I was looking at my calendar last week, and I realized that it was seven years ago that my world came crashing down around me. My mind wandered back to that awful night in November when I discovered the heartbreaking truth about my first marriage. I had been so busy working on exciting new things that I had forgotten about that particular anniversary.
Seven years. Wow.
I’ve taken some time since then to ponder all that has happened in the last seven years, and I am in awe. I never would have dared to dream about where this story would take me.
I was broken.
The future seemed hopeless.
I felt so alone.
I had three scared little faces looking up at me for reassurance.
I had to be strong… for them.
My heart has continued to heal a little more each day.
I have hope – wild and beautiful hope for the future – and now I get to share it with others.
I have learned that I’m not alone, and sharing the darkest parts of my story lets me help others know that they aren’t alone on this journey either.
There are three growing boys smiling back at me.
When I can’t be strong, I have my faith and the arms of my Beloved, family, and friends to hold me up until I can walk again.
The world which once felt so dark, scary, and lonely is opening up right in front of me! Somebody needs to pinch me, because I can’t believe what I’m about to tell you – 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year…
I’m going to KENYA in July!
And then I’m going to southern INDIA in September!
Everything has happened so quickly – but I am beyond thrilled to be joining our church in the work they are doing in both places. After years of learning about the situations and struggles that women and girls face in both countries, praying, and wondering what in the world a little mom from Kansas could do to help – I feel like it’s all getting plopped down right in my lap! I get to work with amazing women who are going through some of the very same struggles that we face. These women are just like us – they need to feel that they are seen, loved, and accepted for who they are. They need friendship, community, and security. Many of them are in abusive relationships. Many of them know the pain of their husbands being unfaithful in their marriages. These are male-dominated societies where women and girls are not valued, and my heart is aching for them.
My friend Joy told me stories of women who have to attend secret church services so their husbands do not realize that they are Christians. Sometimes the husbands will follow the wives to church – and beat them right in the middle of the church service. For their faith. It was when my friend told me about this that I immediately felt my heart drawn to these women. Seven years ago I didn’t have a voice, but healing, growing, and those who poured into my life were my voice until I found it again. My heart’s desire is to be the voice for others who can’t speak up for themselves, and to give them hope while they find their own voices again. Joy’s sister Elishba let me use her photo of one of these secret church services…
This is Nalini. She is one of these precious ladies. When her husband found out that she attended church services, he would beat her and lock her out of the house at night so she had to sleep in the street. Thankfully, her husband has been changing and she has been able to attend services without any trouble from him recently.
Dear friends, these women and girls are our sisters, and I hope that we will all stand with them in support. We’re all on this journey together!
Another exciting piece of news is that my lovely friend Joy is translating many of my blog posts into her native Tamil language – to be a book!!! Her father is the pastor of the church above – and they want to share our story with the women in their city. I am still in awe of how things are coming together! I have been busy editing and putting together our blog posts into a manuscript for Joy to translate – and then share with whomever can be encouraged by it.
This is what I’ve been doing lately – printing, playing around with the order of the chapters, and editing with my handy red pen…
*Sidenote – Isn’t my new African journal beautiful? My friend Toni from Red Pen Travelers did a fabulous job – and I can’t wait to take it with me on my travels! She will be making leather India journals in a few months to help support my trip to India! Check them out for yourself – her notebooks would make perfect Christmas presents!
I am so excited to share all of this with you because you NEVER KNOW what the future holds. You never know how your story can be used to touch someone else’s heart. To you, my friends, who are hurting right now – when you feel like you’re being pulled under by the unrelenting waves of your own pain, please know that there really is hope. There’s no telling who you might help by sharing your story with someone going through their own storm.
Seven years ago I never could have dreamed that one day my story of feeling so broken and alone would help anyone – especially women in other parts of the world. I feel so humbled that this Kansas girl gets to take a message of hope to our sisters in India and Kenya next year. I can’t wait to throw my arms around them and let them know how loved they are. Just like you, my friends, I want them to know that they are seen, they are loved, and they are not alone.
I am so honored to get to spend part of your day with you. Thank YOU for going on this journey with me!
