About the Garden, but Not

How long does it take to grow a garden? Can you rush it along and hurry it to it’s final, beautiful stages? Can you drop store bought plants into the ground, mulch heavily, water and then sit back and relax away the rest of the season? Is it possible to work diligently for one solid season and enjoy for the rest of your days? This is not just about the garden dear ones.

I can assure you it takes a very, long time.

This is our seventh Summer living in the midst of my garden. Each year, except this one (so far), I have carved away more and more sod to lay garden beds. Lilies, Iris, Lilac, Hosta, Coneflower, Borage, so many more now spill out everywhere. Happily thriving in the rich, heavily composted soil. My sweet husband once replied to my request to extend a bed with something like; “Well, it’s less to mow.”.

Y’all know how hard the winter is on me here. The garden itself and the work done in it is what saves me from deepest depression. Oh sure, there are myriad other contributing factors, but really, the garden keeps my soul above water. I can see it now, this year as I have faced walking away from it. I can see that I did not just grow a garden, I have grown a place for my soul to sit with God and find rest amidst all of the work it has required of me.

I have grown the garden for the riot of color, for the produce, the herbs, the smells, the feel of the dirt under my nails and on my knees…but there is so much more. When you pour yourself into something, like a garden in Minnesota, you get to miss it and think of it and dream of it for several months of the year. It is something to be desired, longed for, ached over even. It is not just a space to sit and sip rum ( I wrote about this once) or a pretty place to rest; though it is that as well. For me at least, though I know not for all of you, a garden is a place to straighten out my thoughts when they are more scattered than daisy seeds on the wind. A space to pray the darkest, scariest, most fear-filled prayers while surrounded by light.

As I mentioned, this is my seventh season in this garden, and this year for sure it is a little out of hand. We were enjoying ourselves at the beach for the month of June and so the garden at home was allowed to run wild. I have been gifted truckloads of mulch twice and that kept the weeds down to a minimum, but the flowers (and the wild-flowers, aka weeds that I allow to grow in my space) took the month to explode and grow and soak up all that my absence allowed. In the old testament it is required to let the fields rest in the seventh year, I wonder if the Jewish people were still able to collect some sort of harvest from those resting fields? Did the fields still provide something of value to those people as my garden has provided for me even as I have given it (part of) the season off?

I wonder about this as I wander among the raspberry brambles collecting as many berries as I ever have in the well-cultivated years. I don’t know how this matters to you, but it matters to me. I can’t help but assume that whatever seeds fell to the ground in those ancient fields would have grown up in the season of rest, even without tending. Sure, there would have been weeds and wildflowers too, but…

Provision is a word that I can not help but associate with my Creator as well as with the garden He allows to grow up around me. He provides all things in their season. He allows all things at their most perfect time. He gives good, good gifts. I see this clearly not only because I grow a garden, but I see it amongst the flowers and herbs more than most other places. This Summer as I look around our yard, trying to decide what to do next (both in the immediate and life-altering sense) I have found my rest, I can see the provision ever-more obviously. This is not what I expected to find here.

This morning I definitely planned to write about the garden, to reveal to you in some small way that it takes a lot of time, effort, and passion to grow. I wanted to examine a bit how the garden has shaped me as I have worked to shape it. Somehow I have lost that track. Now as I sit, I can only see how the Lord has provided so many, many times for me. There has never been a moment that I have strayed from His care even when I ran hard and fast away from His will for me. I’m not really sure I can finish this post well.

I have been sitting with a decision this past week. Well, really we’ve been working on this for the better part of a year now, for me though a lot of it became real in the past couple of weeks. I wasn’t really going to tell you how I have realized that I could not ask all of my people to do something “just for me”, even though they were willing. I wasn’t going to write out how selfish that made me feel or how I knew at once the words were spoken that we could not follow through with our plans at this time in our lives. I was not intending to let you know that we changed our plans and were moving hard and fast toward a different end, yet here I sit typing it all out.

And now that plan is changed as well.

