To Those Who Want To Be A Mom

To Those Who Want To Be A Mom

To those who want to be a mom:

Me too.

As a little girl, I would day dream about what it would be like to have a family of my own. Each night in bed, I’d pray and ask God for that family with a desperate urging. Many times I’d fall asleep as tears trickled down my cheek. The whispered pleas silenced momentarily.

Much of my childhood was a war zone. Survival was the goal. There was no coddling or even gentleness, but a harshness in the atmosphere. I remembering being told I was loved, but it was hard to reconcile the contradictory actions with the words. In my heart, I knew love looked different than what I was being shown. A love that didn’t include fear or manipulation.

Even in my own lack, I knew that one day I wanted to be the mom that I had desired. I’d be the mom who chose kind words instead of ones laced with poison. I’d be the mom who put the needs of others before my own. I’d protect my children from harm instead of exposing them to it.

I needed a mom. Not in name, but in deed.

Then, at the moment I thought I couldn’t handle one more wound, I experienced a beautiful miracle. I was rescued. God gave me a new home and a new family. It was as if my life had turned from night to day. The dark cloak of fear had been lifted and I felt relief.

It was in that shelter, that I experienced motherly love like I hadn’t experienced before. There was someone looking out for me–from my physical well-being to my spiritual growth. I knew there’d always be someone waiting for me when I got home because she couldn’t sleep until she knew her daughter was home safe.

Being exposed to this depth of love only increased my longing to be a mother someday.

Since then I’ve made it a point to serve the needs of children including running after-school programs, counseling at camps, teaching Sunday school and being the best (and most sassy) aunt in the world. I snuggle babies (and change poopy diapers). I’ll listen intently as Mine Craft is explained to me for the hundredth time. I’m the queen of dress up. I’m a sidewalk chalk artist. And I can swing higher than you (although now it makes me dizzy).

All of that stuff is super fun and extremely fulfilling. I’ll continue doing all of those things as long as I’m alive, but being and doing all of those things does not take away my hearts desire for a child of my own. To be woken up in the middle of the night. To hear the words, “Hi, Mom!” To apply band-aids and kisses to boo-boos. Or to receive handmade cards for Mother’s Day.

I tell you all this so you know that I can relate to your grief. Whether you are childless because of singleness, because of loss or because of infertility my heart is truly full of love for you. I know that doesn’t change things and the desires are still gnawing at your heart. There will still be tears and moments where you look at other people’s children and think, “Why can’t I be a mom?” I know how hard it can be to see another friend posting baby bump pictures and wonder if that will ever be you. I know how frustrating it can be when others complain about sleepless nights when you’d trade a full nights sleep for a baby any day.

I see your pain.

You have not been forgotten or overlooked. For you, the one who longs to be a mom, I grieve with you. I cry with you. I pray with you. And for those with the sought after title of “Mom”, I celebrate with you. You’ve been given a most wonderful treasure.

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Morbid Thoughts on Turning 31

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We are all running out of time. 

My sophomore year in high school I received a call from a childhood friend. I was living in a different state for over a year at this time, but she kept in contact with me fairly frequently to let me know how the gang was doing. This phone call was unlike any I had received up until that point.

One of my closest childhood friends died that morning.

Like many other mornings before, she got into the driver’s seat of her car with her sister in the passenger seat and they headed off to school. Less than a mile from her house, she came up over a hill and slammed into the back end of the bus we used to ride. My friend and her sister died on impact. We were told sun had blinded her vision that morning causing her to not see the bus.

I was devastated.

I still remember endless hours spent playing in her back yard and exploring her brother’s tree house. During the hot summer days, we’d swim in a kiddie pool her parents set up for us. When we wanted to get out of the sun, we’d go inside and watch “The Baby-sitters Club” movie. We giggled as we laid on her ruffled comforter talking about boys, as most little girls do, and would dream of the future and what it held for both of us.

If you would have asked us then, we would have probably told you we had a lifetime ahead of us to accomplish those things– to get married, start a family and complete our bucket lists. Turns out, lifetimes vary in length. 

It’s been 14 years since the accident.

