Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Agonizing Presence Of Pain.

*Photo by the amazing Erica Bartel

It rarely comes when we expect.  It is the stark reality of living and yet we pray with bated breath that we will survive this life without the aching grips of agony.  That we will sleep tucked safely beside the one we love, that we will watch our children grow, unharmed.  That what we hunger for will endure in peaceful security.  Yet to live is to accept the breaking, shaking, and harsh reality of change.  Those we love will die, those we desire may leave, we may get sick before our time, we may lose limbs, we may lose children, and if we are guaranteed anything it is that we will weather the storms of pain.

I cannot tell you that there is a perfect course through the grips of trauma.  I can tell you, that you will make it through.  One day, the pain will not crush you.  There will be a time that for a moment you'll forget, and that may be worse.

As we grow, most of us make it unscathed through this life.  We may hear the stories of so and so, their loss, the cautionary tales of what not to do, because we all know that person who lost everything.  Yet, most make it, keeping the terrors of life at arms length.  It's not until we're fully grown, or even more grown, that we realize the horrors of life are not so far away.  They are not respecters of people, things, or circumstance.  They come at the worst of times and they strip us and leave us fully bare in a room of people averting eyes and telling us to cover up.

Grief, hurt, these are not pleasant emotions.  They're not the topics of our girls lunches or our retreats.  They are for the moments when life has crushed and even then we wonder how quickly we can flee the uncomfortable stench of pain.

How do you move when you have lost everything, when what was once your security is taken from you.  How do you breathe when the joy of your life is robbed.  How do you move forward when you're given days to live.  How do we accept what at it's core is unacceptable.

The brutal reality of grief is that there is no easy way through it.  There are not detours or shortcuts.  It is ruthless and demanding.  The only truth is that we will make it through.  Head down, eyes closed, breath shallow, hurting in every way imaginable, there is nothing more physically draining than the endurance of heartbreak.

Don't cover up or try to hide.  Let it come in its waves.  There will be moments of laughter and you'll wonder how anything can be funny or if you'll ever laugh and feel the joyous course of mirth again.  You will.  You'll wonder if you'll come through like Frodo after delivering the ring to the fiery abyss. Shattered, a shell of the person you once were, given only to harken the eastern shores.

Grief transforms us, turns us inside out, changes the world from what was once an invincible life to the fragile glimmer it truly is.  No one is guaranteed their eighty years.  In fact, if one thing is true, it is that we will have to say goodbye to those we love.  And it will ache like nothing else can hurt.  It will alter us and we will be people acquainted with pain.

There was a day more than a year ago that my family said goodbye to one of their own.  We covered a white, infant size casket with red kisses.  Like a hallmark card, heralding everlasting love, we placed her gently in the ground and we wept.  We broke and I can say that there is a stark difference between bidding goodbye to one at the beginning of their life than one at the end.  Still, the hated pain lingers.  It burns like the icy cold and it breaks the spirit and freezes the bones.  It robs one of joy and holds for too long a moment, it's ache.

Time marches through our grief, through our long held breaths, and moments of pause.  It gives ease to our ache, and in it's hated reality takes us further from the pain than we necessarily want to go.  It separates and spares us the lingering in so great a moment.  It gives freedom to hearts trapped in torment and it kisses the burnt lips of brokenness.

We will endure.  We will weather these storms.  We will live, even in this life that has become a hollow echo of a long abandoned hall.  We will pick flowers from the burnt mountainside once more and what we thought could never be again, will be.  Our lives on this earth are not eternal - we harken to an ever distant shore and when we have born up under the weight of life and death and grief and joy - we will find ourselves sailing toward a sunrise of hope.

If you know one in this place.  In the grips of life's darkest moments - sit still with them, let them weep.  Don't try to feel what they're enduring, simply be, hand held, quiet.  Listen to them, pray, love, be gentle, and feed them.  Bring coffee and comfort, but not questions, advice, or explanations.  Just let your presence fill the chasm of emptiness - when you're in the midst, this is all you need.

In a few short moments we will bid goodbye to this last year and for some it will be one they couldn't bear to see again.  Already time is marching on and despite the desperate wish to hold it still, there will be the ease and freedom that comes with its passing.  For now, just breathe.  It's okay to sit in the agonizing grip of pain and weep for what you've lost.  Look forward, if you're feeling the sting of too much grief, there is a dawning and while it may not ease on these western shores - look east and watch the rising of an ever present sun.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

This Boy Of Mine

The air is sweet and heady.  One sleeps, quiet for a moment, the other roller blades in the rain.  It is peace and gentle for this brief interlude in our otherwise overcrowded day.  I sit, bundled in my husband's jacket, all of my coats too small for my growing waist.
Then I hear, "Mom, want to play?  Really quick, I won't kick the ball too hard to you".
It's easy, when we're settled, to ignore the beckoning call of a child playing in the rain.  Do I want to play?  No, I want to sit, cuddled with my laptop and tea.  I want you to raise yourself and go fully into this world, functioning well, and happily adjusted.
I got up, put on the shoes that were hurting my feet and played pass back with the soccer ball to the little blonde boy on rollerblades.  The boy that has my heart.  The one I miss, because as much as I am like him, I hide from his constant demands.  He is my socialite.  He is the one who is constantly on the go and I find ourselves filling our days with playdates and activities to fill his time, because it's what delights him.  Then I realize, I've missed so much of who he is, because I allow him to have full rein.  It's been a pulling back of sorts, as I realize how quickly he is growing.  How much I have already missed.  How many times I have shooed him away to finish the laundry, clean the house, or make dinner.  He becomes the after thought, that constantly occupies my heart.  It is amazing the difficulty of showing him how much I love him.  It demands that I play when I'd rather sit, that I talk to him over puzzles and games.  He needs me as much as I long for him, but time and life and circumstance often get in our way.
Today was the perfect enjoyment of one another.  As the little one slept it was just mommy and son, talking, laughing, and playing.  We filled the afternoon.  Not a lot got done.  Lists were ignored, laundry piled, and too much popcorn was enjoyed.  It was just us and for a while we were fully connected.  I hold to these moments, I recognize how fleeting they are.  Despite my longing to carve one on one time into our day it is often the first thing to fall by the wayside.  It gets disrupted with the commitments, friends, obligations, lists, and life.  The one I most long to cuddle and connect with is the same one that is too busy to settle into my lap.  He's too big to carry, squirms from my hugs, and looks embarrassed if I say I love you in front of his friends.  He is grown, this baby of mine, to just a child age.  An age where peers and expectation pull him from me, but his child heart desperately craves my affection.  He squirms and ignores that for which he longs.
I will miss opportunities in the future.  I will frustrate him.  I will ache to be the mother he needs and and at times I will fall short of even the  most base of expectations.  There are so many shoulds, should nots, and wishes that fill my heart.  It's not for perfection, but connection.  It's to teach him in my own desperate way that he is the joy of my life, the song of my heart, and I could not imagine this life without him.
His wisdom amazes, his kindness overwhelms, his love of adventure and fun resonate within me and as I trail along behind and watch him grow, I see so much more than my mistakes and mishandling of our time.  I see that despite my lack, my failures, my anger, my ignorance, he is growing and blossoming into exactly the man-child he is called to.  It is not as much my influence as my presence.  It is less my demands than my understanding.  It is playing in the rain when I'd rather read.  It is choosing him first and in so doing, loving him with all of my heart.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tis The Season.

