Archive for December, 2010

December 31, 2010

New Days

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He almost never speaks to me in metaphors, except the tree stuff, and this one time a couple of weeks ago when I was changing the ink cartridge in my printer. I read the instructions, “Push until it clicks”.  And I did push, hard, to the point that I thought the cartridge was going to break, and then, right before it did break, it clicked.  And I was like “Ohhhh, I get it.”

Here’s why- You guys, 2010 almost killed me.  And I refuse to list the bad stuff because that just seems like a waste of time, but believe me when I say I was pressed hard.  And I am the first to admit that I made a whole bunch of bad decisions.  And I am also willing to say that some of the things that happened were not my fault, (an important admission for me, since taking the blame and responsibility for any and every bad thing that happened is one of the things that almost killed me). 

I spent more time than I care to admit heading down the wrong path, and at the end of that path I was confronted with some of the hardest circumstances I have ever encountered.  Actually a couple of times I encountered what I thought were the hardest circumstances I have ever encountered only to be knocked down a little harder a short while later.  It took a couple of ER trips and Four Awful Days to wake me up.  But the good thing about that was I turned around and ran after Jesus.  The even better thing- He was watching and waiting, not far off .  He did in fact scoop me up and tell me how much He loves me.

It was a sweet embrace for sure.  And then, through my tears and heaving sobs, I heard Him ask me a very tough question- “If these things hadn’t happened, would you still be on that path?”  Did I really need to answer?  Absolutely.  Was my answer “I'm so sorry. Please help me. Thank you so much.”-  Yes.  Grieving did ensue, good grieving, the give-it-to-Jesus-let-Him-transform-it kind of grieving. 

I was pushed, almost broken, until it clicked- I need Him and He wants me, not every once in a while- all the time.  Understanding that more clearly than ever before, and letting myself be totally consumed, redeemed by His love, and knowing that He does indeed make all things work together for our good- big time new beginnings happened.   

It’s only been a few months since all of that unfolded but as this New Year approaches I can’t help but think of all of the starting over that has already taken place and feel hopeful that we don’t have to wait for a day on the calendar to tell us it’s time to turn around and go in the other direction.  Whatever changes need to be made can be made at any time.  Every day is a brand new day and all that jazz.  Even more hopeful- He is never far off and ever wanting us to be with Him.  The best- He makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him. 

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Here's to hope and brand new days~

Love, love. 

December 26, 2010

Christmas, Redemption.