Since then, I’ve lost others. Each one another reminder that I can never be sure how long I’ll have left on this Earth. This week alone we’ve heard of terrorists killing school children in Pakistan, terrorists taking hostages in Australia and our own local news reels reminding us of violent acts committed daily. There are people dying from terminal illnesses that sprung up just months ago after they had lived a fairly healthy life.

It’s all a mess and we’re all dying.

I had that realization 8 years ago standing over the casket of someone I love (still love) very much. I had a choice in that moment– how would I spend the rest of my days? Knowing that we aren’t guaranteed another breath, let alone another tomorrow, how would I choose to live my life? Now with another birthday on the horizon, I am asking myself those same questions.

Last year for my birthday, I wrote about what I would tell myself if I knew then what I know now.

This year, it’s a bit more simple.

Love more.

If this was my last blog post, that’s what I’d want you to know. That after 31 years, it boils down to love and how I want to give more of it away.

I wouldn’t be worried about what I didn’t get to cross off my bucket list– how I hadn’t stepped foot in all 50 states or how I didn’t get to ride in a gondola in Venice. Those things won’t matter in the scheme of things. Sure, they’ll make for great stories in the nursing home and your grandkids will make a fortune writing a book about you.

I’m not concerned about having my name in lights, I’m concerned with bringing Light into people’s lives.

Recently, I came across this quote by C.R. Bittar: “No matter how destroyed she was, she still believed in love.” That’s the type of woman I want to be. That no matter the depth of my brokenness that I would still choose to love. And love extravagantly.

Broken people become bitter people when they stop loving. I don’t want my brokenness to destroy me. I don’t want the circumstances of the day (or of my life) to dictate whether or not I love fully. I never want to second guess it or hold myself back in fear.

Whether I only live 31 years, or die at the seasoned age of 91, I want to be known as a woman who loved and who loved well.

When Holidays hurt.

when holidays hurt

Holidays don’t summon happy memories for some people.

No matter how many happy moments have tried to crowd the painful ones, the painful ones still remain. Sometimes these memories are hidden in the dark corners of our hearts where only a few have been allowed in.

As much as we don’t want our past to effect our present, we struggle to forget. Believe me, we wish we could. We long to forget. Instead, we do our very best to celebrate with those who are celebrating.

But what about grieving with those who grieve?

It’s a toss up, I’ll be honest. It’s not that I want people to be miserable. Hell, I don’t want to be miserable. I want to be celebrating with everyone else– wearing red and green flare, singing Christmas carols and giving off that Holly Jolly vibe. Ok, maybe not that much Christmas spirit.

Instead, I feel like I’m in a hole. I can see the colored lights, hear the singing and smell the homemade cookies, but all around me is dark and lonely.

Lonely.

I’m not lonely because I am alone. In fact, I am not alone at all. I have some of the most amazing family and friends around me. You can’t fix an internal problem externally, though. As much as those closest to me shower me with love, my heart still hurts.

On December 4th, I had given up. I texted my best friend and told her how badly I wished for this dumb holiday to be over already. All I wanted was to get through it in one piece. I was a broken, weepy mess.

As she tends to do (thankfully) my bestie brought it back to Jesus.

“I just want to enjoy Him,” she confessed.

::sigh:: Me too.

It would mean I’d have to turn my eyes from my grief to someone else. Someone much more beautiful than all the pain and hurt.

So, I decided to do something I had never done before. I decided to celebrate Advent.

christmas

Since then, I’ve been reading portions of Scripture that talk about the birth of Christ. The reading isn’t super in-depth, a verse or two in length making it easy to follow through on daily. I made a similar calendar for my best friend, too, so we could share the experience. Just the thought that at any minute she could ask me if I’ve done my reading is enough motivation (…guilt…) to keep me on task.

Confession time….I’m still sad. I’m still hurting. I still feel like I’m in a hole. Some days, it feels unbearable.

What gives, Jesus?! I thought if I did the Christian thing that I’d get my happy shot and be good to go until Christmas. That all of a sudden my frown would be turned upside down and I’d be walking around with a smile plastered across my face. Instead of choking back tears anytime someone asks me “How are you doing?”

