Saturday, February 17, 2018

Stars

It was summer, and nighttime, and I was all alone.

Not able to stay in my house, I went to the back porch. The front was too public. The world was in front of my house. But in the back? In the back it was just me...me and the sky.

I sat out on that back porch, and I gazed up at the sky. The blackness of the backyard world, and a sky full of white and bright stars. So many stars. 

My heart sat terrified, and I was alone. I was so so alone. I thought about him, and I was terrified, knowing he had moved on with his life. Knowing he was making all the necessary arrangements to move on and move on without me. Move on without us.

The insurmountable pain both caved in on me, and ignited from deep within, threatening to explode out of my chest. My life was black. As black as my backyard. 

But the sky...the sky was there. The sky was full. The sky was my friend. 

I downloaded an app that let me hold my phone up at the sky, at the stars, and see and name all the constellations. All the planets. It was this strange time of interest in our solar system. My heart longed to connect with the greater; with the far-surpassing. So I spent night after night on that black back porch, studying the stars. Anything. Just anything. Anything that could keep my mind from wandering to him. Anything that could help me forget that he had forgotten. 

Tonight, 20 months later, I walked outside. 

I walked out into the black night, and the air wasn't too too cold. If it were too cold, I would have jumped straight into my van. But it wasn't. It was chilly but it was inviting, so I gazed up and looked at the sky, and it was full of stars. And I remembered. 

I remembered lonely summer nights, reeling in the ending of the life as I knew it.

The sting may still be there sometimes, but that deep and intense pain is gone. And I realized that tonight. 

Every time I gaze up at a black sky full of bright stars, I can't help but remember the death of those early nights, and can't help but realize the stark difference between then and now. The stars felt so lonely and far away 20 months ago. They felt like they were so bright and so beautiful, and my life was not. But tonight? Tonight they seemed like they could maybe one day be mine. Like the volume of illumination they bring to the world below could include me. Tonight, they didn't taunt me as much. 

Over the past 20 months, I deleted the app. I no longer needed it. 

Now, the stars will always be a sign to me that life keeps moving. Life as in "the process", yes, but also, life as in the brightness. As I gazed up at the sky tonight, I felt awe at the beauty that speckled the world above me. I felt wonder, that such unspeakable science could be a part of real life. 

Tonight I soaked in a sky full of stars, and a confidence anchored me to the reality that I was still living and breathing. The death didn't kill me. I am still here. I am still standing.

Tonight there was an understanding between me and the stars. An understanding that understands that we both have our place here in this world. I am here, occupying my space; loving my children, connecting with my friends, and doing my best to high-five God wherever I can. And the stars are up above, doing their job; illuminating the sky, and being beautiful.

The stars radiate hope. They radiate beauty. Tonight, they radiated peace, reminder, and maybe even a little bit of purpose. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Happy 3rd Birthday Riker!!

My baby, my #8, is 3 years old!! 😱

Oh my gosh. Where do I even start with this kid.

Riker is like a little bird. A curious, mischievous little bird. He is always tweeting...happy, singing, gabbing to himself gaily; always dancing and prancing around....all while single-handedly (almost) destroying the entire house.

He is the kid you have to watch every second of every day, and the milli-microbial-second you take to blink, he has covered the house in marker, or eaten an entire box of graham crackers (and once he sees you coming for him, he just shoves them in his mouth faster...), or has three chairs stacked on top of the table.

This kid.

Nicknames include: Rikey, Kerd, Kerd the Terd, Turdy, Bubby, and Rike.

He is freaking hilarious. Like, oh my gosh he says the weirdest things and makes us laugh the entire time. You know, when we aren't completely stressed out that he dumped all the laundry soap all over the laundry room floor....

He's fast. Really, really fast.

Once or twice when I would turn my ignition off and take the keys out, I would take them out fast and dramatically, and would quickly turn around and look at him all weird and devious. Now, every single time I take my keys out of the ignition, I have to do it. If I don't, he says, "Mom! You didn't do 'funny fees'!" (Funny keys.) So me being a weirdo with my kids escalated to now I have to do "Funny Fees" every single time I turn the car off.

Riker's favorite movie is "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", and whenever it's his turn to pick, he wants to watch, "Missow Dwinch". And Riker is such an odd duck; he is terrified of the grinch, and yet insists on watching him. When the grinch looks at the camera, Riker freaks out, "Ah! He's wookin' at me!" But time and time and time again he comes back. We watch it every single day, and sometimes more than that. When the grinch speaks, in his true Jim-Carrey-fashion, Riker laughs and repeats all his dialogue. But he still gets terrified at the scary parts. I think he likes to torture himself.

We call this kid a "sour patch kid". He will punch you right in the face with a huge smile on his face, and then smile bigger and say, "Sorry!", and give you the biggest, most heartfelt hug. Sour, then sweet. 

