She Made My Heart Stop
Often, when I'm frustrated or weary, I sing hymns. It always settles that anxious feeling.
Yesterday, as I finalized grades and prepared to recieve yet another student in my class on Monday I started to sing "It Is Well with My Soul". My daughters were hanging out in my classroom, waiting to go home as I rushed and hurried to get things done.
I sang through the first verse as I stapled learning goals to my bulletin board and as I came the chorus I started hearing the echo or alto part of the hymn being sang back to me. I froze and turned to see Micaela watching and waiting for the next part of the song.
I kept singing, "It is well..."
and she immediately responded, "It is well"
I continued, "With my soul."
And she flapped her hands excitedly to repeat, "With my soul!"
She knew the whole chorus. And then, when I stopped singing completely, she switched roles and did the melody while I echoed back.
I'm telling you. My heart stopped and I had goosebumps all up and down my arms. Here is my little girl who didn't walk or talk until she was five and now she is singing hymns on pitch.
I'm thinking there was a lot of seeds planted in her heart and soul that I'm just now started to see grow within her.
We all have things that are planted in the soil of our heart. I am so thankful that God is a faithful gardener, willing to keep tending me even when I worry and fret and distract myself. I am so very thankful when I see good things growing in my daughters, things that have been planted in them with careful attention by my Heavenly Father.
This year, I've been enjoying seeing my older daughter, Adela, express her faith as she encourages ME. If I express any discouragement, she is eager to lift me up and remind me of God's plans and goodness.
I love see this process of watching the seeds of God's goodness and truth grow in my daughters and myself. It helps me stay in the good fight and run the race that God has set before us.
And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Are you ever surprised or thankful to see the seeds growing in yourself?
My life feels a little like the fluctuations of the New Mexico weather. One day we're enjoying a soft warmth from quiet sunshine, and the next moment the winds seems to cut through to your spine and all you can do is breathe.
A couple weeks ago Micaela had a seizure. One moment I was putting away dinner and the next moment my husband and I were administering rescue medication and oxygen to our precious baby girl. It floored us. And, the sad news is that as she begins to go through another stage of physically development, our neurologist warned that epilepsy tends to get a lot worse.
Micaela recovered. New medication levels were administered, and I lifted my chin. Life goes on and you face it one blow at a time. But for whatever reason, the blows kept coming. Micaela got a head cold and lost her equilibrium for 72 hours. Then things at schools got more complicated with new students (who are amazing but still a change to our class routines and dynamics) and everyone seemed to be needing extra emotional TLC.
I couldn't quite describe the feeling that came over me. Between my worries over Micaela and the extra stress at work, it was like I was always looking over my shoulders, waiting for the next bomb to drop, the next shock to add another fracture to my soul.
Thank God there are seasons. Our Heavenly Father allows us to go through these moments, not because we need toughening-up, but because our we need to train our feet to go running right back to Him. We need to trust His provision, protection, and wisdom so that we will never feel unsafe, unsupported, and alone.
I'm so thankful that Lent begins this week. I love this time of year. For 46 days we enter into a period of fasting and worship. Every year I do this a little different, concentrating on whatever part of my life has drawn away from God.
Right now, I want to give Him all these little worries. They are what is tearing apart my world. Yes, in my world they are big things, but in God's hands they are part of His beautiful plan and story for my life.
Dear Lord, teach me to rest in that. To trust in You.
Where have you felt little worries hurting your heart these days?
Momentum in All the Mighty Places
Right now Micaela is in the living room, sitting on the couch, reading out loud. Yes, She has her farm book mostly memorized so it is not traditional reading, but she is enthralled and doing it! I am so excited to see her interest in reading increase.
It is just one of the many areas in my little world that I'm seeing surprising momentum.
Probably, though, the person that is fascinating me the most is Adela. She is ten and going through a lot of changes in these pre-teen years. Last month we weaned our miniature donkey, Abigail, and Jovani assigned the job of halter breaking her to Adela.
Every day, including the recent cold-snap, Adela has been out in the pens with her new project. Patiently she has taught her how to lead, allow you to check her feet, and how to maneuver around objects that might otherwise frighten her.
When Adela first started with her, Jovani had to show her a few things. I watched from the window as that stubborn little donkey refused to do anything but run away or lie back on her heels when she felt the pressure on the rope. She also did a bit of biting and kicking. Alarmed I didn't know how well the halter breaking would go.
