those who mourn

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I sang Laurie Berkner’s “Moon Moon Moon” out loud to myself all the way home tonight staring at the brilliant super moon. I chased it down the highway for a while wishing like I did when I was a kid that it would get me closer to it, and farther from here. My lips forming the words without me asking, to a song my heart remembers not from mindless repetition, but from sacred moments I sat rocking my babies and singing it over them. My whole body, poor thing, shaking and scared enough to be singing a child’s song aloud to myself, ever still grateful for the very concrete reality of a Source so much greater than me.

The news article reads “Tonight’s full moon will appear bigger and brighter in the night sky than it has in nearly 70 years, and all you have to witness its shining glory is look up. … However, Sunday night’s supermoon is extra super because the moonwill be even closer to Earth than usual.”

If you think this is mere prophecy you are mistaken. It is God holding Her shining face close to ours as we weep. My broken heart has loved the warmth of the sun forever but I think it is clear now that darkness has come and the Moon is after my affection, a clear and present answer to my constant prayer as of late, “God be near”.

Tisheana and Baby Z’s New Beginning

We met her a week ago, Church. A carseat had to be donated that first day so we could take her and her babygirl out to lunch. She sat bent over and crying telling us about how she’d borrowed clothes that morning so she could wash her one set of clothes before she came to meet us.

Over the course of a couple of hours we learned her story- a single mama who’d been denied any child support since she caught the father of her baby doing drugs and told him she didn’t want that around her baby. No child support meant she couldn’t afford to keep the room she and her babygirl had been renting. And so she went to her own father’s house, a trailer where he and twelve of his twenty one kids lived. Needless to say it was too crowded, but staying with her mom, a longtime cocaine user and dealer, was not an option either. Our friend ended up staying with her baby-daddy’s mother in an also crowded house, but the smoking there, and the fact that the father of her baby would often show up, only to ignore the presence of his daughter and the mother of his child made it all but unbearable.

We met her because finding the only shelter she could meant moving two cities away, which meant missing appointments she needed to keep her little bit of government assistance going, and subsequently having them cut off, and running out of formula for the baby. We met her because her cousin called Mrs. Amy Ford to see what the Church might be able to do. We met her when she was a little hopeless. But we met her because God.

We offered her a warm bed in a safe room on the west side of Fort Worth, and she considered it on the drive to my house. And then we learned about her sisters. “I can’t be that far away from my little sisters. They’re not safe with my mom.” My heart broke, because oh do I know that feeling. (And yours did too, Church, because not one person questioned, and many gave) But then we learned just how close she was to making it, Church. She had a job before she lost her room. She had enough income to make it, just not enough to get back on her feet. And she was in school before she lost her room, trying to get an education, set an example for her sisters and make a better life for her and her babygirl (Have I mentioned the babygirl? Most beautiful baby you’ve ever seen.)  IMG_9530.2So she had sisters, a job and an education in progress in Dallas, the plan quickly changed from getting her to a room in Fort Worth to finding *them* a home in Dallas. We contacted area churches about housing and got the name of a small complex where a pastor and his wife had just moved in to help build community, and low and behold they were having a pretty phenomenal move-in-special. We believed then, that God had a home for her, and we were going to get to help provide it.

This was still the first day, a couple hours after we met her, but she was sitting across my living room when I got off that call and she smiled, my goodness her smile, she’d heard me say “two-bedroom” a couple of times and quietly exclaimed “My sisters can stay with me?!”, I still get tears thinking about it… I stayed on the phone most of the afternoon, taking calls too coordinate donations and strategize, and within a couple of hours we had enough to make more than the first months rent. As the sun set, we wrapped up our time together with a whole lot of hope and a little bit of trembling. I dropped her off with the promise of picking her up the next day to get to the government offices she needed to to reconcile all of her paperwork and responsibilities to get her funds back to where they needed to be. She went home smiling that smile but still pretty unsure any if this was really gonna pan out.

Before I got dinner started for my family the first day, I put up a little Facebook status with a few basic needs for an apartment. And before dinner was on the table, you Church, had gleefully fulfilled at least half her needs. Couches, beds, tables, diapers, clothes, linens, so many things, given so freely, so lovingly. All kinds of beautiful.

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She texted me the morning of day two to see if I was still coming, if yesterday had really happened, if the plans for that day were still on. Yes, yes, yes. I picked her and we scrolled through my facebook status and cried over drive-through donuts at your incredible generosity. “I’ve always known God was good, I just didn’t know there were people out there who cared, especially about me” she said, in shock.