*Photo by the amazing Erica Bartel

We fight desperately for the unique connection that comes with the Christmas holiday.  Imagery and hope fill us, until reality and tension leave us clenching to an ever shortening rope that unravels somewhere between Christmas and New Year.

Chastened to enjoy the moment while commitments and need bang relentlessly at our already overwhelmed door.  As deeply as I long to be present, I equally want to fill my cocoa with too much schnapps and pass out under the lopsided tree.

Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook show me the perfect skill of my contemporaries, the unrivaled perfection of their all together home and lives.  Their houses decorated with light and charm, their children coordinated and smiling gleefully for the camera.  I trip over legos, scold my children, and bake half burned cookies, the frosting turns to an interesting state of brown after all of the colors are mixed together while my back is turned.

Christmas.  Joy.  Peace.  Harmony.

Or is it Chaos.  Tension.  Stress.

The well meaning will encourage us to enjoy the moments, their pressing guilt fills us with shame that perhaps we aren't valuing the hand holding and joy filled eyes enough.  If you are like me, you cuddled close to whichever sleepy head found your lap in the wee hours when dawn has not fully broken forth and your tree twinkles it's glistening lights, hot coffee in your hand, and this moment is the heart clenching breath of I love you mommy.  Only for the light to break free from the nights hold and suddenly it's shrieks of we're going to be late, get dressed, leave the ornaments on the tree, stop unwrapping the gifts, stop eating the advent candy.

Because life is not a succession of picture perfect moments.  It is in the chaos, the stress, the wild unnecessary pressure that we find little treasures of joy and peace and perfection.   It's while the kids are screaming about hating cutting down the tree that we laugh and run and smile.  It's the memories built over cups of cocoa and weary hearts finding each other in the midst of this ever changing world.  It's laughing at twinkling lights while we drive around in our old car, the heat fogging the windows.  It is the breathless I love you after chase and anger.  It's forgiveness and gentleness.

Enjoy this holiday, your winter season.  Enjoy the perfect in the middle of the ridiculous.  Smile at a stranger, give whole heartedly.  No matter how desperate we are to cling to this season, we will fall into moments of stress, frustration, and guilt.  Let it go.  Breathe deep and look into dark eyes that are pushing tacks into the hot cookies you just baked to take to the dessert auction.  Then laugh and maybe take a sip of schnapps.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Acceptance Of Self

Somewhere, somehow in this journey I lost sight of my okay-ness.  I became less, I pushed my self, my needs, my heart down and expected myself to thrive.  I thought if only I could be better, do more, be something, then I would have value.  I have searched desperate to find a deeper meaning in my own existence.  Only to find that at this point I have resigned myself to my nothingness, my lack.  I am more filled with my failures than my successes.  I look back and think, if only.  I could have been something!

I'm not sure how long I have quietly succumbed to these lies.  To the broken half truths that fill my mind and keep me, head down, doggedly going around this mountain.  Maybe someday I'll reach the summit, but in order to do that I must believe I am worthy to step foot on the trail.

Our worth.  What is it that qualifies us, that sets us apart?  Is it the approval of others, success, a healthy family?  Is it simply that we are?  We are equipped in our mere existence?  This tosses the accolades of man and makes a sham of the highest regards.

If in my lowliness, a wife, a mother, a friend, if in this I am faithful, I am known - have I not found the greatest level of value?  

There is joy in our personal glories, our creations that outside of ourselves are esteemed, but who can call forth the quality of a man - another man, who themselves also reach and strive with the same ferocity and hunger that drives each of us to go further?

It must come from within our beings.  We must come to the place of deep acceptance, love, and value of ourselves - only from this place of peace can we strive to climb the mountain, swing from the heights, and reach the goals that we have laid out for ourselves.

It is in our resting place of self love.  If we strive forward and see our value in our plaques, then we will always hunger.  It is the same for the person who seeks to reinvent themselves.  If they cannot accept their worst, they will never be able to enjoy their best.

Perhaps this is a wandering of an over tired mind.  The losing of myself to a momentarily quiet house and the reflection of my youth in pictures.  I look at the me that was so desperate to be loved that she strived to earn what she could not see.  It has been in the resting and trust of myself and safety that I have found my place.  It is here, that I can see I have created my own stumbling blocks as I glare at my body, despise my face, and hate my wrinkles.  If we cannot see our glowing years of triumph in our lines of comfort, our softening skin, then we make a mockery of all that life sees as victory.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thoughts Of A Wanderer

In the quiet of life when joy is surrendered rest and peace is a hot cup of tea in tired hands we sit close and dream a moment.  We have lived a million places, have no idea what stability is, let alone looks like.  We laugh gleefully as we pack our bags and journey to whatever destination lies on our crinkled map.  We have experienced more, discovered treasures, and loved more amazing friends than I can count.  Our lives have been full and blessed.  The little people explore with wild abandon and travel this life with the same gypsy hearts their parents live by.

I don't know what it feels like to live in one house.  I don't know what life is like in the blissful comfort that comes from familiarity.  I don't know what it's like to see the same people every day and enjoy the strength of relationship from lives lived well together throughout the years.

I do know what it's like to sip a hot cup of coffee while we drive away from our last home, the lights fade in the distance, all of our belongings piled in the back.  I do know what it's like to leave my heart open, that friends I adore have full access, even if we haven't talked in a year.  I do know what it's like to be thrust in a situation where everyone has known each other since childhood and I am the outsider, trying desperate to build connections that my children might have friends.  I know what it's like to stuff my quiet, shy heart in the depths of me and talk to any mother whose child plays well with mine.

I have been so deeply blessed.  Our lives are not like any other.  In the shifting and travel, while we take what becomes the most stressful situations imaginable and turn them in to wild adventure, our family grows together.  Cords of unity surround us.  There is something beautiful in having nothing but this great world and a circle of love.  We don't have the physical stability of most, we don't have roots that go deep; yet we exist as a solid family unit, we discover hand in hand, we are the strength in numbers we lack alone.

Life.  May it come in it's beautiful gales and may we live blissfully ignorant of the raindrops on our face.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Serving My Marriage

                                                                                                                          *Photo by the amazing Kara Stewart

I do not want to be a part of the disintegration of my marriage.

I want to build what I could easily destroy.  Love what I could hate.  Serve when my expectations would want to be served.  Be present when I want to avoid. 

This man I married, may I always love him, encourage, protect, speak well of, give wholeheartedly, demand less, thank more, and always delight and arouse him.

This is my heart as a wife. 

