Autumn Mirror

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18 and 19 years old

I can remember when I was in middle school, I looked forward to being 18. I would drive an older used car with the windows down, wear my keys on my wrist on one of those stretchy phone cord type bands. I’d work a small-town job and listen to semi-trendy music. I’d find out exactly who I was as high school ended and I transitioned to college.

 
Then, at 18, 22 was going to the be the perfect age, and I knew exactly what it looked like, too.I’d be past all legal milestones and free to do whatever I wanted to do. I’d be shedding the wildflower spirit and becoming much more refined in my tastes and ideas. I’d be finishing college and setting into a career.
 
At 22, it was 30. 30 would be it. We’d have 2 kids by then, our dream home, solid careers and watching TV on the couch while we talked about what new home renovation we were going to conquer next. We’d have a solid emergency fund and be making Dave Ramsey proud of our amazing budgeting and management skills. This. Was. The golden era. 
 
At 18, I drove a Chevy S-10, with indeed no AC so the windows had to be down. I worked at Hibbett’s, and my music choices have never been quite on par with current culture. I had no idea who I really was and spent a lot of time trying to sort that all out. I have no idea how I carried my keys, but it wasn’t on the stretchy band thing. I was a wildflower. 
 
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At 22, I’d been married 3 years. C was deploying/deployed/returning from deployment, and my wildflower spirit hadn’t really gone anywhere. I was probably more organized in my early 20s than I’d ever been…and ever have been since. I’d drop out of college at 50 hours, be working in radio and get to a drastically dark point in my life where things came to a very sharp fork for me. Refined and settled were definitely not the best adjectives for my state. I was still a wildflower. 

 
At 30, and in my early 30s, we’ve been through more than I could have imagined at 22. Between the transitions, moves, children, losses of babies, and broken dreams… it just wasn’t what I could have seen coming. However, by 30, we’d turned our marriage and lives over to Christ and been placed in a much better place than even my HGTV-centered plans could have predicted. We do talk about our next projects while we cuddle on the couch… but we are definitely not Dave Ramsey’s star students. I held my breath, turned around and fell backwards as I returned to college, putting a huge strain on our budget. My 22 year old self would not be proud of my bookkeeping. I can see her shaking her head and saying, “Just… let me do it.” I am still a wildflower. 
 
Today I caught myself thinking about next year. It’s funny how much shorter my forward thinking has come. Just a couple of months now, instead of years at a time. I’m at another edge of things.
People are leaving my life, new ones are coming in, school is almost over, I’ve accomplished what I set out to do in developing a community for law enforcement and seeing legislation passed to their benefit, met some cool people, met some less than cool people, met some cool people I thought would be there forever and aren’t in my corner now, met a few that I thought I couldn’t level with who are a big part of me, made goals, dropped goals, etc.
As 2019 creeps near, I feel like I’m staring at a blank page. 
School is about to be over,  I’m starting a new job in a career field I’ve never dipped into and I’m scrambling again on the inside.  With so much of the old falling away, I feel like I’m in my autumn. Waiting on spring to see exactly what flowers. I feel myself needing so much less of the outside and ready to become much more introspective. I’ve never been spot on in my predictions but, looking back, I’ve never been radically off, either.  
So, here’s to letting go of the opinions of others because they’re rarely based on anything more than a broken mirror of self-judgment, having the confidence in myself to continue using this newfound roar to benefit those I care about most and paving new paths to becoming who God wants me to be.
She looks a little quieter on the inside, a lot more at peace, let’s people and things go as easily as she lets them in and ready to face the unknown with the confidence that only comes from being a strong child of God.
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Prayer for My Tiniest Warrior

Lord Jesus,

Precious, heavenly Savior- you are Holy. You are loving and also just. I know, in your infinite wisdom, You do all things according to your plan for good and I know You love me. None of these are debatable. I know that I struggle with living in a state of thankfulness, but I am definitely thankful that you love me with my flaws.

Lord, you know what my battles have been with my children. You know you have two with you now that I miss so very much. My heart still breaks each time I think about things like the upcoming Christmas season and the magic we’d be preparing…

My first child, Lord, is humble(ish), resilient, loving and kind. He’s empathetic. He is cautious. He loves bigger than what’s safe for his heart sometimes, and he sought You out early. He is incredibly bright and is always excited when he knows he’s lived in a way that reflects You. He is full of snuggles and creativity. He is a good boy.

But, Lord… this second child.