The third day, Church, we went to look at her new home, because you had donated over and above her needs for rent and deposit, and all the furnishings were coming together, from all over the metroplex, from at least five different churches, from people’s neighbors and aunts and friends. The third day she put down her deposit on her new place. Screen shot 2015-01-22 at 8.01.24 AM

The next few days were spent gathering things, scheduling pick-ups and drop-offs, and spending some of the gift cards that you all donated. I have never seen someone so happy to be in Wal-mart, y’all. “The first thing I’m gonna buy is food, my own food. And some socks” she beamed. And as I dropped her off that afternoon, “Would y’all let me pay y’all back? So maybe you can help somebody else?” I grinned and said “maybe”, trying hard not to cry for the millionth time that week.

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Finally on Saturday, just five days after we met her, she got the keys to her new home. We dropped her off with a few boxes to bask in the glow of her new home while we made the first haul from Dallas to Fort Worth and back with a few helpers and a few stops in between. And Saturday night, Church, just five days after we met this mama with no home, who just needed to know people out there cared, especially about her, we said goodnight to her, her babygirl and her sisters, in their safe new home with warm beds.

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Yesterday and today have been spent getting her the last few things she needs for the apartment, and just marveling at what you’ve done, Church.

God is so good, and so faithful. And He used you this week, because you let Him. He used you to shine your Light. He used you to wrap His arms around His daughters. And I got to watch it.

There are not enough thank you’s in the world- everyone who gave and prayed and helped and sent and… everything.

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Love. And. LOVE.

P.S. God has been so incredibly gracious, that there is now a car being donated. It does need a little work, so if your heart is moved to give towards that, contact me please.

you who’ve been wounded

when arms fling wide to hug
and you cower
meet them with a hand in the air
to guard
your face
your heart
because arms flung haven’t always or even mostly
meant kindness
and love
it breaks me

when you gasp at hearts laid bare
turn the other way and run
scoff at such brashness
call it wrong
dismissing every hurt
on both sides
glancing past opportunities
to see
it breaks me

when i think of the things
that caused you to flinch
and protect
to cringe when love taps you on the shoulder

the things that pushed tears down your cheeks
now push people away

the moments that taught you the danger of closeness
instead of bringing you closer to Love

i think
Fuck them

the ones who hurt you
the ones who scared you
the ones who grabbed you or shoved you
the ones who broke your bones
your heart
your boundaries

fuck the ones who made your walls so sensible
the ones who never saw your beauty and worth
the ones who made it so hard for you to let anyone else see

i want to wrap every abuser in the chains
they’ve used to trap and hold
ones who never asked for anything but love

maybe i can’t
maybe my wish of avenging
of meeting him or him or her
in a dark alley
and showing them how I feel about what they did to you
will never come true

but at least
at least
at least
let me help you loose those chains

me too

“I once threw a table,” she admitted, head bowed slightly, the shy smile of someone sharing a flawed little piece of themselves with a heart they’re slowly beginning to trust. I’d just told her about hurling a champagne glass in a fit of rage recently. We stood for a moment holding back both the tears and laughter that come in that moment when you think you’ve shared something worthy of dismissal at best, disgust at worse, and the person in front of you instead says “me too”.

And another wild imperfect square was knit together in the quilt that is our friendship.

You guys. You may or may not know much about my mess. I’ve had many amazing friends, I have many amazing friends. But the transitions I’ve been through in the last few years have wreaked a bit of havoc on my heart, and relationships.

Much like SNL this season, it’s a rebuilding time for me. Plus divorce, and church changing, and remarriage, and a new baby who happens to be Number Six don’t exactly leave me with all the free time in the world.

Does this sound whiny? I don’t mean it to. It’s actually quite the contrary. This little moment, followed by her taking me on a tour of her pajama drawer and closet (she got vintage Dr. Martens for $2.50 at a thrift store!), I guess helped me realize what I’d been missing. That “You’re messy? I’m messy!” kinda love.

That love that chooses vulnerability and sees beauty. The courage it takes to fling your arm around the shoulders of another  broken human being and call them dear. The friendship that’s brave enough to scale the mountain of BS that stands in the way of pretty much every relationship in the history of the world.

It’s not that I need all my friends to be the same as me or available 24/7, but my soul needs a little something, not a promise even, just a hint, that if I mess up, I’ll still be loved. If something happens that scares me to death or breaks my heart, someone will be on the other end of the phone, or at my door. Not just with emojis or advice, but open arms and quiet acceptance.