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Christmas, a time to get together as families and celebrate life.  An oppurtunity to contemplate Jesus’ birth.  Hope and redemption came here in infant form, born to die, humble and small, and amazing and grand all at the same time.  Beautiful.  Christmas is not about me, I understand.  There is a much bigger picture.  God is all about much bigger pictures.  And He is about Love and weaving that Love through our little stories to help us understand the bigger picture.  He showed me that again this weekend. 
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Christmas was hard this year.  Only the second Christmas I’ve had to share the kids and my family all went out of town, so there was this very alone feeling running around inside of me that I had to be very careful with.  It was not an invalid feeling except that it kind of was.  I am not alone; Jesus is very near.  But the very alone feeling teamed up with memories of the instability and craziness that was my childhood, and the brokenness that invaded and almost completely took over the last year of my life and I was left feeling somewhat suffocated with sadness.  Not anything like I have been in the past, I recognized and dealt with it.  I grieved it, took it to Jesus, cried, asked Him for help, prayed and listened, let Him hold me and let go of the pain. 
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And this Chirstmas, maybe more than ever before, Jesus worked his thread of Love through my story and so much healing happened.  Redemption played out like a sweet song, notes of loving kindness were woven together in wonderful rythym.  “What would you like for Christmas?” He asked me. “Well, I would like to not be alone.”  That was all I had.  No big grand plan really, just something to do besides sit in my quiet house.  He had a bigger, better plan though, as usual. 
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I spent the night before Christmas Eve having a sleepover with my Very Lovely Friend.  We stayed up half the night talking and giggling like little girls.  Christmas Eve morning we woke up to a to-do list from her Sweet Mama that included making pies and grocery shopping and the normal make ready things that most families do on Christmas Eve, except I have not ever gotten to be a part of that.  I have been asked to many holiday meals, but never a part of the get ready process, which makes sense I guess.  Why would you have your guest over to do all the work?  But that’s why I loved it. 
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I didn’t feel like a guest, and as a matter of fact halfway through the day her Sweet Mama declared that I was not in fact a guest.  You Know Who chimed in with so much Love via text message and Christmas Eve afternoon I was up two volunteer Mamas.  Drunk on warmth and happiness, my face wore a big silly grin all day.  I know that it might sound really odd to say that with every pie I made and thing we checked off the list, healing happened, but it did.  Slice potatoes?  Yes Please.  Another hug from behind while I help clean up the dirty dishes?  Amazing.  Bounce the baby and watch the little ones open presents?  Yes, yes, yes.  I know this seems like run of the mill holiday stuff to everyone, but it’s not for me.  Really, getting to be a part of it all, not just a witness to it all was the Sweetest Thing Ever.  I felt taken in by a warm, affectionate, loving, imperfect but wonderful family.  We spent the day together, ate, laughed, drank and we were merry together. It was lovely. 
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I came home and tucked my kiddos in and we woke up and had a super sweet and very laid back Christmas morning.  And Christmas afternoon off they went again..  And off I went again, to church with You Know Who, (who just so happens to be the aunt of my Very Lovely Friend and sister of her Sweet Mama).  The service was awesome, the worship was great, the message was so good and my heart, a little sad to not have my kiddos was prayed for by You Know Who before we all dashed off to share a sweet Christmas evening. The most genuine greetings of joy and excitement were followed by filling our bellies with warm, healthy, yummy food and then circling up in the living room to sing Christmas songs together. And there was a drum, and I got to play it. I’m not even kidding.  It was surreal really.  Kiddos running around from lap to lap while we sang God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, a few amazing solos were performed, pj’s were donned and desserts were munched.  It was the most fantastic thing ever.  Love ran through every moment. 
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Grateful is but the tiniest sliver of what I feel.  I have another testimony of God's extravagant goodness to tuck in my pocket.  My heart is full, full, full of Love and I am thankful for every smile that filled the room, every hand that passed food around the table, every warm word that was spoken.  It’s like God painted a Christmastime picture of redemption for my little girl self.  Not one moment lacked Light; He didn’t leave out a single detail.  I sit here still overwhelmed by Love, filled with hope, so blessed.  I am one grateful girl. 
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A very Merry Christmas indeed, Happy Birthday Jesus, precious newborn babe, born to die for redemption, Love’s pure Light, Christ the Savior, Lord at thy birth and such a generous, kind and loving Father. 

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Love, love, love.

 

December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve, grieving.

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Christmas Eve and a Wonderful one at that, (more about that later).  It was a truly special day except that my kids were gone for most of it.  And I hate, hate, hate that.  I hate that I miss moments with them.  I hate that I have to share them.  I hate that they are missing for parts of all holidays.  And I am not minimizing that tonight.  I am not shoving it or ignoring it.  I am grieving it.  I am proud of myself for getting them all tucked in and the ex out the door before I started crying.  And I am not overwhelmed with sadness, but I am sad.  This was never my plan.  I never wanted this.  When I said “I do”, as they grew in my tummy, when I held their little baby selves, never did I imagine that I would be sending them kicking and screaming, to their dad’s girlfriend’s house on holidays.  Never did I fathom that I would spend Christmas afternoon at home alone in a quiet house.  My heart aches when they are gone spending time with some other family, people I don’t even know, people they barely know.  And my heart breaks every time I have to pull them off of me and put them in his car.  I know my situation could be much worse, but I don’t have to like it.  I know there is nothing I can change but myself and my attitude.  But my babies are my babies and my feelings are my feelings.  I know there are plenty of families out there that do holidays this way and it’s not the end of the world.  This Mom thing though, it is all I ever wanted.  These Little Wonders, they are my whole life, my heart running around in four little pieces and no part of me is okay with sharing them tonight.  There is so much redemption running through my story right now thanks to some Very Special People, and I am quite certain that more is coming, but tonight I am one very sad momma.  And so I am taking this all to Jesus because that seems like the Most Helpful Thing. Lighter, happier stuff to come I'm sure.  Merry Christmas and all that Jazz.

