Sunday, February 11, 2018

Hindsight

This weekend, I attended a marriage conference. Is that weird? I’m not married anymore, but I hope to be one day… and after already being in a marriage that “failed” and ended in a co-parenting plan and a divorce decree, I think its important to learn all I can about how to have a healthy marriage. And I’m head over heels for a man who pursues my heart. I want to make sure I’ve done all I can preemptively to honor him and our relationship as it grows.

I heard tons of great advice and lots of great points that I hadn’t thought about before at the conference. Even heard some hard to hear facts about why some marriages fail. And I say ‘hard to hear’ because it basically felt like the speaker was telling my story to thousands of people. I felt raw and exposed. I also felt overwhelming joy that the light is being shed on that darkness… TO THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE. The right thing isn’t always the easy thing, ya know.

Anyway, there was this segment of the conference where the speaker had certain people stand up in the room to give visual representation to a statistic he was about to share. Things like 2/3 of men look at porn on a monthly basis (ouch) and 97% of women struggle with body image in some capacity (ouch again). And trust me, those two stats are dramatically intertwined. But one thing this guy shared was something I’ve heard hundreds of times in church over the years and yet it hit my ears differently in that moment– every single person on this planet has purpose. We are not accidents. We can’t possibly give birth to an accident. He talked about the statistics of “oops babies.” At this point, my brain took a bit of a hiatus from the speaker and rabbit trailed for a minute. I was thinking that while those parents maybe didn’t PLAN to get pregnant, that child was still knit together with the same intentionality as the child whose parents tried for months or years to conceive. God hand selected that child be born to that set of parents at exactly that time. Order! I like that…

I grew up knowing full well I was an “oops baby.” High school kids don’t plan pregnancy all that often, at least not rationally. And my mom would have had a much different life had she decided not to keep the fetus growing inside her at the age of 15. My parents were honest about it to me. I was an accident… to them. But God put me on this planet at exactly that time. Order. Purpose.

So, I was sitting at the conference, and there was a short intermission where a game was being played that didn’t require my attention. I was still thinking about this concept of accident to my mom but on purpose to God. I wondered if my mom ever thought about that. I wondered if she thought that there was some thing purposeful that would come from her hard times. Did she ever wonder what it would be? And I began to think of my own situation… having a son in a completely broken and unhealthy relationship… now raising him as a single mom. Where is the purpose in that pain? My mom could have had a MUCH easier life without becoming a mom at 16. A lot of pain came her way in that season, I’m sure. And I experienced the most painful time in my life inside my toxic marriage that has left my son in a single parent home. 

There was also a lot of “team talk” as you’d expect at a marriage conference. As a family unit, we are on the same team and each player is necessary. Each child born is an addition to the team that is needed to fill a hole that existed before – to purposefully fit. The team was missing something before and God said, “I got it, you need THIS child.” Not a child. THIS one. Maybe I’m going to do something big in my life and the timing was just so, so that my mom needed to have me while still being in high school. Or maybe that big thing I’m going to do was to grow up, get married and have Liam, despite all the hard times that would follow because it’s Liam that is going to do something big. Or maybe its even bigger than all that. Its all connected. Its all purposed. And its all God’s plan.

It can get really overwhelming to think about it all – what that purposeful plan could be. However, I decided I really like looking back on something and examining how it played out. Track with me for just a second…

I’ve been meeting with and speaking love and truth into women on a weekly basis. These are women who have been hurt by betrayal and/or trauma in their marriage and have found the incredible courage to reach out. Even in the past 24 hours, I was contacted again. And I gracefully accept that this is where God has me right now. Walking with those that are hurting so they can know that they do NOT have to walk this out alone. I am honored. We are on the same TEAM and our paths did not cross by accident. Okay… so I’m talking with these ladies who have been hurt how I’ve been hurt and I’m instantly thankful for the birth of my son who I ultimately decided to leave my marriage for – for his emotional safety growing up because I wasn’t ready to fight for my own safety… my child saved my life. So did my mom struggle as a teen mom so that I could ultimately show women Jesus by loving them in a dark time? Was Liam’s birth part of that plan, an extra nudge in the right direction? It sure feels like it. And I am even more sure that the plan is even bigger still. Bigger for my mom, bigger for me and bigger for Liam. Because I just went to a marriage conference about building a healthy future and saw purpose in my past through generations. That guy I’m head over heels for, he’s in my future – we’re building a team together, and its our responsibility to take our past experiences, sort through them together safely and honor them and their purpose, so we can honor the Lord together.  

