Mom I’m Pregnant – Guest Post over on the MudRoom blog!

“I had rehearsed the moment a hundred times in my head. I would not yell or cry or lose my composure. I knew from my own personal experience with that very daughter that she would only need to be hugged, hear she was loved and be reminded that everything will be ok. So when the confession—Mom, I’m pregnant—escaped from my seventeen year old daughters’ lips? I stuck to the script.”

I am so honoured to be writing over on the The Mudroom Blog today!!

You can check my post here (and then check out so many of the other great posts!):

Mom I’m Pregnant

The Chosen One

Two confessions to introduce this post and give you some context:

  1. I avoid the Old Testament (OT) like the plague.  It’s violent, full of lists of names that I can’t pronounce and inevitably falls under the “mostly irrelevant to the whole Jesus thing” file in my brain.
  2. I might be one of those people that reads ahead in a book.  Maybe even reads the end first.  Eek!

Sunday morning was the first message in a summer series at The Meeting House called The Chosen One.  I *might* have groaned when I saw that it was going to be about Moses and the book of Exodus.  I will gladly listen to messages on the life and heart of Jesus.  Sermon on the Mount?  I am all ears. Fruit of the Spirit? Count me in.  Loving and serving your neighbour? I will show up with a pen in hand and take copious amounts of notes. All. Day. Long.  The Old Testament?  It hearkens back to Sunday School stories and felt boards.  The Bible I carry around doesn’t even have it.  Have I made my point?

Now, the church did a great job of trying to convince me that this series about Moses is going to be riveting.  I mean, a darn good job.  Hollywood-worthy previews were revealed three Sundays in a row.  Amazing graphics and suspense-filled music beckoned me to attend. Tweets were sent and hashtags were created to build up momentum.  The fact that I show up 99/100 Sundays doesn’t hurt either.

Come Sunday morning, I still didn’t bring with me a Bible that has the OT.  My inner brat decided my electronic version of the Bible would suffice because Lord knows, I won’t need to underline anything or take any notes.  I may even need extra caffeine to keep me from nodding off.

As I checked out the program notes I saw that there were references to passages in the OT AND the New Testament.  My heart sped up a little;  I saw a flicker of hope.  There just might be something redemptive here after all!

As the introduction began, my attention was kept by a very interesting comparison between Moses and Jesus.  As the speaker moved on to examining the text verse-by- verse, my mind started to wander. This is where my second confession comes in.

I moved ahead and kept reading further on in Exodus.  Can I tell you?  I don’t remember the part about Moses being cared for by his bio mom for the first three years because of some quick thinking and a little deception on the part of Moses’ sister.  They must have skipped that part in Sunday school.  I moved on to Exodus chapter 3.  This is where things start to heat up (see what I did there?).  God tells Moses he has heard the Israelites cries and is going to respond.  How?  He tells Moses in verse 10: Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”  Moses is obviously as reasonable and practical as I am because he answers with (verse 11):

“But, why me?  What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharoah and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?“   And do you know what the response was??

3:12 “I’ll be with you, God said”

And this is where I went over a cliff.

You see, I am pretty unqualified for just about everything.  (Maybe except making babies….).  I received acceptance to university but became a young mom instead.  I went to college for a year before I entered the workforce full time in order to be able to provide for my family.  That was more than fifteen years ago.  From there, life just happened.  (Just last month I finished my first university course on International Women’s Health and Human Rights with Stanford University online! #humblebrag).

Coupled with my lack of credentials is, unfortunately, passion. *Side note: More than once God has reminded to have passionate patience.  Aren’t those words antonyms?*  I love God and want nothing more than to know Him, love Him, show Him and serve Him.  My heart is heavy for the poor and marginalized and I want, no I have, to do something.  But my lack of _________________(insert professional degree or important piece of paper) holds me back.  How can I make any difference when there is Bono and Bill Gates leading the charge with their smarts and credibility?

After crashing into Exodus 3, I now asked how in the world was Moses a great choice on paper for the leader of the Israelites and conqueror of Egypt?

He wasn’t.

God still chose him.

All that was required was a response.  God told Moses to come.  When questioned, God calmly explained (albeit through an intimidating fiery  bush) that Moses qualified because God was with Him.  Can you think of anything more credible than that?

So, next time, when God calls me to come, I will move.  Not because I have confidence in my abilities or intellect but because He is with me.

My next move, you can be sure, will be to show up for the rest of the Chosen One series with a pen, Bible and the attitude of a humbled student.

On Being Enough : Part Two

Following up on part one: I still don’t have it all figured out. All I know is that striving to get to “enough” wasn’t working and it wasn’t really what I was after. Problem is, if I want to be seen, I have to put myself out there. That kind of make me feel sick. It takes a ridiculous amount of vulnerability to put my words to a page and put it out there but it’s soul soothing. It’s as much about me as it is about the reader. I have so much to learn.Butwhen I found something I felt compelled to do, I had to do it.

