It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry If I Want To

(Okay…so maybe not quite my birthday…but kinda close!!! And the title for this came after writing the below…)

I’ve felt the urge to write and it’s been awhile. Honestly, I don’t know what I’m to share right now so I’m just going to keep on typing and see where this all leads…

Times have been full. Full of me, actually. And I don’t mean that in a self-centered way but in the most self-loving way (Mark 12:31). At nearly 40 years old, I’m finally discovering who I am which is who I’ve always been…but for me, it’s all new. I’m basically meeting myself in ways I never have before and I’m learning to embrace and love myself like I never have before. It feels pretty weird simply because it’s so different than what I’m used to, but it’s all soooooo good. So good.

It’s a little hard to believe that I started this blog over six years ago and six years ago, life as I knew it was so beyond anything I ever expected. And yet, it still is…and maybe it will always be…or at least until I finally let go of what I’ve expected, of all my expectations.

But that goes without saying what I’m about to share…that about two months ago, Pink’s latest and greatest song came out and it has rocked my world. I’ve listened to it REPEATEDLY since it debuted. Literally, I’ve set it on repeat and it’ll play over and over for hours and I don’t tire of it…because it resonates deep in my soul, it’s my heart’s cry…and it just so happens to be playing right now on repeat…

What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
What about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
What about love? What about trust?
What about us?
Read more: Pink – What About Us Lyrics | MetroLyrics

After about two weeks of repeat, I told my best friends that these words seemed so similar to David’s…the man after God’s own heart. To me, this song is my modern-day Psalm…” The sentiments are all too familiar…

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Psalm 13

I know there’s so much going on in the world. SO MUCH. And honestly, I have always been so wrapped up in everything and everyone else going on around me that I couldn’t see my own needs. And to take it one step further, I felt shame for even having any needs with everything going on around me.

So today, at nearly 40, I have balance like never before. I grieve…I GRIEVE over the world and all that is happening, but it doesn’t consume me like it used to. But also, like never before, I feel all of my own grief…yes, dammit, I’ve had so many expectations of what I expected at this point in my life…and I know they’re all healthy, good desires…namely, for love, for intimacy…for marriage. And it just hasn’t happened. And I don’t know why, but there’s something about turning 40 in about 3 months that presses on me in a way that I have to fess up to so I can let go and be free. Again, Pink’s words couldn’t be further from my own truth…

I don’t want control, I want to let go
Are you ready? I’ll be ready
‘Cause now it’s time to let them know we are ready
What about us?
Read more: Pink – What About Us Lyrics | MetroLyrics

And by the way, I thought I was excited about this upcoming birthday until just a week ago when I found myself a weepy mess in a conversation with my best friend. I realized how fearful I was of how I could feel it [40] just coming for me and how I had now way to stop it.

So I write because, yes, I know there are big problems in the world and, yes, if there is one thing I am sure of it is that Jesus is my everything.

But then, there’s my humanity. There’s my need for affection and intimacy and sharing this life with someone in a way that is different than the most intimate relationships I have…and let me tell you, I have THE BEST FRIENDS in the world. Truly, THE BEST…the deepest of friendships I could ever ask for and I’m holding on to them for dear life now and forevermore.

And having been single for 15 years, I’ve heard it all…about God’s timing (which I’m well aware of and agree with) and that maybe it’s not God’s plan for me (which I don’t believe and will not come to agree with). I’m also not seeking pity. I guess I just want to lament like David did…and I’m pretty sure God’s absolutely comfortable with this.

In so many ways, personally…and globally, the world doesn’t make sense to me. But I’ve also learned I don’t need all the answers…I don’t need it to make sense.

So I’m not seeking answers but just to be…to be heard in my confusion and grief in all things.

Because the good news is, this no longer consumes me. While I’ve learned that these emotions will be there whether or not I choose to acknowledge them, I’ve found that when I actually feel them and face them, then I am set free.

Free to feel hope, hope that is genuine. And to express gratitude with the same authenticity…to experience true joy is everything.

David cried out his grievances, but he also expressed his hope…

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.
Psalm 13

At the end of the day, I too, practice gratitude. I am SO GRATEFUL. So effing grateful. Just a few things that immediately come to mind:

  1. My health
  2. My family
  3. My inner circle…that I’ve waited so long for
  4. My large circle…full of people from all over the world and I’m pretty sure I’m likely to encounter someone I know wherever I go in the greater Phoenix area…and none of this is taken for granted
  5. Doing whatever I basically feel like doing outside the hours of 8-5 M-F
  6. Wine
  7. Potato chips
  8. Chocolate
  9. Saguaros
  10. Sunrises and sunsets
  11. Warm Hugs
  12. Experiencing new places/cultures and the people I get to meet through these experiences
  13. Hiking, yoga and all kinds of physical movement
  14. Deep connections with strangers
  15. Love
  16. Peace
  17. Self-compassion and care
  18. Laughter
  19. Work I enjoy with people who are like family
  20. SO MANY PEOPLE I LOVE AND AM DEEPLY LOVED BY
  21. Everything…just everything

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So there you have it. Me at 39. In practicing gratitude, I know that everything around me changes. And when I couple that with acceptance, I may have just found the secret to the good life.