The garden is where it began and this garden is where I will stay. I didn’t come here this morning to tell you that we were not going to move away, but I suppose maybe I did. I wasn’t completely sold on the plan to stay here in this house, in this neighborhood, in this garden. Typing this out though has made me realize more than I would be willing to tell you. I now realize that knowing your family is willing to move across the country for you, in planning to do just that, and then choosing together to stay. That is not the abandoning of a dream, but the realization that you are truly loved, there can be no fear there.

The garden. Provision. Goodness. Peace.

Someday I will go friends, though it seems that day is far off. I’m a little sorry for dragging you along on this emotional journey, but not too much so. Over the year of planning to leave and the last couple of days and weeks in deciding how and where to stay, I have seen how loved I am. How connected to community we are. How leaving this village would not benefit any of the people I love enough to do it. I had felt that there was too much concession on my part, but that’s just not true. I am not giving up a dream, merely postponing it. And I completely trust that wanting this one thing and receiving another will work together for our good. I have no fear and no regret, only peace…though it did take some time in the garden to get there.

Beginnings and Circles

I sit here typing on my phone-something I really dont like to do. The keyboard always works against me adding letters and slurring my words. I have to proofread very carefully so that the autocorrect feature doesn’t make me look like a moron. It’s a frustratingly slow process, and you’ll still probably catch several errors that I’ve missed.

Today is the day though. The day we begin. The day we set out. The day where we put all excuses aside and go. All of the things have been packed, which is why I am typing on my phone. Most of the things have been cleaned, though not very well. None of the groceries have been bought, but the stores will open soon. If everything works perfectly this is the first of many nights I’ll fall asleep with my head in my camper bed.

I was up early today, sipping my coffee, waiting for the birds to wake up and begin their singing. Sitting in the stillness, seeking a bit of peace and a restfulness that did not come while sleeping. As I tap out these lines I wonder if everything is ready?

…if we are ready.

There is a lot a person needs to do to walk away from their house for six weeks. Most of it is done, but likely not all. I’m not sure how often I will wake in a panic realizing some thing I have left undone. Hopefully not too many. Hopefully I don’t think much about this place at all.

The most difficult part for me is the people, as I knew it would be. Leaving this community makes me cautious. I know I can leave this over-large house with all of it’s sweeping and scrubbing. I know that I can (someday) leave Minnesota and it’s frigid temps without any sadness at all. I can even leave the gardens I’ve cultivated for going on seven Summers; though that one is a close second. The women in my circle though…I’m not sure what life will look like without their daily influence.

In this modern-American culture we tend to think that we can do everything by ourselves, and that we should. I’ve written about this before (here and here and especially here), but community can not be ignored. Indeed it should not. As I think about the ways my people have built upon each other I am overwhelmed. I know we have our struggles, our difficulties, our disagreements; we do life together after all, but the good in the group outweighs the bad of being outside of it.

In the past few weeks I have dug berry plants for and with friends, I have been delivered wood chips, I have gifted garden accessories and other small treasures, I have been saved from an empty gas tank, and I have sold off a million pieces of my life to these friends. I have people to pray for and people who pray over me. I have friends whom I message daily and those whom I wish I could touch base with more often.

This. This I will miss a lot. This I may regret leaving.

I will miss sitting, tucked away in a corner of a yard while children run and scream. I will miss a friend dropping by to my messy, chaotic house with no worry over it. I will miss all of their children. I will miss rushing to a planned event because I want every possible minute with these women. This worries me, makes me think I can’t do it. Can’t really go for good, isn’t that messed up? I mean it’s not, but I spent all of these years aching for this community only to finally have it and then to come to a point where I am in a position to go where my heart calls. Which requires me to start over on so many different spirals of life. Maybe we always need something to cry out for?

I was telling a friend recently how I was nervous to walk away for this season and she kindly reminded me that we will still be together, if not physically. She noted that my circle may be a couple of hours away but that the values we share will hold us close. She was right of course. We will have to work harder to maintain friendships, but they can be maintained. Even grown.

This opportunity to travel (even a bit) and to live smaller is something I have longed for, as most of you know. I can’t pass it up. The need to follow this path and see where it leads beats within my very heart. Who knows what we will learn over the next few weeks? I am excited too.

