We Need Him

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pic1The more I learn of You & this world the more assured I am that what You offer is true & life.

The world says,
“Love must be earned by wit, intellect & beauty.”
You say,
Come as you are & I will put no limits on the love I give to you.”

Where the world offers
blurred lines of ambiguous, contradictory truth & morality,
You present yourself as truth.
You authored goodness & are originator of love.

Where the world instills
fear, anxiety & inadequacy,
You untrouble hearts,
offer peace & wholeness.

Where the world wants to
cripple, crush, & vanquish us through
death, abuse, cheating, lies, cancer, poverty, shootings, & disaster,
You offer hope.
Through a Son who said “Yes” to dying
& a resurrecting Spirit who says,
“There is more than this, come & see.”

I choose to come & see You.
I look for You through the thick, hazy, tangly, soggy mess
& distraction of world offerings & look for You.

I see You in resilience & perseverance of families & individuals through pain.
I see You in kisses on foreheads, handhold squeezes, & forgiveness.
You are there in the tension & heat of miscommunication & working in resolution.

You are all around. Help us to come and see.

 

The Struggle and the Fight

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My father-in-law talks about how at each big life transition, our biggest challenges/insecurities will re-rear their ugly heads. College, marriage, parenthood, etc., will all be places where we will need to learn or, perhaps, re-learn how to lay down our little monsters. I say, truth.

For me, one of my biggest vices is to take direct responsibility for the happiness of the people around me. If anything is less than satisfactory, I will have failed (that’s some claaaasic enneagram 2 business if you’re familiar). Needless to say, this is a pretty doggone tiresome way to live (as well as slightly narcissistic IMO).

Let’s go back, back to the beginning. In my family of origin, there were five VERY different personalities, so my internal tug-of-war to please everyone was fierce. Once I got to college, I had some pretty stark realizations that I couldn’t be the primary contributor to everyone’s joy and satisfaction. This was not an expectation of my family, but something very self-imposed. As I learned to lay down the responsibility of being a happiness-bearer, I found it both liberating and scary to accept the possibility that I might disappoint people with my choices to show up differently, or not show up at all.

This lesson/struggle also showed up as I navigated friendships and co-working relationships. Thankfully, I would start noticing when I would stay up all night thinking through conversations of how I could have been more encouraging, present, kind, etc., and then recognize the utter madness I was cycling into and start trusting these people to God.

When I say trusting people to God, it really is an active thing. One time I was praying for a member of my family, and I had a visual that I was actually clinging to the heart of this person. God kept asking me to trust Him to hold their heart, and I was so resistant. The only way I could release the heart to Him, was through the belief that His love for that person is boundless, perfect and always available. As I handed his heart to Jesus, there was a surge of relief and peace that I will never forget.

The next big life transition for me was marriage. Hot-diggity-dog, this was the HUGEST spotlight into my perfectionist-people-loving behavior and honest-to-goodness our first year of marriage was pretty ravaged by this. I battled against the insecurity and anxiety that I wasn’t being, doing, or loving enough as a wife. Thankfully, I have a husband who NEVER reinforced this AND some amazing friends/community who helped me to understand the absolute unattainable standards I had set for myself to be a wife. SOsosososo many mercies here.

Now! Here I am, 6 months into being a mom, and let me tell you how I’ve completely mastered this new role and identity. HA! Tricked you. Guess what? I only JUST THIS WEEK realized I had/have been living in this old reality again. Truly, most moments of Anderson’s life, I have been considering how my action or inaction have been sole contributors to his happiness or sadness.

Example: He slept through the night.
Me: Wow! Must be because I fed him 7 times, gave him a bath, read him three books, and we were outside for two hours! Coolio!

Example: He woke up three times through the night.
Me: Shoot dang! I shouldn’t have driven during his nap, I shouldn’t have fed him when he was distracted by other people, I should have adjusted the temperature in his room better.

This is just one example of one piece of his life, BUT CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW TIRED I AM?