And do it afraid.

So with all of my inadequacies, quirks and insecurities – I write.

Take this post as an example. As I write, these are the thoughts that have been running through my head:

– someone else could say this much more eloquently than you
– someone may really connect with this message
– you aren’t really thinking that writing is something you are good at, are you?
– these are some powerful words flowing out of me onto this screen
– what the heck are you even trying to say?
– I can’t share this with the world
– I can’t not share this with world
– I need chocolate

It’s terrifying yet relieving to hit publish these posts. It’s nearly impossible to refrain from editing old posts. Somehow the perfectionist in me is learning to accept that destination:perfection will never be reached and everything will still be okay, If I want to be comfortable in the space in between all things neatly figured out it means I should be able to allow and expect myself to fall short, screw up and make an ass of myself and still feel like I am winning at life.

I love failure.  By that, what I really mean is that I hate it. But every single failure is an opportunity to assess and retry. There is no end destination of finally-getting-it-all-together. Just day after day of opportunities to learn and grow.

A recipe for messiness exists in all of us. We have habits and scars and tendencies that land us in bad places, scary relationships and lonely lives. We strive to be enough but our humanness inevitably causes us to miss the mark. It’s the picking yourself up after the failure that is the hardest. Instead of throwing in the towel, make the messes count. Mess up. All the time. But make it count. Let it grow you and stretch you into a better version of yourself. You won’t ever be enough but you can just be you, messy but learning.  And that’s enough.

On Being Enough

A quick confession: I read a lot. Books? I always have two or three on the go. Blogs? I lose myself for hours reading through them. I even fall victim to those too-long-to-be-a-Status-update-posts on Facebook (you know who you are). Because I am a life-long learner, I am always scanning for that small encouragement, new idea that furthers a discussion or story that puts something in a whole new light.

Every now and then I come across a message reminding me to ignore that message of not being enough. I’ve been through those years. The ones where I shopped, dressed up and painted my face but was never pretty enough. The ones where I starved and puked but was never thin enough. The ones where I cut but was never relieved enough. I was never, ever going to be enough.

Yet, on the other end of that, was feeling as though I was too much. I would share my opinion among a group of peers and feel as though I was too headstrong. I would laugh and regret being too loud. I would share a story and think I had occupied too much of everyone else’s time. For goodness sake, I thought I took up TOO MUCH AIR.

I suppose because I have hindsight, it should mean I have progressed (or because….meds.). But given that this blog is called a Recipe for Messiness, it would seem to indicate that I don’t have it all figured out. And I think that may be the trick. Knowing you don’t have it all figured out and being comfortable in the space in between.

This.

This I know.

You will never reach the other side of striving to be something you are not.

Because when you think you are about to arrive, the destination changes. Picture a cat chasing the glow of a moving flashlight – aha! Gotcha! Wait? Where did the fun, shiny thing go? Over there! Get it! Huh?

Why could I never be thin/smart/pretty enough? Why could I never be at peace? Because it wasn’t the heart of what I was after. What I was after (and what I think a lot of people are after) is just to be seen. I needed to know the reason for my existence on this planet. I needed to know there was a part for me to play and that I had something to offer.

And apparently I want to offer the world my words.

Part 2 coming soon!

Two Blue Lines

I had barely passed my nineteenth birthday.   I was waiting for acceptance letters from universities.  I was a band nerd who had attended few parties and spent a good amount of my time going to church and youth group.  And now I was seeing two blue lines on a pregnancy test.

I don’t know why I was shocked.  Little to no preventative measures had been taken and I knew what I was doing.  I had experienced an odd tingle at what I imagine is the moment of fertilization that had tipped me off.  Yet those two blue lines knocked me to the ground where I bawled my eyes out.  These types of things don’t happen to girls like me,  I thought.  I was pretty sure I was invincible and untouchable to the things that brought a teenage girl’s world crashing down even though I always flirted with that line of “don’t go there”.  Taking risks and being adventurous were awesome! – as long as I didn’t get caught.

Ask my parents –  I always have learned the hard way.

My recipe for messiness?  I was completely insecure and found my identity in being the girlfriend of so-and-so.  I was nothing if I didn’t belong to someone.  I felt like I was free falling and completely ungrounded if I wasn’t involved in a relationship.  You know, I was going to marry my boyfriend eventually – we were totally in love – so it was *really* ok to be doing the things I was doing.   Was life not was like a television show where problems were cleaned up in 22 minutes?!  It all worked out for David and Donna!! (People use to comment I looked like Jennie Garth – I blame them for my delusions).

Looking back now, there were also some mental health issues going on during those years that were beyond just feeling insecure.  Perfectionism, poor body image and disordered eating started to surface and affect my patterns of thinking.  I lacked the tools to process intense emotions and would turn to self-destructive behaviour in order to gain a sense of control over my life.