Often I get stuck in that worrisome place. Seeing only the difficult part of the adventure ahead. I don’t want to do that with this. This chance to be out there, living something that has long called to me is exciting. I see that too. I will be concerned over walking away from dear friends, but! Instead of only worrying, I plan to work. To work on building a larger community for myself, for my family. I mean, there are people everywhere, and most of them probably want the love and the connection I am fortunate enough to feel every day. So, I’ll try to bring it, to build it, to create it.

I’m praying for this opportunity right now. I dont want to get bogged down in the sadness of leaving my people, and I dont want to simply find new or different people. What I am hoping for is complex, I know. That ever-widening of the circle will be difficult to be sure, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth it too. If you’re close, you know there are still many miles to go but I thank you for being here on the path with me.

And so today is the beginning. The start of a wider circle, a wilder path, a larger wonder.

Or maybe tomorrow, the rain forecast for tonight looks pretty severe…

Sledding, Slowing, and Seeing

This is sort of a different, but not really, post for me. I frequently ramble on about getting out of this miserable weather or how much I despise the cold and dark. Occasionally I talk about something happening in the lives of my children. I’ve decided that today I will relate an adventure instead of whining, discuss a few moments of joy in winter on a day when I’d give most anything for 50 degrees warmer than it is right now. Weird right?

A few weeks ago, before the bitter cold completely engulfed central Minnesota, I took my children outside in the cold. Three whole days. I really did. I pulled on snow-pants and tucked wool socks into boots and drove out for some winter fun. This is unusual for me, if you haven’t figured that out by now. I don’t go out in the cold, I stay in, tucked under a blanket with a mug of tea in my hand most afternoons from December until, oh I don’t know…June or so. But I did this thing in the hope that embracing the cold would help it to not suck quite so much, and it did! It really, really did.

On our first day out we went to the big sledding hill in town on a perfectly sunshine-y day. Since it was the middle of the day there were only a few other kids on the hill and my bigger two went down and up at least a million times. Smiles plastered to their sweet faces. The teeny made it down, but needed convincing, and assistance, in coming back up. Eventually she and I made it across to gaze out over the river and walk along the stone ledge, we followed squirrel tracks in the patches of otherwise undisturbed snow, and she squealed with delight as she zoomed down the smaller hill.

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The sky was a perfect blue and I couldn’t help but stare up and think to myself that if this were winter, actual winter, I could handle it. For a brief moment in time I thought that I might actually make it out of this winter alive and with my smile still on my face. This day was filled with joy and peace. We were happy, even in the cold.

The second day out was more of the same. Sledding on a different hill with equally beautiful weather and, this time, friends. The day was only marred by forgotten ice skates. There were treks into the deep snow, a birds nest at eye level, and kids full of kindness. I have seldom been more surprised by a winter day than I was this day. The sun shone and the thermostats rose above 40 degrees. It was blissful and I was so very grateful.

I held out hope that this would be the winter that I didn’t hide indoors, that this would be the winter when I would do the embracing of the cold that everyone believes will bring me wintertime happiness. And I did get one more day. I am thankful for that third day and the walk we took. Being able to go out with my kids on adventures is one of my very favorite things. They have no agenda, few preconceived notions about what the day will hold. They need only a water bottle and a few snacks to explore a new space.

I love this about them.

I really hope that their attitude for adventures does not change much in the coming years, and not just for my own ease and enjoyment. If they can continue to be easy going as we travel and explore then they will continue to see the best in situations that may be less than ideal. They will keep their eyes open, slowing down to notice the red berries, the cup-shaped leaf, the tiny piece of agate in the gravel. If they can travel easy they will travel far. If they travel far they will be filled with wonder all of the days of their lives and I can think of little else that would be worth more, to give to a child.

The way this world spins, the pace it sets, the hustle we are expected to display…it causes the lives of children to be devoid of wonder. The lives of us all. I will continue to work to slow my tiny little piece of this world, if only a fraction and if only for my short time here. I will wander river paths while littles stomp in the snow. I will haul teenies up snow-hills so we can stay out longer. I will remember to bring the damned skates next time.

