Between Here and There

This post from a friend on Instagram from C.S. Lewis grabbed my heart today.

I know what it is, to live between here and there. The constant pulling from each side, the ache that is always in my heart.

Twelve years ago I returned from Africa and the the only words I could manage for weeks were awkward. My heart was torn between such a tangible presence of God, a love that I had never before known or experienced, and the “First World” reality I was suddenly plunged back into. Mercy Me’s lyrics “if home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place” were on repeat in my spirit. It was during that return to America that I began to experience what it means to truly know that our home is not anywhere on this earth.

While I was driving today I had a flashback to one of my miscarriages. The pain of it instantly grabbed at me and my throat began to choke up. As I looked back through the years and the repeat losses, I realized that even through the pain there gold to be found, a redemption, a glory that only God could get. I know what it is to love, to love so deeply that a day can seem like a lifetime.

I am an all or nothing person. I never do anything halfway or with a partial effort. My “yes” means yes, and my “no” means no. I don’t love half heartedly nor am I interested having acquaintances. I have never met a person I did not love. Years have been spent in prayer asking Jesus to see people the way He sees them, to see their potential and their gold; never the dirt that is on all of us. My heart is terribly hurt when people are cruel and mean to each other or to me, because I could never imagine intentionally treating someone else that way.

We prayed and fasted for years for our babies, every single one of them. I didn’t experience a loss of something that “could have been”. I was robbed of a child that had been invested into for years. Every day that I spent with them inside me was a blessing, a promise fulfilled, an answer to prayer.

Since I have four little ones in heaven, I know what it is to be constantly torn between their existence in heaven and the reality of my three on earth who need me. Now more than ever, my heart is pulled towards heaven. That love that only He can give us, that fulfillment that only He brings our hearts is more and more on my mind.

Last month I got to visit heaven and hold my kids. Smothering them in kisses and hugs while God stood there, in His mercy, allowing me a moment of a full heart and full arms, before He gathered me up in His and stole me away. That moment, gave my heart peace while His love rushed in and made me want His even more.

As the days go by, my heart aches even more for that complete love. The love that is greater than anything we could ever imagine, the love so big we have no words to describe. The love that gave it all to bring heaven closer to us. The love that is greater than life itself.

That love is what I live for.

I Kicked Fear & Anxiety Right in the Face

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have struggled with fear and anxiety for the last six years. Many times unable to leave my house, I would sit in the shower and wonder how I had gotten to this point. Triggered by a physically traumatic birth from my second child, my life was turned upside down and sideways for years, and I wanted a way out, desperately, but could never seem to find a way to escape the grip that they had on me.

Two weeks ago our church hosted Sump Camp meetings and Mahesh Chavda came and spoke at two of them. One of the nights he had everyone stand and declare that, among other things, anxiety and fear were broken off of people's minds and they were no longer allowed to be generational.

The solar eclipse was coming closer and I wanted to go see it in totality. The few people I told that I wanted to go and see it in totality told me I was crazy and tried to talk me out of it. My husband was unable to take time off of work so I was left with a choice: go without him or don't go. I suddenly felt brave, ambitious, and fearless. So I planned a trip and at the last minute a friend and her two daughters decided to join us. So off we went, two young moms and five kids ranging from seven to barely two. We had our first stop planned, at a ranch in eastern Oregon, and then no plans for the next two days. Now, again, that is not me. I usually plan things to the minute.

Oh my word. We had an absolute blast! The eclipse in itself was amazing, but the victory I won over fear and anxiety was
well worth every dime I spent on gas!

We left Sunday morning and drove down to eastern Oregon and the city of Spray and camped in the middle of a cow pasture with several hundred people from all over. No running water, no flush toilets, no fast food.


Here we are, viewing the eclipse, waiting for it to hit totality. And when it did, it was incredible!


We left shortly after the eclipse and after consulting a road map, yes we were completely off grid from any working GPS, we picked highways and made our way north-west to Arlington. From there we read a campsite book that my friend had brought and found a campground along I-84.


It was 94 degrees at 5 pm at Memaloose State Park so we ran everyone through the shower at 7 and played in the tent until dark. I woke up with what Xander described as "the best bed-hair ever!" I also look like a mom who is worn out but ready to tackle the day!


We headed to the Bonneville Dam and all squished in one car to get through the gate . It was cozy but lots of giggles!


The dam was awesome! So huge and powerful!


So beautiful.


Xander got to have some face time with a huge sturgeon at the fish hatchery.


A quick lunch of sandwiches and we were on the road again to Multnomah Falls.


Gabriella had a meltdown on the way up and I carried JoyAnna on my shoulders, but we made it up to the upper level bridge and could feel the spray coming off the waterfall. Over 660 feet and gorgeous!! We plan on going back with daddy, Gramma and Grampa and hiking all the way to the top!


What would a trip to the Portland area be without a stop at Petunias??? Oh my, this ice cream collaboration with Salt & Straw was amazing! Cookies and Cream with Raspberry Swirl in a house made GF waffle cone… so good!!


