Once Upon a Time…

FullSizeRender (5)Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, a doe-eyed baby girl kissed with dimples and sprinkled with heavenly prayers was placed in the arms of two naïve “kids”. They loved one another and this princess with every ounce of their being, but had no idea just how much this princess would teach them about life, love, and happiness. Today, twenty-one years later, they continue to find themselves completely honored by the privilege and gift of her in their lives.

You see, this is not just any ordinary princess dressed in pink and donning a crown; this one has no need for such grand flare and dismisses such things as “silly”. She’s a blue jeans kind of princess who unknowingly leaves behind glittery sparkles wherever she goes. Her smile alone lights up an entire room and is more than contagious; it has the ability to lower guards and invite others into friendship because somehow it communicates what words struggle to do and accepts others no matter what. It is grace-filled and loving. IMG_3766

As you might expect, this princess is both witty and sassy. She is strong and speaks her mind–fully unaware that the Truth that lives within her is a light to others. Her unique perspective is a breath of fresh air because although she speaks her mind, she doesn’t realize the depth her words hold. In the chaos, in the mundane, where most others stop at the surface, she dives deeper searching for meaning and soul. She has a desperate need to know and to be known. She is respectful and honoring to others for who they are and where they are without judgement.

Her creativeness is abstract, witty, and innocent, which reflects the jazzy rhythm of her heart and the way in which she takes on each and every day. She goes with the flow, holds no agenda, and yet lays her head down each night completely filled–sometimes filled with happiness, while other times overwhelmed by the injustices and pain surrounding her. She longs to do and be more. She is discontent to leave things as they are and knows she has a responsibility to be part of the solution–if she, if we, only knew what that was. She wears her heart on her sleeve.

FullSizeRender (12)Her parents were convinced early on that she was given an extra scoop of emotion because her passion is truly unmatched. Unmatched! Sadly—naively– her parents used to want to harness some of her wildness—often mimicking recklessness– tame it, make it more presentable to the world, help her not to feel so deeply that at times she was incapacitated. The thing is, this princess is a warrior child and even in the moments where she was brokenhearted, her heart was also constructing a plan for how to take action. She prays, writes, yells, cries–and at the end–she picks herself up and warriors on.

You see, her now middle-aged parents dreamed of their princess from the moment they knew she would soon enter the world and be their responsibility. They dreamed of lazy summer days picking flowers. They dreamed of cuddles on the couch reading Jane Austin or learning side-by-side in whatever life threw their way. They pictured a delicate, well-behaved princess dressed in pink and fitting into their well-crafted dreams for her–for them. They knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but they believed the Son would still shine over them in the difficult times.

Never in their wildest dreams did they envision the hurricane that stormed into their lives 21 years ago, forever altering their lives, forever etching memories–some being hilarious–such as the time she clung to a scantily dressed, headless mannequin in the window of Victoria’s Secret screaming at the top of her lungs that *this* was her mother, which alarmingly alerted all strangers and security in the mall to believe, briefly, that her “real” mother was a child abductor as she tried prying her delightful 3-year-old from the bare leg. (this was not funny at the time)

While some memories are hilarious, others have left chinks in Princess’ armor, which cannot be buffed out, nor does she want them to be because they serve as a reminder of where she has been, what she has learned and why she is loveable as she is. Her value and worth have nothing to do with those chinks, but everything to do with the hand of the One who held her through each and every trial, the One who forgives and gives grace, the One who lavishes love without regret or the expectation of repayment. Her scars now serve as a well-worn path to the rugged cross where she is reminded that she was born for so much more than all of this—that this life is temporary—and that she is still the object of His affection no matter what she does. She is His. In these great battles, she didn’t realize that she was teaching her parents to trust God, rely on Him to protect and guide her.

IMG_3906Those initial dreams the princess’ parents had, had been incomplete, lacking the depth and life that princess has added in an array of unexpected ways. The couple was blissfully naive. No one dreams of fighting, tears, heartache, death…and yet, the Son still shines, love lives on–strengthening, evolving, with each new lesson.