Maybe you’re like me and you’re hurting, too. I don’t know your story or the reasons why you’re hurting. I won’t pretend to have any answers. All I can do is tell you what I’ve decided to focus on despite the pain.

His name is Immanuel, which means God WITH us. That simple, but profound truth is the hallmark of my days. The powerful reminder that He is:

With us in the pain.

With us in the tears.

With us in the brokenness. The anger. The grief.

The nights I have fallen asleep with tear stained cheeks, He’s been there.

The days where I can barely respond to a text message asking how I am, He’s been there.

The days when my little girl heart was crushed, He was there.

And He’s there with you too. In all of your loneliness, in all of your unpleasant memories, in all of the questioning He’s there. I know you may not feel Him. I know you may not hear Him. But I pray that you would. That in this holiday season, you would experience Jesus…IMMANUEL…in a deeper, more real way than you ever have before.

My Bleeding Heart: Eight Years Later

my bleeding heart

Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Sometimes scars are left as beautiful reminders of something wonderful you once had.

August 25, 2006

“Holly, the doctors say he won’t make it the next 24 hours.”

“But they’ve said that before……right?”

“Ya.”

I hang up the phone full of faith and determination.

But God said he’d be healed. He can’t die. He won’t die.

A few weeks earlier, I’m sitting at his bedside in the ICU. His clear blue eyes locked on mine, we dream of our future together. I lean my ear close to his lips keeping his whispered words as our secret. My mind etches them in perfectly and my heart feels overcome with a love I’m sure I’ll never deserve. 

I’d always felt like I didn’t deserve him– that a man like him would never love someone like me. This insecurity led to so much wasted time….time I’d now do anything to reimburse. 

Thousands of miles away from that hospital, I lock myself in my room and throw myself down on the blue plush carpet. The tears flow unceasingly all day as I beg and barter with God for his healing. I remind God, as if He needs reminding, of prophetic words that were spoken over him. I make desperate promises. I even offer my life for his. “Just take me instead, God. Please.”

I fall asleep sometime during the early morning hours– my pillow stained with tears, my fingers clutched tightly around the edges. 

August 26, 2006

It’s early. The house is quiet. 

I pick up the phone and call his mom. She answers and I quickly apologize for calling so early, but my heart is frantic and I just need to know everything is ok. That he is ok, but she stops me mid-sentence…

“I’m sorry, Holly, he didn’t make it.”

Standing on my porch doing my best to stay composed, I tell her I’ll make arrangements to fly back and she promises to call in a few hours with the details. The call ends and I walk through the back door where my roommate is staring at me looking for answers, but all I do is collapse onto the floor.

I have no words. No air. Nothing but pain coursing through every inch of my body. She wraps me in her arms and we sit in a pile on the floor. 

A few days later, I sit staring at him in his casket praying he’ll stand up and this nightmare will be over, but he doesn’t. Instead, they close the lid and lower him into the ground. My heart buried with him, six feet below. 

August 26, 2014

Today marks 8 years without him.

2,920 days.

70,080 hours.

4,204,800 seconds.

I’ve counted every second. Every minute. Every day. Those are the moments I’ve lived through– the heartbeats I’ve felt since losing him. Each beat reverberating in my chest reminding me that I remain here. And he is gone. 

Where is the redemption in all of this I’ve repeatedly asked God. What good could possible be found in all of this grief? He hasn’t replied until recently:

You’ve continued to love despite having lost.

That may not seem like much to you, but in all of the sadness, lost dreams and brokenness there’s still this hidden treasure of hope. I love. I love deep and I love strong. I love even when it isn’t returned or reciprocated.

So, I’ll continue to remember. To grieve. To celebrate a life, a love that I was able to embrace for a season. And most importantly, I’ll continue to love.  

 

Don’t Tell Me How to Feel

Don't

If you are going to tell me how I SHOULD be feeling– there’s a good possibility that I’ll want to throat chop you.

Sounds kinda harsh, Holly. Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Got your panties in a twist? Forgot to drink your cup of coffee today?

Want to know what sounds harsh to ME??