I will not enjoy winter. I don’t have it in me really. If it’s below 25 degrees, I’m not going out. I’m just not. I will revel in moments though. I will soak in the apricity, even if I have to sit on my living room floor under the picture window to do so. I will snap photos of joy-filled faces in deep snow and of Christmas tree lights shrouded under a blanket of white. I will be present this year, not just begging for it to end, but noticing all that I can while I’m here. This is not really what I’ve been encouraged to do by so many well wishing friends and strangers, but it is the best I can do. If it happens to get above thirty again soon, I’ll be one of the first people out there hopping over puddles, pulling sleds through the streets, and staring at the clear, blue sky.

On one of the last warm winter nights my sweet husband lit a fire on the deck, we stood out with blankets around our shoulders and hats pulled low over our ears. The stars were out and the noise of the city was somehow hushed just a bit. It was almost as if someone wanted me to see what winter could be. How I could be a small part of something that I hold such contempt for. How there is good, even in what we view as bad, and that we really don’t understand it all anyway. The peace washed over and the fire burned down to embers, time slowed, if only for a moment.

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Where We Are Falling Short

Posting something today that I wrote out in March of this year. I was angry over a life taken. It didn’t make sense to me then and it does not now. I want to do more, I want to serve those in this dark place. I want to help. I wonder what I can do. I wonder how I can give more than I currently give. I wonder how I can reach my hand out to friends, neighbors, when my own family needs me so much. I cry out over my shortcomings and failings, and fears. I’m putting this out there today to let you know that I’m working on these answers, not that I’ve found them. I also need you to know that I write these things from the only place I can; from my mothering heart.

This one feels raw, emotional, maybe even angry… Read gently.

We are failing friends. If you’re like me you probably feel like you’re doing just all that you can and there is no more to pour out and there is no possible way that you can be expected to do more than this. But I say again; we are failing. We are failing our children, we are failing our communities and we are failing each other. We are not doing what mothers and wives and women should be doing. It’s okay if you disagree with me. I have a feeling a lot of people will.

I base this feeling of failure on current events, and so it is debatable to be sure. Where are the mothers when children begin to show dangerous tendencies? Where are the wives when men spiral into depression and despair? Where are the women who could be stepping into necessary roles as defenders, as counselors, as leaders? Modern women often claim they are just as strong as men, can do the same jobs, are even better at most things than men. So why aren’t we living it? Why do we collectively allow dangerous men to walk our streets? Why do we quiet our voice when something potentially scary happens to us personally? Why do we hide instead of stand up and speak out?

I do not agree with much of what happens in this world anymore, there is so little good left. I feel the brokenness deep in my soul and more than any of the other contributing factors I may discuss on this platform I believe the brokenness of man (read humankind) is why I personally struggle with anxiety, loneliness, sadness…more.

Do you know your neighbors? Do you know the moms in the pick-up line at school? Do you know the people in your church at all? If you feel like you do know these people, I’d ask, how often do you interact with them? Do you see them daily? Weekly? Occasionally? When you see them, do you work to build an actual relationship with them or are your interactions platonic at best and, more realistically; compulsory? Who is your community? How are you building them up?

I say again; We are not doing enough.

We are losing people, they are falling into the void, unseen by our eyes and untouched by our love.

We are failing.

Regardless of how or what you or I are doing I know that we could do more.

I know this because in community people grow and flourish, I’ve seen it in my own life, in the lives of my own children. I realize of course that I can not be all things to all people. I am not going to go out and get a degree as a psychologist, but does that mean I can’t talk with someone, really listen to what their heart is saying? Make a personal connection with them, let them know that I am here with them no matter what they go through. I may not be able to stop their pain, but I can sit with them in it. It also means that if I see the broken pieces of their soul and fear for them or their community I can reach out to someone who could help in the needed way. I can do this because I know my friend, I can keep them from falling through. I can also support others as they do this with the people in their circle. I can have a friend’s children over so they can support a sister. I can manage my household for much later into the evening without a break so my husband can assist a friend. I can do something as simple as bringing books along for drop off or pick up events so that my children are occupied while I lean in and listen to another.

Why do we bicker, why do we debate, why do we constantly question what is the right way to solve a problem when we should be quieting ourselves to hear the heart-cry of the person next to us? Why does everyone blame the political machine and then sit back in their comfy chair feeling justified in having criticized all that is wrong with the world, but having done no actual thing? I am so angered, so frustrated, so sick of all of this. I’ve asked these questions before, said that I need to do more, asked for suggestions on how I can act. I have not done enough. I am not doing enough. While no one in my immediate circle is currently falling through the cracks, do I even know how close they are? Do you?

