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WOKE!

6/15/14, taken by Vanessa Kruse Photography

“I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred, I get so many things I don’t deserve…”
– Bono, The Miracle of Joey Ramone
 
It’s no secret I’m a huge U2 fan. Their music has impacted and influenced every season of my life.
 
This morning I woke up before 5am CST. The lyrics above were the first things that came to mind, and I gave Thanks.
 
Four years ago I was in Mountain Time Zone on this day, and it was around *right now that my Mom’s presence left her physical dwelling and continued on into eternity. I had just drifted off, having pulled 2 all-nighters in a row, but something stirred me and I simply knew.

 There’s a 100% chance our earthly bodies will all come to a close. We all “die.” But what percent chance will we fully LIVE? What percent chance will we wake up and realize each day, every moment, is a miracle, and if we’re breathing in it, we’re meant to be part of it, bringing love and life to it?

[Read more…]

Theirs Was a Love Story

Summer Lovin'

Summer Lovin’- Bebe and Bobby, circa 1963, Devil’s Lake, Michigan

Growing up with Bobby (Bob) and Bebe (Betty), we witnessed affection, heard loving words exchanged, learned tooshie pinching techniques we would then test out on our grandparents much to their utter surprise and shock. Of course the reactions we witnessed made us want to pinch tooshies, all the more…well, I guess I can only speak for myself, but anyway…

Bobby and Bebe, theirs was a love story

…and it started on a warm night at a lakeside dance hall in the summer of 1963. [Read more…]

My Mid-Life Crisis, Part 1 of Many

I’ve been wrestling a little lately, though it’s not unfamiliar. To say it was foreign would be false, because drifting, floating, uprootedness, wandering and wondering, going from place to place, and being curious about this and that isn’t new to me. I’ve moved 30 times in my 43 years and 11 months and 3 weeks. That’s included different cities, states, suburbs, churches, states, and dorms, apartments, and houses.

The last year since we sold our house and most of our stuff hasn’t been all I thought it would be, but also has been, on some levels. My dreams was to get rid of it all…I’m an extremist that way. I wanted the four of us to load up one carry-on each and walk out the front door of our previous lives, out into whatever and wherever God was leading. Jesus told the rich young man it would be difficult…I guess He was right...since my dad’s basement is filled with our boxes and some chairs and beds. Looking back, I wanted to run away from the reality of my mom’s absence…

The steps have only come one at a time. This is fine for my free-flow spirit, but it’s dark and discouraging and heavy for my HSP-ness, for my eyes that want to look ahead and plan for the future, to have a thumb on my “passion and pursuit” without all the unknowns. In a split second I can go from being grateful and content for where God has us, to being frustrated and distraught with zero answers to why are we “here” and “where” is next and, mostly, what the heck is my purpose, like, why did God make me?

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(A great chart and article about “Highly Sensitive People”-click here for link for a great quiz and insight into, likely, someone in your life.)

Problem is: I realize I am often waiting for my circumstance to dictate my action or obedience, when that was the point of most of the stuff Jesus said in the first place, simply, “Follow Me.”

Most days I’m selfish.

I haven’t been obedient.

I could blame not knowing HOW to do something I feel passionately about with not doing anything at all.

But I don’t want to make excuses anymore.

I’m just simply sorry.

I could write a list and check off a long page worth of excuses that carry truth in my own eyes, but the Truth is, I’ve been designed by God for this day and age, regardless of circumstance, in spite of influences and obstacles, and all He designed me to “do” is BE the woman He made me to BE, right here, wherever “here” is, right now, accountable to the one in the mirror and actively loving to the ones I encounter every day…living the Kingdom, sharing the Good News.

We just got back from a 2-week trip to Australia. The jet-lag bites and the postpartum from daylight and sunshine and warmth and sand and salty air and great food, coupled with hormones, has had me in tears off and on for a couple of weeks. Did I mention we came home to a snow storm?