I can’t speak to knowing the purpose God has in my future marriage, but it will sure be fun to look back on that marriage, 10, 20, and 30 years down the road and see purpose in hindsight. I’m not going to let the unknown overwhelm me, I don’t have to KNOW the purpose. I just have to honor God and honor my man. God’s plan will play itself out and add to the story.

Living loved,

T

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas 2017 --> Influenza A

I was supposed to be finishing up the 2017 fall semester teaching my sweet littles the last two days. Instead I slept a lot and thanked Jesus repeatedly for Tamiflu. I got bit by the flu-bug in a BAD way this past weekend. And y'all, my little ball-o-energy that answers to the name of Liam has been suffering from severe cabin fever. 


I haven't felt 100% in over a week. Like severely run down. However, things took a dramatic turn on Sunday. And that's the last time Liam and I left our place other than the visit to urgent care when I thought I could no longer function. I've only ever had the flu that I can remember one other time - during college (H1N1) - and I stumbled into student health with a fever of 104 and barely standing at all. This go round wasn't quite as bad, thankfully. I drove to urgent care with a fever just shy of 102 and a 4 year old in the back seat singing Joy To the World. Liam got his flu shot this year... I did not. 


 I already knew it to be true, but I have a pretty incredible kid. I've been an all but absent mom the past 72 hours. Quarantined to my bed, doing the bare minimum to ensure he is fed and safe, and yet, he runs from the living room to the foot of my bed to say, "are you better yet, momma? Do you need more drinks?" And after I've started a movie for him for the 5th time in a single day because its the best I can do (thank you chrome cast and netflix), he still runs to my side of the bed and says, "thank you for resting momma, I love you with my heart."
But the flu doesn't last forever! Today, I am feeling better. Tonight, we will open stockings and hopefully finish reading Wonder together. We will celebrate our last night just the two of us before we embark on our Christmas travels this year. And I will make sure that this little boy knows how much his patience and joy has encouraged me through these past almost 72 hours. I'm a pretty terrible patient when it comes to getting sick. I don't want anyone seeing me, talking to me, or taking care of me, even though I need it. I just like to be left alone. And Liam is at this magical crossroads of age appropriate egocentrism and emotionally mature empathy and compassion that have made him the best person to be trapped with in our apartment. Just enough space giving counter balanced with just the right amount of "do you have enough blankets and animals, momma?" He gets me.
I did not expect to start the Christmas 2017 celebration with the flu. However, I did expect that tonight would be just me and Liam, opening stockings and sipping hot coco. Not even the flu can stop us from making that a reality. I'm so thankful for this boy, the joy he brings me, the wonder he evokes, and the amount he stretches me. Get behind me, flu. You have no power here!

Living loved, 
T

Monday, December 4, 2017

#TurningThirty

I can remember being 5 or 6 and thinking that 30 was O-L-D. Age has never mattered to me, and as those closest to me know, I'm NOTORIOUSLY bad at estimating age of people. I think part of that is my own age has been frozen in time in my brain for quite a few years.  In my head, I'm 22. My brother is eternally 7 years old and while calendars remind me that we are both getting older, I have a hard time seeing it.

So, as my birthday was approaching this year, I was not looking forward to it. More than that though, I was put off by it. I'm not the biggest fan of my own birthday as it is because lots of terrible things have happened on my birthday over the years. Car accidents, loss of loved ones, etc. My birthday kinda makes me nervous. And then, add to the preexisting anxiety the fact that I was turning 30! I was ready to skip my birthday all together. I am totally fine not growing up.