They say it takes two to break a marriage.  I don't want any part in it.  I don't want a list of reasons or excuses.  When he fails me, may I remember his destiny.  Let my words always see ten steps ahead.  I don't want to be a woman pointing at what is before me, but one who reminds him of where he is going.  I don't want a list of reasons or excuses, why I deserve different.  There is no better than what I have.  I promised my life to this union and each day I want to live fully committed to this man.

So when we lie in bed and I remember we haven't taken the kids to the bathroom, I jump up and take them, without pushing the equally exhausted man out to do it for me.  His joy that it's taken care of, is more than reward enough.  Even when it's a close cuddle, kiss in the hair, and half asleep whispered thank you.  He is important and every way I can, I want to show him.

When our children are bickering, let me be the first to put my book or email away and stand to parent.  Despite how easy it feels in a moment to call from the other room.  Even when it feels like what I am doing is more important.  Let me not live fully dependent on him to fix every broken thing, but enjoy that when he is there he is quick to rush to fill any need.

When he acts in a way I don't agree, may I be found silent.  When I need to speak let it be privately with gentleness, love, and encouragement.  Remembering that 'a soft word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger'.

May I always believe the best.  When I start to worry or doubt, let my heart trust what I cannot prove.  May I push my fear aside, knowing that he is all he claims to be and let my heart rest, believing he is even better.

I want to see the man he is called to be and let him work out his journey while I stand beside cheering him on.  May I never point out his flaws or weaknesses.  Simply call out his strengths, reminding him of his great destiny. 

When he is tired, may I be a place of rest.

When he is hungry, let the work of my hands nourish him.

When he needs me, may I satisfy him.

I have found that the more I pour into our marriage, the more I am blessed with in return.  He is quick to surround and encourage me.  As we strive for the other’s best we each reap so great a reward.  It is not in the desperation of personal need that achieves gain, but the delight in serving what is not asked or expected.  We each are the others best defense and greatest support.

It takes two, but you won't find my hands pulling this apart.  I want to give my life to be the best choice he has ever made.  He is the best decision of my life.  So, when you see me building and strengthening, it is because I'm shoring us up for all the storms that life brings.  That when they come we are safe in a house built on a solid foundation.

Let grace sustain, faith lead, hope direct, and trust surround this tender journey of two becoming one.

Looking Forward

 *Photo by the amazing Erica Bartel

In my life I am being challenged in so many ways to develop my trust in God and understand the fullness of my identity.  As I process all that comes in various waves, I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you.  I hope you are encouraged and that if you find yourself in a similar place you choose to take the leap and live heartfelt in God's hand.  I have learned it is the only true place of safety, though it tends to present as the most terrifying choice.

As I have lost my identity in Christ I have lost my ability to trust my role in every other area of life.  My failures have stacked against me and I have had no where to turn because if I am not rooted and grounded in love then I am bent under the weight of ever guilt and condemnation.  When I am gripped with Christ and all that he has spoken over me - then I KNOW that I am more than a conqueror, I am precisely where I am supposed to be when I am held in his hand.  As I come to this and open to the the ruthless sense of trust I am broken by my fear of the unknown - what if God fails, what if he chooses to break me.

It is this terrible, trembling beauty of unsurpassed openness to both the wonderful and painful aspects of life, that gives me pause.  To accept and receive this allows for all that terrifies me to have place in my life and when I first glimpse the idea, only the evil of fear grips me.  To say yes to blessing and abundance is to say yes to pain and grief.  They walk hand in hand.  Openness to God is not an insurance plan, but a deep fountain of trust that receives everything his hand provides.  It is here I am fully humbled and here that I must completely surrender - not my will, but yours.  He requires all - of the rich young ruler - sell all you have and give to the poor.  He has set a stumbling block before each of us, what we love most and what we fear most.  It is the acceptance and action that propel us forward, this is why it is different and unique to each.  The way to Christ, accepts all he demands and holds openly all that once built like walls around our fragile, desperate treasures.

These themes have shaken me to my core as my fears have presented in harsh realities.  I have been cut to my knees in my brokenness and wanted to give everything up.  Turn, run, hide from what beats in my heart.  My greatest joys are also my deepest sorrows.  The places I have to push through to realize and experience my dreams are like the thorns hiding Sleeping Beauties castle.  They rip and tear me apart, but there is a prize waiting on the other side.  Choosing to step forward in bravery and trust, hoping that what lies ahead is worth all that is stripped away in the pursuit.

I may be fragile right now, but I am walking through a process of strengthening that cannot be undone.  God's goodness sustains me!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

When I Am Not Enough.

                                                                                                                                         *Photo by the amazing Erica Bartel

One of the surest ways to cut off your source of strength is to discredit yourself before you even start. 

My life I have known what it is to be shut down, told I’m not good enough, that I should stop.  

I strive to do well.  

And inadequacy haunts my every move.  It’s not that I’m afraid to fall, I’m waiting to plummet.  Movement and failure are inevitably entwined in my life.

I long considered myself a perfectionist.  As that was pointed out to me on a daily basis.  If my house were too clean, it was because I was obsessive.  If I worked hard it was because I was trying to prove something.  

It is only recently that I have fully understood the weight of these words and harsh criticisms.  It’s not because I am trying to be perfect, or even live a life of excellence.  I have become an absolute underachiever.  I am afraid to do anything.  I live in terror of not being good enough and because that’s not something I can change.  I live as less.

As our family has moved recently and we are needing to become a two income family, I have had to find ways to work while still maintaining my role as a full time mama.  This has involved cleaning homes, taking care of extra children, and recently applying for jobs in the restaurant industry.  

Last night as I bent under the weight of my husband’s very mild criticism of my writing, I shook in grief.  Why wasn’t I able to do anything well?  I am striving to work hard, to let go of the voices in my head.  And one repeated itself over and over.  “Who are you Cherylyn, what are you good at?”

As I erupted in broken grief.  I realized that all of my life, I have been less.  I have been wrong at every turn.  And now as my options are work in a servant role or put my children in daycare, I find that this has been my broken self image.  This has been the role I’ve claimed.  

It’s not my identity, who I am.  Serving is a beautiful grace.  Loving my family and giving outside of what I long to do, is a heartfelt sacrifice.  It is not wrong, ugly, or less.  It is only what I make of it.  

I woke this morning, still weary from my emotional meltdown.  Eyes swollen from endless wells of sorrow.

And I lay my head on the chest of papa God.  Who am I, Jesus?

And words like oil run over my head and seep into my bones.  You are beloved, you are destined, called.  Do not be ashamed or afraid.  Move forward and rest in my presence, come into my excellence.  Let me train your hands, strengthen your arms.  You are my daughter.  Do not look at today or tomorrow, keep your eyes on mine and I will take you forward in peace.

Our identity is constantly attacked.  Who we are is shaped and defined by the careless words of those around.  Arrows can get through even the strongest armor.

When you find yourself repeating a phrase, a heartless word, strip it down.  Find the source, what it connected too.  Then repent for allowing yourself to believe lies.  Forgive those who cast words like stones, unaware of how they break against you.  Then ask Jesus what he says.  