The kid constantly has covers drama. I have to cover him up with specifically his ninja turtle blanket, and his giraffe blanket. Unless he's mad at me, and he kicks them off when I try to cover him. Then I walk away, and he wants to be covered because he can't go to sleep until he's covered. And we have this big ordeal of me not covering him up because he kicked his covers off, and oh the drama. But eventually his sweet-as-sugar side comes out, and he leaves the covers on. But if he loses them in the middle of the night, he'll call out, "I'm fweeeeezing!" and I'll have to go and cover him up. Sometimes many times a night. And he won't keep pajamas on. So...

He is a really cute kid. Like, a cute package. He looks like a cabbage patch doll, he has this munchkin voice, he's very bubbly, and everyone just melts when they're around him. 

This kid doesn't sleep, and it has driven me almost to the point of insanity. He has endless amounts of energy, and doesn't even need sleep to recharge. I don't know what he runs on. Probably my tears. 

He's VERY observant, and is always paying attention to my emotions. When I pray, even quietly to myself, he always says, "Mom, why you pwayin?"

He is constantly sneaking into food. It's pretty much his #1 crime these days. Not his only crime, but if Riker is quiet, 9 times out of 10, he's in the pantry, eating an entire box or bag of something. 

The kid will eat any thing from any where. The floor, the garbage can, someone else's plate...he isn't picky. The world is his treasure hunt and he's out to find all the food he can! 

When he does something bad, and you say, "Why did you do that?" He'll say, "Befuzz I wan' to."

He loves to do the dishes, and if he isn't sneaking food, he's probably at the kitchen sink, filling the sink up with water and soap. And brushing, and spraying, and all that stuff.

Just yesterday, we heard some buzzing in another room, and Riker was saying, "Ohhhhhh! Dat feez niiiiiice!" So we went to see what he was doing, and he had someone's electric toothbrush on, and shoved down the back of his pull-up.

Did I mention he's mischievous? Did I mention he makes me very very tired?

But? He also makes me so happy. Like, bursts of laughter happy. He is constantly touching me, and stroking me, and kissing me, and punching me, and all really sweet physical acts of love. He's always talking to me about his life, and he's very animated and talks with his hands and face a lot, and his eyebrows go up and down a lot. And all of it makes me very happy. 

I can't get on the ground without him climbing on top of me and riding me like a pony. It doesn't take much. If he wants to get to the top of something, he will. Flawlessly, effortlessly, and very, very quickly. So he gets on me and I then have to become a horse for the boys. But the years are short. So I do it. 

He has to have ice in his drinks.

His new word is "literally" (wit-ew-a-wee), and he inserts it everywhere. "My food is wit-ew-a-wee hot."

This morning I was taking a bath, and he was sitting in the bathroom with me, playing on a DS. The DS made a sudden, loud noise, and Riker gave out an astonished gasp, and said, "Oh, you sahed me Dod!" (You scared me God.)

A couple nights ago he came down the stairs with a pillow case covering his entire body. Don't even ask me how he managed to make it down the stairs. He comes down the stairs, covered in a pillowcase, and starts going, "Ooohhh, ooohhh!", like he's a ghost or something. 



But then, he wanted to put the pillow case on my head. So he put the pillow case on my head, and just laughed his head off like he was doing the funniest thing in the world, and of course I ripped it off and scared him, and he thought it was the greatest fun ever.








 He's a little pint-sized thing, but oh the power. Oh the energy, oh the passion, and oh the heart.




















Happy Birthday Riker. You completed our family in the most perfect of ways. You bring life and laughter to our house, and without you the void would be great. I love you tremendously.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Adventure Of A Lifetime (Year-End Review)

I began working on a year-end review before my life went sideways. 

Now, I can't bring myself to use any of those words.

So I'll do a different version, here, now.

2017 was a hard year. No way around that. 

In 2016 my marriage broke up, and yes that was hard, but in 2017 absolutely everything changed.

I began working again for the first time in 12 years. I moved away from the home we bought as a family. My marital status, legally, was finished. 

There never was enough money, there never was enough time, and there never was enough support. When we moved in April and size-wise lost half our house, it just seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back, and after that I couldn't shake the death that seemed to chase me. Looking back, I can see losing our home was probably too much for us. 

Sure, we had lived in a camper for two years. And we did totally fine. But life looked 100% different then, and so the two can't compare. We lived in a small space, but absolutely everything else in our lives was different. So the experience was different.

Clashing in my home seemed to "up" a notch this past fall, and by the end of the year I had lost my babies.

The year hit me hard. For so many reasons; specified and otherwise.

Still, I don't think I could be who I am now, without the shitty (pardon my french) year I had. When something or somethings bad happens, we tend to say, "What was the reason?" as if, we missed the green light so we wouldn't get into a car wreck down the road. And I'm not saying that kind of stuff doesn't happen, but maybe, what if the only "reason" something happens, is just so we experience death on some level? And by experiencing death, we change, just a bit? We are tweaked? We are never the same? Maybe my year was terrible, and the only reason was so I wouldn't be the same?

It remains to be seen.

I've made terrible mistakes. I've made great strides. 

