Thursday, August 25, 2016

When God Says "No". Or "Wait".

When I was in high school, I had six different operations on my hips and knees. Which landed me in a body cast for months.

For many, many months. Three separate times.

So during all four years of high school, when I wasn't in surgery, staying in the hospital for physical therapy, or home recovering, I walked with crutches. I didn't have a boyfriend. And, though I was just like every other high school girl who longs to be noticed and loved, I didn't really expect to have one.

Because what high school boy wants to date the girl who can't walk?

As God began to heal me - after my third three-month stint in that horrible body cast - I dropped my crutches and learned to walk with a cane. And, the day I graduated from high school, I decided it was time to let go of the security of my cane and walk - and I walked for the first time since the beginning of ninth grade.

But, I would look down at the scars on my legs, or cringe in pain from the arthritis that I would soon learn would never go away, and I couldn't let go of the question:

Who will ever want me?

Less than three years later, I met my husband. The sweet and tender boy who looked past the scars that cover my legs, who walked slowly, hand-in-hand with me when my arthritis kept me steps behind everyone else, and who sat next to my hospital bed, hour upon hour, after my first hip replacement just after college.

The happiest day of my life was that cold, December day when that boyfriend became my husband. And, his love for me made my scars seem to fade.

As we began to think about starting a family, I looked down with freshly doubting eyes at the scars on my legs - the evidence of the trauma of my many surgeries in high school and double hip replacements years later. I could feel the effects of arthritis on my body and I was filled, again, with doubt. Upon doubt.

Will I ever be a mother?

I got pregnant with my first son, this miracle child who surely signified the end of a season of doubt, and four months later, my Dad committed suicide.

God, wasn't I due a season to just ... not wonder what on EARTH you're doing?

We all have them, right? Seasons of questions and doubts about who God is and WHAT He's doing. Doubts upon doubts. Over and over. Wanting. Waiting. And, wondering.

Will I ever get married?
Will I have children?
Will I get the job?
Will I ever stop feeling such pain?
Will my heart ever heal?

I can remember every season I've walked through where I just didn't know what God was doing with me. Some have been LOOOONG, and some - well, not as long. I know how it feels to not know if or when. I know what it means to LONG for and want and JUST. NOT. HAVE. And, for GOOD things I desperately longed to experience and "God, why does it always feel like your answer is 'No'? Or 'Wait'?"

But here's what I've learned:

"No" and "Wait" are the words God uses to teach me to trust Him.

His "Nos" and "Waits" are always the dark tunnels of my life through which I call out, "God, Where are you?" and He says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

Friends - He. Will. Never. Leave. You. Not when things are going as you want them, not when He says "No" or "Wait" and DEFINITELY not in that dark tunnel of doubt.

You know, my legs still bear the scars of the trauma from those many years ago. And, I still have doubts, I will ALWAYS have doubts - about new things and old things and the same things. Don't we all? Doubts and wonderings and "Oh, God, you haven't forgotten me, have You?"

But, when I'm doubting His goodness to me now, I cling to this promise:

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19

I used to think this meant that God was making a way for things to work out the way I wanted. Or work out in a way that I could understand or KNOW that He actually knows what He's doing.

But, friends - when we travel down each new road He's asking us to walk - or crutching, or hobbling, or wheeling, or crawling with tears of doubt falling onto the wasteland below us - we can know that God NEVER wastes our wounds.

These scars? The "Nos" and the "Waits" and the hard seasons? He is using them to draw us near to Him.

And, in time, when we look upon our scars - the ones on our bodies and the ones on our hearts - the evidences of seasons of doubting and waiting and sometimes that really hard "No" - we may not get any answers that satisfy us on this side of heaven. And, man - is that hard.

But. We have a promise that ALL ALONG, always - He is indeed making a way...

Straight into our hearts. His favorite place to be.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why Every Mother Wears A Crown

I was checking out at Target today and glancing at magazine covers and I began thinking about Kate Middleton.

I mean, how could I not, right? She's on the cover of almost every news outlet and the world over celebrates every moment of her growing family - a future king and his little sister, a princess in pale pink Mary Janes.

I was imagining what it must be like - to dream of and decorate a nursery and playroom with no budget or limits. No old, builder-grade "just a shade off" carpet or creaky floorboards. To have the very best designers in the world at her disposal ready to create dreamlike, perfect spaces for her prince and princess.