Let truth be your guide.  Walk in what you know, not what you feel.  

You are worthy, you are good enough.  You are exactly who you are supposed to be.  The painful lies and shame that have come against you are not who you are.  They do not define you.  Papa God has your identity, your role, your existence written in his hand.  When you forget he whispers it over you.  Just listen to His words and walk faithfully in his presence.  Break off the chains and broken illusions.  

This has been incredibly raw for me.  I hope it encourages you.  Strengthens you.  And pushes you to the excellence that is in you.  You are so much more than what has shaped or defined you.

Grace in the journey, peace in the storm, and hope in the morning.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Anchored Trust

                                                   *Photo by the amazing Erica Bartel

Let my life be found in the hand of trust.  May my heart wait, hungry, beating, for your glory to appear.  Hold my hope in your ever present goodness and let me stare with the eyes of a child at your truth.

There are no promises of ease or perfection.  We live, some are sick, deformed, others broken at a whim, suffer from mental atrocities, we die.  There is only the guarantee of pain that we know to be so close in this world.  With trembling hands we build our walls of protection, we are afraid to hope for an easy life, too aware of how possible it is to be taken at a moment.  In our prosperity we wait for our loss.  At every good we tremble at what lurks around the corner.  We have learned that trust is a loose ideal and hope a foolish dream of those unacquainted with the suffering of this world.

We take back our trust at a moments indiscretion or foolishness.  You are not worthy of my trust, you are not good.  How can I ever trust again.  We don't.  We hide in our walls of fear and anxiety, our hope a twisted vortex of waiting for the worst.

Storms will rage and as we wait for them, we miss the days of beauty.  We forget to live, too lost in our hearts obsessions or the dreams of someday.

This is your time.  To watch the glory of a changing world.  To hold close the growing lives that for this moment need your hand.  Enjoy what you have today, because we are not guaranteed our tomorrows.  Love freely, give wholeheartedly, do not get to the end of this life surrounded by your walls of deception.  There is no safety in fear, no protection in our battalions. The more we strive to guard and shore up our lives, the greater the misery that grips our hearts.

Fear will take you far from the path of life.  It will present your death while you stare at all that breaks around you.  It will grip your mind in the broken record of pain and failings.

Trust is like a budding tree, you know will one day blossom in the weight of heady blooms.  It is the foundation of hope that looks to the end of life and blesses its existence. It is not broken by the frosts or the waves that rise, it looks beyond to the cleansing air that breathes warmth and the changing tides.

Trust breaks me every time and hope laughs in the face of my fears.  It places me before the cross with the anguish of my brokenness and the reality of death that restores me.  Good is often found in great pain.  We find his presence in our brokenness.  It is the act of absolute desperation that pushes us into his goodness.  Do not despise the hard places that shape you or the darkness that sharpens your ability to hear.

Let us know God is good.  In the midst of life, let us believe in his mighty love and value for each of us.  May we believe that despite our hurts, the pain that surrounds - his mercy heals, restores, strengthens, loves.

As we live held in the grip of trust, train us to listen to the voice of wisdom, to laugh with the frivolity of childlike wonder.  To be a people given to peace, strengthened by hope, and protected by the shield of faith.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Often people in the church setting speak of this thing - Identity.  They discuss how you need to have it, that it can be found in Christ, and that it is a necessity for living well.  What I feel gets missed is what is Identity and how do we get this elusive, but oh so valuable gift?

According to Merriam - Webster

Identity is -
a :  the distinguishing character or personality of an individual:  individuality
b :  the relation established by psychological identification

This is just a small part of the definition, but key because I believe it was what we often think of when we consider our identity.

When I think of my identity I often consider what I do, where I came from, my successes.  I identify with what others say about me and inevitably those all work to become realities in my life.

The unique separation in all of this is that we often miss our true identity or in essence our true self.  We become what we've been called, what we do, we are either good enough, better than others, or not good.  We tend to not see ourselves as complete.  We are in process, attaining a goal, reaching, ever reaching to this higher and elusive height.  Why?  At our core we have not accepted and loved ourselves for who we are.  Not our accomplishments, our backgrounds, the honor of others.

This is what I believe the church is often calling us to, though we often find church to demand our true selves and give little to no value for what it encourages us to be.  Church is usually the first place to point to giftings, successes, attributes, and assigning personal value based on those who excel.  It is rare to find the father who works 60 hours a week to provide enough for his family, honored in such a setting.  Or the mother who gives without fail to her children.  Or the working family who struggles together to make ends meet.  It is not often that the secretary is given the same value as the pastor.

We identify and glory often in our roles, but fail to realize that these things are simply what we do, they do not make us or define us.

We are given huge value.  We have all been called with a destiny and purpose, though it will most likely not look like another's.

A server is often dismissed and rejected, while the CEO is given the head of the table. And while each has earned their status, neither award or reward defines the identity of one better than the other.


A word tossed often around.  Yet rarely given where it is most due.  Honor comes easy to those with status, but less often to those cleaning the floors. Honor becomes a hungry demand to the one who has not learned to give it.  Love, respect, value, and honor - these are all things that flow from the one who has learned themselves and understand their identity.

Identity is handed from the hand of Him who made us.  It is whispered in our hearts and spirit.  Is not the voice of our parents, siblings, coworkers, or friends.  It is the knowing in our hearts and souls that outside of what we do - we were made with a purpose, a joyful gift that when operated in, spreads, blessing to all with whom we come in contact.

I encourage you to learn to hear the voice of Him who made you, that you may hear not only His pleasure, but his unique plan and purpose for your life.  It will not look like anyone else.  Like you, it is a special gift.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hope Realized.

Hope.                                                                                *photo by the amazing Kara Stewart

It presses and pushes us to go farther, live deeper, see the dreams become reality.  It keeps us from folding in tough situations and gives us the strength to walk faster, go longer.

For years I have wanted a third baby.  I've seen their face and felt as if I was missing something, someone.  I tried to push it aside, but it stayed and often had me in tears, that this person, I felt so strongly, wouldn't get to be.  They would be an idea, a dream, a hope, but never realized.   I wrote about yearning for a baby and many of you responded.  I was encouraged, but also not hopeful.  I had resigned to the realization that we would always be a family of four.

What a wonderful, delightful, fabulous family it has become.  My children are full of joy, love, and adventure.  They are wild and always ready to go for the next journey.  They've dealt well with their gypsy parents and we have enjoyed every moment with them.

Then, when it was way past the time of longing or hope.  When everything was settled and we had reached the rhythm of living, we found that our family of four would really be a family of five.   My first thought was absolute excitement that this person would get to be!  I knew they were supposed to exist and now they are.

Then fear has followed swiftly, threatening at times to rob me of my joy.  Are we really ready.  Oh my goodness, we're going to have another baby.  It feels crazy and scary and wonderful all at once.

We are so far from the stage of having little people.  Our kids are practically adults.  Okay, they're going to be five and seven, but they need so little from me.  They have become my best friends and now we are not just rocking the boat, we are throwing a bomb right into the middle.

