A Broken Heart

“For I am sure that neither death nor life…nor anything else…will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus”

I read these words and I know that they are true. Yet at times like this when we hear of another school shooting, I find myself having a hard time trusting in them. Why do some feel the need to resort to violence and death? During times like this, people often ask where was God? I believe God was in the school with those children. However I know that that is not easy to trust in.

Yesterday as I heard the news of another school shooting, my heart was breaking…and still is breaking. And I am also a little angry. I am angry that our kids cannot go to school and be safe. I am angry that so many are so overcome by darkness that they cannot help but make bad choices. (And yet I am also thankful for those that have gotten and continue to receive the treatment they need!) I am angry that there is such a stigma that so many don’t understand the illness. I am angry yet my anger is overcome by the tears streaming down my face; tears for what my mom has taught me about showing love, tears for all the lives lost in school shootings, tears for the conversations that need to take place in a scared scarred world.

I want our world to be a better place. Once I find my Mr. Right and I have a family, I don’t want to have to worry about sending my children to school. I want more hope and not fear. I want there to be more love and not so much hate. A friend of mine posted several questions on her FB feed a year again after another school shooting and I cannot shake them. Her questions are in no way rhetorical. They need to be answered. And I find myself clinging to those questions again today. She writes, “We have too many hurting youth, too many kids who don’t have hope, too many kids who don’t feel loved. What are we going to do about this as the people of God? How are we going to speak light into this darkness and hope into despair? How will we show love to all people today?”

Yes, my dear readers and friends, how are we going to show light in the midst of this darkness and hope in the midst of this despair? How are we going to show love to God’s people today? In the midst of the darkness, I cling to this precious one who was born in a manger in Bethlehem; the one who comes as the light in the midst of darkness, the hope in the midst of despair, and so much more. How do we help show that kind of love to those who are hurting, to those who don’t know love?

I am reminded of my dear mother who has lived most of my life with a mental illness, yet she is one of the most faith-filled women I know. I swear she would give the shirt off her back. She simply loves unconditionally. She has been an amazing model of God’s love for me and I am so grateful and thankful for that. But I find myself wondering where are those examples for those youth who are hurting and don’t feel loved? How do we show them that they are loved? How do we show them that there is hope in the world? I don’t know the answers, yet I want the answers! And I want those answers sooner rather than later. I want the answer not to be violence. I want the answer to be kindness and love and grace. I want….

Today I am praying for this one in Marysville who thought their only answer was violence. Today I am praying for Eric and Dylan who walked into Columbine. Today I am praying for all those who lost a child almost two years ago at Sandy Hook. Today I am praying for Adam who felt his only answer was to walk into that school two years ago. Today I am praying for all those youth who don’t feel loved and who are hurting. Today I am praying that we will be able to answer these questions that my friend posted. Today my prayer is simply…come, Holy Spirit, come…help us to show them light and love and hope!

Disclaimer: All religious views expressed on this blog are my own
views and are not necessarily the views of my church as a whole.

Everything I Ever Learned…….

The other day I was brainstorming ideas for my #write31days series and the book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum popped into my head.

Today my post is about Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned from my Momma.” I have learned that when you are kind to others; they will be kind to you. I have learned that when you are willing to give the shirt off your back and help out someone, they will return the favor when you are in need. 
I have learned what it means to share “unspeakable joy” with the world. I have learned that sometimes its ok to indulge in chocolate or soap operas or whatever to take your mind off the troubles of  the day for a moment. I have learned that its ok to take a nap when your body is tired. 
I have learned what it means to believe that you are a beloved child of God; called and claimed by God. I have learned what it means to be nurtured in faith and pass on faith and values. I have learned to say sorry and really mean it. I have learned what it means to have someone proud of me for my accomplishments; graduating high school, attending and graduating from seminary, my first job, etc.
I have learned to work hard. I have learned to remember specials day; Birthdays, Anniversaries, etc. I have learned to pick up basin and towel and wash the feet of all God’s people. I have learned to share and educate about our journey with mental illness. I have learned what it means to be loved by God in the midst of our brokenness. 
I have ultimately learned what it means to love and be loved!! 

Unspeakable Joy

Christian artist Chris Tomlin does a version of “Joy to the World” that is awesome. In the song, he talks about “unspeakable joy.” I love his description of joy that he uses. My mom definitely exudes “unspeakable joy.” For me, “unspeakable joy” is seeing the look on someones face, their body language, etc without uttering a single word about how joyful or happy they are. (I hope that makes sense!)

