Waiting and weeping.

I’ve been quiet again. Not because I don’t have anything to say, I have so so much to say 😉 but some times life throws everything at you, at once. And you gotta deal with it as it comes.

In the middle of what feels like a million other things, we are currently trying to buy a home. There are so many hurdles we’re trying to jump through that don’t make any sense. We’ve had so many “no’s” hit us throughout the financing process, and it feels like in the mean time houses are slipping out from between our fingers.

I just hoped the process would be simple. I’ve watched lots of people walk through it seamlessly, I just assumed it would fall into place for us that way. We have the down payment. We have extra cash. Our credit scores are good. We don’t own credit cards and have never made a late payment on anything. And yet here we are, feeling like we’re swimming upstream.

We’ve waited for credit scores to rise, waited to get an approval letter, waited for a better one ;), and now we are waiting for the perfect house. This has been a season of waiting, to say the least. For a gal who likes to be in the loop, waiting to find out if the loop is even there, is beyond frustrating. But the other day I was reading through John, (Chapter 11 if you want to read through it) and I came across a piece of scripture I really hadn’t paid much attention to before.

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha… So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

Let’s just pause here. Let that resonate with you for a minute. After hearing this news, Jesus waits two days before starting his days-long journey to see this grieving community.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the story, Jesus does make it back to the girls and Lazarus. But when He gets there, He finds them mourning the loss of their loved one. They have buried him. He is wrapped and in a tomb and has been for four days. They both tell him he’s too late and “if only You had been here, he wouldn’t have died.” He sees them weeping and hurting and begins to weep with them. Jesus wants to see him, and when He does He tells him to come out of the tomb, and Lazarus does just that.

So lets just recap. He loved all of them, so he waited two days before going to save him? Two whole days. Where this guy was dying. Where the sisters are confident in the Lord’s ability to heal him. Where they’re hoping He’ll come to save him. Where He doesn’t. Where this man dies. Where they bury him. Where they begin the mourning process. Days of waiting and rejection and heartbreak.

Then He shows up.

I imagine the girls when this happens. How they must feel, what they must be thinking. We waited for you to come. We did all that we could. We prayed. We called on you. We trusted you’d come through. We expected you. You’re too late.

But He’s not. He did hear them. He did come through. He did show up. He did answer. He did the unexpected.

How often do we finds ourselves in a period of waiting and react that way? Disappointed, confused, discouraged, abandoned. Because for me, it’s basically every single time I have to wait on anything. And I mean anything, many red-lights have had me crying “WHY GOD?” But the truth is, He is there in the waiting. He loves us through the waiting. He hears our cries. He sees our hurts, and He wants to fix them. He meets us there in the mourning.

He rarely answers us in the way we expect it. He doesn’t always say yes. But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t hear us, or He isn’t there. He hurts with us. He weeps with us. He weeped with these girls, and He knew that He was headed to raise Lazarus. Imagine what it looks like when He knows there is no relief until we meet Him face to face.

I hope when you find yourself in a season of waiting this brings you some encouragement. The truth is, we will walk through lots of periods of waiting. Sometimes it’s as trivial as a loan approval, a new job opportunity, and sometimes it is heavy, heart-wrenching waiting. Waiting to be a mom, waiting for a husband, waiting for a miracle. When I write this all out, it seems silly that I would worry about the house, about the loan. But the reality is, it’s in our nature. So when we do, let this be a reminder that He cares about us, He hears us, He weeps with us in the waiting.

xo, e.

A break from the heaviness.

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So i feel as though I’ve been quiet lately. And not that anyone is looking for an explanation, but if I’m going to start writing again, I thought I’d bookmark this time for myself and my babies and my great aunt Julie who I assume will be the only people to read this.

The world is so heavy. Like really, really heavy. There are babies with cancer and dads who die out of nowhere and moms in comas and terrorist attacks and wars being fought and morals being lost and shootings in everyday places and sexual slavery stealing children. It all happens everyday. Every. Single. Day. And my heart just breaks. I feel weak and broken. I look at the world that I’m in, and I worry about what kind of place are we creating for our babies? I get sick to my stomach when I think of every second I’ve taken for granted with them, every time I’ve raised my voice unnecessarily, every time I’ve distracted instead of focused.

It’s not right. It’s not fair. I have the most incredible family around me. We live 15 minutes away from just about everyone we love. My husband works day in and day out to provide for our little family in every way we need. I stay home with my two healthy babies whom I adore. I’m literally living my dream come true.

