Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Goodbye 2010

As I sit and look back on the past year of this blog, it is funny the thoughts that come to mind. I can literally remember every post and the purpose behind each writing....which, in itself, brings both joy and pain. 2010 has been one the best and most difficult years that I have ever walked through. Rereading my posts, however, I see a clear picture of "me" in them. Each one is spun with a happy ending, an encouraging thought, maybe even an insightful epiphany. It makes me wonder why I do that, why I write that way. And that is when it hit me....it isn't that IT IS always happy, encouraging, or insightful, but I write with hope...hope that it can be.

So it is with hope that I say goodbye to 2010 and look forward to 2011. Hope that I will take the lessons God has given me this year and make me stronger, better, and brighter for the years to come.

Just a few things I've learned this year (in no particular order):
*I am a social person. I love people. I love to laugh, have fun, play, dance, do for others, etc. And staying at home has been one of the most difficult jobs I have ever done. This is the first full year I have had not working.....well, not working an "official" job. Just like any job....it takes experience, and I discovered....that I have A LOT to learn. I am still learning to juggle my daily responsibilities, spend quality time with my kids and, you know, maybe teach them something while I'm home, be resourceful, live with a limited budget, not lose my "cool", and still find time for me and the things that make me Laura. I have without a doubt gotten a big fat "F" in this category this year......but when I think back to my first year of teaching, I probably got a big fat "F" then too. It takes patience, practice, and learning from my own successes and failures. Bring it on 2011!!!!

*I have learned that friendships can come into your life in the most unusual ways......like finding that person to rock a serious air guitar with! Never underestimate God's sense of humor.

*I've learned that building a house....STINKS! Flat out...not fun...would not do it again! I don't care if I lived in a castle by the end of the whole process. Be prepared to allow it to take over your life throughout the entire process......marriage, kids, friendships, everything.

*I've learned that complicated means complicated. No win situations really are....no win situations. And no matter how many you wish upon, you can't line up the stars.

*I've learned that I enjoy running, if nothing else, for this reason.....NO MATTER HOW SLOW YOU ARE, THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE SLOWER THAN YOU!!! I also love Zumba for that reason....no matter how silly, non-cordinated you look....someone always looks worse.

*I've learned that your heart is never too experienced, mature, or confident....to be completely broken.

*I've learned that Panama City Beach looks a little bit different as a 29 year old than it did as an 18 year old.

*I've been reminded both how hard and how fun living with people are! Invading anyone's lives as a family of 4 means life is going to look at little crazy from everyone's point of view. But tv nights, movie dates, dinners together, walks, game nights, popcorn and Dr. Pepper days, and everything in between were worth every bit of the not as pretty moments! I've also been shown true selflessness and true friendship and for that I will be forever grateful and forever changed!!!

*I've experienced what true grace and forgiveness looks like....and what being loved unconditionally feels like.

*I've learned that I can apply an Office quote to just about any situation! And I bond instantly to those people that can share in that same depth of appreciation!!!

*I've learned that some of my best days are the days I do absolutely nothing but play with my kids....build forts, make brownies, build towers and then destroy them, have dance parties. I have two boys with the most contagious laughs.....and taking the time to truly take in those moments is all the joy I could ever need!

*I've learned that I love reading, and I would LOVE more time for reading! A Mother's Hope and A Daughter's Dream literally changed my outlook on so many things in life! Definitely my favorite books of the year!

*I've learned that I can fly on a plane by myself with my two children and handle it with complete sanity!

*I've learned that true friends....are life long friends. They love you at your best, and even more so at your worst. And I have some pretty amazing friends.
So this year I am not making any new years resolutions. Instead I will just keep writing, keep seeking, keep learning lessons so that that "hope" will never diminish from my life......so that my heart will in fact keep "Beatin" on!

Adios 2010!



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Come to Save Us


The lights were dim, candles were lit, the worship team was singing, tears were streaming down my face. This is where I found myself in church this morning. The message that has been stirring in my heart for weeks had never been made so clear, had never been so powerful in that moment.

