Friendship

bird

The rain beat down steadily to its own rhythm. Not a heavy rain. But a light, comforting rain. A rain that complemented the brightness of the sun. She watched it and drank her tea from the porch. Of everything that spring brought, rain was her favorite.

A small flock of birds flew into a bush one by one to find cover from the rain. They each had the same routine – fly into the bush, shake water off their feathers, waddle deeper into the bush, and sit on a branch. They were all medium to large sized and bright shades of red or blue. Except for one. The last one was small and brown. She wanted to call him a sparrow, but she knew that wasn’t right. Sparrows had black and white stripes on them. This one was brown with a white chest. No special designs, no bright colors, not an intimidating size. He was different, and the others made sure he knew it, squawking at him and pulling at his feathers. He was a contender for a space in the bush, which even though had enough physical space, apparently didn’t have enough territory.

After they had plucked two feathers, he began squawking back at them. Although the small brown bird was outnumbered, he was spirited. He squawked as loud as he could, which was quieter than the rest, and dodged the other birds’ beaks rather quickly. He even nipped at one of the large red birds with his small beak. What a fearless bird, she thought. After he squawked at one of the medium birds trying to pluck more of his feathers, the other large bird with blue feathers and a pointed head decided to attack fiercely with its claws. The small brown bird tried to dodge it but was unsuccessful. He let out a small screech and fell to the ground after the blue bird released him.

A few moments had passed, but the small brown bird was still. She kept watching him, waiting for a sign of life, hoping that he was still alive. He was so petite compared to the others and had such lively movements. She couldn’t help but silently cheer for him. Finally, he stood up and wobbled until he fell again. He repeated that process several times. He’s hurt, she thought. She quickly put down her tea cup and walked over to him, lifting up her dress so as not to get it dirty. The small brown bird tried hopping away from her, seeing as she was much bigger than him, making him feel afraid. But she gently scooped him up and brought him closer to her chest. “Shhh. Shhh. It’s okay. You’re okay little one,” she whispered. The small brown bird was shaking so she stroked the bird’s head to calm him. It only took a few minutes for him to calm down but his breathing was still shallow and quick. She gently walked him to the porch and sat down with him. He looked at her eyes and she smiled at him, still stroking his head.
“You put up quite the fight out there, you know that?”
His small black eyes kept contact with her hazel ones.
“I can see you don’t have any friends. Neither do I.”
Silence.
“What should we name you? Hmm…I know. Sans Peur. It means fearless in French. A good fit, don’t you think?”
He chirped and after a minute, closed his eyes, breathed normally, and let her gently stroke his head.

The friends sat and watched the rain together. The light, comforting rain.

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If we were having coffee…

coffeelatte

Woohoo! It’s summer. We’ve been on vacation recently. Out of town. Off of schedules. Out of whack. And it’s been hard. Tantrums roared, patience ran thin, emotions at an all time high, and the yelling. The yelling started.

Now, I’m not someone who yells often. I’m not quiet and reserved but I’m not a yeller either. I’m in the middle somewhere. But when those tantrums, patience, and emotions are doing crazy things, I do a crazy thing. I yell, which never ends well. It causes so much frustration, hurt, and fear. The fear is probably the worst thing. The fear in my daugher’s eyes, she’s scared that she’s disappointed me, scared that mama went from frustrated to T-rex mode in 2 seconds. And then of course there’s the “ugh” type of thoughts that come out in the form of yelling.

If my daughter could just listen and do what I tell her, we wouldn’t be having issues.
It would be so much easier if she would just listen and obey!
Why can’t she just do what I tell her?
Why do I have to repeat myself 6 times?

These type of thoughts sound like they’re centered around my daughter listening, but there’s something deeper. Something deeper that has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me. Those thoughts all point to one thing – my selfishness. It reveals how badly I want things my way, a form of a temper tantrum in thoughts, a fit going on in my head. But really, those thoughts reveal my desperate need for Jesus. I used to think I was a selfless person and I do enjoy helping people, even if it means I have to go out of my way. But I had never been a mother. And because I had never been a mother, I didn’t understand how selfish I truly am and how much selflessness it would require of me. And how inadequate I am to fulfill it. Because I’m not God, my selflessness has a limit.