I don't know that "everything happens for a reason", but I do think that even when terrible things happen, nothing goes unused. God wastes nothing, and He will use everything for my betterment. If and when terrible things happen, if we can position ourselves to still recognize our place in this world, which is lower than God, and we can choose trust, then I think it will all turn out ok. I don't know what "ok" looks like, but I think in the end, it all looks beautiful. And again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So we choose what we see. 


I'm not feeling terribly inspired by the year we just closed out. Still, I feel it's necessary to mark it. Let's see, what can we focus on that was good and fun?

Took my first vacation with just the kids this past summer. I mean, I've traveled across the country by myself with them before, but I always have met up with family. This was the first time we did a whole vacation by ourselves. And it was a really fun trip. We ended up at the most fun campground, and we had an amazing week. Read about it here.

My sister got married, and it we had a long weekend of family, food, dancing, laughter, and so much more. It was a huge celebration, and I am so thankful that my life includes all the people involved. To read about it, click here to start on the first day, then at the end of the post, click "newer post" to read the next day. 

I ran my first 10k. The kids and I did the Color Run (5k).

I got to travel to Georgia twice. Once for an amazing Women's Conference, where I heard the Lord so clearly, made new friends, had a great time, and healed a huge bit, and the second for a Thanksgiving trip filled with friends and family. 

We had lots of friends come into town to see us, and we got to travel to see lots of friends, old and very dear. 

Again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When I began writing this, I very much had a pessimistic outlook. But the year wasn't a wash. It was death covered in days, yes, but it was also life covered in moments. It's good to keep stock, lest we forget. 


*****

I view my life a lot in the context of songs; song titles and song lyrics. Song melodies and the emotions songs elicit. Around the time I was praying and pondering '17 ending and '18 beginning, the Lord pointed out this song. 

Do you ever feel like songs can speak to you or for you, when you can't speak to and for yourself? Regarding this song, right when the electric guitar begins at the very beginning, I was pulled in. Just because of the guitar. 

The song is older, but I never paid much attention to it until recently, when it began making the rounds on the music at my salon.

I was immediately pulled in by the guitar, and then the entire song's composition had me hooked, and after a few weeks, I googled the song to learn more about it. 

This is where the clashing of life ideas happened; I saw the song title, and knew God was speaking to me. I didn't even need lyrics, because the music was enough, but then when I looked at the lyrics, I knew it was my song for 2018. It was my theme for 2018. "Adventure of a Lifetime". 

The lyrics are pretty perfect. 

Certain parts talk about wanting to share this adventure with someone specific, "with you". I can't say that I wouldn't love someone to share my life with, and someone specific to share any and all adventure with. And I'm sure that's ok. But my goal, and maybe we can put that down for "2018 goals", is not to seek out a person, but to seek out my creator. Sure, I'm fully human. Absolutely, those needs are there. But aside from the times the loneliness just flares up, I try not to reside in that waiting anymore. That waiting for that person. 

This past summer I was really confused, and thought maybe I wasn't finding someone because I wasn't looking. I chronicled it all here

I am still not 100% sure where I land. I feel, and tend to lean towards believing, that God told me to wait. It's terrible that I wouldn't be concrete, but you have to understand my hurt has been great, and I never want to be in a position where my hurt speaks louder than truth, and it tries to save me from my pain. I never want to be in the place where my soul has created an escape from the fire, and it isn't based in truth, it's based only in self-preservation. 

I guess I'll rabbit trail and give you guys more of an update. 

I've gotten to where I am ignoring each and every guy, because I'm waiting on "the one". Not ignore them as a person, but whatever advances or flirtations they are throwing my way, I completely disregard and act like it isn't happening. Or, if they are out-right, and ask me out, I just say, "no". If I catch wind my friends are trying to hook me up, I go into overdrive, making sure they understand I am completely uncomfortable with it. I have no interest in flirting with men, I have no interest in having my ego stoked, and I cringe at the thought of the modern dating world, where you get to know about a thousand humans and somewhere in the process you maybe find your mate. I just want to be with the one person on earth created for me. If it even works like that. 

And on one hand, if this is right and God is bringing "him" to me at some point, then good. I'm doing the right thing. But, if we're ten years down the road and I'm still alone, waiting on "the one", then I've been so completely wrong.

I'd like to think when I meet "the one", I'll know, but if I'm so busy waiting for "the one" and "the one" shows up looking a bit different, and I ignore him 'cuz that's kind of what I do, then...yeah. Those are sort of my thoughts at the moment.

And then there are the times when my loneliness flares up, and I abandon every above thought. But thankfully the loneliness (...the heaviness of it, because it always stays on some level...) doesn't last long, and I am able to move on with my life. Different things will make it flare up, but I'm thankful the crazy doesn't last.  

And I'm not even going to apologize to you guys for the craziness of my thoughts. They are what's going on right now, and I accept them and I accept where I am in life.

So yeah, there was an impromptu update on my relationship life.

