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

The last two months we’ve had the most brilliant bright sunsets in the sky.

The last two months all my home states, have been burning.

Montana, Washington, and my home for the last 20 years, Oregon.

Last week we couldn’t even see the sky any more. I would sneeze and taste fire. In my Throat, in my chest.

On the other side of the country, water has poured down. Flooding cities. Rushing and breaking, and disassembling, leaving nothing behind.

Each end of the country is bracing for what’s next.

There are things bigger than all of us.

And we are so divided. In so many ways.

At least that’s what social media tells me.

This week happened…the smoke began to clear…and yet, Another hurricane. Terrorists attacked across the ocean. A trooper was shot outside of town. The world suddenly feels so small, and close. I prayed for people I don’t know. Things I don’t understand.

This morning the smoke was back.

Hazy. Closing in.

Here, in my little corner of the

earth, big things have happened.

The ground beneath me in places that I thought were safe have shifted.

I had to make choices I didn’t want to make. In fact it was the hardest, most difficult decisions I’ve had to make. Walking away on shaking legs from something I had built, and love desperately.

Suddenly something God had called me to, became something God told me to walk away from. It has left my heart broken. In fact I can’t talk about it without tearing up. I can’t write about it without my hands shaking.

And I can’t share the details because it is bigger than me, and people are involved and, darn it, it’s just so hard to be a grown up…

But it has me, totally, and completely crushed. And that’s the truth.

I’ve been afraid. Because I don’t know what’s next.

And I don’t know the Why…not really.

I just know God sometimes speaks through the hardest things. So I’m waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.

For the smoke to clear. For the next step.

I’ve been waiting most of the time on my knees. I’ve found myself called to that lately. Praying on my knees, completely surrendering what I don’t know.

I’m not good at it. I’m not a patient person(ask my kids).

But in the waiting there lies my Faith.

Being Faithful is something I’m clinging to…until I know.

I do know something.

I know God is good.

I know God is real.

I know God has never ever led us to a place to desert us.

So I’m trusting in that…in the waiting. In the brokenness.

I read this quote last week…

“Being Faithful does not mean you are fearless. It just means your faith is greatest than your fear.” -Christine Caine

So I wait.

In Faith.

to God be the glory.

Ps. I need to give a shout out to my kids and my husband who have lived with me this last month. They are amazing…and their love and faithfulness is a gift to me.

(*I first wrote this years ago, but updated it today)

It was never about the pizza. But I want you to know I burned it.

But you couldn’t tell. It was just always there.

Like my body.

I don’t know when the first time I realized I didn’t like my body was, I think it was always just there.

I realized in fourth grade that my mom wore a smaller jeans size than me. Which was hard for me to understand because my Mom always seemed to be working on her body. She was, even then, tiny and petite.

I have always favored my Dad’s side, the German Irish side- with thick thighs, and broader frame. Even at my thinnest I am always much bigger than my sisters, and my Mom.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized I started falling into comparing myself in early elementary. I compared myself to my siblings, and then my classmates. From my looks- I was always too pale, too blonde. I wasn’t fast, or athletic. I didn’t feel I measured up, and couldn’t keep up.

I started skipping meals in middle school.

It seemed easier to skip meals. Because even back then I had become so aware of how to diet. To cut back, rather than deal with big feelings.

I carried those “feelings” around for years after that. I was an insecure friend. I was a clingy girlfriend. These qualities were not endearing. When someone broke up with me I would always blame the way I looked…not even registering it was because I was bat shit insecure. My parents sent me to counseling, but when I was there I never talked about my anxiety, my body issues. I talked about surface stuff, I didn’t want the counselor to not like me.

I was ashamed of that part of me. Of my body.

And then I tasted a reprieve. My senior year. The year I traveled full time in ministry. Both years I was free from any sort of body issue. And I can give you one reason.

Jesus.

I always knew Jesus but I kept him on the side lines of that part of my life. It wasn’t until I chose Him the second time that I started loving myself. I look back on those years with gratitude. Because I was free.

My husband and I were friends for over a year before we started dating. He knew me, and my issues. And he still pursued me anyway. I showed him my crazy, and he still showed up at my door…again, and again, and again. The man has got to be a Saint. Because no one, no one, has ever loved me so much in my life. So I kept it hidden, all the burnt parts, all the bad angles because of him, and because of my desire to not let it rule our marriage.

I have failed many times in this.

Because of my own childhood- I have also hidden these thoughts from my kids for years. It has been my greatest gift to them, besides sharing my faith. I didn’t want them to have to carry in them what has been burned under the surface in me for too long.

And I have had great successes with it. I have been successful in doing things the right way, being healthy the best way. And I shared it. And I taught it. But it was still there, just simmering. Even at my best I would hear “But you could be better. You could run that marathon and not get injured.” And I would compare…with my sisters, with my colleagues, with my friends. Because that is what I knew. That is who I was.