Thankfully we’re at the end of our vacation time and things are (slowly!) getting back to normal. And thankfully, God is much bigger than I and can give my daughter more than I’ll ever be able to. Including Jesus.

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Drunken Eyes

scortchwriting

There were pieces of blood covered ceramic on the floor from a coffee cup he had hit her with. “At least it wasn’t glass this time,” she thought. Every time he hit her with glass, it ended up in her skin somehow. Every time. Somehow. Most of the tweezers in the house were well used and a tad bloody. She gave up trying to clean them after the fourth time. Or was it the fifth? No, the sixth. She remembered because it was her birthday.

“At least he always leaves after,” she thought, picking up the shards and tossing them in the trash. It made cleaning up more comfortable. No one to tell her how to do it the right way. No more control or manipulation. Just a time of quiet with her and her thoughts in a large, empty house. Peaceful but sometimes, a dangerous thing.

She bit the rag in the bathroom and poured hydrogen peroxide on her face. The stinging sensation felt more and more enjoyable every time, even though she usually screamed through the rag in pain and cried hot tears. Hot tears filled with anger, betrayal, frustration, hurt, desperation, vulnerability. “At least the cuts aren’t so deep this time,” she thought, glancing at the deep scar in her jawline that was once a gushing gash. That one took stitches. Homemade stitches.

Once he turned to larger objects rather than smaller ones. He threw an end table at her from across the room and broke her leg, which made things difficult at work. She didn’t enjoy lying to her boss, a sweet old man who was a pushover on holidays. She also didn’t enjoy sticking to the same story when others questioned her with doubt. Peering in the mirror at herself, she paused. “At least I can walk this time,” she thought.

She threw the bloody rags and clothes into the washer and started it, hoping the stains would come out so she could wear the same thing to work on Monday. Sometimes they did. Sometimes they didn’t. If they didn’t, she wore something that wasn’t stained. Sometimes it was clean. Sometimes it wasn’t. Once she waited overnight to wash the clothes and they were stained so she threw them out. He wasn’t happy and he made sure her body felt it. “At least I’ll hopefully have clothes this time,” she thought.

She sat on the couch and opened a half empty bottle of bourbon. She contemplated opening the scotch, but it would only anger him. He might kill her if she did. Besides, bourbon was her go to sorrow drink. It was the only thing that did it for her anymore. And it helped with pain. “At least…at least…at least I’m not dead,” she thought hesitantly before turning on the TV. But that hesitation bothered her. She had never hesitated in that way before. There was a pause, a moment, a what if.

The front door opened wide and he walked in. Drunken eyes, sober breath, and a decisive walk of a determined man. “Hey baby! Come on!” he said cheerfully walking into the kitchen. Her eyes widened, full of fear, anxiety. Cheerful was not a mood that existed in that man unless sex was on his mind. But sex never happened in the kitchen. At least not anymore. Every ounce of her told her to run but she couldn’t. She took one small step forward. Trembling hands. Another small step forward. A knotted stomach. Each step brought a new feeling. But only a few more steps forward and she was there in the kitchen. Standing in front of him. “You know, we don’t have to do this anymore sweetheart. I’m done doing this with you baby. I’m just done,” he said smiling.

Her throat tightened. She wanted to speak, respond to him. Mostly in fear. He had never come home so early and still drunk. “I guess what I’m trying to say is, well, we’re done. I’m done with you.” A minute of silence passed. Time that felt like a hundred hours strung along in slow motion. She didn’t know what he was saying, what to expect. His eyes finally found hers. “So,” he said, “here we are.” He reached into his coat pocket and pulled something out. It looked like a thick stick, but the kitchen lights were too dim to make it out. Until she heard the sound. Click and lock. It made sense then. Oh, how it made sense. A thick stick in his pocket was his switchblade. His very long and sharp switchblade.

And that’s when she found her legs. Those ounces of herself building up to run, waiting anxiously to get out. They exploded underneath her in an instant, pushing off the ground with power. She heard laughter. It took her a little while to realize that it was her laughing. It had been awhile since her lungs had experienced it. She laughed so hard she cried. She laughed so hard she found her voice. She laughed so hard that she couldn’t hear him. “At least I can run faster than him,” she realized and laughed loudest of all.