Anyway, when I got back I had some messages to catch up on, a few of which included encouragement from friends to watch a 1/2 hour video clip from Elizabeth Gilbert titled, “Flight of the Hummingbird.” I sat in my office in Caribou bawling, tears streaming, muttering, “Holy cow! This. Is. Me…all of it…thank you, thank you, thank YOU, Lord…bless this woman for her faithfulness in speaking truth in the face of fear, for living without shackles, outside the box…bless Liz for throwing me this life-line, without all the cliches…bless her for doing what I know I’ve been designed to do…” I’m including the video at the bottom for you to come back to when you have a bit of time. It’s not something you’ll want to miss. Share it with friends, male and female, dad’s of daughters, brothers of sisters, too, who come to mind when you listen. Besides the fact that every word spoke to my heart; the Facebook letter from the Australian woman, Liz’s husband’s life of uprootedness, and the whole idea of a hummingbird, the specificity for me was mind-blowing.

Well, one of the squares on my check list of half-assedness living has been momless-ness. I miss my mom. I want my mom. I really could use MY mom in my life. I want to hear her wisdom spoken fresh again. I want to have her in my corner, praying over me. I want to hold her hand and watch her facial expressions, to hear her voice and prophetic heart. A great chasm has been left in me since her departure and there have been days of flailing, still.

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So when Liz referenced a hummingbird, I kind of freaked…my mom’s favorite bird in the world was a hummingbird (a close second being the sweet Gambel’s desert quail of the Southwest)…wherever we lived, she always had the feeder filled for the curious little beauties…and as long as she had food for them, they returned faithfully.

So, Lord, open my eyes to see…
I’ve been self-absorbed, worried about opinions,
wondering if I’m qualified…
questioning Your creativity,
asking, “How can I leave a legacy or step out boldly when I’m not rooted, not planted, not grown-up enough?”
I’ve looked into the mirror, but mostly at my thighs…
measuring my worth in a toxic, twisted way, rather than
greeting myself in the eyes, face to face, in the mirror, Your daughter, Beloved. Holy. Sacred.
I’ve been busy, so “busy,” I’ve allowed the concrete to set up,
and the fears begin to creep in,
and the lies, to bear rotten fruit.
It’s painful.
You don’t need my permission,
though my admission may be part of the unlocking, unleashing,
cage-opening, branch-trimming…
trim my branches, Father…
graft me into Your Tree of Life.
Open my cage, Lord…
free me from the lies I’ve believed, the un-truths I’ve told myself.
Lord, You put that man to sleep after a time in order to hand-craft woman…
that must mean You had something special in mind for Your daughters, as well…
all of us, me, and her, and every other girl, also made in Your likeness.
Illuminate the path, Lord, as You see fit, what You know is best, and and I will walk in it,
everlasting…here I am…I’m stepping out into the unknown…the place where I’m free to be me…a butterfly, a curious soul, like a hummingbird, led by Your Spirit, for Your glory, discovering Your beautiful creativity in the day to day.

Come.

 

hummingbird photo courtesy: pixabay user/omissivart

Heavy Lifting

Tonight I ran over to a friend’s house to borrow a drill bit. Cuz I drill stuff.

Like, holes in wood and stuff.

Anyway, these friends are dear to my heart and my heart was heavy. So, I asked if they would pray for me, pray for my heart, pray however God led them to pray, because these friends are filled with God’s Spirit and listen to His voice…they are familiar with it, because they stop to listen, they pause to hear, they want to know His voice above all the other voices vying for our attention on any given day.

And though I know how to seek God for myself, because there is nothing hidden in my heart or head from God, we were meant for each other. He made more than one of us so we could walk alongside each other and pray and cheer and lift one another up.

Because some heavy lifting takes the strength of more than one person.

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(photo credit: pixabay user/sarangib)

 

So they prayed, and God spoke His life through their prayers. There was no agenda in their words, just waiting on Him to speak good and love and freedom over me.

Tonight I went to get a drill bit, but instead had a bit of church for my soul. When I was hurting, they prayed. When my heart was troubled, they prayed, my elders, my loved ones prayed for me...because they love me and would pray for me any old day. But today they prayed because I confessed to them that my heart was heavy and that I needed prayer, I longed for it…I hope you have these kinds of people in your life…the kind you can share your heart with…the kind who will stop and pray.

 

 

That Time I Got Botox In My Forehead Because I Thought My Thighs Were Fat…

…and other totally rational choices and decisions I have made.

Obviously.

Not too long after my mid-life crisis, ahem, I mean, after we had our “bonus” child at an “advanced age,” I turned 40. I’ve never feared aging or the number attached to it, but realized, too, I had spent a lot of precious time at war with myself. As a result, God and I had a few words. His were, “Adrienne, I love you. It’s time to start loving yourself.”