My birthday was exactly one month ago today. Mom called me on Monday because the little community bus was coming to the closest big town which I live in on Tuesday. Mom wanted to come to Minot and celebrate my birthday with me. She tried all day to get a hold of the bus driver but she was not having any luck because it was Labor Day. She called me at about 5 pm and was like I dont think it is going to work out. I could tell in her voice that she was disappointed. But then a couple of hours later, she called and said they called me back. I can come. So I met her at Walmart. Then we went to Paradisos and celebrated my birthday. It was such a great day…unspeakable joy for Mom.

Last spring, my friend CT and I went to Mom’s town where we meet with other youth/home and family colleagues once a month. It was a windy day and we had left early. As we pulled into town, CT asked if I wanted to stop in and see my Mom. I told her we didnt have to. But CT said, “I know we don’t have, but I want to meet your Mom.” So we did just that. I led the way into the assisted living/nursing home that Mom lives at.  Once through the doors, I turned to the left and led CT to Mom’s room. Mom’s face lit up the moment we walked through the door. Mom grabbed me and embraced me in a big hug. Then she turned to my friend and embraced her too. CT and I talk about what it was like for her to see the look on Mom’s face that day. CT says that she saw “joy…pure joy” that day! Again…….unspeakable joy for Mom.

One of my favorite memories from this summer was my sister and I getting to spend a day at the ND State Fair with Mom. There was a little bit of miscommunication and it took a little bit of time before we caught up…but we did. Mom used a wheelchair that day because it was so much walking. My sister and I took turns pushing the wheelchair. We watched racing pigs, ate too much fair food, and had lots of laughs. My fave memory from that day is when we decided to have a caricature done of the three of us. The guy was so good with Mom and us. The caricature is now hanging in Mom’s room at the nursing home. Again….”unspeakable joy!”

These are just a few snippets of the “unspeakable joy” Mom has shown me in my life. I know that she isn’t always feeling like this because I have seen her at her lowest lows. But I love that she is so joyful over the simple things in life. I hope and pray that we all can be more joyful over the simple things in life…and not take our blessings for granted.

And just for a little fun, here is a link to a video of Chris Tomlin’s “Joy to the World” (Oh and excuse me for posting a Christmas video in October!)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM_bCtc1hhs

In Sickness and In Health

First off, I want to say “thank you” to all of you who have stopped by my blog as I have begun the #write31days challenge. I’ll admit that self-doubt had crept in and I wasn’t sure that what I was writing about was the right topic. But after your comments, I know that I am exactly where God wants me to be…to be writing about a topic that needs to be talked about. So again thank you…your words will get me through on those days when I think I have nothing valid to say at all!

“When am I going to be a Grandma?” That is Mom’s favorite question as of late. She really wants to be a Grandma. But as I tell her, there is just one small problem. My sister and I need to find those special men to marry and have a family with. And at this point and time, there are no prospects in sight either. I really believe Mom is asking this question because she is a person who loves “hard” (meaning she falls in love with friends and family quickly and creates meaningful and close relationships fast which also means she mourns hard too!)

I’ll admit that when Mom asks me that question, I find myself perhaps a little frustrated! Nothing has changed since the time she asked last week…or even when she asked yesterday. And I’ll admit I also get frustrated with myself for being so frustrated with her. I know there are times when I snap back quicker than I intend to. And I feel horrible when I react that way…yet I know that I am simply human. I also know that Mom still loves me despite my own shortcomings and failings.

Marriage and family is something that I definitely yearn for, yet it also is something that I find myself holding back from in a sense too. Because when I do find my Mr. Right, I wonder who will come with me to pick out my wedding dress because Mom isn’t going to be able to be involved in the wedding planning etc as much as I would like her to be. You see my senior year of college, Mom’s lithium (a drug she takes for her bipolar disorder) got too high which caused her kidneys to shut down. We weren’t sure she was going to make it but she rallied and is doing so very well. But since that time, Mom has lived in an assisted living/nursing home. Despite all of this, I know that she will find her ways to be involved! And I also know that I have amazing friends and family; caring, authentic, available, affirming adults who will sit and cry tears; tears of joy with me when I find that perfect dress for my “hopefully someday” special day! They also will be the ones who will celebrate with me as we mark each milestone along the way.

Yet marriage and family is still a difficult topic to talk about. My parents divorced my sophomore year of high school. It was truly the one and only time I saw tears streaming down our dad’s face. I also will never forget the words he uttered to my sister and I that day either. With tears in his eyes, he said, “It isn’t that I don’t love your mom anymore. It’s that I cant handle this illness.” Powerful but truthful words! I know it took a lot of courage to say those words to us.

Yes, there are days that I get impatient waiting for my Mr. Right. But I know that God is preparing the perfect man for me; the perfect man who will hear my story; my family’s story of mental illness and won’t be scared away but rather will hold my hand, walk with me and us, and will simply let me cry on his shoulder when Mom isn’t doing well.