Somewhere in the 7-8 years between them, You said You had a plan. I’m not sure why this plan involved aging me 20 years in 1, but it’s here and it’s happening. Lord, this child is beautiful- but mostly so when she’s asleep. You saw a moment ago when she somehow managed to climb onto the couch and try to go headfirst over the back in a split second. You know she already has a matching scar to mine because she dove into the leg of a futon bed at Big Lots. You know she will eat anything she finds without discrimination. There are not enough child safety locks at Walmart, and it wouldn’t matter. She’ll bypass those, too.

You know she is constantly tearing down, destroying, running, hiding things, destroying the house to the point that if we were robbed- they’d leave thinking someone had already been here. Lord this child. This child is strong willed, independent, strong and braaaaaaave. She is not the cautious kind like my first. She is, too, incredibly bright- but she doesn’t use her powers for good. OH NO. She is plotting, Lord. I think she lays in bed and wonders exactly what she will wake up to rampage next. This girl does not snuggle.

She is the size of a 3 year old, with the same strength and speed. However, her mind is still just 1 and she is able to actually do the things most children only think about doing.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say you gave me both my babies back in one chaotic, red-headed whirlwind of destruction and vengeance.

Lord I pray you channel this child’s energy, will, intelligence and determination into good or else we are ALL in trouble. She is going to hijack one of the horses in Revelation and ride on. She is, without a doubt, waiting her time to do things her way… but I pray she instead chooses to do them YOUR way.

Until then, I stand by with a first aid kit and my anxiety pills. I need you to send lots of angels her way to stand guard. I love them both, but this girl is a handful.

I pray someday she will use her strong characteristics to make the change she believes in. THAT I understand, and I can’t wait to see what sort of impact she has on the world. Until then, though, I’m gonna need a lot more peace and patience… maybe also the ability to call her shots right before they happen.

I’m glad one of us knows what they’re doing…and what she’s planning on doing.

I have to go now. As you can see, she is about to start tossing things over the stair railing to see what happens. Send help.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Treasured

I’ve often wondered about Mary’s motherly relationship with Jesus. I think her heart as a mother was one that could never be replicated. Tonight I was reading in Luke, and came across a couple of things I’d never noticed before.
When the shepherds came after Jesus was born, they ran off and told everyone. The Bible says all who heard it were amazed.
But not Mary. Luke 2:19 says something I picked up on tonight that really struck me.
When my kids do something adorable, cool or whatever- I want to tell someone about it. I call my husband, call my mom, post it on Facebook, message a dear friend or two… I just want to be like the shepherds and share that with someone.
But not Mary.
She had just given birth to a literal God-given gift. This child was announced by the angels themselves and her “baby shower” (or what she was afforded) was attended by the heavens. I would think, and I’m no scholar, that the families of those closest to them were probably somewhere close by with the census happening. She could have shouted from the inn rooftops that she was the mother of the coming Messiah… but she didn’t.
Luke 2:19 says Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Quietly, inwardly and with only internal dialogue… she stored all these moments like treasured jewels and internalized them in her heart.
Later, Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel and was no stranger to the Holy Spirit. In fact, he had been told he wouldn’t die until laid eyes on the actual Messiah. So he gets the spiritual prodding to go to the temple courts.
Mary and Joseph, obedient to the custom of the Law, were there to do the required purification rites. He was to be presented to the Lord as the firstborn male, and they had to offer a sacrifice.
There was Simeon, who knew the minute he saw them what he was witnessing. He took Jesus in his arms and praised God. He said, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory of your people Israel.”
Joseph and Mary had already been told who their child was, but they still marveled at what was said about him.  Then Simeon blessed them and said something to Mary that kinda makes me think I’d have been looking around wide-eyed and a little freaked out, if we’re honest. He said, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. AND A SWORD WILL PIERCE YOUR OWN SOUL TOO.”
Like… K… thanks, guy.
Anna the prophet was there, too, since she never left the temple. Literally. Day and night she was there. She’d been married a whole 7 years before her husband died, and then stayed a widow for 84 years. She worshiped all day, every day. She stopped what she was doing and came to speak to Mary and Joseph about Jesus, as well as everyone else.
Mary didn’t walk in and announce it, nor did Joseph. They were just following the Law and custom. It was those who were close to God and had a relationship already with the Holy Spirit (pre-Pentecost), who stopped in their tracks and made the motion to recognize him.
So Jesus turns 12, and they go to the festival of Passover, again as was dictated by custom. It seems they were in a rather large group of family and friends, because they suddenly realize after traveling for a day that he’s not there. I can’t imagine the panic. Not only have you lost your son, but also the son of God for whom you’ve been made responsible. I’m sure it was one of those “I thought he was with you!” moments. So they backtrack, and looked for THREE DAYS (!!) before they finally found him in the temple courts, hanging out with the teachers, asking questions and impressing them with his understanding of this grown up talk.
Mary finally gets a little less introverted and wants to know why he has treated them as such. She says “Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” The Bible ends this with a “.” but I know I would have needed about 8 dozen exclamation points there.
Jesus says, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Which of course made zero sense to them. It notes he then went with them and was obedient to them. I think that, in itself, is an interesting note, too. He didn’t have to be obedient, but he was. He regarded them as his parents and did what they said.
But Luke 2:51 notes again, that Mary treasured all these things in her heart.
If only we could read a memoir of the things she stored away. I love this. I feel like she was sentimental and a loving mama. I have no doubt they raised him with love and with the best of intentions. They probably made some mistakes. It doesn’t say. It just says Jesus was obedient to them. It then says Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. He was a well-liked guy.
From here, the Bible fast-forwards to when Jesus is 30 and begins his ministry.
But I love that the Bible takes time to note these things about his childhood and his relationship with Mary. To be honest, sometimes the phrasing in later stories of dialogue had me wondering about this relationship. She obviously adored him, and there was a tenderness there I’d never seen before today.
I need to focus more on storing these tiny details and stories in my heart, too.