Love & hugs,
What a month it’s been! After being married for 4 years, my Beloved and I finally went on our long-awaited honeymoon! I mentioned on Facebook that the resort where we had planned to stay in Mexico had been wiped out in a hurricane this fall, and our hearts sank. Joe made a few phone calls, and we received a full refund! He found us a cabin in the Volcano National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii, and we packed our bags!
I really didn’t know much about the Big Island or Hawaii in general before we bought a book that was HUGELY helpful in our travels! The Big Island Revealed was written by a man who lives on the Big Island – and it a guided us to many amazing non-touristy places during our week in Hawaii!
We started out by exploring the shores of Hilo, gawking at the sea turtles, and finding nice people selling fresh coconut water – in the coconut! I can’t tell you how much better it is right from the tree!
We decided to head up to the beautiful Mauna Kea summit – more than 14,000 feet up – to see the international observatories that live way above the clouds. Wow. Just wow.
It was cold up there at sunset, and we were still wearing our shorts and flip-flops, so we made plans to go back another night to stargaze. When we went back a few nights later, our group was treated to a guide who pointed out constellations, stars, and stories in the sky. It was incredible!
The went on a couple of hikes one morning (6 miles altogether!) where we descended 400 feet through a rainforest, made our way over this frozen lava lake from when Kilauea erupted long ago, then climbed the 400 feet back up to civilization. It took years for this lake of once red-hot lava to cool and harden – and now you can walk across it!
You can see the beautiful Mauna Loa looming in the background…
The walk wasn’t an easy one – but it was breathtaking!
We decided that we hadn’t punished our bodies enough after that hike, so we went on another trek to see a lava tube!
We were sore and tired after our hikes, but I am so glad we went – and this Kansas girl learned that I love hiking!
The waves were too high for us to kayak during our stay, so we spent a couple of afternoons crossing off what I wanted to do in Hawaii – lounge on the beach!
This is what we had waited four years to experience! I had a fruity drink in my hand, a book in my lap, my Beloved by my side, and a smile on my face! I even dozed to the sound of the waves. Happiest of happy sighs.
We also made the difficult hike to visit the hidden away Green Sand Beach near the southern tip of the Big Island. Wowzers – this was hard. It was three miles of climbing over sharp lava rocks each way, and we were only in our flip-flops! By the time we’d made it back to our car, I had 5 blisters on the bottoms of my feet – and sores where the rocks had poked THROUGH my shoes!
Yes, it was a bit windy that day…
But seeing the gorgeous green sand was worth it!
There were so many beautiful things to see and experience on Hawai’i – that one little blog post can’t do it justice.
Cliffs and valleys…
An active volcano…
My new buddy – King Kamehameha the Great (the first ruler of the Hawaiian islands)…
And gorgeous black sand beaches…
I am beyond grateful that I get to walk through life with this guy!
I have become obsessed with Hawaiian history since our trip! I’m reading a fascinating book by the last monarch of Hawaii – Queen Lili’uokalani – and eagerly looking for more stories of the Hawaiian past and culture.
Joe and I have even begun dreaming of one day moving to Hawaii! I could definitely cozy up to the idea of writing and sipping coconut water while watching the waves at sunset from my lanai! It did my heart so much good to just get away. We were able to finally relax, letting all of the stress of the last several years – broken hearts, divorces, deployments, custody battles, cancer, living apart – melt away. Ahhh…
Thank you so much for indulging me today – and for staying with me during my long absence this month! I can’t wait to get back to sharing together every week now that life is finally starting to get back to normal after the rush of the holidays!
I’ll be back later this week for the December Edition of What I’m Into!
Something interesting happened to me today…
“Are you an artist?” the lady at Kohl’s asked me.
I laughed and thanked her, but no, I’m not an artist.
I glanced down at my loose-fitting boyfriend jeans, my white tee that is older than at least two of my kids, and thrifted jacket. My mommy uniform – washable and comfy. Did I have paint on my clothes? Marker on my face?
“Are you sure you’re not an artist?”
Nope. I wish!
“Then what do you do?” she pressed as she rang up the leggings that I was buying on sale.
