Winter Can't Last Forever

Seasons.  They come. They go.

When I was a little girl, I remember having the revelation that seasons we experience in nature are representative of the seasons we experience in life.  Spring brings about new life and the scent of excitement and anticipation of what’s to come begins to fill the air.  Summer was a time when we became free from what we were before.  Pre-schoolers leave behind their crayons and embrace pencils.  High schoolers leave their cozy homes to embark on a new journey to independence.  We spent the summer dreaming of what’s to come while we lounged with those we loved.  Once fall arrived, the transition begins to take place.  Life shifts.  We meet new friends.  We lose touch with other friends.  After only a few months, we were already caught up in our daily routines as we grumbled our way through winter and waited for the day when Spring would arrive, because we knew with certainty that despite the cold and gloomy days, spring would arrive.

There was a constant ebb and flow.  But what happens when there seems to be no time for transition? What happens when your summer suddenly and unexpectedly becomes winter?

It feels as if death has lurked around corner for the last nine months.  I’ve lost track of the tears, painful phone calls, and desperate prayers that our family has walked experienced as we’ve fought for our dear Abby’s life.

Waiting for a miracle is hard.

I’ve spent most of the time trying to avoid the pain and confusion.  I’ve found that it’s easier to focus on my own shortcomings.  My imperfect body, my failed relationships, and my future have all plagued my mind because at least I have someone to blame for those misfortunes.  Because when it comes to something that feels completely out of your hands, who do you blame when you feel like you’ve done everything that you can do? Who do you blame when everything within you feels that this is all God’s fault?

When you’re taught about a God of miracles, where do you go when you feel that your prayers aren’t getting through? Thoughts begin to plague you as you wonder if He really hears us.  My physical mind screams that this doesn’t make sense.  My physical mind can’t comprehend how the One we call the Ultimate Healer has yet to reach His hand down to heal.

My heart begins to stir and anger, confusion, and heart ache all begin to cloud my mind. Yet at the same time, something within me stays in peace.

Sometimes the quietness of nothing happening is what reminds me that you are still close.

At night when my head lays against the pillow, everything becomes silent and loud at the same time.  I can try to analyze every “why” known to man; I wouldn’t be the first.  I can try to barter with you for your attention; I wouldn’t be the last. In a split second I can go from believing in your promises to questioning your existence as my head tries to grasp the answers. I finally let go.

The pain.

The fear.

The questions.

They only lead me to a numbness.

As you watch me question everything you represent and have done for me, you still don’t hesitate to lean in with your tender whisper, “I’m right here

And my heart whispers back, “I know.”

I don’t know when Spring will come again, but I know that by the laws of nature, winter can’t last forever.

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A Good Old Identity Crisis

Let’s just get straight to the point. I’m having an identity crisis. 

Now when I think of someone having a identity crisis, my mind normally defaults to that scene in “Father of the Bride” where Steve Martin trades his silver locks for a bad hair color and carelessly buys a Mercedes all in an effort to recreate himself. I like to think I’m a few decades (and quite a few thousand dollars) away from having an identity crisis to that degree. However, it’s an identity crisis none the less. 

Side note: I’m dramatic

You see, for the last five years, I’ve been working towards something. I’ve been doing something. After I parted ways with my Jersey Shore-esk partying habits, I immersed myself into church. I began this radical transformation where I was discovering what life was like outside of a bar. People woke up before noon and sitting in your kitchen drinking Gatorade while eating spaghetti sauce out of a can was not a normal occurrence! Who knew!

From there I began ministry school where I again, walked through breakthrough after breakthrough. It seemed as though my entire life was just panning itself out. I began receiving recognition and applause from family and friends and for the first time, I felt like my life finally meant something. 

[Insert red flag here]

Significance and recognition and two entirely different concepts.   

I’m an entertainer at heart. Ask any of  my uncles and aunts who had to endure skillfully thought out performances while I sang my heart out to them belting “A Whole New World” while sitting on a beach towel and they will agree. Since I was a young girl, I’ve loved the spotlight and attention. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It only becomes bad when I base my worth on whether or not I receive applause at the end of my performance. 