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To all the mamas

for all the mamas

Who else has had a fun week?! Keeping children alive and unhurt from fireworks. Anyone else? 😉 We had a long, restful weekend. Anthony had Monday off so it was a 4 day weekend for us. We had 4th of July festive donuts! 🙂 But now it’s back to the daily grind. You know, where the weekend doesn’t last 4 days. Ha!

And for us mamas, I guess that daily grind doesn’t really ever stop. There’s always something that needs to be done, children who need to be fed, the house that needs to be cleaned, and the family who needs love. I once read somewhere that a wife/mama is the heart of the home. And oh man! Isn’t that just so true?! So to all the mamas out there handling the endless breastfeeding/bottle sessions. The endless being needed. The sleep deprivation! The constant supervision. The guilt of being away from your child. The selflessness. The can I just get a break?! The single mama struggling. The multiple children close together (two sets of twins, true story). The sweatpants is all I own and what’s makeup? The stay at home mama questioning her purpose. The working mama questioning her priorities. The homeless mama skipping meals to feed the littles. The expecting mama – nervous, anxious, scared. The mama who has lost a child. The I was almost a mama. The mama with kids that are always sick. The what’s a shower? The spitup upon spitup. The running out of coffee. The tantrum at the pool where your toddler makes you accidentally flash some things. The poop and pee on the wall, fridge, carpet, etc. The blowout diaper in the middle of a nice dinner at an expensive restaurant. The endless laundry, dishes, messes, etc. The keeping your child alive when they want to do something dangerous.

And the love. Oh, the forever love.

This mama thing is hard. The hardest thing you’ll ever do besides being married. Maybe even harder than marriage? What do ya think? But I just want you, yes you, to know something. Something that every mama needs to be reminded of: you’re a good mama. 🙂 Simple, right? Sometimes you just need to hear that you’re doing A-OK at this mama thing. I know I do.

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Ivy & Love

ivy

The ivy crawled up the side of the wall like a monstrous spider with long, leafy legs, hiding the brick underneath it. Except that some of the leaves had already started changing color. And Rosalyn had never seen a tricolored spider.

“Do you suppose that the ivy could trap people, Mrs. Henderson? It’s so thick. Perhaps there are people living inside the ivy?” Rosalyn asked.
The old woman’s eyes twinkled with playfulness as she laughed cheerfully, “No, my dear! Ivy doesn’t trap or house people. If it did, gardeners would have an awfully hard time taming it. Although it does grow very thick, doesn’t it?”

Mrs. Henderson was the kindest and most spirited person Rosalyn had ever met. She laughed more often than the birds chirped and showed kindness and gentleness to everyone in her path, even Ms. Millis, the lady in charge of the orphanage, who was in fact the most unkind and mean-spirited person Rosalyn had ever met. Once, a strand of Rosalyn’s hair was hanging below her collar so Ms. Millis cut off all of Rosalyn’s hair and told her, “Tuck your hair in and don’t become a trollop!” That was her third day at the orphanage. She was six years old. But now, fourteen years later, Rosalyn felt oddly comfortable next to Mrs. Henderson even though she had only known her less than a day. She had never known so much laughter, kindness, or gentleness. There was something about it that made the old woman oddly beautiful, like a swan in its prime. And trustworthy, something Rosalyn had never known, making her feel odd about her high comfort level. “Ah! Here comes town! Or I suppose here we come to town, huh?” Mrs. Henderson said, smiling and interrupting Rosalyn’s thoughts.

Every building was different – brick, stone, large, small, wooden signs, glass windows with signs. Some of them were extremely detailed, others not so much. Most were small shops, some were rather tall, and a few were towering over the others. Rosalyn pressed her face against the car window and followed the building with her eyes until the sight of it was beyond her range. Of course, growing up in an orphanage in the country never provided such sights. Except when Ms. Millis made Alice stand naked in front of the rest of the girls for stealing one of Ms. Millis’ dresses. Daring that Alice was and Rosalyn had learned so much from her.

“Oh Rosalyn. Isn’t that a sight?,” Mrs. Henderson said. Rosalyn looked excitedly hoping for another large building or quaint shops filled with flowers and trinkets or Oxford University. But instead she saw several boys her age standing outside. What could be so exciting about that?