Reflexively, I almost went with my usual response: I’m just a mom… But for some reason, today I stopped.
Um, actually…I write. My voice was shaking because I’ve never once said that out loud to anyone.
“That’s the same thing, Girl! You’re an artist! I knew you were a creator – I could tell by your shoes!”
I glanced down at my feet – the only pop of color in my outfit today is the deep aqua of my TOMS wedges that I found on clearance last spring.
“Only an artist would pair those shoes with your outfit. It’s who you are! Be proud of it, Girl!”
I’m sure my face was flushed as I thanked her for making my day – but I should have thanked her for waking me up and confirming some things that I have been hearing and learning lately. As I shared with you before, I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I might wish to be a painter or songwriter or pastry chef or inspirational speaker, but that isn’t who I was made to be.
I could have worn so many other pairs of shoes today – Converse sneakers, flip-flops, running shoes, boots, and heels – but I didn’t. I chose these shoes, and that said something about me. A total stranger was able to pinpoint that I am an artist – just from the two seconds that it took me to pick out my shoes this morning. Who I am is oozing out of me, and I’m betting that it flows out of you, too…even when you don’t realize it.
I need to learn to not fight who I am, and not shove her into a dark corner to forget about that part of me. I’m not just a mom. I’m starting to see that I’m so much more than that…. and so are you! You’re more than a mom. You’re more than a wife, single mom, divorced, or grandmother. Are you, too, an artist? Are you a caretaker? Are you a dreamer? Are you a nurse and teacher to your little ones at home? Are you ambitious and go after what you want in life? Are you a loyal friend? Are you passionate about helping others?
I’m 33, and I’m weary from not knowing who I really am…but I’m learning and growing. Baby steps! Let’s start digging deeper together and discovering who we really were made to be. I can’t wait to continue on this journey alongside you!
Who are YOU, my friend? Does this resonate at all with you? I’d just love to hear all about it!
*Love and hugs*
I was thrilled when my new blogging buddy Cara Meredith asked me to join a new series about writing! (Check out her lovely blog, and be ready to feel encouraged, inspired, and challenged!) Each writer in this series is asked the same four questions about their writing process, and I have loved reading about how other bloggers and writers approach their love of the craft!
I am chronicling the continuing chapters of Our Story to share here on the blog. In it, I am sharing my journey of discovering betrayal and infidelity in my first marriage, my divorce, life as a single mother to my three little boys, and how my heart healed after all of the pain. I am currently writing how Joe went from being “my friend’s little brother” to the man he is today ~ my Beloved. I’m hoping to share the next chapter a little later in the month, as our wedding anniversary approaches. *happy sigh* I am finding this as a special way to pass the time while he is deployed this summer!
I am also writing a weekly series for the blog where I ask women to come alongside me and take better care of themselves – A Happier, Healthier You. I have heard the admonishment many times to take care of myself – eat better, get more sleep, give myself a little grace – but it wasn’t until the beginning of 2014 that it finally dawned on my heart that I could give myself permission to do this. I devote so much time, blood, sweat, and tears to being a good mom to our boys, but I needed to put my health back on the to-do list. I share my goals for the week, how I did the week before, and simple ways that we can all start taking care of ourselves so that we can take better care of our loved ones!
There is also a little side writing project that I have been working on for several months. I am thrilled to tell you that I’ve been working on a bit of historical fiction. Biblical historical fiction, to be more precise. I woke up from a dream one night and had a clear idea of what I wanted to write – the story of Eve. I’m not entirely sure how this will play out. Maybe this story is for my eyes only. Maybe my boys will read it one day and know that it is never too late to work for your dreams. Perhaps I will share it one chapter at a time here on the blog. Or maybe I will submit it for publication one day. Who knows? What I do know is that it is stretching me in ways I had never imagined – and even if no one else ever holds it in their hands, I believe that I will be a better woman and writer because of this story.
I have other ideas floating around in my writing notebooks, including putting Our Story together in memoir or fictional form – complete with details and stories that I have previously left out of the blog. I felt so very alone when my life came crashing down around me, and I want to let everyone know through my writing that no matter what nightmare comes your way, or wherever your journey leads, you are not alone. I promise.
