surrender. I’m waving my white flag God. I’m right here.

Surrendering. Choosing God. My Faith above all. Even when I know it won’t always work out. Being like Mary.

My Faith…will not be taken from me.

So suck it Pinterest.

I’m just gonna pray.

*my timer went off 8 times writing this post, over a five day period. And my laundry still isn’t caught up.

“Mommy I want to treat you to a spa day! It’s just what you need.” She said.

Her eye always twinkle when she gets her big ideas.

She wanted to treat me.

Once again we are in the season of busy. I’m constantly trying to catch up…on chores, on sleep, on life. I spend more time in my car than I do at home.

There are so many things I’ve wanted to do…write, work out, walk aimlessly around a store. I don’t have a TV show I get to look forward to, because I don’t have time to watch TV. Every single part of our life seems to be busy.

They are good things, and yet, I know I’m not getting to enjoy a lot. Because my whole day is filled to the brim.

But she wanted to do this…for me.

Long ago I stopped putting my needs up front. Slowly like a game on the “Price is Right” my stuff has plunked down to the bottom. And that’s ok. Because someday I’ll miss this busy. Someday I’ll long for the Friday Night Games, and the lawn chairs at Football or Soccer.

Someday I’ll wait for them to call.

But right now, she wants this with me.

There was laundry to do. And the kitchen was a mess. But I told her “Yes.” I arrived home from picking up the middle schoolers and she was waiting in the driveway…

“Welcome to the Princess Crown Day Spa” she said. She shook my hand and welcomed me in.

She brought me in where she had set up a facial and massage table. A corner for pedicures and another table for manicures and make overs.

Her name was Mrs White…but she asked me to call her McKenzie.

She did my facial(she gots tips from a Fancy Nancy book). It was my first ever facial and massaged my hair. She loves when her Dad and I play with hers and so she did that.

She told me about her life. She’s 17, and just adopted a baby from

Africa named Candace. She said being a Mom is the best job she’s ever had.

She did my nails next. She asked me about my day and took her time with each nail. She made sure I was comfortable and felt taken care of.

Then she gave me a make over. She gave me “band makeup” and used blush and “dramatic” eye shadow, and surprised me with bright pink lipstick. She even let me take a picture with her.

And she must’ve said 10 times “Let me take care of you…” It isn’t lost on me that in the last couple years my kids have been subjected to the ups and downs of my health. But they’ve also seen me do my best every day to take care of them. It is my greatest, and most important job.

While it meant so much for my Grace to do these things for me, and share these things she loves with me…it meant an incredible amount to me as well. Because I was reminded(again) about how important being present is.

This season of busy is hard, but for different reasons. We are in unknown territory in parts of our parenting, and it terrifies me. And our whole world right now…it’s a hard place for me to be- raising good humans, and God fearing humans. I often fantasize about packing it all up, going off the grid- way out of cell range, and just being with my little family again. Their worlds are getting bigger, and some parts of it breaks my heart.

Everyday I commit to being with them. Loving them. Being on social media, and my phone less, and looking at them. And bring honest in the hard moments, and being real in the beautiful busy moments.

God keeps telling me “Let me take care of you..” and I keep trying. But it’s a hard place to give up control- parenting and letting go.

But my Grace?

She was right. My spa day was just what I needed. All of it.

Her twinkle. Her imagination. Her heart. Her big ideas.

It’s what matters most.

Laundry can pile up.

Dishes will get done eventually.

But time isn’t waiting. I’ve got be present in the right now. The right here.

Beautiful moments aren’t in our live feeds. They are in the living beings before our eyes. They are in the people who should

matter most. That’s just what we need. They are just want we need. He can take care of all the rest. Right here.

To God be the Glory. K

That one kid. You know the one.

The one who has lived through Hell.

The one who lived through Hell even when you were all fighting…fighting so hard to get them safe.

That one kid. You know the one.

The one who is guarded with walls of secrets from a world no child should have to ever endure.

That one kid. You know the one.

Who seems like a hardened adult in the small body of a child. For almost a year you’d lay awake at night, and think about their safety.

That one kid. You know the one.

The one you all were fighting for…

Praying to God for someone to save them.

Until the day someone did.

And you knelt right there in the nurse’s office and cried your heart out.

And the transitioning from trauma to real life?

It wasn’t easy. And it’s still not.

And yet…none of you…ever give up…

On this face.

On this child.

Who never asked for any of this, but knows that here…there is safety.

That one kid. You know the one.

The one that you give hugs to. And balance. And structure. And boundaries. The one you always make eye contact with. The one you tell “I am so proud of you…”

Left a picture across your keyboard…

And asked you later…

“Did you see it? Did you see it Miss Kristin?”

“Yes, I saw it,” you answer and hug the most resilient broken little person. Who is fought for by a small army, and so loved.

“Yes…We saw you.”

to God be the glory. ❤️k