But my point in the lyrics was, the adventure is with God. I wouldn't say "no" to God adding a human to the mix, but if He doesn't, it's ok. It's not what I'm asking for anymore. And in total transparency, I DO ask for it. Just not a lot. Only when I am feeling heavy. Or lonely. 

I know that the biggest adventure I can ever have, is with Him. The Lord. I don't want to get swept away in human romanticism, and miss the Lover of my soul. 

And the lyrics are so much more than doing an adventure with a person. It talks about the weight and pressure we go through turning us into diamonds. What if that's how God sees all of us—all of us who go through terrible things? Diamonds in the rough? 

Anyway, I won't go on spoiling the song. Just listen to it. Even if you have a million times before. Listen to it and pay attention to the lyrics. (Song and lyrics at the end of post.)

Will 2018 be my adventure of a lifetime? I don't know, and by what scales (?) is even more of a question. What sort of an adventure will it be?

On my Thanksgiving trip this past November, the Lord began to open up my brain to the ideas of adventure, and much-needed adventure at that. The Lord showed me many human stories, and also scripture, that talks about the significance of adventure and purpose in our lives.

I am long overdue for a good adventure. 

Maybe I won't find my mate, and maybe I won't fall in love; maybe I won't travel the world. Maybe I'll grow to know the Lord in life-changing ways. Maybe I'll grow to love myself and find out who I really am. Maybe I'll deepen friendships and be exposed to the deepest places the human heart can go. Maybe adventure won't be so epic...maybe it will just be quiet, and completely transforming.

I really don't know. I'm learning my timeline and God's rarely match up. And things rarely happen big and fast. But how cool would it be if they did? 

Anyway. Just dreaming out loud. 

The only One who knows what 2018 has for me and my 8, is the very One holding us dear, and making a way for us. So I rest in that. I find my satisfaction and peace in that. 

Whether epic and big, or whether subtle and transforming. Whether human love or only God love. Whether loud, or whether quiet. Whether in plenty, or in little. 2018 is MINE because I am living, and breathing, and God has purpose for me. Even when I can't see it. Even when I couldn't see it. Even when I thought it all was over. He never ceased His good work in my life. 2018 is MINE, and I am excited to own it. Even if owning it looks differently than I had first imagined.

Here is Coldplay's 'Adventure Of A Lifetime' (lyrics at the bottom).



turn your magic on
Umi she’d say
everything you want’s a dream away
and we are legends every day
that’s what she told me
turn your magic on,
to me she’d say
everything you want’s a dream away
under this pressure under this weight
we are diamonds
now I feel my heart beating
I feel my heart underneath my skin
and I feel my heart beating
oh you make me feel
like I’m alive again
alive again
oh you make me feel
like I’m alive again
said I can’t go on, not in this way
I’m a dream that died by light of day
gonna hold up half the sky and say
only I own me
and I feel my heart beating
I feel my heart underneath my skin
oh I can feel my heart beating
cause you make me feel
like I’m alive again
alive again
oh you make me feel
like I’m alive again
turn your magic on, Umi she’d say
everything you want’s a dream away
under this pressure under this weight
we are diamonds taking shape
we are diamonds taking shape
if we’ve only got this life
this adventure oh then I
and if we’ve only got this life
you get me through
and if we’ve only got this life
in this adventure oh then I
want to share it with you
with you
with you
yeah I do
woohoo
woohoo
woohoo

Sunday, February 4, 2018

A Few Things

Hey guys!

THANK YOU for the outpouring of love after my last post. This online community is crazy-powerful. You guys consist of people I've known my entire life, people I've never met, and everyone in-between. How thankful I am to have each and every one of you in my life, regardless of the length of time I've known you, and regardless of the capacity in which I've known you. 

Thank you for consistently taking what I'm giving you, and treating it carefully and with complete love. How wonderful you all are to me. 💕

*****

People keep asking me if I'm on Twitter, so I thought it about time to address the issue at hand. 

I have a new Twitter account. And it has zero followers. 😅

I just want to walk away from the old one. Rather than save it and try to change the username, I think I'll just start from scratch. 😊

And I had a million issues in trying to set this new one up. For months, it would tell me "something went wrong" and it would time out. Then I went back and checked on it last week, and all of a sudden, there was the new account I had set up. So whatevs dude. 

So look me up, or click on my name, or something. Or don't. I'm not hugely active on Twitter, but I always like to keep my options open. 

Follow me here.

*****

Lastly, I wanted to give a shout-out to a blog that I love. It's called LaBeaute

Elle is the proud owner, and she featured me in a blog this past October. To check out the inspiring post on Women Empowering Women, click here.
I love her blog for so many reasons. But I think it is best summed up by reading her "about me" section. Here, she shares her heart about her passion for beauty, and to her, beauty is so much deeper than surface-level, and more vast than just the human body. She states, "Beauty doesn't have a weight limit". Oh, how I love that!
Check her site out, and grow in all the beauty this world has to offer! 💗

*****
That's all I have for right now, my wonderful peeps. Talk to you all soon! 😘

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I Won't Forget

On December 19th, my world changed forever.