May I let you in on a little secret? Even though I have been sharing here on the blog for almost one year, I’m not entirely sure where I fit in. There are so many writers and bloggers that I look up to, but the beauty of creativity is that we are all so different! What flows out of my heart and onto the page is different than all of the writers that I admire. Our stories are as unique as our writing styles, and I am so grateful to be a small part of this incredible community!
Earnest Hemingway said it best – “Write the truest sentence that you know.” I write what I know to be true – the pain, the scars, the healing, the butterflies. I write because when I try to squelch the story rising up within me, part of me dies. I have loved the written word since I could identify my ABCs, and when my head wasn’t buried in a book, I was writing on whatever I could get my little hands on. I write because it is healing. I write because I can’t NOT write. And I am so grateful for each of you for allowing me to be a small part of your day. Your encouragement and support means more to me than you’ll ever know!
My schedule varies, as I am still trying to figure out what works best for our family. Most mornings I get up extra early to write. There are often late nights when I can’t turn off the flow of words, and I have to sit there until I know that my piece is finished. Most often you will find me sitting on my red Story Chair or at my antique spinet desk. Sometimes I work on editing or pictures at the dining table while the boys are eating lunch, or on the front porch while watching them play basketball in the driveway. I carry a notebook in my purse, and I’ll jot down ideas or first drafts while I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, swimming lessons, or whenever inspiration whispers to me. I want to be present for my family, but I also feel called to write… so I’m still learning to find the balance!
One of the things that I love about this series is that it’s the gift that just keeps on giving! My friend Cara Meredith tagged me in her post, and I am incredibly excited to tag my friend Crystal for the same post next week in this awesome series! I love learning how others that I admire approach the writing process!
Crystal Paine is a child of God, wife, homeschool mom of three, author, speaker, and aspiring runner. Her mission is to challenge women to wisely manage their time and resources and live life on purpose. She blogs at MoneySavingMom.com.
In Her Shoes is a series written by readers to give us a glimpse into their lives – what it is like to walk in their shoes. Today I am thrilled to introduce you to my friends Sarah and Katya. They are from different parts of the world, but they both recently made a big change. Let’s join our friends as tell us what it is like to walk in their shoes, and with their new hairdos! ~ Love, Ginger
As a hairstylist, I’ve had many different hairstyles over the years. When I was working in a salon, I was constantly growing and cutting and trimming and changing my styles. But after I’d had a particularly short hairstyle for quite awhile, I decided to let it grow out. Partially because I was tired of it, and partially because I knew my husband would like it better longer for change.
So in January 2009, I got it cut short one more time before I started growing it out. Then it grew, and grew, and grew! I would get it trimmed occasionally to keep it looking healthy and fresh, but otherwise, it just kept growing. For probably about a year, I kept debating whether to cut it or to keep it long. I loved it long, and other people did too…but then again, I was kind of tired of just having long hair, and not a cute style. But I was worried about chopping it and then regretting it. Oh! Decisions decisions!
Finally when Ginger posted about her decision to donate her hair, it was like a lightbulb went off in my head. All of a sudden, I knew what I wanted to do with my hair! I knew I wouldn’t regret chopping it all off, if someone else could enjoy my hair, instead of it just being thrown in the trash. I couldn’t believe that idea hadn’t even crossed my mind before, especially seeing as I used to help people donate their own hair as a hairstylist.
So on November 20th 2013, I went to get it cut and actually ended up cutting off about 12 inches! I haven’t missed my long hair for a minute and it’s already growing out fast again. After a good bit of research, I ended up deciding to donate it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.
Now the great decision is upon me again…keep it short or grow it out to donate again?
