My Upward Spiral

2018 was a year of light shining on my face that ignited sparks that brought my bones to life and my heart to heights it never has seen before.  I said “I do” again to the love of my life, but this time with God at the center of our union. In the pristine green of our backyard, flowers abound, we recited vows in the form of poetry.  Our eyes melted into one another as our beloved Pastor declared us once again one, made new by the promise of not only our words uniting us deep beyond the throws of this life but by the name of the One we chose to serve now.  White blended with light and we called ourselves into each other again, never feeling more close.

Then the wave hit.  Tsunami is more like it, a tidal wave of anxiety, fear, and false prophecies fell all over me like the like the storm that kills has the ability to do.  I feared for my health, our future and my sanity as bad thing after bad thing came to shore. I took it on, felt the weight of it on me like a million pounds crushing me in the darkness I chose to lie in.  I knew we’d be hit hard by the enemy in taking the steps in our marriage to make it all good at the foot of the streets of gold, but this kind of war I didn’t see coming. It hit hard and fast and made me feel like I was drowning in my own blood.  I was lost in fear and couldn’t sleep or be awake for that matter. It was a dark and scary spiral downwards that happened slowly but swift all in the same breath. I was slowly losing myself again, a road I have traveled more than I’d like to admit.  Spiritual warfare at its most terrifying and vivid readiness was knocking on my door and I welcomed in without asking who was at the door first.

The end of 2018 kept me wanting to find my way back to the light and a healing prayer at church on the last Sunday of the year called me up for that very thing, hope.  I walked up after the altar call and found myself standing in front of a Pastor who knew my deep struggles the least. I hated that it wasn’t one of the ones who knew my dark fight within and that I had to repeat it out loud.  I despised that I had to be bare in front of him, for I knew that he respected me and thought I was someone who loves to serve her church and cares deeply and writes fluidly. He had no idea. Of the dark fight within myself. With tears in my throat barely allowing me to speak, I let him in.  I told him I was fighting a war that I didn’t want to fight again. That I was a scared little girl who had a hard go at life and still is waging such a battle. My demons were back and are in full force waging their war against me, his eyes shifted, my hands trembled and then we closed our eyes to pray.

Words flew from his mouth as fast as tears poured from my eyes.  My body slumped over as a tree branch does in late fall when it has no more fight in it to give up all its leaves to the dead cold ground calling them its own.  I navigated humility and left it all there in this Pastors ability to touch the foot of God and allowed myself to hear what I needed to hear. That I lack belief in myself that I fear accepting grace, that I need to not wear myself thin on generational curses of depression, anxiety, and addiction.  He cited words that I knew didn’t come from him, ones that came from a Light so bright I had to close my eyes so deep to not fall, yet opened them wide just so I could meet a glance at it. Awkwardly, we breathed in the same air, yet perfectly a message was given to me because he was allowing God to move through the darkness deep into my soul.  It didn’t matter that there were a hundred people behind me in line for prayer for healing. The rest of the world didn’t exist as we waited on God to break extremely strong chains of darkness that I had let myself succumb to.

I am a figure skater.  I am an author. I’m a lover of God, light, my husband and my children.  I breathe in love like it is my last air to suck deep into my soul and late in 2018 I had allowed black dark anxiety to overtake it all.  Faith was replaced with fear and I was slipping back into habits I have fought so hard to overcome. My darling husband stands by me through all of life’s joys and tribulations and not even him could lift me from the demise of myself.  The sweet voices of my four beloved children couldn’t protect me from the inner fear that my life had no way of working out because of my choices. But in that moment I realized that I do have a choice to give in or to fly free from the bondage of my inner struggles. To heal those parts inside of me that tells me I’m not worthy or good enough.  I can choose to be set free if I believe if I allow God in and let the blinding storms to flee from me like a spring storm that gives in to summers soft winds.

I’ve been teaching my two younger children to skate, a sport near and so dear to my soul and in that, I’ve been back on the ice myself for the first time in six years.  Figure skating has given me in the past the ability to glide into the possibility and fly into the unknown. In this sport I fall, it hurts so bad as my body finds itself on the cold splintering ice, but has the ability to make me soar as I lift my body up and try again.  Glade backward then forwards swiftly into an elegance that perfects mind, body, and soul. This past weekend I attempted my best move that I always showcased in the ice shows. It’s called a spiral where I glide on one leg while perfectly lifting my other leg far above my head, holding it there as I make my way across the crystal clear ice.  My leg wasn’t as high, my mind wasn’t as clear but my body found itself there again in a bounty so purely put there by God that it felt like I was flying. Far above the pain, the regret and the fear that was plaguing me back there again to that place that steals my joy. Skating gives me back my strength and reminds me of God’s grace. That I don’t deserve to be able to glide on one foot and make beautiful music with my body on ice that one usually falls on.  That is life. We aren’t always able to make beauty out of what should be faceplanted, but when we train hard, equip ourselves to glide we can grasp what God wants for our lives. A beautiful spiral upward far beyond what we could ever imagine. I jump into 2019 expectant of the veil being torn, the bleakness being lifted and a return to Joy that I’ve been chasing for months now.

