Here’s to Moms in all Forms

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Here’s to moms in all forms.
Biological moms. Adoptive moms. Stepmoms. Surrogate moms. First-time moms. Moms to one, and moms to many.
Here’s to moms who have loved and lost. Moms who have loved and let go. Moms with empty arms and broken hearts. Moms whose babies are being formed in vitro.
Here’s to spiritual moms. Doting aunties and forever friends. Sisters, grandmothers, nieces, cousins. All those who support and pray and nurture and champion and protect and support.
It takes a village.

Hope is a four-letter word

He is my light, my strength, my song

He is my light, my strength, my song

Hope.

A small word that feels so flimsy, tenuous, whisper thin.

Dandelion seeds scattered with breath.

Just have hope

–a punch in the gut.

A four-letter word, bitter and twisted in the mouth.

Like hinging your life on nothing.

Air.

A concept.

Because:

My circumstances are too deep, too dark, too heavy.

Suffocating with their too muchness.

And I can’t hold them with human hands,

And my eyes can’t see for the tears that blind.

And hope is a slap on sensitive skin.

hope is a white flag

hope is a white flag

But maybe that’s the point.

Nothing is ours to carry.

To plan. To plot.

To wrestle into being.

To hold on tight with human hands, so weak.

To see with human eyes, so myopic.

It’s light, a letting go.

It’s heavy, an anchor for the soul.

It’s hinging your life on everything, because in the end, there’s nothing left but

Hope.

It’s everything.

Despite the bad news.

Despite the diagnosis.

Despite the years of waiting.

Despite the years of yearning.

Despite the pain.

Despite the despair.

Despite the rain.

Despite the scorching heat of the desert,

Despite the thorns and stones of the wilderness.

Despite the feasts of others when you’re dining on crumbs.

Despite the failure, the fears,

the groaning, the tears.

Hope is both the stubborn holding tight,

Hannah’s silent prayer, Jacob’s I will not let go until you bless me grip,

And the wild, free-fall from great heights,

letting be, letting live, letting go.

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

“In Christ Alone”
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

Loving, Letting Go

This is dedicated to all the moms who have loved and lost. 

loving, letting go

loving, letting go

I will never meet you face to face,

but I knew you were there.

I will never get to hold you,

but for several weeks

I held you,

in that mysterious space

between feeling and knowledge,

in the deep place

of faith without seeing,

I felt you.

I will never kiss your tiny lips

and hold your tiny fingers in mine.

I will never hold you close,

feel that little heartbeat

and stroke your fine hair.

I will never wipe away your tears,

protect you, make you laugh,

sing to you, or show you

our big, bright, beautiful world.

But in this dark wash of grief,

in this storm,

I feel the voice of assurance–

from the one who holds me,

who wipes away my tears–

telling me He wanted you

telling me you’re His

and He’s got you,

and in his divine plan,

you weren’t meant for this earth.

Too beautiful.

Too precious.

Too soon.

And I will feel again, heal again, smile again;

the tears will cease.

And I will rise from the ashes,

stronger for the storm.

And in the cracked and broken places,

I’ll shine like gold.

In the fractures,

faith.

In the splinters,

softness.

And I’ll be better

having loved you,

and letting you go.

after the rain, the sun

QUOTE it is well

Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question

– Elisabeth Elliot 

It’s hard to accept that you are in control, that you have a plan that’s good.

It’s hard to trust in a story I haven’t written myself.

I wish I could skip ahead a few chapters and see what’s next.

Then I’d be able to trust you. Then I’d be able to relax and enjoy my life and not get bogged down by the what ifs.

Then I could say with confidence that your promises are good.

But it doesn’t work like that, does it? It’s not that easy.

I guess there’s purpose in the process.

Your will is in the waiting.

If I knew all the answers to my deepest questions, I’d only trust myself–my efforts. My abilities.

I wouldn’t cling to you so desperately, the bleeding woman with nothing else but hope.

If I knew it all I wouldn’t need you. You’d be a benevolent benefactor I’d acknowledge on occasion–“thanks for everything!” and our relationship would dissolve into YOU GIVE and I TAKE.

I would miss the unexpected joy of a miracle, the tiny ray of sun struggling through the clouds when it’s rained and rained and rained without stopping.

I would learn nothing in the dark times, the hungry times, the wandering, the wondering in the wilderness.

I wouldn’t see the beauty in the brokenness, the way you whisper in the wind:

I’ve got this.

So I relent.

I relinquish control to the one who orders the storm to still.

I silence my soul to the rhythm of waves on the shore.

It is well.

I Have Found the One Whom My Soul Loves

To explain my absence from the blogosphere as of late, I’ll show you what happened to me one month ago, because a picture is worth a thousand words …

photo courtesy of Caitlin Ingles (http://caitliningles.carbonmade.com)

Needless to say, the past month has been a backwards roller coaster of emotion. To say I’m over the moon would be an understatement.