Love, love,

Amber

December 17, 2010

The Most Helpful Thing

(My apologies again for the redundancy of my blog lately.  I'm working through some things and processing them through writing is well…  The Most Helpful Thing.  Also, the photos have nothing to do with the post, I just really Love Trees)003

I wrote this a couple of months ago:

For the most part I have switched from having conversations with my crazy/smart ass Inner Voice to having conversations with Jesus and it’s been awesome. 
Except today when I got super stressed out, All Three of us got into it.  And it went a little something like this:

Me: Crap, this sucks. I want more chocolate.
Inner Voice: Oh! Orrrr, a drink. A drink would be super. Or a smoke, that would also be super. 
Me: Nope. That would totally not be helpful. 
Jesus:  Yeah, no. 
Me: Jesus, help me calm down please. I know this is all going to work out, and I know you are in control, but I need to be taking deeper breaths right now. 
Inner Voice: Wait! No! I don’t want to calm down! I have the right to be freaking out right now!! I have a ton of stuff going on!
Jesus: Yes, you’re right; you do have a ton of stuff going on. And you do have that right.  Go ahead and freak out if you want to and let me know if you find that helpful. 
Me: Ha. Haha. See, I told you so. Stop freaking out, it’s not even helpful. What does Nancy say?
Inner Voice (in a totally mocking tone): *sigh* “What can you do to calm yourself by one percent?”
Me: Right. What can I do? Eat some normal food, take some deep breaths, make a list and work on it. 
Jesus:  Yes, great. And know that I am here and this will all be ok. And I am bigger than these circumstances. And they do not surprise me. And I love you so much.  
Inner Voice:  That’s dumb. Calming down by one percent isn’t even that helpful.
Jesus:  It is more helpful than calming down by zero percent.
Me: Touché. Thanks Jesus. Let’s go get some soup. 

    A funny conversation maybe, but it was the beginning of a huge shift for me.  It was the beginning of me deciding to do The Most Helpful Thing.  It’s kind of my new life strategy.  (I will just be very honest and say that a lot of my life has been spent doing The Most Fun Thing, or The Easiest Thing, or Nothing at All and yes, sometimes The Right Thing.)   It’s not the most revolutionary idea and I’m sure there are a lot of people who are very intentional about doing The Most Helpful Thing all the time.  It’s new to me though and I’m not even sure exactly how to explain it.  It means for me, in every circumstance I am doing my best to understand and walk out The Most Helpful Thing.

    I’m not sure why it is a strategy I’m only just now implementing.  I think being intentional about seeking first His Kingdom has helped.  I think maybe having enough breathing room to figure out some goals to work towards has helped.  I do know that having it in my brain has been so well… helpful.  It plays out in big and little things.  I have given myself a bedtime because staying up all hours of the night is not The Most Helpful Thing.  I give money to charity because buying another new shirt is not The Most Helpful Thing.  I eat food all the time because it is The Most Helpful Thing, (and because honestly, I quite like food).  I listen to worship music instead of the gut wrenching indie-pop I am naturally drawn to because for me it is The Most Helpful Thing.  I spend time with Jesus everyday because it is The Most Helpful Thing.  You get the idea… 

    Just to clarify, I’m not talking about doing The Right Thing or The Wrong Thing.  That thinking all but paralyzed me in the past and I ended up overwhelmed with making right or wrong choices all the time, feeling awful when I made the wrong ones and other times feeling totally stuck trying to figure out the right ones.  The Most Helpful Thing is an easier concept for me to grasp, it seems more doable, more hopeful. 

    For the most part somewhere inside of me, I am aware of what The Most Helpful Thing is (and I think I was in the past when I didn’t choose it, I was just not as intent about it).  And I’m not saying that forever and always I am perfectly doing The Most Helpful Thing, or that I always know for sure what that might look like.  But when I’m unsure about what to do, I pray and listen.  And when I slip up I ask for forgiveness, find grace, get up and try again. 

