Monday, July 28, 2008

Do Not Hold Back

There are a number of women I know who really want to have a baby.

I was just thinking about how if someone I know had approached me with this concern at any age up until about twenty seven I would have been so distantly compassionate. At age sixteen I would have looked through them blankly, insecure about what to say in return. At twenty I would have believed we could “claim” a child for them if we had a prayer intercession for an hour or more. At twenty four I would have listened with shame in my own heart, not knowing why I didn’t have the seemingly normal desire to be a mom yet. And at twenty six I would have wistfully, naively chimed in about how we were thinking of trying too and how great it would be to try to get pregnant at the same time during a certain time of the year.

But by twenty seven, by the time I had both lost a baby and endured a season of waiting with no results, I would have finally understood to a degree what a real conversation with these friends would feel like. How deep the grief would be. How the words really begin to not matter sometimes and yet at other times how one word can carry you for days. How it feels like a mere dangling from a line of hope. And how the pain comes so suddenly, landing on your chest like a hundred pound weight when you see a stroller. Or watch a mom despise her blessings. Or watch a child say “mama” over and over. Or when we get asked for the millionth time when we’re going to “get going” on trying to have some kids.

I hesitate sometimes to speak to you mamas. Because I know how much you’ve heard. How some words heal. How some words injure. How many words come through the air so carelessly. Lord let me not be another.

Yet, mamas I feel like the Lord had something to say about this the other day. So here’s the deal. I’m going to write it down on here. And at some point you will probably get on here and read this. And I’m going to just ask you to put my words up on a shelf and ask the Lord if he has something to say to you through this. And I’m just letting it go the moment I write it and leaving it up to you and him.

But this is for the mamas. The mamas who are still childless. The mamas who long for another child but can’t. The mamas who are single and don’t know when they will marry, if ever. The mamas who want another but whose spouses don’t. The mamas who have had and lost. The mamas who want to adopt. The mamas who hurt for hurting children in the world. All the mamas really.

I’m in a Bible study with two dear friends and we were going through some passages in Isaiah. The passage I am about to mention wasn’t in our study but my eyes floated over to it and I couldn’t escape its content. That was over three weeks ago. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it though, and the Spirit only seems to add more to my reading of that word.

Isaiah 54
“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,’ says the Lord. ‘Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities. Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the same of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.”

I know that this passage has content for the people it was originally intended for. It also has content for us today, because the Word of God is alive and active, making wise the simple. When I read this, some of you came to mind immediately.

What I heard him say first is that you are already mamas. You may not physically be holding a child in your arms…but you are a mama. You are a mama when God puts that calling on you. And he did this before the creation of the world. In Ephesians 2 it says that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which he prepared beforehand, that we may walk in them. I remember when I realized I was a mama. And it was about two years before the world would say I became one. The Lord had moved my spirit to start praying about motherhood, because until then my inclinations were weak and indifferent. Through a year of writing and observing he grew the heart in me that he intended to be in me and it was a mama’s heart – years before the existence of Kanah and Grace.

Also I felt that the Spirit in me specifically noted that there is some work he intends to be done for mamas (“to be”). Rejoicing and preparation. I don’t have much to say about the rejoicing and breaking into song and all that – but lo and behold, that is what it says. Even though this passage is obviously comforting a woman in pain.

When I read the verse about enlarging your tent, stretching out your curtains, and strengthening your stakes, first it reminded me of deepening your marriage. Having children has been the toughest thing hands down on me and Jason. Because I am literally wiped. We are giving our lives away daily to these little babies. It’s our joy…but it’s our all. And because I am human, I am weak and depleted without Jesus’ continual renewal.

But mainly when I read these particular verses the Lord was talking to my heart about mamas looking around with the mama eyes and mama hearts that they have now to see the world as a mother. How would the Lord use you as a mama now? Who do you see? Who is in front of you that he is saying, go and use that heart. Go and love that little one. Go and write letters on behalf of those abused. Go and disciple those teens. Go and intercede for those lost ones. What children might he put on your heart? What social issue might he have you use that heart for now? What neighbors will you embrace? What orphans, and there are many (18,000 here in WA alone) will you love on and even foster?