I don't know how it is going to look to be a family of five, but I know that it is going to be awesome.  I know that our children will all be loved, adored, valued, and wanted.

I can't believe I'm carrying my third and definitely my last baby, but I am so excited to them to be here.  To welcome them and to see the dynamic joy
they bring to our lives.

Hope, it whispers in our ear.  It murmurs secrets and then, it keeps it's promise and makes all things good.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Loving Our Babies.

Do you ever have those moments where you've lost it with your kids?  Of course you have.  We all have.  We've all stumbled and fallen flat on our faces in front of our most precious gifts.  I hope you apologized.  I hope you scooped them up and stared in their eyes and said, 'I'm sorry mommy lost it, sometimes mommy's mess up, too'.   I hope you then tried really hard to not do it again.

Very often I see posts that talk about the absolute failures we experience as moms.  I just don't always hear the recovery process.  I know that I have messed up a million times.  I am absolutely not perfect.  Sometimes I yell, sometimes I punish when I shouldn't, sometimes I don't listen, sometimes I'm so angry I need a timeout.  Simply because these are my sometimes, doesn't mean I can just let them slide, brush them off as having a rough day or that time of the month.  I have to build myself up so that I can do better next time.  I am constantly reminding my kids to learn from their mistakes.  I love natural consequences, because often I can point to them as clear punishment for my children rather than having to mete out any formal training.  But, how am I doing?  Am I learning from my mistakes?

A few things I've learned from messing up.

Say you're sorry.  Just as we want to train our kids to be quick to apologize, it is just as important to model this behavior.  I've found that we have precious times when I go to my babies, wrap my arms around them and tell them how sorry I am for hurting their hearts, for not being in better control of myself.  They are so quick to forgive, to love, and reconnect.

Try to stop.  It's one thing to apologize, but if you don't try to change your behavior or the situations that cause it, you're kids aren't going to believe you.  We tell them to learn from their mistakes, we have to be just as quick to learn from ours.

Know what triggers you.  It drives me crazy when we're in a hurry and my kids move sooooo slowly. The more I encourage them to get moving, the more they can't help but stop and stare at the butterflies.  I know this drives me crazy.  So rather than grab their arm and drag them behind me, I take a couple really big deep breaths.  Then I go to them, get down on eye level - I first marvel at what their seeing.  Yes that is the most beautiful worm in the world, definitely the biggest.  Thank you for showing me.  Now, we are going to be late, and that's okay if that is your choice, but I don't like to be late, do you?  Okay great, do you think we could run to class, then?

Whisper.  Seriously, the more angry you are the better it is.  When I'm absolutely about to lose it I go and get down on eye level and communicate with my kids.  Very, very quietly.  It's unnerving and terrifying.  They're usually pretty quick to obey after.

Change what you can.  Since everything breaks down when we are running behind, I've found that it is incredibly helpful for me to get up a lot earlier and have everything organized and ready to go, before waking my kids.  I schedule extra time, because I don't like being late and I know I react when we are.

Sometimes there are just rough days.  We all have them, even our best planning can't stop them.  Do your best to go with the flow, breathe deep, remember this season is so short, it is literally flying by, and you will miss it when it's over.  These are our fabulous and fond memories that shape our tomorrows.

I want to model my best to my kids and I am the first to admit my guilt and modeling my worst.  I am so grateful for their sweet forgiving hearts.  I adore their gentleness and I hope I can learn from them to forgive quick, love more than I should, and always believe in the best.

It's okay mama, wherever you are in your seasons of life.  You're doing your best, and that's awesome.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Quest For Authentic Joy.

I want to start a series about joy.  Probably because I've realized how much I lack true, authentic, deep, well springs of joy.  I know that it is there and available.  I know verses that say the 'joy of the Lord is our strength'.  I believe that it is ready and available for every believer.  Therefore if I don't see it as readily present in my life than I feel as if I am missing a key component to life in Christ.  And I want it, deeply, and desperately.

I'm not talking about happiness, the lightheartedness that comes with an easy life.  Rather a deep rooted joy that springs regardless of mood, circumstances, or people.

We have had amazing seasons of life, we've had difficult times, there have been moments that life has felt perfect, and others that it has seemed to tear us apart.  Life is full of ups and downs, but as I weather the peaceful and wild seas I want my heart to be set in a place of joy.  A knowing that no matter what comes my security is in a complete and total trust in Jesus.

Lately the theme that has come to me is to not trouble myself with our circumstances, whether we are where we want to be or not.  There are always things to change and adjust, I tend to be a person who lives hell bent on the future.  What am I going to do, who am I going to be, how big will my kids be, how wonderful life will be when. . .   I miss the dramatic and amazing beauty that sits before us.  I can't always see the good that is at hand when I am desperately living for tomorrow.

I have been taking care to be present in our lives.  To see the fun in the stages that my kids are in.  They are learning and growing so much.  They are already so different than their two year old selves. While I'm not worried about an entire roll of toilet paper being decoratively placed in the toilet then strewn around the house, I don't have the baby wonder at every new thing.  There is not a lot of quiet holding and wet kisses just because.  And that's okay, because now it's fun, conversations, competitive games, and time spent together.  Before I know it they'll be asking for the keys and wanting time away.  Each stage and moment is beautiful.  For now I'm a mama.  I'll be doing the quiet live in stage for a while as we expect our next one.  Life is moving at its own sweet pace.  At times painstakingly slow and at others so quick I can't catch my breath or freeze the blur.

Regardless of life and what we have or don't.  We are all somewhere on our journey.  I encourage you to revel in this time, whether of ease or struggle.  Nothing lasts forever.  But, we can find such extreme and overwhelming good in all of it, if we take the time to look.

A first step in truly living a life of joy.  To exist in the moment.

If you are struggling with joy, my heart is with you.  While there have been huge places of triumph in my life, I am still on a quest to live with a heart fully rooted in joy.  I hope that my journey inspires and strengthens you.

Blessings.  Cherylyn

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Heart Connection.

Growing up children.

They come with so little instruction and we strive through trial and error to best raise them.  It is easy to get well meaning advice along the way that either helps or hinders us on this journey.

I went in to raising my kids intending to parent, much like I had been parented.  Clear boundaries and swift consequences with love.  Only it wasn't so simple.  Disciplining my son turned him into a shut down little robot and my daughter became defiant.  I parented the same for both and felt like I was creating a spiral of destruction in my wake.

I've tried countless parenting options and work very hard to teach myself about what children need based on whatever expert is speaking at the moment.

Until I came to a place of absolute discouragement and unrest.  Nothing I did seemed to work, I was overwhelmed and ineffective.

Then I started pursuing the hearts of my children and in essence this has become the building block of how I parent.  It is more important to me to have connection than perfection.  These little beings are not my puppets, they very rarely bow willingly to my control.

I once felt very proud when I snapped my fingers and my two year old obeyed instantly.

But, I lost a vital connection and it has taken me years to rebuild and reform it.

We don't operate with a lack of discipline, we simply maintain a strong connection to the emotional well being of our babies.