Found

One of my favorite songs right now is “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury.

The chorus is as follows:
“And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah”

Someone who means a lot to me said, “I don’t get that song you like. That line about the ninety-nine.”

That line comes from Matthew 18:12-14, where Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep. He said, “‘What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.'”

As I typed this out, I wondered how to word it so that folks wouldn’t immediately get offended with a “What about me?” reaction. I can’t paraphrase it, though, to be more palatable. I mean, I’m not here to reword the Word, right?

As I thought about this, the parable of the Prodigal Son also was laid on my heart. The older son in that story had a similar reaction. He was with his father the whole time, kept his orders (commandments) and, yet, felt cheated because his father celebrated the return of the younger son with all his best he had to offer. The son confronted the father about it. What gives?

Luke 15:31 says, “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

We aren’t losing out by not wandering away and coming back. The brother who stayed had his reward coming for him in due time, as do those who stay the course. At the same time, those who do and return are a big deal to God. I, myself, was a lost sheep who came home. While I was saved when I was 6, there was a period where I simply lost sight of my identity in Christ. I regret the time I lost in companionship with God, but I am so grateful for what I’ve regained. I am thankful that Christ doesn’t see his sheep as expendable. Rather, we are worth searching for; worth dying for.

Alive again. Found. Redeemed.

It’s never too late to come home. He waits with open arms to celebrate with you, too, and has already laid out the best there was to offer.

Sometimes

Y’all… I believe there is no one that knows my heart who could question my support of my husband and what he does for a living.

But some days… y’all. Some days it gets to me. Today is one such day.

Sometimes seeing my precious little boy miss out on his nighttime hug because someone was driving drunk gets under my skin.

Hearing him ask if he will get to see daddy today, when dinner didn’t happen like we thought it might, and seeing his understanding eyes dim a little when we have to make alternate plans breaks a part of my soul I don’t get back.

(Thank God he is such a champion of a good pb&j)

Knowing that a DUI means daddy will be tied up way past bedtime and not having the heart to tell him “maybe tomorrow,” when you really don’t know what tomorrow is going to look like because this job is so dangerous, can start to chip away at you until there is little left.

And, sometimes, mama just needs a moment of solace, too. Sometimes I need him, but I know he’s not mine right now. He belongs to our community for 10+ hours a day. They’re counting on him to keep them safe.

So, sometimes (like now), I sit and cry on my bed until I can get it together enough tuck little boy in myself. Rationally, I’ll remember that someone else’s family is going to be safer on the road because my husband was there. Selfishly, that moment of enlightenment comes later. Sometimes, if I’m brutally and the ugly kind of honest, I have a hard time reminding myself that people are worth what he sacrifices for them.

It’s only compounded when I read things about him or his department. I have even heard them with my own ears coming from the back of his cruiser.

“(Expletive) pig.”
“(Expletive) racist piece of (expletive).”

Not to mention the threats he bears against himself and his family. Heaven forbid they take responsibility for the fact he’s dealing with them, right?

I just sit and pray that God reaches these same people before they run out of chances. If they only knew how he’s fed the hungry, put himself in harm’s way and spent hard nights wondering about those he’s come across. I can’t explain to them why they’re wrong. It doesn’t matter.

