A Christmas Hallelujah

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 1 Comments A+ a-

I've heard about this baby boy
Who's come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I'm singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God's only Son was born, oh Hallelujah
Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You'll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah
Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Immanual

I still believe in miracles.

Sunday, December 22, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

He was five years old and still hadn’t uttered a word.  He was her fifth child, and her constant shadow.  He didn’t interact with his siblings, he never participated in their games, and was often found playing under the tree in the backyard, by himself, clothespins as soldiers for company.  She’d accepted the fact that he was probably mentally handicapped and often worried about his quality of life. 

But then a relative suggested having him checked out at the local hospital.  She’ll never forget the moment the doctor came out of the evaluation, clasped her hand, and told her there was hope.  Three years of speech therapy was all it took.  He went to school, played basketball, ran track, he married and had four girls.  And all because a relative and his mom took a leap of faith.


I still believe in miracles.

A woman, newly pregnant with their first child, kisses her husband goodbye as
he heads out on his first deployment.  He return home for a Christmas surprise. 
And shows up in time, because his son was born two days later.


I still believe in miracles.

It was a journey full of heartache, tears, discouragement, uncertainty, doubt, and the ever constant, hope.  They experienced three miscarriages, underwent tests, started taking Clomid and other fertility drugs, underwent several IUIs, and then she had an invasive surgery.  They decided to wait one more cycle before hopping back on the TTC train.  No drugs, no tests, no IUIs.  When she called a few weeks later and asked me if I’d like to meet their baby in July, I screamed.  Holding that baby girl was one of the most heartwarming, tangible answers to prayers I’ve ever experienced.


I still believe in miracles.

It was a rough eight years, hard and uncertain.  Not knowing what the home atmosphere would be like, wondering what the mood would be.  It was implicitly understood that the marriage was staying together for the sake of the children and nothing else.  There was a silent understanding that divorce was the horizon, that they were biding their time until the youngest had graduated from high school.

But a medical crisis brought the family to their knees, it broke them in a way that they had no place to go but up.  And after years of counseling and healing, the parents are more in love today than ever before!


I still believe in miracles.

He sent his son, in the form of a baby, to be the sacrifice for all of mankind’s sins.  It was the only way to reconcile his people back to himself, so he could dwell among them again.

Jesus’ ministry began at the age of thirty years old, and lasted for only three years.  Three years.  He didn’t own a home or a business.  He had no financial means.  He never wrote a book, nor did he conquer a city.  We may disagree on who Jesus is, a prophet, Messiah, a scholar, but the fact remains, he existed.  He loved.  He touched an entire world in only three years.

I believe.  I believe that tiny babe arrived in a dark world, born to be light.  I believe he willingly climbed on that cross to bear my sins, to reconcile me to my heavenly father.  I believe because I’ve been on the other side, where its dark and its hard to breathe, where it feels like you’re weighted down by chains.  And when I chose to believe, I remember the freedom, the air, the beauty in knowing someone loved me enough to DIE for me. 

I believe because this love, its nothing short of a miracle.  Merry Christmas!

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Image in the Mirror

Thursday, December 19, 2013 2 Comments A+ a-

Every so often I get caught off guard when I glance in the mirror.  As I dry off from the shower and I glance at my reflection, I’ll catch my breath and my eyes will widen in surprise.  I’ll turn to the side, and suck in my gut.  For that brief moment, I look as though I’m only two months pregnant, instead of three.  Facing forward, I see the soft middle and the tiny hernia that pokes through my belly button.  I see how my hips have widened since my early twenties, and inwardly, a part of myself cringes.  And even though I’m thirty-four years old, I still mourn the loss of my twenty-something body.

This time I paused…  And while I prepared for the usual onslaught of self-recrimination and inner dialogue, I stopped myself.  I looked at myself with a different mindset, with new eyes.

This body has nurtured and sheltered four beautiful babies.  I was home and incubator to four babes… nine months each… totaling 36 months, or three years, of my life.  My body provided nutrition, security, comfort, and love.  As each baby grew, my body grew too.  Towards the end of each pregnancy, my body felt stretched (literally) to its limit.  I felt every single kick, every thrown elbow, each roll and hiccup.  I ached and hurt, comforted only by hot baths and the knowledge that I was almost done.

And then the moment came where I labored for hours, my body pushing out new life.  I rarely knew what was happening or why, but the amazing thing was, my body knew.  It knew that after a long nine to ten months, that there was plenty of strength left for that last final push.  And as I held each of my children in my arms, as they began to nurse, and my body prepared for a new journey of sustaining this child’s life, it was shocking to know that I’d do it all again.  In a heartbeat. 

And I did.  Three more times.

My body has stretched and changed.  In so many ways.  And today, this time when I splayed my hands over my soft, pillow-like middle, I remember…  I remember what my body has done for me, for my babies.  There are times I can still feel the phantom kicks, rolls, and hiccups.  And I can be ok with those changes…  I WILL be ok with those changes.

My body will never return to its former shape.  The stretch marks have replaced visible stomach muscles.  My small hips were replaced by extra skin around my middle.  One of my ribs permanently juts away from my body, testimony of when Devyn cracked my rib in-utero.  Where my body used to be taut, it now is soft and pillowy and its my new normal.  Just like my new normal is about eight pounds heavier.  It is what it is.

And instead of cringing every time I catch a glimpse in the mirror, I’m going to embrace it.  Each stretch mark, each inch of extra skin, each jiggle is just proof that my body provided a home for four precious lives.  If I can offer my daughters a confident, self assured role model, then so be it.  Its time to accept the changes with grace, and know that some things won’t ever be the same again.  Its time to be ok with that.

Don’t Settle for Imitations

Monday, December 16, 2013 1 Comments A+ a-

My Loves,

This parenting gig is hard work.  I was commiserating with another mother yesterday, about the lack of patience our parenting produces.  There was no doubt that all over this country, on a Sunday morning, mothers everywhere were telling their daughters to “just stand still so I can finish your hair!”  Of course, then we feel bad and have to apologize, only to hear you give forgiveness so easily.  Its quite humbling, actually.  Knowing how readily you offer forgiveness when adults rarely extend that forgiveness to themselves.

But I digress.