I have found the one whom my soul loves  — Songs of Solomon 3:4

Now that I have some time to myself to think and reflect and, like Mary, treasure these things in my heart, it’s amazing to see how God brought us together and the journey He’s taken me on leading up to this life-altering moment. As a girl at work (a newlywed) told me, having a semi-longish engagement (11 months) is perfect because it really gives you time to savour this new season and revel in the excitement of preparing for something you’ve been dreaming of since you were a little girl, and the ways in which God was preparing my heart this entire time …

Truth be told, being single wasn’t always very fun. I’d have moments of acceptance and faith in God’s plan for my life followed by moments of crippling doubt. Every time a Facebook friend got married and posted pictures of their wedding, I’d struggle to keep the bitterness and feelings of “is this ever going to happen for me?” at bay. I remember walking down the Escarpment last year, feeling utterly broken and lost. “When You Say Nothing at All” by Alison Krauss was playing on my iPod as I was thinking about my completely unattainable love interest at that time and I felt so lonely and low that only God could shine the light, meagre as it was, through the cracks of my brokenness.

I had to hold on to the memory of August in Scotland, riding the ferry to the Orkney islands, and feeling wind-whipped and so alive that I could cry and laugh at the same time, and God’s quiet assurance that He was orchestrating the details of my life and that I’d meet the man of my dreams very soon (5 months later, to be exact, although I didn’t know it then!)

Sounds crazy, but I met K in January of 2012 and was engaged on my 27th birthday. For some reason, back on that ferry ride in Scotland, I felt so strongly that 27 would be the perfect age to become someone’s wife, and I will be 27 on June 8, 2013. Our wedding day.

photo courtesy of Caitlin Ingles (http://caitliningles.carbonmade.com)

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things — Kay Warren

Last night, after a day of wedding dress shopping and high emotions, I went for a restorative walk up the Escarpment along Ridge Road (which is actually quite close to our venue, and a part of my town I’m very drawn to). It was around 8 p.m. and the sky was blazing red and gold. Twilight has always been my favourite time of day, and the loveliness of walking in a magical dusk in late August when the perfect music is playing on your iPod is absolutely healing.

In the beauty of that moment, with a bluegrass hymn in my ears, I spotted three deer in the meadow. I stopped and marvelled at them, taking my earbuds out and simply being. Two deer scampered off, white tails shaking, but one stood and stared at me for what seemed an eternity. Immediately I thought of the verse:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you — Psalm 42:1

photo courtesy of google image search

This past week, K has been gone across the country to his home province visiting his mom, and despite initially being grateful for a week “off” from wedding planning and errands, and despite speaking to him nearly every day, I’ve been lethargic and without appetite, like a character in a Jane Austen novel. I longed for him, a bride-to-be longing for her future husband. What God showed me was that marriage is a reflection of His love for His people, His bride, and how we long for our Bridegroom’s return.

And, just because God is awesome and it is so evident that He delights in blessing the tiniest desires of our hearts, when I was walking back I saw two monarch butterflies fluttering by and playing with each other.

I have been obsessed with butterflies since I was a little girl, and K custom designed my engagement ring with two butterfly details. The deer and the butterflies just couldn’t have been a coincidence …

photo courtesy of http://www.weheartit.com

Remember in January, when I declared 2012 to be a year of the dragon and the lioness? I also quoted this verse in Habakkuk, where there is also the image of the deer:

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!

I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

The Sovereign Lord is my strength!

He makes me as surefooted as a deer,

able to tread upon the heights

— Habakkuk 3:17-19

I am grateful that I can share with you a condensed version of my story, dear readers. I urge you all, no matter what your circumstance, to hold onto hope even when things seem hopeless. My story is evidence that your wildest dreams really do come true …

I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller

jesus where do i start ...

jesus where do i start ...

[I wrote this today on my writing date in the park.]

Goals. Hopes. Wishes. Positive statements.

Goals are things you make when you feel obliged to be a better person, when you feel like the way you are isn’t good enough.  But they’re useful.  They keep you focused, perhaps …

Wishes are airy dandelion fluff, pennies in wells and birthday candles. One-cent wishes. Wishes are light little desires that come from the most soulish, human part of us, something we forget when the fluff takes flight, the penny is tossed, the cake cut.  Make a wish, they say.  We squeeze our eyes shut for the sake of ceremony, reach to the surface where wishes lie like hungry goldfishes near the top of the pond. I wish I had a million dollars.  I wish I had a new bike.  I wish I was was prettier.  I wish I had a job I loved.  Starlight, starbright, first star I see tonight.  I wish I may, I wish I might …  But do we actually think a twinkling star lightyears away will grant us our wishes?