Sometimes seeing all the Saturday group dinners and date night posts makes me want to throw my phone violently against a wall because it’s only our Tuesday.

So, now I’ll wait for “10-7, signal 1” and breathe easily knowing that he’s mine for a minute. Then he will sleep until it’s nearly time for “10-8,” and we will do it all again.

I am so proud of all he does, but some days are harder than others. God bless every police wife who understands.

Hold on

If I could tell myself anything a year ago today, it would be to hold on.

Today marks the day we discovered a heartbeat after I miscarried at home. It was the most hopeful day of my life after the worst of storms the night before. We wouldn’t meet that sweet baby either, whom we named Samuel, but I wish I’d known what a beautiful rainbow was on the way. God is good. Even if we hadn’t been given P, who is currently rolling and kicking to remind me she’s there, He is good!! He offers hope and grace, while I certainly deserve neither.

Rainbow

priscilla 20w spanddand.png

I haven’t written since last August, and there has been so much happening.  Notably, this…

In January, I found I was still not myself after the miscarriages. I wasn’t feeling back “on board” with life. The holidays were terrible, and I just couldn’t get my footing.  I went to the doctor in hopes of getting help with my anxiety, and was reminded instead of God’s great sense of humor.

“We didn’t even have to wait 3 minutes. You’re pregnant!!”

And so I was.  The first 8 weeks, especially, were almost too much. I was so full of anxiety that the joy of what was happening escaped me. I felt like I was holding my breath the entire time.

Now we are at 20 weeks. Halfway through and rolling along. So far, Priscilla (the baby) is doing wonderfully.  I am still on edge, to the point that when the doctor calls or texts, it usually starts with “DON’T PANIC.” They’ve been very patient with my quirks, but they’ve understood the battles we’ve faced as well.

Thank you, God, for your many blessings. Looking forward to getting to know our precious little girl.

Be still.

I realized today while listening to KLOVE how beneficial it’s been to be still, and let God sort out many things over the past few weeks. What I have wanted to speak out against, pursue legally and vindicate openly, I’ve instead prayed about incessantly. I’ve not been perfect at it (I really haven’t been all that good at it), but I’ve definitely been better than I instinctively wanted to be. I think, much like anything else spiritual, it’s a matter of practice and discipline.

I find so much relevance in my life within the context of Exodus, oddly.

Waiting, wandering, whining (let’s be honest)… but also receiving, resting and realizing His intentions.

I liked this quote (https://www.gotquestions.org/God-fights-our-battles.html):

“God wanted to make it crystal clear to Egypt that He is LORD so that He got the glory over Pharaoh (Exodus 14:4). And because God wanted to teach Israel that He is their Deliverer (Exodus 6:6) and their Salvation (Exodus 14:13). They were incapable of escaping the situation on their own—they needed only to wait for God to move on their behalf (cf. Psalm 27:14). The battle that appeared to be between the Egyptians and the Israelites was in reality between the Egyptians and the Lord (Exodus 14:4).”

Much like the Israelites, sometimes it isn’t a battle between you and someone else. Sometimes it’s between them and God, and my getting in the middle just adds more complications.

To be honest, “being still” has almost felt like more work than doing it my way. It has been really, really, really, really hard. I am naturally a feverishly impulsive “do-er” and God wants me to be an incessant “pray-er.” Again, I do not claim to have gotten an A+ this go around. I’ve still shown my feathers a bit, and it’s not even completely over.

I’ve studied about the promises of the Bible. Which ones were made to me, and which ones were made in context of certain circumstances, and here’s what I know…

God doesn’t change. Not today, not yesterday. He isn’t going to change tomorrow and won’t change after I’m gone. He is the I Am.

The promise of Exodus 14:14 is a promise I can secure myself in today, just like when Moses declared it to the children of Israel, standing at the edge of the Red Sea.

17

I’m the only one who realizes this should have been 17 weeks.

One of you, we’d have been excited to know, was a boy. The other we’ll never know. Instead there is just nothing, and no one else may have kept count- but I have. I love you, and I’ll see you someday. I am saving up the biggest hugs for you two.

I would do anything to make this pain go away, I’m so sorry there wasn’t more I could do. I’m just so sorry.

Results

He was a boy, and we will never know what happened because he was perfectly healthy genetically. The doctor said there was nothing I did, or could have done.

God knows His plans, and now we can try to start healing.

It’s just one of those times I have to rest in knowing He is good, and everything He does is good.

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