There are many life lessons and wise words that I share, ones I hope you take into adulthood with you.  Some of them include:

  • Eat good food.  Yes, all things in moderation, but enjoy that piece of bacon.  Don’t worry about the extra truffle you snitched from the platter.  Let your taste buds live a little.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix patterns.  Be a little adventurous with your wardrobe.  I personally don’t believe that black and brown go together, and I think the no white after Labor Day rule is silly.
  • The things you didn’t like as a kid, you might love as an adult.  Just saying.
  • Love what you do!  It doesn’t matter how much money your career brings you, if you don’t love what you do, its just not worth it. 
  • I will seem wiser the older you get.  You may roll your eyes and shrug your shoulders now, but trust me.  Someday you’ll realize that I actually did know what I was talking about.

But there is one lesson in particular that I want, no NEED, you to understand.  This is important to me because I feel so many life lessons can stem from this one thing and my prayer is that when you’re adults, you’ll hear me in your head, saying this over and over again.

Anything worth having in this life, takes time, work, and effort.  Don’t settle for imitations when hard work can produce the real thing.

worth having 2My Loves, we live in a culture that demands instant gratification.  I know this because I take advantage of it daily: instant downloads, takeout, streaming movies.  I know what its like to trade quality for haste.  I know that in the more trivial things, it doesn’t matter and you’d be right.  But in the big things, the things that are worth it, you are going to have to invest your time and hard work.  Because those things, they won’t happen overnight.  They can’t.

When you’re older and better able to comprehend the work that went into fixing my family of origin, you’ll understand why my sisters and I are so close.  You’ll know that it took years of counseling and the willingness to try again, to heal my family and allow us a fresh start.

I pray that my marriage to your dad will be a testament to the effort needed to produce a fulfilling, intimate, and loving relationship.  I once thought that the beginning stages of a relationship (the butterflies, the tingles, the desire to be together 24-7) was the end all, be all to love.  Yet, I’m constantly amazed at how much deeper I fall in love with your dad every. single. year.  It can’t be possible, it’s too cliché, I thought.  But, My Loves, staying and working through the hard stuff has produced a bond so strong, that there are times I’m humbled by the intimacy those times have produced.

This world offers many imitations of the real thing.  Even the bible promises, “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” Matthew 24:5.  My Loves, do not be fooled by imitations.  The saying “If its too good to be true, it probably is” comes to mind.  The best way to sift through falsehoods, is to know the good, real, and worthy things so well, inside and out, that that you can spot the imitations from a mile away.   

Its tempting to take the easy road… its appealing to believe you can have it all, without working for it.  But I assure you, if you can take it without working for it, its not worth it.  And what you thought was the real thing, you’ll find won’t last the test of time.  The shiny thing will tarnish, its beauty will fade, and you’ll be left wondering what happened.  Work for it, My Loves.  Fight for it.  Discover what it’ll take to have it, and then give 10% more.  Just like diamonds and pearls, know it’ll take time for the true beauty to be revealed.

worth having 1If this is the only thing you take from my parenting, I’ll be thrilled.  I have so much hope for your lives, there is so much promise in your future, and I can’t wait to see where God and your dreams take you.  Just go with the knowledge that anything worth having, WILL take time and effort.  And I assure you, the end result will be more valuable then you ever thought possible!

All my love,
Mama

Starbucks and Life Lessons

Friday, December 13, 2013 11 Comments A+ a-

I’m the one that avoids homelessness as much as possible.  When I drive up to an intersection where a man or woman holds a sign and the light turns red, I turn up the radio and look out the opposite window to avoid eye contact.  I’m the one that giggled nervously when we were approached on the 16th Street Mall.  I’m the one that because I don’t know how to respond, I just don’t respond at all.  And I’m ashamed of it.

imageTonight, Hudson and I had a coffee/hot chocolate date at Starbucks.  It was one of those coffee shops that sits adjacent to a grocery store.  I noticed the gentlemen sitting at the corner table as soon as we walked inside.  I didn’t think anything of them as we made our way to the register and placed our order.  I didn’t give them a second thought as I swiped my card and we took our treats to the table across from theirs.  My mind was on the quality time I was about to have with Hudson, and the brownie-peppermint cake pop I was going to devour. 

And then I noticed the men noticing us and I started squirming in my seat.  Each had a cup of coffee in their hand, a newspaper laid out on the table in front of them.  It was obvious they were dragging out their time in the store, sipping their coffee as slowly as possible to prolong their time in the warmth.  I could feel the heat rush up the back of my neck because I knew.  I KNEW.  I was being given a choice and it meant going way out of my comfort zone, but I didn’t want to because I like my comfort zone.  Its safe there. 

I told Hudson to finish his hot chocolate, and when he was done, I tucked his hand in mine and we walked over to the two men. 

“Hey pretty lady!” the first man said to me.  He smiled a toothless smile and he asked Hudson for his name.  We chatted for a bit, and then I took a deep breath. 

“Are you hungry?” I asked.  “We have to grab a few things for our dinner, and I was wondering if we could grab something for you too.”  Hudson twisted his hand in mine, and I realized I’d been holding it a little too tightly.  I looked between the two men, hoping they understood my intention was honorable, that I meant no disrespect, and hoping they’d say yes.

The older man looked down at the table, then locked eyes with mine.  “I’m not asking for that, ma’am.  I’m not asking.”  I touched him on the shoulder, “I know, I know.  I’m offering.  In the spirit of Christmas, I’d like to buy you dinner.”

They exchanged a look, smiled at us, and then nodded their heads in agreement.  I assured them that we’d be right back, then Hudson and I headed into the grocery store.  The heaviness in my heart grew as we selected chicken and some side dishes; the lump in my throat got bigger as Hudson decided we needed to get them drinks too, and then insisted on carrying the Gatorade himself.  I teared up as I paid the cashier and silently prayed.  “Father.  Please.  If ever one of my children is placed in their position, please take care of them.” 

We delivered the food to the table, complete with plates and eating utensils.  We shook hands and exchanged names.  It was when the older man wouldn’t let go of my hand that I realized that sometimes, its more than physical needs that need to be met.  Its human touch, it’s the dignity of being acknowledged, it’s knowing that someone cares, even if for just a moment.

We said our goodbyes and we wished each other a Merry Christmas.  When we walked back to our car, hand in hand, Hudson turned to me.  “Mama, we did a good thing, didn’t we?  I think God is happy right now.”  And the tears I’d been holding back, spilled over.