One of the boys saw Rosalyn through the car window and winked at her. “He’s a rather fit one, wouldn’t you say so my dear?” Mrs. Henderson asked, nodding and smiling at the young man. But Rosalyn didn’t smile, nod, or wave. In fact, she immediately broke eye contact with the boy and turned around to stare at Mrs. Henderson. She wanted to speak but couldn’t do anything but gape at the old woman. It took a moment before she recovered enough to speak. “Mrs. Henderson! How could you say such a thing?! You’re an old woman who’s married!” Rosalyn whispered horrified, her cheeks blushing pink, half embarrassed by the old woman and half surprised by the boy who winked at her. No one had ever, in fact, winked at Rosalyn. Though her friend Anna once told her she was pretty and that her brown hair matched the branches that moved with the wind. But Mrs. Henderson laughed playfully, “I may be an old, married woman, but I know a looker when I see one. Who knows, maybe you might get married to one someday.”

“Married?!” Rosalyn shrieked so loudly that the driver turned his head. “Mrs Henderson! I have never, do not, and will not plan on getting married, regardless of whether a young man is a looker or not. Oxford University is where I’m going to earn my degree. They just started allowing women to earn degrees last year you know. And I fully intend on doing it.”

The car came to a sudden stop. Rosalyn was so busy talking with Mrs. Henderson about her inappropriate comments that she hadn’t noticed their arrival. “Oxford,” Rosalyn breathed out. The smooth stone walls and castle tops made Rosalyn swoon with joy. The polished glass was so inviting. The vines growing up on the walls begged to be touched. The courtyards longing to have books upon books read in them. And the library! Oh, the library! Rosalyn was finally here, in front of the place she hoped to fall in love with. It’s charm already working. “It’s…it’s…oh, it’s – ” Rosalyn spoke almost breathlessly. “A stone building,” Mrs. Henderson said, finishing Rosalyn’s sentence with a completely different ending. Rosalyn smiled at the old woman’s frankness and simplicity. “Well yes. But beautiful, Mrs. Henderson. It’s beautiful.”

Rosalyn began to step out of the car when Mrs. Henderson gently grabbed her arm. She looked sad. “Will you really never marry, my dear? Even if you spend the rest of your days alone?” she asked Rosalyn softly with pleading eyes.

“Even if,” Rosalyn answered confidently. But, turning to the old woman, she said, “Don’t worry, Mrs. Henderson. If I find a looker, I’ll send him your way.” And, with a wink, Rosalyn closed the car door to walk into her future.

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If we were having coffee…

coffeepost

If we were having coffee…

We would talk a little bit about submission, specifically how we as wives can submit to our husbands. Yes, I know it’s a touchy topic. I am aware of the feminist movement going on. I get that women don’t want to submit and girls run the world and sexual objectification and blah blah. Trust me. I know. I read news articles, other bloggers’ views, and watch videos on current events. Do those things matter? Yes, absolutely. But I’m asking you to stick with me. Just for a minute.

Does that word submit or submission sting a bit? Jerk you the wrong way? Make you cringe? Why is that? It’s because submission, in our world, means that we are beneath, less than, inferior, subordinate than said something or someone. And our pride doesn’t take too kindly to that.

But I want to encourage you to read this small passage from a book I recently read. I had to reread this passage over and over again to simply wrap my mind around the ground-breaking truth it presents.

“The redeemed helper values male and female distinctiveness because she knows that this is God’s design and order. She is not threatened by male headship. She knows that submission has nothing to do with status. Submission has to do with function. It is the way God has ordered life in the kingdom, and it is good because He is good.”
– Biblical Womanhood in the Home edited by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

First off, wow! And secondly, I think we need to break down this passage a bit. Because even though it’s only a few sentences, it’s saying quite a bit.

Let’s start with the first and last sentences. “The redeemed helper values male and female distinctiveness because she knows that this is God’s design and order….It is the way God has ordered life in the kingdom, and it is good because He is good.” The redeemed helper is the wife. She is called to be a helper to her husband (Genesis 2:18). God made the husband-wife relationship this way (Ephesians 5:22-24). A woman of God understands this and knows that it is good because He is good (Psalm 119:68, Psalm 145:9, Psalm 107:1, Matthew 19:16-17).