Thing is, as long as my memory served me, I hadn’t ever been my biggest fan. Never “good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, disciplined enough…never enough: whatever.” But, I figured since God made me and not the other way around, maybe there was something He wanted me to know deep down inside…like all the years I’d preached and ministered to other women about how much God loved them exactly as they were was something I was supposed to believe myself? 

Like, just being born and existing was enough…simply because God made me.

Part of learning to love myself was to spend time soaking in God’s truth over me, what He said about me, rather than all the lies I had believed about the worth and value of my soul as it related to the beauty industry.

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It’s shallow to admit, but authenticity is an aim and practice of mine, so, there you go…all of my teenage years I spent hours upon hours looking through TEEN and SEVENTEEN magazines, truly believing how I looked merited even more hours of my time and mental capacity.

Some lies die hard. 

During this time of exploring what it meant to love myself, I started a separate blog called, “Confessions of a 2nd Grade Closet Eater.” It helped me to compartmentalize my head and writings there, apart from blogging other stuff. Well, it was over on “Confessions” that I had a personal epiphany. God showed me the moment when I was a kid where my journey of self-loathing was birthed…and that, out of fear. You can read all about it here.

And fear still creeps…it’s all around us everyday. And lies swirl. They are ours for the taking…or not. We don’t have to believe.

I don’t have to believe! Most lies I don’t believe anymore. I don’t base my value and worth on whether I’m 5, 10, or whatever amount of pounds off my healthy, comfortable weight.

There’s miraculously more to me than whether my jeans fit nicely or not.
Plus, there’s yoga pants, holla!

But, I have days like just a few weeks ago when I bought 4 cute tables…you know, for the house we don’t even have because I wanted to purge and be free of stuff…but I couldn’t afford NOT to buy them. You know what I’m sayin’? But this, all because I was getting too far ahead of God’s plan and I wanted to know what will happen at the end of this “Graveswold” season…so I bought tables…duh. Wanna buy a table? 

And then there was that time a few years ago when a friend mentioned she had free botox and I was so busy looking down, inwardly, at my own thighs, rather than up and out and around me at this beautiful life, that I endured painful pricks in my forehead…because paralyzing the muscles in my forehead would obviously make my thighs stronger faster than actual lunges and deep squats…duh.

Or what about the time I bought Frye boots because my mom died? Or that thing on the end-cap in Target, because it was on sale…or when I “rewarded” myself with a sweet treat because, by golly, my jeans fit again? WTF?! Or that time I tried to fill my longing with any number of things other than just sitting with the pain, the fear, the unknown, and letting God and I wrestle with it a bit…knowing deep down, He’s my Source. 

I can try to rationalize why I’ve made some of the irrational choices I’ve made over the years. And I can beat myself up about them. Now I can even raise my eyebrows at some of my choices. (get it? get it?) Or, I can accept that some days are harder than others…every day requires intention and mindfulness…each and every day is new and a gift from God, and one more day to live out of loving myself.

…..

(photo: pixabay user, Ben_Kerckx)

(*This post is part of a 31 Day Writing Challenge I’ve taken on to exercise the art that I love. If you are just joining, you can catch up on this “31 Days” page. Also, just for fun, Dayspring is offering a $500 shopping spree to readers of those participating. THAT’S YOU!!! Starting October 15, running through the 31st, you can enter here each day for the giveaway…watch for the button, and good luck!)

Mother’s Day, 1987

Mother’s Day 1987, my Mom chose where we went to church that Sunday. We had been going to a great Catholic church for years but moved away and just. could. not. do. the local Parrish as it was D. E. A. D. and I mean, dead. No pulse. Dry as a bone. Even the priest died.

We thought, “God, You are big. Surely there is more to You than just standing, sitting, and kneeling…”

So, a beautiful lady who used to help my Mom clean the house once in a while invited us to go to her church. And when my Dad said, “Betty, why don’t you pick where we go for Mother’s Day…”, my Mom took him up on it.

28 years ago, exactly, on May 10th, 1987, we walked into a small non-denominational charismatic church where people were dancing in the aisles, waving flags, marching, and shouting “Hallelujah” and “Jesus” and praying in tongues and the pastor had a southern accent.

It was awkward. Seriously.