There is much I don’t do right in this life.  I make mistakes and take wrong turns.  I turn away, more often than I turn towards, and yes, tonight I made the right decision.  But what about all the other times I pretend to not see them or don’t want to be bothered?  What about those times that I feel God pulling at my heart but its too uncomfortable to obey?  I thought about the nice warm house that was waiting for us, the fridge and cupboards that were full of food.  I thought about the gifts sitting under the tree and the love of family that I take too often for granted.  I became all too aware of our blessings, uncomfortably so…

“Mama?” came the voice from the backseat.  “I think we should do that more often.”  Oh yeah, sometimes the innocence of children and their convictions can humble me to my very core.  It was in that moment that I realized the lesson I’d hoped would touch Hudson, touched me instead.

“I think that’s a great idea, Buddy.  Let’s keep our eyes open for moments like that again.” 

Starbucks and life lessons.  Who knew?

First Grade Thoughts

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 1 Comments A+ a-

I love Hudson's teacher!  Every so often she'll send small glimpses of what its like to teach her class: stories, a class project, or a small quote from one of the students.  Its obvious that she loves what she does and in turn, has given me a new appreciation for this age group.  If I were a teacher, I'd want first grade too.

Yesterday, along with her weekly update and wishes for a happy Thanksgiving, she sent along a list from her students.  The question posed was: "What are things that we (people) should say more often?"  They came up with eleven things.

1.  You are optimistic. When people are optimistic it makes people feel good!!!!!!!!!!!!

2.  Great Job. That person is doing a great job!

3.  You are a great person. You are the greatest person because they need to hear it.

4.  Yes ma’am. You should say yes ma’am because it makes girls happy.

5.  You are awesome is a good thing. It is the greatest thing to say.

6.  I am glad to know you. I am glad to know you because you are a friend.

7.  You are nice. You are nice because you are my friend.

8.  You look the best. You should say this because they will smile.

9.  I love you. We should say I love you because it can make someone smile.

10.  Thanks for being a great sport. That tells a person they are great at sports.

11.  You are the greatest kid in the whole wide world. If there is a kid in the whole world that is sad, we could tell them they are the greatest.

Numbers four and ten are my favorite.  I'm now further convinced the world should be run by children... For the simple fact that they seek to lift others up, without ulterior motives, prejudices, and not yet jaded by life.  

When I grow up, I want to be a first grader.

To Be Real and Authentic

Monday, November 18, 2013 4 Comments A+ a-

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that my friend, Amy, and I are hosting a photo challenge this month titled “Keeping It Real November”.  It stemmed from a picture she posted on IG last month of her kitchen counter covered in school papers.  And I loved it.  I instantly felt the pressure of being perfect, doing perfect, and portraying perfect melt away.  I was reminded of this post.  And thus, Keeping It Real November was born.

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I can’t say whether the photo challenge has been a success or not, how do you measure that?  Success wise?  Amy and I weren’t doing it to gain more followers or become IG famous, because we surely aren’t.  And my account is private, which kind of defeats the purpose of these things, right?  We did it because Amy and I like being real.  We like being authentic.  And maybe we were hoping to connect with other mothers from the internets whose homes look as messy as ours.  Maybe we wanted to shout out into the abyss of pinterest-perfect homes and see if anyone answered back.

There’s something to be said about being real and authentic.  My most popular posts are the ones in which I’m putting myself out there and saying, “Guess what?  This life?  Its hard and messy.  Sometimes I don’t want to do it anymore.  And sometimes I feel like I’m drowning.”  Now I could assume that women read those posts to make themselves feel better about their own lives, and hey, I don’t blame them.  I’d probably do the same.  But if the emails and texts I get are any indication, there’s a lot more women out there saying, “Thank you!  I get it.  And this post makes me feel less alone.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I think the beautiful homes and the delicious food images are needed!  They’re great motivation for decorating, cleaning, and creating.  We all need those outlets for ourselves. 

But please do us a favor and post about some of the real in your life too.  I need to know that in the dark of night, you also have moments of doubt and fear; that you wonder if you’re doing this thing called life correctly.  I want to know if you get take-out for the fourth time this week because you’re not in the mood to cook, or if you spend three days in a row in your yoga pants and t-shirt.  I want to know what makes YOU tick.  Not the public “you” that is portrayed in social media and on your blog.  I already know the public “you” has a gorgeous home, a to-do-die-for wardrobe, and sous-chef like skills.  But that’s just the outside...  What are you not good at?  What do you wish you could do better?  In the middle of the night, when its just you, what are you lying awake thinking about?

Its scary being real.  It calls for a vulnerability that can maybe, possibly be used to find a weakness.  But I can relate to the weaknesses much better than I can relate to the perfect.  And I know a lot of other women who feel the same…  I loved this comment on yesterday’s Keeping It Real November picture.

shawnadovetail - This has been one of my favorite posts so far. I'm under this silent shame that my kids rooms are messy and cluttered and not 'photo worthy' but this is where life happens. I love seeing other moms bare it all, being real, being messy, being honest about the 95% rather than the 5% that is 'photo worthy'. Thank you for doing this challenge. It sounds so simple but it has already meant so much to me #ihaveenoughidoenoughiamenough #lengthycommentersunite

That is why we did it.  Because yes, the homes are pretty, the outfits are gorgeous, and the little ones obedient, but then there’s the rest of us and we want to feel less alone.  Mamas, repeat after Shawna.  You have enough.  You do enough.  You are enough.  And guess what, you’re not alone! 

Our Annual Photo Session

Friday, November 15, 2013 5 Comments A+ a-

Three years ago we had family photos and a maternity shoot taken with my talented friend, Becky.  It was the first, and last time, I’ve done maternity pictures and I’m so thankful that I have those images.  You can view previous years here: 2010, 2011, 2012 pt.1, 2012 pt.2.

Last month we had our fifth photo session with her and I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, she’s spoiled us for other photographers.  Thank you, Becky, they are gorgeous!

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I’ve lost my ever-loving mind.

Monday, October 28, 2013 3 Comments A+ a-

Usually I’m a “Thanksgiving is entitled to its own holiday, therefore Christmas doesn’t happen until the day after Thanksgiving and not a moment sooner” kind of girl.  Usually I roll my eyes at the Christmas decorations in the stores, the holiday music on the radio, and and any talk of Christmas is forbidden until the appropriate time.

However, apparently, I’ve lost my ever-loving mind.

