A lover of Jesus.
This is the core of my being. The reason for every single other thing in my life. This is the cry of my heart. I don’t love Jesus out of guilt. Or fear. Or obligation. I am so thankful that Jesus loved me, that He chose to die for me. That God loves me enough to sacrifice His Son. That to live my life for me would be a miserable waste. It’s an honor to serve my God. It’s the joy of serving Him that gets me out of bed in the morning. That enables me to deal with the hard things in life. To tackle the uncomfortable. My life is my worship song to Christ and I intend for it to be beautiful. And I screw it up each and every single day. But His grace gives me another chance to get it right. What amazing grace He has for me. And that is why I love Him. Because He first loved and cherished me…every bit. Even the ugly parts.
Next to serving Jesus, this.is.my.life. My daughter is the most beautiful, precious soul and I am so privileged to parent her. Being a mom (and in my case, a dad too!) is the absolute most challenging thing that I will ever be called to do. I have often wondered how many years of therapy she may need due to my mistakes. That I have not always made the right decisions. It’s hard to be a single parent. I would say that I have raised her alone, but that would be woefully inaccurate. My parents and my sister have played key roles in the parenting process. Fiona is blessed to have them and I am eternally grateful for the way that they love my daughter. It takes a village sometimes and I have become so aware of how much they give of themselves for the benefit of me and Fiona. I love everything about being Fiona’s mom. I love her quirky style. Her love of technology and dreams of working in gaming. I love her laugh. I love her blue tips in her hair. I love how tenderhearted she is. She is strong, she has learned life lessons that I struggle with as an adult. She is so much fun. Every day I fall in love with something else about her. She is the best and brightest part of my life.
Bless my parents. Seriously. I am pretty sure that I have caused more than a couple of gray hairs on their beautiful heads. They love me always. Even when I’m awful. I couldn’t have asked for better parents. They truly have sacrificed for me…financially, emotionally, physically. I am forever grateful for their unconditional love and support. And I owe them (a lot). However, this is not complete without explaining that I came to them not out of a chance pregnancy (or even a planned one!) but that I was chosen to be theirs. First by God. Then by my birth mother. And finally, utterly and completely chosen and accepted by them. I am not their “adopted daughter.” I am their daughter. And they are my parents. Adoption is this beautiful gift that has been given to us. I have absolutely no idea how it feels to not be adopted. There is loss suffered through adoption, by my parents who struggled with infertility and the pain of wanting a child. Loss suffered by my birth family who culturally adoption is not really something that happens. But I don’t know either of those losses. I am just loved by a lot of people. Why, I am not sure…but I’ll take it.
What an honor to be a sister. The keeper of secrets. The trust that is bestowed on a sister. The ability to fiercely love them through anything. And we have had our share of “anythings.” She is strong and courageous. She is fiercely loyal. She is a bit crazy and outspoken. She is so many things and a lot of them are the complete opposite of me. God chose us to be sisters because we probably would not have been friends. (I annoy her terribly. Ha!) She puts up with my quirks and loves me in spite of my flaws. She can be angry at me, but I know that she would defend me regardless. She loves my daughter and is unashamedly devoted to her family. I have watched her grow and change, struggle and triumph. I am blessed to be able to hear her heart, her most trusted and sacred feelings. We have the ability to communicate without words, because we know each other so well. Sisterhood is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard sometimes. But it’s beautiful and I love her so, so very much.
Quite possibly the most fun title in my repertoire. It’s been a journey…this auntie thing. I am blessed to have four sweet angels waiting in Heaven for me. Three that I have not held yet, that I don’t know what their beautiful little faces look like and I cannot wait to meet them. And one that my arms crave to hold and snuggle again. That I miss every.single.day. My dear little Kota Bear. He left so suddenly and without warning…not that you can prepare for something like the loss of a child. I can so clearly see his beautiful little face the last time I seen it. I can hear his precious giggles. I can picture him snuggling with my grandma just waiting for us to get to Heaven. I can picture entering the gates of Heaven and seeing him run to me and being able to wrap him in my arms and tell him just how much I love him. How I yearn for that first hug. His short life changed my life. Forever and completely. He is in my heart always. My precious little Daveid Michael. He warms my heart. He bribes me with snuggles. That I gladly accept, even though I would have said yes to his request anyway. His complete love and devotion for Fiona, they are more like siblings than cousins. His love of all things Sonic. And Mario. And watering my “darden.” I love hearing his voice…I love when he calls me “Tee Tee.” I love how he rubs my ears when he is tired. And I love everything about this boy, this little “noise with dirt on it.”