When Jason and I were trying for another baby after our miscarriage, I felt like it was this lone waiting room. I am convinced now that though you are waiting for something you expect and long for, you are present in heart for something else now. Because the mama heart is there. It exists. It is truely not just a waiting room. Things are happening in that room. And that heart longs to be used to love someone. I am sure that is why it was so painful sometimes. Because that mama heart was bursting to wrap around a child.

And I do not understand the mind of the Lord, yet I humbly wonder if maybe the Lord wakes up our "mama heart" seemingly prematurely sometimes because he intends to use that loving burden now for children who not in our womb.

I saw a heart-wrenching story on Dateline the other night with Jason. We never ever watch live TV. We completely just happened upon this story on the sex trade of little girls in Cambodia. Horrific. Mothers would sell their daughters into the sex trade as slaves so as to “survive.” We saw little girls as young as eight, and some perhaps younger, telling the undercover reporters “One girl 30 dollars. Two girls 60 dollars.” Out of the mouths of skinny little eight year old girls.

Jason and I were teary the entire story. We had not intended to watch this. But we had to. I tend to be rather impulsive and wild-haired and by the time it was over I was ready to both kill some people and also sell our house and send all of our money away to Cambodia. Not to mention I was ready to adopt ten daughters. I am realizing that when I get impassioned about something I need to sit on it a while to see if it passes. If it passes, it was me getting carried away with emotion but I didn’t really get burdened. If it stays, it is from the Lord for me to pursue, because his love for people and his concern for him is not like the shifting shadows (James 1). It remains.

After watching this I also began to wonder if sometimes the Lord withholds "blood" children from certain women of God so that he can enlarge our hearts for many other children who desperately need love. This makes since to me since we are the hands and feet of Christ and sometimes we cannot look outside ourselves and our own plans unless the Lord takes away our idols and our loves. Then he can give us a new heart we didn’t know we could have.

Even already having children the Lord is using this passage to speak to me too. Some children I know who have mamas and daddies, but not good ones, are under the curtain of my tent. Some children who are “grown” but are younger than me and I have a heart for are under the curtain of my tent. One child who has no mother or father and who suffers from mental disease sits under the curtain of my tent. A boy in the Philippines rests under the curtain of my tent. Some children I know who do not have believing parents are cared for under the curtain of my tent.

And Jason and I believe the Lord is asking us again to enlarge the place of our tents, to lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes. We believe we are being called to adopt. We have decided to just begin to listen and observe the Lord’s work in our hearts as he speaks to us through his Word, his Spirit, friends, strangers, our church, and individual conversations. We are excited to meet this child one day. And we are already his/her parents in our hearts.

Seek the Lord. Ask him if this passage has a word for you. If it does:

Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Birthday Bust

(This is my version of what Jason's birthday was like this year - he also did a write up, so check out his blog)

I’m not great at planning fun things for Jason. But this birthday, his 33rd, we had something great planned. He had casually mentioned that our favorite musician, Pierce Pettis, was playing at a festival on Orcas Island. So I was like, of course we have to go, so I started planning and making it happen. We were going to leave around 4:30 and head up to the ferry terminal in Anacortes, which we guessed would take an hour. The ferry left at 5:30 and then 6:50, so we figured that would leave us time to catch one or the other. The ride to Orcas on the ferry was one hour and then a 30-ish minute drive to the site of the festival on the island. Pierce Pettis (seriously, look him up, he is amazing) was going to start playing at 9:00 and after an hour or two of musical bliss to our ears, we planned to camp on the festival grounds and then return on an early morning ferry. How romantic and fun, right?

Well. Have you ever seen those signs people put up on their car windows that say “Florida or bust!” Well, not just Florida - you get the picture. Well, obviously those people always get to the destination. You never assume that the “bust” part of the sign is a possibility. Well for us it was “Pierce or bust!” and, well, it was a bust.

So the deal is that it took two hours to get to the ferry terminal, not one, and add in the traffic and our stop for a quick bite at Qdoba, and you can see how this turned into a “bust” nightmare. We went flying up to the ferry terminal line, thrilled to see that the ferry had not yet arrived because we had gotten there at like 6:48. We waited for four cars in front of us to pay and with high hopes pulled up and declared ourselves with cash to be passengers on the 6:50.