I was imagining what it must be like - to have the world waiting with intense curiosity - eager to know every detail of her labors and who was there and who she called and told first and do they even use telephones for such a thing?

I was imagining what it must be like - to watch her husband, William. A future king himself who lost his mother so young and all of that pressure and all of those memories and expectations and comparisons hovering overhead as he raises his young children.

Their lives seem like a fairy tale. Truly. A real, life fairy tale unfolding right before our eyes and I, for one, just can't help but look and wonder and imagine what it must be like to live in that world.

And, yet - I already know.

Because not long ago, a most majestic title was first bestowed on me.

It is noble and honorable and the jewels on this crown are bought over time with self-sacrifice, patience, long nights, and tears. They are warrior jewels - representing many not-small victories over selfishness and pride. A dying to self. A pressing, ever eager sense of another's needs. In a thousand ways. In a thousand moments.

This crown? It's worn on the heart.

It's worn on every mother's heart.

But, the title?

I love the way it sounds.
I love how it feels.
I love what it means.

So, tonight - as I read the news again and see glimpses into the life of the world's favorite royals, I sit and wonder what life must be like for the future queen. I imagine her favorite title will be the one she's received twice now, in that sweet little boy holding her hand and his tiny sister gripping onto her shoulder.

The noble and honorable title she shares with so many others:


Monday, July 18, 2016

First Day of School and HELLO, Kindergarten!

Somebody started Kindergarten today!



Nah to the ah to the no no NOOOOOOO!

I asked him if he wanted to stay home with me.

His response:


Jason: I don't think anyone has ever been more ready for Kindergarten.

I mean. I guess I can't argue with that. He's only been counting down for the last EIGHT months.

"How many more months til Kindergarten, Mom."
"How many more weeks now?"

And, at about for months out, we started on days.

"MOM, Dad said it's only one hundred and seven more days!"

But, the BEST part of starting Kindergarten for our confident, free spirit is that he FINALLY gets to go with his brothers.

No more looking longingly out the car window.
No more I AM SO BORED.
No more NAPS! (Naptime graduation is BIG TIME in our house. Congrats, Whit!)

They're headed off to a new adventure - my four buddies.

That one on the left starting middle school? He's been down this road six times before - this new year thing.

He's the leader of this band of brothers and he stands so tall in that role.

They're so ready to take on the new year. All FOUR of them.

I walked Whit in today - wondering if he'd have ONE shred of pause.

Nope. He never looked back.

He was made to fly.

And, he's gonna soar.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Motherhood: A Thousand Letting Gos

The day my first son was born, that precious day, my husband placed his tiny body in my arms and his eyes caught mine and I kissed his wrinkled forehead and I whispered the only thing my heart knew: "I'll never let you go."

I'll never let you go.

A few hours later, the nurse came into our hospital room and told us she needed to take him "for just a little bit." But my heart heard, "You'll never see him again."

I didn't want to let go.

That little bit felt like hours and the not-wanting released hot tears down my cheeks as I waited for her to roll him back into our room. Which she did, much to the relief of my husband who just wanted an hour of sleep and a cure for his hyper-emotional wife.

I was learning that ancient tug:

I had to let go.

What no one told me about motherhood, what a new mother's heart is too young, too tender, too new to understand, is that motherhood is a thousand letting gos.

My tiny son. I've been letting go his whole life.

The first day I dropped him off at the nursery at church, screaming and pulling at my shirt. Letting go.
His first time down the big slide. Letting go.
His first day of preschool. Letting go.
His first overnight at Grandma's without me. The hardest letting go.
His first day of Kindergarten. The HEAVING sobs of letting go.
When he turned the corner on his bike. Letting go.
Handing him an iPod and the scary world of technology. Letting go.
And this year, middle school. OMG, middle school. Can I carry him in on my hip?

I still have a thousand more to go.

Letting go.

Over and over and over.

My heart, since the moment I first laid eyes on him, has always beat easiest to every mother's favorite anthem: I'll never let you go.

But I'm learning: He isn't mine to hold onto. He is God's child before he is my child and my holding on would only keep him from his God-designed, made-just-for-him adventure.

That big slide? BEST. DAY. EVER.

Turning the corner on his bike? Breeze-in-his-hair, not looking back, taste of sweet freedom.

And, now - middle school? "I got this, Mom."

Letting go. So I can hold onto God's promises for him:

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43: 18-19