Is anyone reaching out to you today? Do you see what they need and are you ignoring it because you have your own troubles, your own stress, your own mess? I can assure you that if we all did one thing for the person next to us that it would not only bless their heart but it would come back to us in some way. What’s the worst that could happen if we all stepped out and did something? Like it would be so bad if each of us did one good thing for one person today? Even if we don’t see the benefit or if the good doesn’t bounce back to us, can’t being a blessing to someone else be enough? Can’t touching someone elses soul on a personal level be seen as the exact right thing in this moment? Can’t we see that we must do this?! We must, people are falling-right now-we are losing them, we have to do better as a group of women, as a group of people.

This is one of those posts with more questions than answers, more words spoken in passion than could really be expected to find resolution. The cry of my soul is to catch my people, to let them know that we are better together, not without their difficulty or struggle. That while I don’t have all of the answers I can hear you, I can stand by you, I can help you to find what it is that you need. So I will say it again;

In the darkest struggles of our souls, in the deepest dark that we sink into, each one of us is needed. We are loved. We are cared for. I say “we”, not “you”. I have been there, I can be there for you now because someone has been there for me. Though I fail at this often and I fail at it with the ones I most deeply love, I circle back to this knowledge that I do have more to give, I can give better. Sometimes this means a physical task, other days it means listening, hearing without needing to repair what is broken. It may mean admitting that I can not help, but supporting and suggesting ways to find peace.

I ask yet again; What can each of us do this day, to really let someone know that they have value? If you find some answers, would you let me know?

 

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A Deeper Sense of Community

I write about community quite often. About how children can not thrive without a group of supportive people, how each of us needs a tribe to call our own. Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed how much the women in my own circle have grown closer. I feel like I am a little on the outside because we are off adventuring so much, and while this makes me a teensy bit sad, I can still feel the shift and it brings me so much joy. Some of us need it more than we would even care to admit.

I have frequently felt like the group of women that I’ve come to call mine through homeschooling is special, we are not a bunch of moms who get together regularly so that our kids have normal-ish friendships and educational opportunities. Well, we are that. More than that though the women I homeschool with are friends, helpers, sisters…some of them are like silly aunties to my kids. Others are trusted adults who can be relied upon in difficult circumstances. To me though, the women in this group are simply what keep me going on days when it’s hard to do so.

Over the few years that I’ve known them, these friends of mine have gone through a lot. There has been so much life lived and when one (or more) of these women has struggled, I’ve seen them lifted up again and again. As a group we have cleaned each others houses, we have sat with tears, we have pulled weeds, we have welcomed babies, we have brought meals and watched each others kids. Most of the time these things have been done without anyone asking, for some reason I am surrounded by this group of women who simply want to do life together. They are such an answer to prayer.

Recently I was feeling like I couldn’t do this thing-that-needed-doing in my life. In the past I would have talked to God, talked to my husband, probably not have done the thing. This time though, I did something else. I still brought it to God first. My husband and I did talk it over and he encouraged me to move forward, I was still afraid. I was afraid of angry words coming back to me, of a harshly worded “no”. So, I reached out to my circle. I told a few friends what I needed to do and what my fear was and they all spoke words of support and encouragement to me. I did the thing-that-needed-doing and the answer that I received was not nearly as scary as I had anticipated it being. There is still a road to walk there, but my point is that I would not have confidently taken that first step if not for these wonderful friends.

In reaching out a couple of other things happened too, other needs were exposed. Other hurts touched on. Conversations were had that maybe otherwise wouldn’t have happened. In other circles of women we worry. We worry about being judged. We worry that we are not enough and that we are too much and that we can never, ever, in a million years live up to the invisible standard of the group. I am blessed by the opposite of that. I’m not exactly sure how I came to know these moms, these teachers, these women, but I am oh-so-glad that I have them in my life.