Upward I go, into the unknown, I fly knowing that life will be hard again and I will falter, but that God has plans for this girl and those plans involve me knowing He is there deeper than I can ever see.  He wants me to breathe in His forgiveness and presence in my life deep into the edge I make on the ice with my blade, with my life.

My Diamond Mountaintop

The brilliant sun is rising over the snow capped mountains that I create in my minds eye.  On this day, I feel nothing but total and complete immaculate joy. A new day is mine to keep.  The brilliant morning is a hope for me where I know I am a queen sitting on the throne of possibility, of rejoice and peace. My sunlit bedroom is filled with promise and purpose as I rise with magnificence for the day that is ahead of me. I grab my crown and flood the door to awake the newness of this amazing day that I will indeed seize.

The sun is setting over the sparkling mountains I create in my minds eye and it looks like a shadow over the land that makes me shiver in fear that it is hunting me down to drown me out in its darkness.  My heart races and my body is overcome with a heat that burns deep bleakness into my soul. How can I escape this fear, this doom? Frantically, I look in nature and it seems like the naked trees are reaching out to steal my soul, my joy.  They pierce my flesh like a sword through my heart leaving me bleeding all over the pristine white snow. Feeling like a bloody dark mess I try to pick up the broken pieces of my heart ruining all of the beauty the day first possessed.

I stammer through the door of my safe home and gasp at the black that invites me into its own.  My beautiful family must not be home yet as I sit alone in my large house that seems to envelop me into its own.  I gasp as I drag myself to the soft couch that catches my fall. My breath catches its cadence and calms as I count to ten.  Lifting my hand to harness my heart I remind myself that the fear inside my head isn’t real, it’s simply a facade, a lie. But the truth that I feel screams inside my body that it has no other truth to believe that what I’m feeling is fact my truth.

A soft voice lifts me from my own nightmare saying, “Hi Mommy!  I missed you today.” His tender ten year old face appears as I open my eyes from the confines of the death I’ve feel I‘ve just experienced. He touches my cheek with fear in his eyes that mirror my own.  I calm myself and hug him deep letting him know that I am in fact okay. For him, I tell myself that I am as hopeful as the day began. Seconds later she runs into my arms screaming that she learned how to read a new book today.  My spirit lifts taking her into my breast, holding her tighter than she’d like. “I love you baby.” I whisper into her ear. For in that moment the world stops spinning and I’m brought back to reality. The sun comes back and the diamonds on the mountains return from the sun that has left, but I make myself see.  The day is new again and I am lifted up knowing that my young children need me as I escape my own mind and get up to start it all over again.

I’ve been told it’s called what I would tag as the ugliest, most sickening term known to man.  Mental illness. Isn’t that what they call people who shoot up schools or are locked up in dark caverns of steel gray rooms with no hope for a future?  How can they give me that title when I smile most of the time and have lived one of the most charismatic lives known? I’ve made my dreams come true, I’ve written words I had no idea existed inside me.  I’ve skated on crystal clear ice that met my skates blade like a canvas welcomes an artist. I have lived an extraordinary life that so many people have told me to embrace and forget the past. Yet, the darkness and the demons that chase me despite the Power I have also asked to take me past the chasms of defeat into the body of grace still haunt me still hunt me down.

Peace and Love have blanketed me as I gave my life to God.  He silenced my fear, and made me new despite my darkest moments.  I have literally lied in a deathbed and have seen a bleakness that lights up black, and a light that forgets all pain and has silenced all my inner villains.  So, why. Why, do I still have the rage inside me that gives in to the moments when I feel like I can’t breathe and have no power over my impulses to give in to it?  I often feel like I give it all up because I’m too weak to not be mentally ill. That statement makes me want to fall into a forever sleep on its own. I mean, if I’m “that” than what am I, the weakest of the most pathetic of terms?  I’m told I’m strong, yet, I tell myself I’m weak. Faces smile when they see me and I want to yell back, you have no idea what lives deep inside my head. I want to say you all have no clue the demons that I face on a daily basis. I am wrecked beyond repair and apparently according to professionals I will fight this war for however I’m left on this stunning yet dark world.