Back to my identity crisis: I’ve been out of school now for two months. Once school got out, I was faced with the question: now what? What’s next? I dont’t have a real sense of direction as far as the next steps to take and the “applause” that every entertainer loves has faded. The Reality began kicking in as I became overwhelmed with the realization that I’m a 29 year old single female who basically just works to pay bills at this point. It’s a far cry from the dreams I had as I sang Aladdin on a beach towel as a young girl. 

I decided that throwing a few pity parties would be a good idea and that I did. I would sit in front of my tv with the Rich Kids of Beverly Hills softly playing in the background while I scrolled through Instagram and Facebook looking at everyone’s perfect life and GOSH WHY CAN’T I BLEND MY MAKEUP LIKE HER, DRESS LIKE HER, BE LIKE HER, HAVE A MADONNA WAIST TRIMMER LIKE HER, BE FAMOUS FOR NOTHING LIKE HER/BE ADORED LIKE HER. 

THERE ARE SO MANY HER’S AND IT’S EXHAUSTING. 

I finally texted a friend essentially saying “I can’t do this anymore. I need prayer.” She called me and I answered through my sobbing and when she asked me what was wrong I answered “I’m so ugly, I’m so fat. I don’t want to be in public, my life is going nowhere, I think I need a therapist….” 

She sat and listened and finally said “I don’t think you need help. You are already free. I think you just need to let go of that old identity you once had. That’s not you anymore.”

As I thought about it, I realized that in the past, bulimia and self hate is what gave my life a sense of purpose. It was there for me when I was sad, bored, angry, etc. Now here I am, far from that girl I was but as soon as a little bit of bordom and questions of my direction came in, old thoughts tried to make it’s way back and reclaim me as their own again. 

Thankfully, I’m smarter than that. 

Sometimes we just need a little realignment. We need to look fear and false identities in the face and say “I don’t belong to you anymore.” 

Essentially, I’m not having an identity crisis. Just a bit of a realignment. I’m trekking through new territories as God is revealing lies that I’m still believing about myself that I didn’t know existed. I’m learning that I don’t need applause for my life to matter. I don’t need to begin picking apart every thing I don’t like about myself just because I’m bored. I can be still. I can be stagnant. As long as I’m still and stagnant in Him. 

To end this blog, I wanted to share with you a quote the great Beyoncé once said, “When I’m not feeling my best I ask myself, ‘What are you gonna do about it?’ I use the negativity to fuel the transformation into a better me.”

Preach, bey. Preach. 

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To the Mother of a Sick Child

Life throws us through different seasons and experiences that as a child, it never even crossed your mind that you may have to face.  Little girls often dream of being moms as they “play house” and they tote their baby dolls around as they care, console, and feed it as if it were really a baby.  Nap times and bed times are given as they are gently placed in their little toy cribs and a sense of urgency comes over them as it’s “feeding time” approaches. We cook and bake for our babies in our toy kitchens that reek of plastic and our future dreams all at once. Our make-believe husbands are likely a rendition of our dad or the prince on our favorite Disney movie…which is essentially the same thing.  We fall in love with our little toy baby and our make believe husband and we live in a world where the sun never sets and the flowers never wither.  We continue to give all our free time to this little plastic, $15.99 doll that has been entrusted to us.  Even before our sense of logic has fully kicked in, we just know that our lives were meant to care for the lives of others.

Suddenly, those little girls grow up and gone are the days when life is just pretend.  The little girls turn into big girls who have their very own kitchens and big girl beds.  Prince Charming may have eventually came around except you don’t exactly live in a palace and birds don’t come to your window each morning to braid your hair. Despite a few detail changes, your life still blossoms into the dream life you experienced as a child, especially when it comes time to have a child of your own.

But what happens when your little girl dreams fully come to fruition, your very own baby arrives into your life and the baby you’ve prepared your entire life for is sick?  What happens when you spend hours in labor only to have your baby taken from you and given into the care of dozens of nurses and doctors that you have yet to meet? You see, this part of life was never displayed for us in Cinderella.

