Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Fake Pearls

Guys... I think the storm stopped. I'm not sure when, I didn't even notice that the rain let up, but I realized yesterday that I'm no longer in the eye of the storm. For 3 years, I have been riding out this storm, seeing its destruction, grieving everything in its wake, but I didn't ride it out by sitting and waiting. Well, maybe I did for awhile. But then, I got to work. I have been working on me.

When I first left Liam's dad a year and a half ago, I did so because I was so hurt and lost that I didn't know who I was any longer. I needed space to find out. I needed room to heal and process my life. I needed enough quiet to hear the Lord. And I wanted to be the best version of me. Liam needed that just as much as I did. During this time, I read every book I could get my hands on that I thought might help me. I sought counseling. I joined a support group. I've been doing the work. And on my journey to heal my heart, I figured out a lot of stuff. I started believing the truth, realizing my worth, and letting the Lord show me those things. I sought safe connection with people that I can trust based on their behavior. I processed some deep deep hurts from my marriage and I began setting boundaries on others and on myself. These things did not happen overnight. And I'm confident I'll be on this journey for the rest of my life.... but y'all... that excites me! I GET to do this.

The last two months, I've found myself stumbling into situations and then conversations where I can share what I've learned. I can explain the importance of safe connection and boundaries. I can talk about trust and forgiveness and how those things are not one in the same. And from having been met right where I was/am with incredible empathy by some very significant people in my life, I realize the immense impact I have on others when I can do the same. When I find myself in these conversations, I get fired up! I'm excited to expose people to the things I've learned and the strength I've gained. I want to be vulnerable and disclose the hard stuff because "vulnerability begets vulnerability; courage is contagious" (Brene Brown). The isolation and the shame I carried for so long are no longer welcome in my life and I want that same freedom for others.

After countless opportunities to share what I'm learning and share my story over the last two months, it hit me. I was driving home from an out of town graduation yesterday where I again had the chance to share some tools I've acquired when I realized that the storm has quieted. I have come out on the other side of the hurricane. I think I got really accustomed to what the storm felt like. I got used to buckling down and hanging on during the crazy. Chaos. Uncertainty. I don't know what I thought it would be like when I no longer felt like the storm was sucking all the air from the room. A big "FINALLY" moment, I guess. Maybe I assumed my heart would be healed once the doctor removed the staples... I don't know what I thought would be my indicator that I was no longer in crisis mode or self preservation status. A clean bill of health note from a therapist? Whatever I was waiting on... I was wrong. Its so gradual that I didn't even notice the progress until it looked back at me in my rear view mirror.

I did not seek out a single one of the opportunities I've taken lately to connect with someone and share what I'm learning. But it keeps happening. And I find myself thankful for the opportunities. I'm not naive enough to think that I'll never struggle again with the things I've been working through. I understand that as my life moves forward, I'll have to deal with various pieces of my broken marriage and the lacerations to my heart again and again in different situations. But the STORM has passed. I'm no longer holding tight the cellar door so that the tornado doesn't drag me away. It'll still rain now and again. That's "normal".... but I'm no longer paralyzed by the storm or its destruction. I'm also not naive enough to think that I'm "healed" and that my work on me is finished. It is hard work rewiring myelf and growing healthy relationships. It is no easy task removing from my life the people that steam roll my boundaries and mistreat me. And looking introspectively at my flaws and the bad coping skills I accumulated throughout life and working to change those - that sucks. But the rewards have been so worth it.

In bible studies for as long as I can remember, I've heard of the story of the father who every night at bedtime asks his daughter to give him her pearls (her most favorite possession). Every night she would cry and tell him she just couldn't. She loved them too much to give them up. One night when her father asked her again for her pearls, she took a deep breath and said yes, she loved him and trusted him enough to give her most prize possession to him. He graciously took them and explained to her that he'd been waiting for her to let go of those fake pearls because he had real ones to give her instead. The lesson being, sometimes we get so caught up in knowing ourselves and what is best for us that we miss out on the blessing God is trying to give us because we aren't letting Him drive. During my journey this last year and a half, I have been working on giving up pearls. Unlike the little girl, I think I've been giving them up one pearl at a time as opposed to the entire strand at once. Its been so hard. But I realized yesterday that that is what I'm doing. And God is giving me little glimpses of what He has for me. His promises. Y'all... that makes me want to rip off this fake necklace and hand it over! It makes me want to do the same for you! And yet, the Lord is so patient to wait for me. I cannot wait to continue this process of growing me into the best version of me, for the Lord, for myself and for my son. And I love how the Lord is dropping opportunities for me to share (and remind myself) of each fake pearl I've given to Him in complete trust that He has something so much better for me. The lacerations to my heart aren't so raw and wide open anymore. They are scars that are beautiful and lesson filled and sometimes tender. So while I work on whatever pearls I have left to hand over to the Lord, I am doing so with joyful anticipation of what the Lord has for me next. The storm is over.