And suddenly everything changed. My body became something I didn’t recognize. The burnt places became visible as my symptoms became something I couldn’t hide.

Charred.

The worst part is that no matter how hard I tried to get the burnt smell out, tried to fight the symptoms…fatigue, losing my hair, weight gain, confusion, loss of energy, anxiety, body aches, swelling, the severe anemia and…LOSS OF ME! It never left. And I LOST ME!(do you hear me scream that?) I was losing me. I went from being a friend people liked to work out with, to someone they used to see at the gym. I have mourned who I used to be. I’ve mourned the people I used to be close to, especially those who I thought would always be there. I’ve mourned the old me. Even if I had to hide the burnt pieces. Because I still saw my hard work. Because I still recognized myself.

Now all I saw was closed doors. And a body that had betrayed me.

For years I had read the Gospel of Mark 5:24-35,

25 A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but instead had become worse— 27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His [a]cloak. 28 For she had been saying to herself, “If I just touch His garments, I will [b]get well.” 29 And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her (A)disease. 30 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that (B)power from Him had gone out, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” 31 And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” 32 And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, (C)your faith has [c]made you well; (D)go in peace and be cured of your disease.”

That was me. Because hemorrhaging was the biggest symptom I had. I had lived through this for eight years. Only I didn’t tell my doctors everything because I thought every woman went through what I was going through, with this level of intensity. I know that’s not true now.  I let it go on year after year, not realizing it was just getting worse. I had one small surgery. It helped for a month. I went to countless prayer services. I got prayed over.

… eight. years. of. this.

But even through all of it, I’ve kept begging God to heal me. I’ve kept searching for answers. And I did things. I got a different job. I rested not just because I was exhausted, but because I needed restorative sleep. And I got another BIG surgery, and this time with the help of divine intervention I found physical healing.
And…

I began to just pray and ask God to just be with me and He has. Because I didn’t have a lot of prayer left in me- but those words I could say…on repeat.

In the years of my life He has shown up.

In my children’s hearts. In their prayers. In who they are.

Suddenly there it was. All of it. The truth. The big huge truth.

I realized that something in my heart needed to change.

And that’s when shit got real. That’s why I need to get real with you.

I realized that for as long as I could remember it was never about my Body.

But I want you to know I had made everything about it.

I had made my relationship with my body and self worth, more important that my relationship with my God.

It has consumed me. I was chained to it. I have been chained to it.

And it started so much longer than 8 years ago. It started when I was ten years old.

And the realization hit me like a ton of bricks. Actually it didn’t. It hit me like traveling with 93 high schoolers, on a charter bus. Which I did a few years ago.  And when it hit me…when it came to me, the chains that broke off were incredible. And I did something.

I laughed. I laughed so hard I cried. I laughed so hard my ribs hurt. I laughed like I hadn’t laughed since I was a little girl.

And suddenly, I loved my strong broken body.

In the middle of Disneyland, I put my swollen ankles over a bench and I laughed with my friends Lisa and Luba, and may have also peed my pants a little too because I hadn’t had bladder surgery yet and it was still totally worth it.

Because I was free.

Because for the first time in as long as I could remember it wasn’t about my body…it was about God.

It was about His Promise. His Grace. And His Joy.

And I am so happy.

Not because it’s all better. But because I was free.

I was finally free.

It was never about the pizza. But I want you to know I burned it.

I allowed those constant thoughts and comparisons to burn through and within my soul for years, and even if no one else could see them. They were there. And they stole my freedom.

So now what?

I’m letting God be my God. Nothing else. And I’m entrusting him with my body. My strong broken body. My health. My freedom. My marriage. Our beautiful family.

And I can give you one reason.

Jesus.

I often share the quote “we are only as sick as our secrets…” so putting this out there, and sharing this real-charred part of me puts to light a heaviness I’ve carried too closely. But I don’t want it to be a secret anymore, because I don’t want to allow it to make me sick anymore. And I want to keep choosing this freedom, even if I don’t know what’s next…

But I do know God is good.

Which is something I’ve had to cling to time and again. This didn’t just go away. That moment in Disneyland was great but mountaintop experiences don’t provide long term healing. It was just a special moment. With two amazing friends.  It wasn’t like I went and laughed and I was cured. Instead I recommitted to not being a slave anymore. And believe me, it’s hard.

And not

And now, my Amazing Grace is 12. Friends have began the constant body talk. Weight sizes. Numbers. Negative talk. Stuff that’s banned in our house. Stuff I do not allow. All of it. And fellow parents you’ve gotta stop- now. Stop them. Stop yourself.
Seriously.

Because You are creating an endless cycle and obsession. You are creating a prisoner to their body. They will have enough things to battle in their lives but as a 42 year old who is sick and tired of obsessing, stop with the body talk. Stop with the weight talk. Stop with the talk period. Just love your kids.

