weak

More often than I ever share, I hate being weak.  I can’t really explain what happened to my brain around the age  of 19-20, but something fractured for me, and there are things about me, burdens that I carry that I will keep tight to the vest.

The last few months, I have cried myself to sleep with regularity.  And it sucks.  It is hard to carry a burden that you can’t do anything but cry out to God about.  (Sidenote: this is the part of being single that COMPLETELY BLOWS and any married person who tells me otherwise deserves to publicly apologize to their spouse for basically being a douche bag.  And YES, I said it.)  I have cried out to God A LOT.  I have begged, I have pleaded, I have praised, I have prayed.  I have sought more earnestly and more fervor than I think I ever have in my life.  I had a thought the other day while I was thinking about how I’ve prayed more this year that, it’s supposed to be that way.  Each year will force you to dig deeper into Jesus.  To want to be completely enveloped in the grace, not as some divine Calgon, but because you know it’s the only place of peace.  

And since I’m just being ridiculously transparent, I don’t burden my friends with this because I honestly doubt that they’ll be praying for me. 

I have lots of night where the magnitude of what I carry feels like an elephant on my chest.  

And what triggered my random crying spell at work today was something really stupid.  My brother is having a hard time finding NYC lotto tickets, which is part of our Christmas tradition.  And then I got the wind knocked out of my thinking about all of the changes that this Christmas will bring, and TEARS.

The kind of tears you can’t fight off.

The kind of tears that burn and sting and are full.

Because they’re heavy with a burden.

The only thing I can do is pray for a deep breath and cling to God’s promises.  He is Good.  He is FOR ME.  HE HAS NEVER ONCE FAILED ME.  AND I CHOSE TO TRUST HIM A LONG TIME AGO, even with my broken, hot mess life.  

I will bless the Lord at all times.  My lungs will expand with His Praise. Psalm 34:1 MSG

testing...

I have to wonder if this thing still works... Hmmmm....

:)

:: grace ::

One of the things that I have not done in far too long… is write.  For reasons that either sound too silly or sound too pretentious, I have not made time to write.

Actually, that’s a lie.  I just didn’t want to anymore.  At least not for a while.  I wanted to live my life.  To be present and engaged and all the other words the cool kids are saying.  So I did.  I have lived and laughed and loved and been on dates and felt feelings I forgot I could feel.  It’s all magical, except not actually magical.

But something clicked in my head the other day and I had the urge to write.  Not feel profound so much as just write what’s on my heart. 

The only thing I know to write about has been the exciting season I’ve been in for about the last eight months.

But before I can tell you how awesome this season has been, I need to talk about the nine months prior.

Last January, I felt God telling me to do something.  While I know better, I disobeyed.  I argued with God.  I neither listened nor acted.  I was a sullen teenager to God who has proved Himself over and over again although He does not have to do that.  Flat out, I just did not want to do what He was telling me to do. And the festering began. 

Disobeying God in any shape or form comes with consequences.  For me… I can best describe what I felt as being toxic.  Spiritually toxic.  I wanted to go to church and dreaded it in the same breath.  I found myself, silly as it sounds, just wanting to punch people.  (For the record, I have never hit anyone in my life, save one guy that tried to kiss me.  He’s happily married with 3 kids.  I lose.)  I digress.  The smallest things annoyed me.  Compounded on my disobedience, I was actively telling God that I didn’t want to do what he was telling me to do because I couldn’t see any good for me in the process. (HOW SELFISH IS THAT? I AM DUMB.)  So, I fought him for nine months.  I wish that my toxicity was limited to just time at church, but of course it wasn’t.  It bubbled over into work.  Into friends.  It tainted relationships.  One Wednesday night in mid-August, it got ugly, and for the first time… I really started to see the dark.  The ugly.  The festering.  

And for one last month, I told God no.  I was gonna do it my way.  (Which has worked out so well, right?? Good grief.) I wrestled and prayed and cried.  I didn’t want to be obedient.

I am not too proud to say that my humanity is frail, weak, and pretty stupid.

So one Friday in September, I heard the Lord (not audible) tell me to stop running and listen.  And I did.  I resigned in my heart that I could not keep on keeping on.  Mostly because I was going to decimate all the good things in my life.

And for a moment, all hell broke loose.  Things got ugly. My step-brother was hospitalized in a coma. The state was asking me to adopt the kiddos.  I felt alone. 

But right in the middle of the chaos, God gave me a Ezra 9:8 moment.  A peg in the wall.

Mid-January I was talking with a very close friend.  In the middle of our conversation, I realized that all those feelings I was having about church – they were gone.  Like gone-gone.  Like “I didn’t know they could disappear so fast” kind of gone. It was crazy.  Billy was dead.  I was out of the kiddos lives. Everything was upside-down and awesome all at the same time. 

But a very seismic shift had occurred.   

And then I went on a date with this guy and felt feelings and it was weird because I forgot I could feel them and wait my heart isn‘t broken and I’m not hideous and all these things.  LOTS OF FEELINGS.  And yes that giant run-on sentence was exactly how I felt.  And whatever clicked in my head caused me to grow a backbone where I’d been spineless.

And then crazy stuff started happening at work.  It was WILD.

