Being Home

Being Home

Sometimes I need to take a step back to access my motives in life because I can really get it twisted. I am a self diagnosed chronic perfectionist and people pleaser. I have been desperately trying to be the best wife, mother, daughter, and friend possible without actually accessing what that would look like. Seriously, my therapist asks me the same question every single time I meet with her , “What would it look like to be the perfect wife, mother, or daughter? What would you do differently?” and I have always responded, “I don’t know.” I don’t know because I am doing all of the things this perfect lady would do, but I HATE DOING IT.

I did not realize how much my Yes to everything and everyone else was actually taking from my yes to the people I was actually called to. (Perpetual People Pleasing is step one to insanity, I am sure of it.) I have been so drained that I have been oblivious to what was really mine to pick up in the first place. Isn’t that crazy? We can get so preoccupied with pleasing others that we can lose sight of what is pleasing to God? I have been so frustrated with my kids. I have been so frustrated with my husband, all the while helping others and doing, doing, doing to feel loved. Despite having three people and two dogs fighting for my attention I have just wanted more. All the friends. All the invites. All the fun. And all of those are awesome, but once it started taking away from my relationship with God and my relationship with my family… I needed a moment or 50.

We have decided to sit August out. Our whole summer vacation has been pretty laid back but August is for nothing. We leave the house maybe twice a week unless it is to visit my grandfather. I have had dirty dishes in the sink about half the time. I only wear real clothes maybe (BIG maybe) half of the time. If these children want pickles and popcorn for lunch somedays, they get it. We are on a literal, in house, staycation, and it has been the best thing I have ever done. I have made zero plans unless I really felt the Lord saying so and I have said “No we can’t” A LOT because guess what? That is okay! I love being people’s go to. The “Yes” girl. I love helping others, but God, my own peace, and my people have to come first otherwise nothing will be okay.

I will be the first to tell you. I love compliments. I love affirmation of any kind. If you send me a card we could be best friends. People outside of our immediate families will more easily affirm us possibly because we take out our frustrations out on our families…

Maybe that’s just me though…

Sorry guys.

I can tell you right now raising a two year old is thankless. Yesterday she screamed at me as I scrubbed my favorite blue eyeshadow off of every inch of her tiny toddler body. She even says, “Say Please,” when she wants us to open her popsicle. Thankless. Children are pretty much anti-affirming for most of the day, but it is my job to show them love and light that points them right back to Jesus.

There will come a day when they will have their own children to scrub, and love, and hold onto, but until that day I have been specifically equipped to be their mama. I have a lot of dreams and goals but the foundation our family stands on will always be number one. So, if God wants me to take a break in order to see my people better, to really see what they are feeling, and show me how to love them better. If he wants me to take a break from people and relationships outside of my own household that are sucking me dry, then so be it. I have learned by now that if it is His will He will always make a way no matter what that means.

Now may the God who brought us peace by raising from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ so that he would be the Great Shepherd of his flock; and by the power of the blood of the eternal covenant may he work perfection into every part of you giving you all that you need to fulfill your destiny. And may he express through you all that is excellent and pleasing to him through your life-union with Jesus the Anointed One who is to receive all glory forever! Amen!
Hebrews 13:20‭-‬21 TPT

Shame & Forgiveness

Shame & Forgiveness

There have been so many times I would have someone pop up on my “People You May Know” where my heart would just drop. If I saw anyone from middle school or high school I would be in full on panic mode…especially at church. Seeing people who “used” to know me would send me into a full internal spiral. Just the thought that these people even had a glimpse of my old life would completely discredit everything I have been through. There would be no glory in this moment because I was a big phony. I was fake. “Look at what the Lord has done for me!”…But has he really? Because here I am so ensnared in shame that I can not even look these people in the eyes, let alone tell them my full story. How can I show the way God has changed my life right in this moment when I still won’t acknowledge the really dark areas of my life?

I am still that girl some days. Still scared of “being figured out.” Still scared you will still see the old me and not who I am today, but I am even more afraid that you will not know my story and see that there is more out there. There is freedom and truth and a real love that never dies.
My teenage years were jacked up. A lot of situations were my fault, but a lot of the situations I was placed in were not… and I am allowed to say they were not.