Living Loved,

Friday, March 17, 2017

An Irish Tradition

Every February I start looking for Liam's St. Patrick's Day shirt. I have come to LOVE this random little tradition we've created. Something about it feels so different than his Christmas PJ photos and his Halloween costume pictures. This is just a fun day outside wearing green and talking about leprechauns! Nothing big about it, but its something we've done every year. Well, KC weather has not been playing nice lately and so I did the photographer thing and have been watching for a warm day. Thankfully I got one about a week before St. Patrick's Day, and good thing we seized the opportunity, because it literally SNOWED twice since then. Spring break? Spring JOKE is more like it. Bugh. Today though, it is gorgeous. We got lucky! ;)

But! Here are my favorites from our park play that day. My boy is growing so big. He's got his own little hipster style and such personality. I adore every inch of his FACE! OH my goodness. I get lost in his dimples. Lord help me!
After such a rough week (and thank you all for your support throughout it), I needed some self care. And I've come to know that sometimes, my best self care comes in the form of taking photos and editing photos... So maybe that's another reason I was thrilled it was time to venture outdoors and grab my camera for our little tradition.  Or maybe its that I get to drag out this holiday an entire week because I just finished editing photos last night. Either way, wear green or get pinched! Happy St. Patrick's Day! :)

Living loved,

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Honor the Broken Pieces

This week is a rough one. Its spring break - it should be all fun and sun, right? Not exactly. For all of you who have followed my journey the past 14 months, you know that the last thing its been is easy. But I have found such blessing in this storm. From discovering that I’ve got friends stronger and truer than at any other point in my life, that I am braver than I ever thought possible, and that I am RESILIENT… a phoenix just brushing off ashes - these are victories. These are blessings. And these are the things I have to keep reminding myself of this week. 

I have officially lived in Kansas City for two years. On March 13, 2015 my little family relocated AGAIN and I embarked on a new chapter in an already challenging time in my life. I look back on that time and I remember the fear and the excitement. I remember questioning a lot of things. I remember the hope I had to build community for myself - to drop the feelings of isolation - and to feel like I could keep my head above water. I built community. I made friends. I gave random park moms my phone number. I joined groups. I felt safer and more loved and more supported. You might be thinking, “but those are great things, why is that a rough date? or rough time to remember?”… the answer is that I desperately wanted those great things because I hadn’t had them for so long. I was drowning in the unhealthiness of my life and I was too afraid to leave the bad behind because I didn’t have support close by. I didn’t feel safe and loved in my every day - in my close proximity. Part of that was the shame I walked beneath stifled my ability to truly open up to those who might have given me what I needed. I was isolated. And those feelings flood over me and break my heart all over again when I think of that date. I sat in my pain for so long because I didn’t know anything any different. And all the bad came on so slowly that I didn’t notice until it was suffocating me. I remember my 11th grade chemistry teacher talking to my class about putting a frog into boiling water. He’ll jump right out. He knows it is hurting him. But if you put that same frog in that same pot of water at room temperature and slowly bring it to a boil, he’ll sit right in it until he dies. Hi world, I’m Dying Frog. Nice to meet you. That’s what I think of when I think of March 13, 2015. I think of my impending separation only 9 months later. I think of the hell I went through before and after it. I think of the home we moved into that day and the dreams I had for it and for the next one - the home I’d built in my head a thousand times over. I see all the broken pieces when I think of that date. 
And then March 15, 2014 rolls around and I refuse to open Timehop because even though it will show an incredibly fun day taking photos of my cousin’s precious baby boy, I will forever know it as the day my marriage broke without my knowledge… without my permission. I wouldn’t find out about this for another month or so…. but when something breaks and the pieces are lying shattered on the floor, reflex is to fix it - to put it back together. Make it like new. Because of this reflex, I know the impact point. I know ground zero. It was 3 years ago. And most days, I still feel its effects. Maybe in the way that I wake up by myself and I don’t want to. Maybe in the way that I worry if my little boy will have a male figure in his life that he trusts enough, that is healthy enough, to give him Godly advice a boy might not want to ask of his mom when he’s 12, or 16, or 20. The effects are far reaching… the ripples keep expanding… and I know on what day it exploded. 

For the following 2 years and 9 months, I fought hard for something I thought I had to have. Even when I felt I was the only one fighting for it.  I thought that all the broken pieces had to be put back just perfectly. No cracks. No chips. No evidence of disaster. I couldn’t see my life any differently than what it already was. I lost my worth. I lost me. Moments before my last froggy breath, I jumped out of my boiling water. I’ve been returning to room temperature ever since. 

A very wise friend of mine shared something with me a few weeks ago. In Japan, tea ceremonies are a really big deal. Every movement is so completely thought out and ultimately about preparing tea for another person completely from the heart. Beautiful bowls and cups are used in these ceremonies. And when one of these bowls or cups get broken, they don’t throw it out, but they don’t glue it back together with the intent to hide the fractures and breaks either. Instead, they bond the broken pieces back together with melted gold. 

You see… the thing that makes these bowls and cups so beautiful ARE the cracks - the breaks and fractures. The imperfections. These gorgeous cups and bowls are sought after treasures, even more so with all the cracks and breaks. My marriage did break. But not necessarily on March 15. That’s when someone else’ actions broke ME. And over the last few months, in my journey toward healing and growth, in my desire to dive deeper into the Word and believe in my heart of hearts what God says about me, I realize that I am being put back together.  The Lord is still crafting me using melted gold. I’m no longer trying to hide my breaks, cracks, chips and fractures. I am who I am because I’ve been hurt. Deeply. I’ve been betrayed repeatedly. And I am no longer willing to be like a frog slowly boiling to death. I’m treasured. I’m valued. I’m highly sought after. I just have to fix my eyes on the One who’s chase after me truly matters. 

This week is hard. It is full of days that hurt to remember. This week also includes the birthday (March 16th) of Micayla, my sister, who no longer gets to celebrate here on Earth. So this week, I have to remind myself that I’m growing, I’m healing, I’m resilient. And when I’m feeling bogged down by the betrayals, the hurts and the tears, I’ll sit with those feelings and I'll honor those broken pieces that are being painted with gold. GOLD. Because I'm even more beautiful for having been broken. 

Living loved,