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    Not sure if this makes any sense at all or if it’s sound advice…  I do know that “Jesus take the wheel and all that jazz” is The Most Helpful Thing for me and trusting Him is way, way easier than trying to do The Right Thing all the time.  So there you go…  a long and rambling explanation of a maybe-crazy-girl’s Most Helpful strategy.     

      
 

 

December 16, 2010

Making a Difference

Make a difference this holiday season, contribute to somebody's freedom by giving to A21

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Watch this video The A21 Campaign – Maria's Story and be the change you want to see.

There are many ways to help:

Make A21 Home for the Holidays
The A21 Shelter is a safe place in Greece where many survivors of human trafficking will be calling “home” this holiday season, and we want to ensure that we help make this truly a time of love, joy and peace.
So, we came up with this idea…
Let’s ALL help make this holiday unforgettable for the girls! Here’s the plan:

Send a Christmas card to the shelter
Hand-written letters have become a novelty these days. Because they take a bit more time and effort, they are not only special, they are personal. (Nothing says love like taking the time to write something other than your signature.) Please send your card or letter directly to Greece at:
The A21 Campaign
PO Box 10218
TK 54110
Thessaloniki
Greece

Make Change with Pocket Change
This is something easy that you can do right NOW! We have asked the girls what they would like for Christmas this year. The most common request has been for a new outfit, so let’s pool our resources and get them some of the finest shoes, coats, scarves, jeans etc! By donating below, your money could go towards the items listed to ensure the girls have a meaningful Christmas!
IMAGINE THE CHRISTMAS PARTY WE COULD THROW FOR THESE GIRLS IF EVERY MEMBER OF THIS CAUSE PLAYED THEIR PART BY GIVING A DONATION…
As you’re starting to make your Christmas list this year, why not consider this something you can cross off right now? Together, our small acts of kindness and generosity can make a BIG difference.

Sign up to be a monthly contributor
The monetary cost of securing freedom for the victims of human trafficking is enormous. By becoming a monthly sponsor, or donating a one-time gift, you will contribute toward the medical, legal, and psychological costs associated with the rescuing and restoring process.
As a sponsor, you will become part of "their miracle story" and will receive monthly updates on the program and activities taking place. Here you can make a recurring donation, or even a one-time donation. We appreciate any amount of support you are able to give.

Pray
Never underestimate the power of prayer! If you would like to obtain a prayer guide with specific scriptures you can pray, please click here to download or contact us to request a hard copy.

Spread the Word
Get informed.  Share on Twitter or join the Facebook cause to stay informed.

Check out the site for more ways to help

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Make a difference.  Be light in darkness.  Give the gift of freedom.  Shine. 

Love, love.

December 12, 2010

This Book

Think Differently, Live Differently: Keys to a Life of Freedom

    I don’t know how to write a proper review of this book because… well because it is so much more than a book really.  It changed what I think about who He is.  It changed how I relate to Him because of that.  It changed how I relate to me because of that.  It changed how I allow Him to relate to me because of that.  What I understand Freedom to be is different and so my pursuit of Freedom is different.   

"Freedom is the ability to act or react in life as the man or woman you were created to be"

    This was my problem in trying to get free in the past, all I was doing was getting more wrapped up in myself by spending all my time trying to figure out who I was supposed to be.  The difference now, I'm seeking first His Kingdom and His righteosness and trusting that all of these other things that I had constantly been worrying about and working on will be added. I know this isn't a new concept, but the way it is explained in this book helped me really take hold of it. 

    You guys, seeking first His kingdom is the most awesome, fantastic, wonderful, healing, helpful, revolutionary thing ever in the whole wide world. 
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    The first time I read Think Differently, Live Differently, I gobbled it up, sped through each paragraph hoping to soak up every bit of information as fast as possible.  And then because it was so revolutionary, wonderful and well written, I re-read it, slowed down and re-read sentences.  I closed it when something profound hit me, even if I was only five minutes in.  I let Another Voice narrate instead of my own.  And now, I am at a loss for how to review the book, other than to say life is different, better for sure. 