Please don’t pelt me with “boundaries” statements. I heart healthy boundaries. But I know, because I’ve done it, too often we use boundaries as an opportunity to check out, disconnect, dismiss or walk away from hurting people.

I just…

Appreciated her offering me a soft place to fall along with my Kahlua laden hot cocoa that night.

(Forgive me for not fleshing out every piece of this, for offering no solutions really, or being overly mushy about this whole thing. Forgive me for giving no context for the table or glass throwing. Forgive me if you’ve reached out for my friendship and my introvert-monster/busyness kept me away. Forgive me also if I’ve allowed my fear or pain to hurt you. I’m working on it.)

I think… Here’s to a year of braving bullshit mountains and reaching out to souls just as beautifully imperfect as our own. Here’s to a year of mustering the courage to both share and work on our crazy. Here’s to a year of saying and hearing “me too”.

And here’s to a year of both being and having soft places to fall.

Love and love.

(For more on my misadventures with friendships/quilting metaphors click here)

Prayer (request)

***UPDATE at the end of the post

IMG_3707.1Hello Friends that I Love. I really do hope you’re doing well. Sorry (for the millionth time) posting has been so scarce over here.

Honestly? I didn’t really wanna write this post, even though He asked me too repeatedly. I can be childish that way sometimes.

Transparency is kinda my jam, asking for prayer isn’t really. I’m only just learning what a contradiction that statement is.

Because yesterday when Gabriel asked why we weren’t going to Grapevine and I told him my shoot had been canceled, his immediate response was “Is it because a baby is sick?” I replied yes, and he said “oh, that must be so scary” and said he would pray. And he did. And ten minutes later that babygirl’s mama (who had no idea we’d prayed) texted me to say that she was doing much better.

And then we walked into church and sat down to the beginning of a new (and wonderful) sermon series called “The Lord’s Prayer”.

“Anxiety is the opposite of prayer. Prayer is transferring the burden. We are only designed to carry burdens to His feet.” –Ps. Robert Morris

And then on the way out a young woman stopped us to say my husband had prayed for her to find a job a while back, she smiled a huge smile and said, “not only did I end up getting a job pretty quickly, but I got two!”

So maybe (probably) prayer works and it is not a bad thing to share when you need it…

I’ve mostly been a ball of nerves lately. Except when I am alone in my quiet house. Not in the shaky, squinty eyed, white knuckle, short of breath way I used to be, but there have been too few moments of stillness and peace in my head and heart. And I know, I know, having Five, (almost Six) kids will do that to you. But I also know it is not God’s plan for me to feel on edge while I finish out growing this Bebe Boy.

But though I am a planner and a fixer and a doer, I cannot plan or fix or do my way out of all these things on my own. (Maybe because I wasn’t meant to?)

So look, here’s the deal- we have a few things, (maybe a lot of things), that we need prayer for. And as much as the enemy would like for me to sit alone and get tangled up in the stress of all that, I’m not going to (anymore). I’m gonna let you guys in. And ask you to pray. And I’m gonna pray. And I’m gonna let it go. Because goodness, He has seen me through much harder times than this, but that doesn’t make this time less important, and I’m pretty sure He does not grow weary of seeing me (us) through.

Okay with you if I share the list that’s been swimming around my head and eating up my patience and peace?
Thank you.

1) A new Little One will join our family in about eight weeks. In only eight weeks. (Look I know we’ve had all this time to prepare, but lots of this time was eaten up by sickness and summer with Our Five, and the beginning of a new school year.) So here we are, only eight weeks from holding Number Six and feeling sort of overwhelmed with all there is to do before he arrives. I’m not a high maintenance kinda girl, the list of things to be bought is fairly simple (a bathtub, a pack and play, a swing, some socks, a million diapers, you know, the usual) but it is not nothing. And way down at the end of that list is a new vehicle. 2) Number Six will overflow not only our lives, but also our minivan. So we are thinking and planning and praying about how to go about and what to go about purchasing.

3) Most of you know that at the very beginning of this pregnancy Joooee was laid off by one company, and then hired on to a stay-at-home position in another, a tremendous blessing since I was going to be in bed for 17+weeks. And we are ever so thankful for this job, not sure how we would have survived without it. But it is a contract job. And it came a few weeks into my pregnancy, meaning two things: A) it is not the most stable of jobs. Not super consistent pay, and his contract is coming close to running out. And B) Insurance is kind of a bear for us. The pregnancy was considered pre-existing condition by the time he was hired, and yada, yada yada, it’s freakin expensive.