Someone thinking they have the right or the God given responsibility to tell another person how they SHOULD feel. The thing about feelings is that they vary from person to person. So, even if two people experience similar situations or circumstances those two people can feel two totally different ways. Most of the time though, I’ve found that the person telling me how I should feel hasn’t experienced the same thing as me, but wants to be helpful.

Let me give you some personal examples:

I’m 30 years old and single. Please don’t tell me that I shouldn’t be sad, discouraged or angry. I don’t care if you’re 80 and still single or have been married since you were 18– there are days I’m going to grieve my singleness. There are going to be days that I feel like I’m going to be single forever. And there are most certainly days when I’m angry about it. Angry at God (as silly and stupid as that may be). Angry at myself for whatever fault I think it is keeping me this way. Or angry at you because you’re NOT single.

Nothing pisses me off more (seriously though) than someone who’s been married forever telling me how I should feel as a single person. It’s like nails on a chalk board annoying.

Another huge area people like to give the should/shouldn’t feeling guidelines in is grief. I lost someone very dear to my heart 7 years ago. Each day has not made that loss any easier.

Not one ounce easier.

In fact, some days it is harder. Much, MUCH harder.

“But, Holly, you said it was over 7 years ago. You shouldn’t still be grieving. Get over it.”

Let me give you some insight into grief, if you’ve never lost someone that you loved very much. Time does not make that loss easier because everyday takes you one day farther from the last time you were with them. One day farther from the last time you felt their embrace. One day farther from the sound of their voice on the other end of the phone. It means you’re not able to experience things with them that you were hoping to or celebrate milestones you thought they’d be present for.

I know some of you may be thinking one of the following:

  • She must be exaggerating or misinterpreting what people say.
  • She must be super sensitive.
  • People are right.
  • Holly is bitter. To this one I say, there is a difference between bitterness and passion and this is one of those circumstances where my passion for a topic may come across sounding bitter.

Even if any of the previous statements were true, and they may be, I still don’t think it gives a person a right to tell me how to feel.

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel because feelings are subjective.

It’s OK to feel angry. Being angry is NOT a sin. Don’t believe me? Check out Ephesians 4:26. By the way, Jesus got angry. He got angry at those prostituting the temple and at the Pharisees for their hardened hearts. Being angry, in an of itself, is not a sin.

It’s OK to feel disappointment.

It’s OK to feel sad.

It’s OK to feel excited. Ya, there are even some people who like to rain on other’s parades and tell them they shouldn’t be happy or excited about something because it might not work out like they had hoped.

When we tell someone how they should feel we are shaming them. We are classifying their feelings as illegitimate and that’s got to stop. It’s fine if you don’t understand the feelings or can’t relate to them most of the time, as I’ve stated in my previous blog post (Cliches, Platitudes & Useless Advice), people just want a listening ear. They want to be heard and loved regardless of whatever feelings they may be having.

So, no more “shoulds”, okay? I’m not afraid to use that throat chop, if I need to–just don’t make me. 😉

 

 

 

From the Wreckage

Wreckage

While in the Drive-Thru of my local McD’s I noticed a sign in the window that read: “We will be closed March 15-May 15 due to renovations. Sorry for the inconvenience.” It IS an inconvenience, McDonald’s. Do you expect me to make my own breakfast? Gosh.

It’s been closed a few weeks now, and I drove by it on my way to the grocery store…to get food to make my own breakfast when I noticed something startling. Apparently, when they used the word “renovation” they should have used the words demolish, overhaul, REBUILD. All of those would have been more appropriate than renovate, which makes us think of new paint colors on the wall and an updated Ronald statue in the entrance. Instead, there were some piles of rubble, a few full dumpsters and that was it. Nothing remained of the old building. Nothing.

I’m a simple kid and I keep a simple kind of faith. I pray simple prayers and say simple things like “Jesus, do what you want with my life. I am yours.” That simple, dangerous statement Jesus has taken very seriously much to my surprise.

