Beyond Borders

courage. faith. action.


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No Perfect Mamas Allowed! Trading in the picture perfect and getting real.

I prayed it for years. Too many now that I have lost count and I wondered if God was ever going to answer, or if He was even listening. I felt invisible. I felt alone. I felt isolated. My prayer simply was this… to end the perpetual state of chaos that was my life, my family, my home.

The chaos was kind of inevitable.

Two special needs kids with multiple diagnoses, my chronic migraines and autoimmune disorders, it’s a race from the moment eyes are startled open. Most days the finish line is nowhere in sight. (You can read more of my story here)The more days that passed, the more the chaos took reign.

And let me tell you, I tried on every how to, every system, every parenting technique, but nothing worked. Well, maybe it did, for about a week. This only fueled my frustration. Why couldn’t I make this work? Why could I not be a better mother? Wife? Why could I not manage this house? My answer was simple. I . Was. A. Failure.

Then November 2014 happened. I received an email, or maybe it was a Facebook post, I really can’t quite remember how it happened (I blame the flu) but I saw a request by Sally Clarkson to assist in her new book launch. This year had been so busy I had not an inkling of what her new book was about, or how I would find time to help, I just knew I wanted to do this.

Being on the launch team, I got the privilege of reading the first few chapters, and did I ever ugly cry? You can read about that over here. And then there was the webcast, insert more tears here. But it wasn’t until the book was in my hands and flipped through the pages and knew this was the answer.

That prayer that had become so repetitious was answered. Sally’s life poured out onto the pages of her book, It was all the answers. But this one thing hit me the hardest, I have been running around trying to fit my life into someone else’s puzzle. And that will never work, because their puzzle pieces are not mine. Mine are unique to my family, my health, my gifts. My puzzle.

Yeah. There it is. God hears. God sees. And God loves.

And I am not a perfect mama. Not even close. And in these days when Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, all the social media outlets. They fill our lives with comparison. It is so easy to get lost in the everyday mess of our lives and begin to feel less than, because these women posting all the beautiful things you just know they have it right. Perfection. They have learned the art and you will never live up. I will never live up.

But here is the thing, in the middle of my mess and my chaos, in the middle of tantrums and toys, I need to own it. Not run from it. Own. It. Own this life.

Because I don’t want a home that is perfectly decorated, if it means these little ones God chose for me to tend to do not feel perfectly loved. And I promise on any given day, there will be scattered toys, dishes in the sink, laundry, well, everywhere, but there will also be love. And this is real life. And it’s a beautiful life.

noperfectmamas

Thank you Sally Clarkson, for pouring out your heart, for heeding God’s call, for loving all of us imperfect mamas as your own.

Now ladies, I say we blow the lid off of this idea of perfection and show the world and the mamas out there that feel less than today, that we are all the same. Show them what perfection really looks like, the only perfection that matters. Will you share your story today? Click the little froggy below and link your blog post, if you are not a blogger tell us in the comments.

In the words of my three year old “Let’s do this thing!”

To view stories of real mamas click the blue froggy link above!


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When God chooses you: an adoption story.

We did not set out with adoption in our hearts, instead, God sought us. I know that each of us is chosen to parent the children that we birth into life, but to actually see the process of the choosing through adoption? It is, in a word, humbling.

whengodchoosesyou

It was through the prayer of our daughter and our joining in prayer with family that brought a tiny little human to our doorstep. This little one never knew the love of a mother. Not in the womb, not at birth, not when she left the hospital. At just three days old she was given to an alternate caregiver because her body tested positive for cocaine. She was passed from home to home, person to person, each one caring for her in the only ways they knew how.

At eight weeks old, she crossed the threshold into our home, and once she did, we knew there was no going back. She was ours. That day began a year of fighting for the life of a child that was chosen for us. It meant battling the enemy with every ounce of our being. It meant looking straight into the face of Satan, knowing that God had gone before, and putting all fear behind us.

Because a battle for a soul was about to be waged…

Please click to read the rest of When God chooses you: an adoption story over at Made To Mother, Stories by Moms About Motherhood. I was privileged to meet Wynter last year where she shared her heart with me about her website, The Made to Mother Project (M2M). Today, I am more than honored to be sharing at M2M.  I hope you join me over there.


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God gave you the sun.

The sky has been gray and dark and the rain has fallen for days. I am not sure when we last saw the sun cast shadows. It feels like Seattle with the cold and the rain and the dark. Except it’s not. And seasonal affective disorder might just being setting in, or maybe I am just weepy. And the last thing you said last night before bed? “I wish the sun would come out for my birthday.”

And then here it is, the morning of your birth.