I smile, I cry.  I rejoice and I bellow at the sight of another day.  The sunlight awakens me and I sit in a deep sea of the regret of my choices.  I swallow hard the vapors into my lungs that tell me that I’m not enough and choke on the truth that I am.  I swallow potions that only make me feel okay in the moment and those that tell I can’t take another dull moment of truth that I am in fact sick.  I try to accept hugs around my neck that tell me I’m beautiful when all I see reflecting back at me is the truth; that I am an ugly portrait of a beautiful woman who could be all I’m called to be if only…I believed.  If I prayed more, I wept less and shook with fear that I am dissolving into the fact that I am in fact a term that makes the cringe with rage and sorrow.

I wake up and smell in the cold winters rage, yet beauty calls out to its power to freeze the land inside my own mind that makes me turn away from my own beauty.  To run towards the Power that can take away my fear, oh winter’s morn make me lift up my own eyes and realize that heaven is closer than I know. With all its beauty I hope for a newness that a fresh day brings that I won’t feel the next emotion that enters my mind that can take it away into a world of darkness.  Can’t I just overcome it all? I tremble at the fact that I am stuck here, in this mind that has no clue what will come next. The sun dissipates and darkness fades into blackness and I hope today will not bring the shadows that make me want to disappear. I beg for the soft voice in my ear of my child who sees only the best version of me.  A husband who feeds my soul with love, hope and more happiness that I can always return to after a particularly bad day.

The stigma has to die.  Peace has to overcome the odds that I face and the words that I just need to get over it have to cease if I’m going to find my true purpose.  I have to embrace a God who has beautifully made me into a woman worth believing I am much more than a clinical term that screams a lifelong term that I hate.  Breathing in His life and taking my strength back I have to know that those days are going to come where I question if I’m going to be able to stand in the face of the disease I guess I have to accept.  

Your name is light forever lifted high.

Jesus, Jesus You make the darkness tremble.

Your name is life that the shadows can’t deny.

Peace bring it all to peace.  Still, call the sea to still, the rage in me to still.

~The words to a song I cling to, words that I bury deep in my soul.  

Call me sick.  Put on me a stigma that apparently is mine to own, but I will not allow the fear in me to win, to wage its victory over me that I am left for dead when I already feel it creeping in toward me like a battle that is in the history books.  One that I can chose to lose, one that I can overwhelmingly defeat.. Because, I deeply believe that despite the name I have plastered all over my medical history book, I am a victory story. I am a living hope that no matter how hard it is, no matter how dizzying emotions can leave me breathless, that I am an odds that are destined to overcome.  For me, for my family, but mostly for me I have to scream from the crystal covered snow capped mountain tops that I declare a goodness of humanity~the ownership that we all have inside us that we can be a living hope.

I will wake up tomorrow and refuse to grapple with the depth of darkness that this fight can bring.  It can be an uphill battle, but I’ve never backed away from a challenge in my life, never ran away from a monster that calls me a name that I despise; a bully that wants to see me reduced to fear and trepidation.  I am strong, I am capable and no matter how many times I hear it and don’t believe it, I am a child of God who forgives, and am reaching for the mountains that seem impossible to climb. The battle is won and I am on top of the ultimate hill, sitting in the sun on diamond sparkles that blanket me with a life not a stigma that is mine to keep~a champion of all things that stigmas make you not want to believe about yourself.  I am chosen to overcome. Called into a belief that life is hard, but not defeated and that I am a shining piece of gold that embraces the presence of victory over a defeat I am told to embrace. A diagnosis that makes me crumble has to be my greater ability within myself to withstand darkness in the presence of a sun that declares that I am precious. That I am unstoppable despite words spoken over me, I am a newness just like the light of day.

I wake up and see the mountain top glistening in the sun, and I am on top of it all shining a light that will shine everyday even though I have demons, ups and downs and oversights that make me want to sleep.  I will overcome, I will climb to the top and make those crystal diamonds my own shining glory all over all the depths of darkness I may face.