Honestly, I underestimated the element of consistency.
Within the first week Adela was leading her.
It is incredible.
You know, often in our goals we look for momentum to just start happening on it's own. As if the universe will align to give us a little push and then we can get going. However, it's just not the way it works. We have to get started with the little things and be willing to do them over and over.
Micaela's reading is also taking off. She can recognize five sight words and is thrilled to sit down with me and read a book together. She can even retell a little bit of the story. It is HUGE. But, once again, consistency got us here. Everyday at school her teacher and EA work with her, and every night, even on the weekends, I sit with her and go through her words and then read a story.
Consistency shapes our soul. I think it is greatly missing in our fast-moving culture where we are constantly looking for the next thing or craving a quick fix. Consistency in the small things has blessed my world and I am so thankful for God's strength to keep going.
I'll have to keep you posted on Micaela and Adela's progress, my friend. Thank you for your continued prayers for my family during this time. We love you.
I would love to know, where have you been consistent and are starting to have momentum?
It was so embarrassing. I stood behind my little group of students and helped them work through the lesson, but the computer kept telling us time and again that their answers were wrong. The students, stuck on a never-ending assignment about chemical change and conservation of mass, should have been frustrated with me. Instead, they just kept going.
The sweat on my palms grew as I googled and learned and finally figured out the fine points well-enough so that those kids could finally move on.
Ouch. It felt like an epic teacher fail. Or, at least it did, until the next day when they were so excited to begin again-same computer program, different concept. I pondered it as we worked through the questions and challenges (I was more helpful this time) and realized that something about my students had changed. They were working hard, not complaining, and entirely relaxed. Why?
And then it hit me--they were finally having fun and learning and pushing against the challenges because it was okay not to have all the answers.
Oh. My. Goodness.....YES!
Doesn't that feel great? When you are at peace to just forge ahead, and work and not be expected to have all the answers? Just one foot in front of the other.
I was running on my treadmill the other day and listened to the story of Noah. I don't know exactly which part caught my ear, but suddenly I realized that Noah did hard, back-breaking work and yet had very few answers. He didn't know how all the animals would make it on board (God sent them into the ark when it was time). He didn't know when it would rain. He didn't know what the experience would be like our what his life would entail after the flood.
Noah just worked.
My friend, I need to do a little more relaxing in God's answers and less relying on my own scheming and worrying to get me through these days. I'm heading into so much new territory as I start my life coaching business, parent a pre-teen, and navigate all the unexpected aspects of home/work/farm/family.
One foot in front of the other.
I don't have all the answers. And, maybe it is better this way. Maybe I can smile and work hard, laugh and keep learning.
And rest in the One who doesn't change.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
In what area of your life do you feel like you don't have all the answers, but just need to put one foot in front of the other?
Wednesdays get me. Even now. Even today, smack dab in the middle of my Christmas break, I've stalled out, a listless mom playing Uno, finishing laundry, touching the cold glass of the window as I watch the cold front blow in.
I've ran out of steam...again.
Oh, but you should have seen me yesterday. And Monday.
I was a madhouse of energy, creativity, and productivity. I cooked, did Christmas activities, and crossed a lot of coaching tasks off my list as I gear up to launch the weight loss course again in 2023.
And, it is here, on this day, when I can't seem to get my gears moving, that a tiny part of my soul unveils a little mystery.
I always thought grace was for dirty nasty sin or the refusal to root out harmful habits. Grace was for bad words and ugly thoughts.
But, Grace is for my Wednesdays.
Today I'm just not enough. I'm tired, scared, frustrated...I want life to pause and give me a moment to decide my next thoughts, but instead time marches on and I waste it, spinning my wheels almost every single Wednesday.
Grace. Grace tells me I wasn't ever supposed to be enough. I'm supposed to have little pieces missing, the holes where I let more of God's Spirit in, making me ever more beautiful than before.
I don't need to try to mask it with a smile or fill it with a sweetness or a substance that would deaden the pain. My perfection rests in Grace, where I welcome Him.
And there, I am at peace.
Love you, my friends. May you also find grace today for each and every part of you that is still growing, maturing, and healing.
My Best Failures
I recently had someone reach out to me and ask that I encourage women not to give up, to keep pushing forward, and to be willing to humbly go to God to receive healing and guidance.
The question was humbling. I am not sure I know how to teach that. I am a little shy about directly teaching Biblical truths. I'm afraid of messing up God's precious word or making one of my precious sister-in-faith stumble in their own path.