It’s the princess’ twenty-first birthday today, a day that floods her parent’s minds with memories of old and dreams for the future. Ultimately, it’s a day that fills their hearts with so, so much gratitude for the gift of her–and all, all that she is to them, to the world. She probably has no idea the impact she makes when she walks into a room let alone how she has literally made her parents’ lives richer, fuller, happier. She probably has no idea that she has taught them to love more.

I know it’s her birthday, but I kind of feel like it’s mine because without a doubt, we were given one of the greatest gifts in all the world the day she was placed in our arms. Wishing you the happiest of all birthdays Dear Abigail. I love you with all I am and all I ever hope to be.

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“Badassery” Friendships Pt 2

Read Badassery Friendships Pt 1 Here

IMG_3111Until I met HER!

I’ll admit, I was completely taken aback by her at first. I mean, after all, she introduced herself to me as, “I’m not a stalker, I promise, but I know you from Facebook. I recognized you by your hair”. I am sure you can picture my wide-eyes and curiously big (not so real) smile as she proceeded to fill me in, which by the way, sounded far less creepy as she went on! We talked for probably a full 20 minutes, cutting some of the fat from the meat already, which left me intrigued by this seemingly confident gal. We parted ways and that was that. Until the next week, when our co-op brought us together again. Again, we talked endlessly and I found I wished our time didn’t have to end.

I liked her.

There was something different about her. I didn’t see her for several weeks, but she crossed my mind several times and so I stalked her on Facebook, because honestly, isn’t that what we do now? Be honest! I sent her a message and coffee ensued a few days later. We talked as if we had known each other forever, but my inner voice warned me not to get too close because she would just leave once she knew things about me or over the first disagreement or something… (I wish I could say that we out grow our pesky insecurities, but it seems they rear their ugly little heads in unexpected ways, like this)

A few weeks pass with texts and calls and we eventually meet for coffee at a crack dealership, I mean, bookstore! With Americanos in hand, we strolled the aisles sharing our thoughts about this book and that book, when she abruptly stopped and insisted she was buying me Glennon Doyle Melton’s “Carry On Warrior”. Uuuuhhh, there was no way my pride was going to allow her to buy me this book, so I bought it myself and read it cover to cover in a few short days (In case you aren’t reading between the lines here, I totally recommend this book).

The next time we met, she assertively said, “OK, this is how this is going to work. We’re going to be friends. We’re going to be vulnerable with one another and it’s going to be uncomfortable and we’re going to be OK with that, OK?” Sunned, because no in all the world talks like this (do they?). I think I only nodded my head and took another sip of my coffee. I mean, what is the proper response to that? Was it bold and daring? Yeah. Was it risky as hell? Yeah. She’s courageous; perhaps the most courageous person I know.

I’ll admit, at that point she only knew what I wanted her to know about me: the good stuff, the flattering stuff. I have shame, regret, and so much more stuff— and as much as I cringe when I share some of my stories, they are also the very ones that have shaped me into the woman I am today. To not share these parts of us not only dishonors our journey and the hard work accomplished, but also the One who enabled us to work through the muck and the mire. And it is through these very stories that Christ continues to shape and refine us more into His likeness.BestFriends

So, I risk it.

I bare my soul right off the bat. I face my incredible discomfort; completely willing to endure another disappointment because deep down I know I am worth this kind of friendship. I know I am worth the risk. She is worth the risk. And you know what she did? She cried with me. She hugged me.

Brene Brown points out that “We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t choose both”.

best_friends_for_girlsFriendships go through ups and downs. It requires work on both parties. It requires legitimately putting ourselves out there. It means being willing to embrace where our friends are, where they have been, and where they dream to go no matter the wounds that still sometimes fester, scars that remind them of battles both lost and won, and struggles they won’t have to work through alone because you will be by their side and vice versa.

I’m not good at surface-y friendships, but I’m learning to be pretty good at this “badassery” kind!

“Badassery” Friendships Pt. 1

As an introvert, I like to pretend I’m a badass; more in my head than in reality, mind you. I think it’s a worthy adjective for those people living life “up here”, not afraid to boldly speak the truth– in love, of course, and even if tpulseras-con-botones-paso-a-pasohey fear rejection, they risk being vulnerable with others. It is this select group people who see others where they are, accepts them there, doesn’t try to change them, but simply desires to walk life’s journey alongside us–not for our sake or for theirs, but because it’s LOVE; and they’re in the business of living life courageously with others, no matter the cost.