The older I have gotten the more I have taken a look at my past and the situations I have walked through. I have had to sit many hours in prayer and in therapy with so many questions. Why was I not protected more? Why did I let things happen? And why can I not forgive myself for what has happened to me?

It is a weird time in our world to be a woman. Your sexuality is either celebrated or shamed. Your either to be empowered or told to sit down. When you sit with it for so long you blame yourself and the longer you sit with what has happened to you the longer you twist the story.

Well, it was my fault. I could have done more to stop the situation.

I was a slut so did I really have the right to say no? I didn’t seem to tell anyone else no.

Other people have worse stories, mine really is not that bad.

Rape is always that bad. There is never a question that can justify being raped. You always have the right to say “No.” You always have the right to say, “I am not comfortable.” And you are always more than you think you are. I over analyze, over think, and always try to see where I could have also been a problem. In the case of rape there is no rationalization. It is wrong. It is never okay no matter who it is happening to. I have concealed this for a very long time because I always thought I could have done more and I never thought I was worth more. We can always justify a situation if we work hard enough but that keeps others trapped. If you are walking through the confusion right now, the way I am. I want you to know that you are not what you have been through. You are worth way more than you know. You are much more than the thoughts in your mind and what people have said. You are beautiful, loved, and you can get through this. I have had to write entire journals to the people that have hurt me to get the full extent of my anger and unforgiveness out. I still have my days where memories flashback, and those are the days I need more grace and truth. I have burrowed myself in truth for months at a time to let God’s word wash over my thoughts more than the thoughts I have said about myself.

I have had to face my anger and confusion, with journals and journals of feelings sprawled out. I have had to work on forgiving myself, accept that the situation happened, and choose to forgive them. The same way the Lord has remade me from the inside out, I pray the Lord does the same work in them. I pray that justice is served but that blessings flow because no matter what they have taken from me, they are still living surrounded in darkness and no one deserves to stay there. Forgiveness is not forgetting but it does give us the opportunity to live again.

Taking Out the Trash and Leaving My Husband

Taking Out the Trash and Leaving My Husband

Saturday evening the girls and I packed up and headed to Nags Head. Four Days and Three Nights we stayed gone. We went to the aquarium, played in the sand at the beach, swam at the pool, ran around massive candy shops, and ate the most bangin’ nachos that have ever graced my mouth hole. Let. Me. Tell. You. Every night I felt defeated. Every night I said, “It is time to go home now” and every night I remembered why I really went down there in the first place.

Eric and I were both struggling before I left. I needed to be out more (the obvious extrovert.) I was staying at home way too much and really falling into the abyss that was my own mind. (It never ceases to amaze me how isolating life can feel when you are constantly surrounded by little people.) He needed to be in more (the obvious introvert.) So, I started praying for new eyes on our marriage. What does he need? What do I need? And I acted. Even if I did not want to. I acted.

A two hour trip with two vocal little people is not what I call a vacation, but it is what I needed to change my perspective and give my husband a chance to breathe too.

We did all the things we would not usually do at home. We ate out every night, I did zero laundry (even if it was needed,) and we let the salty, ocean, air refresh us daily. We sat on the back deck and talked over the waves and spent late nights talking to my uncle. It was everything we needed despite Emily’s multiple poop fiascoes and no one getting any sleep.

After two hours riding home with a bored eight year old and a hardcore two year old with anarchy coursing through her veins. I was done. I was over our little vacation and ready to be home again. I was anxious and frustrated and ready to be a family of four because I was done with having these kids by myself. (Sidenote: If you are a single parent or a military spouse y’all are the real MVPs and I hope you know that because I lasted 4 days.)

I was in a mood. I was all up in my own head. He is going to get home and everything will be the same. I just took the kids for 4 days and we are going to be in the same place we were before our trip. Something needed to change before he got home or this time apart was useless. I had three hours to get it together and either emit joy into my home or straight up fury. I prayed and I prayed hard and I did everything I did not want to do. I did the laundry. I picked up the house that so desperately needed to be picked up for the past month. I cleaned up his mess and my own and I prayed over our home.

And when he got home everything was different. I was different. We were different.

I stood in the middle of our kitchen last night looking at the name brand trash bags he brought home from the store earlier that night and I was hit really hard with the realization that this is what making it really is. “Making it” happens in the little steps and not all at once. Making it happens in those little moments when you see that your family is safe, secure, and covered in love.