And honestly? I feel guilty. I feel guilty that girls I was pregnant with, don’t get to hold their babies. Ladies in the same stage of life, trapped in a hospital bed. Girls I grew up with who have lost a father or a mother. Guilty that while we can get pregnant and carry our baby’s full term, I have dear dear friends who can’t conceive, or who will have to wait to meet their children. I feel guilty that I have a partner, who I am confident in, to walk through life with me, when most people walk alone. My heart breaks for these awful situations, sometimes so much so that I feel the need to quiet my joy as to not boast in my gifts.

I am spoiled rotten. And I really don’t know why. I am truly truly so unworthy of the gifts I have. For reasons that will never be clear to me, my God has shown mercy and kindness upon my life. And so today I’m deciding to be grateful instead of guilty.

I can rejoice in my blessings, in my husband, in my children, in my family, in living my dream come true (minus the mini van ;)). It’s okay to be joyful in these times, and that doesn’t take away from someone else’s hurt. Being joyful doesn’t have to be boastful.

It’s not that I haven’t been joyful, that I haven’t been grateful. It’s just that I am so grateful, that I am so joyful, that I feel like it is rude to put that on display when people around me are hurting so bad. But I’m realizing that’s part of the problem. That’s part of why the world feels so heavy, because there is only heaviness on display. So I am going to share a lot. Share my God. My babies. My life. My husband. My parties. My thoughts. My joy. Old and new. If that is something that is unappealing to you, that’s okay. But I am living my dream and I am stinking grateful for every single moment of it.

xo, e.

(Some) Things I’ve learned from my Mama

 

This weekend we celebrated my mom. I always, always brag on my mom. But today I feel like I have a little more reason to. My mom is my kids’ babysitter, recipe book, study guide, wise counsel, inspiration, marriage guru, shopping buddy, prayer warrior, my biggest encourager, and my truest friend. She crafts with me, cuts my hair, tells me how to cook chicken, and makes me stop at road-side oddities. She goes with me to get tattoos, to take our kids to Seaworld and to bible studies. She goes out of her way for me, often and I am so, so grateful that she is mine. I am proud of who she is, and proud to be associated with her. It is an honor and a privilege, and a huge responsibility.

When I was getting married, me and all 5 of my sibling were living at home. Me, 21, my brothers, 20, 14 and 12 and my sisters who were both under 3. She homeschooled all of them, taught classes, volunteered in her city, walked with my dad as he lost his own dad, served at her church, didn’t miss the boys’ baseball games, and planned my entire wedding. While doing all of this, she didn’t miss a beat. Her home was clean, her makeup was done, her hair was colored. Her kids were disciplined and loved on. She made dinners, hosted youth groups, baked cakes. She brought meals to people in need and made time to be with her husband. She read scripture and spent time with the Lord. She did projects for her home and mine. And yet when my brother would get home at 11, ready to talk, she’d do it. When I’d insist she go with me to every floral meeting, make the calls to caterers, cut, sand, stain and burn 200 wooden chargers, she’d do it. When she had to drive all over town to get my brothers to their games or their friends houses (homeschool community is weird, y’all) she’d do it. When my sister wanted her to paint her nails, when her mom wanted to stop by for coffee, when my dad wanted to go on a walk, she did it. And she’d do it with joy and intention in her heart. She didn’t make any of us feel like we were an obligation or a hassle. She made us feel loved and she made it all fun.

That time taught me so much. It opened my eyes to how much my mom juggled on a daily basis and how easy she made it all look. It showed me how little sleep she got to make sure she could spend the time with her kids who were leaving. It reminded me how truly incredible it is to have someone who loves me and cherishes me the way my mom does. She has taught me so very much, and I want to remember it all and tell my babies about it.

So I made a list of things I’ve learned to live and embrace from my mama.
1. Choose fun.
2. Wait for your husband.
3. But then always have more sex.
4. Be consistent.
5. You can make most things you see in the store, better, cheaper and have way more pride in it.
6. Fake it til you make it.
7. Offer food, always.
8. Make marriage attractive.
9. Style isn’t defined by labels and tags, quite a few rocking outfits have been purchased at Walmart.
10. You can always make time .
11. Follow through.
12. Clean your home, often.
13. Do things without expectation.
14. The Lord cares about the small desires in our heart, down to the color of carpet.
15. Animal print is like a neutral.
16. Other people’s perspective and opinion don’t define you.
17. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
18. Faith in the Lord always comes back to the same basic foundational beliefs, don’t get too caught up in the rest.
19. Make memories.
20. Have a baked good available, always.
21. When nap time is outgrown, quiet time is good.
22. You do better when you feel better.
23. Spend time, not money.
24. Be a parent first, a friend later.
25. Start the day around the table with breakfast, your family and a Bible story.
26. Presentation counts. So take time to do it right.
27. Pray out loud with people.
28. Live in today, don’t worry about tomorrow.
29. Go on adventures.
30. A cute party is worth the trouble.
31. Asking hard questions is how you get to truly know someone.
32. Vote.
33. You are as capable as you think you are.
34. You define how people treat you.
35. A good bra is important.
36. Show up.
37. Remind your husband that you appreciate him.
38. Be careful with your words.
39. If you’re nice to everyone, they won’t have anything negative to say. And if they do, no one will believe them.
40. Say yes.