Badassery”, as Brene Brown has so eloquently dubbed this paraphrased description, turns so much of what we have believed about friendships upside down, when she talks about how we become courageous when we are willing to be vulnerable. Ironic, isn’t it, because we often wait for courage to somehow happen upon us, sturdy-ing our stance, before we are willing to lower our guard and allow ourselves to be fully exposed. She states that it is quite the opposite; that it’s in our vulnerability, we become courageous.

Let’s be honest, courage can quickly deflate when our vulnerability is just hanging out there for anyone to see and potentially trample on. It doesn’t feel good when we have taken off the proverbial life vest, and taken a gigantic step away from our warm and comfy self-protection. It hurts to not have our vulnerability accepted and/or even reciprocated. It doesn’t throw caution to the wind, however. There are safeguards to put in place, because we know not all people are safe people. And by the same token,

Vulnerability is the birthplace of many of the fulfilling experiences we long for—love, belonging, joy, creativity, and trust–to name a few—the process of regaining our emotional footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values are forged” (Brene Brown).

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As an introvert, surface talk slays me, literally sucking the life out of me oh so s-l-o-w-l-y! When I share life with you, I want to know the deep, gooey, icky, details of what makes you tick. I resonate with you in this place. I can breathe in this place. I don’t know how to breathe when talking only about the Seahawks game–and not because I’m not a major fan–but because it doesn’t tell me anything about YOU, about what you’re learning, struggling with, rejoicing in… I want to live those moments with you, feel what you feel.

To be honest, I’m not awesome with friendships. I’ve never really learned how to do it. For the most part, many left me unfulfilled, some were one-sided, where I was the only one to reach out, while others remained surface-y. I always believed there was so much more to be experienced in friendships and yet rarely did I meet others who were willing to genuinely live life with all its ups and downs and everything in between moments together.

Friends do things together, talk about this and that, encourage, and pray with one another. Friends share stories of young and old. They share dreams. They hold one another’s children, clean their kitchens, pick up rice at the store for you because they know you need it before you do. Friends offer to go to your mammogram appointment with you when you’ve found a lump on “Lefty”. Friends “love you thru crazy” and sunshiny moments. They, themselves are not afraid to put themselves out there because they know that no matter what they do or don’t do in life, they are enough as they are–no matter what that looks like– and so are you. They are not defined by what they do, but by who they are, and Whose they are. They somehow have caught on to the truth that they are “worthy of love; worthy of belonging” and this knowledge impacts their every action, including friendships, even if it costs them something.

And although I am still wrapping my mind around my identity in Christ, I have somehow always known, as you have, that we were made to belong; we were made for community; for friendship that knows no bounds.

friendship-quotes-4-3452If we have been fortunate enough to receive such a precious friendship, we know it didn’t happen by chance. Somewhere along the line, we were intentional about genuinely sharing life together, even the messy parts; the parts that could potentially cause others to run the other way. We risked heartbreak. We shared our stories, not glazing over the hard parts, but allowed the areas where shame still loiters from time to time to be seen; for the raw emotions of regret, embarrassment, anger, resentment…to be shared.

For another to see us incomplete, still in the healing process…this is vulnerability at its best and only one of two things will result: intimacy or disappointment.

I’ve risked more times than I can count; shared my vulnerable little soul with others with the hopes of growing deep and lasting friendships built upon something so substantial, so solid, AKA Truth and Trust and have been left at the proverbial alter, so to speak. This has caused me to play a role I was never created to play, one filled with shallow pleasantries. It is the accepted role. Too much beyond that just seems weird, if groundwork hasn’t been laid, which requires risk. For an introvert, I’ve been good at playing this role, but it’s lonely. It’s left me at an impasse: Do I keep trying (risking) or do I accept my seeming lot in life? I am certain we all have a pit-stop here and what we do next is pivotal.  To be honest, I’d been hurt so often that protection seemed the best choice and I had resolved, that I was OK with surface-y friendships.

Until I met HER!

“Badassery” Friendships Pt 2