After all, Jesus didn’t say it would be easy…

32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
John 16

Take heart and hope, friends. I’m becoming convinced that the Hope of the world is counting on us to change our way of thinking so that we can be the Hope of the world and the change that we all seek.

xoxo

Holy Ground…it’s all around.

Here we go…I write because I know no better way to fully process and record my life and everything that is going on in it.

It’s ongoing and it’s beautiful and there has been oh so much since the last time I wrote.

Life hasn’t been the same without Olaf, and it never will be…but I’m grateful for memories and all his saved photos in my phone, which I often return to.

Plus, the last video I captured of him.

This was holy ground.

And I continue to learn that all ground is holy. There is no divide between the sacred and the secular, like I once believed.

Jesus is living in me…breathing the very breath I breathe so nothing is ordinary. It’s all magnificent and extraordinary.

Case in point: Coldplay concert. Soldier Field – Chicago. Reunion with a beautiful friend I made and hadn’t seen since four years ago in Pemba, Mozambique.

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Sometimes, you just have to follow your heart and the need for adventure and trust your Good Father’s provision when you splurge on a flight for less than 48 hours in another place.

Because every penny spent proves to be worth its weight in gold when you find yourself in one of the most worshipful experiences you’ve ever had as you’re jumping up and down in the pouring rain while Coldplay sings, “A Sky Full of Stars.”

With every sense awakened, you find that your only response is, “YEEEEEEES, LOOOORD.”

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Not to mention the words that your precious friend places on the experience that you found so hard to articulate but when she says it it resonates deep in your bones…”Don’t you get the sense that that is just like what heaven will be like?”

Me: “Ummm…yes, that is exactly what heaven will be like!”

But also, heaven experienced now…the Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

This was holy ground.

Or there is the instance that you are connected with the most beautiful soul who starts to spend time with you and listen to your meandering thoughts with all compassion and love and reflects back to you what your heart already knows deep within, but your mind and body need reminded of.

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So because she is truly hearing and seeing your heart, she suggests, “you should check out this thing I recently watched on YouTube…about a hummingbird…because you’re a hummingbird.”

So you go home and watch that thing, with tears streaming down your face because for so long you have been searching for this one thing, but you can finally let go of that thing, and embrace everything…because you know you are a hummingbird and this is your journey…

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This was holy ground.

And then there is the date at 38 you asked for. It’s been 6 years since you’ve had one…you truly want to be married, but you lower the stakes and say, “I’ll take a date, God. If you could just bring that my way, I’d be so happy.”

So you’re six months in and there’s still no prospects and you can’t bring yourself to force it…but in all honesty, you do try the latest and greatest dating apps for all of 2 seconds…

But it’s just not your thing…and suddenly, you connect with a guy in the stairwell you walk up and down for work every day.

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And you’re thrilled when he formally introduces himself when you have your third run-in and hands you his business card, and as you accept it, you say, “we should have coffee sometime!”

Something your best friends have been prodding you to do when the opportunity presents itself but you’ve felt too insecure and old-fashioned…but now, with all fears aside and in full confidence, you follow through!

Sadly, your hopes are a little dashed because this guy is a bit more flakey or something (you’re trying not to judge) than you thought…

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BUUUUT…but!! You got over that hump…you conquered your fear of asking and rejection…and the even deeper insecurity of believing the lie that there is something majorly wrong with you, which explains why you’re still single at 38.

Suddenly, confidence is rising and you’re walking so much taller than ever before.

So much so that you make eye contact with the hottie in a business suit that you would have considered way out of your league and never in a million years even looked his way, but now you do as you walk past him and down the aisle to board your seat on a recent flight. 

There was no wink. No smile. Just eye contact. And that’s huge. That is a win in my book and I’m taking it.

This is holy ground.

So A LOT. A lot has happened. And I haven’t even touched on the leaps and bounds and healing happening in my workplace and in my physical body. I’ll save that for next time. I promise.

For now, I’m taking off my shoes and basking on the holy ground I’m standing on.

With every opportunity, I get to experience His presence with me, in me, and the promise of life lived more free and abundantly.

Nothing is ordinary. Everything is extraordinary.

Nothing simple. Everything sacred.

And this makes life so much worth living on earth as it is in heaven.

“…put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground..” Exodus 3:5

The Tale of Olaf George

There once lived three sisters whose parents decided it was time to call it quits. So they did what they always said they would do and called it an early retirement moving back to the land from which they came…which happened to be a tiny island a 24+ hour trip via plane and boat away.

During this time, the oldest sister lived in NYC, the middle called Phoenix home…and the little was in a small town in Ohio.