One day in late October I was looking through the newsfeed on my Facebook page and came across a link to a blog post by my friend Ginger. Ginger and I used to know each other when we both were still teenagers, then parted paths for quite a few years, and now, thanks to a social media site, were able to reconnect again. The title of the blog post, The One about Someday, caught my attention and I clicked on the link. The article talked about things we would love to do in our lifetime that we keep putting off to ‘someday’… It hit it close to home for me. Since having my second son almost four months earlier I had often thought about the meaning of my life, my purpose, my hopes and dreams for my life and the life of my family. After reading Ginger’s ‘Someday’ list, I’d started to mentally compile my own. Even though a lot of items would be different for me (for instance, unlike Ginger, I have absolutely no desire to write a book or run a marathon, and I’ve already read War and Peace in Russian, twice (which, of course, is not such a great achievement since it is in my native language), but reading Consuelo in French would be another story).
However, a couple of items stood out, one of them being donating my hair to a worthy cause. Somehow it convicted me. I’ve been blessed with good hair, but I’m ashamed to admit that up until that day in late October it had never occurred to me to donate it. And I’m not talking about shaving my head bold (I doubt I would be courageous enough for that), but just cut it off a few inches shorter than my normal length and share it with someone in need. So I looked online at the length requirements, and the minimum I could donate was eight inches (20 cm). To take that much off would bring my hair to about my shoulders, which is a rather big change to what I was used to, but not really that drastic. I felt that now I had no excuse to not give out of the abundance that I had. So I made an appointment with my hair stylist and on October 31st I got a new haircut, having her cut off full nine inches. It was a big step out of my comfort zone, but it felt great! For a person who is not that big into change and taking risks, it felt surprisingly freeing and liberating.
Everyone seemed to like the new look, myself included. I don’t think I would have made such a big change unless I had a worthy cause to do it for – a free wig for a woman battling cancer. The organization I chose to give to was Pantene Beautiful Lengths, who partners with the American Cancer Society to provide free wigs for women with cancer. It was important to me that they do not charge anything – women battling cancer already have a lot to deal with, and this is something that may make their lives just a bit easier without an added expense. I’d debated giving it to the Children with Hair Loss organization, who makes free wigs for children, but had decided to give to the one that gives to adults instead. I have a friend (and a former colleague) who used to volunteer at a Russian organization that helped children battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses – Gift of Life – and she once mentioned that it was much easier to raise funds/get donations for treatment of a baby or a young child than it was for a teenager or a young adult. I know that the medical care system here in the States is vastly different from what it is in Russia and having the money to pay for a life-saving procedure is not a requirement to get the necessary care, but her words stuck with me, swaying my decision toward donating to help an adult instead.
I don’t know if Pantene has already used my hair for a wig and given it to a woman in need of it or if the wig is still being made, but doing this has definitely given me a lot of satisfaction – there is definitely a lot of joy in giving, not just receiving. It will probably take me several years to grow my hair out again, but hopefully one day I will be able to do this again. Thanks to Ginger for writing the blog post about her ‘Someday’ – it was convicting and inspiring in more than just one way!
To read more stories, or if you would are interested in sharing your story, please go to the In Her Shoes tab near the top of the page. I love learning about the people in this series. Connecting with others seems to make the world feel not quite as big and scary. We’re all in this together. I can’t wait to hear from you, to read your stories, and learn more of what it is like to walk in your shoes. ~ Love, Ginger
“Mommy, I like it when you sing that song.”
I didn’t realize how often I had been singing it until he mentioned it the other day. Lately, it seems as if this song has been playing on a loop in my mind.
Have you ever felt like you were being asked to walk out into the great unknown? A new chapter in your life, circumstances out of your control, setting out to accomplish something on your Someday List…It looks so scary out there. Who knows what storms might strike when you’re away from the safety of the shore. Did you see those waves? They’re getting bigger. And those jagged rocks look dangerous. What about the things that we can’t see? The water stretches on and on for miles, with no end in sight.
As scary as it is to step out onto those waters, as vulnerable as you feel as you wade into your new journey – doesn’t it feel a little bit good, too? Just think about it. Do you feel that? That warm glow deep down in your heart – the one that helps you put one foot in front of the other as the waves continue to crash around you – that’s joy, my friend. Unexplainable, undeniable, and unsinkable joy. It’s the joy that tells you that you are exactly where you are supposed to be in that moment, and that you are not alone.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.” ~ Isaiah 43:2
I’ve been here before, and I am finding myself here again.