On Saturday, we met up with Becky for our annual Christmas photo taking session.  (2010, 2011, and 2012.) And as I’m trying ever so hard to be patient for the sneak peeks (Becky, I’m failing miserably!), I decided to go online and get some inspiration for Christmas card designs.  I believe I wasted a good hour pulling together my favorites.

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imageThis one cracked me up!  Seems appropriate for our family.

Then I stumbled across a Christmas craft that I thought would be fun to do with the kids, when then led to other google searches of similar ideas.

This of course led me to Hobby Lobby, where I wasted time wandered the aisles for a good hour or two.  I somehow found Christmas craft supplies in my cart and even contemplated buying a Christmas stock kit for Jon.  I was ::this close:: to purchasing it, but then I remembered that Santa doesn’t visit the adults in this house.  I bypassed the stocking kit, but I currently have a test run of ornaments baking in the oven.

And I’m fairly certain that Grammie’s Chex Mix will be making an appearance by the weekend.  Bring on the holiday spirit…  This year, I’m ready for it!

Deep Waters

Thursday, October 24, 2013 2 Comments A+ a-

Oceans by Hillsong. "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior."Without a doubt, my mother’s love language is gifts.  She often will surprise us with little gifts that will encourage us in our walks with God: books, cds, audio devotionals, little trinkets, etc.  Its really not that surprising to be pulled into the front room of my parents house and have a little gift waiting to be opened.  So when I opened the Lifeway Women set of audio devotionals, I thanked her and took the gift to my car. 

It was several days later before I opened the plastic wrapping and stuck the cds in my player.  I listened to Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Vicki Courtney, Jennifer Rothschild, and several others.  But there was one I was really excited to listen to and when her 10 minute segment was over, I listened to it again.  Then a third, and fourth time.  In fact, whenever it comes to mind, I hit play and I listen to Angie Smith’s devotional; I have it almost memorized by now.  In it, she shares the story of losing her baby girl just hours after she’s born.  Her vulnerability and pain are tangible, as is the hope and lessons she learned in that time.  This section in particular stands out to me…

And I think in my mind, what I’ve started to realize is it’s this image of life on a seashore and not out in the deep, where things are confusing and threatening and scary. I just wanted to hide out from it all and create these fictious worlds where everything was safe. And when Audrey died, something in me snapped. I’d just been thrown into the deep end, completely unprepared. It was the scariest, most awful, and beautifully devastating time of my life.


Because when I found myself out of my comfort zone, in a place where my feet could not touch the bottom anymore, I saw His face. I saw a side of Jesus I had never seen in my life. And I feel like He whispered to me in that season, “Angie, you’ve been making sandcastles your whole life and even when the water comes in, you’ve let yourself become frightened. But Love, I live in the deep. You can’t fall in love with me from the seashore. It’s scary and its upside down, but you’ve got to move away from what’s safe to really see me.”

I do this.  All the time.  I want my Jesus to be packed into a box.  A box that will keep Him (and me) safe and out of harms way.  A box that fits my idea of Jesus, that fits my beliefs and ideals, where I can have all the answers.  I never gave my safe, little world, the “safe” Jesus a second glance.

Until this devotional. 

It uprooted my belief system, it turned it upside down, and I’m still trying to catch my breath.  The Jesus of my box is NOT the Jesus of the Bible.  He requires a lot more faith, a lot more risk than what I’ve been willing to give. 
In June, I posted about IF: as soon as they announced their vision.  When I linked to it from my FB profile, a dear friend pointed me in the direction of Hillsong and their song titled “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”. 

I often wonder what God is up to when I see a repeated lesson happening in my life.  I’ve been around the block a time or two with God that when He repeats Himself, I know I’d better be paying attention.  There’s a reason God is directing me and my belief system to trust Him in deep waters.

Here’s a small sampling of some of the lyrics…

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger'
In the presence of my Saviour

I’m reminded of Peter, when Jesus invited him to walk with Him on the water.  (Coincidentally another lesson involving water.  Or not a coincidence.  You decide.)  A storm had risen and the waves were crashing against the boat, when they saw Jesus walking towards them on the water.  Peter didn’t believe it was really Jesus and asked for permission to walk out to him.  Jesus told him to come, and he did.  It wasn’t until Peter removed his eyes from Jesus that he began to sink.  It wasn’t until Peter focused more on the storm, instead of Jesus, that his unbelief brought on his drowning.
 
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”  Matthew 14:31, NLT

I don’t want a God I can explain.  I don’t want a God that fits in my box or a God that I only bring out in times of trial.  I don’t want a God that is stagnant and unmoving.  I want a God that is alive and working in me, in this generation, at this time, now.  And if that means my perception of God is turned upside down and brings me into deep waters, then I WANT that. 

I’m terrified of the unknown.  I’m scared of not having solid ground under my feet, of not being sure-footed, of not knowing my next step.  But I think I’m more scared of not knowing who God wholly is, or living within my self-contained walls.  I also know that I’ve been holding back.  I haven’t been “all in” regarding my faith.  I’ve put restrictions, disclaimers, and parameters on the scenarios in which I’ll obey, on the Truths I’ll believe.  I haven’t been “all in” because I’m still focused on the storm.  I’m still putting more trust in myself, than in God.  The proof is that I’ve been living on the seashore, instead of living out in the deep.

God is asking something of me.  Who do I believe He is?  He’s been revealing Himself bit-by-tiny-bit.  And I’m discovering a God that is huge and deep and exciting and unexplainable.  To follow God, wherever He might lead me, is a wildly adventurous time because I don’t know what He’s going to ask of me.  But I know He’s taking me into deep waters, into the places where I can’t touch the bottom.  A place in which I have no choice but to trust Him there.Trust Without Borders || To trust someone is to believe that they are reliable, honest and good. With that said, I’ve decided to dive into what it really means to trust God without borders. Enjoy! http://meredithbard.wordpress.com

The very bottom of my pit.

Saturday, October 19, 2013 4 Comments A+ a-

I was 19 years old.  I’d been raised in a Christian home, I should have had a stronger faith.  I should have known better.  But my world was crashing down around me and I felt I was suffocating.  It was rising inside me, threatening to take over my person. 

My great-grandmother had died the year before, I’d been accepted and was registered to attend college when the funding fell through, my sister was slowly killing herself with anorexia, and my family was scattered.  Some living in the same town where my sister was in the hospital, the other half living (and I use that term loosely) in our house.  We were ghosts that passed each other in the halls, acknowledging each other's existence but had little interaction, for we were all in survival mode.