There was a time when we did not have to buy trash bags because our families graciously and loving took us in and provided when we could not. Then there was a time not too long ago when we could not even think about buying name brand trash bags because we were living off peanut butter. Last night, it took me looking at some stupid Glad trash bags to realize not everything is affordable in every season. Not every season is going to be easy, or enjoyable, but every season will be necessary when you get a chance to look back.

The first few years of our relationship I was stuck inside the mentality that “If he doesn’t change neither will I.” And I can tell you now that the only good that came out of that was the rock bottom we hit about 3 years in.

That name brand, sturdy, never tearing, clinging to the sides no matter what kind of love does not happen overnight.

Marriage is a learning process and the process can only happen if we have eyes and ears for the other person while having the guts to say what we actually need too. Marriage is not always 50/50. Sometimes it is not even 5/100, but on the days when it is “unequal” it is important to still see the person you fell in love with. Eric and I found out we were going to be parents in December of our senior year, as dumb as we both were, I have gotten the privilege of seeing him grow into the wonderful man that he is today. I could have never imagined at 16 that the stud with a heart shaved into his chest hair would be the love of my life and best father to our children 11 years later, but it is something I will hold inside of my heart for the rest of my life and forever after that.

Is Enough Ever Really Enough?

Yesterday I cried…a lot. I cried on the floor. I cried on the couch. I cried on my bed. I cried in the bathroom and on the kitchen floor.

…I cried.

Somewhere between my first set of tears and through my final dry heaves of emotion I was trickled down to the single thought. I am not strong enough for this.

This idea of “enough” and what it means to do and be enough has been swimming around in my head for twenty some years now. The constant struggle of enough has stolen too many good days and in its place has left this vicious narrative replaying over and over inside of my head. The narrative itself is draining but the striving to be enough has really been sucking the life right out of me.

Today I wrote a list of the thoughts I was telling myself and then a response to each one. They ranged from my thoughts as a mother, daughter, and wife to how little I have accomplished in the span of 27 years. Right there in their blatant list form these thoughts glared back at me, because seriously what the heck? If any of my friends came to me and shared with me these same thoughts I was having I would look at them like they were crazy. So why in the world would be I be thinking them about myself?

What is enough and can I ever possibly get there? Where does this imaginary scale of enough begin and end and does it exist? I believe it does just not within my own power.

I am not enough on my own and I never will be. I have been doing some digging on the word enough and consequently stumbled upon a song commonly sung during Passover called “Dayenu.” Dayenu translates to “It would have been enough.”

The song goes through the book of Exodus and the journey and miracles that took place with the one occuring theme. That even if God did not show up in all the ways that he did, and perform the miracles he performed, it would have been enough.

If God had pushed down our enemies in [the Sea] and had not supplied our needs in the wilderness for forty years; [it would have been] enough for us.

Motivational images swarm social media with messages like, “You are enough!” But as long as we are chasing this false reality we are going to be let down every single time because when is enough ever actually enough?

What does enough look like for me? What is the true narrative woven within the words of my own life story?

If God gave me my husband and we never grew as a couple from those two stupid teenagers we once were, it would have been enough for us.

If God brought me out of depression and I had lost my mind the next day, it would have been enough.

If God would have given me my family, just for them to have given up on me when I came home pregnant at 17, it would have been enough.

When it is easier to focus on the ways we are not enough, those are the times when we desperately need to go back and list the reasons why He is.

Repentance, Revival, and Resting in the Will of God

Revival starts on our knees. The Lord is a caring, loving, God but he did not die for you to stay sitting in the same mess you were in yesterday. He did not die for us to live in the same ways we did a month ago. New times call for new measures and new provision. Jesus never settled for lukewarm faith and we should not either. Revival starts from a place of repentance. Kingdom come, thy will be done. God’s will is for us to take up our cross and follow him not keep doing the same things that have hindered us, constantly keeping us in bondage. We were made for life in abundance not life in complacency and because of that there is a strong pruning that must take place. A pruning that is literally ripping soul and spirit from flesh and bone. The type of pruning only a double edged sword can accomplish. Surrender to the process and be obedient to the change. There is a time for everything and the season is here for uprooting the past.