I wonder how I will give this to my kids. I wonder if I even can give it to them. Will they hold tight to the friends that they have now? Growing together in their friendships as they grow in size. Will I instill in them a deep need to not do life alone, will they feel it in the very soul of themselves and seek out this same sort of circle as they move out into the world? I hope so. I want it for them, not only because I don’t want them to be lonely, but because life is so much better lived in this community! It is so freeing to know that I don’t have to keep all of the plates spinning, that I have friends who will come along and give one a spin if it starts to wobble. Better? When a plate falls they’ll be there to help me clean it up, help me to realize that I’m still me without that one. I want my littles to know this, now and as they interact more with the wider world.

This morning I went back and forth with a few friends, it’s funny how much we all struggle the same as mommas. Same frustrations over kids not listening and then our own yelling. Same doubt; whether over a mom we feel does this gig better than us or if our schooling choice is the right one. Same worry; sometimes our kids are hard to understand or we don’t feel like we’re good enough to parent them. This is normal, I have these conversations often. More than these though, in this circle of mine we go deep.

There have been conversations over death. Broken hearts and broken marriages. Sickness. Jobs lost and gained. Our inability to do this SAHM life for one more minute without a change….More even than this these women don’t just talk about these things together we have silently made the pact that we will walk these struggles together. We will be there when the times are good and when they really couldn’t get much worse.

I suppose all that I am really saying here is “Thank you.”.

And so I will take a moment and a paragraph of your time to thank the women who have accepted me in spite of all of my flaws.

Friends, this group is something I have prayed for since I was in my early twenties. I have wanted to have friends who felt like sisters since I moved away from my actual sisters. Thank you for welcoming me in and making me one of yours. Thank you for bringing out the best in me over and over again. Thank you for listening to my worry, for talking through schooling options and sensory concerns and hearing me when the anxiety has gotten the best of my heart. Thank you for opening up your homes and your hearts and for sharing your deepest, truest selves. I love you all and I am so thankful to have you to do this life with. Thank you for never letting me feel judged in any way. I was once afraid to share details of my previous life, I know now that there is very little I could do or say to cause you women to leave my side. You are a blessing to me, a gift, an anchor when the seas get high. Thank you seems not enough, but it is what I have, and so I will say it again, “Thank you”.

If you do not have a group of women who welcome you into safe, uplifting, life-giving relationships please let me know. I will pray with you over your circle, you are not meant to walk this life alone. If you’re in my circle and you don’t feel this way, please reach out. I want little more than for you to know the peace and joy that is this type of friendship.

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A Midnight Rambling

Do you know those things that come to you at three A.M. after you’ve tucked a babe back into her bed and you can’t shake the thought so you sit up writing on your phone for an hour? Yeah, that is where this post started out. I know it’s random, maybe a little vague, and not exactly in keeping with where my posts typically come from. I am compelled to put it out there, even though I can hear some of the things that some of the people who read my blog might say. I’ve had that song “Fear is a Liar” in my head and I can’t help but connect that to the drive to get these words onto the page in the middle of the night.

So, here goes. Random, God-directed, ramblings for your enjoyment…or not.

One of the biggest lies the devil tells men is that they are enough without God. The world furthers this lie by insisting that men be strong, that they hold it all together. We (women) further this difficult place by asking our men to be all of the things that they naturally are not.

I’ll start with that last thought; we don’t let them be who they were made to be. We ask them to come indoors and quiet down and support us in these polite, traditionally-feminine ways. Because of the abuse that men have doled out over the years we believe all men need to be less traditionally-masculine, that that will somehow make us all better. We’re asking them to give up their very natures, the way God designed them to be. What if this is hurting them ladies? What if we let them return to their truest selves and live there? I challenge that we would all be better off.

What if in continuing the lie that men need be all things at all times we are breaking their very spirits? I worry about this at one A.M.

I would challenge that men need not be our everything. That they do not need to fill the role in our lives that sisters, aunts, and dear-friends would have filled in all ages save this modern one. That we would support our men in knowing the truest version of themselves, even if it is not what we might think it should be. Even if their truest self goes against what popular culture tells us, especially if that is the case! After all, I am the biggest advocate for a person following their heart, doing what they love, this is true for men as well as women. Even when what a man wants to do with his life is not what I would choose for my own. I suppose, especially when that’s true.