Mom, you’re everything I hope to be when I grow up. I love you and I’m so thankful to call you mama, and friend. You make the best food, throw the best parties, wear the cutest clothes, decorate the cutest home, have the sweetest marriage, and raise the best kids 😉 You really do know best. Happy Birthday.

xo, e.

God is love.

I’ve started to write out so many things in the last few weeks. But nothing seems enough. No words can possibly bring justice. My heart hurts. We live in a broken world. It seems every time I blink another tragedy starts unraveling.

Sometimes I let myself dwell in that. And I get truly sick about it. I cry and sit silent. I let my relationships with my kids and my husband suffer. I don’t want to get dressed or cook or clean. I don’t know what to do or how to help when it seems so big. Some days the realities of the world are too heavy.

“Love” has been the go-to answer as what the appropriate response is. Which is true, the problem is it’s not our love we need, it’s His. The way we understand love is conditional, all of it. We love someone because of, fill in the blank; their cooking, their sense of humor, their bank account, their abilities, etc. We pick spouses and friends based on similarities and qualities we appreciate. We don’t feel the same for someone who is rude, mean, or even just annoying. Let alone human traffickers, terrorists, racists, white supremacists, monsters. However, He does.

It seems unreal and quite frankly, unfair. It’s something I don’t think we can ever grasp. His love for us is deep. For each one of us. Bin Laden, my babies, Mother Teresa, Catelyn Jenner, your neighbor, Obama, Donald Trump, Joel Osteen. He loves them all the same. Which means, we as believers, need to attempt to do the same. We need to be offering love to anyone and everyone.

The thing is, we have come to redefine love. We, as a society, have removed all trace of God from love and replaced it with acceptance, “good vibes” tolerance, blind support, likes on social media. The Lord does not show us love this way. He loves us with a true love, a pure love. A love that doesn’t change when things get hard, when we mess up, when we run away. Its discipline, its wisdom, it’s hard, but necessary truth. It’s thoughtfulness. It’s being there in the waiting, in the details. It’s unwavering, unchanging, and undeserved.

My mom has always demonstrated this so well to me. Growing up I had friends who were pregnant, gay, black, conservative, Muslim, parents, pastors kids, drug dealers, etc. Everyone was welcome with a baked good from my mom and a bad joke from my dad. The way they treated people, the way they talked about them, was the same. They prayed for these kids and their families, invested in them. They opened up rooms and cooked meals more times than I could count. But they also offered wisdom, godly counsel, honest truth. They asked about backgrounds, religious ideology, family, future, not because the right answers were required to earn their love or care, but because they already had it.

It’s something I still take for granted, and honestly probably always will. I grew up with a clear understanding of Christ’s love because it was demonstrated effortlessly and taught well. But that is the way Christ loves us. He met with the people society had deemed unworthy. He ate with him. He talked with them. He loved on them. He didn’t care about their past, their skin color, their gender identity, he cared about their heart. He didn’t have to embrace their sin to embrace them.

He is a good god. He cares for us, on an individual and personal level, regardless. If we claim to be Christ-like, then we too have to love people this way. Without conditions, without expectations, without hesitation. I’m not always sure of how I am supposed to model Christ in this world. I don’t know if He’d be marching to tear down statues or fighting for everyone’s right to get married. I certainly don’t know who he’d vote for, and I won’t claim to. But I am sure of this: He loves you. He is love. So that is what I’ll act on. I will choose to love you, too.

xo, e

Luke Danger

August 6, was hot. Like the hottest Texas had been all year. I was 12 days past my due date. Induction was just around the corner. I had been doing everything I could to try and coerce this little person out. After lots and lots of walking and eating an entire pineapple, I decided to rest. I realized labor was coming regardless and I didn’t want to be exhausted walking into it. I got into the apartment, after one last walk, and found it to be uncomfortably warm. I turned the AC on and took a shower. I got out to find the apartment even warmer. I thought perhaps I had turned the heat on. What else could explain this? But as I walked over to check, my eyes welled up tears as I realized my AC was broken. (Almost 42 weeks pregnant ok!!) I texted my husband, who was at work, to bring home all the fans he could find. I laid in our bed, feeling every bit like a beached whale.