When I allow myself to look back over the past year, I realize that it has been without a doubt the toughest year I have ever experienced to date (which is a scary thought in itself....to date.....knowing that there will be harder years to come). I have experienced the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, been transitioned, unsettled, uncertain, unprepared, uniquely broken. And though all of these things continue to wage war against me daily, I have marveled at God's ever impeccable timing. It is such timing that reminds me beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is in fact there, that He is in control of all things, and that He does love me. I have said many times that Christmas is what has saved me this year. The joy, the lights, the snow, the plays, the baking, friends, family, giving, and most of all the continuous reminder of why we celebrate this season. It has given me hope again. But, listening to this song today, I realized that it is NOT Christmas that has saved me.

"Jesus, you're the one who saves us! You're the one who saves us! King of all the other kings on Earth!"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow

I love snow!!! I could sit for hours wrapped in a blanket watching it fall to the ground. It is the only time I don't mind the cold. I love building snowmen (or snow women). I love making snow angels and watching my kids try to make them beside me. I love snowball fights and using objects as shields. I love sledding. I would be Chevy Chase greasing up my sled for a big hill (if there were any where I live). I love building snow tunnels. I love when the trees completely ice over and it feels like you are in a winter wonderland. I love ice icicles. I love hot chocolate when you come inside. I love potato soup. I love hearing my kids laughter and joy playing in the snow. I love that everyone looks crazy in their snow get-up and no one even notices. I love snowbird reports and I don't even teach anymore. I love that snow makes everything look beautiful. I LOVE SNOW!!!

But most of all I love that it is the tangible proof that a new season is here. So I say....bring on the snow!!!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Unspoken

A few weeks ago a friend (literally) dropped a book on my doorstep. Untouched, unopened it sat on my coffee table until a few days ago. Unspoken is a historical fiction story of Bathsheba and King David. While I loved learning more of Bathsheba, turning down pages where quotes spoke to me on deeper levels, and even learning from her story in ways, it was David who led me to write this blog tonight.

David was a faithful man. A son of a shepherd, he defeated the mighty Goliath. God delivered him from his enemies and chose him to be King. These are the stories you hear growing up about David. Reading this book, however, opened my eyes to a David I had not previously known. David lusted over Bathsheba, had her brought to him, had an affair with her. When she became pregnant he had her husband killed to cover up his sin. His first born son raped his half-sister Tamar and David did nothing. His second son killed that son, fled the country, and still David did nothing. When that same son brought an army up against him to defeat David and take his crown, God delivered David and his people. Yet David's first reaction was of mourning his son's death rather than being grateful to the men that fought for his life.

From the outside looking in, David did not look so good. The great, honorable man whom God stood by and chose to be King made some serious mistakes. AT TIMES, his father skills were lacking, his kingly duties were overlooked, his views on love were clouded, and even arrogance got the best of him. If that was all we got to see of David....how would our opinion of him be any different than those of the people that saw him even in that time period?

But thats when it hit me. I started thinking about Psalms.....the many, many Psalms where we not only can read, but feel David's cries for peace, forgiveness, strength, mercy, joy, sorrow, etc. How often do we go to those same Psalms to find relation and understanding in our own circumstances. We GET to see David's heart. We all make mistakes. We are all flawed beyond reason. We all hide behind a smile. We're all judged by our actions. How rare it is to GET to look past that hard outer shell and see the person that truly lies beneath? To see the motive behind the actions or the brokenness after the fall?

(Bathsheba) "God loves you because you repented every time you realized you'd sinned. You grieved. You tried to do right. God knows you are only a man."

(David) "A man who has hurt everyone he loves and cost the lives of countless thousands." He shook his head, his eyes filling with tears. "Why did God do it? Of all the men in Israel, why did God choose me to be king?"

(Bathsheba) She knelt in front of him and rested her head in his lap. She smiled and closed her eyes as he combed his fingers through her hair. "Because you're the only man who would ask that question."