So. Why do I share? I don’t really know, except maybe I think it’s important and encouraging to recognize our recurring struggles and the resiliency we have to tackle them in each new chapter of our lives. That there is a peace that comes with the knowing that God meets us in each new phase of our lives and will grow us through it.

And, maybe it will take some time, practice, and grace for me to experience liberty from my expectations as a mom. But, it’s a battle I know I’ve fought and won in the past. AND THANKFULLY God promises me that His power will lift me up in the midst of my weaknesses (2 Cor 12:9).

Also, as a side, I am accepting wisdom from anyone willing to share. 🙂

Peace, love, and Captain Crunch everyone!

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baby Lay

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So, wow. Our little baby is one month old already. Who would have thought one month could feel both like a breath and a lifetime? This month has been this crazy equal pairing of beauty and challenge, I honestly have not relied on God as my strength more in my entire life. I am so grateful always for how He sustains and provides for us.

I’ve been meaning to capture Anderson’s birth story, so here goes a little bit:

Little A came into the world with lots of anticipation and drama. Overall encompassing an induction that took 3 days/nights, 3 IV attempts, 8 different drugs (ranging from fentanyl to ibuprofen), and 2 hours of pushing. Here’s what labor taught me:

1. An epidural does not mean you will not feel the burn of a thousand suns in your nether regions as you are pushing out a 6 pound human.

2. If you feel like you can’t possibly physically labor after three nights of not sleeping, you’re wrong. An indescribable strength overcomes, encouraging you to hopefully and safely labor the little one into this world.

3. Don’t expect to labor like a feminine princess. I thought I would breathe through pushing in a peaceful-serene–Kate Middleton-esque-manner. HA! I was worse than the craziest woman you’ve seen in any movie. My sister documented all the things I said while laboring (sorry not sorry):

“Fudge muffin!”
“Oh baby!”
“Oh boy!”
“Pooooooooooooop!”
“It just hurts… it’s fine.
“Oh nuts!”
“Man alive”
“Holy Sh**” (x8)
“Where the eff is the contraction?!?” (the Pitocin spaced out my contractions by upwards of 7 minutes at times)
“Holy guacamole!”

4. If the people in the labor room say something stupid, you have permission to call them out on it. My nurse/midwife kept saying, “Try harder! Try harder!” and I yelled, “I’M TRYING REALLY HARD ACTUALLY!” and they slowed their rolls after that. Then, my husband saw the head peeking through, and said, “Oh! Look at the tiny head!” and I exclaimed, “It is NOT a tiny head. It is a HUGE head coming out of a TINY vagina!”

5. Your people are a haven. My friend was our doula and held my hand through an extra-long epidural process. My mom french braided my hair between contractions. My sister listened to my husband monologue as he processed everything that was happening to me. My husband slept/did not sleep next to me for 5 nights and shed the sweetest tears once Anders arrived. Such treasures.

I have so much more that I am processing as a new-mom to a baby I’m continuing to acquaint myself with. I will try to share, as it is so sweet and important to process and enjoy the adventure. More to come!

 

We’re pregnant

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We’re pregnant.Screenshot_20191104-123605

Even just to type and read seems like those can’t be my words. They must belong to someone else. But, no! Two pink lines in May, heart beats, images, kicks and now we’re 2 months away from anticipating the arrival of our baby boy. 2020–the year of the baby.

My mind and heart have been unique mixtures of anxiety and anticipation. An active contending and battling with the fear of possible loss. A deep vulnerability and realization that I cannot control one lick of this journey, the development of our baby. Surrender. Somuchsurrender.

“This is Your baby, God. Your creation. I am grateful for the time I am given. This is Your baby, God.” My 2 AM, 3 AM, 4 AM prayers some nights. My mind unravels the what-ifs and this prayer keeps me. It holds me. It rests me.

The verses below qualm as we transition from our difficult journey and into this new blessing.