Now I know that some of you will cry out to me because there is such ache in the divide that is equality. I don’t believe that we are helping anyone by asking men to be strong enough to fill all the support roles in our lives and then being upset when they do it in their own way. Or complaining when they simply can not be all of the things. Men were not made for this, we were all made to have a community around us.

The village itself is broken.

We are breaking the men more, and I think that you could agree that men have been broken plenty. No, but just hear me out. We’ve taken away their ability to be who they are, we make it not okay to live in their nature because we don’t want the girls to feel left out. I hear the complaints; “Aren’t we supposed to be equal?”. I tell my kids all of the time that equal doesn’t mean everyone gets the same thing, rather everyone gets what they need. Each child stands alone in their needs yet some want them all to have the exact same things. This is faulty logic, and not just for how we raise our children.

Ultimately my point is that men are not enough. They are not enough to be both your best girl-friend and the one who keeps you safe from the dark of night. They are not enough to provide for your family and support you well while you work towards the same. They are not enough to fill all of the roles we are asking them to. I feel as though I’m rambling a bit here, so I’ll try to wrap this up.

Only God is enough ladies. Only in Christ are all of those roles filled. He will provide the people we need, the true-community we are asking for from one person. We have to let Him though. We have to let the men know this too, somehow. We have to make it okay to tell a man; “Go, be alone with God. Let Him heal those broken places in your heart, the ones that you can’t fix on your own. It’s okay that you can’t, we don’t need you to fix yourselves.”

What we all really need, is our men to come back to God. When will they? When will we make it alright for them to do so? When will they be reminded of their truest selves, their inmost nature…and be happy to see that they simply can not do this life without the love and forgiveness of their Savior? Why do I need to lie here thinking about this? Why has so much damage been done? Why have we given the devil such a stronghold in our lives, in our very souls?

I’m going to put these thoughts down on paper. I’m going to put them out into the scary, digital world where y’all can tell me how wrong you believe me to be. I’m going to hit “publish”. Then I’m going to pray ladies, I’m going to pray over the men you love, the men you are raising, the men from our collective past who have caused us to believe…well, whatever it is we may believe about them. I’m going to ask God to come into their hearts and show them that they are NOT enough.

And that’s okay.

Nobody needs them to be.

I’ll pray that each of them comes to Him with an open heart, that they’ll come to Him ready to admit defeat and to work toward change together. I’ll pray that they know Jesus as their Savior and that they will be changed so deeply due to that knowledge. We need this ladies, we need the men in our lives to be enough only when they are enough in Him.

We need to not further the lies of the devil and this world. Pray with me, would you?

 

 

***Please know that I am speaking about good men here. There are certainly men out there who take advantage and prey upon women, they are beyond my scope of understanding. My hope is that you will read this post thinking about the men you love.

 

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Writing to Myself

…and so I stood there. In that normal place. The place I had been expected to stay, the place I truly thought I wanted to be, the place where I was supposed to end, but probably not the place I was supposed to “middle”. The place I was terrified to leave.

Turns out?

Walking is as easy as staying…leaving as hard as being still. …

There’s more to this piece of a poem that I wrote for my soul alone. But it’s mine, part of a chapter from the book of me that I don’t read out loud. I can’t help but fear that if I share it, the words will suddenly lose their meaning. I want to hold tight to the words, to the emotion that pours out of them even still when I reread them to myself.

I’ve been learning about friends lately, going deeper into who they are, not satisfied with the how that they are. It seems that we are all the same, our own unique version of the same kind of crazy. While we’re broken, many of us have put ourselves back together in such a way that makes us more beautiful because of the cracks.

You know how you find yourself in a situation and you’re not sure how everything spiraled to this certain place? You feel alone. “No one else could be going through what I am going through!”, you shout to the cosmos. I want to offer a simple reassurance this day; you are wrong. Even if the ones you know aren’t telling you, even if their social media shares are filtered through a vibrant shade of rose, even if you feel completely alone in this place you are. You Are Wrong. Almost all of the women I am close with struggle in a similar way, and the ones who don’t? It is likely they will one day.