~Unspoken

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ruins

"A friend took me to the most amazing place the other day. It's called the Augusteum. Octavian Augustus built it to house his remains. When the barbarians came they trashed it a long with everything else. The great Augustus, Rome's first true great emperor. How could he have imagined that Rome, the whole world as far as he was concerned, would be in ruins. It's one of the quietest, loneliest places in Rome. The city has grown up around it over the centuries. It feels like a precious wound, a heartbreak you won't let go of because it hurts too good. We all want things to stay the same. Settle for living in misery because we're afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins. Then I looked at around to this place, at the chaos it has endured - the way it has been adapted, burned, pillaged and found a way to build itself back up again. And I was reassured, maybe my life hasn't been so chaotic, it's just the world that is, and the real trap is getting attached to any of it. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation."

~Eat, Pray, Love

Monday, September 27, 2010

Unsettled

Have you ever just felt....unsettled? I have been homeless, living with roommates for the past 6 months, waiting for our home to be built. Unsettled should be a feeling I have gotten used to by now. It just feels different this time. I feel like life right now is moving so quickly, and I just can't seem to keep up with it. I am aimlessly going from one thing to the next, getting done what needs to get done, in hopes of simply staying in the race. Life.....is beginning to change and will soon look very different, and I think I'm just "feeling" that. I can't stop it, hit the pause button, or even the refresh one (wouldn't that be nice?). So...unsettled....ready or not....I enter the next chapter of my life.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Young Love

Who can't think back to a first love (or "loves") without a smile coming to your face. You may even find yourself giggling a little, thinking about how silly you were in those days. But none the less, young love was fun: not a care in the world, no responsibilities, you could NEVER turn your head for another, would NEVER consider loving anyone else. Holding hands in public symbolized to the world that he was yours and you were his. Or even better than holding hands....having a token of that person to show the world. Which leads me to the reason for my ramblings.

Yes, I admit it, I am reading Twilight....again. I find that it truly is the one book I think I could read over and over and not get tired of. There is something about the innocence and sweetness of the book that lures me back in every time. Yesterday I came to the part in the book where Edward gave Bella his jacket to wear, which, in its simplicity, was a big moment. She wrapped up in it, loved that it smelled like him, and cherished it...because it was a tangible piece of him. I found myself laughing a little as I read this part because it made me think back to my high school days. I love when "love" is beginning/new/fresh and that just a mere token of the other person becomes almost a treasure. For Bella, it was a jacket. For Edward, it was Bella's bottle top. If you were like me, you had the football jacket, pin, and football number necklace!!!!! (I'm laughing out loud at the thought of what I must have looked like!) Regardless, it was fun! It was exciting to love someone so much that you wanted to show off that love to not only the world, but also to that particular person (even if in those days it was immature and may not have lasted long).

I think one of the reasons Twilight doesn't get old is because there is a small piece of me that still enjoys the simplicity of loving someone....when it doesn't include responsibilities, cleaning, cooking, laundry, bills, decisions, etc. While all of those things play a role in loving another, I don't think time and age should weather what brought you together in the first place.

Awwww.....sigh.....young love! =)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Stones....

Stones...hurt.

Size does not matter. Big ones squish. Small ones sting.

Strong. They are not easily broken.

Good for keeping things in. Good for keeping things out.

Why is it when we are older we begin taking all of those stones that have been cast our way and start building walls around our heart? Someone hurts us....add a stone. Someone lets us down....add a stone. Someone diminishes our hope....another stone. We're disappointed.....stone. Lied to....stone. We "feel" these things so deeply, that somewhere we want to just stop feeling them. We build that wall, piece by piece, stone by stone, so that next time....it may not hurt as bad.

So what then? This is where I was tonight..."was" being the appropriate word. Then something within that wall whispered:

"Trust me, Laura." ...... and a stone fell.

"Have faith that I am walking with you." ..... another stone....

"I will always take care of you." .......stone......


No matter how big or tall I build that wall, I forget that I am not the only one standing inside of it. And 'HE' is bigger and stronger and mightier than any rock! Many can throw stones, but only ONE can break them!


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fear

Breathe. Close eyes. Pray. Breathe. Hold...something. Pray. Relax. Motions.....these are the motions that usually take place within me while riding on an airplane. I wasn't always this way. In fact my first plane ride was to Hawaii. That's not exactly what I would call....easing into it. And I remember loving it. My next one....London/Paris.....that is where my the scar on my courage came from. I remember little about it except some of our guy friends holding their hands up on the plane as if we were on a roller coaster ride going up and down. I'm glad that at least they were amused.