For the last five months, I’ve had to watch my sister live this scenario out.  In her daughter’s 5 months of life, she’s had to watch the baby she’s always dreamed of fight for her life on a daily basis.  Every day I watch her not only care for her toddler, but also travel to the NICU each day to see her precious baby, I am reminded of the power of motherhood.  There are sadly many who are walking or have walked in her shoes, and this is what I would say to each one of them.

1.  It’s not your fault.  You didn’t do anything wrong. You don’t have any “hidden sin” or curse over your life that has caused your baby to have to go through this.  In a way, that would probably make it easier if you could trace it back to something you did wouldn’t it?  As you begin to recount every second of your pregnancy and try to comb through every food you ate, word you spoke, or move you made, remind yourself that you did the best that you could.  Give yourself the grace that you deserve.

2.  This isn’t God’s will.  I can’t think of anything less comforting than being told that it’s God’s will for your child to be sick and suffering.  I am sure that you have lost count of the number of people who tried to encourage you by saying that this is “God’s will” for you to go through this but hear me when I say that there is no other person who hurts more than you in this moment than God.  When Jesus walked the earth, He assured us that he came to give us all life and life to the FULL.  That applies to your baby too.

3.  It’s ok to be angry.  Life isn’t fair.  A child having to suffer isn’t fair. It’s infuriating.  A mother having to watch her child suffer isn’t fair.  It’s infuriating.  Don’t allow guilt and shame to rear their ugly heads in your heart and make you feel as though your feelings of confusion and anger make you any less holy. God’s love and grace can handle your questions and your anger.

4. It’s going to be ok.  Right now, your heart feel so beaten down and broken.  Every day you wake up praying, pleading, and hoping that today is the day your baby gets  miracle and every day that passes where that isn’t the case, your heart aches a little more.  Nobody knows what the future holds and I wish with everything in me that I could snap my fingers and give you your miracle.  But I know that you are so immersed and covered in the goodness of God right now.  It’s okay if it doesn’t feel that way. Just know that it’s the truth.  There will be a day when you will feel His sweet presence once again.

5. You’re a hero.  God painted a beautiful picture when he decided to send his son to be sacrificed.  He knew that of all the things we experience in life, the suffering of a child is far beyond any other pain.  You are a living example of the love of God.  Every day you fight for your baby, you prove that there is nothing that love cannot conquer.

To the mother of a sick child, you are loved. You are seen.  You are going to be okay.

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"Miracles Don't Exist"

Earlier this week I received a phone call from my mom who was upset because of news she had regarding Abby. Within two hours, I was standing at the airport with a ticket in hand bringing me to Miami. 

I’ve always had a tendency to allow fear to overtake my mind when faced in a crisis. I was given a brilliant imagination which at times can torment me if left unmanaged. The entire flight, I fought tears both successfully and unsuccessfully. After 17 hours of travel and only an hour and a half of sleep, I finally got to meet my beautiful niece, Abby. 

She was beautiful. From her light blonde hair to her tiny toes. She resembled so much of both her mother and her father. She was perfect. 

Except she wasn’t. 

Her tiny body attached to tubes, needles, and chords as a ventilator helped her breath in and out, all of which stands as a reminder that God hasn’t yet healed her.  

Anger, joy, resentment, fear and adoration all flowed through me as I looked into her incubator and openly began to cry. 

I reached my hand in and touched her frail, yet strong body. My heart ached as I wished I could take her place. 

It isn’t fair. A newborn having to fight so hard to stay alive. 

Throughout my visit that day and the next, I would touch her sweet face while I’d pray over her, talk to her, and sing to her. I’d tell her how strong she is and how I can’t wait until she can go home. I told her Bible stories of Jesus and how he healed every person he came into contact with. I sang worship songs that declared God’s goodness and faithfulness over her. 

I would pray. I’d stand firm and declare that all sickness must leave. I’d ask God to heal her. I’d beg for him. Then I’d just stand in silence and stare at her. Wondering if God was even listening. 

