when insecurity comes calling

My Ryan was curled up in his bed under his covers. Hiding. Defeated. Pain written all over his face.  Sadness clouded his eyes. He whimpered a little when I tried to talk to him.  And my heart broke.

People don’t often get to see this side of my Ryan. What they see is an active, sharp boy who thinks he’s always right. He appears confident. But under that confidence, he hurts just like the rest of us.

I knew what was plaguing his mind. He didn’t even have to tell me. I’d seen it played out in his life time and time again. He’d done something wrong, and he was ashamed of his very existence.  To him, when he fails or when someone points out a fault in him, he believes everyone hates him. Us, his friends, his teachers, even God. I told him God loves him, and he shook his head. “No he doesn’t, ” he whispered, choked up with tears. He could not believe me.

What he did believe was that something was wrong with him, and that no one on this whole earth loved him. That he was a  failure. Unworthy of love. Rejected. “I wish I was never made,” he said. How familiar these feelings were to me. Myself having struggled with insecurity and rejection most of my life.

The tears welled up in my eyes. My sweet baby. Oh how I wanted him to grasp how precious he is to us. How precious he is to God.

So I started to tell him his story.

“You know, Ryan, we weren’t a very good mom and dad when you were really little. We didn’t know how to teach you about how special you are. That’s why you feel so ashamed of yourself. I’m so so sorry. We did our best, but we didn’t know how to be good parents. But even before you started growing in my tummy, I knew your name would be Ryan. God told me that one day. And I loved that name.”

his big, sad doe eyes found mine. I had his attention.

“And one day, dad and I decided we wanted another baby in our family. We wanted you. So we waited and waited, and then one night, in the middle of the night, I took a pregnancy test and found out you were coming! I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep!”

a faint smile played on the corners of his lips.

“But I had to wait a whole day to tell dad because he was gone for the weekend playing softball. When he got home, I told him right away and he nearly jumped up and down he was so excited!”

little giggle

“And then the whole time I was pregnant with you, everyone thought you were going to be a girl. We already had two girls, so both dad and I were really hoping you would be a boy. When you came out, dad looked down and smiled really big. You were a boy! Dad was so excited! I was too!”

full smile 

“When Aunt Sarah came to visit you, she didn’t believe us that you were a boy. She thought we were playing a trick on her, so she took off your diaper to check!”

big laugh!

“Do you see how wanted you are? How much we loved you even before we knew you were coming? How excited we were to meet you? How much joy you bring us? And God loved you before he even started making you. He knew what family to put you in, he knew every thing you’d be good at, he knew your heart. You are his child, my sweet son. I am so so so glad to have you. I wouldn’t trade you for anything in this world. Not anything.

peace fell over his face.

And then I loved on him. Kissed him. Held him. Hugged him. Prayed for him. I prayed that old foundations of insecurity and rejection will be torn down, and that God by a miracle would build a new foundation of acceptance in my boy. I have hope that God will restore what we as parents didn’t and couldn’t give Ryan.

I know that in His timing, He will work wonders in Ryan’s heart. For now, my job is to love him as best I can, pray like crazy, and to trust God.

Deep down, isn’t that what we all want? To be wanted, loved, accepted. To know we matter, to know we belong.

And only God can give that to us in the truest, most fulfilling form. He fills the holes in our hearts. And I am so thankful for that.

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start small to be a hero

My monthly post for Exodus Road …

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Do you ever feel discouraged about how to enter the enormous gap between human trafficking and life in the suburbs?  Exodus Road staffer, Kelley J. Leigh, is an ordinary  middle-aged mom to four sons and recently wrote an article over at Burnside Writers Collective about the paralyzation we ‘regular’ people feel about what to do when it comes to sex trade.  She writes ….

My former social justice slackitude stemmed from my belief in super heroes. “Those people” do this stuff, not me. “I’ll just leave them to their supernatural business and check in on them every once in awhile.”  However, I now see them simply as ordinary people who have followed God, one harrowing step at a time.  They didn’t start out as superheroes.  Back alley brothels and hidden cameras only entered the story after a long  series of small choices stepped them toward the bat cave.  It’s the same for all of us.  After the smallest pause and question, “What now?”  What Next?” is always an invitation.  It’s a Jesus invitation. “Follow me.”  Steps which obediently follow inevitably lead us to love God or love people in powerful and unimaginable ways.