I was choking from the lack of control I had in my life.  And I needed an escape, any kind of escape.  I turned to drugs, alcohol, and sex. 

And for a number of weeks, it worked.  I numbed the pain, the fear, and then the shame, with it.  There were a number of times I looked at my life, knowing I was making decisions that went against everything I’d been raised on, but I didn’t care.  It was a way to pretend that everything wasn’t falling apart.  I could pretend that I wasn’t hurting the very ones who loved me.  Including Jon. 

It was the love of family and Jon that brought a halt to that lifestyle.  Confronted with the truth of my actions, I confessed in a heap of tears to my aunt, my parents, my sisters, and Jon.  There’s nothing that will tear at a person’s heart like watching the disappointment in your parents eyes, to watch the pedestal that your younger sisters had you on, crumble like it was made of sand, or to see the heartbreak in your beloved’s eyes when he hears of your betrayals.  It brought me to my knees.


I don’t tell you that story for the fun of it.  Because trust me, reliving that time in my life is anything but fun.  It’s a sobering reminder of where I’d been.  I tell you that story because it’s important to the rest of the story; this past summer.



When I was first approached to do the Marriage Series, I hesitated.  Not because I don’t believe in strong marriages, but because by agreeing to the series, I knew I was painting a target on my back.  I knew I wasn’t in any place to stand strong against the spiritual warfare I knew would follow.  And boy, was I right.

It was the perfect storm.  Spiritual warfare, my grandmother’s death, a sister struggling and I had no way of easing some of her pain, I had been doing too much for too long, long nights, early mornings, my dad’s cancer.  It was a firestorm of circumstances in which I had lost all control.

Old demons rose up.  Enveloping me in darkness, suffocating me, making me desperate.  I thought old, destructive thoughts.  I was tempted to give in to old, destructive behaviors.  And I sat in the bathtub ready to turn in my card of life.  I was done in, exhausted, overwhelmed, I was drowning.  I wanted out

Jon sat by that bathtub every. single. time.  Praying over me, whispering words of love and encouragement, fighting for me when I couldn't.  He was scared.  My mom was scared.  My sisters were scared.  I was scared.  I have never seen myself like that, and for the first time, I had no hope.  None.  I just wanted out.

Then just when I saw a sliver of hope, there was a falling out, hurtful things were said, and I slipped even further under the water.  And again, my loved ones stormed heaven’s gates on my behalf.  They stood in the gap when I couldn’t, they prayed over me when I didn’t want to get out of bed.  They reminded me of the things that were real and true and right.

And then I stepped over to the other side and decided to believe God.


I don’t credit Jon, or my mom, or my loved ones of saving me.  Supporting me?  Yes.  Praying for me?  Certainly.  Holding me up?  Of course.  Being Jesus with skin on for me?  Absolutely.  But I KNOW who saved me from myself. 

I KNOW it was God, JEHOVAH-SABAOTH (The Lord of Hosts, my protector), who refused to leave my side or let go of me.  He fought for me because I am HIS, and it was He that restored my soul.  I’ve never felt His presence more acutely or more tangible than I do right now.  His hand was on me and I survived one of the hardest times in my life BECAUSE of Him.

I won’t do this life correctly, I will mess up.  I will make mistakes and its ok to admit that I have no clue what I’m doing because He is sufficient for me.  As long as I cling to Him and believe in Him, I have everything I need.  Right now my appetite for God and His word is insatiable.  I cannot get enough of His promises for me.  I’m starting to get glimpses of God’s character and how big He is.  I’m standing like a child at His feet, begging for more.  I’m asking Him to increase my thirst for Him, to allow me to fall in love with Him, because when you face the very bottom of your pit and come out alive, you hunger for the one who saved you.

I’m not saying that I’ve faced the end of my depression, anxiety, or panic attacks.  I believe as long as I live on this earth, this will probably be my thorn to bear.  But I pray that I won’t ever forget this summer, the darkest of moments, I thought all was lost, and then the light at the end of it.  Because truth be told, if I had to experience that darkness to reach this point of love for my Savior, it was worth it.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! 
Worship the Lord with gladness. 
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.

We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.


Psalm 100

At least they’re not screaming in here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013 3 Comments A+ a-

I’m currently listening to the four Littles screaming in their rooms.  They’re alternating between screaming at each other, at me, and sometimes they throw in a song or two.  You know, just to add to the noise. 

They have no school today and tomorrow for parent-teacher conferences and I’m already ::this close:: to pulling my hair out.  It has been non-stop fighting and bickering all morning long.  I threatened to grab one of Jon’s shirts and create a get-along shirt.  But then I just decided I was going to lose it and instead of sending myself to timeout (which would’ve been a better option, I suppose), I sent all of them to their rooms.  Every single one.  And I really have no intention of letting them out until Jon gets home.  (I can dream, right?)  Oh well, at least they’re not screaming in here.

But I’m forced to admit something here.  And it was a confession I gave to Reagan’s teacher last week and my friend, Dana, this week.  Deep breath.  Here goes.

“I have no freaking clue what I’m doing.”

This parenting gig is hard stuff.  HARD STUFF. Why did no one tell me that after the baby cuddles, the late nights, the toddler tantrums, the potty training, that this parenting stuff just gets harder?!   Another friend and I were joking that we’d give anything to go back in time to those days of little sleep and diaper changing.  And perhaps we’re romanticizing it a bit, but the reality is, as physically exhausting as those days were, this new stage is just as hard.  Just in another way. 

I genuinely have no clue what I’m doing.  I feel like I’m shooting in the dark and praying that no one suffers irreparable harm by our parenting decisions.  After all, I’m raising little people here.  Little people that will one day, grow up and join the big world.  And please, oh please Lord, let them be good, contributing members of society, in spite of my failures.

This is not a woe-is-me post.  Because honestly, after our parent-teacher conferences yesterday, I’m fairly confident that no permanent damage has been done yet.  And quite frankly, I’m very proud of the people Devyn and Hudson are becoming.  In fact, brace yourself, I need to brag for a moment.  And since its my blog, I’m allowed. 


Devyn, my love, I love your confidence.  You are one of the most confident children I have ever met.  It’s a quiet strength, but it shines through in all you do.  And when your teacher called you a leader, I sat up a little straighter because its true.  You are beautiful, Devyn Paige!  Inside and out, and I can’t wait to see what you do with your life.