The middle sentences are really the meat of this piece. “She is not threatened by male headship. She knows that submission has nothing to do with status. Submission has to do with function.” This is my favorite part of the passage. A redeemed helper does not feel intimidated by her husband leading. She does not cower in fear or turn off her brain to simply agree with everything her husband says. Rather, she is confident in her security in Christ and understands her role as a wife and helper. And being a helper does not put her below her husband (Genesis 1:27). I want you to reread that sentence: And being a helper does not put her below her husband. Profound, isn’t it? The leading and helping roles are not below or above each other. They are equal, but different. Submitting to each other (not from fear, but from love – Ephesians 5:21) is a beautiful image of God’s love for us. And it usually exposes parts of our heart that need some work.

A little further down the same page comes another quote that I absolutely love, and I feel the need to share it with you. Applying this concept in our marriages can create so much peace and rest in our homes. I even put it on a sticky note above my sink. 😉

“The redeemed helper knows that submission does not restrict her – it actually frees her to fulfill her helper design.
Biblical Womanhood in the Home edited by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Hallelujah! Praise Jesus! It’s about time someone said it!

She knows that submission does not restrict her, but actually frees her to fulfill her calling to help her husband lead their family. In first submitting to God, and then submitting to her husband. When we women realize that our role is to be a helper to our husbands so that they can lead our families closer to God, we ourselves will find freedom and rest.

This article by John Piper going over some basic points on what submission is not is helpful. This one by Christina Fox analyzes Scripture on the submission role is essential to understand. Oh, and this one by Steven J. Cole is a longy but a goody. 🙂

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If we were having coffee…

if we were having coffee

If we were having coffee…

I would share with you something that the leader of our church’s mom group said a few months ago. It’s a group where we read books, share our hearts, cry, laugh, and praise Jesus. All while the kiddos run crazy downstairs with some sitters (bless them!).

She said this, “It’s like the struggle for men is lust and for women is comparison.”

For men is lust. And for women is comparison.

Oh, the truth in that statement, my friends. Pure truth. And, oh how silly and foolish I was for not thinking much on it when she said it. Until now. Because it’s summer time, which means swimsuit season. Right, ladies?

I have suddenly become more aware of my body’s imperfections. Stretch marks from carrying, birthing, and breastfeeding, acne scars, oily hair I can never grow long, uneven eyebrows from a scar going through one of them, and weren’t my teeth whiter and arms more tone?

But the most dangerous part is that criticizing those physical assets opens the door for more comparison in other parts of my life and vise versa. Things like, womanhood, motherhood, wifehood, my identity, my impact, my vision. Those thoughts can lead to questions and untrue declarations like, “Wow, I’m a bad spouse. He/she deserves better,” “My friend is such a better mom than I am,” or, “How can God possibly love me? He doesn’t really want me,” and so on and so forth.

I constantly have to remind myself of who I am because of Jesus. It can get so easily lost in the day-to-day distractions, influences, and fluff. Like holding onto a kite on a windy day. But once you know it, it’s more like sipping a cup of tea hearing the wind howl and knowing that you are safe. My favorite way to remember it is pretty simple and I really want to share it with you. You ready? Here it is.

I am a child of God. (John 1:12-13, Ephesians 1:4-6, Galatians 4:4-5, and a crap ton of other places.)

“I am a child of God.” I know it’s weird saying it at first, even in your head. It’s not something we usually do. But we can do it! Let’s say in our heads, ready? “I am a child of God.” Cool! You’ve almost got it mastered! Now, let’s say it out loud. Don’t make it weird. You can even whisper it if you want. Ready? Here we go. “I am a child of God.”

Being a child of God means you are loved, accepted, and pursued just the way you are. Just the way you are. Stretch marks, hot temper, pizza for dinner every night, and all. No need for comparison just like Galatians 6:4-6 tells us. Just straight up unconditional love. And a nifty little handbook in Ephesians 4:17-32 (Thanks Paul!). Now take that little phrase we just used and shout it from the rooftops! Oh, sorry. Too bold? Did I go too far? Baby steps. Okay, maybe just sing it in the shower. Just make sure you don’t wake the kiddos if they’re sleeping! #truestory

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