And what does the LORD require of you? 

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8

One turn at a time.  One seed of holy unrest, watered.   One humble step. One choice to say “Yes” to the One true God who has a heart to rescue us all, one soul at a time.

Start small.  Water the seed. Let it grow.

Be a hero in this larger story.

Join the rescue.

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Kelley J. Leigh lives in a quirky little mountain town in Colorado.  At mid-life she decided to leave behind full-time marketing and consulting work to focus on writing.  The rest of her time goes to her husband, four sons, and the recovery of lost car keys. Someday she hopes to own an old scooter and embarrass her sons by wearing the very dorky helmet around town. Read the rest of the article, HERE.

the finer things of spring

It has been raining here in Holland Michigan for many days now. Maybe weeks. I lost count. But we have too much rain. And today is no exception – thunder storms and tornado watches.

I get sad when I don’t see the sun for so many days in a row. And after a long winter, I am so ready for spring. I know there is hope that Spring will come, because our God is good and faithful. But for now, I will settle with dreaming of warmer and dryer days ahead.

So I will share with you some of the Spring things from years past that make me happy and that I so look forward to ….DSC_0060copy DSC_0173copy DSC_0819copy DSC_0971copy DSC_0914copy

how I view ABSTRACT | part three in a twelve part photography series

To be honest, I don’t view abstract. Ever, really. It doesn’t cross my mind much at all. So this challenge was just that for me – a challenge. While out and about with my beautiful photog friend, Megan, shooting an engagement session, I pushed myself and  managed to get a little creative.

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I am thinking I will be more on the lookout for abstract in the future. It was a fun concept to think about and a challenge for my brain!

Don’t forget to hop over to Meg’s blog and Mickie’s blog to view their creative works!

grilling in the rain | and a recipe for grilled asparagus

I bought some asparagus at Aldi the other day, and have been really excited to grill it. So I decided that yesterday was the day despite the rainy weather. I added some hamburgers to the menu, and it was looking perfect.

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I thought I’d share my “recipe”. Its so easy that it can’t really be called a recipe, but we love it so much that it’s worth sharing for those of you who haven’t ever had delicious asparagus.

Four simple ingredients:

– asparagus

– salt

– pepper

– olive oil

Plus aluminum foil and a grill. 🙂

First step, of course, is rinsing it in cold water. Then I always cut off those hard ends. I hate it when I can’t eat the whole stalk of my asparagus because the end is too tough.

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Next, place asparagus on a long piece of aluminum foil, lined up pretty nicely, about three stalks high.

Then I drizzle generously with olive oil. Not too generously that it starts pouring out of the foil, but enough to coat all the stalks. I kinda “stir” it with my hands so that the oil gets dispersed.

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Next step is the salt and pepper. I sprinkle quite a bit on, because it just makes it better, in my opinion. But you can do as much or as little as you like. Makes sure all the layers get some!

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Then wrap it up by folding the long ends of the foil over each other to make a little packet. Fold and scrunch the open sides together until it forms a pretty good seal.

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Then you’re ready to grill. I usually do 6-7 minutes per side. It depends how crunchy or tender you like it. I like mine tender, so after 6-7 minutes on both sides, I check it to see if it needs to be grilled longer.

When was ready to grill last night, this is what was was happening outside.

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Yup, rain. Lots of rain. Thunderstorm rain.

Makayala asked me, “Are you going to grill in the rain?”

And I said, “Makayla, I’m pregnant. I’m hungry. I want a hamburger. And I am going to eat a hamburger. So yes, I am grilling in the rain.”

She looked at me like I was a little crazy.

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And maybe I was. It was a DOWN POUR. Seriously. I was soaking wet. But it really was worth it. Shane was kind enough to take photos of me through the window while laughing from inside the house.

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Thankfully, none of our kids like asparagus except Makayla so there was plenty for me and Shane!