The Heart Muscle

Nine years ago this month I found out a baby that was growing so powerfully inside me was dying.  The room I was lying in the crisp fall day the doctor delivered the devastating news to Alan and me, it was a pale color of bone white and mustard yellow.  An unforgiving ceiling had tiles with stains on them from cries I’m sure of women who had such verdicts read to them. Their tears had nowhere else to go but to try and climb away up to heaven so God could embrace them and take a bit of the gut-wrenching sorrow away.  But they never reached that far and they were now forever splattered one on top of another, like a handkerchief drained with lament after cry, bellow after the plea for a pardon that wasn’t ours to keep. Thousands of tear stains lined the ceiling tiles and mine joined them, wet, raw and unapologetically drenched with ache.

We named him Zachary and buried him next to his brother Jaden who we had said goodbye to only a year and a half earlier under a similar plot line.  I got pregnant, peace and joy surrounded us -love-hope-gifts abound. Tragedy stroke as the magic wand of life showed its power across my stomach. ‘Your baby is too sick for life.’  The light turned dark, perfection tainted, and joy flipped into the emotional counterpoint of the most intense part of the human heart we have to face. Loss.

The cold earth enveloped him and took him as its own.  A dark grey sky that day told me I’d have to wage again to somehow piece back again the fragmented puzzle my heart had become after losing Jaden only a year earlier.  Anger found me as the small amount of sunlight couldn’t even begin to try to thaw out bitter questions as to WHY? I would have taken such good care of those babies, I had proven before with my three sons that went before them that I am a mother who can and will give them more of myself than actually exists.  My soul is the sum total of all it’s ever carried within itself. My children are mine and I am them. So why would they be taken away from me?

When Zac breathed his last breath in a way so did I.  Or so it felt that way on that night where his delicate body was expelled from mine.  Having no idea how I’d breath again, I begged God for an answer as to how I could make amends to both myself and Him again. I was angry, spite ridden and determined to somehow forge a way out of bed into the life I knew I had to live.

I took up the intense sport and art of figure skating at the age of thirty-years-old. Dreaming of being a skater my whole life, I finally was given the opportunity as the Pleasant Prairie Iceplex formed in September of 2004.  I watched with anticipation as it was built from the ground up and trained hard so when the final sheets of ice were solidified that I’d learn a child’s sport as a woman.

My muscles ached and my pride was run over by a bulldozer as I couldn’t even skate forward or backward, but I didn’t give up not once.  I didn’t cave when I looked completely ridiculous to the world-class skaters who used the cutting edge rink to train for the elite competitions in our area, the nation and eventually the Olympic Games in 2018.  I stayed, I trained and I ended up making it! I was invited to skate in ice show after ice show as my forward moment transpired into spins, then jumps and finally into these things called dances across the ice that I put to music making my heart play out in front of thousands of people.

When Jaden died I skated a program that was a goodbye that healed my mind body and soul.  When Zac passed I knew I needed to do the same, but this time my poetic expression seemed more forced and angry.  I yelled out to my husband, “I don’t want to be doing this again! Skating a tribute to another dead baby. I don’t want this for my life again!”  Yet, I knew it was deeply important for me to allow my heartache to flow from me onto the fertile ice that had the ability to grow me back together again.

In my pursuit to catch the wind of that healing at record speed, I found myself pushing deeper and more muscular than I should have ever been doing.  I was producing 50 military style pushups in less than a minute. I wanted my arms to help me fly off the ice into such a height jump I could soar to heaven to drop off all the tears I just knew God wanted to take from me. My body followed, my arms chased and then it all came crashing down.

A pectoral muscle tear on the left side.  You know the muscle that covers your heart, the one that holds it all in so you don’t bleed your big beating heart all over the place.  That one. I had ripped right through it in my pursuit to not waste a moment to fight hard for my survival. To heal. To make myself feel awake and alive-an emotion that seemed to have a strong return on investment compared to the gut-wrenching grief that was overlooking my every waking moment.  Terrorizing through the protection of my heart through that muscle, I left the room to my heart with an open view to the world that it was unequivocally broken.

After charging through the strong heart covering muscle I sat in the ER convinced I was having a heart attack, going over in my mind my eulogy. A powerful goodbye to my kids.  It was without a shadow of a doubt that I was next to be buried under the tree with my babies in the frozen dirt, the pain was that intense.  Making eye contact with my husband Alan, I told him I loved him and that I was so so sorry. That I couldn’t bring him our two boys we lost, but moreover that I was going to join them. He needed me-the ones on earth needed me-but I was chasing on the curtails of death. I’d be with them soon.

Quickly the doctor dispelled my believe I was dying as she simply stated I had a chest wall strain and although it felt like I was dying, I was in fact not and would have many more days to fight through the grief of losing two infant babies. But more importantly, years later, to come into eventual joy in welcoming a healthy baby girl into our lives who would forever change the course of what we knew of life and mold all of our brokenness back together again.