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die

a time to plant and a time to uproot

a time to kill and a time to heal

a time to tear down and a time to build

a time to weep and a time to laugh

a time to mourn and a time to dance…”

[Ecclesiastes 3:1-4]

Thank you Jesus. Thank you for how we have endured the time of weeping and mourning. Thank you for this new time. Our time to laugh and our time to dance.

Baby Lay you will arrive into such a joy-filled home, in the right season and at the right time. We love you.

2020, the year of the baby

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This morning I got my period (sorry bros if that’s a little TMI for you). To anyone who somehow missed their 7th grade health class, periods are a less than-ideal-hassle-all-around. For a woman trying to conceive, a period means another failed month. We get all the hormones, mess, and the unique devastation of a dream prolonged. As someone who has been on this journey for years now, I find each month an insane combination of hope and disappointment. Enough to drive you a little batty (and broke, goodbye my 1,334,237th pregnancy test). Today, as my period rolled in, I realized it meant 2019 was no longer the year of the baby…and we now look to 2020.

I have been less than transparent on social media realms about this journey, because it has felt contrived, unnecessary and very difficult to see pictures of happy and healthy families. This has nothing to do with the people (I love your joy!), and everything to do with the active wound and grief accompanying infertility. I write now, maybe because I feel a little bit more empowered and whole, in the midst of it all. Maybe because I also know there are hurting women who feel isolated and that they are carrying this burden all alone. I know, all too well, the feeling of the monthly-fall and the courage it takes to pick ourselves back up to move forward in hope.

With my faith, there have been questions, doubts, prayers and more prayers. With our miscarriage, it truly seemed like God was dangling a carrot before me and then took it away. I’ve wrestled through these feelings to now understand that God does not operate this way. He actively grieves with us in our loss (see Jesus and the story of Lazarus). I’ve reached a point of understanding that sin really has caused our world and bodies to be broken, which is why Jesus came to restore us. He is not an active enforcer of brokenness, but of healing.

Today I read some encouraging verses—“…our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself. Therefore … stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved” (Philippians 3:21-4:1). It is not with shame that I consider my body lowly, but a humility and recognition of brokenness and a desperate need for the hope and transformation He can bring. It gives me a lot of peace to trust Jesus to do this work on earth and into eternity.

As we wave goodbye to December 2019 being the month of a newborn, I look toward 2020. It can feel foolish, but I seek to keep the hope alive. I know others do too. For anyone contending with infertility, or a displaced longing, my heart is for you. This journey is brutal, but does not have to be lonely. Praying for anyone who needs a little hope today to let someone cheer you on and cheer you up. In my experience, people are eagerly at the sideline ready to partner and lift you up, just waiting to be asked. Much love.

Miscarriage

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When dreams shatter like ours, it wasn’t just the dream that broke, but me. Me, once wildly confident in faith, future, friendship. Face-down. Considering the daunting-ascent-to-hopeful-walking, I was sludge-like-quicksand-stuck. Familiar voices of hope were indistinguishable, as though I was underwater. I wanted so desperately to return, all the way back to who I was–who we were–before. But the loss changed me. The pieces, there were many. Like a 1,000-piece jigsaw, the road toward healing looked long and tiresome.

My first step was identifying, who is God now? To me, He seemed far and like a surveyor. Even maybe cruel, for having the power to change our situation and holding back. I started reading John with friends and began noticing Jesus differently. The sending, the putting-on-flesh. I couldn’t help but wonder why in the world he would come here? Knowing what He knew of this place, why? Pain would be here, He knew people would reject Him–His offering of truth, His love. Physically, He would be brutalized.

And, yet, the life He lived was not marred by what He knew would come. Deep, deep love seemed a primary motivator that drove action. Always steadfast in His offering–Come. See. Be filled. Be whole. I am life and come to give to you abundantly. Not selective, but extending to all. Hurt people, broken people. Me. Acquainting myself with Jesus again, my answer to why became more and more solid. He loves us, He really must love us.