Hopes are slightly stronger, carrying more weight.  TO HOPE is a verb with resounding solidity.  TO HOPE is to have deep-rooted faith in powers stronger than yourself–it is a letting go and belief in the positive forces of a kind and loving God.  It comes from a strength of character, not a weakness in need of a crutch.

Positive statements are birthed from hope. They take the utmost courage, the belief that the strength God instilled in you is enough.  It’s the roar of a lion when you feel like a mouse. The belief that you are worth it simply because you exist.

Looking in the mirror, rising up and looking yourself square in the eyes and saying with your whole heart: “I am loved.  Wholly and completely.  I am loved by God and the universe that holds me and my friends and family.  I am perfect and good this way.  The way I am.  Right here, right now, and forever.  There is nothing I could ever do to stop the continuous flow of love from God to me. 

I am here for a reason which I may never know, but that is one of the great mysteries of life which will keep pushing me forward.  If my purpose is to love and to be loved, then that is fine with me.  There are beauties in the world, some hidden, some right in front of me, and the search and discovery is part of the adventure of this ride we call life.  Every day is a new page, a fresh start–the universe will continually show a different pattern of infinite possibilities.  It’s a choose-your-own adventure, basically.

I know for certain that everything is going to be alright because I have faith and hope that it will be.  Today, tomorrow, and forever.  Each day will hold its own surprises.

And when I haven’t the faith enough and I’m tired and sick and grasping vainly at hope … I need only remember that I am never alone.  That I have a friend who knows sadness and hurt and heartbreak and sickness and poverty and loss and was thrown the worst humanity could have ever thrown at him.  He knows.  He understands.  And he’ll hold me when I can’t hold myself.  My fears are small compared to his strength.”

Skinny Love

This post is brought to you by the musical genius of Bon Iver.

A magic typewriter

A magic typewriter

There I stood, clutching a plastic wine cup, my Nikon heavy around my neck, my face Merlot red, sweating in places I didn’t know could sweat (now’s not the time to go into details or haul out the dictionary of anatomy), dizzy and overwhelmed by the prospect that I went from freelance and unpaid to employed and paid in less than a week.  In my field, nonetheless.  In a downtrodden economy.  In a world where the newspaper is supposedly dying. 

I cold-called on a Monday morning after being offered jobs at Tim Hortons and Subway for the summer.  I had to suck up my pride and feeling of entitlement: I got my diploma to do this?  I went in to the office of the local newspaper as soon as it opened, said: this is the degree I have.  This is the experience I have.  Please let me volunteer for you.  I can copy-edit and I can also write.  Turns out my timing was perfect.  I left with three story assignments to have done by 6 p.m. that night.  Was hired for a full-time summer job that Friday. As a reporter/photographer for the local paper (journo/photog if you’re hip).  And I haven’t even thrown my graduation cap in the air yet. 

What is happening? 

Back to the art gallery volunteer committee soiree, where I’m hopelessly out of place in my shirt that doesn’t want to stay on my shoulders, baring my awkward teethy smile, looking all of 18 in a place full of oldish artsy-ish ladies with faint English/Scottish/Welsh accents and eclectic jewelry they probably made themselves.  My high school friend’s mom, who is a Big Deal at the art gallery, tries to make me feel more comfortable, but when you’re naturally awkward and on your first “photo assignment,” you’re kind of beyond hope.  I snap a few pictures which are probably horrible and leave with the plastic cup of wine in my hands wondering how this all came together. 

I had been two months without a paycheque and was trying really hard to keep the anxiety and depression at bay.  I had a sweet internship at a TV show but I was feeling panicked about not having any money.  Or a job.  Any job.  Even though I applied to 27 McJobs in my town and over 50 journo jobs in Toronto.  I held on so tightly to hope and believed that God would work something out.  I repeated Romans 8:28 in my head like a mantra: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Somehow, everything came together in a way that has my head spinning.  My head has been anywhere but here this past week as I’ve done 9-5 every day between the brand-new job and the internship.  I feel confused and can’t quite shake this feeling that I’m forgetting to do something, that there’s something I’m not giving 100 per cent of my energy to.  I feel these random bursts of creativity and joie de vivre, like when I was tripping home after gulping down the local wine and throwing away the plastic goblet, taking pictures of old buildings and graffiti, finding a new passion, wanting to photograph the downtown denizens, young unsure girls in ridiculously short shorts, skin glistening in the evening sunlight. 

I barely have the energy to fully commit myself to these creative urges and words that flit in and out of my consciousness like multicoloured hummingbirds; I lie on my bed listening to Bon Iver when I’m feeling introverted, MGMT when I’m feeling extroverted.  Trying to wrap my mind around this new reality.  This new life I’m somehow living.

Welcome, my new and improved world.  I’m embracing you with shaking arms.