It is still early and you are still sleeping, but you have to know that God brought the sun. It was only for a moment, but the sun glowed through the clouds and the fog. I didn’t know if it would last and I wanted you to see. I grabbed my phone and snapped some pictures right through the window. But they just dId not do it justice. The brilliant glow and the brightness that was spilling through the cracks of the blinds and dancing across the floor. I almost woke you from your dreams so you could breathe it in. But you were so peaceful.

I sat down next to you on the bed and brushed the hair from your face. I watched as your breath came and went. A steady slow rhythm. Memories of how I used to watch you breathe as a baby, how tiny you were, how I held you in my arms, how I could not believe that you were mine, how deep a love could really run, they all raced through my head.

Today, you are thirteen. If you want to be technical you won’t be thirteen until 4:45 pm, and yeah I am going to do just that. Be technical. Hold you to these last few hours of being twelve. Because I have to. Because once you turn thirteen I think it might all just be downhill. That i just might blink and you will be eighteen. The state will consider you an adult. We are closer to that than we are to you being that little baby that I held in my arms and watched breath. And I am just not ready.

I can’t help but wonder where all these years have gone. And what if I got it all wrong and what if I missed something, and that clock is about to roll over and you will officially be a teenager. Officially thirteen. Then what if it will be too late?

But there you are.

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This amazing young lady with more wisdom and grace than thirteen years can carry. I could tell you the obvious of the beauty that you are, but you can see that in the mirror. As you grow through your teen years I pray that the mirror does not become your friend. Because that mirror is a lie. It distorts and misaligns. And it’s all a lie. The only true beauty is that of your heart. And your heart sweet girl is full of beauty.

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Your heart is pure. And it shines. And this is not my doing, but God’s. You invited Him in and let Him fill all the secret places. You etched His words on your heart. And you trusted them.

And now I see you brave.

Conquering fears that once crippled you. Trusting that perfect Love that casts out fear and jumping in.That time you stood and sang His bow is on the strings… the time you sat through a thunderstorm without ears plugged tight with fingers… the time you danced in the puddles after the storm… that time you danced across a stage… It was right there on your face. A smile. The confidence. The brave.

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I pray you remember this feeling. I pray you always jump!

The clock is ticking and there is no stopping it. It’s not mine to stop. Time is always moving forward.

And there you are thirteen.

sydney

birthdaysun

And on this morning God gave you the sun.


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Sally, tears and her new book. (revised)

This is a revised post from December, but I just had to, because tomorrow Sally Clarkson’s new book, Own Your Life, launches. And tomorrow evening she and some friends are going a webcast to introduce the book.

In December, I had the humbled privilege of getting a sneak peek into the book. I cried. Like ugly cried. Because… it’s Sally. And her words always fall like rain and wash over my soul. Comforting the hurting places, encouraging the scared places and because I secretly wish she lived next door. Right here everyday pouring into my life. But since she is not, I read her blog and her books, and her Facebook posts and pretend she is right here with me. And she always knows exactly what I am feeling. She is cool like that, because she and Jesus are super close, and He whispers to me through her. And this book, in so many ways, is going to be her best yet. I am so thankful she thought to write a book just for me.

Oh wait, I forgot, she wrote it for all of us. She says, “I want every woman to be renewed and refreshed in a personal life vision with the conviction that you can say with Paul : ‘I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus’”

Sally, I thank you for pressing on. For always pressing on.

For more information about her book check out Sally’s blog. To preorder “Own Your Life” go here…

Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love

Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love

Buy from Amazon

For more information on the webcast go here, and there is a link to register there as well.

Revised from the archives


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Sally, tears and her new book.

So today, along with a slew of other women, I get the honor of announcing Sally Clarkson’s new book, Own Your Life.  It’s releasing in January 2015. I had the humbled privilege of getting a sneak peek into the book. I cried. Like ugly cried. Because… it’s Sally. And her words always fall like rain and wash over my soul. Comforting the hurting places, encouraging the scared places and because I secretly wish she lived next door. Right here everyday pouring into my life. But since she is not, I read her blog and her books, and her Facebook posts and pretend she is right here with me. And she always knows exactly what I am feeling. She is cool like that, because she and Jesus are super close, and He whispers to me through her. And this book, in so many ways, is going to be her best yet. I am so thankful she thought to write a book just for me.

Oh wait, I forgot, she wrote it for all of us. She says, “I want every woman to be renewed and refreshed in a personal life vision with the conviction that you can say with Paul : ‘I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus'”

Sally, I thank you for pressing on. For always pressing on.

For more information about her book check out Sally’s blog. To preorder “Own Your Life” go here…


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Christmas trees, Charlie Brown, and Advent.