Still sludging through healing and continuing to seek Jesus, I see how He actively and tenderly is mending my spirit. He holds each fragment, each jigsaw piece, of my brokenness with care and places it in it’s new spot. I’m different, but the same. Different, because I’ve lost and been broken. Same, because my pieces are being sought and put back into a new formation. Even through doubt, I’ve seen His power and goodness constant. Jesus. In humanity and deity, is carefully doing the work of putting me together again. And it feels really good to be found.
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maybe it’s going to be ok

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i don’t really know where to start, or how to articulate this beautifully, but 2017 was garbage.
poopoo.
yucks.
nope.
rather not.
most of my least favorite things happened this year–change, struggle, grueling work, loss, pain, moving. & really there were moments where i thought, this could actually not get any worse, only to find that yes, yes it could. it got a lot of worse.

there was hurt that hit me so hard, i could barely see in front of me. & when i had this feeling in the past, it would be fleeting. but it wasn’t this time. it lasted for weeks and months. sadness, darkness, sloth-like movements. i wondered, will i ever be the same? do i want to be? will things ever return?

i thought day would never break. i pictured myself as a wintry tree. bare of leaves, roots trying to sink deep as the elements barraged. cold, dark, bleak. a seeming-eternal-winter.

as age increases, it is interesting to notice how quickly summer, fall, winter, spring come & go. when a child, summer seemed to last forever, the days between thanksgiving and christmas a lifetime. now, these days rush by in a breath. this can be hard to remember midwinter.

a friend pointed out that a tree in a forest is surrounded by others, which can help reduce the harshness of ice, snow, and wind. i like this image, especially because on my saddest days this year, i still felt surrounded by the faithfulness, kindness, & generosity of others. like a light that starts dim and grows brighter, these people powerfully illuminated my heart.

in these actions, i felt God in flesh. i heard Him weeping with me, i saw Him carry and listen to me. He went on walks with me, painted bedrooms with me. sometimes, in prayer, He felt so far–this struggle and wrestling uncharted in our relationship. but, these people who sat with me brought Him close.

now, i find ice is thawing. day is slowly breaking. that no season lasts for forever. knowing this will help me to remember next winter that maybe it’s going to be ok.

& his way is life

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IMG_20171104_163232326~2we feel it deep inside of us. death, tragedy around each corner. striking us unsuspecting. always unsuspecting.

where there’s an inch forward in reform, we’re blasted back 27 feet once again. right to the mess we started in.

we were not made for this place. right now is a result of all history’s sin, anger, pain, & discord.

there once was perfect harmony, when we were first-made. & our bodies, souls, spirits ache for it dearly.

there is a man who demonstrated what life could look like once more. healing, saving, seeing. He died so there would be no permanence with death. He miraculously arose from death so that harmony would exist again.

the sirens & the tears & the sadness. this won’t always be. if you really look, there He is–restoring, rebuilding, saving.

i tire of all this death. i surrender all to Him. calling Him LORD. not because of some ethereal fantasy that i’m waiting through life for. but because He is all that is good. & His way is life.

 

 

Pocketful of Change

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blogpic3.jpgHere’s the thing about change—I don’t like it. In fact, I would argue that most people are not huge fans of change. Really, aside from quirky coin collectors and children staring longingly into gumball machines, most would agree that change literally and figuratively weighs us down a bit.

One of my difficult changes came when dad and mom were dropping me off at college. At 18, you would think adolescent-living had prepared me to depart from family and then walk mightily into adulthood. Not exactly.

Move-in weekend my parents tirelessly helped me settle in to my room and find my classes. Despite their efforts to help me acclimate, I was off-and-on puddles-of-tears. On Saturday, we took the classic Target run to buy those college-life essentials. I had to wear sunglasses the whole time to prevent a scene and protect people from seeing my red-blotchy-mess-of-a-face.

As we hugged goodbye, I was blubberingly ratchet. My dad made brave attempts to calm me saying, “It’s time Libby, you’re 18 and ready for this transition.” I spastically exclaimed, “Who SAYS I’m READY? I don’t FEEL ready!”  And we didn’t really know where to go from there.