But, high-tailing it out of there would have been even more awkward, so we sat down near the front, a never-before heard of thing as a Catholic, and listened as best we could through the Texas twang to the message the preacher was sharing that day. And what we heard, amidst the hankies and praises and “amen’s” was that the God who we knew loved us, the One we knew about already from Catholicism, was One who wanted to know us, and be known by us, in a more personal way through the example of the life of Jesus Christ. And we learned the Holy Spirit wasn’t so much a Ghost as our spiritual life-line, a powerhouse for getting to know God through His word, a forever-with-me Presence for discernment and revelation, God’s presence in me for life.

And it clicked. It made sense. God, at least an iota of God, made sense to me in a way that changed my desires from learning ABOUT Him to wanting to get to KNOW Him, and be known by Him.

I watched my Mom quite a bit on this new portion of the spiritual journey. I watched her come into herself, her true self, her child-of-God-self. I wondered why she cried a lot about Jesus, so I finally asked her. She told me they were tears of happiness and thankfulness, tears to show her love for the Lord.

I used to be annoyed at how quickly my Mom’s eyes would rim wet when she’d talk about God and his Word. She could cry at the drop of a hat for the capacity of love she had for God.

Over the last several years, her tears didn’t bother me at all. The moment my daughter was born my tears began to well up and spill over, even at a commercial. I learned empathy. I was struck when I became a Mom just how very much my Mom loved each of us girls.

But as I sit and write this, remembering back to my Mom’s arms outstretched, head lifted, smile wide, tears freely streaming, dancing before her Lord, the very Lover of her soul, I’m most grateful that on Mother’s Day so many years ago, my Mom modeled to me a love and hunger for God, both in the giving and receiving, that would grow to insatiable depths right before my eyes.

One might think with such an example, one of a woman falling in love with her God and living solely for Him, that I’d seemingly follow suit. One might think. But I continue to fail miserably and pray more for God to raise my kids in spite of me.

Maybe that’s it? You see, I know my Mom wasn’t perfect, but the legacy of memories she left me are ones of her passionately pursuing her God.

I’ve passionately pursued trying to have my act together and continue to come up short…putting the cart before the horse, believing the lie that I HAVE to have my act together in order to approach God or receive from Him.

What my Mom modeled most faithfully was a life of going to Him each day and asking Him what she was supposed to be doing. One day at a time. Not perfectly but beautifully.

And looking back…and looking forward, I realize, that’s all I’ve ever wanted.

All along, all that time, she “modeled” what a woman loved by God looks like…that’s where the tears flowed from…the place of knowing His grace and forgiveness and unconditional love, in spite of herself.

Thanks, Mom, for leaving a Mother’s Day legacy that defies time and space…I love you, always. Boo xoxox

Taken for Granted: A Series on Grief

Never in a million years did I imagine that this season of “The Graveswolds”, aka, life without a home, traveling some with Jason’s job, and basing out of my Dad’s house or my Mother-in-law’s house, was about me, so much. Sure, some of it…like the part where I’d be freed up of some grown-up responsibilities like mortgage payments and tons of cleaning, but I’ll admit that in my “Hey, I’m in my 40’s, strong as an ox, learned a lot about life already-ness” it didn’t occur to me God had something for MY heart. I thought I had oh-so-much-to-offer others, like, taking care of widows and orphans, and whatnot.

Last weekend God showed me one of the orphans, and, you can take it or leave it, but one of those “orphans” was…me.

Gasp.

Wait. What?

Um, Lord, this all hurts deeply. I’m kind of a mess…and by “kind of” I mean…There is no such thing as a secret, therefore You know every thought, ache, pain, cry, every ounce of longing on any given day that drains my day-to-day life energy from living fully now…because I wasn’t ready and so I’m stuck. You two may have been ready, elated even at her arrival, but I wasn’t ready to live one single day on this earth without my mom in it.

And, so, last weekend, I sat at a table where four women gathered to break bread and drink wine, and deep into the heart of our conversation, each of us living here and now on earth without one or both parents, one looks into my soul and says to me, my face hot and tears uncontrollably streaming by then, “Did it ever occur to you that what you thought was a season of being available to help your widowed parents (houselessness and living in South Dakota) might be about healing to your grieving heart?”

Wait. What?