I sit here writing this because I'm definitely battling mixed emotions about an upcoming trip. I am getting the opportunity to visit California in a few days. Part of me is ecstatic....a few hours, sitting, no one needing me, not having to make conversation with anyone, someone serving me (even if it is a beverage....heck, I might even go for an adult one), getting lost in a book, maybe even taking a nap. When you put it that way....that airplane ride sounds like the best vacation I have had in a LONG time. But thats just it....it's the longest flight I've been on in years. Can my nerves take it? I know this is silly. I know that people fly every day. I know that it is "safer" than riding in a car. I know, I know, I know...

"So if you're scared, why do it?"
"Because the things you are scared of are usually the most worthwhile. Just a theory."

....and then a line from one of my favorite movies sums it up! I promised myself a long time ago that I would never let my fear keep me from doing anything. So here I go again! Pray for me!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Keys

I sat on the bench, opened the top, placed my fingers on the keys, and closed my eyes. Without a single thought they began to move swiftly over the keys and play the beautiful Cannon in D.

"I can't believe I still remember how to play this and still play it so well after all these years."

And that is when it always happens. As soon as I allow myself to "think" about what I am doing, what keys I need to play next, I find myself stuck. I try to repeat the stanza I had just played, and sometimes I can't even remember that. It's the "thinking" that gets me.....every time. It is not satisfaction, but rather shock when I actually make it through the entire song....flawlessly.

I love the little ways God shows up in my daily life....and ALWAYS gives me a lesson. One would think I might learn something one of these days. A simple moment at the piano brought on today's epiphany on life. Every time I put too much thought into the steps I am taking, I will most assuredly stumble. However, when I simply walk through them, letting go and experiencing rather than thinking, I sometimes even surprise myself!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Let Go, Let God"

I have always been a dreamer. Most people say that they cannot remember their dreams, however, I have always been able to. Sometimes I wake from such a deep sleep (usually by a child crying =) ) that I have to sit for a minute to remind myself what is reality. The other morning, however, I awoke with a very clear image in mind. What was so interesting about the dream is that it wasn't a story, adventure, conversation, or anything that usually comes to life in the dream world. It felt more like a message....or maybe I should say "reminder." This picture in my mind was one that I remember so clearly from years ago. In fact, I remember discussing the meaning this image holds with friends in bible studies throughout college: a simple hand, gripping sand.

I like to be control of my world. Have I ever written about being terrified of flying? Well, I'm terrified of flying, and this past summer, I finally figured out why. I have no control of that plane. My job is literally to get in, sit, and let the pilot do his thing. I am putting my life in the hands of someone else. So that fear does not come from being confined in a small place, surrounded by strangers, tens of thousands of feet above the ground.....it comes from the fact that I have to let go and trust someone else with my life. MY LIFE!

So I begin to think about that sand. The things that make up our lives are as countless as the grains of sand we hold within our hands. We cling desperately to what matters to us, innocently believing that if we hold on tight enough, we'll never lose it. Yet we all know that you can't grip sand in your hand without it beginning to slip right through your fingers. When we hold it with open hands, however, palms up, as if we are "giving it away", it stays right where it should.

I think it is a sweet reflection of what God means when He asks us to have faith. He literally asks us to "give" him our lives, our joys, our sorrows, what matters most. This is something I struggle with greatly. I am usually the one holding onto that sand until God finally has to open my hand...and pick it all back up for me. If I would just trust Him to begin with, everything would stay right where it is supposed to be.