Not Forgotten

I took a little road trip to see my momma yesterday. The nursing home/assisted living place she lives at has a little Mother’s Day program. I was delighted to spend this time with my mom and it was such a nice day for a drive. When I get there, I always have to laugh because she is always continually telling people who I am! And yesterday was no different! My mom exudes pure joy when my sister and/or I walk into a room. (Just ask my friend Chris who got to see that first hand one day!)

My mom is a great mom, but like lots of moms, it has not been easy for her. Yet she has always had my sister and I’s best interest at heart. She loves entirely unconditionally! I love my momma with all of my heart, yet there are things that I mourn too! Since she is in a nursing home, I wonder if she will be able to be there when I finally meet my Mr. Right and need to go dressing shopping. I wonder if she will be able to share with me if/when I finally have my own child/children.

Mother’s Day is a wonderful day to honor my momma and all the mommas in my life. Yet I know that Mother’s Day isn’t easy for many of them and even me. I have watched friends who have struggled with infertility; waiting, watching and praying for a child. I have watched friends parent children for only a few minutes and then have to say goodbye to them. I have watched as friends have waited to be matched with a child for them to adopt. Mother’s Day is a day to honor all those moms as well!

Later this year, I will turn 36 and I’ll admit that my biological clock is ticking…and continues to tick. Just yesterday, my mom asked about grandchildren! I know her heart is in the right place but it still doesnt make it any easier. I so want to be a momma. Something I yearn for so deeply and strongly! Yes, I could and maybe someday will adopt but that isn’t easy to think about either. Who will support me on that journey? What will people think of that choice? And yet the truth is I am not getting any younger, my body maybe won’t be able to carry a biological child. And for that I ache…an ache that is so deep! I so yearn to be a momma! It is one of those very good, yet very difficult things in my life!

It’s hard to put into words how deep that ache is and how deep I yearn to be a mom. Yet I still carry that ache and that yearn with me out into the world. There are so many mother types in the world: those who yearn to be a momma again, those who have had to bury their own children, those who have waited to adopt, and so many more. Tomorrow may we give thanks for all of the Mothers in the world!

As Women We Walk Together….

“To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be.” These words posted on a friend’s FB page written by Amy Young hit so close to home for me. At almost 35 years old, I deeply yearn to be a mom. I try to be patient but that is so much easier said than done. I have yearned to be a mama for as long as I can remember! I want to be a mama just like my mama has been for me.

I watch my friends be “mommas” and I can’t help but smile. I am so thankful for the gift they are to their children. But I also mourn for my friends who have struggled with infertility and miscarriages. My heart aches for them…as I know they so deeply want to be a momma for the first time or again. I don’t always understand why this happens. I find myself asking God “Why?” And at times, it just doesn’t seem fair.

Yes, life hasn’t turned out the way I have longed for it to be. I keep telling myself that it will happen when God says that I am ready. Yet there is a piece of me that feels incomplete. I know that isn’t true. But so much of the world is all about celebrities becoming pregnant. I mean looking at how the world is all over how Kate Middleton is doing throughout her pregnancy. Yet the truth is some of the neatest single women in my life aren’t mothers yet they care like a mother cares for her children. I honestly do want to be a momma but I know that my friends who are single and not mommas are mommas in their own right too. Someday I hope and pray that life will turn out the way I want and will make me a momma…whether that be biological or through adoption.

Below is the rest of the poem from Amy Young. It captures so well what being a momma looks like in our world. Happy Mother’s Day everyone! This is for all of you my friends who are mommas, who yearn to be mommas, etc!

From Grace Lutheran for Mother’s Day:

“To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you. To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you. To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you.

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you. To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you. To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you. To those who have disappointment, heartache, and distance with your children – we sit with you.

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you. To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience. To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst. To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day.

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be. To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths. To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren, yet that dream is not to be – we grieve with you.

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you. To those who placed children up for adoption – we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you.

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you. (By Amy Young)”

Not Giving Up

No Matter What….

Those words are such great words. It’s a mantra some friends of mine live by and they are so true. The truth is no matter what happens in life, love, etc, God is there in the midst of it. How often do we forget that. How often do we see ourselves as failures in whatever we are doing. And as I read my friend Anna’s post on Hope for the Weary (You can read Anna’s post here; Hope for the Weary (New) Mom)

I was once again reminded that I cannot give up….

I cannot give up on the dream to find my Mr. Right…..

I cannot give up on my dream to have a family and children of my own….

And most of all, I cannot give up on my God who is faithful and will always be faithful to me……..

(I needed that reminder! Thanks Anna!)