    Sitting with a  friend one day, I tried to explain different, the peace I had and what that meant, and I’m pretty sure I failed.  There just really are no words.  She asked for practical examples, “So like instead of not eating at all, do you just eat whatever junk you feel like eating?” she asked in reference to my eating issues. I thought about it for a moment and stumbled through a response.  “Well no, I mean, I don’t really think about it.  That’s the difference.  Food is not controlling me.  I eat when I’m hungry and I don’t eat when I’m not.  I eat healthy food mostly because I like healthy food but I don’t not eat treats because I’m scared of them…” 

    It’s like, there is no spoon. But for real.  You know what I mean? 

    Somewhere in the conversation my friend said something along the lines of, “but I don’t feel love from Him sometimes, at least not that way.”  And for maybe the first time I had a response for that.  “That's just it.  I’m not talking about feeling love, I’m talking about knowing Love.”  I know first hand, feeling love is amazing, and I also know first hand not feeling love is not amazing.  This new knowing Love thing- it is beyond amazing.  The best part- it is not dependent on my situation or my feelings.   

    In addition to reading the book I’ve been attending Freedom Classes and I’m sure that has helped a ton with all of the shifting that has happened.  In one of the classes I was challenged to spend an extended period of time with God, not twenty or thirty minutes, but three or four hours.  Now if this idea had been proposed to me a few months ago, I’m pretty sure I would have blown it off completely.  But a few months ago, me spending extended periods of time alone with my Father seemed dangerous- maybe He would be hurtful, maybe He wouldn’t show up at all, maybe He would say mean things, maybe He would be there and be cold and silent… 

    Maybe I’m the only one to ever have felt that way, maybe not.  Reading this book though, and letting the reality sink in that my Father is not who I thought He was made me jump at the chance of spending an extended amount of time with Him.  My (once again bumbling) explanation- I’m not worried that He isn’t going to show up because I know that He is here now; He is always with me.  And I’m not scared that He is going to hurt me because that is not His nature.  He isn’t going to say mean things because He loves me, more than I could ever imagine.  And if the room we sit in is filled with silence that will be ok because it will be filled with Love and spending four hours quietly wrapped in Love sounds incredible to me. 

    That’s one of the differences.  Empty rooms, empty space petrified me before.  And now, well, alone is not alone anymore.  You know?  I’m telling you, my mind has more than received information.  Knowledge has drenched my spirit in the most beautiful way; understanding happened because Love soaked my heart.  A couple of people have said to me recently that I look new or seem different.  And this is why- Because I know more about who He is, I trust Him.  I trust Him to be here and take care.  I trust Him to speak to me and change me.  I have let go of so much.  I sleep better.  I wake better.  Life is different because He is free to come in to my life and my heart and do whatever He wants. 

    I am not a farmer, I’m an acrobat.  I am His.  And He is the most important thing in the world, so dying to myself everyday and knowing Him more everyday is an honor.  It is an easier way to do life, a better way to do life.  And life, well it is different.   

    I understand it is totally possible that none of this makes any sense at all.  I don’t know how to better explain it, sorry. 

Nevertheless-

Please read this book.

December 9, 2010

Healing

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Something terrible had happened and I sat in pain all day hoping the evidence of the terrible thing would go away without me dealing with it.  But it did not, so I sent out a few texts for prayer.  And then You Know Who responded asking if I needed to go to the ER.  Well, yes, probably so.  And then she asked if I needed a ride.  And then she showed up at my door. 

She showed up after a work out, somehow made more adorable by her gym attire and ponytail, smiling as always and ready to help.  Happy to be smiled upon, grateful for the ride and hunched over in pain, I grabbed my stuff and hobbled to the car.  “Just drop me off please.  Please don’t spend your Friday night here.  I’m a big girl.  I’ll call you if I need a ride home.”  But she came in anyway.  She sat with me for four hours on a Friday night in the ER.  Did I mention she was not my mom?  Did I mention she was not related to me at all?  No?  Yeah, she doesn’t really have a title I guess.  She is just… I don’t know… something.  She is something. 