Growing up the three sisters had to always rely on each other because Dad’s work would take them all over the place. Transition was the norm and friends would come and go with each move, but they always had each other.

So when their parents left, they decided to do what they only knew to do during big transitions, stick together.

They met up in Ohio, and proceeded on to the long road trip across the country with a shady motel thrown in for good measure along the way.

From the Midwest to the Southwest, they would settle into a beautiful home in sunny Scottsdale.

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A month after buying their humble abode, they did the next natural thing by adding the sweetest addition to their family. They adopted a Golden Retriever named Olaf…and based on his curious nature, he was endearingly given the middle name of George.

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Nine months or so later, the big sister would realize Scottsdale wasn’t a good fit and move on to L.A.

Olaf George would make visits to see her there.

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And go everywhere he could…LGO was his favorite hot spot.

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After seven years, they would sell their cozy home and the two sisters that remained would go separate ways…and Olaf would reside with the middle sister…only for the three to be together again a year later.

And then, the middle sister would move to Colorado with the plan to get settled and come back for Olaf. So as heart-wrenching as the good-bye was, she knew they’d be back together again…

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But instead, a year and a half later, Olaf and the little sister were seeing the middle sister off as she hopped on a plan to move to Japan indefinitely…
IMG_4126So FaceTime became the greatest thing…IMG_4913And on a visit home from afar, Olaf would be the first one ready and waiting to greet the middle sister upon her arrival…IMG_7643What a gift technology was to allow for the middle sister to be a part of moments like this upon returning to Japan…IMG_9274

The middle sister knew Olaf was getting old in age and would pray to not bear the weight of his loss while abroad…and much to her surprise, she returned to the desert.

Nearly four years later and just three months ago, the middle, little and Olaf  were reunited under one roof again…and within two months, Olaf moved on…

Words escape me to fully articulate what a gift Olaf was. I’m so grateful for his presence and love in my life all these years. I’m so grateful for how he became a precious bond between three sisters.

I asked God to let me be alongside him in his final days and they were really good days together…so for this I’m especially grateful.

Yet, loss is hard. I’ve wept more than I can handle. And when I can’t handle it, potato chips, chocolate, and endless scrolling through Facebook and Instagram help me cope.

I know there is so much grace in the grief.

I also know that the loss is causing unresolved grief to surface, and the emptiness felt is also attaching itself to other things, namely my singleness.

But it’s all good because it’s all part of the process. And I’m in it wholeheartedly like never before.

Last night, I spent four hours and a few glasses of wine in a most beautiful conversation with my best friend chatting about everything under the sun in our crazy, wild, beautiful and painful lives as we know them.

I pleaded with Jesus on behalf of her, and she pleaded for me…with full hearts, we expressed our gratitude and with the same breath, our confusion…

When life is not your own, it’s beautiful but it can definitely be confusing. And I’m learning more and more to be good with that…I don’t want it all figured out…

His ways are so much higher. I mean seriously, who am I to know the ways of the Creator of the Universe?

And while I may not understand His ways and strive to stop trying to…I know His Heart and it is good. It’s so so good. 

In my confusion, He meets me and covers me with His Love. I know that without a shadow of doubt because I experience it over and over and over again.

His Love is everything to me.

For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them. Isaiah 61:7

 

 

 

 

Knight in Shining Armor

Nearly five years ago, he arrived on the scene. And not too early, nor too late, but just in time. He saved the day, helping me navigate the decisions that had to be made and rescuing me from the mess I was in.

I first met his wife while we were both volunteering in the nursery at church and I knew from the moment that I met her that her love was pure and limitless.

So, as a couple, that made for a whole lot of that love.

God totally brought us together in His perfect timing and this precious couple became a steady, loving presence in my life.

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Man, I love how God works. How He intersects our lives just when they need to cross. And I truly don’t know what I would have done over the last five years without them.

I even call them Grandpa and Grandma. What an honor and privilege that went beyond the title. They filled this role in my life, but more importantly, my heart, where there was a definite void.

He is so faithful to fulfill our every need.

And in a land far from home, I received an email yesterday morning with the news that Grandpa is no longer with us.

He went home. He is with Jesus.

As I mourn this loss, it uncovers the depths of my gratitude for Grandpa. I learned so much about God’s grace through his heart. He poured out his love and concern over me in a way that had me constantly wondering what I did to deserve it and also trying to figure out how on earth I could pay him back time and time again…

But grace doesn’t expect anything in return, nor did he. Grace simply gives… and gives… and never stops… because that’s what grace does. Grace doesn’t know anything else.

And Grandpa knew no other way.

He was my knight in shining armor. The grace he came armed with rescued me. And from that point on, my heart was never the same. I will forever be grateful for the love he expressed to me in countless ways on this side of heaven.

And I’m grateful that Grace always rescue me.

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So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. -2 Corinthians 5:6-8