A social worker (changer!).
I could not tell my story without including this. This is more than my job. It isn’t a paycheck. (Ha! No one has ever become a social worker for the money!) It’s not what I do. But it’s who I am. This is why God created me. It is what I was born to do. I want my heart to be broken by things that break the heart of God. It’s been there forever. From my prayers as a three year old for the “homely” (homeless) people, to the twelve year old girl watching 20/20 about Romanian orphans, to the young adult passionate about teen pregnancy and domestic violence, to the adult who has realized that all of these passions have led me down this windy road to know my calling. Serving “the least of these.” The forgotten. The broken. The lonely. I read books on poverty in my spare time, I dream up programs that I want to develop and research them to death. I cannot go even one day without my passion for social justice making an appearance. I dream about foster children and villages in rural Africa. Tears stream down my face when I think of the pain and suffering in the world today. I am called to this. This is my life’s work. To join side by side and walk down this (treacherous) road of life with others. To suffer with them. To cry with them. To heal with them. To rejoice with them. And to share the love of Jesus with them. Anything less is just like putting a bandaid on someone who is bleeding to death. I love these people. I want to know them and learn from them. Not to fix them or correct them, but to love them. Just love them.
I am a “thirty-something”.
I cried a lot before my 30th birthday. I believed that 30 is where dreams go to die. That it’s all downhill from here. I blew my one and only chance to have the life that I had dreamed of. For years I planned how I would deal with this dreaded age, how I would cope with the loss of my beloved twenties. Ha! These last five years have been amazing with the promise of greater things to come. And looking back…my twenties were not all that fantastic.
A little OCD. A little not.
There was this sense of freedom that came into my life when I realized that I am a control freak. I embrace it and I try to “control” it. But don’t do my dishes if I’m in the room. Or fold my towels. Or put anything away. It often appears that I live in chaos, but if you open my drawers or my closet…the truth comes out. Size. Color. Style. Perfect order in my universe. Someday my home will look like I want it to on the outside, but meanwhile it’s good enough for me.
Once upon a time, fairly recently actually in the big scheme of my life, there was a time when panic overtook my life. That I could not go to the grocery store alone. That leaving my house made me physically ill. That my heart wouldn’t work right even when I didn’t think I was having a panic attack. This crippling, life altering panic set into my heart and launched my life in a new direction. I left my job. With no income and no plan. Only knowing that I simply could not do what I had been doing for one more day. That was March of 2012. The next twelve months were the most trying and most amazing months of my life. I grew in ways that I could not or would not have grown otherwise. To trust God completely was terrifying. I had to rely on Him in a way that I never had to before. My anxiety stopped, even though I was in no man’s land. $175.00 a month to live on. My parents helped a lot. (I told you I owed them big time!) My home in foreclosure. Forced to file bankruptcy. A growing love for my Savior. I prayed harder than ever. This season brought me back into a church. All of this has led me to a new realization — that I fear only two things: losing someone I love and failing to do what God has called me to do. Anything else does not scare me. What is the worst thing that could happen? God will give me the strength to get through whatever is in front of me and if I die, I get to spend eternity with Jesus. I don’t believe in being intentionally stupid or irrational, but I am not afraid of the unknown any longer. And it’s true freedom.
My daughter who would argue that this should be labeled obsessed. My mom worries that I don’t live in reality. My dad (wisely) chooses silence. My sister just rolls her eyes. And my nephew wants to join me. I am someone who is either all in or all out. There is no middle ground. If it is worth my time, then I am all in. Otherwise, I am mildly oblivious. Sometimes I change my mind and that’s okay. But when I pursue something, I pursue it hard. My time, my energy, my sweat, my tears. This leads to a lot of frustration and disappointment. But it is me. And I don’t see it changing.
My life is a mosaic. It’s all of the broken pieces that have been fashioned together by the Master Artist to make this beautiful life that I get to live. As with anything that breaks, there is pain. And it never quite looks the same again. But the pieces can be used to make something new and even more beautiful. That’s what I want my life to be.