However, at the end of the day, I can honestly say, that every true revelation and growth forward in my life has been fueled by both repentance for my stubborn-as-heck-need-to-control-everything and my humility in realizing I am so broken with out a Savior patching up all the holes.
The past six weeks I've been working with professionals to revamp my Weight Loss from the Soul group. As I do the work, I feel drawn to make sure every bit of powerful weight loss advice is grouped with the only Truth (God's word) that will draw them close to the Healer.
Six years ago, I was battling alcoholism. I wasn't all the way down the hole, but I was taking a good look into that dark abyss and begging God to pull me away. He did. It was step by step, healing by healing. Sometimes the next piece to my healing was a podcast, or a verse, or a Sunday morning message. Every ounce of strength to break free from those habits, came day-by-day and sometimes hour-by-hour.
Later, when I battled my emotional eating and unhealthy eating patterns, I realized that life is too short to run to anything for temporary pleasure or comfort when I am having to trade off mental peace and space that could be used for God's better purposes. Plus, God must smile each time I declare that His presence is more perfect than a piece of candy. I feel Him hold me tight when turn to Him instead of another taste because I'm feel torn by the stress of life.
But, how do I teach this? On some level, I can't. Each precious woman must discover this on their own. Like me, they must fail forward and fall into God's arms. They must got to Him for the strength to keep fighting to uproot strongholds.
And I, I want to fight for them too.
She's All the Pep-Talk I Need
I knew that day would be a gut-punch, but that didn't prepare me for the pain.
Since Micaela's infancy, we've been trying to get her on this special list called the Developmental Delay Waiver which would validate her disabilities and make her eligible to receive resources and support for the rest of her life.
It is a big deal.
But even with all of Micaela's medical issues and global developmental problems, she fell into a gray area and the only way to get her on that DD Waiver list was to obtain diagnostic testing after the age of eight confirming her permanent and multiple dissabilities.
Her school is so awesome, the moment she stepped food in school this year, they scheduled all the testing we needed to confirm her eligibility. Thursday was the day that I sat down with the diagnostician to talk about what she found.
We now can officially add intellectual disability to her list.
Even as I type the words my throat tightens and my eyes fill with tears. It is just a label, but it is also true. I already knew it, but it wasn't something that I had to acknowledge.
Later that day, I felt bruised and heartbroken, just like I have a thousand times in my parenting journey with Micaela. I thought about all the incredible friends and loved ones I could call that would be more than willing to lift me up and shower me with love and encouragement just as they've done a million times. However, I just couldn't summon the energy to say, "Hello" and have to explain all the numbers and assessments I had read through a couple hours before.
So, I begged God, to fill me with all the strength and hope I needed to lift my head again. And, I could almost hear His voice as He whispered, "That girl is the only pep talk you need."
I practically ran to Micaela's side where she was doing a tone-deaf rendition of "Let it Go." into a toy microphone. Her eyes lit up as I approached and her song got louder with an epic flourish of hand motions. She was so happy, so alive, so full of love.
She is the only pep talk I need.
When I look at her I see all the things she's learned. When I look at her I'm in awe of her large personality and the energy of her tiny body.
Thank you, God. Since her birth, since her first smile, since the first time I heard her laugh...at each moment You, God, have filled my heart with a hope beyond reason and a love beyond belief.
Is there something or someone special in your life that give you a pep-talk from God?
The Fun Side of Faith
Just when you get comfortable, start to feel successful, or think that you've figured everything out, God asks you to do something new.
May be He allows something big to fall into your lap or a problem to arise in your family. Or, as it is in my case, He asks you to move forward with a calling.
Talk about petrifying.
I just don't like it. I want a calling that comes with a 9 - 5 clock in and out. I don't want to sell anything or convince anyone of anything. I just want to do a good job. (This is, by the way, what many farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs feel 🤷🏽♀️).
About this time last year I felt called to develop a program for women who would like to lose weight and break down the strongholds they have around food and eating. The work fascinates and fulfills me, but as I take the program to the next level, the fear has been overwhelming.
A couple days ago I was out feeding farm animals and watching all the sheep graze peacefully out in the field. We had built the fence and opened the gate, watching them hop and jump and run forward, eager for the untrod ground and green feed. They have no thoughts of their forward feet taking them anywhere but to good places.