My world froze, on that date, and I got stuck, against my will.

I received a message. I lost my babies. 

Life stopped, and forevermore I lived there, as I waited for them to come home. 

The advent calendar waited on someone to place the ornament on December 19. December 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25....bare. Just bare. Waiting.

The rice krispy treats sat in my pantry, waiting on 7 little bodies, with their 14 hands and 70 fingers, to decorate them. The icing and sprinkles sat quietly in their containers, eerily still in the stark contrast to the solid shakes and outbursts of laughter and creativity that was supposed to fill their existence.

I filled the living room with their presents, incase something changed and they were able to come home for the holiday that they were already supposed to be spending with me.

*****

I shake my head violently, and refuse to acknowledge Christmas. It's not Christmas. They aren't here with me. And my heart goes out to the one left behind, the one who needs Christmas. So I muster up all the energy I can, and I do Christmas different. We eat out for brunch. We go and see a movie. And looking back now, that was a very warm time, and those are very fond memories. And I'm thankful for them. 

I stay up way too late, watching tv, terrified to turn it off and face my life. Terrified to try and go to sleep, knowing they are out there, somewhere.

I turn on Brian and Jenn Jonhson's "After All These Years" album, because it was suggested to me by a friend, and it is the only thing that will help me sleep. I play it on repeat. For weeks, I play it on repeat.

I wake up crying in the middle of the night. My pain propels me out of my sleep, and as I crash into the real world, as if I'm going through solid glass, the reality hits, and I sob, and sadness falls heavily down my cheeks. What always gets me is I don't even have a thought before the tears come. My heart and soul knows long before my sleepy mind does, and my body mourns, even though I didn't give it permission to.

Sometimes, as I try to fall asleep at night, I have panic attacks. My pain overtakes my being, and I can't find breath, and I writhe in agony, and I call out to God...the God Who sees all. And I will never forget Him calming me down. I will never forget going from alive death covered in trauma, to stillness, and even though my cheeks were still wet, and my heart couldn't forget, I laid my head down, closed my eyes, and was able to fall asleep.

I will never forget Him meeting me in those terrible, torment-filled nights.

I'll never forget waking up crying, and the words from the song on my phone sang, "Sovereign, high above it all. Sovereign, You are. And I can rest, it's all in Your hands. Sovereign, You are."

I'll never forget New Year's Eve, hours after being asleep, wrestling, somewhere between being asleep and being awake, fighting the taunts, and the injustice, and the pain, and the music from my phone suddenly piercing the darkness. Even though I had not touched the volume, the words rang out loudly like someone had just un-muted it, "and when the night is closing in, don't give up and don't give in, this won't last, it's not the end, it's not the end, you're gonna be ok..."

I grabbed my phone and cried out in the silence of my empty house, as tears blurried my vision, "Jesus! Don't let me forget these things! I hear You! I know You're here! Please! Don't let me forget!"

If you're going through something terrible, or you know someone who is, may I recommend this album to you? The whole album is great, but the two songs that sort of carried me through the darkest of the storm, and always seemed to be playing when I woke up in the middle of the night, covered in grief, were "Gravity", and "You're Gonna Be Ok".

I sort of stayed away from "You're Gonna Be Ok" at first, because it was too easy. It was a perfect song for my situation, with perfect lyrics, and I couldn't just go to it. I couldn't just jump onto something perfect without knowing first if it was mine. But when I woke up in the middle of the night, and the above lyrics were playing, I knew then, that it was my song.

I would love to share these two very intimate and important songs with you. I hope they bless you the way they blessed me.

While I woke up all throughout this song during my ordeal, waking up at 4:37 is what is entrenched in my brain. 



And in this song, at 2:56, was what blasted through my half-sleepen darkness. And I will never forget it.



When the literal night was closing in, and I was sinking to an unreachable depth, God literally cut through my despair and reached me, and told me when the night was closing in to not give up. It wouldn't last and it wasn't the end. 

And I will never, ever forget it.

I'll never forget the endless friends, who were constantly checking in on me, not taking my silence for an answer. Threatening to come over, or send their husbands, or call for help if I didn't respond. The volume of the quality of the people in my life was made completely clear to me, during this time.

When I received the terrible news, I was at work. You think it only happens in movies, but when I got word, the world around me literally stopped, and I fumbled and stumbled around the salon, trying to make sense. Trying to find air. Trying desperately to believe what I had just been told, when everything in me rejected it, and fought it down to the depths and shreds of what makes sentences sentences and ideas ideas. What makes reality reality, and do we really have to accept it? Letters and words and humans and power. A swirling vortex.

I received the news when I was at work, and I was by default, surrounded by a colony of women. Oh what a blessing it was to have people to cry with, and pray with, and people to get mad with me. All I could think was, "I'm so glad I'm not at home, alone!"