Somewhere along my journey I had forgotten about this tangible example of faith and trust. I awoke very in "aw" and very thankful that God never lets us forget His truth. And I am very thankful, that He never forgets me!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Time

"T...i...m...e.... is on your side, yes it is." Why the creepy song from Fallen is going through my head as I begin this post, I do not know. I started thinking today about time and what an interesting concept it is. It is funny what a simple thing as "time" can change. I was driving on the other side of town today. It is amazes me how big our little city feels sometimes. The college is on the complete opposite end of town, and there really aren't many reasons for me to ever go over to that side. When those rare days come, however, I am flooded with sweet memories. I try to convince myself that I am not really that old.....that it was only a few precious years since I graduated...that it wasn't in fact 11 years ago that I began that journey, gained independence, pledged a sorority, and made my lifelong friends. What was I writing....oh yes.....time! So as I was driving an old, familiar home caught my eye. It was nicely painted and appeared now to be some sort of christian fraternity. A few years back though, this was once a place I hung out in often, sitting on the porch with friends, and even busted out some air guitar while jamming to Lifehouse (still lovin' that cd BTW!!). As I continued driving down what used to be simple two lane road filled with many small, rundown houses (which is now a landscaped, 4 lane road, with renovated houses), I began to giggle to myself. On any given day driving down that same street 7 years ago, you may have seen Albert and Ramer sitting on top of their roof, just hanging out, enjoying the day!

I smile when I think of these memories, but what it really made me ponder is how quickly life can change. I can imagine that the faces that now call these houses home cannot begin to know what memories are held within those walls. In only a few short years, so much about them have changed. In a few short years, so much about ME has changed. It's kind of exciting and yet kind of scary, to look in the mirror and know....that in a few MORE short years, so much more of me will have changed. Time is ever moving, but just like these homes, each line, dent, faded piece of me will be a refection of a life well lived with many dear memories stored inside!!!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Holy HATS!!!

It is that time of the week again, or if you are lucky you've allowed two weeks in between....the dreaded grocery visit. If you are a stay at home mom you have both a love-hate relationship with this store. You walk aimlessly down the isles, thankful, one, to at least be out of the house and, two, for remembering to make that list before you left. As if you can actually remember what you need once you enter this endless land of (crying, screams, grabbing things off the shelves) food items! You usually allow yourself 30 seconds to think, "Do I dare enter empty handed? I mean...my children are EXPECTED to behave a certain way." And once that ridiculous thought passes, you reach for the....sucker, goldfish....basically anything that will provide you with a few minutes of concentration on what you are actually there to do.

If you can relate to this at all, then most likely you can probably relate to the events that occurred BEFORE leaving the house. While sparing details I will sum it up with one word.....HAT! That's right....in utter defeat, I put a hat on my head and headed to grocery store. Feeling exhausted (and it was only 10 am), lonely (is it this difficult for other people?), trying to figure out why this was the highlight of our day (meaning...this was the only thing on our agenda), I became suddenly aware of my surroundings. I think I saw at least three other moms trying to hide their non-made up face, dark circled eyes, look of surrender.....with a hat! How refreshing it was, in that moment, to realize that I was not alone. No words, no communication was needed to see that. It was simply stepping outside of my own world....and paying attention.

Being a Mommy, especially a stay-at-home Mommy, is tough business. It is definitely not for everyone. And on the days it doesn't even feel like it is for us.....that is why God made HATS!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Make Room for the "BUT"

4 months. It has been approximately 4 months since I last wrote on this blog. From the outside looking in, so much about my life has been changed over the course of that time. From the inside looking out, however, everything has changed. My heart and my head have been in a daily battle. "I have been hurting. Life is hard. I don't know who I am anymore. Things aren't going like I hoped they would. I am not happy." etc, etc, etc, whine, whine, whine

And then there was David.

I was sitting on the floor, completely broken, completely humbled, sobbing to Lord. I talk to the Lord often, but am guilty of not seeking Him like I should. Feeling defeated, I reached over, grabbed my roommate's Bible, and opened it to the page that was marked. Psalm 31. As I read the words of David, my heart began to cry with him. I couldn't have written the words in that moment any better.
"....I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress. My eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning. My strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. .....I have become like broken pottery...."
Can you feel that? I sure could!!! David was hurting. Life was hard. He was clearly not happy. His life was not going as he hoped if would. (....wait for it....)
.....BUT.....
"I trust in you, O Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands."
How much did David get it? He knew how to hurt and hurt well. He was real; he was honest; he wasn't afraid to be transparent. BUT.....he also knew what so many of us forget in the midst of our fears, sorrows, longings.....David knew who to give it to.