This past week an injury I’ve been battling for over 9 years now reared its ugly head in my life again, bringing me to my knees with its torture that is like a soaring hot iron on my pectoral muscle.  The searing ache has brought me back to not only the physical pain of where this originated from but also the emotional wreckage of saying goodbye to another child I wasn’t meant to keep. I can’t sleep, I can’t breathe, I can’t eat. I only crawl up into a little ball knowing that just like it has in the past it will let up and I will be able to cover my heart again with my hand and couple it to cradle a different kind of ache.  The ache of loss that the anniversary of losing Zachary can bring year after year.

My physical manifestation of an emotional pain has followed me now for short of a decade.  When the leaves begin to fall and the crisp cool air of seasons changing reminds me of a time in my life where my whole world seemed like it was crumbling apart and couldn’t be put back together again, sometimes I can’t help but reside here.  Living in the brilliance of the shadows of light for so long now, I know this seeming death sentence isn’t mine to keep. My lost babies are in heaven and they are dancing with Jesus. My pec muscle will heal, soon the unbearable pain will turn to a dull ache as the barrier of my heart will become stronger and it will hurt less.

Life will often give us these reminders that the things in our past that once seemed as if they were going to wreck us… didn’t!  The loss that seemed inconceivable eventually dissipated into a beautiful story I can now share as a memory, share as a part of my beautiful life story.

Today, I guard my heart muscle that hurts with the ache of yesterday, I hold it deep in the expectation that it will heal soon.  As have many different areas of my soul since that cool fall day I knew I didn’t get to keep my sweet Zachary Joseph, just like I didn’t get to keep my darling Jaden Hope, it all eventually healed.  I now ride on the tides of my sights on what I do have. Four AMAZING children, the most loving and supportive husband I could have ever conjured up and a God beautiful life that has fulfilled so many promises to me that I can’t even count them all.

Tonight, I sit with a physical pain that has plagued me for almost a decade. But I reside in a place that despite great discomfort, I have more love and God-given joy that blankets all of life’s trials. It forms a magnificent heart muscle around my vulnerable parts that exist but doesn’t own me, that doesn’t define me, yet gives me the will to fight the good fight to find my way back into a sea of gratitude that is more vast than any pain life may bring my way.

Imperfectly, Perfect

My small four-year-old fingers are intertwined in her soft and silky long brown hair. In my ear, all I can feel is her warm breath as she inhales to sing another lyric of a song that makes every bone in my tiny body melt into her more. Love evaporates from her into me and molds me more into all that she wants me to be. The smell of her soft perfume permeates my senses and all I can do is melt into her and listen to each and every lucid lyric that comes from her soft mouth straight into my heart.

This is one of my first and very most treasured memories of my mother and I. In times of struggle and feelings I’ve lacked in self-worth, this memory has been one I’ve held on to many times throughout my life. The young remembrance of my mother’s love and her song all over me is really what I think of her when I dig deep into my memory bank. I haven’t thought of how clean our house was, what was served at dinner, or what she wore. My memory cave brings me back time and time again to the way I felt in her arms when it was just her and I. All that consumes me when I blanket myself with my memory of her is…love. Pure. Unapologetic, raw and beautiful love.

We as women get caught up in the idea we have in our heads as to what makes us a good mother. The pressure to be perfect has never been more intense and our own mind creates this version of what we should be to produce amazing children to gift to the world when we are done raising them. Having this preconceived notion that we have to dance a dance of perfection plagues this generation of mothers who are just trying in this life to do more than has ever been done before. We now have to add the task of providers, protectors, nurturers and loving creatures that will do and be what our kids deserve.

Is it ever enough?

A good friend of mine recently said that she thinks she is a bad mom. Now, this statement left me in shock and a bit angry. I mean, this woman is a GREAT mom who loves on her kids with every breath she takes,  kissing on them, planning great days filled with films of memories for them for when they are older. So, why does what I see as a perfect mom think she is, in fact, a bad mom get me so riled up? Possibly because I often times feel the same way about myself. The reflection she had on her defeated face was staring me blankly in the eyes that looked all too familiar speaking lies that can sink even the strongest of vessels.

This made me take pause at my own life. She said her house is a mess and she doesn’t cook really great dinners like you see on Instagram. Quite honestly if I was held to this regard I would be the worst mother alive. My house isn’t spotless (okay it’s a hot mess at the best of times) and I’m pretty sure if it weren’t for my husband Alan, we’d all completely die of starvation. Yet, as I sought out my reality in this encounter with my dear friend, I too have thought this of myself on many occasions.  But why as God see’s us as perfectly imperfect and that is enough for Him.