I let them leave (eventually) and then I did the thing. Through months of homesickness, I found a new place of belonging on campus. And, wouldn’t you figure, my life’s most significant transformation came that year in learning to love Jesus with my whole life. Funnily enough, by the time Summer came and everyone started packing to head home, I was that same blubbering-ratchet-y mess. I simply could not bear the thought of leaving (oh, change).

A few years down the line came life’s next greatest transition—marriage. Woof. At age 22, in the span of four months, I graduated from college, got married, moved, and started my first real-life-job. Can you even?  So many identifiers changed in my life, it made me stop dead in my tracks and ask, who the heck am I? Wife? Daughter? Employee? Student? Truly, my first year of marriage I can only define as an utter state of bamboozlement.

So, what in life is constant? Because one day we’ll have babies, one day David and I will actually move into the house we bought, and one day I won’t work where I work now. Things shift so constantly in life, we kind of have to come to terms with the imminence of change.

One peace I’ve found is that such strength comes from the One who never changes. A promise rests my heart through these changes in Hebrews where it says “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” I  also can’t shake the lines from a new favorite song, “You cannot change, but You change everything,” written by my lyrical BFFs All Sons and Daughters.

I love these truths, because I am living proof. God has always been and will always be loving, gracious, truthful and kind, so much so that He is the one who changed my heart to love and know Him back in those college years.

And aren’t we glad we’re not the same? When we can trust in the constancy of God, it qualms fears of change. We don’t need to know what’s next, because we know Who will be there with us. Just take my life for example, if all these changes hadn’t transpired I would still be that blotchy-faced-18-year-old clinging to my parents at Target. No thank you (sorry mom)!

workworkworkworkwork

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People who know me well could tell you that I am no task-master. In my mind, filling up with gas and getting groceries in one day is a personal best. On these productive days, you’ll hear me announce my tireless accomplishments with expectation of uproarious praise and adoration. People ask, “How did you possibly find time to make coffee, take a shower AND make your bed in one day?” I casually shrug my shoulders, flip my hair from my face and suggest I may be the 8th Wonder of the World.

In truth, I enjoy no lists. At all. I like slow mornings of coffee, snuggles, reading and journaling. I like sitting outdoors and letting myself be drenched by nature, awing in the sun rise and set. I like chatting with my mom on the phone, I like sitting next to any of my girlfriends, allowing ourselves to be unique combinations of serious and silly. I would be perfectly content going throughout a day scrounging up meals from the cupboards, cleaning nothing, and sipping all of the coffee.

With these little insights to my world and mind, I think it is all the more laughable the predicament that David and I are in. We closed on our first home at the end of November and it took us half a second to start kicking down nasty wall-papered walls. We continued to tear out the innards of this house ever-so-slowly to repair towards hopeful livability. Over five TONS of materials were dumped from our home in those beginning stages. Yes, TONS. As in, elephant-rhino-baby-orca-whale-sized-waste. Uff.Da.

Many moons have slinked by and we still work at the house most nights after work, and each weekend. Inch. By. Inch. Six months of work and thinking about work and also working at work. Did I mention how unmotivated I am by work? Through all of this, there have been a few things that have surprised me about me that I think are worth sharing.

If am not naturally good at something, it doesn’t mean I should give up. I was frustrated one day while mudding walls with my father-in-law and said, “I wish I was faster at this!” He replied graciously, “Who are you comparing yourself to? Don’t let comparison rob you of the good work you’re doing right now.” This struck me, because I often think I am not the best person for a given situation if I’m not good as someone else I know. And that is just nope. Not true.

So the first lesson from our house-building whirlwind: we are individually valuable. Yes. Even though David works 1 zillion times faster than me at the house, I have other skills of support and care that help carry us through this time. They are not worse skills, they are just different! When we try to compare our value to everyone else’s strengths we will be defeated every time. The comparison-game is a real one and I would like to stop playing. Thankfully, there are always sweet people around to remind me of my innate worth and value.