4) We would like for this whole “yours, mine, and ours” thing to be as cute and adorable as it sounds. And sometimes, (mostly) it is. But it is messy and hard sometimes. So there’s that.

And now I am laying down this list. At His feet. I am committing not to wring my hands over it or hang my head over it anymore.

Maybe you have a list, short or long. Maybe you can write it out and lay it down too? I know it helps me to get mine out of my head and onto a screen or some paper. If you would like to share your list here, we would be more than happy to pray over it, (right, guys?).

And would you say a little prayer for our little crew?

You guys are the best.
Love, love.

****UPDATE: So. Prayer does in fact work. Also. You people are totally AH-MAZ-ING and God is freaking AWESOME!

This post was not at all meant to be some sort of thinly veiled attempt to get people to give us stuff. But He is continually working on my willingness to lay down my pride and receive, from Him, from him, and from others.

And so, not more than 12hours after laying my list before his feet and your eyes, and humbling myself enough to ask for prayer… we were blessed with not one, but two baby swings:) And a most generous anonymous donation… ENOUGH TO COVER ALL MEDICAL BILLS and then some. It is still kind of rocking my world. But that is the kind of crazy, crazy Love He gives. And as much as I wanted to say, “oh, gosh, you don’t have to do that”, I needed to say “thank you”. And I did. And I will say it again a thousand times, in all the ways that I can, with hugs and tears and words and actions and prayer. God is so good. He Loves so lavishly. And my friends (that means you) are indeed the best. Yay for prayer, and generous hearts, and a God who sees. Selah.

Introduction

So, Joseph and I are celebrating our One Year Anniversary tomorrow, basically thanks to These Two Amazing People :)

Because I mean, when Alan and Nancy Smith say this about a guy, you freakin have coffee with him ;)

As you all know, coffee went exceptionally well… more of the story later. For now, I am going to bed with my husband.

*happy sigh*

Love and love.

Being. Saved.

What is saving my life right now?
This wee babe in my belly and his giant of a father.

LoverBecause I am restless, (18weeks in bed will do that to you).

I am ready, no anxious- to move, to go, to do, to be… more. Staying here, in this moment, is… tough. I mean, I photograph moments, I adore them, but just sitting and breathing in and living in this moment? So much more than hard. It feels… awkward, wrong almost. It’s demanding to say the least and yielding has never been my strong suit. Most of my years have been full of craziness, plenty of it made by my own recklessness. Lots of my time has been spent going and doing, struggling even. This life I have now though… it is easy. And calm. And unfamiliar.
I said before that this time felt like the “set” in my own personal “ready, set, go”. When I first realized that, it was fascinating and wonderful, that He would give me a time of peace and preparation, but now… it’s damn near excruciating.
And honestly I’m not even very fun to be around sometimes because all I can think, dream, talk about is The Next Phase. When The Baby Gets Here, When School Starts, When I’m Skinny Again (forgive me, but it’s true), When We Move, When It’s Not So Hot Out… the list is way too long really.
But. Restlessness, real wrestling, is almost impossible when a Little Boy grows inside you, and when a very solid, very good, very steady man is determined to keep you tethered to Real Life.
The Little One, with his swimming and kicking around, with his absolute dependence on me, he makes me still myself. And the Husband, with his hands, arms, eyes, words, always there, here… he helps me still myself, sometimes gently insists on it. And goodness, All Five Amazings in between those two need me to calm down, and be here, in this day and moment. And so here I am.
This growing boy and this grown man are keeping me from tearing myself apart with wants and discontentment, keeping me from running or plotting. They’re saving my life, I guess. And I’m glad of it.

yayforbabies

{Thanks so much to the ever lovely and inspiring Sarah Bessey for this prompt and snychroblog. Please do go read the others and share the Love.}

Livin on a Prayer

Hi guys! I know it’s been a while- as I’m sure you’ve heard (because I have not stopped complaining, sorry bout that) I’ve been terribly sick with this pregnancy. Sicker than I usually am when I’m pregnant, maybe because I’m roughly 10years older this time. Who knows. All I know is it’s been hella rough.

Here I am though, not dead, clearly keeping enough food down to grow a baby and trying to figure out how I even ended up pregnant again in the first place.

I mean I know how, I love how:) It’s just… I swore off having babies a long, long time ago. After Emmy actually, I swore off having babies. And then after the gut wrenching, earth shattering, wonderful, amazing surprise that was Gracie, I really swore off having babies.