I’m a bad mom. I work too much and often times am writing when I could be spending time with them. They don’t have perfect little cubby hole things to put their toys in so their rooms don’t look like a hurricane just drove a deep dive through their bedrooms. I have vices I wish they didn’t know I had. I am tired and cranky at times and look like a zombie on the weekends. I’m sometimes quicker to anger than I wished and I don’t have them in five thousand activities that I’m sure would make them poised to be leaders of the free world.

Why is it so hard for me to hear my friend say those things about herself?  Although I can speak the same language to myself on more occasions I’d like to admit I have. Every time I sit in a deep sinking mud of self-loathing that wants to drown me, my husband reminds me of what a great mom I am. I do hear him and drag myself out of the messy quicksand and wipe myself off and try to remember that I do give them all the love I have. But, why is it so much more of a wake-up call now that I’ve heard my friend speak the bad mom language over herself? I truly think this is so because I see her as a perfect love for her 4 kids, so why do I not see that in myself? Why are we so impossibly hard on ourselves for being…well…imperfectly loving and capable mothers?

My oldest son who is 20 tells me that he appreciates all that I’ve sacrificed for him. My 17-year-old son tells me I’m his hero. My little ones who are 10 and 5 squeal with delight when I come home as I hug them longer than I’m sure they’d like. That speaks all it should, but at times it isn’t enough. I hold myself to this high and impossible regard that at time steals my joy because I can’t obtain the perfection that I have in mind for myself.

A messy house with unfolded clothes on the floor and dreams of play times that pass me by are always in the back of my mind but deep in theirs has to be the love I give them when I hug them. When I walk away early in the morning to work to provide for our family they see me laboring hard for us and the dreams I chase in the aftermath must mean something to them.  As a matter of fact, I know it does, as my (almost) grown children have told me so.

When you hold your baby to your heart (no matter their age) and allow them to feel the passion you have for them that is like no other it makes you a good mom. When you put down the distractions of the day to watch them play you truly take in the essence of motherhood. Breathing in the air that surrounds them is like filling your lungs up with oxygen and feeding your soul with enough water to travel decades in the desert.

When my daughter asked me tonight to sit on my lap, I immediately put my phone down, grabbed her on my lap and breathed in her essence as I sang a single lullaby in her ear. A messy house behind me, and my insecurity telling me that I need to be better, I recalled my encounter with my own mother and my heart lifted knowing that this is what she will remember. This is enough.

Soft sweet nothings sang in her ear with my love exploding all over her like a thousand stars lighting up the sky took over all my insecurities of what I have deemed it is to be a perfect mom. That is what she’ll remember and all I will treasure when it’s all said and done and I’ve given my best version of myself to the world.

Chariot of Sunlight

Storms surrounding me one year ago, I took up the arms declared to me that I had used in years past to run for cover.  Knowing that the sun was fleeting and the clouds were moving in fast, I had no other choice but to breathe deep and take in whatever there was in this life that could help save me.  

The hospital room was bleak, smelled sterile and formed around me faster than I could run from it.  I feared the consequences of asking for help. Did this define me? Was my weakness my downfall? Would this go down in my playlist of life as a weak cry to try to piece it all together?  My life that is. The past, the present, my future pardon I was crying out for. In that moment that I had asked for help, I found myself more lost than I had ever been, completely consumed in a scrapbook of the life I had lived so far.  One that had taken me on a fateful plank that ultimately drove me to the place that required me to be completely broken and bare for the world to see. I was loved and had loved thousands of years deeper than I could had ever imagined, yet was I  lost in the darkness of my own mind? I was chasing the hours and seeking the wind that was passing through my hair like a summer’s eve just venturing through, I had no idea how to recon a life that had brought me to that place. Shaking and alone, I was left at the doorstep of a seemingly closed door that I begged would somehow open in the depths of my despair.  I was asking for help to fill my atmosphere with a kind of air that I could take in where I believed I was enough to breath it into my lungs. But first I had to cry out. I had to be dark enough to seek the light and deep into the finding of my own failures that I could ask for a way to guide me through it all.

The beauty of it all is that I was able to find help.

Running toward life with both arms wide open I found people, places and coping mechanisms that brought me to the place I needed to be.  One year ago, I begged for refuge and I found it. In hope I rose to a place where God found me, He begged me to follow and I did.