It’s an unwinding of lights today. The Christmas tree stands with spiders and dust and broken lights and odors you just do not want in your house. It’s an unstringing. And Charlie Brown’s voice catches my ear. It’s full of sadness and longing. He wonders is Christmas all about money? About what and how much you get? He is searching for the real meaning of Christmas.

tree lights

tree with lights

The lights are a tangled mess. Who strung this pre lit tree? With each tug on the branches the dust billows around us like pig pen as he walks on to the set. Dust of Christmases past. This tree found it’s way into our home just a year ago, but it has known many Christmases. And Just like all of us it has a story.

As I unravel strings and cut clips the linger of stale cigarette smoke fills the air. Definitely a heavy smoker. A string dangles from a branch and I wonder what it held. The hint of air freshener wafts for a moment. Was it sprayed to mask the odor of cigarettes? I pull twisty ties that held newer lights tight to the branches. Did they want more light or was it because the lights lost their burn? Did children swarm on christmas morn filled with anticipation? Or, did the tree sit alone, haunted with memories of long ago? My arms are tired and my back is straining and all I want to do is toss this tree and go buy a new one. But Christmas trees don’t come cheap these days, so I press on.

tree clips

Charlie Brown’s voice echoes my frustration now, and where are you Linus? Where is your recitation? The words that bring the hope of glory. We desperately need those words.

I use the scissors against the lights, trying desperately to rescue the branches. With each snip, my head fills with events and headlines and controversy. I can feel the weight of darkness. The weight of judgments as to what is the right way to celebrate Christmas. I feel the weight of the self imposed pressure of the social media images of with perfectly decorated mantles and doorsteps. I feel the weight of the argument of who owns Christmas. Did the christians really steal Christmas? I feel the weight of the whispers in desperate times about cities that fight against themselves and whispers of doubt that there never really be peace on earth.

I’m pleading with Linus now. As if the words he recites will bring the peace. Renew the hope. Quiet my mind.

With branches finally freed from the shackles of string lights, I soak that tree with soap and water and vinegar. Washing away the dust and the dirt. The water flows muddy and the branches glisten in the sunlight.

tree clean

Today, the beginning of advent and I am unraveling. Unravelling Christmas lights, and the hopelessness and peace within myself.  And Ann, she reads these words, on the first Sunday of advent, as she invites us in and shares with us through video. She tells us how she wasn’t comfortable in doing so and the yes didn’t come right away, but God kept pressing and there she was because this…  “that If one person could have a more meaningful deep relationship with Christ this Christmas, that if somebody could experience more of an upside down Christmas and encounter Jesus in a fresh way than it is worth doing.”

Because this is advent. A Latin word meaning coming. Waiting. Waiting for the coming of christ. And we are the perpetual advent people. Always waiting for the coming of Christ. And she talks about the Easter people. The hallelujah people. The advent people. Always waiting for the coming of Christ. And I want this. I want to be this person always living in the wait. Always saying yes, even in the uncomfortable, because if just one person…

Charlie Brown is still searching. Where are you Linus? I am pleading with him as if his reading changes everything.

But isn’t this what Christmas is? The renewing of hope? Of the One who came to save the world from all its suffering? The only One who can bring peace on earth? The coming of Jesus, born in a manger? Do these words not change everything?

Because each year as we walk into advent and sit in the wait for Christmas morning, we sit and wait for the reminder. The celebration. Of He who came. Born in a manger. Of He who brought the hope of glory. Of He who died and rose again and is coming again.

And the arguments can beg who owns Christmas. And we can worry about all the unrest and when or if it will end? And we can judge and feel judged on our Christmas traditions, but really there is only one Christmas…

As Charlie Brown returns to the auditorium with his tiny little sapling, the Christmas tree for the play, he is ridiculed by the children. Their laughter trails as they walk away. Charlie Brown is desperate now, he is screaming it, what is the meaning of Christmas? Linus the only one left in the auditorium says “I can tell you…”

“‘And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’” (Luke 2:8-14 KJV)

“…That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

 


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I tasted the Grace and it was good.

I left my home on Thursday morning an Allume Newbie and in just three days I returned home an Allume alum. What I learned in the days between went far beyond anything I could have imagined.

Nearly a year ago when I felt God saying He wanted me to go to Allume, I thought He might just be thinking of the wrong person. Why would I, a girl who plays a writer on a blog, need to go to a blogger’s conference? A girl who has not been away from home in over 12 years without her husband and kids in tow? And not to forget that I would be going to a conference in which I did not know a single person that would be attending?

I didn’t have the answer, but I listened. I bought my ticket. Booked my room. And I waited. I waited seven months for this conference. As I followed Allume on Facebook and Twitter, I quickly identified myself with the hashtag #allumenewbie. Social media became my friend, and I began to learn what this blogging conference was all about. Or, so I thought.