Arriving in Russia at the age of 17 with no friends and no clue how the year of living in an orphanage would impact my life. I was right where I was supposed to be.
Dismissing my first request for divorce and working tirelessly for 6 months to heal my broken and dying marriage. As scary as it was to open myself up to hurt again, I knew that it was exactly what I needed to do.
When the end came, I knew beyond all shadow of doubt that it was time to say goodbye and embark on my new life as a single mom. I was 28 years old, and I had three precious little faces looking up at me. I had no idea where my journey to healing would take me, and I was frightened of the unknown for my little family, yet there was a peace that guided me the whole way.
I began writing and sharing this blog in the hopes that if I could help or inspire even one person, that it would all be worth it. I have heard so many encouraging things from you – those who are going through similar situations in their lives and are glad to know that they are not alone, women who want to know if I have any advice as they navigate these treacherous waters, and those who are joining me in taking better care of ourselves in the same way that we care for others.
I can sense that there is more that I need to share….that I’m being asked to share. And it’s scary. There are other things from my past that are coming to the surface. There are situations that go on in our lives that no one talks about, and that makes us feel so isolated – so very alone. I want to continue shining a light on those hidden areas and to let you know that you really are not alone.
Writing and sharing my heart has been me walking out onto the waves, and I appreciate every single one of you that has come on this journey with me.
It’s scary, in a good way. I know as I step further out into the great unknown, that I am exactly where I am supposed to be – and that fills me with joy.
My cup runneth over.
* The photo is courtesy of my Beloved. It was taken near gorgeous Monterey, California.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
~ Mary Oliver, “When Death Comes”
This poem by Mary Oliver has stirred something deep inside me.
“I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
Let that sink in for a minute.
Life is such a gift – and each day is a new opportunity to look at our lives with amazement. Every moment is a chance to take the world into our arms and embrace it.
My to-do list is full of reviewing division facts, errands, practicing sight words, going over Bible verses, and reading to my boys about World War I. There will be hugs, laundry, jokes, and discipline threaded throughout my day. I’m will be looking at my day a little differently today.
What about you? What things are waiting for your embrace? Your work at the office? A classroom of little faces? A sink full of dishes? A tiny one that needs your constant love and care? Let’s not be visitors in our own lives. Whatever your day holds for you, I hope that you can take a little time to embrace your world and see your life through the eyes of amazement!
*Photo credit – NZ Portraits by Joanne.
Linking up with Holley Gerth today in her new series ~ Coffee for Your Heart.
“Mommy, how old does a lady have to be to have a baby girl?”
“Um…A lady can have a baby girl whenever God gives her a baby girl.”
“But how old do YOU have to be for God to give YOU a baby girl, Mommy?”
No, I’m NOT expecting, but that recent conversation with our 5 year old son, Quinn, really made me stop to think about the possibility of life with a little girl someday. The boys have even taken to praying for a sister on and off for a year or so.
The last 10 years, the entirety of my mothering life, has been all about boys. Tonka trucks, Lego creations, earthworms, basketball, and Spiderman have wiggled their way into my daily routine. To be honest, I may not know (or care) about the difference between a Storm Trooper and a Clone Trooper. I may throw away random Pokèmon cards that I find left out when they should be put away. I may not understand the appeal of Wimpy Kid books…but I love having boys.
Can I let you in on a little secret? Girls have always kind of scared me. Maybe that’s because I am nerdy tomboy, myself. I never really felt like I belonged, almost as if I never knew how to be a girl. I’m nearly 33 years old, and sometimes I feel like I’m still trying to figure it out. I guess I’m a little afraid of letting down a daughter that I don’t even have. Silly, I know.
I get boys. All my boys need is an open area in which to wrestle, a couple of Nerf guns, or a driveway where they can play some dodgeball…and they are happy as can be! They need food, love, and consistency. That’s pretty much it.
Of course, I also like the idea of dressing a little mini-me in cute boots and ponchos. I love the thought of introducing someone to all of the wonderful stories that captured me as I was growing up – Nancy Drew, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Anne Shirley have always felt like kindred spirits. Who wouldn’t want to share those things?