For those of you who have followed me on my journey, you’ll recall that one year ago I was admitted to a hospital that changed my life.  A rallying cry of fire burned blazes inside me and a forever light took place that ultimately shone in the form of forgiveness and bounty. Love won and God awoke a part inside me that I never knew existed.  That of peace, surrender and a fight inside myself I didn’t know could forever change me.

One year ago, I sat humbly in that hospital room, celebrating a fade that didn’t occur.  Sadly one that doesn’t reach all who felt as dark as I did. Love was shining on me then, and it is now.  Never give up, never take defeat as a signal inside you that makes you give up hope. No matter what!

A few years back, I wrote a book about overcoming the most impossible of odds to find my way back from the brinks of the deepest kind of tragedy, the loss of two little infant sons.  God was a dismal light in my existence at that time, but nonetheless He was there. I just didn’t see it as brightly as I do now. My faith was weak and my idea of Jesus was confused.  Yet, God was there. In the smallest yet grandest of ways. He brought me through that time and I was able to write about it and publish a book that has touched the lives of many women who have buried babies.  Love is not something to take for granted, it is a gift that exists when we give up our arms against an intrusion that may surface when we find ourselves at the weakness of our circumstances. Love wins. God’s perfection exists when we surrender to Him.

…Which I did last year as I looked around a sterile hospital room that I almost walked out of to run for the door when it all became too real.  I saw the road in front of me and I FREAKED out. I didn’t want to march the path in front of me, put in the work and give up the vices that plagued me and brought me there. Yet somehow I stayed and surrendered to a gift that was being strung in front of me, one that would make me dig deep and go further than I wanted to go.  I knew I had to stay and be kept in a place that had the ability to teach me life saving techniques that would eventually save me. God kept me there that night, I surrendered and became more than I could have ever imagined in the act of giving up what I thought made me strong, yet kept me weak.

On the eve of the anniversary of the night I sought and found hope, I find myself nosologic.  I am thankful, but mostly I am in awe of what God can do if we truly surrender to Him, for today I am a healed woman.

Give up your arms that fight against your inner healing and find peace in knowing that when you surrender to whatever it may be, that you have the chance to not be separated from peace.  You have the right to claim it on you like chariots of sunlight that overtake you after a battle you had no idea that you could fight.

Live in the light and seek the freedom that can be yours.  As it has become mine.

The Music of God

I was raised in an intensely conservative Baptist Church.  Music in my church consisted of the following: Stand. Sing a hymn.  Sit. Pray. Stand. Sing a hymnal that both confused me and intrigued me.

Meeting God at this moment, I can say that I never did.  My voice cracked, the organ played on, my heart was stale and my head heavy with the pressure to sound good was always what played out inside my mind during the music part of my church as a child.  

Two and a half years ago the pursuit of God chased me down and ripped me away from a life of sin and self-loathing. I was met where I was as the Music Pastor sang his heart out. At that time I had no clue what was forming inside me, all I knew was it was an emotional encounter that I had no choice but to surrender to in the form of more tears than an ocean could produce.  

In that encounter, I embraced the Music of God.

The song at the throne overtook me and then Pastor Kevin spoke on the prodigal son leaving me in a place of overwhelming relentless abandon.  I gave my life back to God that night. Through the medium of art, I found my way back home.  

Words of truth filled my being and flowed from me, and at that moment, the song found me in an interlude grabbing me right where I was.  The Holy Spirit took me out of despair and repaired the years of a torn veil that needed to be mended by the ultimate seamstress. And that is just what God has formed my life into.  A reconciliation of my heart and a vision for the glory and service that God begs for me to live in.

As my church surrenders on a weekly basis to a song God has on display for us all to partake in, I find myself often uncomfortable.  Digging back into my childhood memory of song in the church there was no lifting of hands or a relationship at that moment with God existed, I find myself weary to surrender to it all.

I’m not on a level that the other people are on in my church where they quake at the song and dance in the light of surrender.  I can’t bring myself to bellow out to God in the form of physical relentless abandon like the people on stage do. Finding myself polarized by the fear inside me in the surrender of it all, I fall on a silence that makes me weep inside knowing that I really want to reside in that place. Where I don’t care that my eyes rain tears of want and desire for a God bigger than my insecurity where I can lift my hands and kneel at the throne of God.  I tremble at the moment, the movement and the call it has on my life, yet something always holds me back.

This past Sunday something happened.

