Sunday, March 29, 2015

hope spoken.

Here's the thing. I am sitting here, music in my ears, kitchen table spread. exhausted and fulfilled.

...but I have no idea where to start. I suppose the best way to do this is let it flow as I type and hope to heavens that it makes sense in the end.

I am at a place in my life, a season, that so many see. I do the same things day in and day out. Sometimes I am a rebel. Sometimes I sit at home and drink coffee and doodle in my planner or bible instead of go to the gym. Sometimes I pay bills when I should be doing laundry. Sometimes I have to take reese to chemo instead of swapping the dishes out. Yet, the point remains that so many of my days are generally repeats of the weeks before. My heart feels anxious, at times. I feel as if I ride the waves  of "too busy to do anything else, so be content" and "there's something more for me. more for us." so often that I don't know if I am just an infinite dreamer or someone who is ahead of her time in God's process - and that I just need to be still.

Since reese was dx, I have learned how necessary it is to live in the moment. I know how fleeting life can seem, but embracing the moment as a blessing and also, at the same time, as... important can sometimes be a struggle. I understand that what I do each day is impactful on my kids, my family. There is beauty all around me, constantly - tears from laughter, tight hugs around the next, messes that just seem to pile up even have some sort of unique spell on me at times - proof that we're just too busy doing other life that I can't put that way right now. Taking the time to open your eyes wide enough to see these things sometimes takes someone else to hold your hand and point. This weekend was filled w lots of hands squeezing mine saying "look. that. that is because you are you." Being pulled into a tight hugged prayer by someone who I'd just met, changes lives. I gripped her sweet neck as tears rolled down my cheek while she prayed for my sweet girl, for my whole family, for me. It just had to happen and those things are not directed by us. They are just God's way of proving that every day, something amazing can happen - even if you're just shopping (talented, funny, wonderful) vendors late at night carrying a coffee cup full of wine (lol).

I also have to remember that things that I blog can hinder or encourage people - yet I always struggled with my future course. I felt as if I should always be doing something more. Sometimes I have these conversations with my friends about what I will do later. I will teach, I will write, I will do nothing. It almost seems as if I am bouncing around towards different goals, or just giving up, but really, it's just that I want to do so much. These speaker sessions brought tears to my eyes as if I had never been told "what you're doing is where you are supposed to be right now" from God before, directly. I walk each day with a happy (enough) heart, but I always thought, even hoped, that I was meant for something more... and maybe I am. But being okay with the day to day feels like a weight was lifted. This platform, though it may be small, that I have on this blog, is filled with so many wonderful friends and readers who lift me up, lift my family up, that I walked away from this wkend being more grateful for them, you, as well. I stayed up late at night with my undoubtably incredible roommate spilling secrets and belly laughing and I remembered how purposeful every second is.

I know I am meant to be my children's mother. This I know for fact. I know that EJ and I are the only two people that can walk hand in hand next to reese and lift her up, protect her, love her the way we do. So many people love and pray for her - and for that we are eternally blessed, but we are meant to be her parents, her lifeline. Her sisters each have a purpose for each other, for us. I spent a lot of the weekend floating between knowing that what was being said was spot on, but undecided on if I already knew it or just was saying it for so long to help me believe it.

But now I know, for certain. This is it. And it's all I need.

A lot of the weekend was spent talking about God's grace. So appropriate for this time in our lives. For this time in my life. Jen Hatmaker said, night one, that grace is not ours to give, its God's. and "thank heavens that we are not the ones to judge who God gives grace to". She went on to say that it is easy to feel unworthy of grace - as if you've messed up too many times, made too many wrong decisions, but luckily the world does not get to decide how far is too far. Jen told us a few things - that one, there's God and there's THE REST OF US. Those are the only two divides. Everyone doesn't get divided into smaller groups based on if you're an insider or outsider in the church, who knows the lingo or reads more bible studies. It doesn't matter the types of choices you made in your life to land you where you are. It doesn't matter whether you are an "outcast" or "socially acceptable" because those are not God's groupings. He has none. We have two jobs - to love God and to love people. 

That seems a lot easier than deciding who is worthy of His love. He answered: everyone. And no one is too far away.

My first speaker session was with someone who I have followed for years - Joy Prouty. To be completely honest, I almost changed my mind at the last moment. I told my roommate that "I already know her story" and that it may be a "waste of my time" to hear the same things that I likely already had read on instagram, her blog...

...I could not have been more wrong.

The word she chose to sum up her session was brokenness. I stared at the signage at the door, before I went it, for a while, questioning whether or not it was for me. But so often I feel broken - in ways that people do and do not understand. It is hard being strong for my family, for others, and sometimes instead of strength, it's just bits of sadness that are stacked upon each other until finally it looks like a mountain instead of a valley. The love from others transform my worry, anxiety, into hope and peace, most of the time, and for that, I feel as if I am luckier than most. Still, I almost feel as if telling her story is an invasion of her privacy - that the 60-75 people that were blessed with her words, her tears, know a secret, but it ends so amazingly - with miracles, with salvation, that it also is something that should be shouted from the rooftops.

The entire weekend, people spoke of God's timing, so perfect each incident - even if it wasn't what they thought they wanted at first. Everyone surrendered to the fact that there is purpose in our days and how they are laid out before us. There were miracles, there were stories so perfectly wrapped up in so much amazing, that they almost seemed unreal, fabricated.  We felt the pain of a new friend as she spoke about her father's untimely death. The story was one that would be thought to end in a valley, but instead, we all just gasped, let out tears as Kristin gave slivers of sunshine in pain - something so necessary, and prayed for continued healing. Not everything can be fixed, not every prayer can be answered as you wish, but finding the blessing in a seemingly hopeless season is what can be the break between forever sadness and actually doing life.

We had small groups every day. Our sweet leader asking us to dig just a little deeper than our comfort level. Hopefully one day, I can be in her place... leading women at hope spoken into a bit of sunshine where there seems as if there is not. I want to be there to listen, to understand. Because I try to. I want to be a rock to those who are at the bottom - I do not in any way feel as if I am at the top, but I do think I know what the journey up and down looks like. But as all journeys, it is my own, only.  That is why I've blogged for so many years, I suppose - in hopes that someone sees light in the story.

Everyone has a story. If I had to use a word for the entire weekend it would be storytelling. Learning from each other, relying on each other, that is what life is about. Wise Jen Hatmaker reminded us that we need to act like family. We are called to love each other despite what we may think one another is doing incorrectly, unchristianly, things that don't deserve that grace that God extends to everyone - we are hear to tell our stories.

We wrapped up the weekend with so much hope. Stephanie wanted us to feel blessed, feel full, and I did. She gave me a new life mantra, almost - Romans 12. Things to remember day to day. Everything was so simple - just love. just... don't, when you feel like you need to do the negative. I walked away feeling as if Stephanie had challenged me until next year - until hope spoken 2016 gave me a new challenge.

I have less than 12 months until I get to hear many more stories. I have less than a year to think on the things that these women have given me to chew on, to dwell on, to write about - and to tell about.

I am speaking as an outsider who yearns to be an insider. I am speaking as an insider who is desperately seeking to be compassionate to all who are not. I am an outcast who is left to question why some think I am not worthy and to question if they are telling the truth.

I am worthy. I am where I am meant to be. This is what life is - and I am blessed to do this life with you. 

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  1. good for you dear Amanda. xo
    prayers and hugs-CarmenZaleski