In the last six months, I have seen grace in a way that I have never seen in my 36 years.  And because I’m at a loss for words… It has honestly been the coolest thing ever.  Specifically over the last three weeks, I have been reminded daily that grace is amazing. And scandalous.  And mind-boggling.  And too big for my finite brain to understand. And I’m good with that.

And I’m so excited to see what’s coming next! 

xoxo,

Jenn

:: footballs and afros ::

I’m not going to lie… I am EX.HUAS.TED as I type this.

The last few days have been so busy, but so much fun.  Friday night, I went to a nail-biter of a football game.  A family from church has two boys that played for one of the local teams (one a freshman, the other a senior).  As such, I’ve become an honorary member of the family attending most of the games this season. We were the visiting team (they played another local rival), and coupled with the drop in temperatures that our area has seen lately, we were all chilly and anxious.  The team played a less than steller first half, but came out of the locker room with a vengeance an in the last minute of the game, they took the lead.  Sadly, the defense couldn’t hold off the other team, and we lost in the last five seconds of the game.  

(The upside and probably completely unimportant detail to note is that because of the wins/losses of locals teams, three teams  -- including the two from Friday night – were forced to play this weird little Monday play-off game.  Our team came out the winner and now advance to region playoff.) It is important to note that this is the first time in 28 YEARS that this team has been more than 5-X in wins and regional playoff berth.  So exciting!

Saturday was my college homecoming and sorority’s 50th Celebration weekend. The older I get, I have anxiety about these kinds of events. I am generally excited until the day of then I’m covered in dread worrying about pettiness between old college acquaintances.  Sometimes my 35-year old anxiety resembles my 21-year old anxiety; it’s so attractive.  Sweetly enough, I had a good time.  My little group of girls had good seats and we managed to get tickled even during the most important parts of the dinner.  Thank you Lord for laughter!  Plus, it was really good to see some people, including a tap sister that I haven’t seen in nine years.  

Sunday, I headed back up to Cleveland for a reunion breakfast with friends.  This was the event I was most looking forward too.  We had a blast at breakfast for nearly two hours.  Good food and sweet friends are the perfect combination. 

Monday was work and while it wasn’t boring, it was work.  Last night after work, I picked up the girls to take them home.  Turns out they had a school event at one of the local McDonald’s.  They called it McTeacher’s night.  I will heretofore refer to it as: McWasteofMyTime.   There was a little Dia de Los Muertos face painting, balloon animals, and sundaes. Basically I saw a bunch of short people painted as skeletons carrying drippy ice cream sundaes holding balloon swords. BLESS.

The girls and I went home, ate dinner, and then made some paper turkeys.  I asked the girls what they were thankful for and Lyric gave me 47 things.  I’m not sure Lanaya even answered the question, but based on the colorful turkey feathers, I think she was thankful mostly for markers.  (Good choice!)

After bath time, I was picking out the girls hair.  Lyric has this MASSIVE fro for a six-year old, but it’s beautiful.  Sadly, her family doesn’t think so and they tell her often.  I told her that God gave her special hair, just for her, and that it was beautiful. 

I am just as guilty as anyone for letting the negativity around me skew the image I see in the mirror – to drive me to believe that I’m not enough in different areas of my life. Seeing her have this insecurity as six hurts my heart.  Jesus be.

xoxo,
Jenn

:: hustle ::

Truth: I have totally sucked at blogging this year.

Thankfully, no one is really left to have expectations for me to exceed or miss.  And for that, I am thankful.

This has been the craziest last few weeks.  My step-brother was arrested and hospitalized in Savannah back in September.  For reasons that don't matter here, my family was on death watch up until last Sunday.  Billy died peacefully, with dignity. Dignity was something he never really cared for, or at least his actions never showed it.  I'm thankful that in his final days he had it.  Serenity. Calm.  The knowledge of knowing that he was loved and that his life was not in vain.  Rest in peace.

On top of that, the situation with the kiddos has escalated and DFCS is involved.  They will most likely be moved to a foster home within the next 30 days.  I am sad, but I have peace about it.  I have invested so much in those kids.  I cannot understand why their mother won't do the basic things she needs to do, but it's not in my control, so I have to go with the flow.

Several weeks back, I stopped working with the students at church.  I had prayed about the situation for MONTHS and very sweetly one Thursday, felt the Holy Spirit tell me that it was time and give me peace about the situation.  I miss those kids, but I know that I could not have endured the last several weeks with that on my plate.  Just another one of those moments where I am thankful for God's timing.

Then there's having to defend one of my chromosomes.  Another story for another day.

xoxo,

decisions

These little boogers have been in my life for about three and a half years. We have had a LOT of funny experiences. Lots of laughs, silly giggles, sweet hugs, and bunches of I love you's. 

But with each passing month, something new happens that makes me question why I didn't call DFCS three years ago. 

I am constantly torn between completely turning over their lives or just walking away. Both make me terribly sad. 

I wish that I knew what to do... 

truth

Today, I'm choosing to be better than yesterday. To learn from my mistakes. Acknowledge where I fall short and make better choices. 

Breathe. Stretch. Shake. 

It's a new day. 

xoxo,
Jenn