We hit terrible traffic (for the first time our entire trip) on the way home. This is a picture of us getting passed by a guy on a Rascal motorized scooter….
it took us six and a half hours to make a two and half hour drive from Portland to Seattle. Absolutely ridiculous! But we played the Alphabet Game about 800 times, played the Animal Game and made up silly stories.

All in all our adventure was incredible! The kids and I are much closer, we did hard things together, I didn't cry once entire time, and nobody barfed (a huge win for a road trip in our family as two of us get car sick). We were totally unplanned after 10:23 am Monday morning and got home at 9:32 pm Tuesday night. I'm proud of us! And I am also proud to say that I kicked fear in the face! I felt anxiety trying to rationalize its way back into my mind but I didn't even entertain the thoughts. There is power in declaration, in corporate prayer and in His blood!

I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!

Holy Kisses and Hugs

Recently an older woman I have only spoken to twice started to give me a hug as she was greeting me at church.  She stopped midway and asked,”Are you a hugging person?” I smiled and responded, “yes!” and hugged her back. After we had gone our separate ways Matt asked, “So you two are on hugging terms now?”

When Matt said that it made me think; shouldn’t we always be on hugging terms? We keep space between us and other people. Emotional space, intellectual space, and physical space. We have a few people we let pass our barriers, but if you really stop and think about it, how many more people are on the outside of every barrier you could possibly put between you and them?

I love hugs. Yes, they are a sign of affection. And yes, I get a million cuddley ones a day from my kiddos. But I very rarely get a strong, firm hug from someone who isn’t my husband. To me, hugs are both reassuring and a sign of love. They say, “I love you, and I’ve got your back.”

Paul says repeatedly in the New Testament, “greet one another with a holy kiss.” During my time in Mozambique I got kissed constantly when greeting people. I even got kissed on the lips by a very old woman with no teeth! That was their custom, their culture, their way of showing respect and honor. Here in America I am lucky to get to shake hands with someone new I meet at church, and once we move past the hand shake there is no more physical contact at all.

Jesus said that the world would know we were His disciples by our love. But how are we showing the world our love? By smiling at each other from across the sanctuary on Sunday mornings? By liking someone’s Facebook updates but not speaking to them in person? I don’t think those are the things Jesus had in mind when He was speaking of a love that would point people to Him.

Like I said before, I love hugs. I love the way they say, both verbally, physically and emotionally, “I love you, and I’ve got your back.” I’m going to start hugging more people whom I have not hugged before. I want to be a person of love, a person who exudes a life changing love constantly. I want to be a person who says, “I am such a lover because of the One who gave everything to love me.” And when I hug you, I will be saying, “I love you, I’ve got your back, I care about you, and I am here being Jesus’ arms for you right now.”

Be on the lookout, because the next time you see me, you will be hugged. You’ve been warned….

 

 

And Then She Was Two

JoyAnna turned two yesterday. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. Matt commented a week ago saying,”It seems like forever ago that we left to head to the hospital to see her, but seems too soon for her to be two.”

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Part of her short life has been a blur, one that tried to steal precious memories and moments from me. The other part has been made of memories I am storing away, to recall, to smile about, and to treasure.

 

She came into our our lives and gave us something we were missing, something we needed, and all of us simply adore her and treasure her presence. True to her name she is beautiful and a joy.

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In the last month she has gotten very vocal and knows what she wants and when she wants it. She loves to eat (in true McEntire child fashion) and loves to laugh and dress up.

 

Part of me wishes she would have stayed a baby forever, but the other part of me loves to experience each new stage and day with her. Seeing the wonder of the world in the eyes of your child is a gift, one I will never take for granted.

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Our little miracle rainbow baby is a gift. One who isn’t a baby anymore, but will never cease to be a constant and tangible reminder of God’s goodness. Every glance at her is a glimpse into heaven.

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987 Days

It’s been 987 days since I’ve written a blog.  Nine hundred and eighty seven days since I’ve written much more than a paragraph, and certainly nothing I would have posted publicly.

 

Grief had a way of tearing you up inside. It makes you question everything in your life, your world and your faith. It seeps into cracks and areas you never knew existed. Raw, deep, powerful emotions begin to churn inside. Things you wish you could say, or scream, to anyone who will listen; but you bite your tongue, afraid of what people will say or even worse- not say- if you do.

 

I stumbled upon a phrase the other day that grabbed me.

“The thing you are most afraid to write- write that.” ~Nayyirah Waheed

 

I have been silent, far to long. Fearing what I would say, if given the chance, made me feel like I was dirty, or broken. Shame crept in and mingled with grief. Shame has a way of doing that, of creeping in during moments of doubt and causing us to remain in the darkness alone. But vulnerability and light, that drives shame so far that we cannot even see it any longer.

So goodbye, shame, you aren’t welcome here. Goodbye, guilt and fear. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m pulling up the curtains, opening the windows and turning on the lights.