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Daniel’s well

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My 5 year old Daniel and I were talking in the car the other day about wearing only one outfit for our whole lives. (I’m not sure how that topic came up. Maybe he notices that I wear the same yoga pants day after day. Anyway, I went with it.)

“Some people do only have one set of clothes because they don’t have a lot of money,” I said.

“Yeah, like people who live in China,” he said.

“Well, maybe. And other places too. It’s really sad, isn’t it? You know what’s even sadder?”

“What??” he asked.

“When people don’t have enough food or clean water.”

I explained, while his eyes widened, that kids can get sick and die because of dirty water. That they have to scoop up water from the dirty rivers and then their tummies hurt because of the germs.

“We should help them!” he exclaimed.

And now I’m getting excited, because one of my hearts desires is to have my kids want to share with others. I want them to have compassion. And I was just reading about World Water Day here and was relishing the chance to actually impact my kids with the information.

“We can, buddy! We can raise money for them to get a well in their village! Would you like to do that?” I offered.

After I explained what a well was, he whole heartedly agreed.

“YES! And we can get Grandma and Grandpa to help, and my friends, and Ryan and Makayla!”

And twelve days later, he is still excited. He asked Grandpa to help us raise money when he came over. He found a nickle on the floor and lit up saying, “We can use this for our well!” He asked our friends if he could add their spare change to his well jar. And at bedtime he asked Ryan if he’d like to join us in our quest. He even put all of the chore money he earned straight into the jar.

This is what we have so far.

DSC_0214I can’t wait for the day when we have enough, and he gets to feel the satisfaction of doing something of huge impact. And I can’t wait to tell him about all the little kids drinking a clean cup of water because of him.

We will be donating through Water Aid. Check out their website for information on how you can help as well! Such a fun project for families to do together! Thank you to aboutproximity.com for getting us excited about water!

weekend wanderings | our Easter

We spent our Easter with family. My family first, and Shane’s family after. It was wonderful. After a delicious lunch at my mom and dad’s house, my mom and dad explained to the kids that when we accept Jesus into our hearts, we become a new creation. Like a caterpillar changes into a butterfly, and it can never be changed back, we are secure in our new identity in Christ.

Then Grandma took the kids out into the woods for a butterfly hunt!

Here they are, all lined up youngest to oldest (minus the two babies 🙂 ), ready to go searching for butterflies!
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And there they go….into the woods!

DSC_0233copyMakayla was the first to find a “butterfly” – which was really a candy bar glued to clear, glitter-painted wings, hanging from a tree on a string. So cute, but hard to photograph as the wings kept flopping over. My mom is so creative.

DSC_0235copyThe boys were pretty excited when they found theirs!

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I love being in my parent’s woods….DSC_0240copy

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And each family got to go home with a butterfly habitat so we can watch our very own caterpillars turn into butterflies!

I am so glad that we got to celebrate today with our family. And I am thankful for grandparents who pass down God’s truths and love to our kids.

We are very blessed. Happy Easter! He is Risen!

“Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun.” II Corinthians 5:17

rest in HIS shadow

Sometimes I really do just feel like giving up and hiding.

Like crawling back under my covers and shutting out the world.

Like hunkering down in my house for the rest of my life so I don’t have to worry if my jeans are too worn out, or my scarf is so-two-years-ago.

Like never reaching out to others because I am afraid they will push me away.

It’s so much easier to be hidden.

Being out there feels hard. Risky.

Today is one of those days.

When I feel like this – insecure, unsure, unstable, overwhelmed – I realize that I have left my solid rock and floated off into a land where what man says matters more than what God says. A place where I am overly concerned with circumstances instead of God’s constant and sure promises.

“He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”  Isaiah 40:29,31

In times like this I need to return my hope to God. Return to my resting place. My solid rock.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

This is my 911 verse. My having-an-emergency-and-need-a-solution verse. It takes me awhile to get to it, because I use it when I’m at the end of myself. When I’ve tried everything on my own to be okay, and finally realize HE will make me okay.

Dwell in HIS shelter.

Rest in HIS shadow.

Lovely. Being in HIS shadow sounds divine. So protected.

So now I will breathe. Start over. Return to his shelter. Dwell. And Rest.

Thank you, Father.