*****

I talk to the kids on the phone when I get the chance. Less-than-quality conversations, nowhere near meeting the needs in all our hearts.

I can't bring them anymore sadness, so I cover my pain, hoping to make their time away from me more bearable. 

How I ache to hold them. How I ache for the fear to be once-and-for-all gone from my life. How I ache to get them back. 

Christmas will stay at my house until they return. We will celebrate, even if it's March. 

*****
I asked God all the hard questions. Well, let's be fair; sometimes I asked, and sometimes I accused.

"You think I deserved to have them taken away. You think I wasn't a good enough mom to keep them."

Didn't You see me give up all that sleep? Didn't You watch me mother eight newborns? Didn't You see me tend to puking kids in the middle of the night? Thirsty kids in the middle of the night? Bad dreams? Growing pains? Didn't You see me give up my bedroom to multiple hurting children who needed their momma? Didn't You see me put traumatized toddlers back to bed for the umpteenth time, well past midnight?

Didn't You catch every boo-boo kissed? 

Didn't You overhear every word of encouragement spoken?

Didn't You watch me go without so my children could have?

Didn't You see me never withholding affection from my children? Didn't You see all the hugs, cuddles, and kisses? 

Didn't You catch the tremendous amount of work and effort put into developing each and every child to be themselves and unique? 

Didn't You watch me fight for these children, time and time and time again?

Didn't You watch me make sure these children were culturally exposed so they wouldn't be small-minded?

Didn't You see every meal cooked?

Didn't You see children cooking with me?

Didn't You see my efforts to instill in them healthy lifestyles?

Didn't You see date nights with each child?

Didn't You see every time I taught them about You?

Didn't You see every time I taught them right from wrong?

Didn't You see how when I wanted to give up, I just kept going?

Didn't You see me taking the whole romantic-relationships-thing seriously? Didn't you see me pushing aside finding a mate so I could focus on them? Didn't you see me being uber picky with the guys that show interest? Didn't you see me taking the whole process very sincerely, because not only did I need someone solid for myself, but someone solid for them? Worthy of them? Didn't You see me stay single, so I could wait and find Your best? And wasn't wanting Your best hugely about them?

Didn't You see me take them to church?

Didn't You see me strive to do the right thing, so they would learn to do the right thing?

Didn't You see me drive them to every single thing?

Didn't You hear every single thought process happening in my brain, regarding these children?

Didn't You watch as I walked them through hell?

Didn't You pay attention when I put myself last? 

Didn't You hear every joke cracked? 

Didn't You hear all the laughter?

Didn't You see every smile? 

Didn't You see every fond gaze?

Didn't You hear every kind word?

Didn't You watch me trying to be there for them? Didn't You see me determined to never give up on them?

Didn't You receive every weighty ounce of prayer?

Didn't You know I trusted You to take care of them?

Didn't You know that I trusted You to meet my every need?

Didn't You see all I gave up to be their mom?

If all the work I put in, over the years, doesn't equal a good mom, then what the hell does??

*Selah*

...And yet, even my merits couldn't erase the humanities about me. Even my best efforts couldn't eliminate the things about me that made me flesh.

*****

When I first lost the kids, I said to God, "I lost my husband. I lost my best friend. I lost my love. I lost my family. I lost my home. I lost my dreams. I lost my income. I lost my security. I have lost absolutely everything. If You take away my kids, You and I are done. This is a game I no longer want to play."

*****

You think about things. 

When my oldest was born, I was barely 18. I was young, still very much a teenager, and yet there I was, a first-time mom, and responsible for this brand-new life. 

What should have been a joyous time in my life, was colored darkly, right from the start. 

As soon as I got her home, I was attacked by people, who pounced on me, and bred deep, deep insecurities in me. One thing they did was threaten to have my rights terminated, because I was an "unfit mom". 

I didn't realize until very recently, that the fear they instilled in me, from the time my first moments as a mother began, crippled me, and I believed as deep as my heart would go, that if I showed any flaw as a mother, I would have my kids taken away.

I carried that my entire life, forward.

As the years went on, I was able to loosen up and show flaws, but I never could shake the fear that one wrong move and they would be gone.

..

When I was a young adult, and a new mom, I lived with my parents. Our next-door neighbor was a wonderful woman, who was battling in court for her kids. She had two little girls, and her ex-husband was a judge in our county. Even though she had raised and had done absolutely everything for her children, her ex's legal status made her plight nearly impossible. I chronicled the story in my book, Neighbors.

She ended up completely losing both of her girls.

I didn't realize it until recently, but this has hung over my head heavily. The injustice done to her. The lack of sense that came from it. The fact that everyone was praying for her and it still didn't go her way.

I didn't realize it until recently, but the fear over her situation stayed with me, and never left me. I never let it go, and buried it deep in my psyche.

..

I realized, once it happened, that I was expecting and waiting on that text, every single day. The text that would say, "You aren't getting them back." I realized after it happened, that I lived in fear, waiting for it to happen.

..

In the early days of losing them, I was in a heap of human, on my closet floor. 