That night she sat with me in the hospital.  She wrapped me in a blanket when I was cold.  She looked me in the eyes and spoke softly when I was scared.  She rubbed my back while I sobbed.  She shared some of her story.  We took turns talking and listening to stories big and small.  And we laughed and we cried.  We sat in silence honoring and pondering.  We shared moments and we shared our hearts.  And healing happened. 

And because two in the morning is a lousy time to drive somebody home after an ER stay, she took me to her home.  I apologized to her husband who was sweetly, patiently waiting up.  She said “You must be starving.” And we stood in her kitchen devouring apple slices and almond butter before slipping off to bed.  And healing happened. 

I slept soundly under a flowered quilt, and woke to sun shining on my face and her asking me to come in to their room where they were quietly sitting in the most picture perfect chairs bathed in morning light and having devotional.  Sleepy and confused, I stood at their door certain that she did not actually mean for me to enter their room.  (Did I mention we weren’t even related?  Did I mention I had almost no concept of warm, loving parental figures?)  And then… and then she said “Hop up in bed, get under the covers.”  Goodness.  Never, ever, ever have sweeter words been said to me and they couldn’t have been said on a harder morning.   And healing happened. 
 
As I sat curled up and in awe, and wondering whether I might be dreaming that these wonderful people were actually sitting across from me pleasantly discussing the Bible, healing happened.  As she scrambled my eggs and buttered my toast and their golden retriever happily licked my feet, healing happened.  With each hot sip of coffee at their table, healing happened. 

Before my ER prescriptions were ever filled, healing happened.  Because Mother and Father had been two of my least favorite words, because I had no idea what they were supposed to be.  And then, oh did I understand, because I got to experience what they were supposed to be.  Because I was cared for and taken care of like never ever before.  Because I was shown the warmth of a mother’s smile on one of my hardest days, (did I mention I have had a lot of hard days?) Healing happened. 

I went home that day bathed in the Love.  I hope never to forget any detail- the tartness of the apple we shared… the little toothbrush I was given… the pale blue color of the sunlit wall in my room… the enormity of the bed I climbed into that morning, it dwarfed me appropriately… the softness of the pillow I held while they talked… the ridiculous amount of butter she spread on my toast… the richness of the coffee, the weight of the cup… the saturation of every moment with sweetness and Light and color… 

If you are twenty eight years old and only just experiencing the wonder of being taken care of, it is kind of a big deal.  I am pretty sure it was all God’s idea.  I am pretty sure Jesus was there the whole time.  I am pretty sure it was not a dream.  Other people may have been more impacted by skipping rocks in a stream or rocking in chairs on a porch.  But my heart has longed, for oh let’s say forever, to be taken care of that way, to be called into a giant bed on a sleepy Saturday morning.  And it finally was.  And healing happened.     

My life is changed.  Thank you is much, much too small an offering. 

I am humbled and grateful, deep wounds are healed. 
God is great. 
Jesus loves me this I know.
Amazing Grace how sweet the sun that rises on brand new days and brings healing through people that love and redemption in every single detail.  So blessed.  So, so blessed. 
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December 6, 2010

Families

Before I write this note about other people’s moms, let me first say of my own- She was not the perfect mom.  But I am not either.  And there is grace and forgiveness for both of us.  And there is not a scale to measure whether one of us needs it more or less than the other.  There is grace and forgiveness and there is redemption and that is more than enough.  Also something I am only just gaining some perspective on- she is not solely responsible for every awful thing that happened to me in my childhood.  And neither am I.  And her bad decisions were not made as a result of my unworthiness as a daughter.  And my bad decisions are not her responsibility. 

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All that being said, my childhood was sort of riddled with neglect and abuse of all kinds.  It could have been worse sure, but it wasn’t pretty.  One of the (many, many) coping mechanisms I used to make it through was to count down the years, months, weeks and days until my eighteenth birthday.  Freedom.  I remember thinking when I was about ten years old, how insanely far off my eighteenth birthday seemed.  And then I only made it to fifteen. 