He got home, arms full of fans. We hung out, made out, and tried to soak up the last little bit of just us. We started to fall asleep around 1, when contractions started. This had happened a few times so I tried not to get my hopes up. I took a bath and waited. When the contractions kept up, I told C he needed to get me a snack STAT. I knew once we got to the hospital they wouldn’t let me eat, and I wasn’t about to do this labor thing without a cheeseburger and fries. I ate, we laughed and talked and I cried a little. Everything was about to change.

Hours passed. The contractions weren’t speeding up or getting more intense, but they weren’t slowing down either. I finally called my parents to let them know I was in labor, but that it would be a while. I made C wait to call his parents, because they had gone on an overnight trip to Oklahoma, and I knew that they would rush home with excitement at any baby news. I didn’t want them to rush home and wait.

I started throwing up. I had been throwing up my whole pregnancy so it wasn’t too scary, but it made me a little nervous. I called my midwife, and she told me I could go ahead and make my way to the hospital. So at around 10, we did.

Stuff started really going and it was…unpleasant. They checked me and I was at a five, and I decided to get an epidural. Let me just tell you PRAISE THE LORD FOR THE DRUGS. It’s a real game changer. After 45 minutes of intense contractions on top of one another, waiting for the anesthesiologist to get to me, they finally gave me the good stuff. As I sat up after the giant needle was stuck in my back, the doctor said “Oh no! You’ve pulled it out” I looked at him with what I imagine was a terrifying and heartbreaking glance, and he said “Nahh I was joking” Good one, guy. Good one. My midwife checked me again as he was leaving. She said I was fully dilated and could start pushing, or I could let the contractions keep bringing the baby down naturally a little more so I’d have less pushing to do. I had just gotten the juice and was feeling great, so I decided to rest in that before pushing. I joked with my mom and my mother in law, ate some snacks I had snuck in my bag, and redid my hair. They all laughed at me as I put makeup on, fully dilated, minutes before I was going to deliver a baby.

At around 3:45 my midwife came in, and we decided to go for it. My husband held one hand and my mom held the other. I pushed a few times before the heart monitor around my belly went silent. I thought maybe he was just getting lower. My midwife had me flip onto my side to try and hear him. Nothing. They quickly flipped me to the other side. Nothing. They put me back on my back and put a mask on my face. Doctors and nurses started flooding the room. Something was wrong.

My midwife looked at me, and said “You need to get this baby out, Ellie”

“That’s what I thought I was doing!”

I started crying, hysterically I’m sure. I’ve watched too many mamas walk into hospitals pregnant, and leave empty handed to know it doesn’t always end with a bundle of joy. My husband was holding my hand tightly and my mom praying out loud over my baby. With lots of encouragement like “Get him out” “You NEED to get him out.” “Now.” I pushed a few more times, and he was here. Relief and despair set in quickly. They didn’t put him on my chest, like they said they would. He wasn’t crying, like they said he should. They rushed him away from me. I lied there screaming for my son.

After what felt like an eternity, but surely was only minutes, he cried. They brought him to me and through my mascara-filled tears I saw my perfect boy for the first time.

It’s not fair that I get to call him mine, that I get to watch him grow up. I get to take him to new places and go on adventures with him. I get to know my baby. I get to do his laundry and clean up the messes. I get to deal with tantrums in Target and poop covering the crib. I get to kiss him whenever I want and crawl into his crib when I miss him after I’ve put him to sleep. I get to throw him birthday parties and take him to get French fries. I get to watch him love music and “fishys.” I get to watch some of my favorite relationships unfold between him and his aunts and uncles. I get to complain about potty-training. I get to watch him experience the beach for the first time. I got to take my baby home from the hospital, and I am grateful for that every single day.

Somehow we’re here already, my baby is two. It makes my heart swell and break at the same time. My boy you are strong willed and determined, curious and playful, expressive and outgoing, a true joy and my best friend. Happy Birthday, Luke Danger. You changed our world.

xo, e

Self Control

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Growing up in a Christian home my whole life, self-control was not a topic lost on me. As a kid I had fruit of the spirit bracelets and we sang songs and learned rhymes and colored pictures with grapes that had the word “self-control” scribbled over it. It really helped us grasp it. As I got older, this term became the foundation for youth group sermons on how to avoid peer pressure. Sex, drugs, alcohol? No problem. Just use self control! It has only been in the last few years that I have really understood what the intended meaning of self-control as a fruit of the spirit really means.