I forget so often that I am not the first to cry out to the Lord. I am not the first person he has had to counsel. He does understand, has walked in my shoes, has felt utter despair. And I believe in reminding me of David's words, the Lord was giving me a clear message. "It is time to make a little room in your life....for the BUT."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sap!

Yes, I am a self-proclaimed sap...and proud of it! I can't help it...was born with the gene...to feel vastly and love deeply! So I am admitting to the world that I struggle with the concept of love sometimes. I know movies are movies and books are books, and that we can't compare real love to what we discover in stories. However, there is a part of me that is conflicted with that response. I believe that as people, if we are able to be moved enough to not only write stories/movies of such depth, then somewhere, someone has had to "feel" that intensely. In my heart, it can't just be dreamed up. How could the God that has given us the ability to dream so far not also give us the capacity to love just as great?

So the purpose of my post.....I have just finished reading Wuthering Heights. I have really enjoyed reading the classics lately. I love finding myself in a different time period, allowing these books to be my eyes into the way life was long before me. I was so excited to read this book, yet felt so tragically sad as I finished it. While the book was filled with rough characters, despising moments, and deep heartbreak....the common theme was love. Heathcliff loved Catherine, and Catherine loved Heathcliff. She spoke of loving him so much so that she felt as if his very soul reflected her own. Yet she married another, and they were never to be together. Other than a brief moment before her death, were they able to humbly confess their love and wrap themselves within each others arms. And Heathcliff loved none other until the day he died.

I realize that I may be spoiling the book for those of you who have not read it, but I think of their story and my heart breaks. How do you go through life loving someone with all that you are and never be able to be with that person? How do you find joy in life if part of you feels so empty? Maybe you don't, and you would react just as Heathcliff did....angry, bitter, hurt! I think we as humans can almost relate more to that storyline than one with a happy ending.

"The greater the love, the greater the fall.....except for the times, when love conquers all." I think I am going for a happy ending on my next read!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The House That Built Me


I'll never forget the last time I walked out of my childhood house. I was home from college for the weekend. For whatever reason, my mother and I had been arguing, and I stormed out angry. When it finally hit me that the next time I longed for home I would find myself in another house, my heart completely sank. I sat outside, hiding myself between the one foot wall separating the garage doors, put my head in my hands, and sobbed. I knew, through my immature actions, that this was not the way to leave. My pride, however, kept me from reentering my house. And I left.

I left. Those words....that memory...still aches my heart with grief. I think about going back there often, knocking on a stranger's door, explaining who I am. Each time I am in town, I drive by and notice from the outside alone how much it has changed, and decide that I don't want my memories to be clouded by foreign images.

When I heard this song, it took me back. I am so thankful that no matter how far we are in life, we can close our eyes and find our way back home. When I close my eyes I find myself in my favorite childhood memories: Climbing pine trees all day long. Making forts underneath out of all the pine needles. Sappy fingers. The grove behind our house and the wild turkeys that would make it their nesting place by day. Sitting in, what felt like, a field of buttercups behind our home....and picking them out of our neighbors yard to bring home (which I'm sure they loved). The fresh smell of the mowed grass every weekend. Playing with the neighbors till dark. Riding our bikes everywhere. The color of the trees in autumn. The fresh air up on the mountain. The quietness and stillness up above city life. My moments with God on the brow....finding peace in all his beauty. Jumping off the back of the shed into our pool. Laying out on top of the shed. Water volleyball parties. My maple town world in our guest room closet. Playing on the stone wall, watching everyone enter the neighborhood. My church family. Carabining off the tennis wall...which I later knocked down with the car. The baseball field Dad made.......

I feel like I could go on and on and on. I was very blessed with a wonderful, loving, safe home. I love it so and cling to my memories because they made me who I am today. Sometimes I do feel a bit lost, not being able to go back to the place that stores so much of my heart. Yet I am so blessed that I don't have to go far to find it again.