I can’t even recall the song.  The beat played on, the lights danced with the drums and something majestic took place.  Voices lifted up. Music played on and in that, I found myself in the midst of it all. I couldn’t get caught up in the fear that plagues me surrounding worship; all I was left to do was worship God.

My God, you called me into your light.

The shadows turned to brilliance.

My God’s name was forever lifted high.

The silence on my heart was elevated and all I could do was praise him.

Dance, love, and feel the relentless love of Jesus in my life was all I could focus on.  Not that my hands weren’t lifted, not that I couldn’t let go like the person next to me.  All that was left was the intense desire to run after Him like He pursues me no matter what I do or say.

Today I find myself in the movement that God wants me in.  One where He has gifted me with the ability to truly praise Him in the form of song.  In that I pray someday soon from now I can lift my arms in reckless abandon to Him knowing that is His gift to me from Him.  A rare ability and moment to take in all that He has given me and all that He wants me to encounter in the form of worship that has no boundaries and doesn’t live in a place of calm.  One that calls me to let go of all that holds me back in this life and encourages me to fly free into the eternity He has created for me to live in.

Someday not far from now my hands will lift up as an offering like my heart is to Him.  Until then I know that in the waIt He will continue the everlasting chase He has on my heart and that in itself makes me breathe in His love and causes my lungs to sing.

Tremble

This past week I have been left with a flux of every emotion known.  A small precious infant life has been lost, silenced and taken too soon.  Questions flood and my bones have inquiries as the darkness quakes in its aftermath.  Why should a young mother bury her 4-week old precious baby girl that just came from her womb?  What kind of a Jesus would pardon such? How can the shadows find light when the ache supersedes the name we cry out to?

Finding her way through the thoughts of a burial of her husband stricken with a death filled cancer, how does she forth come and praise God in the forever darkness she has lost her words in.  As he loses his speech to illness, she cries out, “where are you in the darkness, God?” How do you speak when all of our words are of question that no one can answer.

A family member feels left behind, unloved and alone.  The darkness threatens to take her light and leave her succumbed to the fear of it all.  What if I’m not enough? How does she handle rejection at the hands of what should blanket her with its warmth and ultimate life forward?  She should be moving like a tumbleweed towards the sun, not feeling faced in an ever-turning journey backward.

The still that the sea claims screams out an answer that we didn’t expect.  For God has spoken and He tells us that even in the darkness of it all peace awaits our lungs that beg for His air.  It doesn’t make sense when we cry out, and when He is silent we scream, “your silence makes me fear.” Jesus, oh Jesus.  Help us see You in it all.

When darkness spreads through our blood how do we find reassurance, how do we silence the fear?  When we feel rejected and lost and we smell death at every avenue we take, how do we overcome? The light is dark, the loss is all we can breathe in and the sunshine is caught somewhere in the midst of it all, unable to shine her breath on the land.  The wake is asleep and the Jesus in it all feels confused and silenced. How do we find the voice we beacon as Your song in us?

Through the fear and longing is where we can find our greatest inner ability to fight the battle we have been left to wage on this earth.  It has never been easy and cannot be slighted with our diminishing faith. Yet, the struggle of it all is where the shadows come to light and His name is bellowed from the chasm of our own personal hell into the plethora of His Kingdom He has saved for us.

My hands hold the soft beauty of an aftermath of a storm that has produced a seed of life, free from rage and a wakeless darkness that trembles inside us.  I cannot answer why a baby would die, why a husband could be called home way too soon, or why someone who has given their whole heart to the world is rejected.  All I know is that in the midst of it all He has us, and He is enough.

His name is life and the black that this world can blanket us is overthrown by a rainbow that bleeds its colors over the silenced prayers that we feel fall unheard.

Jesus, we cry.  Jesus, we bellow.  Jesus we need. And in that, the darkness comes to light with sparkles, unimaginable fragments of what we are meant to be.  Even if it encompasses sorrow, especially in the midst of a disparage that brings us to our bloody knees, He makes it known that as we tremble He is our rock.  As we shake, He holds our peace, as we quake, He isn’t shaken.

The rage can be unforgettable as we question the why’s of our life, yet His peace can form our foundation until we can figure it all out and see our life in our peripheral vision that may not come until years later.  His tremble is within us, His shake brings us to the core of who we are. His love is always there as His name shouts, “It is Well. I have overcome. Have faith and jump with me as I get you to the other side.”

Until then your silent prayer isn’t unheard and in it all, His brilliance has to be found within us as we wait.  Be content in the time that we have to be patient until the tremble of God cracks and is only left at the wayside of all that is broken and barren within us.