My Beloved and I have often talked of the possibility about having a baby together someday, after he is out of the military and we can finally live together. We have even bounced potential names back and forth for future kiddos. I know that he would be an amazing father to a little girl, just as he has been a wonderful dad to my boys – that doesn’t give me one ounce of reservation. My hope is that I would be a good enough mom.
Maybe someday we’ll see blue once again, or maybe we’ll finally have the answer to Quinn’s question and see pink. Whatever happens, expanding our family or staying put with three growing boys, I never would have imagined the amount of love that I have for our manly munchkins. Ever. I’m guessing that I would feel the same way if we were to ever see pink. Maybe that is how a mother’s heart was made to work.
Do you know that saying of how when you have more than one child, the love you have doesn’t subtract – it multiplies? Yeah…it has been that times a million. And pink or blue, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
*Photo credit ~ NZ Portraits by Joanne. The top photo was taken on Quinn’s 1st birthday. The bottom photo was taken when Camden was 4, Quinn was one week old, and Aiden was 2 years old. I love those little feet!
When is a time in your life when you felt most fully alive?
Consider those times and spaces when that was true for you. Don’t edit anything out. Grab onto those first thoughts and dare to hold them in your hands for a bit. Then answer this second question:
When you feel most fully alive, what words or phrases come to mind that describe that experience for you?
These questions from the wonderful book that I am currently enjoying are helping me to dig a little deeper into myself – to uncover those things that may have become hidden under stress, life, busyness, doubt, fear, and being practical. The author is trying to get the reader to see that those specific memories – the ones where we felt most alive – often point to something deeper. Possibly something that we are meant to further pursue in life.
We are art. Dwell on that for a second. You are a masterpiece. But not only are we art, we are meant to be artists with our lives. There is something deep inside each of us – those desires, interests, talents, and skills – that no matter how hard we try, we just can’t shake their pull on our hearts. It’s part of who we are. What if those deep-down secrets of the heart, maybe those things which have made us feel most alive, are the things that point us to the art that we are meant to create?
As I started to ponder those questions, I realized that a whole world of experiences and feelings were coming to mind. Memories began to flood my heart with a few of the times where I have felt most alive…
~ At the age of 3, riding in my first airplane, with my stepdad as the pilot. The exhilarating feeling of watching the acres of farmland fall away below us, the flutter in my little tummy, and the freedom that came from soaring through the blue Kansas sky.
~ I was a quiet teenager, and I found myself standing in Red Square for the first time. I was seeing my dream come to life of visiting Russia, and breathing in the history that Red Square holds within its walls. I shivered with excitement as I gazed at St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin. I thought over and over again, “I’m here. I’m really here.”
~ Becoming a mother to Camden, Aiden, and Quinn. Cradling each of my baby boys, disbelieving of how I could be deserving of such beautiful gifts, and knowing that I would do anything for those precious little ones entrusted into my care.
~ Marrying my Beloved…
~ Piloting my first plane. All of those feelings from when I was a little girl came rushing back, only now the weight of the yoke and the throttle were under my hands. This time I could see the Pacific Ocean as I flew, and it was positively breathtaking.
~ And writing. Writing transports me to a place where my entire world stops as the words flow out of my fingertips, and my heart doesn’t resume its normal pace until the very last word of my story has been written. Then nervously, sometimes trembling, I send it out into the world. I share it with you…
~ Peace and exhilaration
~ Fear and freedom
~ Responsibility and hand-trembling nervousness
~ Courage and doubt
~ Contentment and the urge for more
What I am finding as I begin to uncover these deeply buried emotions, is that even though some of those feelings were not always pleasant – the desire must outweigh the fear.
Fear is the root of why I declined the offers to travel to Belarus and South Africa alone as a young lady. Fear of failure is why I never pursued my dream of becoming a pilot on my own. Afraid of losing him, I stayed home to marry my ex-husband rather than go off to college. The fear of not being the perfect mother has crept into parenting my little ones. Fear of more heartache slithers its way into my relationship with my Beloved. Fear is what has held me back all of these years from sharing my writing with others, and even from writing at all.