Then I heard it whispered ever so softly to me, “miracles don’t exist.”

I admit, I wanted to agree with it. My mind began to race as I thought about how I just spent four years in ministry school learning about the healing powers of God.  I’ve witnessed miracles myself and have even seen a crippled mans leg grow out right before my eyes. Where is that power now? What if miracles don’t exist anymore? What if it’s just the luck of the draw for us? Why after 4 years of ministry school can I not help save my niece?

I then remembered a quote that I’ve heard Bill Johnson say multiple times. “Believing a lie empowers the liar.”

 In that moment, I knew I had a choice. I had power to give away and it was up to me if I wanted to give that to the accuser or the Redeemer. 

Abby has already been a miracle. To deny miracles would be to deny the very reason she is with us. I looked over her body and watched her chest go up and down…up and down…up and down and I knew I was witnessing a miracle. I looked at Abby with tears streaming down my face and said “Let’s choose Jesus, sweet girl. You’re going to be healed.”

We don’t always get to choose what happens to us, but in those moments we still always have a choice. I can’t wait for the day when I can tell Abby about the time I flew hundreds of miles to see her and how she helped me choose Jesus. 

  

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Waiting for Your Miracle.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve found myself face to face with this blog questioning everything I want to say.  But, considering it’s currently 2am and I’ve been unable to sleep, I figured I might as well try to put words to the thoughts that I am processing through.

10923769_10152988233794323_5446572697794115515_nThis is my niece, Abigail Elizabeth Andresen. She was born in January at 27 weeks old. The last few months have been a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from despair to joy to fear to peace to the unknown.  I find it difficult to put into words the emotions that arise within me every time I think about Abby and the impact that she has had on my life already.

I admit that in the past, I have sadly  seen people post pleading for people to pray for a premature baby, whether it was theirs or a family members. Although I would normally say a prayer in my heart, I found it hard to connect or really take into consideration how they were feeling because after all, it was only a baby and not a grown child.  How asinine a thought.

In reality, it’s hell.  There’s really no way around it other than you feel like you’re in a whirlpool where at any moment it could change or switch directions on you completely and with no warning.  I hate that every time I see a call or a text come through from my mom or dad that a wave of fear comes over me that something could be wrong.  I feel like a failure for being unable to help or be there for my sister during what has been one of the hardest seasons that she has had to walk through.   I dislike having to wrestle with God and admit to Him that I am afraid of being let down. That I’m afraid He won’t come through in the way I want Him to.

We are so used to being in control and having the answers.  If we feel sick, we take medicine.  If we don’t like our job, we find a new one. If we want a fresh start, we move.  In most situations we face, there is some sort of process that gives us a general idea of what our next step should be.  But what about those times when there is no set process? When there isn’t a person you can call who can direct you on what to do next or a remedy you can take to make it all better?  Those times when you just drive in your car in silence because you don’t have any more prayers that can be said?  When you lay in bed with the words, “Jesus, please” on your lips.

“Faith” is an easy word to say but the most difficult word to live out at times.  But I suppose that’s the beauty of it…the process of living it out.  As I laid in bed tonight, I began to ask God how He does it.  How does He have the strength to see the people he loves go through pain and heartache every day?  I know that he’s God and I am completely unable to fully understand even a fiber of his being, but gosh, I just feel like that would be exhausting.  I whispered, “How do you do this everyday without your heart breaking into a million pieces?” I quickly heard back, “It does.”

I don’t know why Abby’s lungs haven’t been fully healed yet, but I have to believe that there’s more to the cross than we can even comprehend as believers.  I have to believe that despite what happens here on earth, our promise was healing.  Our promise was life.  Our promise was eternity.  I have to believe that there is so much more beauty and life ahead for us.

We have to believe.  Sometimes it’s as simple and heart-wrenching as that.

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BIG News

Hello world!

I’ve neglected this poor blog, but I promise that it is for good reason.

I’M GROWING A BABY!