Next lesson, perseverance is hard. I think that’s actually what it means, “you will want to give up and you shouldn’t because you are learning so much and it will be ok” (2017, Libby’s Dictionary). I love Jesus, and the Bible talks a lot about the value of perseverance, that it produces character and that character produces hope (Romans 5:4). I don’t know what kind of character is being produced right now, and I’m not sure about the hope part either, but I trust this truth. Since God’s power and work are beyond my wildest imagination, my bet is He is building character and imbedding hope without me even realizing. I like thinking about that.

So chin up I say! Whether we’re task-masters or dreamers, life is full of hard and beautiful things that test our mind and will. We each have VALUE, and our challenges provide opportunities to be transformed into better and more hopeful people. God is beautiful and mighty in this way and we are really lucky to be His kids.

The Year I Lived with Four Men

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To be fair, one was my husband. Three men + one husband.

David & I were married a year + some months & found ourselves restless. Our suburban apartment felt isolated, despite some feeble outreach attempts made on our end, & we felt pretty unknown in a sea of people.

We originally moved to suburbia wanting to be a part of a Church that gathered in homes. We wanted to do this, because we had little idea who or what the Church was.

That being said, we certainly knew the crap out of church-y language: grace, blessed, Bible study, missional-living were parts of our standard vernacular. We also learned how to pray super Christian-y prayers such as, “more of you Lord, less of me.”

Truly though, the Church was a mystery. Was it a one-hour service with portions of teaching, singing, & grape-juice drinking? A small group meeting that gathers once a week? Prayer meetings? Youth group? Community events?

The Church had been reduced to activities & not a vibrant, dynamic, living, breathing body. I wanted to know the Church as a bride, who was so loved by Christ that He died to save her. So we continued the journey of looking for her.

We moved from our one-bedroom apartment in the burbs to a little duplex in the city with 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms. We filled that house with three young men who were seeking Jesus. There were certainly hiccups and difficulties, but David & I felt so rich with relationship.

As I reflect on my churched history, I think of floating parts of people striving to be the Church. Really spectacular people with incredible giftings of strength and power. Yet, it appeared that these people were not attached to anything substantive & this was unsettling to me. Fingers, kneecaps, necks & elbows without unity—skin, muscles, organs or, most importantly, a head binding us together.

Taking this analogy of the body a little further (1 Corinthians 12:12-27), my husband David talks about how Jesus is the head & the Church is His Spirit-filled body. He says that some people focus all attention on the head & neglect to connect to the body (ahem, guilty). Adversely, some focus all of their attention on the body with little reverence for the head. David would love if we were wholly connected & united—head & body. Jesus & the Church. All of us. I like this idea.

My personal experience with Church was one that encouraged isolation & lacked connectedness. I felt for so long that my relationship with Christ was just mine & I needed to try to be the least amount of a burden to others. In this, I was missing His body.

I really do think that Jesus is calling us to something big. He hopes for a beautiful, interdependent people who agree to love Him most & invite others to this love.

As days passed, our quaint, Minneapolis duplex was filled more & more with new friends & old friends. Singing & praying & teaching & grape-juice drinking. & after some time it had no longer become about the activities, but about Christ & His loved ones. There was growth & encouragement & correction & love. It was a beautiful & binding unity, loyal to the upward call of loving Christ.

What’s neat, is that one year later & with two less men in our newest house (we move a lot), these wonderful things are still happening in our neighborhood, in different houses & different contexts. Being the Church does not fit in an hour-service no more than it does a house or a Bible study. Being the Church is a shared, familial life with an aim to love Christ most.

Ephesians 5 talks about the Church’s relationship with Christ in the context of marriage. Christ loves her passionately, gives himself up for her, and makes her pure—white as snow. He cleanses her and presents her to Himself without stain, wrinkle or blemish as radiant, holy and blameless.

I am so grateful for how He has revealed and redeemed His bride. I am glad to know Him as head and know Him through His body. And, maybe most of all, I love this grand adventure that He leads us on—together.

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