As I mentioned is my previous post Jesus is interested in doing an overhaul– not just a surface cleaning of my heart. But from where I stand, all I can see, is wreckage. “I asked for this.” I mumble to myself as I look around at the debris…the brokenness. I see Jesus running the bulldozer. His yellow hard hat standing out in a sea of grey. He smiles and gives me a thumbs up. I muster a slight smile as a tear stumbles down my cheek.

Everything is shattered.

Nothing has gone untouched.

I’m often told by those who love me, and who also love Jesus, that this is a GOOD place to be. I’ve taken their word for it because nothing feels GOOD about this. It hurts. And sometimes, I’m very angry about all of it. My prayer life has been more like a steady stream of comment cards in Jesus’ suggestion box. I tell Him how I’d like things done. The timeline I’d like them done in. Oh, and don’t forget the chocolate. He softly reminds me He didn’t ask for my suggestions and He doesn’t need my help. He has sent the chocolate though.

So, what do I do? I go back to the basics. God loves me. God is good. God’s grace is sufficient. God is made perfect in my weakness. God is my provider. God is my healer. God hasn’t abandoned me. Each Truth just enough to swallow in one bite.

I’ll leave you with this excerpt from Brothers McClurg’s song “You shine through”, which has been an encouragement to my soul:

You shine brighter when we’re broken

With our hearts stretched out upon the floor

In our weakness and our failures,

Your light shines beauty to this world

From our broken hearts, we’re crying out

Through the cracks in all of us,

Through the fractures and through the dust,

You shine through, You shine through

In the darkness, you’re the dawn,

Blazing like the morning sun,

You shine through, You shine through.

Jesus, from the wreckage I ask that your glory would shine bright, that your love would flow free and your grace would be in abundance. 

To be known.

It’s been almost 2-weeks since I received the phone call.

The phone call that no one expects, but secretly dreads. The phone call that changes the course of your day, your week, your year. The phone call that leaves you in shock and denial and anger all rolled up into one.

It was a wonderful Friday afternoon spent with my best friend and her daughter. We had been giggling and shopping and enjoying the things that girls (little and not so little) enjoy. We were just sitting down to dinner when I got the previous mentioned phone call.

It was during that phone call that I was told a friend had died unexpectedly. The same friend I had shared dinner with just 3 nights previous. The same friend who had remarked on how he liked my dress that evening and I jokingly retorted that he liked my legs in the dress. The phone call was brief, but packed with emotions and questions like those types of phone calls usually are. The next few days, were full of friends and love and comforting words. We lived in a weird state of flux from tear drenched faces to mouths full of laughter. Each moment a different memory and yet a continual phrase repeated, “We miss him”. Our world seemingly stunned by grief and yet everyone else’s unaffected.

A few short days ago, we stood in a not so short line to offer our condolences to the family of our friend. I’d never met his family before since it had only been a a few months since he entered our lives. His entrance was swift, but cemented instantly. He was easily lovable and a true joy to have around. And he thought I was funny– that’s usually all it takes for me to call someone a friend. Standing before his mom, I struggled to get the words out as I shared how much we loved her son. She wrapped her arms around me and in the midst of her kind words she said something simple and meaningful.

“He told us so much about you!”

Sitting on the hard, wooden pews waiting for the memorial to begin I wondered why that small statement made such an impact on my heart. Then, I realized, it was because I had been KNOWN. He claimed me as a friend.

One of the greatest feelings in the world is to be known. To be claimed. To be recognized.

It’s a wonderful feeling to know your friends and family love you, but how much more intoxicating is the fact that the very Creator of the universe knows me. I am, in a very literal sense, His dream come true. I was His idea. His creation. His handiwork. He not only knows all about me– the fact that I enjoy Starbucks white chocolate mochas, hugs, sarcasm, scarf wearing weather and Jane Austen books, but He knows me intimately. He knows every dream I’ve longed for. Every whispered prayer. Every bitter restrained comment. He’s been there for every heart break. He’s captured everyone of my tears.

He knows me.

There’s nothing more fulfilling than that. To you, I may just be another girl lost in the crowd, but to Him I’m a special treasure and a target of His love.

The person who loves God is the one God knows and cares for. (1 Cor. 8:3)