Ok ok, I’m totally kidding. I am NOT growing a baby.  I just wanted to fit in with every one’s recent facebook posts.  I thought that would feel more fun than it did.

Anyways,  I have, however, been busy with life and trying to figure out the weird world of youtube.  A few months ago, I randomly ended up watching a documentary on Netflix about YouTube and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Then a few days later, someone (who did not know I was thinking about the tube) said to me, “I think you need to start a YouTube channel.

So, I did.  I have no idea what I am doing or how to use iMovie or how to use youtube.  I just discovered who Miranda Sings was. I obviously have a ways to go.

If you’re interested in following me, watch this video and hit subscribe! I promise it will get better.

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Life Lessons I Learned in 2014

2014 was a hard year.  Oh trust me, it was beautiful, amazing, and serendipitous all in a way that revealed to me how gloriously involved God is in my life.  I had more moments in 2014 where I experienced the power and gentleness of God than any other time.  I met and created beautiful relationships with beautiful people and traveled to mysterious and wondrous lands.

2014 was my year. But gosh, was it hard. Instead of trying to make some poetic story out of it, let’s just get right into it:

1. People come and go. I know, I know.  So stereotypical, however I think 2014 was the year where I experienced this the most.   Sometimes I think that as you grow more healthy and become more aware of who God created you to be, there is also a painful pruning process involved.  People that you thought were on your side turn out to have different intentions. When you grow to become more secure, they become threatened because they depended on your insecurity to make themselves feel better.  I learned that as painful as it is, it’s vital to let those people go. It’s going to hurt, but I think that’s a good sign.  It means you allowed yourself to love.

2. Honesty is not valued by all.  I learned that it is not my job to make people tell the truth.  I learned that no matter the age, social status, or claim of religion that gossip still runs prevalent for some.  I learned that despite having a value for justice and wanting the truth to prevail, sometimes silence speaks the loudest.

3. Security is something to be stewarded.  Protecting our minds and our thoughts is absolutely vital to our wellbeing.  I am not sure at what point, but somewhere along the way in 2014 I began allowing old mindsets to try to take their root again.  Insecurity, fear of rejection, and fear of people began plaguing me and since it took me a while to  catch on, I sometimes feel like I may never find my ground again, but little by little, I do.

4. Nothing is impossible.  You can do anything you set your mind to.  I learned this after eating an entire jar of almond butter.  I’m not proud.

5. Never allow yourself to eat an entire jar of almond butter.

6.  God is more invested in my dreams than even I am.  Last December, I felt the Lord tell me that 2014 was going to be the year of fulfilled dreams.  At first, I thought he was referring to the dreams I had settled for, not realizing that he was aiming for the dreams that even I couldn’t allow myself to believe in.  I learned that when your dreams begin to come into fruition,that it is important to keep your heart focused of the giver of the dreams and not the dreams themselves.

7. LACK is Heaven’s number one hated curse word.

8.  Shame grows in silence.  As I mentioned earlier, I found myself caught up in insecurity and I have a tendency to create a catastrophic nuclear war that even King David and all his mighty men would not want to tackle if given the chance that takes place between my own two ears if I am not careful.  I get caught up in the “woe is me” mentality and think that everyone hates me and I dread being in public for fear of my appearance.  If I allow myself to stay in that place, it just continues to grow and grow.  Once it gets revealed, it almost immediatly loses it’s power.  Vulnerablity gives people the ability to speak truth into the lies you’re believing.

9. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just cannot keep up with the Kardashians.

10.  Your past has no say over your future. 2014 was filled with moments when I would just pause and wonder how I got here.  If you had told me five years ago about everything 2014 would hold for me, I would have never believed you.  I think that is why I find the story of the thief on the cross next to Jesus.  He spent his life as a criminal, but just one look at Jesus and a few painful words off his lips and his entire life was redeemed in a moment.  God isn’t looking for the qualified, he’s looking for the heart postures.

Thank you, 2014, for growing and challenging me in ways that I didn’t know possible.  You will always be a year that is deeply treasured within my heart.  Here’s to 2015.

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