In the weeks leading up to the conference, schedules were announced, twitter parties were had, and it became a reality. I was headed to this conference and I was in over my head, because these women were rockstars and I was an impersonator.

In a meager attempt to plan my weekend (you can read that as control it) I selected the sessions I would attend, bought more than enough food just in case I could not eat anything, you know, because of my multitude of food allergies. I packed piles of clothes. Clothes for when I felt good, clothes for the migraine days (because, well, I left my house with one) and clothes for the in between for when I was just felt blah. But most importantly, I planned to be inconspicuous. Just to blend. If I blended then no one would realize I was not a writer, and the writing police would not find me and quickly ban me from this event.

headed for allume road to allume

The morning of the first day, migraine raging, I left my house with just enough time to make it for registration. I rushed in franticly. Found my room. Dropped off my bags and out the door to the welcome mingle I went. It was kind of overwhelming, in fact, I must have had a neon sign flashing over me “Allume Newbie!” Because the ever amazing word weaver Jennifer Lee meets me in the hall and asks if this was my first year.

Of course, when I opened my mouth to speak, my words sounded kind of like Charlie Brown’s teacher… wha wha wha wha wha wha… yeah like that. Then I might have even said I have your book, The Best Yes, insert foot in mouth here, this is so not her book! Love Idol! It’s Love Idol! I have it on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I knew those writing police were on to me and would only be a matter of minutes before I was tossed out onto the street. Yup. Allume newbie I was indeed.

Jennifer, she was ever so gracious. She smiled and nodded at my sheer embarrassment, took my awkwardness in stride and led me to the welcome mingle. She even told me that if I found myself without a dinner partner to come find her. She is a Jesus rockstar.

In the hours to come as I sat at dinner and listened to Logan’s opening keynote, my world turned upside down. God did not bring me to Allume to become a better blogger or writer, He brought me there because He loves me. He wanted me to feel that deep in my heart, to never doubt my importance to Him.

Logan and Sarah Mae IMG_4488 IMG_4489IMG_4498IMG_4512

He wove that thread through every keynote, every session, every chance meeting with another blogger… He loved me. At times I could not feel my breath, the weight of His love was somewhat overwhelming. Sometimes it’s hard to look real love in the eye without looking away. It is a love so holy, it seems shameful not to avert the eyes. But He would not have any of that, He was chasing me, pursuing me. He wanted me to see, to feel, to breath in His love. He was not going to let me go engrained in my soul.

He sought me through the sessions and keynotes to come and I scribbled notes in my notebook, trying to hang on to every. Single. Word. Why is it I do not know shorthand?

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the weekend…

Rachel Jackson – We need to live everyday as if we are killing the enemy, even if that means just getting up.

Annie Downs – Lies – I have nothing to offer, no one is following me. Truth – Even if you have one follower you are mentoring them!

Sara Hagerty – God says I see your hidden moments and I like what I see. We have stories you and me, let’s build a history of just you and me.

Emily Freeman – (my paraphrase) Embrace wonder – as image bearers of a creative God we are called to fight for wonder.

Emily Wierenga – You are not defined by your story. You are not denied by who people say you are, but rather, by who God says you are. And He says you are loved. God does not allow Pain in your life to you there. No, He allows pain because it is the secret to your purpose.

Timothy Willard – (my paraphrase) Live in the new Narnia, because the further up and further in you go into God, you discover there is no end to Him. So choose each day to live in the hope of glory, to live in the magma of Christ who is in me and to tell the most dynamic story which is the gospel. It is what is making me beautiful.

But don’t get me wrong, this conference did not disappoint. In that notebook with notes scribbled long, amongst all the love notes from God, there are words upon words of tips and advice for writing well. For loving my audience, no matter how big or small, for showing them hospitality. 

It was bittersweet driving away on that Sunday morning. As much as I longed for home and my husband and girls, a part of me wanted to stay to soak it all in. Let it all break through my skin where the words of the weekend spread like salve on open wounds, strike straight through like arrows to my heart. To let it all become my heart.

I lingered in the hotel drive in the traffic jam that filled the circle. I watched as some of the speakers gathered on the shuttle to the airport, Logan walking to her car. We were all suspended in this circle waiting for the lead car to move on. It seemed a little surreal. Crowder was playing in the background, his voice breaking the silence “There’s hope for the hopeless and all those who’ve strayed, Come sit at the table, Come taste the grace, There’s rest for the weary, Rest that endures, Earth has no sorrow, That heaven can’t cure…”

I sat at that table and tasted the grace. As I watched and listened and spoke, the grace washed over me. It filled holes that had gaped for years. I gained a confidence that had vanished long ago. I found that I am not just a mom, I am a writer. I am a writer because He gave me a story to and He wants me to tell it. He wants me to tell it well. It is gospel.

 

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