"Won't take nothing but a memory, from the house that built me."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Same Kind of Different As Me

This may come as a complete shock to those who know me well....but I....have become a reader. I think it is my long lost passion. I can't recall why I never liked to read growing up. There is something about being "made" to read that takes the fun right out of it.

One of my sweet friends told me about this book. The cover of the book reads, "a modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together." I was truly touched by the true story of Denver Moore and Ron Hall. It amazes me daily the relationships that God can bring together, but even more so, the wisdom that can come from the most unexpected places.

The wisdom I am referring to came from a homeless man (Denver), and I wanted to share some of his quotes that stuck with me from the book. I hope that I can carry them with me always and begin viewing the world as he did.
"The Word says God put ever star in the heavens and even give ever one of em a name. If one of em was gon' fall out the sky, that was up to Him too. Maybe we can't see where it's gon' wind up, but He can."
"Our limitation is God's opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain't nothin you can do, that's when God takes over."

"But I found out everybody's different-the same kind of different as me. We're all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us."
.....and this one of course I not only love, but believe whole heartedly.....
"There's somethin special about a river, somethin spiritual that I believe goes all the way back to the river Jordan."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Magic

"She tapped her finger & nothing happened & she thought she had lost her magic, but it had only changed & it took her awhile to figure it out."


I love this quote! When I read it for the first time it was like a lightbulb went off within me. I feel like it is the very definition of my life in this season. I have been struggling with identity. Who was I before I had children? When you look in the mirror, hair flowing in all directions, teeth have not been brushed, pajamas still in check, and realize you haven't even eaten today....you start to wonder sometimes if you have lost your magic....lost what made you YOU in the first place.

For someone that doesn't handle or accept loss well, I am beginning to see that it is an unavoidable part of our existence, and that it has a funny way of presenting itself sometimes. Whether it be loss of self, loss of love, loss of friendship, loss of life....somewhere in our journey whatever is taken from us leaves us....lost. It has been a tough year, but what I am realizing is that I am still me. I haven't lost what makes Laura, Laura....my magic has just changed....and it has taken me a while to figure it out. Even though each day is a new journey, whether good or bad, I am learning how to bring myself back to life again. Pajama days may not be a rare gift anymore....but they are certainly a gift. My dance parties may be a little different.....but I can still break it down. The jokes may be more about survival....but I still love to laugh. The world may not be at my fingertips....but I hold MY world in my fingertips!

.....It took me a while to figure it out (and most days I'm still figuring it out)......but there's still a little magic left in me!!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Complete Humility...

I will probably find myself writing many blog entries about my weekend retreat. There were so many moments that truly touched my heart...and so many times I heard God's whisper. One of those moments came in the form of a girl named April. I sat with her Friday night and listened to her tell all about her path to becoming a Special Education teacher. She told me that it was difficult for her growing up with cerebral palsy and always being treated so different. April wants to be a teacher to help and love children going through experiences she herself faced as a child. Not only that, she works at a camp helping children with disabilities. I was truly touched by her story and her zest for life. She has done more for others in her years than I will probably ever do in my life. April ended up spending most of the weekend with us, and I am pretty she sure thinks I am about as crazy as it gets after our Saturday night of dancing, laughing, and being silly.....

......but as I stood in worship, praying through some battles within my own heart....I looked over and saw April. She had tears in her eyes, her hands lifted to the Lord, and she was singing for joy. And I thought to myself......wow. She has faced trials that I can't even begin to comprehend much less understand, and there she is praising our Lord.

When the weekend ended I went up to April, hugged her, and told her I really enjoyed meeting her. And do you know what she told me.......that I was beautiful, that I have the sweetest heart, and that I really made her laugh.

Oh boy....did she really have it backwards! Complete humility!

Joy In the Journey...

"The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step." That is the message I am holding in my heart today. I began last weekend a broken mess and walked away, not fully restored, but feeling hopeful once again. A war is not won is one big sweep, but in the small victorious battles. I am learning....that it is all about the battles.