It has completely transformed our home and our relationships with one another.  There is a sweet closeness that was lacking in our rules and demands.

Things are a bit more messy and heart connection takes precedence over obedience.  We still expect  obedience.  However, it is no longer a lack of understanding that guides, but a listening to relationship and following the pathway that grows before as we connect and nurture our children.

If you pursue love and consistency you will be successful as a parent.  This doesn't mean you'll have perfect robots or your kids will necessarily be what you expect, it just means they'll best grow to safely trust and love you.  They'll long to please you as  you long to hear and know them.

I see often the hearts of children overlooked in the demand for perfection and I watch as it breeds rebellion and discord.  I am not a parenting expert and my babies are still young.  But, if you feel as if you're missing something in your connection, I would argue strive for the relationship before the discipline.

Good luck out their Mamas.  You're doing a better job than you think.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Lesson In Faith.

The last few years have been a bit of adventure, more than a struggle, a wandering, a gypsy like existence that has taken us all around northern California and landed us back where we started.  It's easy to say that I want to understand life and our driftings.  It seems more than natural to want clarity, to want the why, when things aren't understood.  

It takes time to build a community, a home and each time I feel settled into one, I find myself pulled out, and thrust into another.  It's kept me entirely off balance and desperately questioning why we can't seem to take root.  

About a year ago I felt beyond my strength, trying to find the point.  Trying to clearly see God's plan, wondering if there was a greater one.  I felt abandoned, rejected, lost.  I had become completely separated from hope and needed answers.  

Nothing came. 

I simply began to understand that this - this is faith.  This not knowing, but pursuing.  Faithfulness when nothing seems to make sense.  Honor when everything feels dishonorable.  Belief when doubt swirls through my mind.

It is in the daily perseverance, of love, nurture, grace, joy, delight, hope that we define ourselves.  It is not in our friend groups, achievements, or perfections that we are refined.  It is the breaking of life's waves against our shores and being rooted on so great a foundation that we are unmoved.  We lift our heads to feel the spray and we trust, that the Great I Am who formed us, who breathed into our lungs, who called us out, has a plan that he is working through our lives.  He is the potter and we are the clay.  

But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'"  -Romans 9:20 NIV

I am often shaking my fist at the heavens, "Why God, why?"  More often on my lips than praise.

I seek answers and God seeks faith. 

And that breaks me every time.  I am not always given his reasons, I'm simply asked to trust and obey.  To walk by faith and not by sight.

I want to be that person, one who is led by God's voice.  I want to be faithful to the call, to follow the path that he has set before me.  I want to be whatever vessel he chooses to create in me.  

This requires the most difficult part, not just trust, but rejoicing in every season of life.  That what we can't see is as valuable, often more, than what we can.

I'm reminded of my longings to understand, as I reflect on our life, and the paths we've taken.  They haven't always been the one I would choose and often I feel pulled against my will.  Trying to be faithful and go where we're called, even when my heart is somewhere else.

In all of this, I am amazed at God's goodness, his faithfulness.  Doubt only robs the joy that comes through trust.

I don't have any answers to all the places we've journeyed, the trials we've overcome, the pain we've endured.  I only know that we are being refined by a great craftsman and if we continue to submit we will see the beauty of his finished work.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  -Hebrews 11:1 KJV

At the end of this may my life be marked by faith, a joyful trust.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

When Life Overwhelms

Sometimes, life feels so big.  It hangs over us in scary shadows and we look up, hoping for a glimpse of the sun, between the darkened branches.

Heaviness can settle and the tightness in your chest threatens to rob your breath.  Joy is a hope, forgotten.

I feel my fist rising and long to shake it at the sparkling heavens above.  The storm clouds in my mind so big, so dark, so dangerous.

These things come, as they always do, in waves, that pull our legs beneath us, and our faces seeking air.

We cannot prepare for them, only ride them out, in the hope that the next won't carry us under, take us farther out.

I feel this way right now.

It is in these moments, that I am given a choice for my response.

So, often I'll lie under the weight.  Too discouraged or broken to move.  I'll thunder at the heavens and push forward in my stubborn pride.

I'll make things different.  I will fix this world, this life, with my own two hands and I press forward in willful determination.  Only, to find myself back in this place again.

The whisper of surrender sounds like a curse in my ears and all I want to do is rail and fight and triumph.

Each time it comes sweeter, rest, believe, enjoy.  Praise.  Be thankful.


Even now, I look out and the grass is green, the trees hang their gentle leaves to kiss the ground.  Children's laughter carries with the wind and the call of the bird echoes.

Like Eeyore carrying his storm cloud everywhere he goes, I'm sucking life and joy into my black mood.

It's choices, isn't it.  When it feels as if everything is going to fall apart and truth, reality, and fear threaten our security, we get to decide how we'll react.

Will we fight our way out, curl in a depressed ball, or will we rejoice that nothing lasts forever.  That in the hurt and instability is a joyful hope, a peaceful surrender.

I breathe, and the sweet air fills my lungs.  I raise my hands and whisper a prayer of praise.  That in this, we are made stronger, His faithfulness is not dismayed by our circumstances.  In every moment there is a call to rejoice.

While I cannot control every thing that comes across my path, the realities I am forced to face, and the struggles that demand, I can choose my reactions and in the midst of the storming seas take hope, that there is rest in the bottom of the boat.

Even in this, my love, believe.
Be filled with joy and hope.
Do not surrender to your failings.
Or the voice that steals your truth
Fling wide your arms to the heavens.
Feel the scent of a grace filled rain.
Lift praise upon your lips.
Declare my pleasures.
It is more than your desperate plea.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Walk

We laugh wildly on our walk.  The trees let out their roots as we slip and stumble our way through them.  Too many children and not enough adults.  We march like the lost boys, hunting pirates, seeking treasure.  The long tumble of mermaid falls will be our victory.  We are neither nimble or quick, but we are filled with gleeful ambition.

They climb the dusty hills and slide down, shrieking in glee.  We watch them cover themselves in dirt and filth.  There is no mess too big for a child to find and slop through like a pig in need of the cool.

These are our offspring.  Wild and captivating.  They hunt snakes and hope for sights of bears.

We arrive at the cool spring filling with the cascading water of the falls and they dive in half starved for the chill, the slap of brisk against their skin.

It streaks with the dust and leaves trails of mud down their baby soft cheeks.

This is the moment.  This is childhood.

For some it was just a walk to the falls, but for us, it was magic, and mystery.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Love Story.

I fell in love with him on a rainy day and a quiet walk.  

Ducking in an old bookstore, laughing as we sat in the aisles, the rain falling outside.  We were young and carefree.  Desperate and aware that here was something real.  Fragile we danced around, loving, and yet so unsure we would stand the test of time.  

We wed on a cold, dark night.

We played house in our little corner apartment, in the old brick building, where we would watch the snow fall and the crowd that would gather at the bus stop.

We made dinners in our tiny kitchen and bumped into one another, laughing and glancing as we learned our story.