Hudson Jonathan, I am awed by your dedication and determination for school.  You are enthusiastic about learning and you always give 100% effort.  I can’t ever ask for more than that!  Your teacher says your smile lights up the room, and I can’t help but agree with her.  She also said you’re a wonderful friend to everyone.  Keep up the good work, Buddy!


No, this isn’t about woe-is-me.  Its simply a realistic look at parenting.  As much as I fear that we’re screwing up, as often as I think about all of our mistakes, no matter how much I doubt our decisions, I need to remember there’s a whole of grace involved in parenting.  Yes, grace for our children, but grace for ourselves too.  We may have no clue what we’re doing, but somewhere along the way, we’re doing something right.

And now, I should probably break up the fight that’s currently taking place in Devyn and Reagan’s room.  Hudson is screaming, “Devyn took something out of something!”  Which is incredibly vague and I should probably go see what he means by that.  Think anyone will notice if I grab a glass of wine and go sit in my closet the rest of the day?  Sigh.  I thought so.

IF: Gathering (Local)

Wednesday, October 09, 2013 4 Comments A+ a-

We had our first session with Beth Moore and the Believing God bible study this past Saturday.  I went into the study not knowing much about the content.  And I walked out of that study breathless.  In a “God, I don’t know what you’re up to but its terrifying me” kind of way.

I am terrified y’all.  TERRIFIED.  Terrified to write this post.  Terrified to hit the publish button.  Terrified to see where God is going to lead this…

Back to Beth Moore and Believing God for a minute.  In the first lesson she said something that I immediately wrote down and highlighted. 

“My bride is paralyzed by unbelief.” 

Let that sink in for a moment.

If we believe that God is who He says He is, the world should know us by our love.  If we believe that God is who He says He is, mountains should be moving, lives should be turned inside out and upside down.  If we believe that God is who He says He is, we should be stepping up, the first to step our toes in the Jordan River  and see the river bed become dry.  And since I KNOW my God is who He says He is, I know that He desires so much more for His church, His children, this life.  The church has become stagnant, bored, divided, mediocre.  All the things God never intended for the church to become.  How are we showing the glory of His name?  How are we sharing that His love is life-changing?

When IF: Gathering first announced their vision in June, I felt the hair on my arms rise.  This was it, the undercurrent and pull I’d been feeling in my soul for some time.  It excited me because I now knew that there were other women out there who felt the same stirring I was feeling.  I was going to do my best to be in Austin in February.  Wild horses wouldn’t have kept me away!  I just knew I needed to be there!

There is a restlessness among the next generation of women, who fear more than anything – wasting their lives. We want to harness their hunger and passion by providing space to be equipped to pursue their God-given dreams.

The IF:Gathering is a fresh, deep, honest space for a new generation of women to wrestle with the essential question:

IF God is real… THEN what?

How do we live?  How do we unify and dream for the name of Christ in our generation from our unique places?  We are praying this will satisfy a longing to return to what is deep and simple and pure about life and faith.


Then IF: Gathering announced that they’re throwing open the doors to include a live webcast to allow women from all over the world to share in this two-day conference.  And I knew this was a better answer.  More of my friends would be able to gather, learn from the conference, from each other in a local setting than trying to attempt a weekend in Texas.


Then I thought, how great would it be to find a group of women who crave this as much as I do?  I want to gather with like-minded women in THIS city, I want to spend a weekend praising God with them, learning alongside them, being inspired, and most importantly, having accountability and encouragement with those same women when life gets messy and hard and ugly.  When we can stand in the gap and be strong for our friends when they’re feeling weak.  I want to live life with these same women who want to passionately love and serve our Lord.  I want to experience the church as God intended it.  I want it now.

And so I come to you, Local Gathering. 
  • Are you interested in doing this with me? 
  • Are you willing to step into the unknown to help plan, to make it possible to gather these like-minded women? 
I don’t know what it’ll look like.  I have no clue.  Will it be big?  Or small?  Will it be in a church setting?  Or in a home?  I have no idea.  But I know there are other women out there who feel this same urgency and desire as I do.  And I just want to make it possible for others to have the same opportunity to hear how God is moving and be inspired. 

If you’re interested in attending or helping me plan, let me know!  If you know me in real life, you can reach me via a private FB message.  I’m also available through email (biggest_blessings (at) yahoo.com) or through leaving me a comment here.  Just make sure I have a way to get in touch with you.  And we’ll go from there…

During that same first session with Beth Moore and Believing God, she paused for a moment, looked at the camera, and said, “I’m going to pray that God works in a BIG way for you during the course of this study.”  Since we meet every other week, we’re looking at 18 weeks to finish.  As I started counting out the weeks on paper, I just knew what number I was going to end on.  Sure enough, 18 weeks from the first study was the weekend of IF: Gathering.  I remember blowing out my breath and saying to myself, “Ok, God.  Let’s see what you’re up to!”  Even if no more than five women gather in my basement, I know God will meet us there.  I can’t wait!

IF: Gathering (Local)
Northern Colorado
Live Webcast
February 7-8, 2014
Isaiah

Continuing the Randomness

Thursday, October 03, 2013 4 Comments A+ a-

God Be PraisedWe sang “As For Me” in church on Sunday and, for the life of me, I couldn’t get the song out of my head all week.  So what did I do?  Created a printable of course.  If you’d like a copy yourself, just click on the image.

I’m not sure if you saw this quote on IG or not, but it made me reminisce over good books and classic movies.  I decided to bid on a few new books on Ebay.  I can’t wait for Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and the Little House books to make their appearance in our mailbox.  I have visions of reading with the Littles, and (hopefully) having them enjoy them as much as I did. 

imageI’ve also rented Seven Brides For Seven Brothers last night and have watched it three times with the Littles.  It has brought back so many memories of watching this movie over and over with the sisters.  Of course, we acted out the whole movie alongside the actors.  I think Devyn and I renting West Side Story this weekend.  Another favorite of mine!