“It’s full. Would you like to wait for the 9:00?”

It didn’t sink in the first time as we made our u-turn with cash still in hand. So we drove back through a second time to kind of beg and I guess just double check we hadn’t made that disaster up in our minds. Yep, same news twice. So…I guess there’s no Pierce, no camping, and really no birthday. No way.

I actually cannot think of a birthday bust like this in either of our lives. I felt so bad for Jason. And we were both just literally stunned and depressed. I mean, if the plans had been to go to a certain restaurant and it was randomly closed and we had to go to another one, I would not be writing this blog – promise. It’s just that out of thirty three goes at it, this was literally the best birthday plans he had ever had, ever. So…all the more reason to be completely, sickeningly depressed.

So needless to say the first five minutes driving away were totally sucky. I was doing my complete nurturer thing, trying to come up with a brilliant plan “b”. Like maybe hang out in the cool town where the terminal was – Anacortes, because it’s kind of cute and I thought we could find a place to get dessert on the marina – or something. But nothing sounded brilliant to Jason. He just wanted to drive home. After about ten minutes of depression he was able to let me joke around with him about what else we could do (though he was still set on driving the two hours back). My two best ideas were:

Midnight raspberry picking at midnight with flashlights
Hit a casino

Later on I told him I was joking about one of them. He thought I was joking about the raspberries, which made me laugh really hard b/c I was actually completely not serious about the casino. J

Thankfully, unbelievably, our rotten moods took us into a long, hilarious, ridiculous rant on our most disappointing moments in all of life…which ended up being a lot of fun especially because I took it all the way back to high school. We must have taken a hundred dives off the deep end, topping each dive with more sadness and disappointment and…laughter. At one point Jason was like, maybe you are going overboard and I quickly was like, Hey – Let me be depressed!! I GET to be depressed with you right now!!! ;). I was having fun with it and actually it ended up turning our day around…by about three degrees.

I love you baby. Let’s have a do over.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What to order, what to order

So it turns out that it’s really hard to be on a diet. My diet isn’t even hard core. It is to eat generally healthy foods, stay away from coke, workout three times a week, and I can cheat when I get desperate (as long as I don’t get desperate everyday, which seems to be the tendency). This sounds like a lenient plan to some diet professionals. I know, right?

But it’s like my body is afraid to starve and I sort of go into gorge mode, thinking if I don’t eat right now when I’m hungry, I will never get to eat. And eating in that moment, whatever is conveniently in front of me, is all I can focus on. The only thing that has saved me a few times this week was my previously sliced bell peppers and handy, yummy chef salad ingredients.

And oddly enough out of all the things that are difficult about being on a diet, you wouldn’t think that beverages would be up there on the temptation scale, would you? But yes, coke and coffee drinks have been two of my biggest desperations this week. What totally sank me was when Jason came home with a 24 pack of bottled cokes. Bottled. Canned is a nice temptation but bottled…you might as well throw five pounds on the scale, throw in some snickers for that perfect flavor companion, and scratch the word diet out of my life. It’s all over. I mean, he did it to be sweet b/c a few weeks ago I had asked if we could have them at my birthday party and he had sort of forgotten, so he was trying to make up for it. But he didn’t know I was on a diet, probably because I randomly, impulsively decided I was sick of my general laziness about health, my current body physique and the comments I was getting on it, so I probably hadn’t even mentioned it to him yet.

Tonight we were at Red Robin. (Need I write more?) I was rather proud of myself for quickly, decisively ordering an ice water. I usually get a cherry coke. Jason asked if we wanted an appetizer, eyeing the onion ring tower at the table next to us. It did look good. All I wanted now was an onion ring tower. Why couldn’t I just have my onion ring tower??!! Finally, keeping my food sanity, I reminded him, No babe I can’t eat onion that onion ring tower of goodness. I am on a diet. Ah. Success. And then in a perfect follow up move, I ordered the fajita fiesta pollo salad. It was actually very healthy and vegetable-y and yummy. But all through dinner the smell of Jason’s French fries wafted through the air and I ended up eating about four. And let’s be honest, of course I dipped them in the ranch and also the honey poppy seed dressings. Oh me. Well at least it’s not as bad as me ordering a burger with fries there like I normally do. This was definitely a diet dinner for Kelly, not for real dieters – I am aware, but I am glad I stuck with my game-plan.