You can start by teaching them by example, teach them healthy habits, and love yourself.

Period.

PERIOD.

Teach them Joy.

Teach them freedom.

It was never about the pizza. But I still burned it.

I still have to choose to not be prisoner every day. And it’s still a battle. A battle for freedom. Every damn day. A battle for my daughter. A battle for my future daughter in law’s, because people better not be messing with their heads. And a battle for Me.

But I’m still here. And God is still Good. 

And my relationship with Him is more important than making you comfortable. Than making me comfortable. It’s about reaching out to him and knowing He’s there and trusting He’s there.

It’s about freedom.

ps. This also extends to sons. We’ve dealt with this with all our three sons but for the purpose of this post, I didn’t change the wording. I will write one for them as well. Just don’t talk about weight and bodies. Just be healthy and use moderation. In the smart words of the ever intelligent Spongebob “Don’t be Jerk, It’s Christmas.” It’s not Christmas but the song is catchy.

When Jonah was 5 he did soccer.

Well, actually whenever they started to run after the ball, he would just start running…off the field, through football practices, just running. I would have Daniel in a front pack and be chasing after him.

Recently this whole growing up thing has me frantically running after him. I can’t keep up with technology, in fact I hate all the pressure/unnecessary it brings, and I don’t understand why something being lit is cool. How do I explain to him how much the stuff he has to deal with today scares me?

These days loving him now is making hard decisions in parenting and setting limits, while still letting him grow into his own person. Trying to balance it all is hard.

Because(to me), he’s still this guy. He’s still my wide eyed beautiful light who looks at everything with fresh innocent eyes.

I’m still very much that 22 year old girl holding the the newborn- best thing that ever happened to me tight to my chest promising to never let go. To always protect him.

I’m still that 24year old that sat next to him shrieking on a curb outside a restaurant during one of his toddler meltdowns while he was in time out, saying over and over “I’ll just wait until you’re ready to be calm. I’ll just wait right here.”

I’m still the 26 old who sat on the floor of his bedroom as he and his little brother raced match box cars across the floor and had to tell him his little sister wasn’t in my tummy anymore, and that she’d gone to heaven..”But out of all the little boys and girls in all the world, how were Mommy and Daddy so blessed to have a Jonah, and a Daniel, and now a Mary in heaven.”

I’m still the 28 year old who sat next to him, trying to keep up, during his Toy Story obsession. And then through his Star Wars obsession. Then his Pokémon obsession. Then his Star Wars obsession. TheN his bey blade obsession. Then his Star Wars obsession. Then his Harry Potter obsession. And then his Star Wars obsession. Then his Mariner’s Obsession. “That’s amazing buddy. Yep I was listening the whole time.” I’ve loved every minute.

Gosh, how do I explain to him, that even though He has the whole world in front of him…he’s still my world? He may be growing up. But I’m still Me.

So I stand by. I wait for those moments when my tall lanky boy puts his arms around me, and I know I’m enough for him. And I pray protection over him. And I pray for his relationships, his choices, and his Faith. I pray He never
loses sight of how much that can and will guide his life. I pray that for all my kids. On the good days , and the hard days.

And I love him. I love him so much.

I won’t ever catch up with time. I can’t run fast enough. But I will trust God. And Jonah knows that no matter what happens, he is loved. He is so very loved. No matter how far He may run away. God will be right there waiting. And so will I. The whole time.

To God be the Glory. k

The last four years have been hard. My health went from being optimal to slowing creeping and spiraling down to a place I don’t know. A person I don’t often recognize. Last month I was so hopeful my surgery would reap answers, and I did get a good one- I’m cancer free, but a whole new door became opened. Another surgery looms, and most of my questions are still there. 

Every morning when I wake up I tell myself “today…today I will be able to be me again, today I will be able to run and have energy again,” and not feel like my body has betrayed me. I haven’t written much about this, and I haven’t wanted to share much because I am someone who is hopeful…every closed door, every month where things haven’t improved have left me feeling hopeless and discouraged. And I can’t even begin to tell you how much this has effected my family. 


This morning I looked over the vastness of Crater Lake, probably one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and I thought about how a huge mountain erupted into the ground creating something different, something so beautiful you can’t look away. Maybe that’s what God is doing to me, maybe he’s taking every pretense, every confidence and creating a hole in me that only he can fill. 

Maybe. 

Today I am working on focusing on the good. But I feel that in order to be real, I have to focus on the deep crevices too. Because right now…that’s where I am. This is where I am. 

Looking at Crater Lake made me feel Hope, maybe not in my health, but Hope in the Glory of God. 


Maybe hope can bloom in me again.  In the right now.

*i had to hike up a hill to write this as I have no wifi, and a deer ran right by me and Danny. I swear God and Nature are in cahoots.