The end of 2019 wasn’t what I expected. My time away from social media and work was supposed to be a time of purpose and presence. Vision and planning. Breathing and receiving. I wanted to enjoy the season with my family, and find clarity for 2020. I expected to slip into a meditative and peaceful state. For God to breathe life and confidence into me. I expected revival through stillness. I wanted comfort and peace after a year that was not comfortable or peaceful.
2019 actually thrust me into discomfort over and over. In good ways. And painful. For one, I created a product. A beautiful, meaningful piece of my heart - The Selah Journal. In producing it, I tumbled deep into Google for help, I compared samples and quotes, and waded through jargon and industries I didn’t understand. I felt inadequate and clueless. At a low point, I even found myself weeping into the phone to an account manger in Utah after a problem with the order. There I was, pulling my three kids in a wagon through the neighborhood and crying into the phone, saying something like...”I just wanted to make something that matters and everything is going wrong. I feel like I’m being attacked. Do you believe in God?” Like an out of body experience. I was unraveling and couldn’t stop. I was crying and babbling while simultaneously thinking, “I am really doing this. Losing it. I’m the crazy crying lady unloading on the nice 20 something account manager.” So, yeah. Making the journal was uncomfortable. Hard. Embarrassing. Vulnerable. And awful.
But also? I did it. With a lot of help. Grace. Gumption. And grit. I answered that call. And through the discomfort I grew stronger. And something beautiful burst through. The Selah Journal is a real thing. Made from my heart and my tears and my hopes and prayers. You can hold it in your hands. And it’s so lovely. I’m astounded really that it was born from my dream. It’s a pure treasure to me. And my secret confession is that I haven’t written in mine yet. I think I have a fear that my experience writing in it won’t be as powerful as the experience of making it. And I want to keep it shiny and perfect. I’m beginning to realize, though, that it will be even more precious when I pour my heart into a second time.
Another milestone of discomfort in 2019? Being a keynote speaker at a women’s conference. In my absolute wildest dreams, I never would have dared to imagine 2019 would be the year I took the stage for Selah. In a series of Divinely crafted events, though, I stepped on stage in total terror and delivered a message to a room full of women. Women who had sacrificed and paid and prioritized being there to listen. I still can barely stand it. The night before the event, I told my sister I was nervous. In her infinite wisdom and to my great comfort, she offered these words, “It doesn’t matter how much you practice or prepare. You’ll just walk on stage and black out and say something. Hopefully it will make sense.” So then I felt much better. And the next day, I put on a microphone and stepped on stage and spoke. It was terrifying and surreal and so uncomfortable.
But also? I did it. With a lot of help. Grace. Gumption. And grit. I answered that call. And through the discomfort I grew stronger. And something beautiful burst through. I spoke at Inspire. And the night it all ended I sat under the stars with the dearest people. Exhausted. Content. Overwhelmed with joy. I cried tears of disbelief that a wild promise had been fulfilled in the most unlikely way. The words I’d written here for years and years. During long quiet nights with tiny babies. The words God placed on my heart as I navigated early motherhood. They had to be let out. They poured out, unnoticed and unsophisticated. Those words built a bridge from the dark nursery to the stage of Inspire - where I was trusted to address precious mamas with words of love and encouragement. And my secret confession is that my friends videoed me speaking and I can’t bear to watch it. One day I will. Maybe. But for now, the experience is tucked away as complete. Whole. Fulfilled.
At home, 2019 threw me into a world I hoped I’d never know. A world of worry and fear. Uncertainty and helplessness. Just as the journal was launching. Days before Inspire. Baby Bonnie became very very sick. We limped through weeks of mild and unexplained symptoms. Symptoms that worried the doctors and sent us to the hospital over and over for tests and x-rays and ultrasounds and blood draws and knee taps and anesthesia and MRIs. Scared. Helpless. Grasping. From specialist to specialist, from drug to drug. With no progress and no answers. Then suddenly, everything changed. Swelling came and came. Fever burned. And our baby cried and cried in pain. A frantic drive to the ER in Jacksonville led us to a diagnosis that required immediate and emergency surgery. A rampant infection. A week in the hospital with our girl being pumped with round the clock IV antibiotics. More specialists. Slow progress. Then finally home. A desperate search for the special and rare and potent antibiotic she required. Four weeks of five doses a day. All hours of the day and night. Waking her to medicate. Follow ups. More tests. More scans. We have to be certain it’s gone. And then. Sweet sweet mercy. She was better. Bonnie’s ordeal? It hurt my heart and disturbed my spirit. Tested me and stretched me in severe and painful discomfort.
But also? I did it. With a lot of help. Grace. Gumption. And grit. I answered that call. And through the discomfort I grew stronger. And something beautiful burst through. I mothered my baby. I advocated for her and fought for her. Comforted her and provided for her. I learned through great resistance to accept my ultimate powerlessness. To entrust her to the Lord who created and adores her. When I hold her now I know I can do the hardest things. My secret confession is that I still pray fearful prayers of protection over my babies. I have to. I’ve been forced to acknowledge the dark truth of parenting - that we can’t protect our children from pain. In this world, there is pain for all people. Even our most cherished treasures. So I desperately pray God’s armor over my family. But I also pray joyful celebration over them. They are miracles to be delighted in every day. Fragile and finite on this earth. I was made to be their mother. And I will rejoice in mothering them every day I’m alive.
It was a year of terrible, ugly, transformational, glorious growth. I didn’t plan for it. Or expect it. I was nestled comfortably into my waiting. Focused fiercely on simple and slow. On breath. Deep and restorative. Breathing in goodness and waiting faithfully for my next right thing. And 2019? It thrust me into growth. Uncomfortable. Painful. Gritty. Grace filled. Necessary growth. I had to grow. And when 2019 ended I wanted to fall back softly into breathing. But as I tried to breathe, I felt restless and energized. It was impossible to go back to where I was before. I had grown too much. The more I tried to settle back into breathing, waiting, stillness? The more anxious and agitated I grew. I fought so hard to settle my spirit, and I felt chained down. And finally? I knew. The only thing to do afterwards season of waiting - of breathing - is to grow. And then go.
I’m hesitant and unsure. Go? How can I? My waiting is safe and pleasant. Warm and comfortable. But last year God showed up, invited me to step into something new, and forced me to grow. And now finally, reluctantly. Expectantly. Hopefully. I am seeing that I can’t go back. I’ve been waiting for God. He’s here. And He’s waiting for me to move. And I have to go.
Go is my word for 2020.
More to come.