My good girl image was important to me and now I was exposed.  My swollen belly was on display to the world like a sign over me stating “Yep, she screwed up”.  Shame was my constant companion and, at the time, I felt like I deserved it.

Nine months after taking that test, a healthy baby girl was born and my identity shifted solely to being a mother.  I put school on the back burner and concentrated all of my time and efforts into learning about being a good parent and fulfilling that role. I devoured books, participated in MOP groups and  started to root my identity in God.

Almost 20 years later I have realized that my recipe for messiness hasn’t changed a whole lot.    I am still pretty insecure.  When I became a young and unmarried teenager I somehow came to believe I no longer had the right to say anything about anything because I had messed up.  My opinions no longer had merit.  I was damaged goods and my mistakes negated my value as a human.   No one ever told me this wasn’t true.

So I am writing now because I want those young moms-to-be out there to know that you are not sub par.  You are still precious and worthy and valued by God just as you were yesterday, last year and from the time you were conceived.  We are all still human with the same value to our voice and contributions.

Which means, daughter of mine, that you can still change the world.

The Carrot on the Floor

bbf10-carrot

 There was a carrot in the middle of the living room floor this morning. I snacked on carrots and hummus last night while snuggled on the couch with a novel so I know this carrot has been hanging out on my floor all night long. I sat in my chair looking at that carrot. I knew the compulsion to run over and pick that carrot up would sweep over me. I knew I would want to remove that carrot from it’s wrong place and put it in it’s right place. I knew I would be uncomfortable in my imperfect living room until said carrot was removed.

 I don’t enjoy being uncomfortable and will naturally do what I can do avoid it. Being uncomfortable sometimes involves distress, pain, anxiety and fear. I don’t particularly enjoy those emotions or feelings and none of those do I willingly enter into.  Suddenly though, as I am just coasting along, life gets messy.

So far, my 2014 has been really messy. There has been a ton of hurt, crying, anger, disappointment, exasperation and frustration. As it continues on, it’s incredibly uncomfortable and difficult. To be honest, I just want it all to be over.  I want my easy, care-free, pretty-much-pain-free-life back.  My instinct is to just fix it all up nice on the surface so that it feels good and I can pretend everything is a-ok.

Except, sometimes when we all we really want to do is clean it up, we prevent the work that happens in the midst of being uncomfortable. As an example, I recently started doing Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown and mid-workout she instructs us to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” As I am stretched to my limits (and sweating my butt off), she reminds me that enduring the uncomfortable is worth the end goal.

Smack in the middle of this crazy mess, God is working. He is teaching me patience. He is forcing me to see that deep down my choices are rooted in self-preservation, self-promotion, and self-soothing. He is challenging me to prove what love really looks like. If I forego the difficult and uncomfortable parts of life, I miss being shaped by Him. If I just skip over the unbearable-I-really-don’t-want-to-do-this parts, I miss an opportunity to grow in character and in relationship with Him.

More than anything else, I want to know God, love God, serve God and show God.  When I signed up for this Jesus thing, I knew I was signing it all over.  Comfort, wealth, family, ease, friends, my own plans – all of it.  I am confident of the depths of God’s love for me and will continue to yes to Him.

That carrot?  I never did pick it up.

Lessons from a Fire

We recently experienced our first (and hopefully last) house fire. Everyone evacuated safely and my two young boys were excited to hang out in the back of a fire truck. And we have house insurance so all is well, right? Ya, I thought so too.

Two days into our “adventure” (that’s what we are calling it for the kids’ sake) I came upon this post and the paragraph regarding control hit me like a ton of bricks.

 I live my daily life like I am control of it. I drive to work, I stop for coffee, I pay my bills online (always late, but alas, I pay them), I parent my children (although this may be in doubt) and I feel secure and confident in my independence when I make things happen and plans come to fruition. I acquire material goods that make life feel comfortable and easy (Snuggie anyone?).

 And then something unforeseen and out of my control comes along and sideswipes me.

I am now living in an unfamiliar setting, wearing uncomfortable clothes (because they are not mine) and am reminded a hundred times a day of just how inconvenient this whole situation is (looking for tweezers – I have none, where are the extra mitts – we have none, has anyone seen the boys’ skates – they are at the “fire house” as my little guy calls it). Its overwhelming. I keep grabbing at this stuff over here, purchasing this stuff over there and rescheduling this and that but I just can’t seem to regather all of life under my domain.

Its exhausting.

And then in the quiet I realize that I was never really in control in the first place. That it was all an illusion. I can try to anticipate, accumulate, regulate and manipulate for my own sense of security but it’s all trickery.

 Newsflash: I can’t see or guarantee the future.

But I do know someone who can. Someone who loves me incomprehensibly and unconditionally. Someone who tells me I must lose my life to find it. Someone who, when I stop looking around and instead look inside, whispers “Be still.  Know that I am God”.

 And you know what? When control is realized as impossible but we have assurance that the One who loves to depths we can’t imagine is in control, it is so easy to let go.