P.S. My last post was my 500th post on this blog!

Why You Cant Live at the Spa (Hope for the Weary ?) Part Three

Why You Can’t Live at the Spa….quite the title for a chapter huh. This is chapter 4 in the book my mama friends are hosting an online book/Bible study on. Don’t we all wish we could live at the spa….especially on days when nothing seems to be going the way we want it to go! I love my friend Anna’s paraphrase of this Isaiah text. I’m posting it here for my mama friends:

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those moms who trust in the Lord will find new strength to make it until bedtime. They will soar high on wings like eagles.They will run after tiny people endlessly and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint from sheer exhaustion.” -Isaiah 40:29-31

Let’s chat:
•What things do you love to do to relieve stress? I love to spend time with my friends, go get a haircut, listen to music, go to a movie! What do you like to do to relieve stress…especially you my mama friends!

•Do you see God’s Word as providing you with comfort? Why? Why not?
YES!!!!! God’s Words have a way of speaking to me when I least expect it. I hope that you feel the same way!

Hope for the Weary (Not Yet But Yearning to Be One) Mom

As I posted yesterday, my friend Anna is hosting an online Bible/Book study, “Hope for the Weary Mom!” As I read her post and the posts of the other mamas, I wonder what kind of a mama I will be! My heart aches for these mamas as I read their stories!But their honesty inspires me and I hope other mamas are blessed by reading their thoughts. Mamas, you aren’t alone!

•Have you gotten to the place of total breakdown? What does it look like for you? I have not gotten to that place of total breakdown. However I am sure I will someday when I have that family I am so yearning for. There are times when I get to the point of breakdown because I havent experienced what mamas are experiencing and I want that so badly!

•How does it feel to know that you don’t really have what it takes to be the kind of mom you want to be? The phrase that keeps popping into my head is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God made us all to be who we are! I’m no mama but I am a sinner. I have a feeling that when I become a mom someday I will be disappointed and will compare myself to other mamas. Forgive me friends but there are days when I am sad and am…dare I say it…jealous of those of you who have a family! I just need to remember that God remains faithful and will always be faithful!

Just my thoughts. I am definetely no mama and don’t pretend to know everything about being a mom! I just hope I can be a good support for my mama friends. You are such blessings in my life. And one day I hope to be as great of a mom to my children as you are to yours!

Hope for the Weary….?

My dear friend Anna and many other mamas are hosting an online book/Bible study called “Hope for the Weary Mom.” You can read Anna’s blog here: Hope for the Weary (New) Mom)

I love how honest their posts have been. When I first saw Anna’s post I was excited that he had pages for all sorts of mamas….but then I was also bummed because I’m not a momma but I yearn to be a mama in so many ways. (You, my faithful readers, already know that!) So Ive been reading Anna’s posts and pondering what kind of a mama I might be someday…and in the midst of this praying about something I have been pondering for awhile now…foster care and/or adoption. SO I thought I would share my thoughts and answer the questions from the book looking from my view and the view of others out there who are trying so hard to have a family and to be a mom or dad. I also have a feeling that my mama friends will be hopefully be blessed by these posts as well!

(And a side note for my dear friend Anna: Dear Anna, you are an awesome mama and Sam and J are blessed to have you in their lives. I know being a mom isnt easy but you dear aren’t afraid to be honest and share how hard being a mom can be. I so admire you for that and hope to be as good of a mom as you are to Sam!)

In chapter one, the chapter is titled, “When the Gentle Words Won’t Come.” How hard it is to find those gentle words when life seems so crazy etc. The discussion questions from that chapter that Anna posted are as follows. Lets discuss…

•Where do you turn first for comfort and relief?
As a writer, I have to put things down on paper so for me I write poetry. I also turn to trusted friends and family. Someday, as a mom, I know this wont be easy. I look at all my mama friends and how hard it must be to find that good caring time with other adults. Like a lot of moms out there, I wish I could say I turned to prayer and my Bible which I do do but not as often as I should!

Chapter two is titled “When You Just Don’t Measure Up.” Reading this I thought to myself….how many of us feel this on a daily basis…or if not on a daily basis at least pretty often. Its so hard to measure up to what we think we should be doing and what others think we should be doing etc. This chapter really spoke to my heart and in a lot of ways gave me a sense of peace! And let’s discuss these questions…

•How often do you catch yourself comparing your home, job, income or parenting to someone else? Boy…often! I so often find myself comparing my life to others especially when I see they have the things I want and yearn for so deeply. Will I ever get to have a family? Will anyone ever call me mama? And then I realize I am so blessed to have the life I do have. My friends who have children are such an awesome blessing in my life. I love spending time with each and every one of them.