I was praying, and the Lord began to speak to me. He spoke many things, but one thing He said to me was this:

"This happening to you is a gift, because your deepest fears are being realized. And when I resolve it all, you won't be afraid anymore."

I was immediately reminded of a blog post I wrote (although I couldn't find it in the minute or so I had to look...if anyone sees it, let me know!), about how I really felt God was walking me through my deepest of fears, through this whole divorce process. 

God told me He is Elohim, and He is the God Who sees. 

He said, "I am walking you through your deepest fears right now, but the key term is, "walking you through". I am right beside you, holding you. I'll never leave your side. I'll never stop holding you. This may not bring you a lot of peace right now, but it doesn't change what is happening."

He said, "I am God. I am Elohim. I am the God Who sees your life. I am the God Who watched you choose babies, time, and time, and time again. I am the God Who watched you pick them over you. I am the God who watched you hurt when they hurt. I am the God who watched you sit down and stop life, so they could be reached. Rest in your good efforts, rest in my good nature. I am good despite your good efforts, but know I have seen all of the work you've put into those children. Know I've seen. I've seen."

You never realized two words could impact you so profoundly, but Him saying "I've seen" still to this moment unravels me.

God poured on me during that time of prayer. He said many more things to me. 

I had enough sense to write it down, just not enough sense to believe Him. 😅

*****
I was faced with oh so many things during this time.

I was faced with my own idolatry. I was faced with the fact I put my kids above God. I was faced with the fact my love for Him was conditional, and based only on how well or not well things were going in my life.

I've said it here before, but I listen to a Bible app every morning. Fresh and new Bible reading every day. (Daily Audio Bible.)

During this time, they were focusing heavily on the story of Abraham, and his long-sought desire to have a child. Then God promised him a child. And then, after he was given his child, God asked him to sacrifice the child. (Disclaimer: God didn't actually want him to kill his son! For the whole story, read Genesis 22.)

God was heavily on me during this time, asking me, "Are you willing to lay down your children on the altar? Are you willing to give Me your children as a sacrifice?" My answer was no. And I fought it. I fought it hard.

..

Another theme God had been interweaving before this even happened, was "Surrender". God had been speaking to me heavily for months (although He brought this to me first about a year and a half ago), that if I wanted to save my life, I had to lose it. This heavily from the readings of Jeremiah, where he was telling the people of Israel that the enemy was going to come in. They could fight and die, or surrender and be saved.

Also Jesus was reminding me of His words. You can find these words in Matthew 16, Mark 8, and Luke 17. But what He says is, those who cling to their lives; those who try to save their lives will lose them. But those who let go of their lives, and what they think is important, will save them, and find real and true life. 

Can I be honest and say this concept is really hard for me? 

Sure, some parts are easy. Give up control of your life and let Jesus take the wheel. That's not hard in theory. But what about the parts that get blurry and gray? Like your children? And your God-given ordinance to protect and care for them? What do you do when God asks you to lay down what He's already told you is your job?

It's tricky, and murky, and I'll be very honest and say these are waters I'm not really navigating well. But I am trying. 

I make ground and pat myself on the back, only to be in my bed crying 24 hours later, frustrated from it all.

..

I've been constantly faced with all the unforgiveness and bitterness in my heart. Not deep-seeded, but the fact that it is constantly rising up, and I am constantly having to slash it down with my sword. And I do not feel like a warrior.  

..

I've learned, and I can't escape the fact that, I am flawed. 

I have always known that...it isn't news to me. But I've learned that even when God shows up and gives you what you want, your flaws still kick in. And even when you've done your best, it just never ever really is good enough.

My best efforts are never ever going to be good enough, and oh how I need Jesus. Yes I needed Him in the depths of my sin, and yes I need Him in my day-to-day, but I also need Him in my best efforts. Because I have seen better than ever before, that they still aren't good enough.

His blood covers more, and is more versatile and needed than I ever realized.

*****
On the day before I found out I wouldn't be getting my kids back, a prophetic group I'm a part of gave out some prophetic words.

Once every couple of months, we do a thread that is open for only a couple of hours, and if someone feels God has a word for someone else, this is where they will post it. 

On the day before I found out, I had four words given to me.

Not knowing what was waiting for me the next day, I received these words, wondering what all God could be trying to tell me:

"Jordan, I heard this verse for you: "Do not grow weary in doing good for in due season YOU WILL REAP if you faint not." Rest in the Lord and keep sowing. Your harvest is coming."

"Jordan you're a shooting star. Precisely placed in the darkest place to be a stark light full of fire and movement. Power, signs, and wonders, and so much light shine through. I also sense a delicate vibe and just peace and wonder. God is so gentle and patient. His handiwork is that of an excellent craftsman and He who began a good work in you and those around you will see it to completion!"