A lot of my realization has come from watching my mama my whole life. I’ve often said she has a quiet strength about her. But the truth is, it’s more than that. She has had deeper hurts than I can imagine. Her heart has been broken, her confidence toyed with, her health shaken, her father taken too early and too many babies gone before she got to hold them. Where so many people would take the opportunity to fall apart, my mom chose to hold it together. She chose strength. She chose grace. She chose faith.

A few years ago I fell victim to my emotions. I bought into the lie the world tells us that it’s freeing to let ourselves feel so deeply, that it is out of our hands how we feel about something. I let myself feel angry towards the whole world, hurt by things that couldn’t be changed, and really just sad for myself. I cried more than I’d like to admit over all kinds of things, some hard, most not. I thought it was just who I was, I was a crier. I was upset. I was hurt. And that couldn’t be changed. Let me tell you, what the world told me would make me feel better, my load lighter and my relationships deeper, did not. It left me feeling deflated, emotionally exhausted, guilty and alone.

My mom had been praying for me and with me often. She raised me to understand that I could change a situation with my attitude. She showed me, time and time again, that when life gets hard it’s okay to get upset but to not let ourselves stay upset. She saw the wreck I was making of myself and met me there to tell me, it was time to change things. I told her I couldn’t. I believed, I couldn’t. Then suddenly one day the Lord opened my eyes to the Fruit of the Spirit. It had nothing to do with literal fruit like my drawings from my childhood. It was so much more valuable than just resisting peer pressure as I remembered from my youth group days. Self-control could be applied to my thoughts, my conversations, my attitude, my emotions. Fruits of the Spirit are products of knowing and abiding with the Holy Spirit. If we rely on Him, then we will produce those qualities.

The Bible says the devil desires to steal, kill and destroy. If he can steal our joy, our hope, our relationships, how quickly we fall. And what better way to do that than to infect our thoughts? We need to take the reigns. As women, our brains are wired to think 50 million different things at any given moment. If we’re not careful, we can let in the thoughts of insecurity, doubt, hopelessness creep in and take control. We can lose faith in our husbands, our selves, our God, all because of our thoughts. We need to have self-control over our thoughts. We need to have self-control over our attitudes. We need to have self-control over our emotions. How do we that? Prayer, lots of it. Invest in ourselves by forming a foundation in scripture. Limit social media. Pay attention to what we watch, listen to, and read. Look at our circle, are the people around us sitting in the trenches, or telling us it’s okay to come out and handing us a ladder?

I am so grateful that my mom instilled in me that I am capable of control because of Him. And when I lost sight of that, she brought me right back to His feet. Her words are rooted in His and I am forever thankful for that. It’s okay to hurt, it’s okay to feel, but it’s not okay to dwell there.

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

Mama knows best, y’all. She really does.
xo, e

 

 

 

I miss you.

IMG_5402I miss you now.
I missed you, then.
I’ll miss you until I see you again.

It’s weird, life. It comes and goes so quickly. It seems strange that after all this time my heart still hurts. We weren’t close anymore. It’s been years, really. I’m married. I have two babies. I shouldn’t miss you, like I do. Life had moved on, before you were gone. And yet I think about you every single day. I have since the day I met you.

You had that kind of effect on people. You made everyone you met feel important. You were quick to make sacrifices, crack a joke and offer help. You were thoughtful and intentional. You loved harder and deeper than anyone I’ve ever met. You showed me what it looked like to really love someone, like really love them. The way you loved your parents, your sister, your best friends, me. It wasn’t fair, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy. It was a selfless, pure, genuine kind of love.

I wish we could watch bad tv and eat greasy food. I wish we could drive with the windows down in your truck and scream awful songs. I wish you could know my babies and my husband. I wish I could have watched you fall in love with the right person, the one who got to steal your last name. I wish I could have seen you become a dad, because you would have been a really, really good dad. I wish I would have told you what a lasting effect you had on my life. I wish I could tell you that you inspire me. But I didn’t and I can’t and life isn’t fair.

So I’m writing this out now. I’m proud of you. I’m so very grateful for you and all that you did time and time again for me. You helped pick up all my broken pieces too many times to count. I hope to raise my kids with the real, deep kind of love you showed me. I hope to be the kind of light and easy inclusive that made everyone feel so comfortable and confident and valued. I hope to be the person you were, even when no one was looking. I am so thankful that I got to know you. You were one of my dearest friends. I am a better person because of you.

It’s not fair that you’re gone.
I can not wait to see you again.

We grew apart. And I missed you. And now you’re gone. And I’ll miss you forever.

xo,
e