I smiled. God loves me. It really doesn't matter what waits for me on the other side of obediently stepping forward. His love surrounds me and allows the fear to fall away. All that is left is faith and, when I stopped to think about it, ... fun.
When all the worry is set aside and we trust in a powerful God who loves us, life is a brilliant adventure. It's fun. Even the challenges and slip-ups included in His beautiful plan are okay, because we are doing it with Him. Joy and joy again awaits.
This week, I'm setting fear aside. My heart lightens as I trust in my good good Father.
What has you paralyzed with fear today?
Wrestling with Time
I bit my lip and started the prayerful negotiation. "God, I can't sabbath this weekend. I have a cold. I'm way behind in all my work. The girls need things. I have to get stuff done. I promise, I'll get back to setting aside a day of rest as soon as I get through this course...and things slow down at school...and the garden isn't growing...and..."
I thank God He made the discomfort of my soul sharp and unrepentant. I knew, even as I haggled, that to disobey I would be saying that I didn't trust God.
I would be saying that I didn't trust God with the work He has given me. I would be saying that I didn't trust God's big picture for my life. I would be saying that I didn't trust God's promises. I would be saying I didn't trust God to be sharing truth when He told us over and over that a day of rest is crucial for our life.
So, I held my breath, shut one eye, and closed my computer at 4pm on Saturday evening.
Jovani was away for the weekend, studying for two major exams this week. The moment I stepped away from my computer the girls swarmed me like happy little bees, full of ideas to watch movies and eat waffles and snuggle in our pajamas.
Immediately I was so glad I said, "Yes." to God.
The next 24 hours were full. We stayed home from church with our suspicious sniffles, had coffee with my dad, made pasta, watched TV, sang songs, and read books. It was beautiful and restful. My heart filled with joy, the joy that comes when you rest in God's promises, no longer required to carry the burdens of life alone.
So far, the week has been blessed by our Sabbath, just as God promised.
What surprises or blesses you when you take a day of rest?
Sometimes We Cry
The garage felt cold as wrapped my arms around my waist and sobbed. The last kitten had died. Each one had died the same way. By the time the third and last one grew sick, I had known the end would come,but I had prayed and hoped and kept showing up to care for them. Our best guess is that they either had some sort of birth defect or a contagious virus or bacteria. It hurt so much to watch them die.
Those kittens were an extra burden for three and a half weeks. I had imagined the hard work would be worth it. I had envisioned the sweet, fluffy cats they would grow into. I had enjoyed watching Micaela pet them, Adela feed them, and even my students in my classroom help care for them. Their end hurt. And it felt so frustrating.
It made me ask that old question, “Why did I even try?”
We ask ourselves that question about a lot things. You know the things: the ones that are beyond our abilities, the ones that are beyond our resources, the ones we have never succeeded at, the ones that everyone tells us aren’t worth it or aren’t right for us.
But, then we try anyways.
And sometimes we fail.
In that sad moment, alone in the garage at 1:00am, I felt the darkness of the world swirl around me. Everything felt hard. Everything felt like too much.
God must have been waiting for that moment, for me to fall hard, for me to be still, so that He could hold my hand and promise me that He wastes nothing.
More than that.
He rejoiced in every moment He watched me and my daughters and my students care for small and fragile kittens that He created.
He rejoiced at the lessons in perseverance and tenderness.
He rejoiced at the love those little ones were shown.
He rejoiced at the ways our hearts expanded and accepted our service.
God, celebrated our journey the whole time for three and a half weeks.
There are so many things I’ve done or tried that failed. I have such the terrible tendency to want to grab a big fat sharpie and scribble over the mistake, blotting it out so that it can’t be seen or understood by others. And, so much of my life has been this frantic rushing to work harder so that the blemishes are forgotten or so far in the distance that they cannot be recalled. I don't know if the kittens' end was my fault or not, but I know it was not the outcome I fought for.
Those kittens lived, were loved, and then they died. That was it, it was their whole journey. But, when my desire to throw it all away, blot it out so it doesn’t blemish my heart, I miss out on seeing just how amazing the experience was and how it changed my soul. Another moment in my own journey, one step closer to heaven.
Sorry if this blog post today seems sad. I know you all hurt, too, and wish certain journeys had never been taken. But God is on your journey, He goes before you and He walks with you. He rejoices as you grow. Our souls are more beautiful to Him than any success we could ever have. He loves us. He loves me. He loves you.
We should love ourselves that way too.
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"...and God was already there with me."