"I immediately heard "Redemption River". Her name carries such a great significance and I sense it's a part of her calling. Jordan I believe the Father is calling you into a deeper season with Him where you will receive greater levels of revelation. Revelation in your questions, your dreams, and your desires. "Step in" in what I hear Him whisper right now. You take the first step and He will open up the way and astound you with the vastness of promises fulfilled. I see Redemption over you and believe the Lord is waiting in the water to take you through the rest of it."

"When I looked at Jordan I heard, "You're going through a season. That's all it is. You're going to come through it just fine!"

..

Three days later, after the news spread through my community of friends and family, a dear friend sent me a message.

She said she was praying for me as she was sleeping, and she awoke from her sleep to see the word "season" written out in front of her.

..

I wish I could say these truths were anchors, but really they were just more pieces, flying around my head, in a violent storm. But I'm thankful for them now. They are still parts to the puzzle, and I'm thankful to have them, even though I didn't necessarily hold onto them like I should have.

*****

Those six weeks were filled with pieces of Him.

Dreams, and friends, and constant messages. Inboxes and phones, filled to the brim daily, with reminders of love from around the world.

I would be sliding into a dark place, and a friend would just show up at my doorstep, to drop something off. 

I said, "You want to get coffee!" She said, "Sure!" And God helped me to not have to be alone that night. 

..

At some point it became abundantly clear that God was carrying me. I began to see it. I got past all the confusion, all the pain, and all the uncertainty, and I began to see Him.

Well, I never got past all of the bad things, but I did get to a point where they weren't so loud, and weren't such heavy-hitters in my psyche.

At some point I began to see the word I had written prior to losing them, on Jonah, was in fact, a strong message for me. The word I had written; the word God had given me, was meant to be a comforting warning. 

I found myself in a prison, and yet at some point, I began to see that the prison was working me towards where I needed to be.

*****

As the six weeks ended out, the Bible app I listened to was focusing very heavily on Joseph. I would sit in tears as I would listen to how he was wrongly sold into slavery. Then after he was given a good job, he was wrongly accused of something, and was imprisoned for years and years. Finally he got out and was made second-in-command of Egypt, and eventually God used his position to save not only Joseph's family but that entire region of the world.

Joseph said it a couple of times in a couple different places, but I heard it and even though it wasn't my first time hearing it, it stuck with me and I began to build my life on it. In Gen. 45 Joseph said, to the people who started the unraveling of his life:

"I am Joseph, your brother whom you sold into slavery. But don't be upset, don't be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and and to preserve many survivors."

In Genesis 50, Joseph reiterates:

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people."

It was one of the only things, in this entire mess, that made any amount of sense to me. And as everything became more clear, the truth of those words, in the context of my life, began to become louder than the volume of all that was going wrong.

I began to build my life on the principal that God was saving my family through this.

*****

Those six weeks now feel like a blur. A blur that is perfectly defined.

I had coffee with friends. I had tea. I had wine. I had vodka. I went out to eat. I went dancing. I went to a work party. I binge-watched the entire series of a few shows on Netflix and Hulu. I picked up extra shifts at work. I did many things to keep myself busy. But one thing I couldn't do, was write. I didn't have words. I logged one journal entry to capture my pain, and that was it.

*****

At the end of it all, as we neared our court date, I was able to say, "God, I love You more than I love my children, and I will love You no matter what happens." 

I was able to say, with peace in my heart, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord." 

I had made the decision that no matter what would happen, God and me would be. We would remain. That the joy of the Lord would be my strength, and that come hell or high-water, I was His and He was mine. 

Still, I can hear bitterness spill out of my mouth from time to time. But, I am thankful it isn't bitterness towards God.

*****

On January 24th we had a court date to talk about these things, and things were decided on and a bit of order was restored. 

I got to see my babies on January 24th. December 15th - January 24th. Two days shy of six weeks without them.

I slept the first good sleep in almost two months. Not because I was happy, even though—don't get me wrong, I was—, but because I was whole. It's hard to exist when a part of you is missing, but when you're intact, oh how the sleep is so sweet.

Things are not finished. Things are not final. Things are still left unresolved. But as the days pass, and as I get bad news after bad news, my heart feels light. I serve an amazingly faithful God, and everything on this earth can and will go wrong, but He has me. He has me so tight and so well, I have no reason to be sad. Sure, I get sad, and sure, those real and human feelings come...and sometimes heavily. But I sort through them, and I am left with this weird sort of truth. That God is sovereign, un-changing, and regardless of what happens to my kids, He loves them more than I do, and what's more, He loves me.

He is not punishing me, He is saving me. He is saving my family.

The wind has been socked out of me a few times through this, but after the breath was stolen, newer, clearer breath rebounded. 

The future is completely uncertain and unclear. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know if things are going to go left or right. But, I do know, that I can rest in His love for me, and His love for my children. It's a concept I'm still learning, but it's a truth I can anchor to, even as the storm swirls around me.

Lastly, I want to leave you with this song, also from the album "After All These Years".

The lyrics adequately describe the entire experience, and where it has left me.

Enjoy, be blessed, and please continue your prayers for me. 💕