When I went through the brokenness of my first marriage ending, the joy of building a life I could love, even the struggles and joys of living this life, I thought I was alone.  But you know what? I was wrong. I didn’t know it then, but I wish I had. I am this woman today because I went through all of the shit without any women to share it with. My mother, my sisters, my dearest friends claimed they either did not understand, or said they could relate, but remained judge-y and worse, cruel. I know now that a lot of those women were afraid, they didn’t feel safe sharing the darkest parts of their own story. Some of them hadn’t gone through any difficulties yet. Knowing that allows me to forgive them, but it doesn’t make the time I spent frightened (of judgement) and alone (without the emotional support of friends) any easier. Where was the truth back then?!

I know that I may have been the first in my circle to do something hard, to walk toward my own truest self. Life has led me down winding paths and I have a mostly different circle now, but these women are the same as the friends I have lost. They are afraid too, if only in a different way. They don’t want too many people to know about the hard places in their marriages, the emptiness that is their normal, the ache that consumes them. They don’t want you to think less of them, to think that they are failing, or not strong enough even to hold together the family that they chose in their innocence. They don’t want you to know the secrets they keep because they don’t want you to judge them and leave. We are all afraid of something.

This morning I simply want my friends to know that they are not alone. I want you to know that you are not alone. Whatever it is in your life that you keep on hiding, whatever pages you don’t read aloud, whatever thing you think is too scary to share…Someone needs to hear your truth. I never really believed that until recently, but it is so true. We need to know that we are not alone, that our fear is less when we are brave enough to share our hearts. I’m thankful to the women who have spoken this to me, to the ones who have shared what they’ve gone through and to the women who have asked me to walk through their hard with them. I am fortunate to have these women beside me, I know.

While I’ve known for awhile now that all I have lived in my life has been leading me to here, I hadn’t really realized how all that I’ve lived would help me to be a better friend in this place. I guess I assumed that my difficulties and successes were to grow me into the best version of myself. I’ve been wondering for a little while now though if those same trials that I felt were deeply personal, were also meant to help someone else? To allow a woman to learn or know without having to walk the roughest portions of the path herself? Let me tell you that it is intimidating to think that the pieces of my life that were the deepest, the most felt moments, that those are the parts that someone, maybe you, need to hear.

I’m not ready this morning. Or at least not on this platform. I’ve been holding this fragile piece of my heart for a long while and I’m not ready to break it open in front of everyone just yet. But I am closer. I am less afraid to share my life with you than I was, because now I can see that my dark may be the light you need to get out of yours.

It is important for me to note here that I have been fortunate to walk the last several years of my story with a man whom I love deeply. Without him reminding me of the love of my Savior, without his own intense love for me, I would not have survived my own story. I know that I am extremely lucky to have him. He knows me and “gets me” and doesn’t try to change me. These are things I’ve needed my whole, entire life. I am more unapologetically myself because he gives me a loving place to be just that. Love and life are hard, but with him they are both easier. He is my proof that taking the hard path is ofttimes the best path…as long as you have a hand to hold along the way.

Friends, I’ll leave you with a few more lines I wrote to myself, which are sort of a compilation of a ton of different quotes that I’ve read over time pertaining to my life, all modge-podged together, made to be just what I needed to hear at some of lowest points;

…Daring Girl, if you get one life, how many Summers will you waste?                           

If you only get one chance to live, why aren’t you doing the thing that is truest to you? 

Why did you settle for okay?                                                                                   

Why did you allow a tether to be a lifeline?                                                     

Brave girl, if you find yourself in the wrong story, trust that you can leave.                 

It is possible to change direction, but stay on the same journey.                       

Sweet girl, this life is yours, you owe it to no one but yourself. …

These words have been mine. They have been for me for a long time now. But maybe? Maybe they’re for you too? I don’t know. We all have to choose our own yesses, our own no’s. Each of has to know where the middle of our own story should take place, we only get one book after all…there is no sequel to this life of mine, of yours. While my choices can’t be yours, I’ll be hoping that you can write the story that you want to read, craft the life that you want to live.

I’m here working on mine right now, and while there are certainly a few chapters back there that are difficult to read aloud, I know that books have the power to change us…if we’ll just open them up. I hope to do more of that, opening up, I mean. If not here in this place at least while in the presence of those who need to hear a few lines from my life.

 

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