Why this weekend?  Well, Jon is on his annual fishing trip this weekend.  And I’m single-parenting it for the next few days.  Every year since 2005, Jon goes fishing over a long weekend during the first week in October.  He’s gone with brothers, his dad, cousins, Grandpa, and this year, with friends.  However, we supposed to received our first snow this weekend.  I’m pretty sure his fishing trip will look something like this.  And he’ll love every moment of it!

imageThe Littles have decided what they’re going to be for Halloween this year.  Let me list the costumes we’ve done over the years… A flower, black cat, caterpillar, butterfly, Snow White, lion, Dorothy, cheerleader, cowgirl, GI Joe (2 years in a row), Mulan, ladybug, bumblebee, 50s girl, cowboy, Tinkerbell, and cowgirl (different girl this time).  We are running out of options!  So this year we’re doing a Renaissance princess, a policeman, cheerleader (again), and Little Bo Peep.  I’m happy that almost all costumes are bought for and in our possession.  Now I can enjoy the rest of October.

imageI’m currently doing two Beth Moore studies, A Woman’s Heart and Believing God.  One meets weekly, and the other meets every other week.  It makes for a lot of homework!  But I NEED this!  I can always tell when I’m not abiding in His word…  Its ugly.  And this past summer was ugly.  Ugly in the way that deserves its own post, and I will, I promise.  But these studies, wow!  I’m learning so much, and loving every minute!

imageI’ve been having some serious discussions with family and friends about the title of Christian and faith.  I feel like I’m learning a lot about God’s desire for MY life.  I think so often we can get caught up in what everyone else is doing.  Looking to the right and the left, measuring our sins against the sins of others.  Saying one is too self-righteous, hypocritical, or judgmental, then on the other hand, doing the very same thing when we decide someone else’s sin is greater than ours.  I feel like God is really working on this with me.  “Right here,” I feel like God is saying to me.  “Keep your eyes on Me.  Look neither to the right or the left, keep your eyes here.  This journey is about you and me, and obeying my commands for your life.  If I’ve convicted you of a sin in your life, it doesn’t mean I’ve convicted another of the same thing.  This is about OUR relationship, OUR walk together.”  I hate that I get so focused on what others are doing, or not doing in their lives, especially when I have enough on my own plate.  But I really feel like God is trying to free me from this thought process.

imageOn Monday night, Hudson came into the living room where I was working.  “I need to be honest with you, Mama,” he said.  I braced myself.  “Reagan’s cutting her hair and I helped.”  I vividly remember telling myself to breathe and counted to 5, then 50, then 100.  Finally I felt calm enough to call Reagan into the room.  She walked in with a shirt covering her head.  I might have gasped, and teared up, when the shirt came off.  Apparently, Reagan cut off the top of her ponytail and the sides, and then Hudson offered to cut the back because she couldn’t reach it.  There was a good 4-6 inches of missing hair!  One lone curl was the only evidence that longer had existed.  We went to Great Clips where the hairdresser was able to clean it up and created an adorable, short bob on our Miss Rea.  I love it!  It’s a style that I never would have considered for my 4-year-old, but it suits her so well.  And she LOVES it.  Oy, I thought our escapades with scissors were behind us.

There you go…  Just a few random, thoughts from yours truly.  I really hope to writing some actual posts here soon.  I have much to say, but little time in which to sit and type it out.  Ha!

Moving On

Friday, September 27, 2013 4 Comments A+ a-

Moving on…

  • We’re about six weeks into the school year.  And to quote a teacher-friend, “the honeymoon stage is over.”  Yes.  Yes, it is.  Already I’m neck-deep in reading logs, field trips, and an hour or two of homework a night.  Both Hudson and Devyn gravitate to the math homework first, which would make Uncle Caleb proud.  But getting Hudson to work on handwriting and spelling is like pulling teeth.  I’m always ready for a glass of wine (or two) by the time we finish.

  • Transitioning to all-day school has been hard for my little man.  Only in the past week or two has Hudson stopped finding excuses why he shouldn’t go to school.  My heart hurt as I heard the myriad of reasons why he shouldn’t go to school that day.  And the one time he asked if he could be homeschooled?  Arrow. Heart. But I’m happy to report that he’s finally adjusting, and the excuses have stopped…

  • Reagan, on the other hand, is loving school!  As I knew she would.  She skips into class every day, and skips out again at the end.  In fact, at this moment, she’s desolate that there’s no school today.  She’s writing letters all over our sidewalks and driveway with sidewalk chalk, and often refers to letters as numbers.  She loves being in the same school as her older brother and sister.  Truth be told, I love it too.  I love hearing how she ran into Hudson or Devyn in the hallways, and how Hudson lifts her off the ground in a bear hug.  Be still my heart. 

  • I’ve read a few really good posts lately.  I want to share them here.  Matt Walsh, both radio personality and blogger, is a new favorite of mine.  Between this post and this post, I happily added him to my blog list and I smile every time I see a new post pop up in my reader.  Mary, whom I’ve “known” since 2006, wrote this post today.  I doubt she meant it to speak to me as much as it did, but I can’t stop thinking about what “being true” looks like for me.  And lastly, this post.  I may join the author in her prayer to see others as God sees them, not how I see them.

  • Jon and I have reached a really good place in our marriage again.  I’ve talked numerous times about hills and valleys in marriage, and once again, we’re climbing a hill.  I’m loving it!  Its amazing how in-sync we are at the moment; how needs are anticipated, then met.  I could tell you about the moment I screwed up last month (big time!) and how my mom lovingly (more about this in a minute) pointed out where I took a left turn, instead of a right.  It was humbling to go to Jon and seek his forgiveness.  But hey, if the fruits of my groveling brought us to this hill, then so be it.  Besides, a little groveling never hurt anyone.

  • My mom loves me.  She can drive me a little crazy with her love and affection for me, but there’s not a single doubt its true, deep, and unconditional love.  And because she loves me, she is not afraid to speak up and tell me if I’m wrong.  Because she wants the best for me, she will gently remind me which way is north.  Its frustrating at times, because whenever Jon and I get into a fight, her first response is usually, “Jenn, what did you do this time?”  Nice, huh?  But in all honesty, I can count on her to keep me accountable.  I will NEVER forget the time in high school when I lied to a teacher about why I wasn’t in class that day.  I saw Mom walking down the school hallway towards me, little sisters in tow.  She was a woman on a mission.  She marched me down to said teacher’s room and made me apologize for lying to him in front of her.  It was a painful lesson.  But one I remember, for sure.  I’m thankful for a woman who is more concerned about my character and integrity, than my happiness.  I pray I can be the same kind of parent to my children.

  • Speaking of which…  Is it just me, or is this parenting gig getting harder as time goes on?!  Seriously.  Just when I think I have this parenting thing down, I’m thrown a curveball and I’m forced to admit that I have no freaking clue what I’m doing.  Several friends and I have talked about this recently, and I am absolutely terrified for the teenage years.  Especially after talking to one friend, Natalie, who already has teenagers.  I have no doubt you may find me in the fetal position, under the kitchen table (which would mean I’d have to actually mop my kitchen floor) during the teen years.  Just send wine.