I swore it off for lots of reasons- I get ridiculously ill and my family gets a not very awesome mommy in the process. Also 4 kids, as Awesome as they are, is a lot. There are other reasons too, but I honestly don’t feel the need to defend my decision to not, ahem, have a fuller quiver.

My marriage kinda falling (bursting?) apart shortly after Gracie’s birth leaving me on my own with my Awesome little crew (they were 6months, 2years, 4years and 6year old) kinda sealed the deal though. Remarry? Yes please! Have more kids? Hell to the no.

And then I met this man. And in a whirlwind of Goodness and God moments we were very serious. And we talked about our family in present and future form. We thought, he has a boy, I have my four, we’re pretty set in the kid department.

But God. Sigh.

(You guys if I tried to tell you how many people talked me out of permanently making sure I never made a baby again after Gracie you wouldn’t believe me. So I didn’t. But I reeeeeally wanted to.)

Anyway, God. I sat in bed one evening half asleep, semi-wedding planning-dreaming… and then I saw this baby. And she was gorgeous, head full of dark curly hair, chubby little arms. And she had a name. And I fell in love. Like whoa. And then I laughed a little, and freaked out a lot. And I told Nance. I told her how crazy it was and I’m sure she thought I was crazy. I wasn’t even engaged yet.

Fast forward a bit, (though not too far, this was only a little over a year ago:) and that man, Joseph and I, are married. When we talk about potentially having babies (because as much as I hate being sick, I do adore babies) it is all adoption oriented. He has heard plenty of the horror stories of what I’m like when I’m pregnant. I remind him all the time. Mostly because I’m afraid if I don’t, I’ll forget and then I’ll get pregnant.

Fast forward a little bit more, and six months into being married to the most wonderful man I’ve ever known- the thought of puking 24/7 for 18 weeks doesn’t scare me quite as much as the thought of never getting to hold that baby of his I’ve already fallen in love with. And so we decide maybe we can handle it.

Fast forward about six weeks after deciding we can maybe handle it, and our faces are both sore from smiling at two pink lines on a white stick.

And that’s kind of the story of how, or why I guess, Number Six got to be on her (or his maybe, still not sure) way. We are about halfway there (“Living on a prayer like Bon Jovi” as Joe would say:) We are halfway to holding this promised little bundle, halfway to sleepless nights and newborn snuggles, mostly shocked still, completely unprepared, and still happily fumbling through our first year of marriage. But God and all that jazz.

Number Six (!!!!!!!!!!!)

Hey Loves! Just want to officially announce over here on the bloggity- We are expecting Number Six!!!!!

And as crazy as it is to think that I am going to have six kiddos, it’s not that crazy at all. I do love me some babies, and toddlers, and kiddos, and tweens, and teens. And so does Joooee.

It’s kind of like magic though, to grow a baby. And at the same time it’s all very slow and normal. Women get pregnant all the time; they’ve been doing it forever. And babies, lots of babies are born every day. I’ve done it Four Times now. You know, it’s no big deal. But it is. You guys~ there is a little sesame seed sized life inside of me, and in about 8 months it will be a screaming, sucking, squirming little baby. Seriously- that is CRAZY!!

And exciting. We are sort of quietly, calmly over the freaking moon. And our kiddos are varying degrees of excited. Griff is understandably concerned about how this will affect his chances of getting his own room. Yusef is thrilled at the prospect of having a sibling that looks like him, (which just made me cry a little bit all over again). Gabe wants to know when he can hold the baby because he does adore holding babies. Emmy is absolutely delighted to have a cute little baby around to dote on. And Gracie? Well she’s hearing from God, (‎”Mom, I know this is kinda spooky, but I already know the baby’s gonna be a girl. God told me it in my sleep.”) and planning baby’s first drum lessons.

So now we wait, and plan, and celebrate, and wait some more. This little baby, (affectionately called “Poppy” for the time being), is a promise being fulfilled, one I didn’t even know I wanted until it was whispered in my ear by my own Creator. But since that moment the very idea of new life bursting forth from this new Love has been happily occupying space in my heart. To have it moved by His hands to my belly. a promise coming true right inside of me… is kind of bliss.

So. There you go.

Oh, and…

Number Six, Poppy,

We Love you so much already. We really do. Already you are joy and peace and Light. Already you are perfect. I’m pretty sure you will superlove your siblings because they are completely awesome. And your dad, goodness, he is the best man I know. He is the best dad I know. You are a lucky little seed to be his. And me? I’m kind of a mess sometimes. I’m a little nuts, but mostly in a good way. But I will do my best, promise you that.

Lovelovelove. Always,
Mama