Then sometimes, when all was quiet and the fire glowed in embers, only the light from the street illuminating the room, we would dance.  It was joy and quiet, love, and hope trembling in the whisper of the new.

So quickly we were having a baby and suddenly all was real and it couldn't just be playing house or rain soaked adventures.  We had to grow up and push and fight our way forward.  

We argued over the ridiculous and loved foolishly.  

In our youth and innocence we made mistakes, we broke promises, and hurt one another.  

Sometimes we would stare at each other and feel the pump of anger and pain, the desperation to force the other to hear our side, our needs.

There were nights we'd lie quiet beside, not touching, too angry to move, to hurt to talk.  Sleepless we'd toss, exhausted we'd move to the other early in the day.  In the quiet, when only forgiveness and belief can draw you to each other.  We'd kiss in the soft and let go what couldn't always be fixed.

Then it quieted, the fights, the anger, the need to be right.  The rhythm of family and loving took over.  We learned our rules, understood our failings and abilities.  We stopped arguing over work times and needs.  

Gently we gave more to the other than we wanted for ourselves, we pushed harder for each other.

My needs became more important to him as his became to me.

Through the years, the joy and pain of life, we've still fallen in love on the quiet rainy days.  When the mists hang low and everything is silent, but the dripping of new outside, we find ourselves hand in hand, more together than we could ever be apart.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Like A Rainbow.

"Mommy come look!  There are rainbows!"

I step into the small corner she's found, where the early morning light reflects off the standing mirror, making lines of colorful prisms across the wall.  She kneels down, catching her purple gown under her baby knees.  

"Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet.  I love rainbows, mommy.  Aren't they beautiful." 

I murmur my agreement, but it's not the rainbow that catches my breath, it's her child wonder.  Her face that lights up, as a treasure greater than jewels, sparkles before her.  Her hair falls in brown waves and she is sleep, and baby, and innocence in a package that amazes me.

Perhaps it is how temporary I get her.  Each stage rushes by and I am constantly wondering where my baby went and marveling at the young lady growing before.  She will never be mine.  Like a dream that you don't want to leave, you pause, trying to return to the moment that came in your innocent sleep.  You linger in the early morning, holding close that soft feeling, even as it slips away and you wake, but through the day you catch the memory.  

We pause on the stairs.  The window panes casting their light on the white wall behind her animated face.  

"This is what I wished mommy!  When I held my eyelash on my finger, before I blew, this is what I saw."

I stop to listen, to enter her world, to hear the fleeting hope that youth and emotion will share, before superstition and age keep it hidden.

"I thought of rainbows and then I blew.  I got it mommy, I got my wish."

Just like that the magic is real.  It trembles in it's belief.  

She is like a rainbow.  When you get the chance to see one, you stop and stare.  You marvel at it's curve, the colors, the storm that is fading behind, and the promise it reflects.  Perhaps you take a picture, or crane your neck as your car speeds past.  Even so, it is fleeting beauty, it is a moment that can not last.  It is never yours to keep, but when you are given a glimpse, be brave enough to look.

Hold to the instant, when promise, and perfection, and life pause in your hand.  When you have the chance to touch wonder, be present enough to believe the magic.

*Photo Credit: the amazing Erica Bartel

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Heart Of A Mother

The air is sweet and warm.  A perfect summers day, the birds call back and forth, and the air moves with the electricity of life.  There is hope and promise and yet I feel the emptiness.  This swelling in my chest that these beautiful days of quiet are coming to an end.  School is around the corner, we're no longer in the five year gap.  Life is picking up the pace and my hands are losing their grip.  Already my son is desperate for the chase of friends, the screaming, laughing games that boys create in their wild imaginations.  I'm the mom standing by as he moves full throttle into his life.  It's what I want, my children to be their own person, to live well, and joyfully, but I already feel the cut of independence.  The sting of watching them grow.

So many things you wish on the other side, my if only's, and failures want to haunt me.  I dream sometimes of the two year old boy who broke me as a mother.  I see his angel face and wish so many times I'd been more gentle, more fun.  I wish that I could savor every moment of his baby chub and wild hair and ways.  I wish I could hear his raspy voice and feel the weight of his catapulting body.

I brush my hand over my six year old's coarse hair and breathe his dirty stench.  I love every moment he lies quiet in my arms.  I would treasure this more if I could.  I would capture every day in a bottle and stare into  these moments when I'm old.  They are the cherished fleeting breaths that come to quick to steal.

School will start and he will run to join the boys in play.  For a while he'll kiss me until he doesn't and I won't remember when it stopped, I'll just look back and wish I had it, a little longer.

Motherhood.  This journey of desperate joy and wrenching pain.  We judge ourselves so harshly, wishing always we could give more than we gave.  There is nothing perfect in our ways, but being there means more than we could know.  Loving is better than games, and child grace forgives even our deepest shame.

We will fail them, we will yell when we should be gentle, we'll scold when we should hug, we will push them aside for dirty dishes, and we'll miss so many moments.  Voices will come, as they do, to point out every place we wasted.  They will taunt and tear apart our fragile mother hearts.  Yes we could do better, but what really matters most?  When all are grown and the house is empty.  Despite our failures, our resignations, and our shame - did we love them deeply, did we kiss their dirty cheeks, did we fill their hearts with courage, and remind them of their skills.

Let go of all the whispers, stir up your mama heart.  You're doing great, no matter what.  You are the only mother that they have, the one that means more than any other.  While your counting out your mistakes, their watching the curve of your smiles, and folding the skin across your hands.

Yes, it is fleeting and yes it breaks us apart.  It is the life of a mother.  It is the courage that fills our hearts.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spring Has Come Early.

Here, now I stand.  I look and survey this life.  It's ups and downs, mountains and valleys.  All of the trials and joys that break and sustain us.  They come in waves.

The last few months have been beyond difficult, they have pulled me to my knees and broken me apart.  It was the grand finale to years of being displaced, waiting and hoping to settle, to find a home.

And home is coming.

I am excited, beyond terrified, blessed, and hopeful to announce that we are finally moving to Redding.  This week.

God has opened huge doors and rained blessing over us.

We are coming home with joy and celebration.

The long season of emptying and loneliness has ended.

Spring has indeed sprung.

I am amazed at God's goodness, his provision.  To credit this new transition to anything other than God's hand is to miss his opulent love, his unwavering faithfulness.

I have walked through the last few years, staring at God's face.  Eye to eye, ear to ear, desperate, hungry, and constantly unsatisfied.

I have grown in my ability to trust.  To rest, when hope has evaded me.  I have learned to let Jesus come close and breathe when my breath has gone out.

The last few weeks, as I have doubted and grown discouraged, I have been faced with a choice; wallow or choose joy.  As I delight in the goodness of God when nothing in life has changed, there is a mighty strength that sustains.  Grace has met me when I was most undeserving.

I am so excited to settle.  To stretch out our roots.  To give my children the joy of stability, the delight of family and friends.

I am terrified to relearn my place here, to find myself, after wandering in the wilderness.