(This is why I am the “Phoebe Buffay” of my Friends.)  My mom’s crazy boyfriend had kicked us out again and we landed on a mattress in her dealer’s garage.  No kidding.  I won’t go into details about it, suffice it to say, it was beyond terrible.  Fast forward a few weeks and we’re unpacking our backpacks in a homeless shelter.  And then I was totally done.  I moved in with a friend and then I kind of moved from one house to another, staying wherever I could with whoever would have me.  The miracle- someone always had me. 

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For about three years I was taken in by one family after another.  And that’s such an incredible thing to me.  I sat at so many different dinner tables.  Not one night did my head go without a pillow to rest on.  Amazing.  I know from experience, fifteen year old girls are not the most pleasant people in the world, especially fifteen year old girls with very messy lives.  But so many times open arms welcomed me, bought me new toothbrushes and socks, gave me a list of chores, asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and hugged my sad little angst filled self. 

I know now that my mom’s mothering was not a reflection of my worthiness, but when I was fifteen I honestly thought she didn’t love me because I wasn’t lovable.  But God stepped in.  He put people in my life.  His hand is all over that whole period of my childhood.  Over and over with words, and smiles, and gifts, and time, and really just a place to sleep, I was shown love.  I thought I was just a screwed up, homeless, teenage girl who just had the misfortune of being born unlovable and time after time, people stepped in and disputed that lie, offered hope and brought redemption, big and small to my bruised and tattered soul.  

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The holidays are such a good reminder for me of how God brought me through that time.  His Love shines so bright in the faces of families who welcome me.  This Thanksgiving, like every one before it all the way back to when I was fifteen, was spent with a so-much-more-than-sweet family who invited me to their home.  This Thanksgiving, like many before it, was filled with gratefulness for the spectacularly amazing group of people that God has surrounded me with.  To sit at a table with somebody else’s aunts and uncles, to pass the salt to somebody’s dad, to hold the new nephew, to be a part of the laughter and love that families share this time of year, not because I was born into the family, but because I was welcomed into a family, that is truly, truly, the best gift ever. 

And so, to the Falcones, the Sittlers, the Kelleys, to Janie, the Blinns, the Harbaughs, the Thomases, the Tedescos, the Fosters, the Houstons and every other person or family that has offered anywhere from a hug to a home- you have no idea what it means to me. Thank you, a thousand thank yous, with every bit of me, from the toes up- thank you.  Be blessed, you are all lights, keep shining.     

Love, love.  

December 1, 2010

Traditions

Growing up we had something like the opposite of traditions.  The only thing I really remember holidays having in common was that they were all sort of chaotic, but then a lot of my childhood was somewhat chaotic. 

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My parenting now, though filled with all the love and intention I have, is sort of only loosely based on What I Know Not To Do.  (Except for the many tips and tricks I have picked up from My Amazing Friends and the countless parenting books I have devoured.)  One thing I have learned is that traditions are important. 

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And this year, these Amazing Kids, they realized it too.  This year instead of racing back and forth to get all of the ornaments on as fast as possible, they slowly picked each one up and let it dangle by it’s hook.  And then they talked through each one- why they liked it, what year they got it, the kindergarten teacher they loved so much and the corner that was getting a little worn.  And I sat on the couch smiling and answering questions and yes, just as I am now, wiping the occasional tear. 

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When the tree was all done Emmy glanced down at her hands covered in glitter from all of the ornaments.  She squeaked a delighted squeak and then I’m not even kidding, Griffen put his arm around her and said, “That’s Christmas dust, the magic of Christmas is all over our house.”  And then he went to his room and pulled out his library book and told all the Little Ones to sit down because he had checked out a book just for them.  Good grief it was almost too sweet. 

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When they finished the book we made some Christmas Waffles together.  (Nothing amazing really, just waffles with red and green M&M’s, but the kiddos think they’re “like the best thing ever to have for dinner.” ) 

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It was a very normal, (if a little sappy), Christmastime evening I think. So maybe it was just the sugar rush, maybe it was a some holiday high I don’t know, but as we all piled on the couch to watch Rudolph that night, I felt Love oh so tangibly fill up and flow out of every empty space in the room and my grateful heart swelled with the amazing amount of warmth and joy that surrounded us. 

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Gosh, so blessed.  So, so blessed.  

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