What were the times in your life where you felt most alive? And have you embraced those experiences, or has fear caused you to run away from them?
I am slowly and intentionally digging away at the ground that has buried my art, my dreams, and my desires. With each swing of the shovel, I am looking fear and perfectionism in the face as I toss it behind me. It is time for me to excavate the art that I am meant to live, and the art that I am meant to create. It’s scary and it’s heavy, but my prayer is that with each stride that I take, I will be a little closer to being the artist and the art that I was created to be.
* Photos 4 and 5 were taken by Joanne Funk.
*Linking up to Women Living Well Wednesdays
“The most interesting things in life happen just outside your comfort zone.” ~ Michael Hyatt
Last week I shared a couple of posts with you about confronting the fear that has held me back from the hopes, dreams, and ambitions that I have always said that I would do… Someday.
In the first post I let you in on my little secret. As I was reading back over my own article, it had me thinking…and coming back to my list of Somedays. The first one on my list was that Someday I would donate my hair. This led me to tell you that I had decided to not put it off for another Someday.
The way that cancer touched my little family this year, and looking over the list of things that I have always said that I would get around to accomplishing…I refuse to let this continue. I researched the different hair donation organizations, and I settled on Children With Hair Loss. They provide free wigs to little ones who are battling cancer, alopecia, and other reasons for hair loss. It was so exciting that I felt that my haircut couldn’t come fast enough!
I visited my stylist at The Perfect Touch on Friday night. She has been cutting my hair since I was 13, and I trust her completely with my mop top! As I explained to her why I wanted to do this, she hugged me as I cried in her chair. I cried mixed tears of fear about my Beloved’s history with cancer, a little bit of “attagirl” for finally stepping outside of my comfort zone, and happiness to be doing something that might help someone else. We wiped the tears, I found my smile again, and we were ready to get started!
Jen, my stylist, sectioned off 5 separate ponytails as the Children With Hair Loss website instructed. After one final check to make sure that I was ready to make the chop, she cut away 12 inch sections of my hair. Not once in the three days since then have I regretted my decision at all. I liked my long hair. It was familiar. It was my security blanket and my comfort zone, but now it will belong to someone else. It will possibly belong to a little girl fighting the battle of her life – someone so much braver than I could ever hope to be. It is my prayer that running her fingers through her new locks will bring a smile to her face, and will help her family to know that someone in Kansas is thinking of them!
I have been blessed with good hair genes – thanks, Mom and Dad! – and my thick head of hair could take forEVER to dry before my cut. Since cutting my hair, it’s dry in only a few minutes! This is going to free up so much extra time in the mornings! For this picture, I styled it exactly the same as I did my long hair – the only difference being that it didn’t take as long. Win-win all around!
Seeing our boys’ reactions was pretty funny! They stopped, tilted their heads to study me, and said, “Uhh…oooookaaaaaay.” After taking it in for a few minutes, Camden said that it was the same as my old hair, only now my long earrings showed. Aiden had been under the impression that I would be shaving my head to give ALL of my hair away – I guess that’s what he took away from my conversation with him the day before – so he seemed to be relieved that not all of my hair was gone! Quinn hesitantly touched the ends and said that he missed my old hair, but he would still like my new hair.
Even my Beloved likes it! It was so nice to feel his fingers running through my shorter curls and to know that he thinks it’s cute! That was my worst fear – that he wouldn’t like it – but now my remaining fear has been put to rest!
I can’t believe that I let fear keep me from donating my hair in the past. It was so easy, and it’s amazing how happy I feel to be going this short! Knowing that the hair is on its way to a wonderful organization to be made into a wig for a little girl – it warms my heart and makes me anxious for my hair to grow long enough to donate again!
Let’s encourage each other! I would love to hear from you…What can you cross off of your Someday list TODAY? What is holding you back from reaching the goals that sit a little out of your reach – just a bit outside of your comfort zone? Please, please, please don’t let fear hold you back for one more day. Do something, anything to break those chains that are keeping you from so much more. You will never know how good it feels to be free – and how much you may be able to bless someone else – until you let go.
Here’s to letting go…
*Linking up to Women Living Well Wednesdays