Joy on the Journey
In the last two years the Lord has blessed me with two beautiful children. And because of these sweet blessings, I have been unable to attend the women's retreats at church. This year...I was out of excuses. Not really feeling a strong desire to attend as well as thinking this was going to be a fun, light weekend of conversation.....I set out on the road to Dickson. My heart has been heavy for a while now....heavy with life, responsibilities, loss of identity. Somewhere along this journey I have found myself living in the existence that this was as good as it gets....and I have not been satisfied. So when I walked into our first conference Friday night I prayed this prayer, "Lord God, I am here. Whether I feel like it or not, I am completely opening my heart to you this weekend, and all I am asking is that you show me you are here." Then worship began. As a faster pace song came on, a beautiful black woman began to clap. I laughed a little to myself and thought, "She looks like fun. I am going to have to meet her this weekend." About ten minutes later, this woman turned out to be our speaker. As she introduced herself we were given the opportunity to write down questions for her to answer. My question was, "You have 9 children and still seem so happily married. I struggle to be a good wife and only have 2. Do you have any advice?" See....I can ask a hard question like that when I do it in secret....on a paper....where no one knows it is me. Her answer was sweet and refreshing....."Remember to laugh, for this world is not our home." The answer brought tears to my eyes because I was reminded of how often I forget the truth in that statement. And then she did it......"Who wrote that question....if you don't mind me asking?" There I was, tears in my eyes, and I had to stand up, in my brokenness, and reveal that it was me. She came up in that moment and gave me a great big hug.....and I thought, "Okay God, you're here, and you're listening."

There were so many moments about this weekend that left me truly in awe. God showed up in so many places. This weekend was anything but fun and light. It was cut throat, honest, and deep.....and it made me realize that I have lost my joy. I seek happiness, and while happiness is a good thing, it is fleeting. It comes and goes as easily and quickly as the wind. And if that is our heart's desire, when those moments are gone, we are left empty. Joy is a choice. James 1:2 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds....." Not IF you face trials....WHEN you face trials. One thing our speaker said this weekend that I am going to try to take with me on this journey....."We can have joy in the midst of anything we face because we know at the end of this journey....WE WIN."

So here I sit, pondering my journey, and what I have truly given to the Lord. He has given to me.....many, many undeserving blessings.....yet what do I give to him? I'm going to begin fighting battles for Him....and being joyful in those victories, no matter how small they are. And I'm going to do this in faith....that he has more planned for me than I am allowing myself to experience. So I make this promise....."I will hit my knees every day, Lord, whether I want to or not, whether I have anything to say or any joy to bring you. And all I ask is that you meet me in that place."

"From every day to eternity.....We were made for the journey."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Choruses and Bridges

It is not a strange fact to anyone that I enjoy writing....in all shapes and forms that can encompass. For years now I have considered myself a "struggling" guitar player. I've taught myself the basics...enough to get by on, enough to strum a melody....and I still hold on to a hope of learning to one day play well. What I've discovered about myself over the years is that I love to write songs, pouring into them life, experiences, and feelings. I was taking my child to school today when I started singing/brainstorming a song that I have played around with time and again. I love the innocence that only a child can display as he said, "Sing it again, Mommy." Only a sweet, endearing two year old can find joy in his mommy's not-so-eloquent singing voice. As I began to sing, as well as search my brain for other songs I have once written, I realized that I have written many songs that include only a chorus and a bridge. Looking at the pages and pages of scribbled words that fill my guitar box, I began to wonder why that was. "Life is filled with joyful moments as well as sad ones. It is the sad moments, however, where I usually draw my inspiration, so I take the good with the bad." I said these words the other day to a friend, but it didn't occur to me until this morning how much I truly apply them to my life. When I am discouraged, worried, anxious, I write. Words pour out me quite easily......thus, the chorus. And the passion that emerges from the new strength, understanding, and ability to overcome sets up a nice bridge. I guess it shows my inexperience in the song writing category...my childish impatience of wanting to know how the story ends. In doing so, I leave out the most important part...the details! Maybe one day I will try to finish these songs or maybe I will just leave them for what they are, knowing the moments that led me to write those words are long past. However, it has allowed me to see that sometimes in life I need to slow down, take in the richness of the verses....for that bridge may lead to a whole new ending!