Last night as I was finishing up cooking dinner, (which, incidentally, was stuffed green peppers) I burned myself a little on a hot dish. It actually didn’t really hurt, but the shock of the heat sent me bursting into tears. I stared at Jason across the room and kind of laughed between sobs. He thought I had really burned myself. I hadn’t. I had just gone kind of crazy and that burn was the moment I let the crazed feelings let loose. I realize that a lot of my issue with food is that I am carrying around a bunch of anxiety. And I’ve got to just take captive this wild impulsive desperations to eat snacks that say they will make me feel better. And these wild thoughts that convince me if I don’t eat those cheese-it’s (or whatever) then I won’t eat for three days. So I know this involves the Lord, who loves me, and is kind of pointing out ever so gently – Hey Kel, let me teach you about self-control because I’ve got that down.

So that’s the deal with the first three days of my diet. I don’t exactly cruise into new challenges all chill. I feel like I made this decision to go on a quote diet and as soon as I stepped out onto that shaky ground I just started flailing and freaking out and clamoring for the sidelines. I just need to chill out. Get some self control from the Spirit. And eat some healthy treats. Who knows, I might start to crave them. And I might start to scrunch my nose at French fries (highly unlikely). And maybe one day down the road, the way I am choosing to eat now won’t even be called “me on a diet” anymore…it will just be…me eating :).

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I hope to become a writer. I guess maybe I already am. I just get nervous making that claim. For sure one of the reasons I hesitate is because I am pretty plain in word and thought apart from observing what is going on around me. What I mean to say is that I write only because I watch life go on about me and then my mind gets moving the Spirit starts pointing things out and soon I am moved to go write something down because something has come together for me.

Just today I was putting my daughter Kanah down for a nap. She goes down for a nap with her bottle in a dark room. As I was holding her I fell into a daydream until I felt her suddenly get heavier in my arms. I looked down at her and could tell she was sound asleep. I couldn’t help but wonder if God felt that about me sometimes. I allow him to carry me but I still hold back my full weight, kind of like if someone were to carry me on their back, I wouldn’t want to hurt them so I feel like I’d be tense so as to not be dead weight on them. So I wonder when he carries us through life if he’s just rocking us, waiting for us to fall into that place of dead weight on him. He wants us to fall fully on him, as heavy as we and our hearts really are and to not hold back some of the weight for us to manage.

See now that happened just today. I learned so much from her just falling asleep on me. And I didn’t come up with that little word picture. My daughter just did it. And I just experienced it and watched it with an eye opened and so I saw something there to cling to. Without the provocation of daily life like this story and of the Holy Spirit who unveils our thoughts, I am afraid my mind is a little dull. I am just a Plain Jane.

This both alarmed me while simultaneously putting me at ease. Because you see when you are a writer writer you have to do these things that you kind of don’t want to have to do to market yourself to the public, whom you fain to desire the approval of and yet also despise because you feel you must perform. So this realization made me feel like even if I got the honor of being a writer writer one day, I would be put up on a stage to do my dog and pony, only to squint blankly into a disappointed audience.

Yet it did put me at ease too. Because all I can do is be where I am and be who I am. And that’s it. If a picture, a word, a story is unveiled to me, I must pull off the veil to show others. If nothing is unveiled, I must wait. I must not pretend there is something there. And in this, there is ease. The yoke is easy. The burden is light.

So in all of this I feel I may have come up with a name for the writing group that my friend Jessi and I would like to start. “Unveiled.” I called her today with this unveiling of sorts. I suggested the name, I downplayed it, I took it back, I said we could scrap it. But really I think this is the name. I believe that we can only write and understand and feel inspired because life is unveiled to us. And as Corinthians says, this is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Lord remove the veil. And let us write about what is revealed to us even as the train is just lifted.