But see, God is so cool. I'm dating a guy who I couldn't have dreamed up if I tried. The last few years have been very painful and the majority of that pain centered around a broken relationship. The LAST thing on my mind was starting a new relationship. I had bowed out of that... I wasn't willing to risk being hurt again.... walking through another dysfunctional and/or damaging relationship was not on my To-Do List and I was great with that. I am really good at alone time, and my friends are wonderful. I wasn't worried about being single for the rest of my life, I thought that'd be just fine. But God had something totally different in store when He wove together the threads of my life and Rusty's. And y'all... timing is everything. 

So fast forward to the first week of November 2017. Rusty and I have been dating a few months and he is aware of the fact that I'm struggling with turning 30. So he gets this idea to start my birthday a month early. I LOVE surprises and he just continued to sprinkle surprises throughout the month leading up to my birthday and say "its an early birthday gift - happy 30th" with each surprise. He was totally normalizing "30th" to my ears and heart because each time he said it, I felt my insides flinch a little less! Yes, dramatic - what female WANTS to turn 30?! Anyway, by December 2, the day before my birthday, I was feeling fairly good about turning 30. Then he knocked any residual anxiety I may have had completely out the park that evening.

Rusty and I had a date day on Saturday. We ate lunch together, caught a movie, did some Christmas shopping, and just enjoyed each other's company. He had told me that he had one last thing he wanted us to check out and that he'd never been there but a friend of his had said it was pretty cool - worth going to, just the two of us. So, we headed into the city and landed at the River Market. I thought the surprise was the farmer's market (which looked awesome!) and as I was walking toward it scanning the produce and vendors, he steers us another direction and says, "where we are going is further this way." So, we kept walking, just holding hands and talking.... one of my favorite things.

We ended up at the Town of Kansas Bridge. It was beautiful and the sun was beginning to set. There were handfuls of people walking around and just enjoying the unseasonably warm weather and the river. We were walking along the bridge and about half way or further, I noticed a hot pink padlock. We continue walking and I started seeing more and more locks of varying kinds locked onto the railings and other parts of the bridge. I said to Rusty, "I wonder what all these locks are for? They must mean something." He casually says, "yeah, there's a lot of them." We kept walking. We made it to the end over looking the water and the locks were EVERYWHERE. I walked up to a row of them and started reading names and dates on each one. Rusty told me, "so, my buddy at work told me about this... its called the Love Lock Bridge. People bring a lock out here and add it to the bridge together" and I thought, oh! How amazing - all these people put these locks on the bridge together and their relationship, their love, is represented here, forever! So cool! As I'm reading names and dates and just lost in the idea of what these couples did in this spot, Rusty puts his arm around me and says "like this one..." and pulls a padlock out of his pocket with a tag he had engraved attached to it. Call me naive, I did NOT see that coming. The romantic in me was imagining the people who chose a vintage treasure chest lock, and the couple who drew their home state on the back of their padlock, wondering where they are now and what they are like... And then, I was one of those people.... staring at my name next to his with our first date engraved... I was completely speechless. I hugged him tight, wiped my tears, and thanked the Lord for blessings beyond what I have ever asked for. I stood in awe at the sun reflecting off the water and the safeness I felt standing in that spot, in his arms. We picked a spot and closed the lock around the metal - securing it to the bridge. He looked at me, smiled and said, "we're locked in this..." and I was completely amazed at God's timing and His plan and how my prayers a year ago of "Lord, help me get through this day" were answered so far beyond just "that day," and we threw the keys to our padlock into the river. He pulled me in close and told me "happy birthday."

That was December 2, 2017, and when I woke up the next morning, on my birthday, I was EXCITED to be 30. To start the NEXT 10 years and leave the last decade behind. To embrace year 30 for all it can be and know in my soul that I learned a LOT in my 20's about who God is in my life and who I am. I learned what I am worth and what I won't stand for - when knocked down hard, how to get up even stronger. I'm not the same girl I was at 22 or 28. I learned that I GET to risk hurt all over again because love is risky and love is everything. If I chose to close my heart to love, I close my heart to the Lord, and I don't want to live in a world where that's the case. I want to be locked in, keys at the bottom of the river, and risking what I have for something so much better. Timing. Not mine... not Rusty's... the Lord's timing. I'm 30, y'all. And EXCITED about it! .... and I'm pretty excited about this guy.

Living loved,
T