  • And lastly, I’ve somehow been suckered into doing the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5K in November.  Courtney and Christine have done the Turkey Trot the past two years, and this year I’ll be joining them.  Don’t ask me how that happened, I still have no clue.  I abhor running.  I’m allergic to exercise.  And now I’ve actually downloaded a running app and am doing a training program.  Me.  I’m still in all kinds of shock about it.  Even Jon is encouraging me to go for a run when he gets home from work.  Now, I use the term “running” very loosely here.  It’s more like a hybrid of fast walking, interspersed with random bursts of jogging.  Its all very technical.  Ha!  And Courtney insists that we’re going to wear tutus for the event.  Of course which means a tutu-making party has been scheduled and I’m sure pictures of said event will be forthcoming.  Lord help me, I have no clue what I’ve gotten myself into.

image

Life is like art…

Sunday, September 22, 2013 6 Comments A+ a-

images-3…you need to know where to draw the line.

We just spent an amazing weekend away.  Last year when Grandma died, some of our best friends moved out of state.  It was a lot of loss at once.  This was the first time we were able to get away for a long weekend and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  Coupled with Jon working tons of overtime, and six weeks of processing a life-changing event, it was great to get away and get some clarity.

Changed-Prorities-Setting-BoundariesLast month I wrote a post alluding to the said event.  I left it up for a few days, but eventually I moved it to my private blog.  (Why yes, I do have a private blog.  No one has access to it, not even Jon.  A girl’s got to have a space to call her own, am I right?)  I can honestly tell you that I have been doing some major wrestling these past 6-7 weeks.  And this weekend, with my own personal counselor available 24-7 for three days in a row (thank you, Mandy!!), I can finally tell you that I’m coming to a place of peace about the whole situation.

I am finally able to say a few things with certainty.

  1. Boundaries are a good thing.
  2. These boundaries have been a long time coming.
  3. Even someone as open and honest as I, can draw the line somewhere. 

imagesI don’t know why “boundaries” always seemed like a dirty word for me.  Or why they’ve been so hard for me to draw.  But its time and this is going to be really good for me and for my family.  We’re drawing a tight circle around our family of six and focusing on ourselves.  I’m still having a hard time writing out that sentence, mostly because it just sounds selfish.  But we’ve come to a point in our lives where its time to take a step back from circumstances and not worry about the rest.

Part of this weekend really let me come to terms with some things.  When this series of events began last month, I can’t begin to explain how it paralyzed me.  My self-esteem took quite the kicking.  My family didn’t recognize me, I didn’t recognize myself.  I felt like I was drowning in a sea of doubt and hurt.  I questioned my feelings, emotions, and actions.  I sought the counseling of two good friends, who helped me through those moments.  They gave me honest, clear, and Godly advice when I couldn’t see past the hurt.  Yes, sometimes the advice is not what I wanted to hear, or do.  But that’s when you know you have good friends.  They don’t always say the things I want to hear, but the things I need to hear.

images-2And again, this weekend has really helped to bring a lot full circle.  And I can feel some of my backbone getting stronger, some of my self-confidence is returning, and I feel I can finally say with some certainty that what happened last month has more to do with them, than it does with me.  As much as I want others to like me and believe the best about me, I can’t control others opinions.  Just like I can’t control the filter that is used when they watch my actions and question my motives.  And I can accept that.  The only thing I can do is check my heart and motives with God.  He is the only one that I should allow to bring true conviction to my life, not the false guilt that Satan likes to use to confuse me. 

Sigh.  Yes, that feels good.  And right.  And I’m ready to move forward now.  It feels great to be back…

We're Experiencing Some Rain

Sunday, September 15, 2013 8 Comments A+ a-

I'm not sure if you've heard or not, but Colorado seems to have made Mother Nature a little mad.  It started raining last week and it hasn't really stopped yet.  Within 36 hours, we'd received a year's worth of precipitation.  If you want to translate that to snow, it equals about 12 feet of snow.  That's a lot of moisture, in a short amount of time.

The whole state has flooded.  Not just one area, but everywhere.  I have friends and family that had to be evacuated, they closed a major interstate ALL day Thursday, they've closed schools, called in national guards, its been declared a national disaster, and rivals Hurricane Katrina for number of rescues by aircraft.  Here are the latest numbers per a local news station: 17,494 homes damaged, 1,502 homes destroyed, 11,700 people evacuated, 1,253 people unaccounted for, and 26 shelters open.

Unfortunately this doesn't include miles of highway and roads that have been destroyed. Jon has worked 41 hours of overtime (in addition to his regularly scheduled hours) in 3 days.  His road has washed away in spots, and he has yet to survey the full damage.  We were on our way to church when he was called in to join the assessment team.  I groaned, knowing what that cell phone ring meant.  Even more frustrating was that the assessment ended up being postponed due to the fact that it started raining.  Again.

I grew up learning about the Big Thompson Flood of 1976.  We grew quite familiar with the white signs peppered throughout the canyon reading: "In Case of Flood, Climb to Safety."  Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I'd see a flood that would surpass that flood.  Highway 34, leading up to Estes Park, is gone.  Completely demolished.  The bridge that we cross to get to the family cabin is gone.  I don't imagine we'll be getting up there any time soon.

This has been a surreal experience!  Watching flood waters overtake areas where I've grown up and memories made.  Trying to navigate through my hometown like a maze, as each street came to a dead end because of high water.  Its inconceivable to think that our beloved little town of Estes Park is completely isolated from the world, as every road in is damaged.  I've been without internet service for days (thank goodness for smart phones and blogging apps), but I refuse to complain.  Its nothing in the grand scheme of things.  Towns are gone, loved ones are missing, power is down, water treatment plants compromised (my sister is one who is under a "boiling water" restriction), etc.  Internet service is nothing.

Pray for Colorado.  We are a strong state, having survived floods in the past and fires in the present.  But I don't think we can wrap our minds around the extent of the damage, or the amount of time it'll take to rebuild.  Pray for the families who have loved ones missing.  Pray for the rescue workers and the emergency responders.  Pray for those who no longer have homes.  Pray for the...  well... just pray.   We're gonna need them in the weeks, months, and years ahead.