Pizza, Electric Scooters, and Squirrels on Park Benches

Pizza, Electric Scooters, and Squirrels on Park Benches

The main conflict we have in our house is introvert to extrovert ratio. I am always trying to go somewhere and Eric is not. I am always planning some kind of out and… Eric is not. Lately, we have both been really content with staying home. I am tired. Due to summer vacation we spend most of our days out and about and our evenings at home. By the time the weekend rolls around, I’m done and I just want the option of having no options and wearing pajamas all day.

Last week, Eric and I took a day trip to DC for a concert. Neither of us really wanted to go but it was part of my Christmas and my dad agreed to watch the girls. (I will literally go anywhere if someone offers to watch our girls.) So away we went.

We have both been in a pretty deep rut lately. With just the constant stress of kids, work, Pop being sick, school, and just life in general being a whirlwind. We have been struggling. When we both find ourselves in one of these ruts we do this cool, subconscious, parental, teamwork thing where we buck up for the kids, then crash after bedtime. It works great for a few weeks and then we start forgetting who we are underneath being parents. And that is how we have been operating for months.

The moment we got into DC we both agreed on the plan to have no plan. We ended up skipping the concert, getting gourmet pizza, feeding squirrels on dirty park benches, and taking scooters all over the city. In the midst of almost killing myself via electric scooter I realized how important it is to make room for surprise, something that is very hard to experience working from an itnerary.

I have recently started to acknowledge how much insecurity has been creeping beneath the surface of my life and the result has been my lack of true living. Living in fear? Yes. Actually enjoying life? That would be a big no. Two cancer diagnosis in a year’s time keeps you pretty guarded when it comes to life’s surprises, but being guarded to the negative surprises blocks the good ones too. Growing up I used to always find all of my Christmas presents early, not to play with them right then and not to tweak my list for Santa. I just wanted to know what I as in for. I still essientially do this but through micromanaging things that really need no management.

Sticking with the same ole routine is one way I feel I am able to limit life’s surprises, but not every routine is manageable or fulfilling in every season of life. Not to mention, not every routine is meant to be carried over into the next season.

Sometimes we need to do things differently to get past whatever it is we are facing, to step into the vast unknown, and embrace the adventure. Go somewhere new, meet new people, get back on meds, go off meds, see a different counselor, eat a vegetable, put on real pants, take a shower. Seriously, just take a shower. It can change everything. Break that mess into the simplest step you can and give yourself a break for making it this far. Reach out for help when you need it. You deserve that and your relationships with others does too.

I Am A Drug Addict’s Daughter.

Seeing someone you love battle with addiction is something you can not rationalize or try to wrap your head around. It sucks them in and spits them back out this distorted, twisted, form of who they used to be and yet, it teaches you more about human beings than you ever wished to know.

I have toted the shame of missed daddy daughter luncheons, empty seats at dance recitals, and school assemblies for years. I have made up lies to friends that work came first when I knew it was drugs that came first. I have cried over pawned Christmas presents that were stolen in the middle of the night or over the constant non-stop ringing of our old landline phone, yelling at the voice on the other end to stop calling for money. I know what it is like to want nothing to do with your own father but to secretly want him better more than anything in the world.

I know those feelings and I know the anger that comes with loving an addict. The love that can not be reciprocated because their stupid, stupid, choices make them sick. Over and over and over. Then you are stuck with little the chains of broken hope that just seem to harden your heart a little more each time they mess up.

And I see how the mess ups hurt, how they have hurt me, and how they have hurt him, years after the fact. Addicts are addicted. They aren’t void of emotion even if it seems that way at the time. They are still that same daddy, brother, uncle, or son, but they are at grips with something much bigger than themselves.

I was lucky enough to have a grandmother who reminded me of this truth daily. Whenever I was discouraged, whenever I hurt so bad because I just wanted my dad, when I was so worried for that final phone call…She always reminded me that we could never change him and we would never be the ones to save him. All we could do is love. Love him, pray for him, have hope that he would survive, and if he didn’t make it out like so many, we could rest in the fact we loved him as close to unconditionally as humanly possible.

Yesterday, my husband and I took a day trip to Washington DC. My dad watched the girls for us to go. Ten years ago I would have never been able to leave my dad alone in my house, let alone with my two children. Today he is my best friend and one of my biggest supporters. I do not care how far gone a person may seem, there is no one too far gone for redemption.