Yet, in all of this, I have learned to walk, hopeful and trusting.  To rest when life comes, to laugh in chaos, and delight in the ache of waiting.

Looking forward to getting some consistency in our lives and sharing with you some of the lessons I've learned over the last four years of hardship and transition.

I may rest for a while.

Blessings to you in whatever season you find yourself.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

In The Night.

There has been a lot of holding on.

A lot of breathing deep.

The last few weeks, stretching into months have been an unending seam of hope and waiting.  It is said when hope is deferred the heart becomes sick.

I have felt that sickness, felt the sinking into my bones of nothingness.  When life becomes motion and joy a memory.

How do you fight what weighs you down and hides the sun?

Each night as we lie shoved on mattresses pushed together, hot bodies of our children cuddled close, and suffocate a bit in the room piled with what we've deemed necessity - our hands find each other.

They say when you get married you will wed this person in richer or poorer in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad times.  You build a life that seems blissful, yet everything they do or say is wrong and you chip and chip at each other.

Then hard things come and all those chips either tear down or mend.

It never comes when it's expected, this thing called life, that shows up at the most inconvenient times and throws you in the sand.

When you're struck with a battle you hope you've learned the skills to fight successfully or the wiles to survive unscathed.

In this season, I have neither been successful nor unscathed.  I have weathered and feared.  I have hoped, lost hope, and chosen to rest, to trust when my eyes can't see.

I have shattered.

And this man, this person I married, so many years ago, has stood ever faithful by my side.  He has endured, he has believed, he has not broken or despaired, he has strengthened me and encouraged me, he has loved me and held me, he has ministered and supported, all the way through this.  There is no greater hero to me than this man I call my husband.

He is a dream I have never deserved.

I hear often, women talk of their husbands and how they are not like their fathers.  I remember even thinking similar thoughts when I first married.  But, I have learned that great men are not born, they are made through the chiseling of life.  They are created by choice and perseverance.

The man you marry on your wedding day will fail you, disappoint you, anger you, and irritate you.  And if you stand there long enough - he will amaze you, sustain you, honor you, defend you, and love you deeper than you have ever hoped.

I used to tell this man, when we would fight, 'well at least we're getting stronger'.

Now, here we find ourselves, in a storm of life, the crashing and the breaking, and I have to share, I am more in love with this man now, than I have ever been.

As I watch his strength, his character, his tenacity, I am honored to be his bride.

And when we sleep in what is not our home, when all of life hangs in the balance, and we wonder if an end is near, he pulls me close and whispers I love you.

I kiss his sleeping lips in the dark night and listen to the rhythm of his heart, for a moment I breathe his breath, then I close my eyes and rest.  Here I am safe and here, I am found.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

When Life Does Not Go As Planned.

I had these fabulous plans of filling this New Year with blog posts from a warm corner in my kitchen.
Steaming coffee or tea in my hand while I regaled you with stories of my children's antics or delicious recipes.  I wanted to inspire your heart and refresh your mind.  This would be easy enough as the long awaited dream of my heart was finally coming true, my family was heading home and we were going to settle and stretch out our roots and enjoy all of the fruits of a life planted.

Then our plans fell flat before us and we stared at our dreams sinking like a long awaited drink into the every thirsty sand.

It was a little like the cartoons where they look at each other and shock, fear, anger, hurt, and grief run rampant across their expressive face.

We had to move, and all of our lives were packed carefully into boxes and placed into storage.  Necessities were tucked into suitcases and for the first week the kids and I stayed with family, hoping against hope everything would work out.  When the week stretched on we came to stay with Eric who was bunking with some friends.  We pushed our suitcases against a wall, grabbed mattresses out of storage, and have been walking daily through a season that is the aching epitome of waiting.

I had planned on going through this season like a brilliant star showing everyone how to exist when your expectations and plans crumble.  Then as the reality of what this looks like, keeping my children quiet, watching too many movies, living as carefully as we can in a home that is not ours, in a world we barely belong - I have crumbled.  Everything that was so important has been pushed behind me and my focus is on our hearts, how to go through this without being destroyed.  We have pulled in and are clinging to hope.

I have been cut off at the knees and I suffocate with my lack of power.

And here lurks the truth.  It is not in our stunning moments, it is not when everyone looks at our brilliance and points, to how effortlessly we maintain.  It's in our weakness, here, where pain and discomfort writhe, that we are made strong.  I don't like to share the hard things, sometimes I feel as if I play like a broken record.  But truth, in the moment, is better, than a story of hardship told on the mountaintop.

This is where we are.

A little room, tucked away in San Jose.  Waiting against hope that we'll be settled before spring.  That these seeds we're cradling in our hands will stand the test of time and we'll be planted as the weather warms and stretches and the dirt is ripe to hold our sacrifice.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Year of Dreams.

This life is full of uncertainties.  It will swirl you around until you can't take any more and then demand that you walk a straight line.

It is unbearable and exhilarating.  It is a ride that you have one chance to enjoy.  You either spend your time clinging desperate to the side, learn how to fake it, or actually find your bliss in it's dips and peaks.

We have allowed our lives to live us for far too long.  We have followed in it's wake of demands and fallen short repeatedly of what we think it wants from us.  As we pause, take stock of our yesterdays and hopes for tomorrow, the brevity of our future looms.  It will either flatten us or persuade us to push higher, farther, and deeper to our passions and longings.  This life is worth living.

I hope that you decide to take complete hold of yours.

As you are staring at your long line of resolutions, goals, or hopes for the new year, I hope that what tops your list is not lose ten pounds, get healthier, sleep more, exercise constantly, rather I wish that you would place first and foremost a desire to live fully, each, and every day.

That your goals would be to pursue your desires until they become your realities.  To not let go of your dreams based on your circumstances or your fears.  Go out there, pursue your hearts greatest wish.  It can only come true if you make it happen.

No one will ever 'discover' you, it is up to you to make yourself known.

Be your own shooting star.

Peace joy and love in this brilliant and fabulous New Year.  Here is to 2014.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Years Day.

Happy New Year!

What an exciting day.  I love the start of the new year, the freshness that comes from a blank slate.  I plot out my goals and hopes for how I want the year to go.

This start is the most interesting I've yet to experience.  My house has been placed in storage, my husband is 4 hours away, and we have no idea what is going to come next.  We thought we had everything lined up and then all of the doors that seemed wide open, shut in our faces.

It's an adventure and I am looking forward to enjoying every moment.  My children and I are up at my parents house, enjoying the fresh mountain air, and the soul cleansing that comes from being in the country.

We have no idea what this year holds, but we plan to find a landing place, to settle, to cultivate deep roots.  There's a lot of blind faith and trust happening in our hearts.

I am not clouding my new year with resolutions.   I don't want to tip the scales toward failure.  I've set some goals that I look forward to reaching and I hope to take you along the journey.  I'll be blogging regularly about health and wellness, reaching goals, posting recipes, and living a rich and satisfying life.

I'm excited for this year and I hope that you are, too.  I wish you well, the fulfilling of your dreams.