The ever-so-quickly approaching Mother’s Day has me pausing to take in long, hard breaths every day, every so often, more often than not. I’ve done “firsts”…had 8 1/2 years of them already, having lost Noah. People email me, call, text, take me to lunch and coffee and ask me questions about grieving and death quite often. I’m kind of seasoned in death-stuff, not afraid of it, clearly realistic in the whole part about none of us being able to avoid it…

…but apparently Mom’s die. And I wasn’t ready for one of those moms to be mine.

She was my spiritual compass. We spoke often, for sure daily, many days a few times here and there, just checking in with one another, sharing little things and big things, spiritual insights, life dreams and frustrations, prayer requests, asking questions, learning from one another…her sharing years of wisdom, discernment, and life experience, me helping her embrace what was, and was not, important to get up to speed on in this generation. We spoke candidly about her journey, yet we never spoke about dying…

News. Flash.

And so here I am, one week away from my first Mother’s Day without my Mom to call or make a beautiful meal for. I can hear my heart beating in my chest as I type, and each beat is marked with an aching of the tremendous and profound loss I feel. And I’m not the first woman on this earth to ever lose a mother, and I wasn’t the last.

It’s one month shy of one year and I haven’t even scratched the surface of my grief. In fact, I haven’t really even gone there. I pulled up my big girl panties, because crying doesn’t bring her back, and kept on truckin’ on, “to make her proud”…except for the part where my soul is crying out to bask in healing, my memories need space and time to come and go as they may, and the part where losing a son is different from losing a mother…not one better, easier, harder, quicker…different, and equally necessitating TIME to heal and TIME to breathe and TIME to wrestle and reflect and dig in and release and whatever else.

A few practical things I’m taking up on this grief journey to healing is I took Facebook off my phone. It’s still on my computer and a way I love to see what’s going on in other people’s lives, but it’s a distraction on my phone, and really, not a necessity on this journey. This blog has always been a sanctuary of healing for my heart, even when arrows fly from readers, as writing is an outlet for my soul. I will be here more often, sharing bits of the grief, because we talk about all sorts of other losses, but the loss of a parent is so accepted in society, so when one grieves longer or more deeply or in an ugly, painful way that others deem too lengthy or inappropriate, well, they move on. My Mom was a Baby Boomer. There are millions of women (and men) like me (and my sisters) who, if they have not yet, will be losing their parents in the next couple decades. Death is expected, but the pain which accompanies it is something we need to talk about with one another. I hope my processing can help your processing one day…

Another thing, I’m reading “Nobody’s Child: How Older Women Say Good-bye to Their Mothers” by Diane Sher Lutovich, “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom, “Final Gifts” by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley, another one about pain and suffering, and doing a soul-care Bible study by Ortberg and Willard.

I’m also going to shell out some serious money to meet with a counselor who is supposed to work miracles…because some things in life are worth the investment, like hearts and souls…

Physically, I breathe. I’ve been spending time doing Yoga breathing. I breathe strategically when I swing kettlebells and do pull-ups at the gym. I breathe and use my legs to lift heavy landscaping rocks when the grief necessitates manual labor. I breathe when I sit lakeside in my Mother-in-love’s hammock, listening to the rhythmic waves lap up on the shore, pairs of ducks drifting by, listening to the effects of the wind through the pines.

There's nothing like nuggling lakeside in the hammock with my Little Lover...nothing.

There’s nothing like nuggling lakeside in the hammock with my Little Lover…nothing.

I breathe in and wonder what Heaven must be like. Then I exhale knowing it’s not yet my turn. I inhale God’s Spirit of healing and then exhale the burdens I so daftly thought were mine to bear and inhale the truth that His yoke is easy and His burden is light…His power is made known in my weakness…and I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

I wear her ring on my right hand, one she got in the early ’70’s, sterling with red coral…a Thunderbird made by Arizona local Navajo. An Arizona kid, a Phoenix or a Thunderbird, I think of the two interchangeably as I look at it each day, regardless, they both carry mythological symbolism of strength and life and renewal…one just has to rise out of the ashes in order to draw its strength.

So many memories include this ring on my Mom's hand.

So many memories include this ring on my Mom’s hand. It was made by Navajo artisans.

I’m working on that…

Either way, I know my strength and healing are found in the work Christ did for me at the Cross. It’s there I need to sit and face this loss, because trying to run from it has only caught up with me.

I wasn’t ready to lose her…which is why I wasn’t ready to grieve, either.

So, I step out, one foot in front of the other…and one day I will rise.